Today's Bible Reading: Revelation 7
Selected Biblical Text
1After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth to prevent any wind from blowing on the land or on the sea or on any tree. 2Then I saw another angel coming up from the east, having the seal of the living God. He called out in a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm the land and the sea: 3"Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God." 4Then I heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel....
9After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10And they cried out in a loud voice: "Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb." 14..."These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. (Rev. 7:1-4, 9-10, 14 NIV)
Reflecting and Thinking
The sixth seal was opened at the end of Chapter 6. In today's chapter we learn what occurs during the interlude between the conclusion of the sixth seal and the opening of the seventh seal. Note the "6 + interlude + 1" pattern. The seventh seal (Chapter 8) will usher in seven trumpets which will also follow the "6 + interlude + 1" pattern.
In the interlude of Chapter 7, we meet two groups of God's people -- the 144,000 and the Great Multitude who have come through a great tribulation. In the interlude, the servants of God of God are given a seal of protection. God's faithful will not be subject to the harm that is coming. All of God's faithful are sealed. The number 12 represents the people of God, 1000 magnifies the number to completeness, 12 x 12 x 1000 = 144,000. The number given here -- 144,000 -- is symbolic, not literal. In addition, we learn that even those who have endured tribulation have been delivered and are now in the presence of the Lamb. The interlude surveys both the situation and events on earth (with God's people protected, represented by the 144,000) and in heaven (where the Great Multitude is before the throne of God).
The great multitude is of "every nation, tribe, people, and language." Study this phrase which appears also in 5:9, 7:9, 11:9, 13:7, and 14:6. You will find similar wording in 10:11 and 17:15. What do these parallel verses suggest about the great multitude? Does God still deliver and protect his people today, perhaps when that protection is unseen? What is the purpose of the seal described in this chapter? What is the significance of the seven characteristics mentioned in worship (v. 12)?
Dear God, we praise you for your salvation power, and we confidently affirm that you yet sit on your throne. Protect us and deliver us as we live for you, we pray in Jesus' name, Amen.