God’s end-time servants will receive the Seal of God – Revelation 7:1-3

REVELATION 7:1-3

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.

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.

SUMMARY OF THIS ARTICLE

This is the second article on Revelation 7:1-3.

The earth and sea (Rev 7:1) symbolize the people of the world but the trees represent God’s people (Rev 9:4).

The four winds (Rev 7:1), as argued, are another symbol for the seven last plagues, as described in Revelation 16.

Holding back – The “four angels” symbolize God “holding back” (Rev 7:1) the end-time catastrophes. God has always been holding back the forces of destruction. But a time will come when God will release those forces. When that happens, God’s people must be protected by the seal of God. Therefore, God holds the plagues back until His “bond-servants” are sealed (Rev 7:2-3). 

THE SEAL IS ONLY AVAILABLE
IN THE END-TIME.

According to the apostle Paul, people are sealed with the Holy Spirit when they put their faith in Christ. In contrast, for the reasons below, the seal of God in Revelation 7 is something special that only end-time believers will receive to protect them during catastrophic end-time events before Christ returns:

    • The seal is given to people who were already Christians (Rev 7:3).
    • The seal serves as protection against a danger that does not exist in previous ages, namely when the four winds; understood as the seven last plagues.
    • Revelation mentions the seal of God only in the context of the end-time, namely in relation to the great day of God’s wrath (Rev 6:17-7:2) and the mark of the beast (Rev 13:16-14:1).

THE SEAL WILL CHANGE PEOPLE.

The purpose of the seal is to protect God’s people when the winds (the seven last plagues) are released (Rev 7:1-3). One possibility is that the seal serves to identify God’s people so that the angels would not pour the plagues out on them (Rev 16:2). But, for the following reasons, the seal of God will actually change God’s people and empower them to remain standing during the seven last plagues:

    • The seal is God’s name (Rev 14:1 – symbolizing His character) put on the forehead (symbolizing the mind). Consequently, the 144000 with the seal of God will have “no lie … in their mouth; they are blameless” (Rev 14:1-5).
    • Spiritually mature – In several places, Revelation indicates that Christ will only return when His people have become spiritually mature. For example:
      • His bride has made herself ready” (Rev 19:7).
      • The number 144000 symbolizes spiritual maturity.
    • New Earth – On the new earth, God’s people will still have “His name … on their foreheads” (Rev 22:4). This cannot symbolize mere identification.
    • Complete – The sealing begins before the time of the sixth seal because that seal contains the signs of Christ’s return. As argued, the sealing is equivalent to the ‘completion’ of “their fellow servants” in the Fifth Seal. This completing is not quantitative but qualitative.
    • Refute accusations – The context of the sealing is the breaking of the seven seals of the book of life. As discussed, the breaking of the seals means that Jesus directs events on earth to refute Satan’s accusations against God’s people by revealing their faithfulness under persecution. In that context, spiritual maturity makes more sense than mere identification.
    • Purpose of the plagues – The “four winds” are interpreted as the seven last plagues and one purpose of the plagues is to show that repentant sinners would rather die than disobey God. This also implies spiritual maturity.

RICK JOYNER CONFIRMS THAT GOD’S END-TIME PEOPLE WILL BE EMPOWERED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT. 

The seal of God is well explained in the book “The Call” by Rick Joyner, quoting Jesus:

The last-day church will not be greater than Paul’s generation, even if she does greater works.  All that is done is done by My grace.  However, I will make more of My grace and power available to the last-day church, because she must accomplish more than the church in any age has yet accomplished.

Last-day believers will walk in all the power that I demonstrated, and more, because they will be the final representatives of all who have gone before them.  The church will demonstrate My nature and My ways as they have never been demonstrated before by men.  It is because I am giving you more grace, and to whom much is given much will be required.

– END OF SUMMARY – 

DETAILED DISCUSSION

THE FOUR CORNERS OF THE EARTH (REV 7:1)

The number four in the “four angels,” the “four corners of the earth,” and the “four winds” symbolize that these things are worldwide.

THE SEA, EARTH, AND TREES

All three verses refer to these things.

The earth and sea symbolize the people of the world (e.g. Rev 12:12). The two beasts of Revelation 13 come out of the sea and out of the earth respectively (Rev 13:1, 11). The trees, on the other hand, represent God’s people (Rev 9:4). Therefore, God protects all people of the world by delaying (“holding back” – Rev 7:1) the end-time destructions.

GRANTED TO HARM (REV 7:2)

A comparison of the work of the four angels, as reflected in these three verses (Revelation 7:1-3) supports the identification of the trees as God’s people. The four angels:

      • Hold back the four winds of the earth, so that no wind would blow on the earth or sea or any tree (Rev 7:1).
      • Were granted to harm the earth and the sea (Rev 7:2).
      • Are instructed not to harm the earth or sea or trees until God’s bond-servants have been sealed.

Both verses 1 and 3 seem to show the four angels holding back disaster and both refer to the three-fold grouping of “earth… sea … trees.” But verse 2 is different. It describes what the four angels are permitted to do, namely, “to harm the earth and the sea.” They, therefore, are not permitted to harm the trees. This supports the proposal that the trees represent God’s people.

THE FOUR WINDS (REV 7:1)

Daniel saw “the four winds of heaven were stirring up the great sea and four great beasts were coming up from the sea” (Dan 7:2-3).  The beasts are kingdoms (Dan 7:17).  The great sea” is explained as “the earth” (Dan 7:17).  This supports the view that the sea and the earth in Rev 7:1 represent the peoples of the world (cf. Rev 12:12). This also shows that the winds are things that cause upheaval and conflict among the peoples of the world:

I will bring upon Elam the four winds from the four ends of heaven, and will scatter them to all these winds; and there will be no nation to which the outcasts of Elam will not go” (Jer 49:36).

Throughout Scripture, winds are symbols of God’s judgment actions (1 Kings 19:11; Job 1:19; 21:18; 30:15; Psalm 1:4; 147:18; Isa 11:15; 27:8; 32:2; 41:16; Jer 22:22; 49:36-37; 51:1-2; Daniel 2:35; 7:2).

A previous article has concluded that the “winds” of Rev 7:1 are another symbol for the seven last plagues. In brief:

The mark of the beast is the opposite of the seal of God (Rev 13:16-14:1). 

The plagues are poured out on all people with the mark of the beast (Rev 16:2).  This implies that the plagues are poured out as soon as every person on earth has either received the mark of the beast or the seal of God. 

Since the winds are released as soon as God’s people are sealed (Rev 7:1-3), the winds are the same as the plagues of Revelation 16.

RISING OF THE SUN (Rev 7:2)

We know today that if something was approaching from outer space, it would appear to be rising in the east as the earth turns. In the Bible, the rising of the sun (the east) frequently refers to God.  For example:

      • The glory of the God of Israel was coming from the way of the east” (Ezek 43:2).
      • The three wise men saw the star in the east (Mat 2:2,9).
      • The sign of the Son of man will appear in the east (Mat 24:27-30).

The angel, therefore, brings the seal from God.

THE LIVING GOD (Rev 7:2)

The living God” may be a shortened version of the description of God found elsewhere in Revelation: “Him who lives forever and ever” (Rev 4:9-10; 10:6; and 15:7). Alternatively, this phrase may identify God s the source of life. “just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself” (1 Tim 1:26).

GOD HOLDS DESTRUCTION BACK (REV 7:1)

Revelation 7:1 mentions the winds as the threat. The next two verses do not mention the winds again, but the angels themselves cause “harm.” For that reason, we should not make a sharp distinction between the angels and the winds.

These are not literal angels nor literal winds. The four winds are symbols of worldwide destruction and the four angels symbolize God restraining the forces of destruction because His “bond-servants” are not yet sealed (Rev 7:2-3).

God has always been holding back the forces of destruction. However, in the end-time, God will release the winds to destroy unhindered.

If the winds would be released prematurely, God’s people will be harmed. The final end-time destruction is delayed until all of God’s people are sealed (Rev 7:2-3). When the winds are released, God’s people will be protected by the seal on their foreheads. However, the people of the world will have no protection.

God is doing the restraining. Is He delaying His own judgments or is He preventing the world from self-destructing?  God allows Satan to use this earth as a demonstration of his form of government to show that separation from God—the Source of Life—inevitably leads to death. The Book of Revelation is written, in part, to expose that cosmic conflict. When the day comes that God’s people are sealed, all restraint is drawn away from the wicked.

SEQUENCE OF EVENTS

The Sixth Seal, at the end of chapter 6, has the signs of the return of Christ (Rev 6:15-17). Revelation 7 begins with the sealing of the 144000. The sealing, obviously, must be completed before Christ returns. The first part of Revelation 7, therefore, jumps back to the time before the return of Christ. The sixth seal only continues in Rev 7:9.

In Revelation 7:1-3, the four winds are still being restrained. Once the sealing is completed, the four winds will be released, causing a final, worldwide destruction. A previous article concluded that the four winds are another symbol for the destruction caused by the seven last plagues and that the four winds are included or preceded by the sixth seal. For example, in the sixth seal, “every mountain and island were moved out of their places” (Rev 6:14).

We see this structure, namely that something is mentioned briefly, and then the text goes back in time to explain it, often in Revelation.  For instance:

    • The woman’s wilderness period is mentioned briefly in Rev 12:6. Then the text goes back in time to the War in Heaven (Rev 12:7-12) to explain why the woman had to flee to the wilderness. The sequence of events continues in Rev 12:14.
    • Babylon receives God’s fierce wrath in the seventh plague at the end of Revelation 16. Revelation 17 and 18 is then an interlude or interruption that explains the origin, nature, and the end of Babylon. The seventh plague continues in Revelation 19. For further discussion, see Chronological Sequence.

The sequence of events, therefore, is as follows:

      1. Angels have been restraining the winds before the seal came down from heaven (Rev 7:1).
      2. Seal of God comes down out of heaven (Rev 7:2).
      3. The servants of God are sealed while angels continue to restrain the winds (Rev 7:3-8).
      4. The winds are released, causing the destruction resulting in the sixth seal (Rev 6:12-14).
      5. Christ returns (Rev 6:15-17)
      6. The innumerable multitude stands before the throne of God (Rev 7:9-).

THE NEW TESTAMENT SEAL

In this section, the question is what the seal of God in Revelation 7 is. In the New Testament, sealing is related to the reception of the Holy Spirit into one’s life:

And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit.” (Eph 1:13, NIV; see also Eph 4:30).

By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit” (1 John 4:13).

The Holy Spirit is the assurance of salvation—the guarantee of heaven. This sealing takes place when a person comes to Christ and, in the New Testament, it is clearly not limited to the End-time.

God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: ‘The Lord knows those who are his” (2 Tim 2:19. NIV).

Sealing was clearly a present reality in Timothy’s day and was the mark of a genuine Christian.

The question, therefore, is whether the seal in Revelation 7 is the same as the NT seal. In other words, is the seal in Revelation 7 simply a symbolic way of saying people are saved?

In that case, the Revelation 7 sealing may be an intensified final proclamation of the gospel with the result that people at the End become genuine believers and are sealed in the New Testament sense.  In this interpretation, sealing is a process that has gone on throughout the Christian era but reaches a final climax at the time of the end.

REV 7 DOES NOT REFER TO THE NEW TESTAMENT SEAL.

It is proposed here that the seal of God in Revelation 7 is something special that only end-time believers will receive and, therefore, is not the same as the seal mentioned that is available throughout the church age. This is indicated by the following:

ALREADY SEALED

The four winds” are held back by “four angels” until “the servants of God” are sealed “on their foreheads” with “the seal of the living God.” In other words, people who were already sealed in the Pauline sense receive the end-time seal. That means that the sealing is an additional work of God, a work of deepening spiritual maturity as the end-time approaches.

EZEKIEL 9

Revelation is parallel to the horrific description of Ezekiel 9:1-7. In both, a mark is made on the foreheads of God’s people, and in both the purpose of the mark is to protect them from the judgment that follows. Revelation 7 symbolizes the judgments as destructive winds. In Ezekiel 9, the destroying angels kill those who are not marked.

In Ezekiel 9 the marking on the forehead is done in acknowledgment of their prior faithfulness. By inference, the same applies to Revelation 7; the “servants of God” are those who are known to Him and who are to be protected in the final crisis.

END-TIME DANGER

The sealing in Revelation 7 is necessitated by the unique danger that comes when the four winds are released. Since this danger is limited to the end-time, the seal is also limited to the end-time.

PROTECTION

The NT seal functions as an identification (2 Tim 2:19). In Revelation 7:1-8, “the four winds” are held back until all God’s people are sealed. “Winds” are symbols of strife and conflict. The seal in Revelation 7, therefore, functions as protection; to shelter God’s people from the tribulations to come. It is not simply an identification.

This is confirmed by Rev 9:4:

They were told not to hurt … only the men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads.

POINT IN TIME

The seal comes out of heaven and the sealing begins while winds are being held in check (Rev 7:2) and, therefore, at a specific point in history. Another article proposes that the fifth seal also refers to a point in history, namely the beginning of the Time of the End, and that that is also when the seal of God comes down and the sealing begins. Then the seal would not be available during the previous four seals.

END-TIME CONTEXT

The seal of God in Revelation is only mentioned in the context of the end-time events:

      • In Revelation 7, the seal is mentioned between the great day of God’s wrath (Rev 6:17) and the innumerable multitude who inherits the new heaven and new earth (Rev 7:9, 14-17).
      • In Revelation 14, the 144000 sealed servants of God are described after the end-time persecution to put the mark of the beast on all people.

In conclusion, Paul wrote that, at conversion, God’s people “were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit.” “By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.” The seal in Revelation 7, however, is not the same as the seal Paul wrote about. It is something special that only end-time believers will receive to protect them from the destruction of the seven last plagues.

WINDS WILL NOT HARM GOD’S PEOPLE.

The winds will not harm God’s people. This is indicated by the following:

    • The angels/winds have not been granted to harm God’s people (the trees). (See the discussion of the earth, sea, and trees above.)
    • As stated, the winds are the seven last plagues and the plagues will only fall on people with the mark of the beast (Rev 16:2).

The question is, WHY will the winds not harm God’s people?

    • Does the seal serve to identify God’s people so that the angels will know on which people not to put the seven last plagues?
    • Or, will the seal of God will change God’s people to enable them to endure the destruction caused by the winds?

DOES THE SEAL SERVE TO IDENTIFY GOD’S PEOPLE?

The “winds” are God’s judgments on the wicked. In the first option, the winds cannot be unleashed until it is clear just who the righteous are. Once they are identified by means of His seal, the angels will know who to harm and who not.

Perhaps one of Jesus’ parables has this in mind: When the slaves asked “Do you want us, then, to go and gather them (the tares) up,”  the man said, “No; for while you are gathering up the tares, you may uproot the wheat with them” (Matt 13:28-29)

The blood on the doorposts in Exodus 12:21-23 is an example of God’s protection of His people in history. Other examples from Revelation:

They were told not to hurt the grass of the earth, nor any green thing, nor any tree, but only the men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads” (Rev 9:4)

Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth” (Rev 3:10).

GOD’S PEOPLE WILL BE CHANGED TO ENDURE THE END-TIME CATASTROPHES.

The second option is that the seal of God will change God’s people and empower them to endure the destruction caused by the winds. The following supports this view:

GOD’S NAME ON THE FOREHEAD

The seal is put on the foreheads of the servants of God (Rev 7:3). The forehead symbolizes the mind.  The seal is the name of God (Rev 14:1), and names in Revelation represent character (Rev 17:3, 5). In other words, to put the seal of God on their foreheads is to change how they think; they like God.

Even in the new heaven and new earth (Rev 21:1), “His name will be on their foreheads” (Rev 22:4). This cannot be for identification, for all people will have the seal of God. It must indicate character.

Revelation 14:1-5 describes the nature of the people with “His name and the name of His Father written on their foreheads:” “No lie was found in their mouth; they are blameless” (Rev 14:5).

In Revelation, the opposite of the seal of God is the mark of the beast. That mark is received by those who oppose God, His people, and the gospel in the final days of earth’s history (Rev 13:16-17, see also Rev 14:9; 16:2; 19:20 and 20:4). While the seal of God consists of the name or character of God being applied in the lives of end-time believers, the mark of the beast consists of the name and character of the beast being applied to the beast’s end-time followers:

      • Some of them embrace the beast’s character. This is symbolized by the mark on the forehead.
      • Others will simply go along for economic and other benefits. They receive the mark on the hand.

Therefore, both the seal of God and the mark of the beast denote conformity to the character of the respective one that human beings worship (obey) at the End. In the final crisis, everyone on earth will bear the image of either the demonic or the divine.

THEY WILL BE ‘COMPLETED’ (FIFTH SEAL).

Another article argues that the fifth seal refers to a specific point in historical time, namely the beginning of the Time of the End. After that point in time, “their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, would be completed” (Rev 6:11). That has been interpreted as qualitative completion; not quantitative.

That article, furthermore, argued that the point in time in the fifth seal is the beginning of the sealing of Rev 7:1-3. Consequently, the completion of “their fellow servants” in the fifth seal is the same as the sealing of Rev 7:1-3. Therefore, the sealing should also be understood qualitatively; namely that God’s people are made complete in character.

THE CORE ISSUE IN THE SEALS IS THAT GOD’S PEOPLE WILL BE TESTED.

As previously argued, the seven seals explain the book of life (See Book of Life and The book which not even God can open.) Breaking the seals explains why the names in the book of life are the right names. They show that God’s decisions as to who should live eternally and who must die, are perfect. The sealing of God’s servants (Rev 7:1-3) is part of that explanation. In that context, the view that the seal is a substantial change to God’s people makes more sense, rather than merely an identification of God’s people.

CHRIST WILL RETURN WHEN HIS BRIDE HAS MADE HERSELF READY.

Another way to show the extraordinary character of the 144000 is the indications that Christ will only return when His people have reached a certain level of maturity. For example:

      • His bride has made herself ready. 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” (Rev 19:7:8).
      • Put in your sickle and reap, for the hour to reap has come, because the harvest of the earth (God’s people) is ripe” (Rev 14:15).

THE NUMBER 144000 IMPLIES MATURITY.

The special nature of the end-time seal is also indicated by the number of people that will receive it; 144000.  Numbers in Revelation are always interpreted symbolically. 144000 is the full number of God’s people.  It, therefore, is proposed that the number 144000 should be understood qualitatively; rather than quantitatively. For a discussion, see the article on the 144000. It is a symbolic way of saying that these people will be mature Christians and will not give way under persecution.

THE PURPOSE OF THE PLAGUES IS TO REVEAL THE TRUE NATURE OF PEOPLE.

The series of articles on the seven last plagues have concluded that the purpose of the plagues is not to punish but to teach, namely to show that God’s judgment of people is without fault:

      • Firstly, the plagues will show that the people with the mark of the beast, although they profess to be Christians, are hardened beyond repentance.
      • Secondly, the plagues will show that repentant sinners would rather die than disobey God, and, therefore, are worthy of eternal life.

This supports the view that the seal of God is more than mere identification. Rather, the seal is explained by the book “The Call” by Rick Joyner, quoting Jesus speaking:

The last-day church will not be greater than Paul’s generation, even if she does greater works.  All that is done is done by My grace.  However, I will make more of My grace and power available to the last-day church, because she must accomplish more than the church in any age has yet accomplished.

Last-day believers will walk in all the power that I demonstrated, and more, because they will be the final representatives of all who have gone before them.  The church will demonstrate My nature and My ways as they have never been demonstrated before by men.  It is because I am giving you more grace, and to whom much is given much will be required.

FINAL CONCLUSIONS

The seal of God is only available in the end-time.

The seal of God will actually change God’s people and empower them to remain standing during the seven last plagues.

ARTICLES ON THE SEVEN SEALS

OVERVIEW

REVELATION 4

REVELATION 5

REVELATION 6

    • Seal 1: The white horse is the gospel.
    • Seals 2 to 4: Bloodshed, famine and death
    • Seal 5: Who are the souls under the altar?
    • Seal 6 includes the plagues and concludes with Christ’s return.

REVELATION 7

REVELATION 8

For further reading on Revelation, I recommend Jon Paulien’s commentary. For general discussions of theology, I recommend Graham Maxwell, who you will find on the Pineknoll website.

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