|.1a ¶ And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth,|| After
these things This new scene continues showing us symbolic events
as the seven seals on the scroll are broken. The first 4 seals began at
and were very brief. The 5th was a little longer and the 6th, which began
in chapter 6 re0612,
continues until the 7th seal is opened at re0801
bringing us to the final struggle and the return of Christ. The events
of this seal opening describe the preparation we need. I believe this is
why we are shown much more than for the other seals.
Four angels ... four winds The symbolic picture shows us that the winds are about to blow in every part of the earth. As Satan is allowed to reveal his character, evil grows and spreads to every part of this old world. There will be greed, hatred, and distruction.
|.1b that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree.||Wind The wind represents trouble of nations is1712f and is echoed in nature. See note below.|
|.2a And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God:|| From
the east Christ will return from the east. See note
Having the seal This is what the "servants of our God" need to survive the blowing v3. For more on the servants and the seal, see on ep0606. The seal is also a mark of pledge loyalty. It generally has the following components:
* Name of the one to whom loyalty is pledged.
* His office (for example, "king.")
* The territory which he governs.
Consider the following examples 1ki2108, es0808, ex2008-11.
| 2b and he cried with a loud
voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the
3 Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.
|Loud voice Did he need to get the attention of the angels? This wouldn't seem necessary. But the work of preparation for the judgment is called for in a loud voice in chapter 14 re1406ff. When the preadvent judgment ends, Michael stands up from the judgment seat and those who have been written in the book are saved out of the terrible time of trouble. That time is seen here as the blowing of the winds da1201. Note 2b.|
|.3 Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.|| Sealed
... in their foreheads Their minds settled permanently for God re1401c.
The rest will be permanently against Him. See ps01505
and on mt1231.
The judgment confirms our decisions.
Trees Note 3b below.
|4 And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel.||See the next page for this verse.|
The sealed ones are different
At the opening of the fifth seal (Rev. 6:9-11) we saw souls under the altar and discovered that they represented, in symbols, the faithful ones who had died 0611b. They expected two things, judgment and vengeance from God on the earth dwellers who had shed their blood. They received white robes indicating that their time for judgment had come but they were told to wait for vengeance until their brethren who had not yet died, would be "fulfilled" or "completed" (Greek pleroo.)
". . . he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:" (Phil. 1:6). The word translated, perform, is eipeteleo which literally means "to bring to an end." This fulfillment in the brethren is Christ's complete work of character development in them. The last generation, which lives up to "the day of Jesus Christ," will experience this finishing work. Of course the righteous of all ages will be fully committed ones but the final righteous will face a more severe test. We will understand this better when the time comes or, perhaps, when the trouble is finished and Jesus explains it to us as we stand on the heavenly Mount Zion re1401.
The righteous ones, symbolized here as the "servants of our God," will have lived through their time of judgment and will have been found "fulfilled" in the righteousness of Christ. As judged or counted ones, they become the 144,000. That's why they are symbolized by this number while the multitude cannot be numbered (or counted) by any human. The multitude represents all the righteous who have died before the day of Jesus Christ (ph0106 above) re0709, co0412. Both the 144,000 sealed ones and the multitude have been judged but only the 144,000 will have passed through the time of severe test – the blowing of the four winds. They come out numbered – judged.
Do humans count (judge) the 144,000? Optional section
Since the multitude cannot be counted by any human, we assume that the 144,000 can be. Counting or numbering implies judgment. Righteous humans will be involved in the judging during the thousand years but, in the preadvent judgment, they are the ones being judged. Consider that the judging here is more like an observation than a judicial process.
"I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness. . . . the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.
"For Zion's sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth. And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory. . . ." (Isa. 61:10 - 62:2).
"Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name. [They are judged by God] And they shall be mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels [citizens of the kingdom are identified in the judgment, Dan. 7:14]; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him. Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not." (Mal. 3:16-18).
After the sealing is completed and human probation has closed, the wicked will recognize the sealed ones as righteous and thus will have numbered or evaluated them. By comparison, righteous persons who had died earlier — the multitude — often went to their death as heretics. Of course this evaluation does not replace the divine judgment.
Two titles: "fellow servants" and "brethren"
We remember that the souls
under the altar were waiting until "their fellowservants also and their
brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled." (Rev.
These two titles show their relationship to God (servants/slaves of God) and to man (siblings of other humans). That perfect relationship is summarized in the ten commandments. The first four outline our relationship to God and the last six our relationship to others.
In chapter 14 we will see those who resist the beast's mark as the enduring saints who "keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus Christ." re1412. They will be characterized by obedience and saved by faith in Christ.
Here in chapter 7 we see the title, "servants of our God." It implies the relationship to God and to the four angels. The "servants" (literally, "slaves") are to be sealed. The multitude, which we see later in the chapter, are also servants (v.15). The first group of servants were seen at the time of the fifth scroll seal.
The servants or 144,000 need the sealing in order to be able to stand when the winds of the time of trouble blow da1201. Seeing them as the end-time people of God, we know from chapter 13 that they will be threatened with death if they do not receive the mark of the beast. Link They need patience (or perseverance) of character to stand against that threat, ready for the consequences of faithfulness to God instead (Rev. 14:12).
Why not hurt sea, earth, and trees?
The special angel said . . . "Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads." (Rev. 14:3)
The earth and the sea are the homes of those who oppose God. We will see
this more clearly when we come to chapter 13. The first two plagues are
poured out on earth and sea re1602chart.
And why not hurt these elements? Because the servants of God are not ready. When the storm strikes, all will be on one side or the other with the mark of the beast or the seal of God.
What a loving God we have who does everything possible to guide us in the free choice of eternal life. Of course, life won't be quite like sleeping under palm trees even for the righteous, but we may expect protection during the time of trouble. Image from Corel.
What or who are
"Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper." (Ps. 1:1-3). Also see is6103.
We may understand the trees to be the servants of God who have been found faithful and thus sealed re0807b.
How do we get the seal, and why is it placed in our foreheads?
See on chapter 14, verse 1. re1401b&c.
According to a passage from Malachi above, all will be able to distinguish between the righteous and the wicked at the end of time. Because we see the seal as a mark of identification, we may ask what will characterize the sealed ones. We discuss this in relation to the mark of the beast in chapter 13. Is sun worship the alternative to the seal of God? Perhaps, in a sense. I'll let you think about it.
See the chart relating the 144,000 to the multitude. Of course, it will make more sense after we have discussed the groups.