Title : The Sealing of God’s Servants
Last time we considered the unveiling of the first 6 seals in Chapter 6, and now we are waiting with anticipation to see what the 7th seal might reveal. However, the 7th chapter interrupts that thought just like a T.V. advertisement interrupts a story just when it gets tense!
Do you remember what the last six seals were all about ? We saw that they were about God’s dealings with the world, from the ascension of Christ until the second coming of Christ. The first seal, the revelation of the rider on the white horse, refers to Christ who rides ahead with the gospel.
The next three seals reveal three riders that exercise terrible judgments on the earth. We have seen these things described in 6:3-8 happening in the history of the world in these last 2000 years. Thank God then that at the beginning and in the midst of God’s judgment upon earth’s sin and chaos there is the gospel ! We are encouraged to flee to Christ, the Lamb of God before the wrath of the Lamb becomes our ultimate judge.
The 5th seal revealed the existence and impatience of those who were killed for the sake of the gospel , and who are now under the altar in heaven, whilst the 6th seal contains the revelation of the events that accompany the 2nd coming of Christ.
Before John takes us to the opening of the 7th seal, there is this dramatic interruption in chapter 7.
Now remember that chapter 6 concluded with the vision of the final judgment (6:12-17). The people of this world are in panic, “… hiding themselves in caves and among the rocks of the mountains, calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb , for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?” (6:17). We see naked terror as people seek an escape route from the terrible final judgment of Christ - but there is no escape route! We have seen recent scenes of this as terrorists strike a shopping center in Kenya and as an unprecedented storm strikes the Philippines or as a horrific Tsunami strikes Japan. People scrambling in terror to get away , and these are only mild indicators to what it will be like on that day of the wrath of the Lamb, when there will be no escape route in the entire earth! This is all a very terrifying description, and now the question arises : “But what about the Christians at that time? “
Ah ! This is where the 7th Chapter gives us the answers , namely to show that God’s people (whose righteousness is in Christ) are being kept secure through all these times of tribulation and especially at the very end! We have seen that this is also true of those who have been killed for the testimony of Christ. We see them kept secure under the altar of God in heaven until the final judgment and the resurrection ( 6:10-11) . I cannot see that that the saints are taken out of the world before the second coming of Christ as some are inclined to teach. Rather we note that the Lord Jesus keeps His people in their tribulations and trials. Believers are not spared from tribulations but in tribulations.
Chapter 7 : A Revelation of the Eternal Security of the Saints
1. From the perspective of the church in the history of the earth ( 7:1-8)
2. From the perspective of the Church in eternity ( 7:9- 17)
The Church on earth
[7:1] 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.
The number four indicates universality; the four corners of the earth refer to the whole earth. Four angels are said to control the four winds. The ministry of angels is often associated with the elements ( Heb. 1:7à Psalm 104:4 à fire and wind) ; Rev. 14:18 speaks the of the angel who has authority over the fire; Rev.16:5 refers to the angel in charge of the waters. Here it is angels who have control of the winds, restraining them from blowing destructively upon the earth in terms of divine judgment.
 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,  saying, “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.”
Another angel ( from the east) now appears with the seal of the living God. This seal is different from those seals associated with the scroll. This is a seal of identification – a marking of the servants of God.
What is the purpose of a seal ?
(i) A seal protects against tampering
(ii) It indicates ownership
(iii) It certifies genuine character
The seal (or the mark ) is not a literal mark, but it certainly reminds us of the fact that the Lord knows those who are His ( 2 Tim 2:19). We also read in Revelation 14:1 that this seal is the name of Christ and of God ( see also 9:4 and 22:4). For other uses of the Spirit’s sealing see: 2 Cor. 1:22; Eph. 1:13f; 4:30.
The seal of God and Christ stand in direct contrast to the mark of the beast (cf. 13:16f ; 14:9; 16:2; 19:20; 20:4) . The seal of God ensures the deliverance of His people, while the mark of the beast will indicate those that are ultimately marked for destruction.
 And I heard the number of the sealed, 144,000, sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel:  12,000 from the tribe of Judah were sealed, 12,000 from the tribe of Reuben, 12,000 from the tribe of Gad,  12,000 from the tribe of Asher, 12,000 from the tribe of Naphtali, 12,000 from the tribe of Manasseh,  12,000 from the tribe of Simeon, 12,000 from the tribe of Levi, 12,000 from the tribe of Issachar,  12,000 from the tribe of Zebulun, 12,000 from the tribe of Joseph, 12,000 from the tribe of Benjamin were sealed.
What about the 144 000 sealed? Jehovah’s witnesses think that these are 144 000 of the JW super saints who will populate heaven, while the rest will populate the earth.
Others think that this number is a reference to the Old Testament saints since 12 OT tribes are mentioned. The problem however with this list is that it does not agree with the list or the order of Jacob’s 12 sons as found in Genesis . Ephraim and Dan are omitted here and Manasseh and Joseph are included. In terms of order, Reuben was the first born , and instead we have Judah ( the fourth born son of Leah) mentioned first . But the main concern is that if we take this number literally the actual number of ‘ saved ‘ Jews is very small. Also , why should the 1444 000 be sealed and the great multitude of vv. 9-17 not ?
The best interpretation is that since they are called servants of God, the number 144,000 is more likely symbolic of the entire church, which includes believing Jews and Gentiles. It is a symbolic number and it is a fixed number , indicating that God knows the total number of His elect sheep on earth.
In Revelation 14:5 the 144,000 are mentioned again and there they are said to be those redeemed from the earth as “first fruits for God and the Lamb.” This makes their identity clear. The Lamb has shed His blood for people from every nation , “ from all tribes and peoples and languages…” .
Also the fact that the list of the 12 tribes begins with the tribe of Judah ,the tribe from which the Lord Jesus was descended , indicates that, since Jesus has died for the world, this includes all God’s people at all times , from the from the covenant community of the OT to the covenant community of the NT - the church. In fact , if we take the Abrahamic covenant seriously, then we would know that he would be the father of many nations ( Genesis 17:5) and not only of the Jews .
The church in Heaven
 After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands,  and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”
Here the covenant promise which God made to Abraham, “through you, all peoples of the earth will be blessed,” is gloriously fulfilled - people from every nation as multitudinous as the sand on the seashore . This tells us that God has his elect among every race and includes people who speak every language. It also tells us that the number of the elect is not small. In fact, it is so large that no man could number them! Here is the picture of the church triumphant, as she now enjoys her heavenly rest from her earthly labor and hardships. And this glorious scene of God’s redeemed people becomes yet another cause for worship.
11] And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God,  saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.” - Note – a seven fold acknowledgement of God and His attributes for which the church worships Him.
The interlude of Chapter 7 now reaches its conclusion in v. 13, when a question is put to John.
 Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?”  I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
The identity of the great multitude is revealed: “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation” , by which is not meant, as many are inclined to think, those who have experienced a final great persecution on the earth at the end of times , BUT this refers to the entire church age , which if you consider , has been a period of great tribulation for the church – such as Jesus had spoken of in John 15:18-21 .
 “Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence.  They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat.  For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” Heaven is a world of worship. Heaven is a world filled with happy people. They are finally home from their restless wanderings . They are no longer hungry or thirsty. In Christ they will now be entirely satisfied and kept. There is no more sorrow . These are words which require no explanation. All we can do after hearing them is to recite the seven-fold blessing of the heavenly choir given to God and to the Lamb:
Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”And so, with this picture of the church in heaven before us, the interlude is over.
The first cycle of judgment ends quite unexpectedly in the opening of the seventh seal in Chapter 8:1, when John reports, “When the Lamb opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.”
Note then that the breaking of the 7th seal there follows absolute silence for half an hour. All this leaves mankind speechless But this too was foretold in the prophets. Zephaniah spoke of silence in connection with the day of the Lord: “Be silent before the Sovereign LORD, for the day of the LORD is near.” Habakkuk did the same: “But the LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him.”
The first cycle of “seal judgments” is now complete. God has brought final judgment upon all those who have reject Christ – His Son- the Mediator and Saviour for all who would believe in Him. History as we know it ,is over! The great judgment has taken place – and now the choirs of heaven cease their singing. All creation stands in awe of him who is seated upon the throne. There is nothing left to say. God has brought all things to their appointed end.