Literally, from the rising of the sun. Within Scripture, east is often the direction of the deliverance or judgment of God (Gen. Gen. 41:6, Gen. 41:23, Gen. 41:27; Ex. Ex. 10:13; Ex. 14:21; Ps. Ps. 48:7; Ps. 78:26; Isa. Isa. 27:8; Jer. Jer. 18:17; Eze. Eze. 19:12; Hos. Hos. 13:15; Jonah Jonah 4:8; Rev. Rev. 16:12+). It is the direction to which the glory of the Lord departed from both Solomons and Herods Temple (Eze. Eze. 10:18; Eze. 11:22-23 cf. Mtt. Mat. 23:38; Mat. 24:1-3) and the direction by which it will eventually return (Eze. Eze. 43:2-4; Eze. 44:1-2). Here, it is the direction of God, the direction from which Gods protective sealing comes prior to the unleashing of the judgments to come.
Seal is σφραγῖδα [sphragida] . This is not a seal itself, but the instrument with which one seals or stamps.1 This angel carries the means by which the one hundred and forty-four thousand will be sealed (Rev. Rev. 7:4-8+, which see). Rev. 14:1+ suggests that it is the name of the Lamb and that of His Father (cf. Isa. Isa. 44:5).2 Those who are to be sealed are one of three groups who survive this horrific time of judgment. Two of the groups are described in this chapter:
Chapter 7 forms a parenthetical section between the sixth (Rev. Rev. 6:12-17+) and seventh (Rev. Rev. 8:1+) seals to answer that question, introducing two groups who will survive the fury of divine judgment. The first, those described in Rev. Rev. 7:1-8+, are the Jewish evangelists who will be preserved on earth. They will survive the holocaust of divine wrath unleashed by the seal, trumpet, and bowl judgments. God will also protect them from the murderous efforts of Antichrist and his henchmen to wipe out believers in the true God. Having survived the wars, famine, unprecedented natural disasters, disease, rampant, unchecked sinfulness, and savage persecution of the Tribulation, they will enter the Millennial Kingdom alive. The second group to escape divine fury (Rev. Rev. 7:9-17+) are those who will be martyred and thereby ushered into the blissful rest of heaven, where they will be preserved.3The third group which survives, although not mentioned in this chapter, are those who come to faith during the Tribulation and manage to stay alive until the Second Coming. These will enter the Millennial Kingdom and form its initial populace (Mtt. Mat. 25:31-40).
of the living God
Throughout Scripture, the One True God is contrasted with dead idols who are dumb and cannot respond.4 Nevertheless, the pattern of history is that man has more often sought help from dumb idols than from the living God (Deu. Deu. 5:26; 1S. 1S. 17:26; Mtt. Mat. 16:16; 1Th. 1Th. 1:9-10; Heb. Heb. 12:22). In Satans most successful ploy to keep men captive to idolatry, he mimics the living God by empowering the false prophet to give breath to the image of the beast (Rev. Rev. 13:15+). Life-giving power is an intrinsic characteristic of God (Luke Luke 24:5).5 See commentary on Revelation 1:18.
to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea
Every judgment is subject to Gods conditional permission. See commentary on Revelation 6:2. The earth, trees, and sea will be harmed in Gods upcoming judgments. See commentary on Revelation 7:1.
1 Frederick William Danker and Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 796.
3 John MacArthur, Revelation 1-11 : The MacArthur New Testament Commentary (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1999), Rev. 7:1.
4 Concerning lifeless idols: Deu. Deu. 4:28; 2K. 2K. 19:18; Ps. Ps. 115:4; Ps. 135:15; Isa. Isa. 37:19; Isa. 41:25; Isa. 44:9; Isa. 45:20; Isa. 46:7; Jer. Jer. 2:28; Jer. 10:5, Jer. 10:8, Jer. 10:15; Jer. 16:20; Dan. Dan. 5:23; Acts Acts 19:26; Rev. Rev. 9:20+.
5 Concerning the Living God: Ex. Ex. 3:6; Deu. Deu. 5:26; Jos. Jos. 3:10; 1S. 1S. 17:26, 1S. 17:36; 2K. 2K. 19:4, 2K. 19:16; Ps. Ps. 42:2; Ps. 84:2; Isa. Isa. 37:4, Isa. 37:17; Jer. Jer. 10:10; Jer. 23:36; Dan. Dan. 6:20, Dan. 6:26; Hos. Hos. 1:10; Mtt. Mat. 16:16; Mat. 22:32; Mat. 26:63; John John 6:69; Acts Acts 14:15; Rom. Rom. 9:26; 2Cor. 2Cor. 3:3; 2Cor. 6:16; 1Ti. 1Ti. 3:15; 1Ti. 4:10; 1Ti. 6:17; Heb. Heb. 3:12; Heb. 9:14; Heb. 10:31; Heb. 12:22; Rev. Rev. 7:2+.