After This, I Saw

A BRIEF INTERMISSIONAfter this. (Revelation 7:1a)

After the sixth seal, and before discussing the opening of the seventh seal (Revelation 8:1), John pauses to relate two other visions in Revelation 7. These two visions are the sealing of the servants of God (Revelation 7:1–8),(1) and the great multitude before the throne (Revelation 7:9–17). “After this” may mean that this vision follows the vision of the sixth seal, not necessarily that the events described in this vision follow the sixth seal.(2)

Why the pause? Even though God’s people are not appointed to suffer God’s wrath (see Romans 8:35, 39; 1 Thessalonians 5:9), the description of the judgments corresponding to the first six seals would likely be overwhelming to John’s Christian audience. This might partly explain why the sequence of judgments leading up to the seventh seal is interrupted by the visions in Revelation 7. They provide a reminder to John’s readers that the people of God need not despair, because “the servants of our God” (Revelation 7:3) have God’s seal.(3) In this “lull” in the storm, between the opening of the sixth and seventh seals, John describes how the mercy of God is extended to two groups of people – Jews and Gentiles.(4)

Apparently, during this unprecedented time of Great Tribulation that is to fall upon the earth, there will be a vast company of repentant Israelites that will be sealed for preservation, and a great multitude of the Gentiles, that will be moved to repentance toward Christ.(5) These two groups appear to be separate and distinct from the Church, which may have been already Raptured by this time. These two groups of people are depicted in Figure 14.1.(6)

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These two groups will be discussed in greater detail later.

I SAWI saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth to prevent any wind from blowing on the land or on the sea or on any tree. (Revelation 7:1b)

Four Angels – Some commentators believe these “angels” are the four horsemen from Revelation 6:1–8 (see also Zechariah 1:8), because of the destruction associated with them.(7) Apart from this, there is no reason to conclude that they are anything other than four unidentified angels. These four angels could also be the same angels who blow the first four trumpets, because the judgments are similar (Revelation 8:6–12).(8)

Four Corners – The expression “the four corners of the earth” was used in antiquity among the Near-Eastern Nations much as we use the four points of the compass(9) as a figure of speech to represent the entire world (see Daniel 7:2; Isaiah 11:12; Ezekiel 7:2; Revelation 20:8).(10)

Four Winds – The four winds are seen by some as storms of Divine judgments that will burst upon the earth from all sides. Others maintain that the winds are to be taken simply as actual storm-winds, just as in Revelation 6:12 a real earthquake should be understood. Winds in Scripture are also symbols of opinions or false doctrines (Ephesians 4:14, Hosea 8:7).(11) Finally, the four winds could also be another way to describe the entire world (Jeremiah 49:36; Daniel 8:8; 11:4; 2 Esdras 13:5), the same way that the four corners did.(12)

Land, Sea and Tree – If the wind is literal, one must not underestimate the effect that an interruption in wind patterns might have on the earth. The wind helps moderate temperature, it affects ocean currents, and facilitates the pollination of plant life, to name just a few. So, it is very easy to see how a withholding of the wind could affect the land, seas and trees. If the wind is viewed symbolically as the judgments of God, then the four angels are viewed as holding the judgments back during this pause. The judgments that will descend on the land, sea and tree possibly come in answer to the martyrs’ prayer under the fifth seal.(13)

Up Next – Servants Sealed.

__________________________________

References

  1. Robertson, A. T. (1933). Word Pictures in the New Testament (Re 7:1). Nashville, TN: Broadman Press.
  2. Keener, C. S. (1993). The IVP Bible background commentary: New Testament (Re 7:1–8). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  3. Sloan, R. B. (1998). The Revelation. In D. S. Dockery (Ed.), Holman concise Bible commentary (p. 672). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.
  4. Wiersbe, W. W. (1992). Wiersbe’s expository outlines on the New Testament (p. 815). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  5. Brooks, K. (2009). Summarized Bible: Complete Summary of the New Testament (p. 91). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
  6. Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 590). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  7. Barry, J. D., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Mangum, D., & Whitehead, M. M. (2012). Faithlife Study Bible (Re 7:1). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
  8. Wiersbe, W. W. (1992). Wiersbe’s expository outlines on the New Testament (p. 815). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  9. Johnson, Alan, Gaebelein, Frank E., (1981). The Expositor’s Bible Commentary (Revelation). Grand Rapids. Michigan: The Zondervan Corporation.
  10. Barry, J. D., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Mangum, D., & Whitehead, M. M. (2012). Faithlife Study Bible (Re 7:1). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
  11. Lange, J. P., Schaff, P., Moore, E., Craven, E. R., & Woods, J. H. (2008). A commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Revelation (p. 187). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
  12. Barry, J. D., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Mangum, D., & Whitehead, M. M. (2012). Faithlife Study Bible (Re 7:1). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
  13. Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 2, p. 569). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

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