Revelation Chapter 7
Verse 7:1.. And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree. This could explain the reason for the lack of resources which accompanies the four horses of the previous chapter. The black horse represents a shortage of basic necessities that are required to support life. Death follows; represented by the pale horse. No wind blowing around the earth would kill the natural watering cycle. There would be evaporation but no distribution mechanism to move the moisture onto land. The two prophets of chapter 11 could also have a hand in this.
Verse 2.. And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, Verse 3.. Saying, hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads. These servants of God are Jews from all the tribes of Israel. There are different groups that would like to believe that they are the 144,000 but the text is very clear. They can be no other group of people. These are from the tribes of Israel. These are also called the first fruits unto God and to the Lamb. "First fruits" would indicate that there are many more to come. Rev. 14:4.
Notice also that the earth is not hurt until the servants of God are sealed on their foreheads. We've seen some damage in chapter 6 but nothing compares to what is to come!
Verse 4.. And I heard the number of them who were sealed: and there were sealed a hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel.
Verse 5.. Of the tribe of Judah were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Reuben were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Gad were sealed twelve thousand. Verse 6.. Of the tribe of Asher were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Naphtali were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Manasseh were sealed twelve thousand. Verse 7.. Of the tribe of Simeon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Levi were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Issachar were sealed twelve thousand. Verse 8.. Of the tribe of Zebulun were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Joseph were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Benjamin were sealed twelve thousand.
The tribe of Joseph probably refers to Ephraim. Joseph's two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, were claimed by his father Jacob. So there are actually thirteen tribes. Dan is omitted. Dan was the first of the tribes to go into idolatry. God has not sealed them from things that will happen during the great tribulation period.
So the wrath of God which comes into view in verse 12 of chapter six is stayed until these 144,000 are sealed on their foreheads. God will provide and care for them for 3 1/2 years. Rev. 12:6, while He visits death and destruction upon the earth, the beast, Antichrist and all those who receive his mark. Rev. 14:9, 10.
Verse 9.. And after this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and tribes, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; Verse 10.. And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God who sits upon the throne, and unto the Lamb. Verse 11.. And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four living creatures, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshiped God, Verse 12.. Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honor, and power, and might, be unto our God forever and ever. Amen.
Verse 13.. And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, Who are these who are arrayed in white robes? and from where did they come? Verse 14.. And I said unto him, Sir, you know. And he said to me, these are they who come out of the great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
So a multitude which no man could number. That's a lot of people. This is a picture of all those who come to trust in Jesus during the great tribulation . Tribulation saints, a different group from the church. Where the promise to the church is to rule and reign, Rev. 5:10, these folks are blessed with the task of service. (See verse 15.) Revelation 20:4 reveals that they will also have a part in ruling and reigning.
Some would say that this group of people is the Church. Forcefully taken (raptured) from the earth just before the first trumpet sounds. This would indicate that rapture happens during the tribulation period. If this is the case then the Church will witness the establishing of the 7 year peace agreement. (Dan. 9:27) The Church will also witness the rebuilding of the temple and the ministry of the 2 prophets (Rev. 11:1-6). It will see the rise and reign of Antichrist. All those that dwell on the earth will know that the hour of rapture has arrived.
But what did Jesus say? Matthew 24:36-44. Verse 44.. "Therefore be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect!" And Luke 21:35 "For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth." They won't be expecting it!
In 2 Thess 2:7 Paul says "For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. This verse indicates that the Holy Spirit and the Church are "taken out of the way or raptured" before the man of sin (Antichrist) is revealed and before the 7 year peace agreement is established.
Jesus said that at the time of rapture things on the earth will be somewhat normal. People will not be aware of any impending danger. (Matt. 24:36-44) People are well aware that the great day of God's wrath has come prior to these tribulation saints appearing at the throne and before the Lamb. Rev. 6:17.
If the rapture happens just before the first trumpet sounds and verse 9 is a picture of the raptured church, then we know exactly when it will happen. Jesus said that know one knows the day or the hour. It will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. They won't be expecting it. It's a big secret. In Rev. 10:4 John was about to write what the seven thunders had uttered but was commanded to "Seal up the things which the seven thunders uttered, and do not write them." Some things we just don't know and that's the way God wants it.
Scripture doesn't point to a mid-tribulation rapture. Scripture does instruct us to live like it could happen at any second. Matt. 24:44.
Verse 15.. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sits on the throne shall dwell among them. Verse 16.. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun strike them, nor any heat. Verse 17.. For the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.
So coming out of the great tribulation and suffering the plagues of scorching heat, lack of fresh water, scarcity of food and resources, persecution of the Antichrist and the beast, these tribulation saints are now comforted by the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne.