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

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

The earth and sea (Rev 7:1) symbolize the world’s people, 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 protects against a danger that does not exist in previous ages, namely the four winds, interpreted as the seven last plagues.
    • Revelation mentions the seal of God only in the context of the end-time, namely together with 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 really 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 completion 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 – 

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. The 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 to list 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.

OTHER ARTICLES

The book that was sealed with seven seals (Revelation 4:1-8:1)

PURPOSE

The purpose of this article is to explain the second vision in the Book of Revelation, namely of the sealed book (Revelation 4:1-8:1).

BRIEF OVERVIEW

REVELATION 4

Revelation 4 does not describe any specific event but provides a timeless description of God’s throne room.

CRISIS IN HEAVEN

Revelation 5:1-4 describes a crisis in heaven symbolized by a book that nobody was able to open or read because it was sealed up with seven seals. Not even Christ was able to open the book (Rev 5:1-3).

A book symbolizes knowledge and a sealed book symbolizes concealed knowledge; things that are not understood. In other words, there are or were things that the beings in heaven do not understand.

        • What are these things?
        • Why do they not understand?
        • Why did God not explain (open the book)?

This causes John “to weep greatly” (Rev 5:4), symbolizing the sorrow in heaven because these things are not understood. 

In Revelation 5:5, the sorrow turns to joy, for Jesus “has overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals.” Then Jesus appears as “a Lamb … as if slain” (Rev 5:6). This refers to His cross and implies that the time of sorrow (Rev 5:1-4) was the time BEFORE His death.

WORTHY TO OPEN THE BOOK

Through His death, Jesus became “worthy” to open the book (Rev 5:5, 9).

To open or read a book means to explain its contents; to make this knowledge available. Before Christ died, there was no way out of this crisis. There was no way to enable the heavenly beings to understand.

        • Why was Jesus not able to open the book before He died?
        • How did His death make Him “worthy” to open the book?

The rest of Revelation 5 focuses on one specific event, namely Jesus’ glorification at His Father’s right hand after His ascension.

THE CHURCH AGE

In Revelation 6, Jesus breaks the first six seals of the book. Each time that He breaks a seal in heaven, something happens on earth.

Breaking the first seal brings victory (Rev 6:1-2) but the next three bring death (Rev 6:3-8), culminating in the fifth seal where God’s slain people cry for revenge (Rev 6:9-11).

The seals are the things that PREVENT understanding. Breaking the seals means removing these barriers to understanding. Somehow, the deaths of God’s people enable the heavenly beings to understand.

The fifth seal describes a specific point in time, interpreted as the beginning of the time of the endThe sixth seal begins with the signs of Christ’s return (Rev 6:12-14) and concludes with “the great day of their wrath” (Rev 6:17), which is the Day of Judgment.

Since Jesus received the book and began to break its seals after His Cross, and since the sixth seal is the Day of Judgment, the first five seals represent the church age. Christ’s death did NOT enable the heavens to understand immediately, but His death made Him “worthy” to explain these things OVER THE CHURCH AGE.

THE SEALING OF GOD’S PEOPLE

After the fifth seal (6:9-11), which is the beginning of the time of the end, and after the sixth seal (6:12-17), which is the Day of Judgment, the first part of Revelation 7 (7:1-8) describes the sealing of 144000 Jews. These verses explain that “the four winds,” symbolizing the end-time crisis before Christ returns, are delayed until ALL of God’s people are sealed with “the seal of the living God” (Rev 7:1-3).

Since God’s people must be sealed BEFORE judgment day, the sealing (7:1-8) describes a time BEFORE the sixth seal.

Since “the four winds,” symbolizing the end-time crisis, are delayed until God’s people are sealed, God’s people are not ready for that crisis. God delays that crisis UNTIL His people are ready (sealed).

        • What is the seal of God?
        • Why are only 144000 people sealed?
        • And why are only Jews sealed?

JUDGMENT DAY CONTINUES

Revelation 7:9 picks up where Revelation 6 left off and describes an Innumerable Multitude standing before the throne of God. This, therefore, continues to describe the Day of Judgment. On that day, while one group hides in the mountain from the presence of God (Rev 6:15), the other group stands before God (Rev 7:9).

THE END

The seventh and last seal is described in only a single verse (Rev 8:1). It says that all the worship and sounds of heaven, which we read about in Revelation 4 and 5, turn to silence for about half an hour. This website interprets this silence as the sorrow in the hearts of God and His people at the destruction of the lost when Christ returns (Rev 19:21).

CONCLUSIONS

These concepts are not merely nice to know. This vision reveals the true significance of Christ’s death and explains why evil still reigns on earth 2000 years after His death. This is “solid food” (Heb 5:14; 1 Cor 3:2).

The average Christian is not even aware of these questions. These are not questions that preachers normally ask. The reader must not expect traditional answers.

Some interpretations attempt to interpret the events that result from breaking the seals without identifying the sealed book. In this commentary, the identification of the book is foundational. We will only understand the catastrophes caused by breaking the seals when we understand what this book is.

This article is a summary of a series of detailed articles (See, List of articles). Links to the detailed articles are provided below.

Unless otherwise indicated, all quotations are from the NASB.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

OVERVIEW OF THE TEXT

REVELATION 5

REVELATION 6

REVELATION 7

REVELATION 8

OVERVIEW OF THE TEXT

This article first provides an overview of all four chapters (4:1-8:1), listing several questions. There-after, it proposes answers.

REVELATION 4

The vision begins in Revelation 4 with a description of God’s throne room. It does not describe a specific event or a specific point in time. It describes:

    • A throne and One sitting on the throne (Rev 4:2-3),
    • 24 elders sitting on 24 thrones around the throne (Rev 4:4),
    • The seven Spirits of God “burning before the throne” (Rev 4:5), and
    • Four living creatures; “full of eyes in front and behind” (Rev 4:6-8).

The elders and the living beings continually “worship Him who lives forever and ever,” saying:

For You created all things, and
because of Your will they existed,
and were created
” (Rev 4:8-11).

Jesus is NOT present in the throne room in this chapter.

THE 24 ELDERS

For reasons such as the following, the 24 elders are human beings; not angels:

      • Elder” is a familiar Biblical title for humans but not for angels.
      • Angels never sit on thrones and never wear crowns of any kind, but humans do (Rev 2:10; 3:11; 3:21; 20:4).
      • The number 24 is equal to 12+12 and 12 is a symbol for God’s people. For example, on the New Jerusalem are written the names of the 12 tribes of Israel as well as the names of the 12 apostles (Rev 21:12, 14).

The full articles are available at:

CRISIS IN HEAVEN (5:1-6)

Revelation 5 begins by describing a crisis in heaven, symbolized by a book that nobody was “worthy” to open or read because it was sealed up with seven seals (Rev 5:1-3). Since a sealed book symbolizes concealed knowledge, and since this book is in heaven, it means that there were things that the elders and the four living beings were unable to understand.

This causes John to weep greatly (Rev 5:4). Since John is now in heaven (Rev 4:1), his great weeping symbolizes the sorrow among the beings in heaven because they do not understand. Apparently, this knowledge is of vital importance for the happiness of the universe.

But Revelation 5:5 turns that sorrow into joy, for it announces that Jesus “has overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals.” Jesus now appears as a slain lamb (Rev 5:6). In other words, His death enabled Him to open the book. The crisis of the book that nobody was able to open (Rev 5:1-4), therefore, describes the time BEFORE CHRIST’S DEATH.

CHRIST ENTHRONED (5:7-14)

After Jesus takes the book (Rev 5:7), the beings in God’s throne room declare Him worthy to break the seven seals and to open the book (Rev 5:9-10). Then the “myriads of myriads” of “angels around the throne,” together with “the living creatures and the elders,” praise “the Lamb.” Lastly, “every created thing” praises both “Him who sits on the throne, and … the Lamb” (Rev 5:11-14). 

Jesus does not open the book immediately. In Revelation 6, He breaks the seals one by one, resulting in catastrophes on earth. Therefore, to know WHEN these things happen, we need to know WHEN the Lamb receives the book.

Some put the meeting in Revelation 5 in the end-time; shortly before Christ returns. However, for the following reasons, Revelation 5:7-14 describes Jesus’ enthronement immediately after His ascension to heaven:

      1. It fits the New Testament’s description of Christ’s enthronement.
      2. Revelation 3:21 refers to Revelation 5 as something that happened BEFORE John received the prophecy in about 95 AD.

To explain in more detail:

(A) FITS CHRIST’S ENTHRONEMENT IN THE NEW TESTAMENT

According to the New Testament:

After Jesus was slain, raised to life, and caught up in heaven, He was enthroned at the Father’s right hand (e.g., Eph 1:20-22).

Jesus was crucified on the feast of the Passover. Fifty days later, on the Day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit was poured out (Acts 2:33).

This is what we see in Revelation 5:

1) Jesus appears as “a Lamb … as if slain” (Rev 5:6). This points to His death.

2) Then Jesus takes the book (Rev 5:7). Since He receives the book BECAUSE He overcame (Rev 5:5), we understand that He took the book IMMEDIATELY after His ascension to heaven.

3) The book is in God’s right hand (Rev 5:1). The New Testament frequently states that Jesus sat down “at the right hand of God” (e.g. Mark 16:19). Presumably, when He takes the book, He also sits down at God’s right hand.

4) In Revelation 4, “the seven Spirits of God” are “before the throne” (Rev 4:5) but, after the Son appears as a slain lamb, the Spirit is said to be sent out into all the earth” (Rev 5:6). This seems to indicate that the Holy Spirit was already poured out by then.

(B) REVELATION 3:21

Jesus said:

I also overcame and
sat down with My Father on His throne
” (Rev 3:21)

Both verbs in this statement describe things that happened in Revelation 5:

      • I also overcame” is equivalent to Jesus “has overcome so as to open the book” (Rev 5:5).
      • Sat down with My Father on His throne” corresponds with Revelation 5:7, where He ascends to His Father’s throne.

Since these two verbs are in the past tense, they describe things that happened in the time BEFORE John received the prophecy. And since these things also happen in Revelation 5, that chapter describes events BEFORE John received these visions somewhere around 95 AD.

CONCLUSIONS

      • Revelation 5:7-14 describes Jesus’ enthronement after His resurrection and ascension.
      • Jesus BEGAN breaking the seals immediately AFTER HIS ASCENSION to heaven.
      • Since the sixth seal contains the signs of Christ’s return (Rev 6:12-17; cf. Matt 24:29-30), the first five seals describe the church age.
      • The book is today still not fully open, meaning that the heavenly beings still do not understand all these things.
      • Christ will only return once they understand.

QUESTION

A very important question is this: Why did He not open the book completely (i.e., explain the contents) immediately after His death made Him “worthy” to do it (Rev 5:9)? Put differently: Why has Christ not returned yet?

The full article is available at: Revelation 5 is Christ’s enthronement.

BREAKING THE SEALS (6:1 TO 8:1)

FIRST FOUR SEALS (6:1-8)

The first four seals – the famous horsemen of the apocalypse – bring victory but also bloodshed, famine, and death (Rev 6:1-8).

Since the first four seals are all symbolized as horses, they form a unit, meaning that they symbolize one thing consisting of four parts.

Since the seals are the things that prevent understanding, and since breaking the seals causes bloodshed, famine, and death, we can say that Jesus removes those barriers to understanding through catastrophic events on earth.

FIFTH SEAL (6:9-11)

The fifth seal (Rev 6:9-11) shows the souls of God’s people who have been slain for their testimony. They are under the altar and cry out:

How long, O Lord, holy and true,
will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood?

In Old Testament sacrificial rituals, the blood of animals was “poured out” at the base of the altar (e.g., Exo 29:12). The fifth seal converts this ritual into a metaphor: God’s people are symbolically sacrificed ON the altar. They are not under a literal altar.

Since the fifth seal shows us God’s slain people, the bloodshed of the previous seals is the killing of God’s people. The following supports this conclusion:

As discussed below, the white horse of the first seal symbolizes the gospel. Since the first four seals form a unit, the killing in seals 2 to 4 should be the consequence of the gospel.

Put in different words, the first seal in the gospel. The fifth seal shows God’s people slain for their faith. Given this context, what could the killing in the intermediate seals be other that the killing of God’s people?

The souls under the altar cry out for revenge, but this is not the end yet, for they are told to wait, for more must die for their faith (Rev 6:9-11). This fifth seal, therefore, describes a specific point in time in history. Before that point in history, many have died but, after that point in history, many more must die.

SIXTH SEAL (6:12-17)

As already stated, the sixth seal has signs of Christ’s return; signs in the sun, moon, and stars (Rev 6:12-14; cf. Matt 24:29-30). It is the Day of Judgment; “the great day of their wrath” (Rev 6:17). Although a great earthquake shifts mountains out of their places, the people hide in the mountains because they are more scared of “the wrath of the Lamb” (Rev 6:16) than of this great earthquake.

QUESTION: Where are God’s people at this time?

THE SEALING OF THE 144000 (7:1-3)

Chapter seven begins by interrupting the sequence of seals. In a play on words, while the book is being unsealed, “the bond-servants of our God” are sealed with “the seal of the living God” (Rev 7:3).

The sealing of God’s people (Rev 7:1-3) must be completed before the Day of Judgment as described in the sixth seal. The sealing, therefore, describes something that happens BEFORE the sixth seal

The four winds” of destruction (by implication, the sixth seal) are held back until ALL of God’s people are sealed (Rev 7:3). In other words, the purpose of the seal of the living God is to protect God’s people when the end-time winds of destruction are released (Rev 7:1-3). This also means that this seal will ONLY be available in the end-time.

THE 144000 (7:4-8)

These verses explain who is sealed. According to Revelation 7:3, “the bond-servants of our God” are sealed. But now we hear that 144000 people are sealed, and they are all Jews; 12000 from each of the tribes of Israel (Rev 7:1-4).

THE MULTITUDE BEFORE THE THRONE (7:9-17)

At the end of Revelation 6, the multitude hiding in the mountains asked:

The great day of their wrath has come,
and who is able to stand” (Rev 6:16-17)?

After Revelation has jumped back in time to describe the sealing of the 144000 (7:1-8), Revelation 7 continues to describe:

A great multitude which no one could count …,
standing before the throne and before the Lamb” (Rev 7:9).

The great multitude “standing before the throne,’ therefore, is the answer to the question of the hiding multitude; they are the people who are able to stand on Judgment Day. They have the “white robes” of salvation (Rev 7:9).

Consequently, the sealing of the 144000 (Rev 7:1-8) is an interruption of the sixth seal and the multitude before the throne (Rev 7:9-17) is a continuation of the sixth seal. In other words, the sixth seal describes a point in history, DURING Christ’s return, when:

      • God’s people are standing before God’s throne while
      • The lost hides in the mountains.

THE SEVENTH SEAL

The final seal is described in only one verse:

When the Lamb broke the seventh seal,
there was silence in heaven
for about half an hour
” (Rev 8:1).

Revelation 5 began with sorrow in heaven because nobody was able to open the book (Rev 5:1-4). With the seventh seal broken, the book is now fully open.

QUESTIONS RAISED BY THE TEXT

By way of summary, several questions have been raised in this introductory overview of the text, including:

      1. What and why do they not understand?
      2. Why did God not open the book and why was not even the Son of God able to open the book before His death?
      3. How did Christ’s death make Him “worthy” to break the seals?
      4. The seven seals symbolize things that prevent understanding. What are these things?
      5. Why did Jesus not open the book immediately after He received it?
      6. Why are bloodshed, famine, and death necessary to enable the heavenly beings to understand the things written in the book?
      7. What are the “four winds” against which God’s end-time people must be protected?
      8. What is the seal of God and how will it protect God’s people?
      9. Why are only 144000 people sealed and why are they all Jews?
      10. Why are the beings in heaven silent when the seventh seal is broken and the book is fully open?

This is the end of the overview of the text. The remainder of this article proposes some answers. The first question is: What is the sealed book?

THE SEALED BOOK
IS THE BOOK OF LIFE.

In Revelation 6:1 to 8:1, Jesus breaks the seven seals of the book one by one, causing catastrophes on earth. We will not be able to understand what these events are unless we understand what this book is.

The book of life is mentioned 6 times in Revelation. As its name indicates, it identifies those who will inherit eternal life (e.g., Rev 21:2, 27; 20:14-15).

One of the foundations on which this article rests is that the sealed book is the Lamb’s Book of Life. This is based on the following similarities:

Book of Life1) Both books are written by God:

        • Since God decides who will be saved, He writes the book of life.
        • The sealed book is in God’s hand (Rev 5:1), implying that He wrote it.

2) The slain Lamb owns both books:

        • The book of life is called “the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain” (Rev 13:8; 21:27).
        • Jesus received the sealed book after He appeared as a slain lamb (Rev 5:6-7).

3) Both books are required for redemption:

        • The book of life identifies the redeemed (cf. Rev 20:12, 15).
        • Jesus is worthy to open the sealed book because He died to “PURCHASE” people for God (Rev 5:9). The sealed book, therefore, somehow, is required for redemption.

4) Both books are opened AFTER Christ returns:

        • The book of life will be opened in the final great judgment (Rev 20:12).
        • The sixth seal begins with the signs of His return (Rev 16:12-14; cf. Matt 24:29-30). Consequently, the seventh seal will be broken AT OR AFTER His return. And the book will, naturally, only be fully open when all the seals are broken.

5) Both books determine who will die and who will live:

        • This is by definition true of the book of life.
        • The sixth seal divides the population of the world between God’s people, standing before His throne (Rev 7:9), and the people hiding in the mountains (Rev 6:17), soon to be put to death by Christ (Rev 19:21).

These parallels indicate identify the sealed book as the book of life. The full article is available at – The sealed book is the Book of Life.

REVELATION 12 EXPLAINS THE SEALED BOOK.

This section presents another foundation on which this article rests, namely that Revelation 12 describes the same crisis as the sealed book and that Revelation 12 explains that crisis as a “war in heaven” between the angels over God’s judgments.

The identification of the sealed book as the book of life does not explain why nobody is able to open the book, what the seals are, or what breaking the seals means. These things are explained in Revelation 12. Revelation 12 also confirms that the sealed book is the book of life. But to introduce the discussion below, it is perhaps necessary to provide a very brief overview of Revelation 12. (A series of articles is available that discusses Revelation 12 in much more detail.)

OVERVIEW OF REVELATION 12

WAR IN HEAVEN

Revelation 12 describes a “war in heaven” between two factions of angels. Michael is the leader of one group and “the dragon” leads the other. (Rev 12:7) “The dragon” is “Satan” (Rev 12:9).

NATURE OF THE WAR

The nature of the war is clarified by the identification of Satan in the context as “the accuser of our brethren” (Rev 12:10). That means that he specifically accuses only God’s people, showing that they are sinners and deserve to die.

It is not directly stated, but we can assume that Satan’s goal is to save himself. God condemned Satan (cf. Ezek 28:19). Satan retorts that, if he must die, then all sinners must die. If it can be shown that God’s judgments are faulty, even to the slightest degree, then Satan and his angels would have grounds for their claim that they have been judged unfairly.

We see evidence of the nature of the crisis in the universe already in the book of Job – probably the oldest book of the Bible. In that book, “the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them” (Job 1:6). God continued to describe the man Job as “blameless and upright” (Job 1:8) but Satan accused Job, saying “touch all that he has; he will surely curse You to Your face” (Job 1:11). (For a discussion of Job, see – Why Satan thought he could win against God.)

Similarly, in Romans 3:25-26, Paul explains that Jesus died as a public demonstration of God’s “righteousness because … He passed over the sins previously committed.” In other words, Christ’s death was necessary because God forgave sins. How this works we attempt to explain below in the section: Why Jesus had to die.

Since, in this war in heaven, “Michael and his angels” (Rev 12:7) oppose Satan, they defend God’s judgments and protect God’s people (cf. Dan 12:1). The “war in heaven,” therefore, is a dispute between the angels of heaven over God’s judgments.

CHRIST’S DEATH

But Satan and his angels were “thrown down to the earth” (Rev 12:9-10). “There was no longer a place found for them in heaven” (Rev 12:8).

The series of articles on Revelation 12 shows that Satan was expelled from heaven IMMEDIATELY after Christ’s resurrection and ascension (Rev 12:13). This means that Jesus died to make an end to this war in heaven. In other words, without Christ’s death, it would not have been possible to refute Satan’s objections to God’s judgments. (This is also explained below in the section, Why Christ had to die.)

WAR CONTINUES ON EARTH

However, Christ’s death did not make a complete end to this war. The “blood of the Lamb” made an end to the war in heaven, but it continues on earth (Rev 12:12). Verse 11 is important because it mentions two things that are required to make a final end of the war. The first is “the blood of the Lamb” and the second is the “testimony” of our brethren; “even when faced with death” (Rev 12:11). From this we conclude that the war will continue on earth until we have confirmation of the “testimony” of our brethren; “even when faced with death,” namely, until it has been proven that God’s elect will be faithful until death (Rev 2:10).

A single error in God’s judgments would limit the perfect happiness of the whole universe for all eternity. If only one person, who should be saved, is condemned to hell, some sorrow will always remain. Therefore, until all understand that His judgments are perfect, God delays Christ’s return and the implementation of His judgments.

See the series on Revelation 12 for a further discussion.

The war in heaven is seldomly mentioned in pulpits. The Bible is mostly concerned with things on earth and does not mention the war in heaven much. Consequently, many Christians are not even aware of it. Nevertheless, it should be clear that evil was developed in heaven and brought to this world (Gen 3:1-5). Since an appreciation of the nature of the war in heaven is critical for the interpretation of the sealed book, the reader is advised to read some of the articles in the series – The Origin of Evil; particularly the article – Why Satan thought he could win against GodThe series of articles on Revelation 12 is also important.

THE SAME CRISIS

For the following reasons, Revelation 12 and the sealed book describe the same crisis. In both:

1) There was a crisis in heaven.

          • Revelation 5 symbolizes the crisis as a sealed book, causing John to weep greatly (Rev 5:1-4).
          • Revelation 12 describes it as a war between the angels in heaven.

2) The crisis relates to an inability to understand.

          • In Revelation 5, nobody is able to open or read the book.
          • In Revelation 12, Michael and his angels were unable to refute Satan’s accusations and conclusively prove that God’s judgments are always perfect. 

3) Christ’s death made an end to the crisis in heaven.

In both chapters 5 and 12, the first four verses describe the time before Christ, the fifth verse refers to His death, and the rest of the chapter describes events following His death.

          • In Revelation 5, Christ’s death made an end to the sorrow in heaven (Rev 5:4-5).
          • In Revelation 12, after Christ’s death, Satan and his angels were expelled from heaven.

4) But the crisis continued on earth.

          • In Revelation 5, the book is not yet open because Jesus continues to break the seals of the book.
          • In Revelation 12, the war continues on earth (Rev 12:12-13).

5) The crisis will only finally be resolved through God’s people (Rev 6:9-10; 12:11-12).

In Revelation 12, to “overcame” Satan, required BOTH:

            • The blood of the Lamb” and
            • The “testimony” of God’s people, “even when faced with death” is required (Rev 12:10-11).

Similarly, in the vision of the sealed book:

            • Christ, firstly, became “worthy” to open the book because He “purchased” people for God with His blood (Rev 5:9).
            • Secondly, He breaks the seals. The fifth seal shows God’s people under the altar crying to God to avenge their “blood” (Rev 6:9). By implication, it was their blood that was spilled in the previous seals. Since the book is opened by breaking the seals, it means that the testimony (and consequential deaths) of God’s people are required for that purpose.

CONCLUSIONS

These parallels imply that the sealed book and the “war in heaven” describe the same crisis. This also allows us to use Revelation 12 to interpret the sealed book:

1) Since Revelation 12 identifies the crisis as a war between the angels about God’s judgments, and since His judgments are contained in the book of life, this confirms that the sealed book is the book of life.

2) The seals of the book are Satan’s brilliantly presented accusations against the people listed in the book of life; the people to whom God decided to grant grace.

3) That the book was sealed in the time before Christ died does NOT mean that the contents were unknown but that nobody was able to fully refute Satan’s accusations of unfair judgment. In other words, the angels were or are NOT SURE that God’s judgments are perfect.

4) John’s tears (Rev 5:4) represent the sorrow in heaven for, unless a solution is found, God would NEVER be able to execute His judgments, and Satan would have had to exist FOREVER.

5) God’s inability to open the book Himself is that He created intelligent beings who are truly free and HE WANTS His creatures to be fully assured of His judgments. He will not force them to accept His judgments.

6) That Jesus breaks the seals means that He directs events on earth to obtain evidence to show that Satan’s objections are false, namely, that God’s judgments are perfect.

7) To open and read the book does not mean to learn WHO is saved, but to understand WHY they and only they are saved.

8) Until all understand that His judgments are perfect, God delays Christ’s return and the implementation of His judgments.

This section is discussed in more detail in the article – The sealed book in Revelation 5 is the Lamb’s Book of Life.

WHY CHRIST HAD TO DIE

This section discusses the significance of Christ’s death as explained by the vision of the sealed book. Before His death, nobody was able to break the seals (Rev 5:3) but, after He appeared as a slain lamb, Jesus Christ was declared “worthy” to do it (Rev 5:5, 9). So, we ask, why was He not “worthy” to break the seals before His death and how did His death make Him “worthy?”

The church has been debating this question – why Jesus had to die – for the last 2000 years. (See – Theories of the Atonement.) In my view, the vision of the sealed book provides the answer but, to my knowledge, my website is the only one that uses this vision for that purpose.

WHAT IS CHRIST’S SAVING DEATH?

To answer these questions, we first need to agree on what the Bible means when it refers to His saving death.

According to Revelation 5:5, Christ is able to break the seals and open the book because He “has OVERCOME.” But Revelation 5:9-10 states that He is worthy to break the seals because He was “SLAIN” and purchased people with His “BLOOD.”

In these verses, we find three related concepts:

      • He has overcome,
      • His death (slain), and
      • His blood.

The relationships between these concepts are explained as follows:

Firstly, we must agree that we are not saved by His literal blood, but by His death. His blood is simply a symbol of His death.

Secondly, we are not saved merely because He died but because He DIED WITHOUT SIN (Heb 4:15). That is what Revelation means when it says that He “has overcome” (Rev 5:5; 3:21). He was “faithful until death” (Rev 2:10; cf. 12:11). He never submitted to Satan’s temptations to disobey God. If He disobeyed God at any time during His life, His death would have been in vain.

Jesus knew that He was going to die a horrible death. He asked God not to subject Him to this cruel torment (Matt 26:39). But the Son had to be tested to the fullest. Jesus could simply have gone away. Or He could have spoken a word and His tormenters would have died. But, in obedience to His Father, He allowed them to nail Him to the cross.

Therefore, thirdly, His death does not simply refer to the moment of death or the fact that He died. Rather, His death refers to His FINAL HOURS when Satan inflicted the most severe torment and temptations on Him. Those hours were His highest and final test but also His greatest victory.

However, fourthly, that victory reflects how He overcame THROUGHOUT HIS LIFE. As stated, if He disobeyed God at any time during His life, His death would not have been of any value, and His mission would have failed.

Lastly, the significance of the MOMENT of His death was that it was THE END of the test He had to endure. He entered Satan’s kingdom as a human being, emptying Himself of the form and equality with God (Phil 2:6-7), allowing Satan to tempt Him “in all things as we are” (Heb 4:15). Until He died, the heavenly beings watched the battle between Christ and Satan with bated breath. But when He died, that test came to an end. Knowing that He died without ever disobeying God, the heavens erupted in jubilation, as recorded in Revelation 5.

HOW HIS DEATH MADE HIM WORTHY

The CrossBut the question remains: Why was the Son of God, before His death, not regarded as “worthy” to break the seals? And how did His death make Him “worthy” (Rev 5:3, 5, 9)?

We should agree that the Son of God was not somehow improved by overcoming. 

Neither did God change to become willing to forgive, as Protestant tradition teaches. Rather, God is our Savior (1 Tim 1:1; 2:3-5). Jesus is also our Savior because God so loved the world that He GAVE His Only Son (John 3:16; cf. Col 1:12-14).

We do not know how His ‘death’ made Him worthy. We cannot hope to understand the discussions and arguments that took place in heaven. These things are not clearly revealed. My best explanation, which is my synthesis and extrapolation of known facts, is as follows:

1) SATAN ACCUSED GOD’S PEOPLE.

Satan accused God’s people (Rev 12:10), showing that they are sinners, reasoning that, if he (Satan) must stand condemned, then God’s people must also be condemned. Effectively, Satan accused God of unfair judgment.

2) THE SON DEFENDED GOD’S JUDGMENTS.

The Son is the One who breaks the seals of the book, thereby providing evidence of the perfection of God’s judgments. This implies that that was also His role before He became a human being. In other words, it was His task to show that God’s people are worthy of mercy.

3) SATAN ACCUSED THE SON PERSONALLY.

Since Satan’s nature is that of an accuser (cf. Gen 3:3-5), he also accused the Son personally. Since, after His victory on earth, the heavenly beings declared the Son to be “worthy” (Rev 5:5, 9), we can assume that Satan accused the Son of not being “worthy.

But in what respect did Satan say that He is not worthy? After the Son became a human being, He had to overcome temptations, namely temptations to disobey God. This suggests that, before the Son became a human being, Satan claimed that the Son, given the right circumstances, would also sin (disobey God).

4) SATAN HAD SUCCESS.

Since the Son became a human being, there must have been a need to prove His “worthy”-ness, implying that Satan was successful in creating a level of doubt in the minds of the heavenly beings concerning the Son; just like Satan was able to create doubt in the minds of the created universe about the perfection of God’s judgments.

5) WHY WOULD SATAN USE THIS ARGUMENT?

Namely, why would Satan claim that the Son, given the right circumstances, would disobey God?

Satan is perhaps the most talented and the most beautiful of all of God’s creatures. He was:

Full of wisdom and perfect in beauty …
the anointed cherub who covers …
blameless in your ways”
(Ezek 28:12, 14-15)

But he sinned. God said to him:

“Unrighteousness was found in you …
Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty” (Ezek 28:16-17).

Therefore, God condemned him:

You will cease to be forever” (Ezek 28:19).

Satan’s purpose is to defend himself against God’s condemnation. He, therefore, claimed that the Son would do the same as he did, given the right circumstances, namely to use His powers to benefit Himself, even if that means disobeying God.

Since Satan stood above all other created things in power and beauty, perhaps he argued that it was his supreme powers that caused him to sin. Perhaps he argued that disobedience to God is the NATURAL CONSEQUENCE of having such extreme powers. And since the unique Son of God has powers above all created things, Satan argued that the Son, given the right circumstances, would also use His power to protect Himself, even if that means going against the will of God. In other words, Satan argued that it is not his fault that he used his powers to glorify himself; it is simply how creation functions. And if it is anybody’s fault, then it is God’s fault because He, as the Creator, made him (Satan) that way.

6) THE SON’S LIFE WAS A DEMONSTRATION.

Christ’s sinless life demonstrated His worthiness.

To defend Himself against Satan’s charges, the only begotten Son of God was willing to subject Himself to a test by becoming a vulnerable human being.

He was fully tested. He won the victory by remaining “faithful until death” (Rev 2:10). That means that He never used His powers contrary to God’s will.

He had enormous powers. He could calm the winds and the waves (Matt 8:26), command “twelve legions of angels” (Matt 26:53), and raise people from death (e.g. John 11:43-44). He asked the Father not to submit Him to this cruel death (Matt 26:39, 42), but the Father explained to Him why it was necessary (Luke 22:43). Therefore, when sinful men nailed Him to a wooden pole, He did not use His powers to save Himself from this most severe torment. He obeyed God to the end.

Christ’s willingness to be tested and His faithfulness to God under the most excruciating torment refuted Satan’s accusations and demonstrated the Son’s ETERNAL character. It was not God who declared the Son “worthy,” but the heavenly beings (Rev 5:9-10), implying that His worthiness was something that they witnessed. He was a PUBLIC DEMONSTRATION of “God’s righteousness” (Rom 3:25, 26); a “public display” through which God “triumphed over” “the rulers and authorities” (Col 2:15). (See, The Cross disarmed the rulers and authorities.)

Therefore, by overcoming, the Son demonstrated something about Him that was ALWAYS true but that was disputed by Satan and his followers. Now the universe is fully convinced that Jesus is “the faithful and true Witness” (Rev 3:14).

I want to repeat my qualification: This is my best synthesis of what I learned from the Bible. Why Christ had to die is not clearly revealed. On the other hand, we do not need to understand why Jesus had to die to understand the sealed book and its seven seals.

GOD’S CREATURES ARE TRULY FREE.

The previous discussion assumes that God allows His creatures to question His judgments. Many Christians think of God as a dictator, deciding unilaterally who will be saved and who will go to hell.

This website takes the opposite view, namely that the Almighty God desires a universe filled with creatures that love Him and one another. Therefore, He has populated the universe with creatures who are truly free, for true love is only possible in freedom. Since God’s creatures are free to love, they are also free to rebel against their Creator. They have that freedom without even the fear of punishment, for if we obey because we fear punishment, then we are not really free. (God will eventually destroy evil, but not as punishment for evil done in the PAST. He will destroy evil to protect the FUTURE happiness of the universe.)

When God condemned Lucifer (Ezek 28:5, 19), he found fault with God’s judgment. Because of the freedom His creatures have, God allows Satan complete freedom to defend himself.

To suppress this rebellion with force, BEFORE the intelligent creatures understand the true nature of the rebellion, would only serve to confirm to them Satan’s charges against God. For that reason, God allows time and provides evidence of the perfect accuracy of His judgments. That is what the sealed book of Revelation is all about.

Consistent with the principle of complete freedom, the One through whom God created all things (e.g., Col 1:16-17), works in the weakness of a slain lamb (Rev 5:6). This is how God rules the universe. He is infinitely powerful but exercises that power through self-sacrificial love.

For a further discussion:

REVELATION 5

This section is a summary of the article – Revelation 5; verse by verse. But it also serves as a summary of the previous conclusions.

THE SEALED BOOK (5:1)

This chapter begins with the sealed book in God’s right hand (Rev 5:1).

The sealed book has been interpreted as the book of God’s judgments (the book of life) and the seals as Satan’s informed accusations against God’s elect.

God’s judgments are known. “Sealed up,” therefore, means that, due to Satan’s accusations, even God’s loyal angels are unable to fully refute Satan’s allegations of unfair judgment.

NO ONE IS WORTHY (5:2-3)

A search is made but no one is found “worthy to open the book
and to break its seals” (Rev 5:2-3).

The Son of God defended God’s people and God’s judgments. As part of Satan’s strategy to discredit God’s judgments, Satan was able to create a level of doubt in the minds of the created universe about the trustworthiness of the Son. In that sense, before His death, not even the Son was not regarded as “worthy” to open the book.

GREAT SORROW (5:4)

John began “to weep greatly because no one was found worthy to open the book or to look into it” (Rev 5:4). John’s weeping symbolizes the great sorrow in God’s creation caused by the inability to conclusively prove the perfection of God’s judgments because, for as long as Satan’s objections to God’s judgments remain unrefuted, God delays Christ’s return and evil must continue to reign over the world.

JESUS OVERCAME (5:5-6)

But then one of the elders said to John:

“Stop weeping … the Lion
that is from the tribe of Judah
(Jesus Christ) …
has overcome so as to open the book
and its seven seals
” (Rev 5:5).

And I saw between the throne … and the elders
a Lamb standing, as if slain” (Rev 5:6).

HOW DID JESUS OVERCOME?

Overcome” means to be “faithful until death” (Rev 2:10); to maintain your testimony “even when faced with death” (Rev 12:11). People are not persecuted for their faith, but for their testimony.

Jesus overcame throughout His life. But His highest test and greatest victory were the hours preceding His death. He remained “faithful until death” (Rev 2:10).

WHY DID OVERCOMING MAKE THE SON WORTHY?

Satan claimed that even the Son would sin, given the right circumstances. By remaining faithful to God despite all temptations which Satan put in His path, the Son refuted all of Satan’s accusations against Him personally. Now, the Son is trusted as “the faithful and true Witness” (Rev 3:14) to reveal the true nature of God’s people.

WHEN DOES JESUS APPEAR IN THE THRONE ROOM?

In verse 6, Jesus appears as a slain lamb. That symbolism explains HOW he overcame, namely at the cross as “the Lamb of God” (John 1:29). Revelation 5:5-6, therefore, describes Christ’s ascension to heaven. (See here for more.) Consequently:

      • Revelation 5:1-4 and John’s weeping describe the time BEFORE Christ’s death.
      • The remainder of Revelation 5 describes events in heaven immediately AFTER Christ’s ascension.

THE LION AND THE LAMB

John hears about a lion (Rev 5:5) but when he looks, He sees a lamb (Rev 5:6). These animals seem like opposites, but reflect two different roles of the same person; Jesus Christ. He “has overcome;” not by using His lion-like power but by restraining His power and, like a lamb, by offering up His life. However, He will return as a lion (Rev 6:16-17).

SENT OUT IN ALL THE WORLD

Before Jesus appeared in the throne room, “the seven Spirits of God” were “before the throne” (Rev 4:5) but, now they are “sent out into all the earth” (Rev 5:6). In the context of a slain lamb, this points to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost (cf. Acts 2:33; cf. John 14:26).

CHRIST’S ENTHRONEMENT (5:7-14)

Jesus “came and took the book out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne” (Rev 5:7). This has been interpreted above as Jesus’ enthronement after His ascension. The New Testament frequently states that Jesus sat down “at the right hand of God” (e.g., Eph 1:20; Rom 8:34).

Christ does not open the book immediately. He will break the seals over the church age. The reason is that He, by overcoming, did not refute Satan’s objections against God’s elect. Before His death, the war in heaven was at a stalemate and it seems as if evil will have to exist forever. But His death brought a breakthrough because it showed Jesus to be “worthy” to break the seals (Rev 5:9).

YOU WERE SLAIN

The heavenly beings sang “a new song” (Rev 5:9) because something new has happened. They sang to Jesus:

You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation” (Rev 5:9).

The Cross of ChristAs argued above, Christ’s blood symbolizes His death. His death refers not only to when He breathed His last but to His final hours. During those hours the tempter inflicted the most severe torment and temptation possible on Him, but He overcame; just like He lived His entire life in obedience to God.

PRAISE AND WORSHIP

The chapter concludes with “myriads of myriads” angels praising “the Lamb that was slain” (Rev 5:11-12), followed by “every created thing” saying:

To Him who sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb,
be blessing and honor and glory and
dominion forever and ever.

And the four living creatures kept saying, ‘Amen’. And the elders fell down and worshiped.” (Rev 5:13-14)

THE FIRST FOUR SEALS

THE WHITE HORSE

When the Lamb broke one of the seven seals …
and behold, a white horse,
and he who sat on it had a bow;
and a crown was given to him,
and he went out conquering and to conquer
(Rev 6:1-2).

PARTHIANS

In the view of critical scholars, the first seal describes the Parthians, a first-century enemy of the Roman Empire, who rode on white horses. However, the seals symbolize spiritual realities; not literal things such as horses. Furthermore, this horse “went out conquering and to conquer.” This implies that it will never stop conquering. Therefore, it symbolizes events leading up to the second coming. It cannot be limited to the beginning of the church age, as the Parthian interpretation does.

THE GOSPEL

For the following reasons, the white horse symbolizes the gospel:

1) In Revelation, the color white always refers to the things of Christ (Rev 1:14; 2:17; 3:4-5; 6:11).

2) This rider receives a crown. A diadem crown symbolizes a ruler’s authority but this rider receives a stephanos crown, which is always used for Christ and His people (Phil 4:1; 1 Thess 2:19; 2 Tim 4:8; Rev 12:1).

3) In the seals, the Greek words for conquering, which may also be translated as “overcome,” refer to Christ and his people (Rev 3:21 and 5:5).

4) In the Synoptic Apocalypse, (Matt 24) Jesus predicted that the church age will be a period of (a) gospel preaching, (b) war, (c) famine, (d) pestilence, and (e) persecution of His people. We see the same things in the seals, but if the rider on the white horse is not the gospel, then the gospel would be absent in the seals.

5) The other rider on a white horse in Revelation is explicitly Jesus Christ (Rev 19:12).

THE ANTICHRIST

Many interpreters regard the rider on the white horse as a counterfeit of Christ; mostly because all the other horses bring plagues. However, the arguments above show sufficiently that this rider symbolizes the gospel. Furthermore:

1) When something is a counterfeit, Revelation does not leave us in doubt (cf. Rev 13:11) and there is no direct indication in the text that the rider of the white horse is evil or causes affliction.

2) The white horse will continue conquering until everything is conquered but the Antichrist will be destroyed in the lake of fire (Rev 19:20).

The full article is available at – The white horse of the first seal.

THE FOUR HORSEMEN FORM A UNIT.

As indicated by the following, the four horsemen symbolize one thing that consists of parts:

1) All four are horsemen.

2) Seals 2, 3, and 4 symbolize sword, famine, and pestilence. The Old Testament uses these curses as a single expression of judgment. For example, “My four severe judgments … sword, famine, wild beasts and plague” (Ezek 14:21).

3) The Synoptic Apocalypse (Matt 24), when it predicts the nature of the church age, mentions the same things that we find in the four horsemen but describes them as characteristics of the ENTIRE church age; rather than as consecutive events.

4) The grammar of the white horse is extremely continuous and ongoing (Rev 6:2), implying that it covers the entire church age.

5) The fourth seal includes the bloodshed and famine of seals 2 and 3.

6) Revelation has seven seals, seven trumpets, and seven bowl plagues. As discussed in another article, the first four of each of these sevens are general and should not be individually interpreted.

CONCLUSION

Since the white horse represents the proclamation of the gospel over the church age, and since the four horsemen form a unit, symbolizing one thing consisting of parts the next three horsemen symbolize the consequences of gospel preaching.

The full article is available at – Seals 2 to 4 form a unit.

THE RED HORSE

When He broke the second seal
a red horse, went out;
and to him who sat on it,
it was granted to take peace from the earth,
and that men would slay one another;
and a great sword was given to him” (Rev 6:3-4).

The rider of the red horse has a sword and causes men to “slay one another.” This may refer to general violence. However, for the following reasons, the slaying in the second seal is likely the slaying of God’s people when the gospel is rejected:

1) Since the four horsemen form a unit, the bloodshed of the second must be the consequence of the first, which is the gospel.

2) The Greek word for the rider’s “sword” refers to a smaller weapon used for close-in combat OR FOR SACRIFICE.

3) The fifth seal shows “the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God” (Rev 6:9). They are UNDER the altar (Rev 6:9; 18:24). Symbolically, they have been sacrificed ON the altar. This makes it evident that many of God’s people were martyred in the first four seals.

4) The word translated “slay” in the second seal is the same Greek word for “slay” as in the fifth seal and it is the primary word used for animal sacrifice in the Greek Old Testament.

As Jesus said:

A time is coming when anyone who kills you
will think he is offering a service to God

(John 16:2, NIV).

The full article is available at – The four horsemen of the Apocalypse.

THE BLACK HORSE

When He broke the third seal
behold, a black horse;
and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand.
… a voice … saying,

‘A quart of wheat for a denarius,
and three quarts of barley for a denarius;
and do not damage the oil and the wine.’” (Rev 6:5-6)

This rider has a pair of scales. In times of scarcity, the quantity of things being bought or sold is measured very accurately. To do that, one requires a scale. Since this seal emphasizes food, the scale symbolizes a shortage of food; i.e., famine conditions.

This is confirmed by the “voice,” which sets very high prices for wheat and barley. Based on the quoted prices, it would cost a person his whole day’s wage to buy enough wheat for one day for one person.

For the following reasons, this lack of food can be interpreted symbolically as a famine of the Word of God; a time when the word of God may be hard to find or poorly understood:

1) Since the four horsemen form a unit, this famine must be the consequence of the second seal, namely of the persecution of the people who proclaim God’s word.

2) This horse is black. In the sixth seal, black is the opposite of the light of the sun (Rev 6:12). Since the sun may symbolize the gospel (John 3:18-21), the black horse may represent THE ABSENCE OF THE GOSPEL.

3) The Bible often uses food in a spiritual sense. For example, Jesus is, “the bread of life” (John 6:35).

The full article is available at – The four horsemen of the Apocalypse.

THE ASHEN HORSE

When the Lamb broke the fourth seal …
behold, an ashen horse;
and he who sat on it had the name Death;
and Hades was following with him.
Authority was given to them over a fourth of the earth,
to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence
and by the wild beasts of the earth. (Rev 6:7-8)

The color of the fourth horse (ashen or pale) is the color of a very sick person; on the verge of death.

The name of the fourth horseman is Death. He is death personified. Hades, which is the dwelling place of the dead, followed after him. As in human experience, the grave follows after death. This seal personifies Death as an executioner and Hades as an undertaker.

The fourth horse has both the sword of the second seal and the famine of the third but adds to them pestilence and the beasts of the earth. It, therefore, combines and intensifies the second and third seals.

Since the four horsemen form a unit, the death in the fourth seal must be the consequence of the spiritual famine of the previous seal. It is, therefore, interpreted as spiritual death; permanent exclusion from mercy; the frightful consequence for people who have chosen to exclude God from their lives.

ZECHARIAH’S COLORED HORSES

Zechariah’s visions also have colored horses and sound very similar to the four horsemen of Revelation 6. However, Zechariah’s horses serve as scouts and signify God’s awareness of what is happening on earth, compared to the four horsemen of the Apocalypse who actively bring the gospel and then major calamities. (Zech 1:8; 10-12; 14-16; 6:1-8) Because of these differences, Zechariah’s horses do not help us to explain the four horsemen of the apocalypse.

For more detail, see – Zechariah’s Colored Horses.

CONCLUSION: FIRST FOUR SEALS

As discussed elsewhere, the Synoptic Apocalypse (Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21) divides history into three great parts. Revelation 6 follows the same pattern. In this pattern, the first four seals describe the church age:

1) The white horse, which will never stop conquering, is the gospel.

2) The red horse symbolizes the persecution of God’s people when they proclaim the gospel. William Tyndale, for example, was the first to translate the Bible into English and was burnt to death at the stake.

3) The black horse is a famine for the Word of God that follows when the people who proclaim the word of God are persecuted and killed. During the Dark Ages, the church burned Bibles along with their owners.

4) Lastly, the ashen horse is spiritual death; the frightful permanent exclusion from mercy.

The full article is available at – The four horsemen of the Apocalypse.

THE FIFTH SEAL

This section is a summary of the article – The souls under the altar.

6:9 When the Lamb broke the fifth seal,
I saw underneath the altar
the souls of those who had been slain
because of the word of God, and
because of the testimony which they had maintained;
10 and they cried out with a loud voice, saying,

“How long, O Lord, holy and true,
will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood
on those who dwell on the earth?”

11 And there was given to each of them a white robe;
and they were told that they should rest for a little while longer,
until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren
who were to be killed even as they had been,
would be completed also.

THE CRY FOR REVENGE

The souls under the altar cry out for revenge (Rev 6:10) but God’s people would not seek revenge. Rather, like Jesus and Stephan, they cry out:

Father, forgive them; for they do not know
what they are doing
” (Luke 23:34)!

This, therefore, is not a literal cry for revenge. Rather, similar to Abel’s blood that cried out to God from the ground (Gen 4:10), the cry for revenge symbolizes that God is aware of the injustice to His people and of His desire to set things right.

RECEIVE WHITE ROBES

In response to their cry, they receive white robes (Rev 6:11). Since their cry is not a specific event, by implication, receiving white robes is also not a specific event. Rather, it is also a general principle, namely that, during the church age:

They will … kill you, and
you will be hated by all nations because of My name.
 …
But the one who endures to the end,
he will be saved
” (Matt 24:9-11).

ARE THE SOULS UNDER THE ALTAR ALIVE?

The reference in this seal to souls under the altar is often used to support the popular belief that believers go to heaven in a bodiless state when they die. However, for the following reasons. this must not be interpreted literally:

1) In the Old Testament sacrificial rituals, the blood of the sacrificial animals was “poured out” at the base of the altar (e.g., Exo 29:12). The fifth seal converts this ritual into a metaphor: God’s people are symbolically sacrificed ON the altar. They are not under a literal altar.

2) The same “souls” that are under the altar in the fifth seal “CAME TO LIFE” when Christ returns (Rev 20:4). In other words, they are not alive today.

3) They are told to “REST” for a while longer (Rev 6:11). “Rest” implies that they are currently inactive. “Rest” is also a synonym for death. For example, an angel said to Daniel: “You will enter into REST and RISE AGAIN … at the end of the age” (Dan 12:13).

4) According to Revelation 6:11, the souls under the altar receive white robes (i.e., confirmation of salvation) NOT while alive or at death but “a little while” before Christ returns. Literally interpreted, since they have not yet received their white robes at death, they cannot go to heaven at death.

The idea that humans consist of two parts – a physical body and an immaterial soul – comes from Greek philosophy. In the Bible, the soul refers to the entire human being (cf. Gen 2:7; 1 Cor 14:45). (See the articles on Death and Eternal Torment.)

In the view of this website, the dead sleep. My mother died recently. From my perspective, she sleeps. But from her perspective, according to her experience, she is already awake and with her loved ones. From the experience of a person who dies, she or he is IMMEDIATELY AWAKE AFTER DEATH. Therefore, Paul could say, “to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Phil 1:21)!

For a further discussion, see – Souls under the altar.

COMPLETED IN CHARACTER

The souls under the altar are told:

Rest for a little while longer,
until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren
who were to be killed even as they had been,
would be completed also” (Rev 6:11)

The purpose of this section is to show that this does not mean that a specific number of God’s people must be “killed” but that God’s people will be “completed” QUALITATIVELY IN CHARACTER:

a) This translation adds the words “number of” but there is no such phrase in the original Greek.

b) Would a God of love arbitrarily decree that a fixed number of people must suffer and die before He intervenes?

c) Both the souls under the altar and the innumerable multitude are clothed in white robes (Rev 6:11; 7:9). They are, therefore, the same people. But the innumerable multitude “NO ONE COULD COUNT” (Rev 7:9). The number, therefore, is not important.

d) Elsewhere, Revelation informs us that God’s end-time people will be spiritually mature. This supports the proposal that “completed” should be understood qualitatively, namely that God’s people must be completed in character. For example, in an end-time context:

        • His bride has made herself ready” (Rev 19:7-8).
        • The 144000 are sealed on their foreheads, namely, in their thinking, with the name (the character) of God (Rev 7:3-4; 14:1).
        • It is said of the 144000 that “no lie was found in their mouth;
          they are blameless
          ” (Rev 14:4-5).
        • Jesus will “reap” when “the hour to reap has come,
          because THE HARVEST OF THE EARTH IS RIPE” (Rev 14:15).

This website does not propose that God’s end-time people will be sinless, but that they will be completely loyal to God as David apparently was despite his many flaws (1 Kings 11:4-6).

We will discuss the fifth seal in more detail when we discuss the sealing of the 144000 (Rev 7:1-3) because, as it will be argued, that sealing begins in the fifth seal.

THE SIXTH SEAL

This section is a summary of the article – The sixth seal.

Rev 6:12 I looked when He broke the sixth seal,

and there was a great earthquake;
and the sun became black as sackcloth made of hair,
and the whole moon became like blood;
13 and the stars of the sky fell to the earth,
as a fig tree casts its unripe figs when shaken by a great wind.
14 The sky was split apart like a scroll when it is rolled up,
and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.

15 Then the kings of the earth and the great men and the commanders and the rich and the strong and every slave
and free man hid themselves in the caves
and among the rocks of the mountains;

16 and they said to the mountains and to the rocks,

“Fall on us and hide us
from the presence of Him who sits on the throne,
and from the wrath of the Lamb;
17 for the great day of their wrath has come,
and who is able to stand?”

INTRODUCTION

This seal divides into two parts:

    • Dramatic natural catastrophes (Rev 6:12-14) and 
    • The response of people who live in rebellion against God (Rev 6:15-17)

Literally interpreted, everything in heaven and on earth is destroyed (Rev 6:12-14). But we should not interpret these signs literally. For example, after the stars have fallen on the earth (Rev 6:13), the people still hide in the mountains (Rev 6:15-17).

Him who sits on the throne” is the Father and “the Lamb” is Jesus Christ (Rev 6:16; cf. 5:13). Christ now appears as the loving Ruler of the universe, but for people who have cursed God all their lives, His appearance is utter torment.

THE SIXTH SEAL IS THE SEVENTH PLAGUE.

This section shows that the sixth seal is parallel to the seventh plague, as described at the end of Revelation 16. This shows, firstly, that the different visions in Revelation cover the same ground. This also shows that the sixth seal describes the very last events of the history of this current world.

Revelation 16 lists the seven last plagues.

FIFTH PLAGUE

During the fourth and fifth plagues, the people of the world still refuse to repent (Rev 16:9, 11). Since, in the sixth seal, they hide in the mountains from “the wrath of the Lamb” (Rev 6:15-17), the sixth seal describes events later than the fifth plague.

SIXTH PLAGUE

In both the sixth seal and sixth plague we find the phrase “great day.” But there is a difference:

In the sixth plague, demons GATHER THE PEOPLE FOR “the war of the great day of God” (Rev 16:14). In other words, the people PREPARE to do battle.

In contrast, in the sixth seal, THEY RUN AWAY, hide in the mountains, and cry out, “the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?

The sixth seal, therefore, is also later than the sixth plague.

SEVENTH PLAGUE

For the following reasons, the sixth seal is parallel to the seventh plague:

Firstly, in both the seventh plague and the sixth seal “a great earthquake” destroys “every mountain and island” (Rev 6:12, 14; 16:18, 20).

Secondly, both the seventh plague and the sixth seal are the revenge that the souls under the altar call for. To explain:

In the fifth seal, the souls under the altar call for revenge. Since the people of the world have to hide in the mountains in the sixth seal, that seems to be the requested revenge.

But the seventh plague is that revenge because the revenge requested in the fifth seal is fulfilled in the judgment on Babylon (Rev 19:2) and Babylon is judged in the seventh plague (Rev 16:19; cf. 16:6).

In conclusion, since the sixth seal is parallel to the seventh plague, and since the seventh plague describes the final events in the history of this world, the sixth seal portrays events at the end of this world’s history. A series of articles is available on the seven last plagues.

THE SIXTH SEAL IS CHRIST’S RETURN.

This conclusion is based on the following:

1) SIGNS OF HIS RETURN

The sixth seal seems to be the end of all things. A “great earthquake” moves islands and mountains out of their places and the signs in the sun, moon, and stars in the first part of the seal (Rev 6:12-13) are the signs of Christ’s return (Matt 24:29).

2) THE DAY OF THE LORD

This seal is “the great day” (Rev 6:17) which identifies it as the well-known Old Testament “great and terrible Day of the LORD.” The New Testament interprets the Day of the Lord as Christ’s return; the “day of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor 1:8).

3) PEOPLE GATHERED FOR THE GREAT DAY

In the sixth plague, demons GATHER the people of the world together for “the war of the great day of God” (Rev 16:14). But then Revelation 19 shows them GATHERED FOR WAR when Christ returns (Rev 19:11, 19). They are, therefore, gathered (Rev 16:14) for Christ’s return.

Since the sixth seal is also called “the great day” (Rev 6:17) and since it also describes the people as gathered (sort of) for they are hiding in the mountains, the hiding of the people in the sixth seal is parallel to the gathering of the people when Christ returns (Rev 19:19). 

4) SEPARATES THE SHEEP FROM THE GOATS

The sixth seal divides the people of the world into two groups:

(1) The multitude that hides in the mountains asks, “who is able to stand” (Rev 6:17)? 

(2) After an interruption (Rev 7:1-8), the sixth seal continues when Revelation 7 answers that question by describing “a great multitude which no one could count … standing before the throne and before the Lamb” (Rev 7:9).

The sixth seal, therefore, divides the population of the world into these two great multitudes. Jesus, similarly, said:

When the Son of Man comes in His glory, …
All the nations will be gathered before Him;
and He will separate them from one another,
as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats

(Matt 25:31-32).

CONCLUSION

The sixth seal describes a point in time DURING Christ’s return. His return will not be a single sudden ‘out of the blue’ event but will be the climax of the end-time crisis as described in various parts of Revelation. Eventually, the people who live in rebellion against God will be put to death (Rev 19:21). But two verses earlier, they are still ready to war “against Him who sat on the horse and against His army” (Rev 19:19; cf. 19:11-14). In the sixth seal, they hide in the mountains. This, therefore, seems to fit somewhere between verses 19 and 21 of Revelation 19).

7:1-3 THE SEALING

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.

The number “four” symbolizes THE WHOLE EARTH. For example, Revelation often uses four synonyms to describe the entire population of the world (e.g., Rev 10:11; 13:7; 14:6).

The earth and sea (Rev 7:1) symbolize the people of the world (Rev 13:1, 11) in contrast to the trees (Rev 7:1), which represent God’s people (Rev 9:4). For that reason, the “four winds” are allowed to “harm the earth and the sea” but not the trees (Rev 7:2).

The “four angels” symbolize God “holding back” the forces of destruction. That is not one specific event. God has ALWAYS been restraining the forces of destruction. In contrast, verses 2 and 3 do portray one specific event, namely, when God sends “the seal of the living God” to earth. God continues to hold back the forces of destruction but we are also told that He will release those forces as soon as His people are sealed. When that happens, God’s people must be empowered to remain standing through that very difficult time. Therefore, God holds the “four winds” in check until His “bond-servants” are sealed (Rev 7:2-3). In other words, until they are ready.

This section is a summary of the following article:

It is discussed below under the following headings:

      1. God’s people will be sealed through the Revelation 13-persecution.
      2. The purpose of the seal is to protect them from the seven last plagues.
      3. Only end-time believers will receive the seal.
      4. The seal will empower God’s people to remain standing.
      5. The sealing is the fifth seal.
      6. The sealing is Daniel’s time of the end.
      7. Overview of the sealing

1) SEALED THROUGH THE REVELATION 13-PERSECUTION

During the end-time crisis, the beast-powers will attempt to put the mark of the beast on all people (Rev 13:15-16). This, therefore, will be a time of testing and persecution for God’s people.

Next, Revelation 14:1-5 describes 144,000 people “having His name and the name of His Father written on their foreheads.” This is the same as the people who are sealed in Revelation 7:1-3 because both groups:

      • Are 144,000 in number (Rev 7:4; 14:1), and
      • Have something of God on their foreheads, namely:
        – “The seal of the living God” (Rev 7:2-4) and
        – “His name and the name of His Father” (Rev 14:1).

It follows that “the seal of the living God” is the same as “His name and the name of His Father.” 

In Revelation, names on foreheads symbolize character. For example, the harlot’s character is reflected by the name on her forehead (Rev 17:5). Similarly, the mark of the beast is the name of the beast on the foreheads of people (Rev 13:16, 17). They have the beast’s character!

CONCLUSIONS

1) Since both the mark of the beast and the seal of God are names on foreheads (Rev 13:16-14:1), that end-time persecution will divide the people of the world into these two camps.

2) God’s people will receive His seal (Rev 7:1-8) DURING AND THROUGH the Revelation 13-persecution. In other words, they are NOT sealed to protect them during that time of persecution, but to protect them for what follows AFTER that persecution!

2) SEALED AS PROTECTION AGAINST THE PLAGUES

This section shows that God’s people receive God’s seal to protect them during the seven last plagues (Rev 15:1).

These seven last plagues are described in Revelation 16. Revelation 15 serves as an introduction to Revelation 16. Revelation 15, therefore, describes events and conditions AT THE BEGINNING of the seven last plagues. Included in that description are “those who had been victorious over the beast” (Rev 15:2). They, therefore, are the people who have resisted the efforts of the beast to put the mark of the beast on them. In other words, they are the 144000!

How they are described in Revelation 15:2-4 implies that, at that point in history, ALL of “the bond-servants of our God” have ALREADY been sealed (cf. Rev 7:3). This is confirmed by the fact that, during the plagues, there will be no switching of sides:

NONE of the people with the mark of the beast will repent (Rev 16:9, 11, 21), and

The term “seal of God” implies that the eternal destiny of the sealed people has been permanently settled. Therefore, NONE of them will fall away during the plagues.

CONCLUSIONS

Since there will be NO switching of sides after the plagues begin to fall, Revelation 15 is a SPECIFIC point in history when EVERY person will have either the mark of the beast or the seal of God. At that time, there will be no third ‘undecided’ group. The plagues will begin only after that point in history. Therefore:

1) The sealing of “the bond-servants of our God” (Rev 7:3) will be COMPLETED BEFORE the plagues begin to fall.

2) The purpose of the seal is to protect them from the plagues.

3) Since BOTH the seven last plagues and the four winds will be released as soon as God’s people are all sealed, the four winds (Rev 7:1) are the same as the seven last plagues.

4) Since the sealing describes the time BEFORE the sixth seal, and since the “four winds” will be released as soon as all God’s people are sealed, the four winds are the same as the sixth seal. It follows that the sixth seal is the seven last plagues.

3) FOR THE END-TIME ONLY

This section is a summary of the article – The end-time Seal of God. It argues that the seal of God, as described in Revelation, will ONLY be available to the end-time generation. In other words, it will not be available to previous generations.

According to the apostle Paul, people are sealed with the Holy Spirit when they put their faith in Christ (e.g., 2 Cor 1:22). In contrast, for the reasons below, the seal in Revelation 7 is something special that ONLY end-time believers will receive to protect them during catastrophic end-time events before Christ returns:

1) It is given to people who ALREADY are Christians (Rev 7:3).

2) It protects against a danger that DOES NOT EXIST in previous ages, namely the four winds – interpreted above as the seven last plagues.

3) Revelation always mentions the seal in the context of the end-time, namely in the context of:
– The great day of God’s wrath (Rev 6:17-7:2) and
– The mark of the beast (Rev 13:16-14:1).

4) TO EMPOWER GOD’S PEOPLE

The article – The end-time Seal of God – also shows that this seal will actually change God’s people to EMPOWER THEM to remain standing during the seven last plagues.

As stated, the purpose of “the seal of the living God” (Rev 7:2) is to protect God’s people when the winds (the seven last plagues) are released (Rev 7:1-3). One possible interpretation of this is that the seal will serve 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:

1) The seal is God’s name (Rev 14:1). Since names in Revelation symbolize character (e.g., Rev 17:3, 5) and since the seal is put on the “foreheads” of God’s people, symbolizing their thinking, the seal symbolizes that the 144000 will have “no lie … in their mouth; they are blameless” (Rev 14:1-5).

2) On the new earth, God’s people will still have “His name … on their foreheads” (Rev 22:4). Since, as shown above, His name is the seal of God, it means that His people will still have the seal of God on the new earth. But, then, EVERYBODY will have the seal of God. It, therefore, cannot simply be for identification. It must signify character.

3) Spiritually mature – Revelation several times 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 itself symbolizes spiritual maturity.
        • Jesus will “reap” when “the hour to reap has come,
          because THE HARVEST OF THE EARTH IS RIPE” (Rev 14:15). In that description of Christ’s return (Rev 14:14-20), “the harvest of the earth” symbolizes God’s people.

4) CompletedAs discussed above, the fifth seal refers to a point in time that divides time into two parts:

        • In the past, God’s people were killed (Rev 6:9), and
        • In the future, “their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, would be completed also” (Rev 6:11).

Since, as also argued above, the sixth seal is Christ’s return, the sealing of the 144000, which is mentioned immediately AFTER the sixth seal, actually begins BEFORE the time of the sixth seal. The sealing, therefore, BEGINS IN THE FIFTH SEAL. This implies that the sealing (Rev 7:1-3) is the same as the ‘future’ completion of God’s people (Rev 6:11).

Since it was argued above that they will be “completed” (Rev 6:11) in character; not in literal number, this supports the view that the sealing would be a substantive change and actual empowerment of God’s people.

5) Refute accusations – God’s people are sealed while Jesus is breaking the seven seals of the book of life. As discussed above, that Jesus breaks the seals means that He directs events on earth to refute Satan’s accusations against God’s people by revealing their faithfulness under persecution, as explained below. In that context, it makes more sense to say that the seal of God symbolizes spiritual maturity than mere identification.

6) Purpose of the plagues – Above, the “four winds” were interpreted as the seven last plagues. As discussed in the article – the purpose of the plagues – one purpose of the plagues is to show that God’s elect would rather die than disobey God. This also implies spiritual maturity.

RICK JOYNER

Rick Joyner confirms that God’s end-time people will be EMPOWERED by the Holy Spirit.  

The “seal of the living God” is well explained in the book “The Call” by Rick Joyner. In it, Jesus says:

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.

5) THE SEALING IS THE FIFTH SEAL.

This section is a summary of the article – God’s people are sealed during Daniel’s Time of the End.

As discussed above, the first four seals (Rev 6:1-8) describe the timeless realities of the church age. But the fifth seal (Rev 6:9-11) describes a specific point in history when the souls under the altar receive white robes and are told to rest for a little while longer (Rev 6:9-11).

As is also discussed above, the seal of God is available ONLY in the end-time. This means that the angel brings the seal down from heaven (Rev 7:2) at a specific point in time. The purpose of this section is to show that the seal comes down from heaven at the point in time indicated by the fifth seal. To see this, compare the fifth seal to the sealing:

The fifth seal (Rev 6:9-11):

        1. Describes the souls of God’s people who have been slain in the past,
        2. Gives them white robes,
        3. But tells them to wait until their fellow brethren are “completed“.

The sealing (Rev 7:1-3):

        1. It shows angels holding back the four winds of destruction,
        2. Then the seal of God is brought out of heaven, and
        3. The angels are told to continue holding back those destructive forces until all of God’s people are sealed (the 144000 – Rev 7:4).

Note the similarities between the fifth seal and the sealing:

(1) Both refer to the past, the present, and to the future – marked a, b, and c above.

(2) In the ‘present time’, in both, beings are told to wait (informed of a delay):
– Fifth seal = Souls must wait until their brethren are complete.
– Sealing = Angels must wait until God’s people are sealed.

(3) Both set as future goal that God’s people will become mature:
– Fifth seal = God’s people must be “completed” (Rev 6:11).
– Sealing = God’s people must be “sealed” (Rev 7:3).

(4) Both give a token of salvation to God’s people:
– Fifth seal = “a white robe” (Rev 6:11)
– Sealing = “the seal of the living God” (Rev 7:2)

(5) Both are followed by massive destruction:
– The destruction of the sixth seal follows after the fifth.
– The four winds follow after the sealing.

These similarities imply that the fifth seal is parallel to the sealing. In particular:

(a) The point in time in the fifth seal is when the angel brings the seal out of heaven.

(b) The ‘future time’ in the fifth seal, when “their fellow servants … would be completed,” is equivalent to the sealing of the 144000.

6) THE SEALING IS DANIEL’S TIME OF THE END.

Time of the EndFurthermore, since the book of Daniel is the foundation on which Revelation is built, we should find this point in history in Daniel as well. Since, in the fifth seal, God’s people are killed both before and after this point in time, we need to find a similar point in time in Daniel. There is such a point in time in Daniel 12, namely the beginning of “the time of the end” (Dan 12:4):

    • Before that time, God’s people will be persecuted for “a time, times, and half a time” and
    • During “the time of the end,” they will “finish shattering the power of the holy people” (Dan 12:7).

For these reasons, it is proposed that the fifth seal is the beginning of “the time of the end (Dan 12:4).

And, since the previous section has shown that the angel brings the seal of God out of heaven at the point in time in the fifth seal, we can conclude that the seal comes down out of heaven at the beginning of Daniel’s time of the end. Consequently, during “the time of the end,” God’s people will both be sealed and learn the meaning of the prophecies of Daniel (Dan 12:4, 9).

THE SEALING – OVERVIEW

The discussion above of the sealing (Rev 7:1-3) may be summarized as follows:

God has always been restraining the forces of destruction but, in the time of the end, God will release those forces. To empower His people to remain standing through that very difficult time, God will seal His people with “the seal of the living God.

His people will be sealed DURING and THROUGH the end-time persecution in which when the beast will attempt to put his mark on all people (Rev 13:15-16). That end-time persecution will divide the population of the world into two great multitudes; those with the mark of the beast and those with the seal of God. The seal will protect His people against what follows AFTER that persecution, namely the seven last plagues (Revelation 16).

Once all people have been marked with either the mark of the beast or the seal of God, God will release the seven last plagues. During the plagues, there will be no switching of sides. NONE of the people with the mark of the beast will repent (Rev 16:9, 11, 21), and the NONE of the people with the “seal of God” will fall away either.

The reader may then well ask what the purpose of the seven last plagues is. I discuss that in the series on the plagues and conclude that the purpose is to show that God’s judgments are perfect, namely that:

      • The people with the mark of the beast are hardened beyond repentance. Even when they KNOW that they are wrong, they will NOT repent.
      • That God’s people will die rather than disobey God.

We must not think of the mark of the beast OR of the seal of God as something visible that people will be able to see with their eyes. But the angels will know who has what mark and, just like they anxiously watched the crisis of Christ’s last hours to see whether Christ will submit to Satan’s temptations, they will watch the crisis during the final days or months before Christ returns, for the future of the universe depends on it. Until God’s judgments are proven to be perfect, evil must remain!

THE 144000 (7:4-8)

John heard that 144000 were “sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel” (Rev 7:4). This section is a summary of the article – 144000 are sealed. It shows that:

    • The 144000 cannot be literal,
    • But symbolize faithfulness “even when faced with death” (Rev 12:11).
    • The book of Revelation merges the church into Israel.

THE NUMBER 144000 IS NOT LITERAL.

For the following reasons, the 144000 Israelites are not literal:

    • Ten of the twelve tribes have disappeared long ago. The ten northern tribes broke away from the rest after the death of Solomon and were assimilated into the peoples of the Middle East.
    • The list of tribes in Revelation 7 is not valid. It excludes Dan and Ephraim and includes Joseph and his son Manasseh; which is effectively a double count.
    • 12000 from each of the 12 tribes (Rev 7:4) is too exact to be literal.
    • Literally interpreted, they are all men and without sin (Rev 14:4-5).

THE NUMBER 144,000 SYMBOLIZES FAITHFULNESS.

Rather, the number 144000 is symbolic. Revelation is a book of symbols and all numbers in it are symbols. Revelation frequently uses literal things from the Old Testament as symbols. The number 144000, similarly, is Old Testament military language converted into a symbol. Israel referred to its army as “the thousands of Israel” (Num 31:5). A “thousand” was a military unit; equivalent to what we today may call a regiment or a platoon. 

If Revelation uses the number 144000 as a symbol, then we must ask what it means. The following indicates that it symbolizes that the people with the seal of the living God will remain faithful “even when faced with death” (cf. Rev 12:11):

Firstly, as argued above, the sealing of “the bond-servants of our God” (Rev 7:3) is the ‘completion’ of “their fellow servants” in the fifth seal (Rev 6:11). Since the latter symbolizes qualitative completion, the same applies to the seal of God.

Secondly, Revelation describes the 144000 as spiritually mature (Rev 14:4-5).

Thirdly, the number 12 symbolizes God’s people (cf. Rev 12:1). Similarly, the names of the 12 tribes of Israel and the 12 apostles are written on the New Jerusalem (Rev 21:12, 14). The number 144000, then, symbolize God’s people in their strongest possible form = 12 x 12 military units.

The 144000, since it is not literal, and since it symbolizes perfect faithfulness, represents God’s true people FROM ALL RACES. 

REVELATION MERGES THE CHURCH INTO ISRAEL.

Israel in exileIn the view of many Christians, the nation of Israel has a distinct role during the end-time events. However, Revelation merges the church and Israel. For example:

(a) The seven churches are promised the things that previously belonged to Israel, such as the tree of life (Rev 2:7), manna (Rev 2:17), the book of life (Rev 3:5), the temple (Rev 3:11), and Jerusalem (Rev 3:12).

(b) The woman of Revelation 12 represents both Israel (before Christ) and the Church (after Christ). For a discussion, see – Who are the woman, the dragon, and the child?

(c) “Those who had been victorious over the beast … sang the song” of MOSES AND THE LAMB (Rev 15:3); the two main characters in the Old and New Testaments.

(d) “The New Jerusalem” – a symbol of God’s people (Rev 21:9-10) – has written on it the names of both the 12 apostles and the 12 tribes of Israel (Rev 21:12, 14).

(e) John hears about the 144000 Jews but then sees the innumerable multitude from all nations (Rev 7:4, 9). As discussed below, such hear-see combinations, in Revelation, actually are different perspectives OF THE SAME THING (e.g., Rev 5:5-6; 17:1, 3).

(f) In the seven letters, there are people “who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan” (Rev 2:9; 3:9). In this context, to claim to be a Jew is a claim to be a true Christian. What value would a claim to be a literal Jew have in a Christin context?

THE ENTIRE NEW TESTAMENT MERGES THE CHURCH INTO ISRAEL.

This is a huge study. Whole books have been written on this subject and I will not attempt to do justice to this topic here. The following are a few examples:

(A) My study of Romans 9 and 11 concluded that God elected a remnant from Israel to inherit Israel’s promises and covenants, but included believing Gentiles into this chosen remnant. Remember, when the books of the New Testament were written, the majority in the church were Jews. See, Early Church History.

(B) Paul illustrated this principle by saying that Gentiles are grafted into Israel’s olive tree (Rom 11:17).

(C) “If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise” (Gal 3:29).

(D) By choosing twelve disciples and not eleven or thirteen, Jesus signaled His intention to re-shape Israel.

For further discussion, see – 144000 are sealed from the tribes of Israel.

THE INNUMERABLE MULTITUDE

This section is a summary of the article that discusses Revelation 7:9-17 verse by verse. This section first provides an overview of the text and then asks: Who is this Innumerable Multitude? 

OVERVIEW OF THE TEXT

CONTEXT

Revelation 6 has ended with the sixth seal, which has been interpreted above as Christ’s return. The first part of Revelation 7 jumps back in time to explain the sealing of God’s people BEFORE His return (Rev 7:1-8). Revelation 7:9-17, then, continues where chapter 6 left off. In other words, these verses continue to describe a point in time DURING Christ’s return.

NO ONE COULD COUNT

John saw “a great multitude which no one could count” (Rev 7:9). This does not literally mean that they cannot be counted. It is a way of saying that this is a very large group.

FROM EVERY NATION

While the 144000 in the first 8 verses of this chapter are from Israel only, this “multitude” is “from (1) every nation and (2) all tribes and (3) peoples and (4) tongues” (Rev 7:9). Revelation often uses such four-fold descriptions of the people of the world (e.g., Rev 10:11; 14:6; 17:15) because the number 4 symbolizes worldwide extension (cf. Rev 7:1).

ABLE TO STAND

They are “standing before the throne and before the Lamb” (Rev 7:9). In the sixth seal, the multitude hiding in the mountains asked:

“The great day of their wrath has come,
and who is able to stand?
” (Rev 6:16)

The multitude before the throne, therefore, is the answer to that question. This implies that Revelation 7:9 describes them ON THAT “great day of their wrath.

WHITE ROBES

They are “clothed in white robes” (Rev 7:9). In Revelation, the color white always describes Christ and His people. See, the discussion of the white horse of the first seal.

White robes were also given in the fifth seal to the people who have been martyred “because of the testimony which they had maintained” (Rev 6:9-11). The great multitude in Revelation 7, therefore, is the same people. They have all died for their faith. In Revelation, symbolically, all of God’s people die for their faith.

SALVATION BELONGS TO GOD.

They cry out with a loud voice, saying,

Salvation to our God who sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb” (Rev 7:10).

While the multitude in the mountains acknowledges their doom (Rev 6:16), the multitude before the throne acknowledges that they are not the authors of their own salvation but that they have been saved by God and the Lamb.

COME OUT OF THE GREAT TRIBULATION

One of the elders said to John:

These who are clothed in the white robes, … 
These are the ones who come out of
the great tribulation
” (Rev 7:13-14).

Tribulation” means oppression and affliction (e.g., Matt 24:9), or simply difficult circumstances (e.g., 2 Cor 8:13). But, in this chapter, it is “THE great tribulation” (Rev 7:14). In other words, it is one specific tribulation that the reader already knows about. Given the context, and as emphasized by the fifth seal (Rev 6:9-11), it is the martyrdom of God’s people during the entire church age.

THE BLOOD OF THE LAMB

The elder added:

They have washed their robes
and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (Rev 7:14).

The CrossIt is not literally possible to make clothes white in blood. It is a metaphor: As discussed, Christ’s blood is a symbol of His death. Furthermore, His death does not only refer to His last moment but to His final hours when the tempter inflicted the most severe torment and temptation possible on Him. But His final hours were also His greatest victory, for He overcame by remaining “faithful until death” (Rev 2:10). He subjected Himself to God’s will to the end. The significance of His death is not that He died, but that He died without sin, meaning that, even under the most excruciating circumstances, He never used His powers contrary to God’s will.

THEY WASHED THEIR OWN ROBES.

The elder said:

They have washed their robes
and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (Rev 7:14).

White robes are a sign of being right with God (cf. Rev 3:4-5). But the people clothed in the white robes had to wash their own robes (Rev 7:14). Revelation states several times that people have to work for their salvation (e.g., Rev 3:4-5; 19:7-8; 16:15). This principle is consistent with the teaching of the whole Bible. Man is judged by his deeds (cf. Rev 20:12). It is sometimes claimed that Paul taught something different, but he also taught that:

God … will render to each person according to his deeds” (Rom 2:6; cf. Rom 2:9-13; 8:13; 14:12).

People find it difficult to reconcile the principle that man is judged by his deeds with the fact that “by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight” (e.g., Rom 3:20). However, the “works of the law” refer to the external ceremonies and rituals of the Mosaic Law and are very different from the “deeds” by which people are judged. For a discussion, see – The doers of the Law will be justified but NOT by the Works of the Law.

People are judged by their deeds but saved by grace because people DO NOT EARN salvation through their deeds. Nobody deserves to live. We all deserve to die. Judgment by deeds determines WHO must be saved. By grace is HOW those people are saved. For further discussion, see the articles on justification.

THE LAMB IN THE CENTER OF THE THRONE

The Lamb is not “around the throne,” as the elders and the angels are (Rev 4:4; 5:11), or “before the throne,” like the great multitude is (Rev 7:9, 15); He is “in the CENTER of the throne.”  This confirms that He ascended to the throne of God when He took the sealed book (Rev 5:7). He had been “exalted to the right hand of God” (e.g., Acts 2:33).

THE NEW JERUSALEM

The remainder of the chapter is similar to the description of the New Jerusalem in Revelation 21 and 22. For example, both these descriptions say: 

      • He who sits on the throne will spread His tabernacle over them” (Rev 7:15; cf. Rev 21:3).
      • They will no longer be hungry or thirsty (Rev 7:16-17; cf. Rev 21:6; 22:17).
      • The Lamb … will guide them to springs of the water of life” (Rev 7:17; cf. Rev 21:6; 22:1, 17).
      • God will wipe every tear from their eyes” (Rev 7:17; cf. Rev 21:4).

If this passage was the end of the Book of Revelation, we would not have noticed anything missing. It describes the glorious reward of the eternal life of the redeemed.

WHO IS THE INNUMERABLE MULTITUDE?

A HEAR/SEE COMBINATION

The great multitude described in Revelation 7:9-17 seems very different from the 144000 (Rev 7:1-3):

144000
Innumerable Multitude
Exactly numbered Cannot be counted
From the tribes of Israel From every nation
On earth Before God’s throne

However, some argue that the 144000 are THE SAME as the Innumerable Multitude because this is one of the hear/see-combinations in Revelation where John first hears about something and then sees something completely different but the two things really are the same. For example:

In Revelation 5:5-6, John first hears about a lion and then sees a lamb, but both symbolize Christ.

Similarly, John first hears that the woman sits on “many waters” (Rev 17:1) but then he sees that she sits on a beast (Rev 17:3).

In the same way, John first hears of the 144000 (Rev 7:4-8) and then sees a great multitude that no one can number (Rev 7:9). It is proposed here that what John first hears and then sees are not exactly the same but DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES OF THE SAME THING:

The lion and the lamb symbolize two different roles which Christ has. On earth, He was a lamb. But when He returns, He will tread “the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty” (Rev 19:15). Then He will be a lion.

The waters and the beast on which the woman sits, similarly, are two different perspectives of humanity:

        • The “waters” simply symbolize all the peoples of the world (Rev 17:15).
        • The beast, on the other hand, has “seven heads and ten horns” (Rev 17:3). The seven heads are the seven phases of the beast (cf. Rev 17:9-10) and the ten horns symbolize the end-time confederacy that will oppose God (cf. Rev 17:12). The beast, therefore, symbolizes humanity divided into kingdoms.

In the same way, the 144000 and the innumerable multitude are different perspectives of God’s people. To explain:

The sixth seal has been interpreted above as the return of Christ. In it, the question is asked: “Who is able to stand” on “the great day of their wrath” (Rev 6:17)?

Revelation 7 answers this question in TWO ways:

The first part (Rev 7:1-8) jumps back in time to describe how God’s people will be sealed BEFORE His return. The seal will enable them to remain standing during the end-time crisis. They, therefore, are God’s end-time people.

Then verse 9 describes the Innumerable Multitude. That they stand BEFORE THE THRONE (Rev 7:9) implying that this describes them WHEN CHRIST RETURN. They, therefore, are the same as the 144000 but describe God’s people at the end of the end-time crisis.

NOT THE SAME AS THE 144,000

But, as the fifth seal explains, the Innumerable Multitude is NOT exactly the same as the 144000:

The Innumerable Multitude is “clothed in white robes” (Rev 7:9). This reminds us of the fifth seal. That seal describes a specific point in history when WHITE ROBES are given to God’s people who have ALREADY died. But they are told to wait for “their fellow servants … who were to be killed even as they had been” (Rev 6:9-11). By implication, this last group will ALSO receive white robes. The innumerable multitude, since they are dressed in white robes, includes BOTH groups.

This is confirmed by the statement that the innumerable multitude comes out of “the great tribulation” (Rev 7:14). In the context, this “great tribulation” refers to the slaughtering of God’s people as described in the first five seals. Since both groups of people in the fifth seal are martyred, both groups come out of “the great tribulation.

The 144000, however, are only the second group in the fifth seal (those who must still die) BECAUSE, as discussed above, “the seal of the living God” comes down out of heaven (Rev 7:2) at the specific time in history to which the fifth seal refers.

AFTER CHRIST’S RETURN

Does Revelation 7:9-17 describe the innumerable multitude before or after Christ’s return? The following seems to indicate that it describes the time AFTER His Return:

1) If they, as argued, include God’s people who have already died, then it must be AFTER His return.

2) They stand BEFORE GOD’S THRONE, and His throne is in heaven (Rev 11:19; 16:17).

3) In Revelation 6:17, a multitude hides from the throne and asks, “who is able to stand” on “THE GREAT DAY of their wrath?” Since the Innumerable Multitude stands before the throne, they are the answer to that question. This implies that they are described on “THE GREAT DAY,” which is Christ’s return.

4) The palm branches in their hands (Rev 7:9) foreshadow the bliss of eternity.

5) The souls under the altar cried out for revenge (Rev 6:10), symbolizing God’s desire to set things right. The multitude does not cry out for revenge, implying that God has already set things right.

6) Their description in Revelation 7:15-17 is the same as the description of the eternal state of God’s people (Rev 21:3-4, 21:6; 22:1) AFTER Christ has returned, implying that the innumerable multitude includes all of God’s people of all time.

CONCLUSION

Revelation 7:1-8 jumps back in time to describe the sealing of the 144000. Verse 9, then, continues exactly where Revelation 6 left off. In other words, while the one multitude hides in the mountains (Rev 6:15-17), the other great multitude stands before God’s throne. As Jesus said:

When the Son of Man comes in His glory …
All the nations will be gathered before Him;
and He will separate them from one another,
as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats
(Matt 25:31-32)

THE SEVENTH SEAL

This section is a summary of the article – The seventh seal Christ’s Return.

When the Lamb broke the seventh seal,
there was silence in heaven for about half an hour” (Rev 8:1)

For the following reasons, the seventh seal is the sorrow in heaven when the multitude that hides in the mountains in the sixth seal (Rev 6:15), is put to death at Christ’s return (Rev 19:21):

SATAN’S OBJECTIONS REFUTED

Book of LifeAs argued, firstly, the seventh seal is the last seal of the Book of Life; which identifies the people whom God had elected to eternal life. The seals of the book are Satan’s informed objections to those people. That nobody is able to open the book symbolizes that the heavenly beings are unable to refute Satan’s objections. In other words, they are unable to prove that God always judges perfectly. That Jesus breaks the seals means that He directs events on earth to refute Satan’s objections.

Therefore, when the last (seventh) seal is broken, all of Satan’s accusations have been refuted and all barriers to understanding God’s judgments are removed. Then God can make an end to the reign of evil on this earth through the return of Christ.

THE SIXTH SEAL IS HIS RETURN.

Secondly, it was argued in the previous section that the sixth seal is Christ’s return but BEFORE the people who live in rebellion against God are put to death. The seventh seal, therefore, should be the next phase of His return.

ALL MAIN PARTS END WITH CHRIST’S RETURN.

Thirdly, Revelation consists of five main parts. Except for the first main part (the letters to the seven churches – Revelation 1-3), all other main parts cover the entire church age and all end with Christ’s return:

      • Seven trumpets – Revelation 8-11 (Rev 11:15);
      • Seven wars – Revelation 12-14 (Rev 14:14);
      • Seven last plagues – Revelation 15-19 (Rev 19:11).

Therefore, the seven seals should also end with His return. For a further discussion, see – Does the Book of Revelation describe events in chronological sequence?

CONCLUSION

For these reasons, it is proposed that the silence in heaven of the seventh seal is caused by the immeasurable sorrow in the heart of God and in the hearts of His people at the destruction of billions of people at the return of Christ (Rev 19:21).

THE SEVENTH SEAL AND
THE SEVEN TRUMPETS

This section is a summary of the article – Does the seventh seal include the seven trumpets?

TWO VIEWS

The Book of Revelation divides into several main parts. It begins with the letters to the seven churches (ch. 1-3) and ends with the Millennium (ch. 20) and “a new heaven and a new earth” (Rev 21:1) (ch. 21-22). In the body of the book, we find four great sections:

      • The Seven Seals (ch. 4-7);
      • The Seven Trumpets (ch. 8-11); and
      • The Seven Wars (ch. 12-14); and
      • The Seven Plagues (ch. 15-19).

The seven plagues begin at the end of the end-time persecution of God’s people as described by Revelation 13 and 14. (See – Sealed against the plagues.) The plagues, therefore, are limited to the end-time only. The following are two views with respect to the seals, trumpets, and wars:

One view is that they describe the same period, namely the church age; from the cross to the return of Christ; each adding a different perspective to that period. This is called ‘recapitulation’.

Another view is that the visions of Revelation are listed strictly chronological FROM BEGINNING TO END, with only one final climax at the end of the book. In this view, the seventh seal includes the seven trumpets.

The following seems to support the view that the seventh seal DOES INCLUDE the seven trumpets:

      • Chapters 8 to 11 of Revelation describe the trumpets and the seventh seal (Rev 8:1) is part of chapter 8.
      • Nothing happens in the seventh seal—only silence. So, perhaps this means that the real action of the seventh seal is the seven trumpets. 

However, for the following reasons, the seventh seal CANNOT include the seven trumpets:

1) CHAPTERS AND VERSES

Chapter and verse breaks are not inspired. They were only added in the 13th century.

2) DIFFERENT THEMES

The themes of the seals and the trumpets are very different; even opposites. The seals are about GOD’S PEOPLE and their experience on earth (e.g. Rev 6:9; 7:3; 7:14). (See – Overview of the seals) In contrast, the trumpets focus on GOD’S ENEMIES (e.g., Rev 8:13; 9:4; 11:10). This difference in themes implies that the trumpets are not part of the seventh seal.

3) THE SEALS END WITH THE NEW WORLD.

The sixth seal is the Return of Christ (Rev 6:12-14; 6:17) and introduces the New Heaven and New Earth (e.g., Rev 7:17). The seventh seal, therefore, must be even later. It follows, since the trumpets describe the old world of sin and sorrow, that they cannot be included in the seventh seal.

4) SATAN’S OBJECTIONS REFUTED

The seventh seal describes what happens when the seventh seal of the book is broken. Since the book had seven seals (Rev 5:1) preventing the beings in heaven from reading it (Rev 5:3), when the seventh seal is broken, they are able to read the book. The silence of the seventh seal (Rev 8:1) must be the consequence of reading the book.

As discussed:

The sealed book is THE BOOK OF LIFE, containing God’s judgments, indicating who will inherit eternal life and who will suffer the second death (Rev 20:15; cf. Rom 6:23). 

The seals are Satan’s accusations against the people whom God elected to eternal life. Satan accuses God of bad judgment.

Breaking the seals means to refute Satan’s objections. When the seventh seal is broken, it means that all of Satan’s accusations have been refuted.

In this interpretation, since God will execute His judgments when Christ returns, God delays Christ’s return UNTIL Satan has been FULLY refuted. Therefore, when the seventh seal is broken, and God’s judgments are fully explained, there remains no further reason to delay the execution of His judgments. Consequently:

1) The silence of the seventh seal results from the sorrow in God’s heart when billions of people are put to death (Rev 19:21). (See, Silence when the hiding multitude is put to death.)

2) The trumpets, describing the disasters of the old earth, CANNOT be part of the seventh seal but describe an earlier time.

5) SWITCHES JUMP BACK IN TIME.

The trumpets end with Christ’s return (Rev 11:15) but the next vision (the seven wars) jumps back to the time of Christ’s birth (Rev 12:2; 12:5). Since this happens in the switch from the trumpets to the wars, the same probably also happens in the switch from the seals to the trumpets.

6) FROM CHRIST’S BIRTH TO HIS RETURN

Both the seven seals and the seven wars explicitly begin with Christ’s first advent and end with His return (Rev 5:5; 6:17; 12:5; 14:14). Both, therefore, cover the entire Christian era. Consequently:

1) It is clear that Revelation uses recapitulation.

2) Since the two main parts before and after the trumpets both cover the whole Christian era, and since ALL THREE of these main parts conclude with Christ’s return, it is very likely that the trumpets also begin with Christ’s first advent.

7) THE TIME, TIMES, AND A HALF

Both Daniel and Revelation describe the “time, times, and a half a time” as a period of persecution of God’s people (Dan 7:25; 12:7). Both the trumpets and the wars cover this period (Rev 11:2, 3; 12:6, 14; 13:6). Since the focus of the seals is also the persecution of God’s people (Rev 6:9; 7:14), IT MUST ALSO COVER THIS PERIOD. But that would mean that the seals, trumpets, and wars all three cover this period.

8) THE CHIASM

Revelation 8:2-6 is the introduction to the trumpets and has a literary structure called a chiasm. This shows that these verses form a unit. Since Revelation 8:1 is not part of this unit, it does not form part of the trumpets. (For more detail, see Chiasm.) 

9) RECAPITULATION IN DANIEL

Daniel the prophetSince, as is generally accepted, Daniel is the foundation on which Revelation is built, and since, as is also generally accepted, the visions in Daniel build on each other—each providing additional insights concerning periods covered by previous visions, we might the same in Revelation.

10) A LITERAL READING RESULTS IN MANY CONTRADICTIONS.

The idea that the seven trumpets are included in the seventh seal is part of a strictly literal and chronological interpretation of Revelation. But such an interpretation results in many contradictions. For example, in the first trumpet, all the green grass is burned up (Rev 8:7) but, in the fifth trumpet, the grass is protected (Rev 9:4).

CONCLUSION

The trumpets are not part of the seventh seal.

Another article shows that Revelation does NOT describe events in chronological sequence. 

WHY DID CHRIST NOT YET RETURN?

Why has God allowed sin and suffering to continue for another 2000 years after Christ has redeemed humanity at the Cross? What else does God need, in addition to Christ’s death, to make a final end of evil? This final section addresses this question but also summarizes this article.

THE SEALED BOOK

The vision of the book that was sealed with seven seals explains the delay in Christ’s return as follows:

Christ receives the book as a slain lamb (Rev 5:5-7), meaning that He receives the book SOON after His death, resurrection, and ascension. That also means that He began breaking the seven seals AT THAT TIME.

The sixth seal has the signs of Christ’s return (Rev 6:12-14) and is called “the great day of their wrath” (Rev 6:17); i.e., the Day of Judgment. Christ, consequently, breaks the seals over the church age. This also implies that Christ’s return is delayed until ALL seven seals have been broken and God’s intelligent beings are “able to open the book” and “to look into it” (Rev 5:3).

The sealed book has been identified as the book of life containing God’s judgments as to who God elected to eternal life. With the help of Revelation 12, the sealed book has been further interpreted as follows:

Satan is the accuser of the brethren (Rev 12:10). In other words, he specifically accuses God’s elect. He claims that they do NOT deserve eternal life. Consistent with this, the seven seals with which the book is sealed are interpreted as Satan’s accusations against the people identified in the book of life.

By rejecting God’s judgment, Satan accuses God of unfair judgment. He aims to show that God makes mistakes in His judgments. His goal is TO SAVE HIMSELF. He argues that, if some sinners receive the gift of eternal life, then all sinners, including himself (Satan) must live eternally, or vice versa.

If it can be shown that God judges erroneously, even to the slightest degree, the implications for the creation would be massive. Satan and his angels would have grounds for their claim that they have been judged unfairly.

That NOBODY is able to read the book (Rev 5:3) is then interpreted as that God’s intelligent creatures are unable to refute Satan’s accusations. In other words, God’s judgments are not fully understood. Satan’s accusations have created a level of doubt about the perfection of God’s judgments.

John’s great weeping (Rev 5:4) symbolizes the great sorrow in heaven caused by this “war in heaven” (Rev 12:7). Unless God’s judgments can be shown to be perfect, Satan and evil will have to exist forever.

The CrossAs a result of Christ’s victory on earth, the sorrow in heaven was turned to joy, (Rev 5:5), Satan was banished from heaven (Rev 12:8-9), and Christ was acclaimed to be trustworthy (Rev 5:9). However, the war continued on earth (Rev 6:9; 12:12).

That Jesus breaks the seals means that He directs events on earth TO PROVIDE EVIDENCE to show that Satan’s objections to God’s selective mercy for some sinners are unfounded. In other words, Jesus breaks the seals to show that God’s judgments are perfect.

As interpreted above:

        • The sixth seal is the seventh plague – immediately preceding Christ’s return – and
        • The silence of the seventh seal is the sorrow in God’s heart – when Christ returns – for the destruction of the people who are NOT listed in the book of life (cf. Rev 19:21).

Consequently, today, Christ is still breaking the seals. His return and the implementation of God’s judgments are delayed until the last seal has been broken and God’s intelligent creatures are able to read the book. The ability to read the book symbolizes that they understand God’s judgments and have FULL assurance that God’s judgments are PERFECT. In other words, Jesus did not return yet because there is some evidence outstanding to fully validate God’s judgments!

When that evidence has been obtained, Christ will return (Rev 19:11), put the followers of the beast to death (Rev 19:21), and resurrect God’s elect (Rev 20:4).

CHRIST’S DEATH

But why, we may ask, did He not open the book IMMEDIATELY after He received it?

The explanation above implies that Christ’s death did NOT provide the evidence required to refute Satan’s objections. After the Cross, Satan was expelled from heaven (Rev 12:8-9). This must be understood symbolically:

As argued above, Satan accused both God’s people and the Defender of God’s people, that is, the Son of God. He claimed that the Son, given the right circumstances, would do the same as what he (Satan) did and use His power contrary to God’s will.

In response, the unique Son of God, by becoming a vulnerable human being, submitted himself to a test. As a human being, he overcame the most severe temptations. Satan tortured Him to death, but the Son never used His powers contrary to God’s will. To the excruciating end, the Son remained obedient to God, demonstrating Himself to be “worthy” (Rev 5:5; 5:9). Satan claimed that the Son of God, in His role as defender of God’s elect, is a false witness, but Christ’s victory showed Him to be “the faithful and true witness” (Rev 3:13).

That Satan was expelled from heaven is then interpreted as symbolizing that His accusations against Christ were refuted. In other words, he was not literally expelled from heaven. He was expelled in the sense of esteem or credibility.

But, after the Cross, Satan was thrown down to earth and the war continued on earth (Rev 12:12). This must also be understood symbolically, namely that Christ’s sacrifice DID NOT DISPROVE Satan’s objections to God’s selective mercy for His elect. In that sense, the focus of the war shifted from heaven to earth.

WHAT INFORMATION IS OUTSTANDING?

The question then is, WHAT EVIDENCE is required to finally refute Satan’s charges against God’s elect and to assure the heavenly beings that God’s judgments are perfect? What happens when Jesus breaks the seals in Revelation 6:1 to 8:1 provide the answer. The seal-events may be divided between:

      • The church age,
      • The preparation of God’s people for the end-time crisis, and
      • Christ’s return.

The following is an overview of the seals. In the end, conclusions are drawn concerning what these events reveal:

THE CHURCH AGE

As argued above, seals 6 and 7 describe the end of this age. But the first five seals describe the church age. The white horse of the first seal symbolizes the gospel going forth. The next three seals bring famine and death (Rev 6:3-8). The fifth seal, which is the culmination of the previous four, describes God’s people as:

Those who had been slain
because of the word of God,
and because of the testimony
which they had maintained
” (Rev 6:9).

They are crying to God to avenge their “blood” (Rev 6:9). By implication, it was their blood that was spilled in the previous seals. The first five seals, therefore, form a unit and describe the experience of God’s people over the church age; a time when God’s word is preached but God’s people are “slain because of the word of God.

PREPARATION FOR THE END-TIME CRISIS

This preparation is described in two places in the seals:

THE FIFTH SEAL

The first is in the fifth seal. That seal describes a point in time when many of God’s people have already died but many more must die. The souls under the altar are told to wait until their fellow brethren are “COMPLETED” (Rev 6:11). This has been interpreted as that God’s people will be “completed” qualitatively in character; not in number.

THE SEALING

This preparation of God’s people for the end-time is also described by the sealing in Revelation 7. God’s people (symbolically called the 144,000) will be able to remain standing when the four winds are released BECAUSE they will be sealed (Rev 7:1-4) on their foreheads with “the seal of the living God,” which is the name of God (Rev 14:1):

      • The four winds symbolize the end-time destruction; also symbolized by the seven last plagues.
      • Their foreheads symbolize their thinking.
      • The name of God symbolizes His character (cf. Rev 17:5). Consequently, “no lie was found in their mouth; they are blameless” (Rev 14:4-5).

The seal of God, therefore, is NOT simply a mark of identification, but has been interpreted above as special empowerment for God’s people to remain standing through the end-time crisis (Rev 13:15-17).

CHRIST’S RETURN

The sixth seal is Christ’s return (Rev 6:12-14; 6:16-17). In it, the lost hide in the mountains:

From the presence of Him who sits on the throne,”
asking, “the great day of their wrath has come,
and who is able to stand
” (Rev 6:15-17)?

Then the entire chapter 7 provides the answer by giving two perspectives of God’s people:

Firstly, as discussed, it describes how God’s people are sealed in preparation for the catastrophic events at the end of the age (Rev 7:1-3) and,

Secondly, it describes God’s people DURING Christ’s return as an innumerable multitude “standing before the throne” (Rev 7:9). Since they also have white robes, they are the same people as described in the fifth seal. But, while the souls under the altar are “given” white robes (Rev 6:11), the innumerable multitude had to wash their own robes and make them white “in the blood of the Lamb” (Rev 7:14). In other words, they are not mere bystanders or onlookers. They are God’s soldiers. They have to fight. Since they are the same as the people in the fifth seal, they are the people who are “slain because of the word of God” (Rev 6:9).

CONCLUSIONS

The question we are trying to answer is WHAT EVIDENCE is required to satisfy the heavenly beings that God’s judgments are perfect. We said that what happens when the seals are broken will show what that evidence is. From the brief discussion of the seal-events above, we conclude as follows:

1) When Jesus breaks the seals, THE FOCUS is predominantly on God’s people, implying that Jesus brings an end to the crisis THROUGH GOD’S PEOPLE.

2) Specifically, when Jesus breaks the seals, the point is not merely to say that God’s people will suffer but, much more important, that THEY WILL REMAIN FAITHFUL to Godeven when faced with death.” NONE of them will fall to the temptation of the time and accept the mark of the beast. They will be willing to give up everything – even their lives – rather than disobey God, just like Jesus did. As Jesus told His church:

Be faithful until death,
and I will give you
the crown of life
” (Rev 2:10).

3) Since the book is opened by breaking the seals, THIS is the evidence that will show that Satan’s accusations against God’s elect are false, confirm that God judges perfectly, and resolve the crisis. By choosing death rather than disobeying God, God’s elect will justify God’s decision to grant them eternal life. That which the Creator is already able to see in the hearts of people, and on which He also based His judgments, will become visible in the “deeds” of His people.

REVELATION 12

As argued above, Revelation 12 describes the same crisis as the sealed book. The conclusions in the previous section can be confirmed from Revelation 12.

As discussed, that chapter describes the crisis as a war in heaven (Rev 12:7) that was brought to an end by Christ’s death. However, AFTER His death, the war continued on earth.

In the seals, God’s response to the crisis in heaven consists of two parts:

Firstly, the death of His unique Son (Rev 5:5) made Him “worthy” to open the book (Rev 5:9).

Secondly, Jesus breaks the seals, symbolizing, as discussed, the experience of God’s people.

In Revelation 12, God uses the same two methods to overcome Satan’s accusations:

Firstly, “the blood of the Lamb” (Rev 12:11) which is parallel to the death of His Son in the seals.

Secondly, the “testimony” of our brethren “even when faced with death” (Rev 12:10-11). This is parallel to the breaking of the seven seals. This also confirms the conclusion above concerning the nature of the seal-events.

WHY NOT YET?

But then we can ask further: Why does it take such a long time? The answer is provided by both the fifth seal and the sealing:

FIFTH SEAL

In the fifth seal, the souls under the altar are told to wait:

UNTIL … their fellow … brethren
would be completed also
” (Rev 6:11).

This was interpreted above as that they must be “completed” IN CHARACTER; not in number. By implication, God is waiting for a people that will be ready to remain faithful to Him throughout the tremendous suffering and temptations of the seven last plagues.

THE SEALING

We see the same in the sealing (Rev 7:1-3) which, as argued above, is another description of the fifth seal’s ‘completion’ of God’s people. In the sealing, an angel cries out with a loud voice to the four angels who are holding back the four wind:

Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees
UNTIL we have sealed the bond-servants of our God
on their foreheads
.”

The four winds have been interpreted above as the seven last plagues. Therefore, here again, we see that God has not yet brought the seven last plagues on the world because His people are NOT READY! His people are too busy with the pleasures and temptations of this world. God delays that crisis until He has a people who are able to remain standing during that time.

SEALED THROUGH PERSECUTION

But will God EVER have a people who will be able to stand?

As argued above, God’s people will be sealed THROUGH the end-time persecution (Rev 13:15-17). In other words, eventually, to have a people who will be able to remain faithful throughout the seven last plagues, God will have to allow that severe end-time persecution of His people. Through persecution, they will be refined, as “gold refined by fire” (Rev 3:18). Through persecution, God will give to them the seal of the living God (Rev 7:2); interpreted above as grace and power to remain true to Him through the end-time crisis. They will reach a level of spiritual maturity that was previously perhaps visible in individuals such as Job but never before in God’s people as a group.

We also see indications elsewhere in Revelation that God’s end-time people will be spiritually mature. For example, in the end-time context:

    • His bride has made herself ready” (Rev 19:7-8).
    • While “the vine of the earth,” symbolizing the lost, will be trodden in the winepress (Rev 14:18-20), “the harvest of the earth,” symbolizing God’s people, will be harvested when it “is ripe” (Rev 14:15)

TESTED THROUGH THE PLAGUES

As discussed, God’s people will receive God’s seal to protect them DURING THE SEVEN LAST PLAGUES. That, therefore, will be the final test of God’s people.

Generally, God limits Satan with respect to what he is allowed to do to God’s people (e.g., Job 1:12). But, during the plagues, “spirits of demons, performing signs” will “go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them together for the war of the great day of God, the Almighty” (Rev 13:14). This is understood as meaning that, in this final crisis before Christ returns, God will allow Satan THE FULL USE of his demonic powers to persecute and to deceive.

At this time, the obedience of God’s people will demonstrate that the people identified in the book of life are worthy of salvation, namely that they are willing to give up everything – even their lives – rather than disobey God.

But the frequent mention in the seven last plagues that the worshipers of the beast will not repent (Rev 16:9; 16:11, 16:21), even when confronted with clear evidence that they are wrong (Rev 16:10) (See – Fifth Plague), implies that the purpose of the plagues is also to show that the people with the mark of the beast WILL NOT REPENT under any circumstances; that they have become haters of God—solidly confirmed in their ways—irreversibly committed to evil.

In this way, the seven last plagues will provide the final evidence required to provide full assurance that God’s judgments are perfect. Then Christ will return.

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