PLUS Resource: 6 Prayers for When You Are Fighting Anxiety

Revelation 7

SUMMARY.--The Four Winds Held. The Sealing of the One Hundred and Forty Four Thousand. The Great Multitude with the Palms of Victory. They with White Robes About the Throne.

      11, 12. All the angels. In chapter 5 the elders, four living creatures, the angels about the throne, and every creature join in the praises. Here again all are named, and the angels worship and join in praising God for the blessed scene they have just beheld.

      13-17. What are these? The questions are asked by the elder that he may teach. "These" refer to the vast multitude described in verse 9 . 14. Thou knowest. "I do not know but thou dost." These are they which came out of the great tribulation. See Revision. Some great period of trial of the church is meant. They have stood the trial, and been true. Washed their robes. Have made themselves spotless by trust in the blood of Christ. 15. Therefore are they before the throne of God. They are exalted to heaven. 16. They shall hunger no more. Their sorrows are over forever. 17. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them. God and the Lamb shall bestow upon them every blessing and remove every sorrow.

      THE MEANING.--What do the symbols of this vision signify? It is evident that they indicate that four destructive agencies were to be checked and restrained until some great work of the gospel was accomplished. The work to be wrought is symbolized by two multitudes, one numbered, the other countless, both of them saved and praising God for salvation. The first company is composed of Jews, while the second and larger company is composed of Gentiles. In the fourteenth chapter we find again a company of one hundred and forty-four thousand with the Lamb upon Mt. Zion, evidently, from the same number, to be associated with these. We are there told that they were "virgins," a term whose spiritual signification is that they had never been defiled by idolatry, and they were "the first fruits" unto the Lamb These marks, as well as the literal statement here that they were of the tribes of Israel, identify them as the Jewish members of the Church. These had never been guilty of idolatrous fornication, and had been the first fruits of Christianity. Jews were the original first fruits, and they were represented by the Jewish Christian element. The thought, as it appears to me, is to bring before the mind that at this period of triumph there were the Jewish and the Gentile elements. I am aware that many commentators have held that the one hundred and forty-four thousand refers to spiritual Israel. All Christians belong to this spiritual Israel, but it is evident that a different meaning is intended here. 1. Those sealed are taken out of the tribes of Israel. They are a remnant, while the great body of the membership of the tribes is left unsealed. 2. The Gentile Christians are named immediately after. Observe the marks of the countless multitude of the Gentiles saved: 1. They are clothed in white robes. White robes are the mark of triumph. 2. They have palms in their hands. Palms belong to victors. 3. They join in a song of praise to the Lamb as the author of their salvation. This is evidently a heavenly picture, representing a great triumph of the saints immediately after the events last described. The subsequent portion of the chapter is in harmony. "Who are these," it asked, "arrayed in white garments?" The reply shows these, who have come through the (there is an article in the Greek) great tribulation of a suffering and persecuted church, are permitted to witness its justification and victory. The whole is a picture of a great triumph of the church, triumphant on earth, and its triumphant sufferers enjoying the final reward on high. The meaning is that those who have suffered and wrought during the long period of tribulation covering the first three centuries of the church have won their triumph on earth, in the victory of the church, and the final reward in heaven.

      It only remains to ask, whether before the "four winds" were loosed and after the great persecution of the fifth seal, such a triumph was won. I have already shown that the opening of the sixth seal refers to the overthrow of the old Paganism. I will state briefly that at the end of the third century Paganism was dominant, persecuting, seeking to "abolish the Christian name." At the end of the fourth century the civilized world was Christian.

      THE FOUR WINDS.--I have already indicated that I regard the Four Angels with the Four Winds which are held back from hurting the earth until this great sealing is effected, four mighty agencies of destruction which were soon to sweep in fury upon the Roman Empire, "the earth" of John's vision. This will be explained more fully in the/Commentaries/PeoplesNewTestament/pnt.cgi?book=re&chapter=002#" Until this sealing, the mighty triumph, is effected, the four winds are held. It is significant that we will find following close upon the triumph of Christianity the Roman Empire utterly overthrown by four agencies, symbolized when four angels blow their trumpets under the seventh seal. It was part of the providence of God that these agencies should be restrained until the empire was converted to Christianity. Indeed, to this providence we may attribute the fact that Europe at this day and for a thousand years, as well as the descendants of Europeans in America, acknowledge the Christian faith. Had the overwhelming hordes of northern barbarians rushed down upon the civilized world before the new faith had been firmly planted, it could hardly have survived the wreck of empires and civilization; but, deeply rooted in the hearts of the vanquished, when all else was lost, Christianity rose above the ruins of the past and pointed the ferocious invaders to the Cross of Christ. The conquerors, in their new lands, laid aside the Paganism of their fathers and accepted a new religion from those whom they had vanquished. The new nations that emerge from the darkness of the Middle Ages, seated in the vast boundaries of the old Roman Empire, all acknowledge the Christian faith.

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