Revelation Chapter 7: 1-8
“After these things I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, on the sea, or on any tree. Then 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 granted to harm the earth and the sea, saying, ‘Do not harm the earth, the sea, or the trees till we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.’ And I heard the number of those who were sealed.
One hundred and forty-four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel were sealed: of the tribe of Judah twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Reuben twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Gad twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Asher twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Naphtali twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Manasseh twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Simeon twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Levi twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Issachar twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Zebulun twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Joseph twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Benjamin twelve thousand were sealed.”
The response to these lessons has been overwhelming. It is awesome to meet believers from all over the world and to see that God is working everywhere. Thanks for the criticism and the blessings; both are appreciated. One makes me work harder, and the other gives me the energy to keep working. I will admit that I have not ‘arrived’ with reference to the study and teaching in the Scriptures. I am constantly learning, and it is the teaching that drives me to learn more.
I want to encourage you to read the Bible often. Our local church here is reading through the scriptures from cover to cover as often as possible and at one’s own pace. I am back to the beginning again; I just finished the book of Exodus for the 5th time in the last 4-5 years. I just begin at Genesis and read to the end, then go back to Genesis and begin again. Some days I can get in a chapter, and others 10-15 or an entire book. But just read from cover to cover, then go back and do it again.
You will become familiar with the characters, the flow of the stories and the address of the lessons. The continuity of the scriptures will become very apparent, and both the consistent failing of men – yes, even God’s men in contrast to God’s holiness and faithfulness will become very clear. Read the Bible, make it a priority in your life, and do it for your kids to see and copy.
Today we will take a break from death and mayhem. We will look at an account of rejection and redemption. On the surface it does not appear that way, but it is. God’s grace is amazing. We cannot ever speak enough about it. We will never run out of songs to sing, sermons to preach and lessons to teach when discussing the grace of God. We will never get to a lesson on God’s amazing grace and say that we have exhausted the subject and will never have to re-visit it.
After these things, Revelation 7:1
This is an interlude that occurs at the end of the 6th seal. We cannot tell if the people on earth realize that it is an interlude, a short break; but in chapter 8:1, the 7th seal is opened, and there is silence in heaven for 30 minutes. This will be the loudest silence that there has been in heaven’s history, and the silence marks a transition to some serious outpouring of the wrath of God. But we will get to that in a week or two. Today we enjoy the break from the destruction, and we enjoy a bit of quiet.
I am sure that the people of earth at the time of these events will be grateful for the break as well. God tells the four angels that control the four winds of the earth to stop the wind from blowing. No wind from the north, south, east or west. According to one of the websites that I researched, this is a summary of the effect of what happens when the winds stops blowing:
“After a few days the problem arrives. Without wind systems, warm and moist air won’t move around. Water might still evaporate but it won’t travel, meaning anywhere away from a large body of water will dry up. Lakes might be alright as the evaporating water will fall back into them, and the sea will be fine. But anywhere else will get very dry very quickly.
“Plants, animals and humans will slowly die from dehydration with most water inaccessible as salt water or ice. Even if we survive this, the problems don’t stop. The equator will no longer shed its heat as quickly, so it will become very warm. Mountains may remain cool enough to be habitable, but nowhere else will. At the same time, the poles, deprived of heat from the equator, will freeze solid.”
We do not know how long the wind stops blowing. If it is a few days, the effects will not be that bad; but if it is a few weeks or months, the effects on the earth could be quite devastating. But while this is happening to the non-believers on earth, quite the opposite is happening to the Jewish believers.
Remember that the Jews rejected Jesus on the day that He was crucified. They called out for Barabbas and condemned Jesus to the cross. He went willingly; and there He paid for the sins of the whole world. But the whole idea of the Tribulation is to bring the Jews back to the Lord their God. There are some that have said that God is done with the Jews. He has turned His attention to the Gentile church, and we have replaced Israel as the chosen people.
God calls Abram (Abraham) in Genesis 12 and makes him a series of promises, including the promise of millions of descendants from his own body (children), and then that Abram would have a land that God promised him. In Genesis 15, God again repeats the promises that He makes to Abram. In verse 4 He promises Abram an heir from his own body; and in verse 7 God promises Abram that he would inherit the land that he was standing on. In verse 8 Abram asks a question:
“And he said, Lord God, whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it?”
God then tells him to get a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old female goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtle dove and a young pigeon. Abram is told to cut the animals, not the birds, in half and to place them opposite each other. There would have been a space to walk between the two halves of the severed animals. I need to mention that these 5 animals represent every socio-economic bracket in Israel – the rich and the poor. The rich brought heifers and goats to be sacrificed for their sins, and the poor brought turtledoves and pigeons. We see this in Leviticus 5:7:
“If, however, he cannot afford a lamb, he may bring to the LORD as restitution for his sin two turtledoves or two young pigeons—one as a sin offering and the other as a burnt offering.”
Back to the events of Genesis 15: Abram sets the animals in order; and as the night falls, a ‘deep sleep’ falls on Abram. This is very important, so please read this carefully – and more importantly, read the Bible carefully. There are many passages that we read and never understand because we are not aware of the cultural importance of the era and how that relates to us today.
Abram is asleep – a deep sleep, like the sleep God put Adam in when he took a part of him and made Eve. Abram had no part in what was about to happen. God took the full responsibility for the covenant that was about to be secured. Remember, God is responding the Abram’s questions, ‘how will I know?’
In verse 17, God is represented by two images – a smoking oven and a burning torch that passes through the pieces. This was a custom that would have been practiced by two opposing kings or lords. They would make a ‘blood covenant’ by severing two animals in half and standing in the blood pool between the animals. They would make a covenant that, if trespassed, was punishable by death.
Notice that Abram was not involved in the covenant; only God is involved. He passes through between the severed halves of the animals to secure the covenant that is recorded in verses 18-19, in addition to the promises made in verses 1-7.
God cannot break the covenant that He made to Abram. And since Abram was not involved, it is the Lord’s sole responsibility to fulfill the covenant to Abram and his descendants. God has not forgotten Israel, and the modern-day Israel is not some NWO phenomenon; they hate Israel. Just look at the negative votes that Israel gets in the UN and the demonstrable hatred that we see in the world towards Israel.
Sealed to Serve, Revelation 7:5-8
An angel is given the seal with which to seal the servants of God. In Revelation 14:1, we are told that this seal is the Name of God. There are some 144,000 Jewish men who will go out as witnesses of Jesus’ redemptive power to the Jews around the world during the Tribulation. A seal in the days of John, the writer of Revelation, was used by owners, governments and dignitaries to seal documents and important papers. It was also a sign of ownership; each seal had a unique design like our modern-day signature. It was pressed into melted wax on the object, kind of like a logo; and everyone knew that it belonged to this or that person.
God seals 12,000 from each of the 12 tribes. We know that they are all men, because we are told in Revelation 14:4 that they were all virgins who had not defiled themselves with women. They go out to preach the gospel, sealed by God as part of the great redemptive power that is coming over the Jews.
Paul in Romans 11:1 makes it clear that even though he was the apostle to the Gentiles, he being a Jew was clear proof that God was not finished with the Jews. In Romans 11:5 Paul tells us that God has reserved for Himself a remnant of the Jews. There are 12 tribes listed and one glaring omission. On the surface it appears that there are two missing, but the tribe of Ephraim in now called the tribe of Joseph.
The tribe of Dan is missing. Dan was born to Bilhah in Genesis 30; she was one of Jacob’s extramarital endeavors with Rachel’s handmaid. In Genesis 49:17 as Jacob is about to die, he prophesies that Dan will be a ‘serpent’ in the midst of Israel and cause them to go backwards. During the times of the Judges in chapter 18, there is an incident with the tribe of Dan which ends with them setting up carved images and setting up a priesthood of their own. This idolatry remained in place for hundreds of years until the Northern tribes went into captivity, recorded in 2 Kings 15 & 17.
They seemed almost estranged from Israel. But God is gracious to those He loves; and in fulfillment of His promises to Abraham, when we see the tribes of Israel listed in Ezekiel 48:1, we see the tribe of Dan as having a section. And he is in fact the first tribe mentioned in this list. This list is the division of land during the millennial reign of Jesus.
Later on in verse 30, the ‘great city,’ the New Jerusalem, has 12 gates; and one of those gates on the east side of the city is named for the tribe of Dan. In the same prophecy given to Dan in Genesis 49, but verse 16 this time, Jacob prophesies that Dan would judge his people as one of the tribes of Israel.
The Bible is a book of redemption. Adam sinned and God clothed his nakedness. Jacob was a trickster, but God made of him a great nation and through him brought the person of Jesus our Redeemer. David sinned greatly with Bathsheba, but God forgave him and called him a ‘man after his own heart.’ Samson was a vagabond from man’s point of view, but God calls him ‘my servant’ in Hebrews 11:32. On and on we can go with those whom God has redeemed. Dan was a tribe that caused Israel to sin and to turn from God. But in the end, they are restored and they are returned to a status as a tribe.
Are you redeemed? This is the question of the ages. You and I are sinners. It is all we are at the very core of who we are. But God in His love for us sent Jesus to pay for our sins (Romans 5:8). Like the tribe of Dan, we have been rejected by the one and only Living Holy God. But in Jesus we can be restored to fellowship through the shed blood of Jesus. Like the covenant that we discussed earlier with Abram from Genesis 15, God and God alone is the author, the power, the sustainer and the perfecter of our redemption.
We cannot redeem ourselves, we cannot be good enough, nor can we be remotely righteous enough to come into God’s presence. We need to have our sins covered, we need them erased from our account, and this can only be done by Jesus’ shed blood washing away and wiping away our sin. Then you too can be sealed by the Holy Spirit and be set aside to serve the Lord. Have you been redeemed and restored?
Micah 7:18-19 “Who is a God like You, pardoning iniquity and passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in mercy. He will again have compassion on us, and will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.”
The last chapter in Micah is a reminder to the nation of Israel that God will not be angry with Israel forever. He will redeem them, He will forgive their sins; and as verse 19 says, ‘cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.’ This promise not to forget them would have to hold them for 400 years of silence until Jesus is born.
Have your sins been cast into the depths of the sea? Oh, what an awesome God we serve: a God of grace, a God of redemption, and a God who is long-suffering and patient – one who holds off His judgment so we can repent. Do not take the love and grace of God for granted.