I. THE SEALING OF THE 144,000 7:1-8
II. THE GREAT MULTITUDE 7:9-17
Chapter 7 is an interlude before the opening of the seventh seal. During the tribulation period, which chapters 6-18 cover, there are three series of judgments: the 7 seals, the 7 trumpets and the 7 vials. In chapter 6, 6 of the 7 seal are opened and the judgments revealed. Before the seventh seal is opened and the judgment revealed chapter 7 records 2 events, the sealing of the 144,000 of the tribes of Israel and the great multitude wearing white robes.
The other two series of judgments, the trumpets and the vials, follow this same pattern of an interlude after the sixth judgment in each series.
Chapter 7 records that four of God's angels stand at the four corners of the earth holding back the four winds. The winds are symbolic of the judgments of God, which will be released after the seventh vial is opened. Another angel comes "from the rising of the sun," with the seal of God. This angel bestows God's blessing; whereas, the four angels holding back the winds will release God's judgment. The angel says nothing is to be harmed until God's servants are sealed. The number sealed is 144,000 of the tribes of the children of Israel. Verses 4-8 record the number and tribes that are sealed. In this list the tribes of Dan and Ephraim are omitted. The tribe of Dan was the first tribe to fall into idolatry, Judges 18:30 and I Kings 12:28. Hosea said of Ephraim, "Ephraim is joined to idols let him alone," Hosea 4:17. The writer of Revelation does not call the name of Ephraim. He replaces it with the name Joseph, the father of Ephraim. The tribe of Levi, the priests of Israel, are also on this list. These people are not the church, for the church is already in heaven and the 144,000 are on the earth. The sealing implies possession and protection. They belong to God. They are also sealed to protect them from the torture that is coming. It may imply that the church age is coming to an end. The Antichrist will try to destroy the 144,000. This is certainly, "the time of Jacobís trouble," Jeremiah 30:7.
In verses 9-17, John sees the great multitude which come from every nation, tribe, people and tongue. These Gentile people are in heaven standing before the throne and the lamb. They wear white robes and have palms in their hands. These people are those who come out of great tribulation. These people are not to be identified with the 144,000 Jews.
TEXT w/Scofield Notes
(Rev 7:1 KJV) And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree.
1 "ANGELS": See Heb 1:4, note
2 "WINDS": Cp. Dan 7:2
(Rev 7:2 KJV) And 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 given to hurt the earth and the sea,
1 "ANGEL": See Heb 1:4, note
2 "GOD": Cp. Eph 1:13 - 14
(Rev 7:3 KJV) Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.
1 "NOT": Cp. 2 Th 2:7
2 "FOREHEADS": <Remnant:> vv. 3 - 17; Rev 12:17. (Isa 1:9; Rom 11:5, note)
(Rev 7:4 KJV) And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel.
1 "THOUSAND": <Israel> (prophecies): vv. 1 - 4; Rev 12:1. (Gen 12:2; Rom 11:26, note)
2 "ALL": Gen 49:1 -27; cp. Deu 33:6 - 25; Ezek 48:1 -7,23 - 28
(Rev 7:5 KJV) Of the tribe of Juda were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Reuben were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Gad were sealed twelve thousand.
(Rev 7:6 KJV) Of the tribe of Aser were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Nephthalim were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Manasses were sealed twelve thousand.
(Rev 7:7 KJV) Of the tribe of Simeon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Levi were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Issachar were sealed twelve thousand.
(Rev 7:8 KJV) Of the tribe of Zabulon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Joseph were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Benjamin were sealed twelve thousand.
(Rev 7:9 KJV) After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;
1 "LAMB": Isa 60:1 - 5; cp. Rom 11:25
2 "WHITE": <Righteousness> (garment): vv. 9 - 14; Rev 16:15. (Gen 3:21; Rev 19:8)
3 "HANDS": vv. 9 - 10; cp. Mat 21:8 - 9
(Rev 7:10 KJV) And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.
1 "SALVATION": See Rom 1:16, note
(Rev 7:11 KJV) And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God,
1 "ANGELS": See Heb 1:4, note
2 "BEASTS": See Ezek 1:5, note
3 "GOD": Rev 4:11; 5:9,12,14; 11:16
(Rev 7:12 KJV) Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.
(Rev 7:13 KJV) And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?
(Rev 7:14 KJV) And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
1 "SIR": Or <My lord>
2 "TRIBULATION": Although God's people may expect tribulation throughout the present age (John 16:33; Acts 14:22), the word "tribulation," as here, is also used specifically of a future time (Mat 24:21,29; Mark 13:24).
Since our Lord links the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel with this time of tribulation (Mat 24:15 - 21; Mark 13:14 - 19), it is evident that the tribulation is to be connected with the seventieth "seven" (week) of Daniel (Dan 9:27). Furthermore, the Biblical references have in common an allusion to unprecedented trouble (Jer 30:7; Dan 9:27; 12:1; Mat 24:21 - 22).
While the seventieth week of Daniel is seven years in length (see Dan 9:24, note; cp. Rev 11:2, note), and the terms "tribulation" and "great tribulation," as used in the Scriptures, both have to do with the latter half of the seven years, it is customary to use "tribulation" of the whole period, and "great tribulation" of the second half of the period.
From the Scriptures we may deduce that the tribulation will begin with the signing of the covenant to permit the renewal of Jewish sacrifice (Dan 9:27); it will be a period of unexampled trouble and judgment (see chain ref., <Tribulation,> Ps 2:5 to Rev 7:14), and is described in Rev 6 - 19; and it will involve the whole earth (Rev 3:10), but it is distinctively "the time of Jacob's trouble" (Jer 30:7). The elements of the great tribulation (the latter half of the seventieth week) are: (1) the cruel reign of the "beast out of the sea" (Rev 13:1) who, at the beginning of the final three and one-half years, will break his covenant with the Jews (by virtue of which they will have re-established the Temple worship, Dan 9:27), and show himself in the Temple, demanding that he be worshiped as God (Mat 24:15; 2 Th 2:4); (2) the active interposition of Satan "having great wrath" (Rev 12:12), who gives his power to the beast (Rev 13:4 - 5); (3) the unprecedented activity of demons (Rev 9:2,11; cp. v. 20); and (4) the terrible bowl judgments of Rev 16.
The tribulation will, nevertheless, be a period of salvation. An election out of Israel will be redeemed (Rev 7:1 - 4) with an innumerable multitude of Gentiles (v. 9). These are said to have come "out of great tribulation" (v. 14). They are not of the priesthood, the Church, to which they seem to stand somewhat in the relation of the Levites to the priests under the Mosaic Covenant. The great tribulation will be followed immediately by the return of Christ in glory, and the events associated therewith (Mat 24:29 - 30). See Remnant (Isa 1:9; Rom 11:5, note); Beast (Dan 7:8; Rev 19:20, note); Armageddon (Rev 16:14; 19:17, note).
There is a difference of opinion about the location in Revelation at which the great tribulation is first alluded to. Some suggest as early as ch. 6; others, as late as ch. 11. In any case it is described in chs. 11 - 18.
<Tribulation> (the great): v. 14. (Ps 2:5; Rev 7:14)
3 "WHITE": Rev 22:14; cp. Isa 1:18; Zech 3:3 - 5; 1 John 1:7
4 "LAMB": <Sacrifice> (of Christ): v. 14; Rev 12:11. (Gen 3:15; Heb 10:18, note)
(Rev 7:15 KJV) Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them.
1 "TEMPLE": v. 9
(Rev 7:16 KJV) They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat.
(Rev 7:17 KJV) For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.
1 "THEM": Ezek 34:23 - 24
2 "EYES": Rev 21:4; cp. Isa 25:8