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Lowell Brueckner

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Revelation 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.
2. 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,
3. saying, “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.”
4. And I heard the number of the sealed, 144,000, sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel:
5. 12,000 from the tribe of Judah were sealed, 12,000 from the tribe of Reuben, 12,000 from the tribe of Gad,
6. 12,000 from the tribe of Asher, 12,000 from the tribe of Naphtali, 12,000 from the tribe of Issachar,
8. 12,000 from the tribe of Zebulun, 12,000 from the tribe of Joseph, 12,000 from the tribe of Benjamin were sealed.

The 144,000 of Israel

John observes from heaven as four angels position themselves at points north, east, south and west on the earth. They are detaining further destruction, while heaven conducts redemptive purposes upon the earth (v.1). To this day, we use the term, “the four corners of the earth”, speaking of the four principle directions. I mentioned in the last chapter that God takes little regard for satisfying the scientific demands of a few critical people, educated far beyond their intelligence. He is concerned with communicating His word to the common man.

The four winds is a term used by the prophets and also by Jesus, in which case He speaks of the gathering of the elect. They seem to indicate different kinds of world-wide movement or turmoil. Angels are involved throughout the book of Revelation over that, which takes place in nature. Here they hold back the wind, in 14:18 there is an angel, which has power over fire, and in 16:5, there is an angel of the waters.

Revelation 6:9-17


The Last Set of Three Seals

9. When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne.
10. They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”
11. Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been.
12. When he opened the sixth seal, I looked, and behold, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood,
13. and the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken by a gale.
14. The sky vanished like a scroll that is being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place.
15. Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains,
16. 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,
17. for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?”

The Fifth Seal: End-time martyrdom

Now we come to the second division, which involves three seals, and we have no mention of the four living creatures. Instead, when the fifth seal is opened, the souls of martyrs in heaven speak. We are taking this literally, understanding that there are conscious souls in the throne room of God, under the altar. I suppose that they are those, who have been martyred from the time of the apostles and up until the end times (v.9).

They are under the altar and the imagery of Leviticus is extremely important for our understanding of the sacrifice of Christ and our salvation: “The life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life” (Lev.17:11). Paul saw that his martyrdom was relative to the drink offering in Leviticus: “I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come” (2 T.4:6).