(Will be taught through on 6/18/2017 at Curtis Baptist Church…out of order by about 2 weeks, but was not taught in class)
Hurricanes are huge water delivered storms with a curious twist. That curious twist is the center where ocean’s dark and powerful churning diminishes to a startling ease. That is the eye of the storm. Revelation 7 is like that eye in the storm.
Think back to the way how Revelation 6 concluded. The last scene was the opening of the sixth seal, and it proved to be an equalizer among mankind as acts of God shook the world. In the rattling and rolling great and small ran to the heedless hills, and once there called out for those hills to fall on them. In that time large swaths of the population showed their preference to be cavemen rather than “God-men.”
An eye in the storm
1 After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth, that no wind might blow on earth or sea or against any tree. 2 Then I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, with the seal of the living God, and he called with a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm earth and sea, 3 saying, “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.” (Revelation 7:1-3–ESV)
Don’t get tripped up by the symbolism here. No suggestion is being made that the earth is flat, or square, or that there are but four winds that sweep the earth. While some analogies may be drawn from this the greatest thing to see is the pause in earth’s destruction.
Four angels will first be sent to restrain the rattles of the earth while a fifth rises with the sun. As a tormented ship breaks through the inner wall of the hurricane and into an interlude so will the earth. That fifth angel will command the destroying angels to pause their destruction. When John uses the word until we know that this will be but a pause.
On the earth at the time John writes of there will be more than just the rebellious. There will still be Christ followers as can be seen in the third verse where they are called servants; servants about to be set apart from the world. They were to receive the Mark of the Lamb. I am not keen to speculate on what manner of mark this was as its shape or character is not the point. Whatever manner this mark was to take it would be evident to all.
There are 12 tribes in Israel’s history each represented by the children of Jacob the grandson of Abraham whom God chose from the earth. At the end of time God has not forgotten his involvement with them. He loves his people, has made promises to them, and while people come and go on the earth God remains a constant.
The 12 tribes as Revelation 7 records are Judah, Reuben, Gad, Asher, Naphtali, Manasseh, Simeon, Levi, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph, and Benjamin. Neither Dan nor Ephraim make this list presumably because of their early and great propensity to idolatry rather than Jehovah.
12,000 members of each these tribes comprised the 144,000. They will appear alongside the Lamb of God in chapter 14. It seems that they were selected rather than found and that the non-chosen Jews at this point would remain among the rest of the Gentile population of the earth.
A divine umbrella
The 144,000 Jews who were sealed were given a divine umbrella of sorts. The seal they received clearly identified their allegiance with Jehovah, but went further also conferring some manner of protection.
That seems to be the only official measure of protection given people on the earth. Experience, even now and historically, shows that righteousness is no protection from the evils of this world. Bad things happen to godly people and good things happen to the ungodly. Of course the corollary also stands.
Before the opening of the first seal both godly and ungodly people lived and died under a wide variety of circumstances. The scripture clearly teaches that God saves men through the middle of their circumstances rather than exempting them. Trouble and trial, the common lot of men, are not removed by faith. Faith in God helps the walk through the valley of the shadow of death to put it as the Psalmist did.