Last week in Revelation chapter 6 we were left with the question: Who Can Stand? This question is of the utmost importance because, if the great day is coming, we cannot risk being unsure of the answer. Thankfully this question is answered in chapter 7: those who are sealed and those who have had their robes made white by the blood of the Lamb.
As with all sermons in Revelation, David reminds us to consider the key question – What did John see next?
Chapter 7 begins with four winds being held back by four angels; in verse 2 a fifth angel comes from the east carrying the seal of the living God, declaring to the other four angels:
This Illustrates that to be saved we need to be marked in some way.
This is a very specific figure and so it is believed that this figure does not correspond to a specific number of places in heaven. David reminded us that numbers in Revelation need to be handled carefully and symbolically. In this instance the 144,000 is the Hebrew way of saying a complete number – a numberless number, if you will.
Further evidence that this is not directly correlated to the number of people to enter heaven is revealed in the listing of the twelve tribes. Genealogy in the Bible is exceptionally important and, in this case, John messes with the genealogy. He places the tribe of Judah before the tribe of Reuben; the tribe of Dan is replaced by the tribe of Manasseh. Overall, this could reflect that, when Jesus came, the whole list changed – everything changed.
The Great Multitude:
This verse illustrates that John was given a glimpse of the future: one in which there are countless people – a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-lingual gathering – joined with God and the Lamb as they worship together. This is a place where there is no pain, tears, death, need, division and on and on it goes – it is absolutely perfect.
The identity of those who will be there is then further established by the Elder when he asks John:
The Elder answers his own question at John’s prompting:
At this point it is important to remember the context in which this is being written: this is a letter to Christians in AD 96 and we can consider the hope this would have instilled in them as they read it.
This detail of being sealed could refer to the fact that in the first century servants were sealed with a mark on the forehead to symbolise who they belonged to. The seal we have as Christians identifies us as belonging to God and shows that he protects us in anything that comes our way. Those who bear a seal are those who trust in the death of Jesus for forgiveness of their sins.
- John is given a glimpse of a multitude of worshippers standing before the throne of God: sheltered, cared for, free from every negative thing forever.
- Those first century Christians got to share that vision and it inspired them and we get to share it too.
- What a prospect! What a promise! What a hope!