Friday, 4 December 2020
After these things I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, on the sea, or on any tree. Revelation 7:1
The words now arrive at the beginning of Chapter 7, and immediately there arrives a brief interlude between the opening of the sixth and seventh seals. “After these things” shows a progression of thought and time. And so, what is coming now is sequential to what has occurred with the other seals. Whether it is sequential to John only, meaning he is being shown these things one at a time even though they overlap, or whether the events of the opening of this seal are sequential to the previous ones is uncertain. However, the events coming through verse 8 are most likely at the beginning of the tribulation period and so the first option seems correct.
With this option probable, one can see the error in thinking of those who hold to a “mid-tribulation,” or “pre-wrath” (or even post-tribulation, and etc.), view of the events. Taking these events as purely chronological in order to justify one’s position on the timing of the rapture is unsound. Rather, the scenes are most probably categorical, even if some logically happen in a chronological order (such as the releasing of the four horsemen).
The proper way to evaluate the timing of the rapture is to do so from the writings of Paul who first conveyed the mystery of the rapture (1 Corinthians 15:51), and who then further explained the timing of eschatological events in 1 & 2 Thessalonians. To understand the timing of those events, a short explanation was given on the Superior Word commentary of Revelation 6:2.
With this understanding, John begins with, “After these things.” This most likely means, “After the things I just saw,” not “And what will occur in the future will happen after the things that have been seen.” This is the next logical event to be revealed as a category. In this, John says, “I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth.”
This is not intended to mean that the Bible proclaims a square earth, it doesn’t. In Isaiah 40:22 the Bible speaks of the “circle of the earth,” meaning an orb, not a cube or flat square. In the book of Job, the Bible says that the Lord “hangs the earth on nothing.” The four winds then, like other references in the Bible, merely speak of the four general directions of the earth; not set points.
John says these angels are “holding the four winds of the earth.” As is consistent, the number four here matches the overall use of it in Scripture. The number is defined by EW Bullinger saying –
“Creation is therefore the next thing—the fourth thing, and the number four always has reference to all that is created. It is emphatically the number of Creation; of man in his relation to the world as created; while six is the number of man in his opposition to and independence of God. It is the number of things that have a beginning, of things that are made, of material things, and matter itself. It is the number of material completeness. Hence it is the world number, and especially the ‘city’ number.”
In this, one can see that the “world number,” four, fits exactingly into what is being described. Next, the word “holding” comes from the Greek word krateó. It signifies holding firmly. There is a restraining power that is being directed.
These winds are certainly from the perspective of the land of Israel, or more specifically in relation to the people of Israel. That will be seen in the coming verses. They are forces that affect the peoples of the world in a negative manner. Thus, holding them back allegorically provides a temporary restraining of the events. Quite a few references in the Old Testament substantiate this. In Daniel 7, we read –
“I saw in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of heaven were stirring up the Great Sea.” Daniel 7:2
There, the Great Sea is the mass of humanity, and the winds are what churn and rile them up. Another example of the winds affecting the people is found in Jeremiah, where it is used metaphorically to scatter Israel –
“I will scatter them as with an east wind before the enemy;
I will show them the back and not the face
In the day of their calamity.” Jeremiah 18:17
They are also used to scatter the other peoples of the world, such as –
“Against Elam I will bring the four winds
From the four quarters of heaven,
And scatter them toward all those winds;
There shall be no nations where the outcasts of Elam will not go.” Jeremiah 49:36
A “destroying wind” is even said to have come against Babylon (Jeremiah 51:1) in the day of her doom. With this symbolism defined from the Old Testament typology, John continues his words, saying, “that the wind should not blow on the earth, on the sea, or on any tree.”
The meaning here is explained by the next verse where another angel will imply that the winds now being held back are destroying winds, but they are not to be released until a particular matter is resolved on earth. Once that is accomplished, the winds will be unleashed to consummate their intended purposes.
Life application: The vision that John is seeing is telling the people of the world that there will be a time of calm before the storm of chaos and destruction. This restive period was seen by Zechariah hundreds of years before John received his vision –
“We have walked to and fro throughout the earth, and behold, all the earth is resting quietly.” Zechariah 1:11
Unfortunately, for those who experience this time of calm, it will assuredly lead them into a false sense that all is ok with the world. Whatever happened at the supposed “rapture” of the Christian church will be explained away through the strong delusion prophesied by Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2:11. It will supposedly be a time to get on with life and all will be fine.
Such however will not be the case. The world will devolve into a calamitous sea of chaos, mayhem, anarchy, and death. This is the cost of refusing to be included in what God offers now through His gospel of peace. It is available today, and it comes through the glorious giving of our Lord and Savior. He is JESUS!
Lord God, after the rapture of the church, the world will believe it has the peace it seeks, and the people will delude themselves by it. Even today, we rage against You and look to cast off Your sovereign rule. Forgive our stubborn and rebellious hearts, and help us to hold fast and faithfully to You. No matter what is coming, those who have called on You through Christ Jesus will be safe. Even so, come Lord Jesus. Amen.