And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe. (Revelation 14:15)
At this point in the Revelation account, we have come to the last half of the Tribulation. We have seen that in the midst of the terrible judgments coming upon the earth, God in His mercy continues to reach out to a lost and rebellious world by way of the 144,000 witnesses, the two Old Testament prophets brought back to earth to testify by way of wonders and miracles so that no one on earth will have an excuse for rejecting God. At the midpoint of the Tribulation, the Antichrist will desecrate the Temple in Jerusalem by claiming to be God and demanding that he be worshiped as God. At this time, the Antichrist is fully possessed by Satan, and God allows him to kill the two prophets, and the 144,000 who, up until this point have been protected by God. In the previous verses, we see the 144,000 in the heavenly Mount Zion with Jesus. However, God continues to show His mercy by sending His angels to proclaim the Gospel all around the earth so that all on earth (who have not yet accepted the “mark of the beast”) will have the opportunity to turn to Christ. Of that time Jesus said, “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (Matthew 24:14, emphasis mine).
Now we arrive at the final one year and nine months that remain in the Tribulation (as I understand the chronology). John gives us a quick summary previewing what is to come; the details will be revealed in the chapters that follow.
“And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle” (Revelation 14:14). Undoubtedly, “the Son of man” refers to Jesus, and He wears a golden “stephanos” – a victor’s crown, not a “diadēma” a royal crown. Although the final battle between the forces of Satan and Christ is yet future, the victory is sure, and Jesus is the Victor. He carries a sharp sickle in His hand prepared for the harvest. Larkin points out that “This is not the ‘Harvest of the Church.’ … This is the ‘Harvest’ of the Gentile Nations … The ‘Harvest and Vintage’ are JUDICIAL. That is, they are for the purpose of Judgment. The account here is anticipative.” We can look forward to the details of that judgment when the seven bowls are poured out in Chapter 16.
“And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe” (Revelation 14:15). Again, this looks forward in anticipation of the end when the final battle takes place at the battle of Armageddon.
“And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped. (Revelation 14:16). At that time, He returns to the earth on a white horse followed by His saints on white horses. His sickle will be the “sword,” which is His Word, that proceeds out of His mouth. The battle, if one can call it that, will be no battle at all, for the victory will be decisive and instantaneous.
“And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle. And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire; and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe. And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God” (Revelation 14:17-19). There is great excitement in heaven. The end is here and Jesus will soon take His rightful place as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. However, for those with the mark of the beast and those who have rejected God despite all of His efforts and offer of salvation, this is very bad news. On the other hand, for those saints who have managed to survive the seven-year Tribulation, their “blessed hope” is about to be realized.
“And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs” (Revelation 14:20). The “winepress” is “without the city,” i.e., outside of Jerusalem. It is the Jezreel Valley, a.k.a. the Valley of Megiddo, a.k.a. Armageddon. This valley in northern Israel extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the Joran River south of Lake Tiberias (Sea of Galilee). It covers an area of roughly 380 square kilometers or 146.7 square miles. The blood of Jesus’ enemies will fill this “winepress” as high as a horse’s bridle. It is “the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God” (Revelation 19:15).
In a Messianic passage, the Prophet Isaiah sees the coming Lord like this. “Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this that is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength? I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save. Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the winefat? I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me: for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment. For the day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come” (Isaiah 63:1-4, emphasis mine). John records it this way. “And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God” (Revelation 19:13, emphasis mine).
For those who reject Christ, the end will not be nice. That is putting it mildly. Reader, if you do not know the Savior, do not wait any longer. The time is short. Please read my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”
And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads. (Revelation 14:1)
Jesus warned, “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains: Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day: For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened” (Matthew 24:15-22, emphasis mine).
Jesus’ Olivet Discourse is often misinterpreted and misapplied to include all followers of Christ. However, one must consider the audience Jesus addressed. It was His disciples who asked, “Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” (Matthew 24:3). The question was prompted by Jesus’ remark concerning the Temple they were admiring. “And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down” (Matthew 24:2). The disciples were Jewish, and their concern was from a Jewish perspective. They were not yet “Christian.” They believed that Jesus was the promised Messiah. They knew He was destined to reign in Jerusalem and that His reign would culminate at the “end of the age.” Their twofold question requested two specific answers: when will He come to set up His kingdom, and when will “the end of the world” (Gk: aiōn – age) be?
Jesus’ reply addressed Jews, and the events outlined in His discourse were directed to Jews. “The abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet” was intended for Daniel and his people and his holy city, i.e., the Jews and Jerusalem. Jesus warned that they should pray that their escape from Jerusalem would not be on a Sabbath Day. Such a warning can only apply to Jews; Christians observe the Lord’s Day (Sunday), not the Sabbath (Saturday). Jesus’ discourse on the last days described the events of the seven-year Tribulation prophesied by Daniel. Its primary purpose is “to finish the transgression [of Israel], and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy” (Daniel 9:24). The prophets all speak of the scattering and regathering of Israel into their own land in the “latter days” with the promise that God will restore the nation forever (sealing up “the vision and prophecy”). Hence, the Tribulation is for that purpose and to bring God’s judgment to bear on a rebellious and sinful world.
In my previous article, I focused on Revelation 13 which deals with “the beast” (i.e., “the abomination of desolation, a.k.a. the Antichrist) and his false prophet, who shows his true colors at the midpoint of the Tribulation initiating the final 3½ years, or what Jesus called the “Great Tribulation.” Of that time Jesus said, “And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened” (Matthew 24:22).
It is at this point that John once again changes the scene. “And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads” (Revelation 14:1). The Lamb he sees is Jesus standing on Mount Zion. Zion sometimes refers to Jerusalem and at other times it refers to the Temple Mount or “the mountain of God.” However, it almost always refers to the dwelling place of God. God established Jerusalem as His city forever and the Temple as His dwelling place forever. Even so, Solomon rightly concluded, “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded?” (1 Kings 8:27). Obviously, God cannot be confined to a single place; therefore, Zion goes beyond an earthly temple or city. Zion is the habitation of God in heaven.
Now we see Jesus, the Lamb, in Zion, His heavenly home, and there with Him are the 144 thousand “having his Father’s name written in their foreheads.” We have seen them before in Chapter 7 of Revelation and as a result of their evangelistic efforts, millions on earth are saved. Now, here they are in heaven. What happened? Either they were Raptured about the same time as the two witnesses, or they paid with their lives for their evangelistic zeal.
“And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps: And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth” (Revelation 14:2-3). Clarence Larkin sums this up better than I can, so I will include his commentary as follows:
What the “voice” said is not told us, but it was followed with the voice or singing of the “Harpers” accompanied by their harps. These “Harpers” sung a “NEW SONG” before the Throne, and the “Four Living Creatures,” and the “Elders.” As the “Elders” represent the Church, these “Harpers” are not the Church, for they sing before the “Elders.” Who these “Harpers” are we are told in chapter 15:2-4. They are those who stand on the “Sea of Glass” before the Throne, Rev.4:6. The “New Song” they sing is a “double song,” the “SONG OF MOSES” and the “SONG OF THE LAMB,” and we are told that no man could learn the Song but the 144,000 who were redeemed from the earth. This is further evidence that the 144,000 “Sealed Ones” are in Heaven, either having been translated or died a Martyr’s death and from Rev. 14:4 we learn that they are the “FIRST-FRUITS” of the restored nation of Israel, not the “First-Fruits” of the Church, for that is represented by the “Elders,” and was gathered out long before.
“These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb. And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God” (Revelation 14:4-5). Larkin suggests that the idea that they were “not defiled with women” may mean that they were celibate like the Apostle Paul who did not marry. However, since “the word translated ‘virgins’ means persons of either sex, they are ‘virgins’ in the sense that they kept themselves clean of the crowning sin of that day—FORNICATION, for the crowning sin of the Tribulation Period will be fornication (Rev. 9:21; 14:8), or looseness and laxity of the marriage tie of which ‘free-love,’ and the doctrine of “affinities,” and multiplied divorce in these days are but the opening wedge to the looseness of morals of those Anti-Christian times.” This allows for the possibility that this number includes women and not just men. The defining characteristic is chastity or sexual purity, faithfulness in the bond of marriage, and fidelity to the Lord’s leading “whithersoever he goeth.”
What is remarkable to me, but not surprising, is the mercy God extends to a fallen world even at this time of judgment. He sends the 144,000 Jewish converts to spread the Gospel around the world, and they are so effective that millions of people on earth reject the Antichrist and turn to Jesus Christ for salvation even at the cost of their very lives. “After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb” (Revelation 7:9-10). Along with that, He sends two witnesses, who could be Moses and Elijah. As a result, many millions are saved during the first 3½ years of the Tribulation.
Chronologically, in the Revelation account, we are at about the midpoint of the Tribulation. The two witnesses have been killed. They are allowed to lay in the streets of Jerusalem for three days in full view of the entire world. Then God resurrects their dead bodies and calls them up to heaven to the shock and dismay of the watching world. It is possible that around this same time the 144,000 are taken out of the world, either by martyrdom or rapture, but they seem to be in heaven now according to the text. However, God still continues His outreach efforts. “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). “Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?” (Ezekiel 33:11)
God’s outreach options are not exhausted. “And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters” (Revelation 14:6-7). Just because the 144,000 and the two witnesses are gone from the scene does not mean that the message of the Gospel has ended. Surely, there are many Tribulation saints that have survived to this point and many will survive to the very end when Christ returns. They will continue to spread the Gospel by whatever means they have available. In the meantime, God sends angelic help by way of what I call the “Gospel Angel.”
John sees another angel flying in the “midst of the heaven.” This “heaven” is the atmospheric “heaven” of the earth. The Gospel historically has been the responsibility of humans. Now, with severe persecution and limited resources, God sends an unstoppable angel to preach “the everlasting gospel” to all people of every language. No one will be able to say they never heard the message of redemption. No one will have an excuse for rejecting the Gospel. It will be preached everywhere, in every language, non-stop. And Antichrist will have no power over this angel to stop him. However, it is not just one angel. Two more follow.
“And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication” (Revelation 14:8). This message is not of an actual event. It is a promise of an event that is coming, and it is such a sure thing, that it is proclaimed in the present tense.
“And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name” (Revelation 14:9-11). For any rational person, this warning should serve to scare the hell right out of them. Receiving the mark of the beast is the unpardonable death sentence. No one on earth will be forced to take the mark of the beast. They will take it willingly as a sign of fidelity to the Antichrist, the beast, and they will be eternally doomed for that choice.
No one will be able to plead ignorance. Three angels are sent by God to warn the earth dwellers of the judgments that are coming and provide them with the message of salvation. To take the mark of the beast may spare one’s life for a brief time, but in the end, the eternal fires of hell await. To reject the mark of the beast and choose Christ may mean physical death, but in the same instant that they close their eyes in death they will awaken in the presence of God, the Lamb, and all of the hosts of heaven.
“Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus. And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them” (Revelation 14:12-13).
There exist scoffers today that reject this message thinking that they will be able to survive the Tribulation. They think “if” that time ever comes, they will reject the mark and accept Christ. That sounds very self-assured, confident, and arrogant. However, if one will not accept Jesus now when it is relatively easy to do so, what makes one think that one will have enough courage in the midst of the worst economic, climatic, and environmental disasters the world has ever seen to stand up for Jesus when doing so means certain death? Reader, if you do not know the Savior, do not wait any longer. The time is short. Please read my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”
And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever. (Revelation 11:15)
The Two Witnesses testify to the mercy of God that even through severe judgment, God gives a sinful and rebellious world ample opportunity to repent. For the first three-and-one-half years of the Tribulation, they have preached in the streets of Jerusalem and the whole world heard their message so that they have no excuse. Surely, many turned to Christ because of their message, but to be a Christ-believer in these times is a life-commitment indeed. We saw them underneath the altar as those who had been “slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held” (Revelation 6:9).
When “the beast” kills the two witnesses, the world celebrates their demise. However, the jubilation comes to an abrupt end when after three days life returns to their lifeless bodies, and they ascend to heaven as the whole world watches. The shock of such a sight cause many to reconsider their eternal state, and “the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven” (Revelation 11:13).
In the account of the two witnesses, John gave us a brief look back at the previous three-and-one-half years in the midst of the trumpet judgments. Six trumpets have sounded thus far, and one remains to be sounded.
“And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever” (Revelation 11:15). The heavenly pronouncement gives a sense of finality for what is to come. It’s game over!
I will not be dogmatic about this. The chronology of these events is all up for debate, and anyone that claims they know doesn’t. However, as it appears to me, the trumpet judgments begin the final three-and-one-half years of the Tribulation. This is the time of Great Tribulation, and the seventh trumpet introduces the final 21 months of the Great Tribulation represented by the seven “bowl” judgments.
For this reason, I believe the heavenly pronouncement announces “The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever” (11:15). It’s a done deal. The end is very near.
“And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God, Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned” (Revelation 11:16-17). The end of the horror on earth certainly is cause for celebration knowing that the King of Kings and Lord of Lords will soon take His throne.
The worshipers continue. “And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth” (Revelation 11:18). The psalmist captures this sentiment perfectly.
Why do the [nations] rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?
The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying,
Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.
He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision. (Psalm 2:1-4)
“The dead” speaks of those who have rejected God’s free gift of grace through faith. Whether physically alive or physically dead, they are spiritually dead in their sins because they have rejected Christ who is the only source of eternal life. These will be judged at the “Great White Throne Judgment” at the end of the Millennium. By contrast, God’s servants, the prophets, and the saints will enjoy eternal rewards.
Chapter 11 closes with a scene of the Temple of God in heaven and the Ark of the Covenant. “And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament [covenant]: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail” (Revelation 11:19). This is the real Temple of God and the real Ark of the Covenant from which the earthly Tabernacle/Temple and Ark were patterned. The “lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail” are just a prelude of what the seventh trumpet announces – the final seven “bowl” judgments.
John describes the “bowl” judgments in Chapter 16. However, before John goes there, he gives us another parenthetical pause to provide insight into the events that have taken place on Earth, so far. Stay tuned!
The time is drawing near. The pieces of the end-times puzzle are falling into place and Christ’s return is closer now than at any time in history. Reader, are you prepared to meet Him? If not, check out my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”
And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour. (Revelation 8:1)
How long is half an hour in heaven? Is it the same as half an hour here on Earth? Have you ever experienced half an hour in complete silence? I do not think I ever have; there are always some audible sounds even in the quietest times: the sound of the wind, bird songs, distant traffic sounds, etc. I cannot imagine total silence for even a short time, much less half an hour. I imagine it would be rather unnerving.
The Lamb has opened six seals to this point and unleashed all kinds of havoc around the globe. The white horse introduced the Antichrist. The red horse brings war to the earth. The black horse introduces worldwide economic collapse along with extreme inflation. The pale horse adds death from hunger, disease, and pestilences. The fifth seal introduces us to the Tribulation saints that have been martyred for their faith in Christ. The sixth seal brings down heaven in the way of falling space rocks, the darkening of the sun and moon, and an earthquake that shakes the entire planet. The whole world reels from the judgments that have come upon the planet.
Now, the Lamb opens the seventh seal and there is total silence in heaven for half an hour. All of heaven stands still. As if in shock from the past judgments, those in heaven are awestruck at what is about to come. If you thought the first six seals were bad, you have not seen anything yet. The worst is yet to come.
“And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour. And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets” (Revelation 8:1-2, emphasis mine). The seven trumpets herald seven more judgments far worse than those seen so far. Arguably, by this time we are at the midpoint of the Tribulation and entering a time of “Great Tribulation.” Of this time, Jesus said, “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be” (Matthew 24:21, emphasis mine). No wonder the prospect of what comes next causes silence in heaven.
Now John looks “And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand” (Revelation 8:3-4, emphasis mine). The writer of the book of Hebrews informs us that the Tabernacle, and subsequently the Temple, was constructed after the pattern of that which was in heaven. In the Tabernacle and in the Temple, there was an altar before the Holy of Holies upon which incense was burned continuously. The sweet-smelling smoke of the burning incense represented the prayers of the people going up before God. Here, in the heavenly temple of God, the prayers of the saints constantly rise before the Lord. John does not specify whether the prayers are those of the Tribulation saints who remain on the earth, those of the martyred saints beneath the altar, or the saints of all time. Regardless, it is comforting and encouraging to know that our prayers are constantly before the throne of God. The priest responsible for bringing our prayers before God is none other than Jesus Christ. “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5).
In the model prayer, Jesus said, “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). That particular prayer is about to be answered in full. “And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake. And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound” (Revelation 8:5-6). Brace yourself for what comes next!
Reader, are you prepared for what is coming to the world? You do not need to go through the Tribulation, God’s wrath, that is coming upon the world. Read my page on “Securing Eternal Life,” and ask Jesus to save you from the wrath to come.
And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel. (Revelation 7:4)
The first six seals release unprecedented havoc upon the earth, and the seventh seal is next in line. Meanwhile, John shifts the focus from the judgments taking place on earth to the grace and mercy that God continues to offer the inhabitants of Earth. Even in these times, God is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
John says, “And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree. And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads” (Revelation 7:1-3).
John sees four angels that control the wind currents from the four points of the compass. As such, they have power over the weather on Earth, and they are prepared to unleash their fury on Earth. However, another angel appears from the rising sun (translated as “east”) to temporarily halt the next judgment. John says that this angel has “the seal of the living God.”
This “seal” is probably something like a stamp, brand, or signet ring that carries with it the authority of God. John does not elaborate on the mark, but I wonder if it could be the Hebrew letter shin (שׁ). One of the names of God is El Shadday – “Almighty God.” The initial of this name is the Hebrew letter shin. At the dedication of Solomon’s Temple, God said, “… I have hallowed this house, which thou hast built, to put my name there for ever; and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually” (1 Kings 9:3, emphasis mine). The Temple Mount in Jerusalem is geographically cradled above three valleys that come together in the shape of the letter shin (שׁ) when viewed from the air. I find that intriguing.
Perhaps the shin is the symbol on the seal that the angel carries. Some suggest that the angel with the seal of God is Jesus. They come to this conclusion because he seems to have the authority of God by way of the seal. However, it is not beyond God to delegate His authority to His angels. Arguably, Jesus controls all the events concerning the Tribulation, and He holds the scroll and opens the seals. It makes sense that He is directing this angel and has delegated His authority to this angel for the sealing of His servants. Also, there is the point that John describes this angel as “another angel” (7:2) like those holding the four winds. So, in my view, this is not Jesus.
The angels holding back the four winds are temporarily restrained from unleashing their judgments until “we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads” (7:3). “And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel” (Revelation 7:4, emphasis mine). These 144,000 who are sealed are Jews, not Jehovah’s Witnesses. There are 12,000 from each of the 12 tribes of Israel and are listed in the verses that follow. The tribes listed are as follows: Judah, Reuben, Gad, Asher, Naphtali, Manasseh, Simeon, Levi, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph, and Benjamin. For those who pay attention, there is an apparent discrepancy between the Revelation list and the lists found in the Pentateuch (Genesis-Deuteronomy). This list includes Joseph from whom the two “half tribes” originated: Manasseh and Ephraim. Here, Joseph is listed as a stand-alone tribe and Ephraim is omitted from the list. The tribe of Dan is also missing.
The reason for their omission is due to a specific sin of idolatry that they allowed in their territories after the kingdom of Israel split under the reign of Rehoboam, successor to Solomon. Before entering the Promised Land, God issued a warning and a curse to anyone who led Israel into idolatry. “The LORD will not spare him, but then the anger of the LORD and his jealousy shall smoke against that man, and all the curses that are written in this book shall lie upon him, and the LORD shall blot out his name from under heaven. And the LORD shall separate him unto evil out of all the tribes of Israel, according to all the curses of the covenant that are written in this book of the law” (Deuteronomy 29:20-21). Dan was the first to lapse into idolatry. “And the children of Dan set up the graven image: and Jonathan, the son of Gershom, the son of Manasseh, he and his sons were priests to the tribe of Dan until the day of the captivity of the land” (Judges 18:30, emphasis mine). After the kingdom split, Jeroboam, king of the northern kingdom, had two golden calves made, and he placed one in Ephraim and the other in Dan. Granted, all 12 tribes of Israel continually had problems with idolatry, but these two seem to be the first of the overt violations of God’s warning and may be the reason for the omission of these two tribes from the list of the 144,000.
These 144,000 Jewish sealed servants of God seem to be partly responsible for the conversion and salvation of innumerable souls during the Tribulation. John reports, “After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb” (Revelation 7:9-10, emphasis mine). As we have seen before, the “white robes” represent the righteousness of Christ that is imparted to them who have placed their faith and trust in Him (7:14). John records the celebration for these saints. “And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen” (Revelation 7:11-12). Jesus said, “there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth” (Luke 15:10), and here we see millions upon millions.
One of the elders approached John and asked the same question we might ask. “What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?” (7:13). John had no answer, so the elder explained, “These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (7:14, emphasis mine). They have come out of “great tribulation.” These are Tribulation saints; they are not the Church that was snatched out at the Rapture before the Tribulation begins. This is the amazing thing to me about this time. Even though God is unleashing His great wrath upon a sinful world, He still makes opportunities for people to be saved. “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
We will see later on that God sends two untouchable Old Testament prophets to preach, and He even sends an angel to proclaim the Gospel around the earth. God is not willing that any should perish, but with all of His effort, we know that the greater majority will continue to reject Him. Jesus said, “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat” (Matthew 7:13, emphasis mine).
For all who enter through the “strait (narrow) gate” there is this promise: “Therefore are they [those ‘who have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the lamb’ (7:14)] before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes” (Revelation 7:15-17).
Reader, are you prepared for what is coming to the world? You do not need to go through the Tribulation, God’s wrath, that is coming upon the world. Read my page on “Securing Eternal Life,” and ask Jesus to save you from the wrath to come.