Walking Through Ephesians
“Hope”Categories: A Month of Victory
Hope - Revelation 7
The purpose of Revelation 7 was to fill the faithful with courage to endure the sufferings which were about to strike the earth. In the previous chapter the believers, who were already martyred for their faith, cried out to God asking, “How long until you judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” (6:10). God answers that question by the opening of the six seals which lock tight the revelation of God’s plan for the earth. The first four seals show God positioning His instruments in place to execute His judgment on the wicked. Then in the sixth seal the fearful judgment of God is pictured. All of creation turns against the wicked— both great and small.
Chapter 6 ends with a desperate question from the wicked, “The great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?” (6:17). They can’t envision anyone surviving in the face of God’s judgment.
Chapter 7 answers that question, “Who is able to stand?” with the confident answer, “God’s people will!”
Up until this point the story of Revelation has been running at a fever pitch. The story line has been one of war, famine, poverty, death, and destruction. The faithful believer reading this Revelation might wonder, “How will I survive?” So, the story of Revelation pauses to put a hand on the shoulder of the godly reader to say, “You will be alright, so stay faithful!”
The scene opens with a picture of four angels standing at the four corners of the earth holding back the wind. These angels represent the four horsemen of the first four seals (The four horsemen imagery is taken from Zechariah 1 and 6 where they are also called, “the four winds of heaven” (Zech 6:5). God has sent out His instruments of judgment. They are positioned such that no one will be able to withstand them (“four corners” = surrounded; “the wind” = unstoppable). All things are ready for the pouring out of God’s wrath.
Yet, God restrains His angels from acting. They are pictured as “holding the four winds…so that the wind should not blow.” Another angel arises to tell the four angels of God’s wrath to “not harm the earth … until” (7:3). It is clear that God’s plan for judgment is in place, but it is being restrained for now.
Note: “The earth” is mostly used in Revelation to describe the wicked. “The sea” describes the tumultuous nature of nations. “The trees” may describe the mighty men among the wicked. In other words, all of the wicked structure on earth from top to bottom would be affected by God’s coming judgment.
“A multitude cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb” (Revelation 7:9, 10). The stabilizing anchor of the soul is hope (Heb. 6:19). When men have no hope of life after death, they are left to flounder in this world without purpose and they face death without peace. Every living person ought to conduct himself so that he can join the heavenly chorus. It is spiritually fatal to turn away from the salvation God has provided.
Harry Boer drew from this vision a significant meaning for today when he wrote:
In all the concern for security that surrounds us, there is a form of security that one hears little about. It is the security of our relationship to God. Yet it is the greatest of all securities, for it alone is a security that will continue, and what it guards is the best and deepest thing in life. Jesus said, "What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his own soul?" Again and again the Bible warns us to seek the things of primary worth and make them our greatest interest. Therefore we must first seek the kingdom of God and its righteousness, and all these other things will find their proper place.