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Notes on the Book of Revelation: Chapter 7, Part 1

Posted by lehunt on February 25, 2017

Albrecht Dürer Four Angels Staying the Winds and Signing the Chosen // Larry Hunt Bible Commentary

Albrecht Dürer Four Angels Staying the Winds and Signing the Chosen

v. 1: Note that John says, “After this [vision] I saw [this next vision]…” not “After the things signified by the previous vision happen, then the things signified by this next vision will happen.”  This is important because it allows for the possibility that the things signified by each of these separate visions may overlap (or reemphasize) one another, as I believe they often do.[1] Will Jones in our Bible study group agreed with this idea and noted that other visions recorded in the Bible (such as Pharaoh’s two dreams in Genesis 41:1-7) do the same thing.

v. 3: The seal is the name of God and of Christ (14:1) and is in contrast to the seal of Beast I, which is his name, signified by the number 666 (13:16-18).  I wonder if the names of God and Christ here should be understood as numbers as well.  (I know they could be.)

Initially, the words of the angel made me think that God puts his seal on the foreheads of his people so that they would not be mistaken for unredeemed sinners during the destructive calamity of “the great day of God the Almighty;” (16:14)[2] such an act would be similar to the marking of the faithful with blood on the lintels during the first Passover (Exodus 12:21-23).  I still have not completely rejected this idea,[3] but upon reading chapter 14, I do favor another theory.  I suspect that the angel here is marking those who are destined for martyrdom under the reign of Beast I.  In this case, the complete number referred to in 6:11 would be 144,000.  Whatever the case, it should be noted that this sealing does not seem to be a common act that happens to all Christians the moment they become Christians.  These people are recognized as Christians, “servants of our God,” before the sealing.  Thus, the sealing is for another purpose beyond simply acknowledging them as Christians.  It is specifically designed for those who will have to face “the great ordeal” (7:14) of the reign of Beast I.

Vs. 4-8: These verses describe the marking of the 144,000.  This number should be understood symbolically rather than literally.  As proof, just look at the number of the tribes of Israel in this section.  The literal truth is that there were more tribes than 12: Dan and Ephraim are both left out of this list of 12.  Nevertheless, the number of tribes is fixed at 12 because of the symbolism of the number itself.  Similarly, the number of those marked with the seal of God here is called 144,000 because of the significance of the number as a multiple of 12, not because it is the literal number of those who will be sealed at that time.

vs. 9-17: Verses 1-8 describe one vision.  Verse 9 begins another.  Verses 9-17 describe a scene in heaven after “the great day of God the Almighty” (16:14)[4] and the final judgment of humanity.  The reason I believe that 7:9-17 describe heaven after the final judgment is because the imagery of these verses (the water of life, the wiping away of tears) is so similar to imagery describing heaven and spiritual Jerusalem after the final judgment.  For instance, compare 7:15-17 with 21:2-4, and 22:1.

[1] See notes on 6:2 but also on 9:12.

[2] For a discussion of this day, see notes at 20:4.

[3] 9:4, for instance, seems to confirm the Blood on the Lintels Theory.

[4] For a discussion of this day, see notes at 20:4.

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