We looked at what the seven seals mean, but there is more information under the sixth seal. This period goes from the late 1700s right to the time of the coming of Jesus, so it covers the very time we are living in today.
When you read prophecies like Daniel and Revelation, you have to remember that they do not run in a straight-line like a story, but instead they are made up of separate word-pictures, almost like pieces of a puzzle, and by studying carefully we learn how the pieces go together.
Each piece gives us more information about the big picture and each piece helps us to understand other pieces. We always have to remember to let the Bible show us how they go together and not guess ourselves, or we can get mixed up, and we must always pray and ask Jesus to send the Holy Spirit for our guidance as we study.
“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.” Revelation 7:1
Now here John sees another word-picture; again this does not happen after the one we just read, but it is a separate view showing something that happens during that 6th seal time.
John sees four mighty angels on the four corners of the world. Now some silly people say, “See the Bible is not true. The earth doesn’t have corners.” This simply means the four directions, north, south, east, and west. We often say things like, “The people came from the four corners of the earth,” and we mean from all over the earth.
Here these angels are holding the winds. Now, no human could hold ‘winds’ but these angels can. And what are the winds that they hold? Remember in prophecy, winds mean trouble, war, strife and destruction. God has powers working in this world to hold back the evil forces so that His people have a chance to get ready for His coming.
It says they protect the earth and the sea; this means the areas where there are a lot of people (the sea); and where there are just a few people (the earth). And the ‘Trees’, symbolize governments or rulers, or they may represent the righteous. Remember Nebuchadnezzar’s dream where a great tree was used to represent his rule in Babylon.
If these angels were not holding back the ‘winds’, Satan would soon destroy the whole earth.
“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 7:2, 3
Here comes another angel from the ‘East’, this means he comes from heaven with a message from God. Now we see why these angels are holding back the trouble, they are giving time for God’s servants, His true people, to get ‘sealed’. A ‘seal’ is like a stamp of ownership. These people are going to have a ‘seal’ that shows they belong to God.
This ‘seal’ is on their foreheads; this means that they have chosen with their minds to believe and obey God. The forehead area of the brain is where we make our decisions. In Ezekiel 9 we see a ‘man with a writer’s inkhorn’ placing a mark on those that ‘sigh and cry’. Why did they sigh and cry? Because of all the wicked things people were doing, and ignoring God’s Holy Law.
Now this ‘sealing’ is making up their minds so strongly that they will never change. Each person has to study for themselves, and get to know Jesus and His truth for their selves and love Him with all their heart.
How do you get to love somebody? First you have to get to know them, don’t you? So it is with God, as we learn about Him from the Bible, we pray to Him and allow His Holy Spirit to come into our lives and teach and guide us, we get to know Him and trust Him more and more.
Finally there comes a time when we are so solid in our decision to love and follow Jesus that nothing would change our minds. Then we are sealed. This takes time, and so the angels are holding the winds to give that time ,but as the final events unfold, people will be making their choices quickly. God knows when His people are ‘sealed’ into loving and obeying Him.
The wicked end up ‘sealed’ too, but in a sad-bad way. They have disobeyed God for so long, and rejected His love and His word, until their hearts become hard, and they reach a place where they would never change; no not in a million years.
We know that the Seventh day Sabbath is the ‘seal’ of God’s Ten Commandment Law. It is the only place in the law where it tells God’s name, (the Lord thy God) His territory, (Heavens and Earth) and His authority (He is the Creator). The ‘sealed’ people of God will keep His true Sabbath.
“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 number 144,000 has been a puzzle to many people. Some think it is a symbol, and it is true that it means something. There were twelve tribes in Israel and there were twelve Apostles. Here twelve thousand out of each tribe, 12 X 12 = 144,000. It does seem that it may be a real number. It represents the people of God who will be alive on the earth when Jesus returns. They will go to heaven without ever dying.
The twelve sons of Jacob, who became the heads of great families, called tribes, were Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun. Benjamin, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, and Joseph. But Jacob, on his dying bed, adopted the sons of Joseph, Ephraim and Manasseh, to constitute two of the tribes of Israel. Genesis 48:5.
“Of the tribe of Juda were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Reuben were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Gad were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Aser were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Nepthalim were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Manasses were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Simeon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Levi were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Issachar were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Zabulon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Joseph were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Benjamin were sealed twelve thousand.” Revelation 7:5-8
But here in this list we find 2 names left out. Ephraim and Dan are not on this final list. The Bible says “Ephraim is joined to idols: let him alone.” Hosea 4:17. The tribe of Dan was also involved in Idol worship and repented not.
Some people have done interesting studies about the characters of these different ‘tribes’, and feel that they represent various personalities, you might like to read about it sometime.
God knows who these special people will be, who will be alive when Jesus comes and go home to heaven without ever dying. Maybe some of us will be among them.
“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.
Some people worry when they think about the 144,000 because it doesn’t seem like a very big number to be saved from the whole earth. But we never need to worry about that; there is lot’s of room in heaven for all, and no one who really wants to be there, and truly gives their heart to Jesus, will be left out.
Just imagine this beautiful scene; all of the dear people of God from all different ages and countries, happy in heaven and singing joyful songs to Jesus. They have palm branches in their hands as a sign of victory over sin and Satan, and white robes, which show they all have lovely characters like Jesus.
Sometimes when you have to stand alone, because all your friends want to do wrong things, remember that wonderful crowd, so many you can’t even count them, that are true to Jesus, and decide that you will be there also. On this earth it often seems as if everybody is going the wrong way and following Satan, but very soon, that is all going to change.
All God’s children who humbly trust His promises will be safe in that day when Jesus comes to take them home.
“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.
“And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” Revelation 7:13, 14
Here we are talking about this special group who has been sealed in their foreheads. They are dressed in pure, white robes; this is the perfect characters that Jesus has given them. They came out of a time when the entire wicked world united to destroy God’s truth and blot it from the earth. But in the strength of their mighty Lord, they stood firm for the truth and obeyed God’s Commandments.
How did they get these pure characters? Here’s the way; they washed them in the blood of the Lamb. They accepted the forgiveness made possible by Jesus death, and they chose to have Him live His perfect life in them. They chose to have Jesus’ pure character instead of their own sinful one. Day by day, hour by hour, they kept choosing His ways in the strength He gave them, and when temptation came, they refused to yield. They cried out to Jesus to take all sin and wicked selfishness out of their lives.
It took time, and as victory was gained over one sinful trait, the Holy Spirit would show them more things that had to be overcome, and they would cry again to Jesus for victory. The closer they came to Jesus, and the more they learned about His beautiful character, the more sinful they saw themselves to be, and the more they cried to Jesus for Him to take away the sin from them, and cover their poor selves with His robe of perfect character.
Finally, when Jesus finishes His work in the sanctuary, there comes a time when He pronounces that all who are righteous will stay righteous, He gives them His perfect robe of character for their own, and their sins are blotted from the books of heaven.
“Therefore are they 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.
These ones have a special experience; all who are saved in heaven will have passed through trials and been overcomers, but these final ones have seen almost the whole world given over to Satan. They have seen the close of probation, when the Mercy of God is totally removed from the wicked and Satan has full control of them. They have seen the terrible seven last plagues of God’s anger fall on the wicked, and have clung to Jesus through the time of Jacob’s trouble.
The four angels are still holding the winds today; but we are seeing some winds slipping through in terrible disasters and strife. It is now time to get to know Jesus and give your whole heart to Him. There is nothing more important than that.
Revelation 7:13-17, are some of the sweetest texts in the whole Bible, read them often and think about what they mean. We want to be in that group.