A Study of Revelation

Revelation chapter 7

In Rev. 6:17 we have a question posed:
Rev. 6:17
17* for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?”

Chapter 7 answers this question. Chapter 7 tells us that those who stand are the 144,000. Verse 3 explains that the 144,000 are servants of God, in other words, the 144,000 represent Christians. They are described as a great multitude standing before the throne of God dressed in white robes. Verse 14 tells us that their robes were made white by the blood of the Lamb, this is clearly a reference to Christians. Christians are those who are sealed by God and have their sins forgiven by the blood of the lamb.
Chapter 7 begins:

Rev. 7:1
7:1* ¶ After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth, so that no wind would blow on the earth or on the sea or on any tree.

Notice the use of the number 4 in this verse. There are 4 angels, standing at the 4 corners of the earth, holding back the 4 winds. The number 4 in the Bible is often used in association with the physical things of this earth.

The angels are “holding back” the four winds, not allowing for the destruction described in the sixth seal to happen until certain things take place. This is a figurative description of God delaying the destruction of the earth until he accomplishes His purpose.

In Revelation the terms “earth,” “sea,” and “trees” are used figuratively to represent people. In Psalm 1:3 we read:

Psalm 1:3
3 He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers.

The “trees” in Revelation represent people, later in the book “growing things,” and “green things” also represent people.

Rev. 7:2-3
2* And I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, having the seal of
the living God; and he cried out with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea,
3* saying, “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees until we have sealed the bond-servants of our God on their foreheads.”

Now another angel arrives on the scene carrying the seal of the living God. This shows that this angel comes with the power and authority of God Almighty. His job is to “seal” the bond-servants of God, which shows that this is taking place during the Christian dispensation. Christians are being “sealed” today according to Eph. 1:13:

Eph. 1:13
13* In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation–having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise,
14* who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.

Paul writing to Christians says that after they believed they were “sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit.” When someone obeys the gospel today they are “sealed” with the Holy Spirit of promise.

Art used by permission by Pat Marvenko Smith, copyright 1992.
To order prints visit:
“Revelation Illustrated”

Acts 2:38
38* Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

When one obeys the gospel he receives the Holy Spirit of promise. To be sealed is to show that we belong to God. God gives His Holy Spirit to obedient Christians as a “pledge” of our inheritance, or , in other words, to demonstrate ownership. When we are “sealed” we belong to God, we receive the seal of God on our foreheads. This is a figurative representation showing that we belong to God.

Again, it is obvious in the book of Revelation that this “seal” is not a literal seal on our foreheads. This seal is symbolically placed in the Christian’s’ forehead to show that he gives his mind, thought and allegiance to the one and only living God.

Rev. 7:3
3* saying, “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees until we have sealed the bond-servants of our God on their foreheads.”

God will not destroy this world, or let it be destroyed, until every soul who is searching for Him comes to obedience, or until all the “bond-servants of God” are sealed. This as well as other passages in Revelation (6:11: 18:2; 20:7-9) indicate that this earth will never be totally destroyed by man. It will exist until all the servants of God have been sealed and Christ has returned to take his faithful home. Then God will destroy it forever.

Art used by permission by Pat Marvenko Smith, copyright 1992.
To order prints visit:
“Revelation Illustrated”

Rev. 7:4
4* And I heard the number of those who were sealed, one hundred and forty-four thousand sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel:

The number of people who received this seal of God in their foreheads was 144,000. While some people want to take it literally, we must remind ourselves that Revelation uses numbers in a figurative way to symbolically describe something without consideration of the numerical value. 144,000 in Revelation is a complete number describing all of the saved of all time.

The first proof we have that this must be the proper way to interpret this number is found in the following verses. In verses 5 through 8 there is a listing of the 12 tribes of israel, and twelve thousand are sealed from each tribe. The first thing we notice about this list is that it is not the literal 12 tribes of Israel we have recorded in our Old Testaments. The tribe of Joseph is mentioned. There was no tribe of Joseph. The tribes of Dan and Ephraim are omitted and Levi is added. If these are to understood as the literal tribes of Israel that we must conclude that no one is saved from the tribes of Dan and Ephraim and those in the tribes of Joseph and Manasses would be included twice.

In the New Testament James addresses the 12 tribes when he is clearly writing to Christians. In Galatians 6:16 the church is referred to as the “Israel of God.” This simply means that the 144,000 is 12,000 multiplied by 12 equaling 144,000. 12 being the number used to identify organized religion, 1,000 being the number used to speak of completeness, 144,000 represents all the saved of all ages.

In Rev. 21:17 the measurement of the wall of the holy city is given. It measures 144 cubits. The wall represents the law of God which man must obey in order to enter into this holy city, the church. The wall measures 144 cubits, and the people inside this wall are the 144,000 or the save of all ages. Those who obey the gospel pass through the 144-cubit wall and become a part of the 144,000.

Rev. 7:9
9* After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands;
10* and they cry out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”

This begins another vision using some of the symbols from the first. The great multitude which no one could count were clothed in white. In Rev. 19:8 we read:

Rev. 19:8
8* It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.

This great multitude then describes Christians. These Christians clothed in white, a symbol of purity and holiness, are standing before the throne which indicates that they are in the presence of God. Christians today stand figuratively before the throne of God in the church.

People of every nation and tongue serve God in the church today. This is in contrast to the Law of Moses which required only the children of Israel to be subject to those laws.

This great multitude of people held palms in their hands. The palm tree is an emblem of constancy, fruitfulness, patience and victory. Palm branches were spread before Jesus as he entered Jerusalem (Jn. 12:13; Mk. 11:8).

As members of the church today we figuratively stand before the throne of God dressed in white robes indicating the sinless state we are in because of Christ’s sacrifice, and the palms represent our willingness to serve him.

This great multitude representing all Christians cry out with a loud voice as they praise God and Christ for the salvation they have provided. This should be the constant praise offered by God’s people today.

Art used by permission by Pat Marvenko Smith, copyright 1992.
To order prints visit:
“Revelation Illustrated”

Rev. 7:11-12
11* And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures; and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God,
12* saying, “Amen, blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might, be to our God forever and ever. Amen.”

God is the one true God and worthy to be worshiped by every begging that exists. This is similar to the vision we have in chapter 4. The elders represent the spiritual lawgivers of God. Both our physical actions and our spiritual worship must be directed to God according to the laws that he has given.

Art used by permission by Pat Marvenko Smith, copyright 1992.
To order prints visit:
“Revelation Illustrated”

Rev. 7:13
13* ¶ Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, “These who are clothed in the white robes, who are they, and where have they come from?”

The elder asks these questions of John for which he already knows the answer to emphasize the importance of the answer.

Rev. 7:14
14* I said to him, “My lord, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
15* “For this reason, they are before the throne of God; and they serve Him day and night in His temple; and He who sits on the throne will spread His tabernacle over them.
This is a picture of what is happening in God’s holy city, the bride of Christ, the church of Christ today. When one leaves the spiritual tribulation that is in the world and is obedient to God they symbolically wash their robes in the blood of the Lamb and stand before the throne of God and worship Him. We know that His temple is a reference to His church (1 Cor. 3:16), this identifies where the throne is located.

This symbolism is parallel to the likeness of Moses delivering the children of Israel from physical bondage. As Moses, who is the likeness of Christ delivered physical Israel from bondage in Egypt, Christ delivers mankind from the spiritual bondage of sin. Moses led his people across the Red Sea, and Christ leads mankind out of the bondage of sin through the red sea of his blood.

We know this to be the case because this was prophesied in Isaiah 61:1

Isaiah 61:1
61:1 ¶ The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, Because the LORD has anointed me To bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to captives And freedom to prisoners;

Jesus quoted these words and applied them to himself in Luke 4:

Luke 4:17
17* And the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. And He opened the book and found the place where it was written,
18* “THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS UPON ME, BECAUSE HE ANOINTED ME TO PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THE POOR. HE HAS SENT ME TO PROCLAIM RELEASE TO THE CAPTIVES, AND RECOVERY OF SIGHT TO THE BLIND, TO SET FREE THOSE WHO ARE OPPRESSED,
19* TO PROCLAIM THE FAVORABLE YEAR OF THE LORD.”
20* And He closed the book, gave it back to the attendant and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on Him.
21* And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

Today we hear the voice of Jesus and respond to His covenant, and when we do we are His temple (2 Cor. 6:16). We have a better covenant enacted on better promises, the perfect law of liberty (James 1:25) Because of the blood of Christ we have access to the throne of God, Hebrews 4:16 tell us:

Heb. 4:16
16* Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Under the old Law the people of Israel did not have this privilege, it was necessary for them to go through the High priest to have access to God. In the present age every Christian is a priest (2 Pet. 2:9) and therefore serves God day and night in his temple, the church.

Rev. 7:16-17
16* “They will hunger no longer, nor thirst anymore; nor will the sun beat down on them, nor any heat;
17* for the Lamb in the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and will guide them to springs of the water of life; and God will wipe every tear from their eyes.”

Since these verses are often applied to heaven it is difficult to get people to understand that we are dealing with figurative language which applies in a symbolic way to God’s relationship to His people today. These things will certainly be true of Heaven, our eternal home, but they have application in a spiritual way today in the church.

Christians need not hunger or thirst after righteousness because Christ is our source of righteousness. Jesus said in Matt. 5:6

Matt. 5:6
6* “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

The Israelites under the Law of Moses hungered and thirsted for the righteousness that came through the law of Christ. Those who hunger and thirst after righteousness today can be filled by obeying the gospel and becoming a member of the Lord’s church.

Isaiah spoke of the coming Kingdom of Christ and said:

Isaiah 49:10
10 “They will not hunger or thirst, Nor will the scorching heat or sun strike them down; For He who has compassion on them will lead them And will guide them to springs of water.

Christ established his Kingdom and those in it do not hunger and thirst for righteousness, they have a shelter from the heat and sun which is used again to prophesy the coming of the church.

In another passage in Isaiah 4:6

Isaiah 4:6
6 There will be a shelter to give shade from the heat by day, and refuge and protection from the storm and the rain.

In the church we have refuge and protection from the storm of sin, the heat of the sins of this world as long as we remain faithful. Isaiah also said:

Isaiah 35:8
A highway will be there, a roadway, And it will be called the Highway of Holiness. The unclean will not travel on it, But it will be for him who walks that way, And fools will not wander on it.

These are all prophecies that were fulfilled in the first coming of Christ to the earth and the establishment of His church, the Holy city, the Bride of Christ, the church of Christ.

As members of the church today we have the Lamb in the midst of the throne to feed us, and to provide us with spiritual water. He wipes away our tears and sorrows for our inability to atone for our own sins through our own righteousness or the keeping of the Law of Moses. We rejoice today because we have salvation in Christ.

Isaiah 25:8; 30:19; 35:10; and 60:20 describe the coming of the church as a time when God’s people have their tears taken away.

Today that spiritual reality is in existence in the Holy city, the Bride of Christ. When we obey the gospel our robes are washed and made white by the blood of the Lamb. We enter into God’s temple where we serve him day and night. We no longer hunger and thirst after righteousness because we are filled. We have obtained the righteousness which is in Christ Jesus (2 Cor. 5:21). We have a place of refuge from the sins of the world, and we partake of the living waters of life. God also wipes the tears of spiritual sorrow from our eyes, and we are able to rejoice because of the salvation we have in Christ.

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