At CrossHope Chapel we are currently going through the book of Revelation and we covered chapter 7 and the beginning of chapter 8 a few weeks ago. I have been busy with my hospital chaplaincy ministry lately and have fallen behind on these Study Highlights.
In this Study Highlight, I want to share some things from our look at Revelation 7:1-8:5…
Revelation 7 is a parenthetical vision that John saw which falls between the 6th seal and the 7th seal. In chapter 6 we have the opening of six seals, but the 7th seal is not opened until you get to Revelation 8:1-5. I say the 7th chapter is parenthetical because it is interjected after the 6th seal, seemingly in order to answer the question asked in Revelation 6:17.
Chapter 6 ends with the statement, “For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?” What follows that question is chapter 7 and in it we are told who will be able to stand.
Revelation 7:2-3 — We are introduced to the work of sealing the saints. With the seal of God upon the foreheads of Christ’s people, they will be passed over from the wrath to fall on those who have rejected Him. Later in Revelation 14 we will see that Satan will counterfeit God’s seal with what we know as the mark of the beast.
When it comes to trying to understand what the seal of God is, it’s best to consider what Scripture has already identified as a seal. Ephesians 1:13 tells us that we “were sealed with that holy Spirit.” Ephesians 4:30 states “And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.”
The sealing of the saints in the Revelation 7 vision is likely symbolic of this very work stated by the Apostle Paul. The genuine follower of Christ is one who is led and governed by the Holy Spirit. The sealing here can be thought of as a sealing that keeps the inside contained while keeping the contamination on the outside. The Spirit of God within and the spirit of man without.
Revelation 7:4-9 — We are now introduced to the saints who will be sealed and John says that he hears their number as “an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel.” When John turns to look at them he says that they were “a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues.”
The number 144,000 must be a symbolic number that likely points to the sum of 12 X 12, as way of expressing that the make up of Christ Kingdom will be perfectly multiplied. 12 is the kingdom number in Scripture. We begin with 12 sons, then 12 tribes, then 12 apostles, and unto 12 foundations of the coming New Jerusalem.
There is comfort in the citing of the 12 tribes of Israel because it tells us of the continued promise of God’s covenant from time past into the future. Galatians 3:29 can be seen here, which states, “And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”
Remember, when John looks he sees these as those from “all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues” which means they cannot be understood literally as Jews because they are from all peoples of the earth. There is a theme in the New Testament and Romans 11 that Gentile believers have been “grafted in” to the promise of Israel, and we see it further in Romans 2:28-29 and Romans 9:6-7.
Revelation 8:1 — We finally get to the opening of the 7th seal, which highlights only one event, the return of the Lord. The opening of this 7th seal does seem to release or initiate the beginning of the 7 trumpets.
When we get to the trumpets, we will see that the seven trumpets also climax with the event of Jesus’ return. What’s interesting about the 7th seal is its mention of “silence in heaven about the space of half an hour.” Why silence? It could very well be because Jesus said in Matthew 25:31 that when He returns “all the holy angels” will come with Him.
There will be silence in Heaven because the work of interceding on behalf of the saints will have ceased and it will be emptied of its angelic host as they accompany the Lord to bring us Home.
The meaning of the silence being “about the space of half an hour” could possibly be understood using the “day for year” principle of interpretation. Ezekiel 4:6 “I have appointed thee each day for a year” and Numbers 14:34 “each day for a year” which does seem to work as a formula that interprets a prophetic day as a literal year.
In the case of the 7th seal, it would mean that the silence in Heaven would equal a literal week. It’s an interesting thought, because it would mean a full week of travel to our eternal home. Could it be that following the resurrection and being “caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air” (1 Thessalonians 4:17) that we’ll tour the universe along the way?
Well, that’s it for this highlight, but the next Study Highlight will cover a large portion of Revelation from Revelation 8:6 through Revelation 11:19. This three chapter portion covers all seven trumpets.