“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“
Chapter seven is an interlude, a parenthesis between the sixth and seventh seals. This chapter answers the question at the end of chapter six.
“For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?” (Revelation 6:17).
Now we turn to the believers in the tribulation. The previous chapter talked about the martyrs of the tribulation. God will protect two categories of people during the tribulation: those of Israel and those of all nations. Great numbers of people will become Christians during the Tribulation period.
Chapter seven falls into two parts: 1) one which deals with Israel (vv. 1-8) and 2) one which deals with Gentiles (vv. 9-17).
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.
God’s judgment will come from all directions on earth. He deals with the world on a global basis. The four-wind judgment is an approaching judgment not yet launched by God.
The words “four corners” are an idiom for four quadrants — North, South, East, and West. The Bible never taught a flat earth theory. The idiom in English is the four points of the compass.
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”
An angel tells four angels who have the right to execute judgment to withhold that judgment until God could seal 144,000 foreheads of Israel. The word “seal” means to make an imprint of wax by a signet ring. It carries the ideas of security and permanency. The seal of the doom of Satan is sure and certain (20:3). This term refers to the sacred formalities of transaction. The papyri of Fayyum refer to the sealing of sacks and guarantees that the person receiving the sacks will receive a full complement.
God seals the believer with the gift of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13; 4:30; 2 Corinthians 1:22). God marks Christians with a seal to identify as those who belong to Him. God attests, certifies, and acknowledges that those with this seal belong to Him. They have His stamp of approval, and He will therefore deliver them safely to His eternal destination for them. The seal is proof of authenticity and validates them as God’s own. This guarantees their eternal safety.
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.
Ancient kings impressed the seal of their ring on their belonging. Everything pressed by that seal was under the protection of the king (Ezekiel 9:4). The Christian is sealed by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30), so God owns him. Here Israel is under God’s seal, and God owns the nation Israel.
The phrase “from every tribe” clearly marks these people as Israelites. These Israelites are the first converts of the Tribulation (14:4). They come to God at the commencement of the Tribulation.
Every time God saves a person, He seals him or her with His protection.
Although the direct interpretation of this passage deals with God’s sovereign care for Israel, He cares for the church as well. One of the most neglected doctrines of the Bible is the doctrine of the providence of God. God processes everything that ever happens to a believer. Each one is under His seal.
After someone placed arsenic in medicine bottles, the government required all medicine to be sealed with protection stickers. Warning labels of “Do not partake if the seal is broken” caution of a broken seal. God placed His seal on us, and no one can break it.
The Holy Spirit seals the Christian:
“In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise…” (Ephesians 1:13).
“And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption” (Ephesians 4:30).
God’s seal is the obvious mark of His proprietorship on believers. He claims them lawfully as His own. We, therefore, have eternal security because the security comes from God. Since no one can take it from God, no one can take it from us either. None of us earns or deserves this. It is an act of sheer grace on God’s part.
Only those who have God’s seal go to heaven. It makes no difference whether a person is a nice or moral person. The only issue to God is whether we have His seal by coming to trust Christ’s death for our sins.
Why should the Christian fear riding on a plane? He is in the hands of God. God takes care of His own. All the king’s horses and all the king’s men cannot change what God seals. No one can take us from this life until God wills it.