Saturday, 5 December 2020
Then 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 granted to harm the earth and the sea, Revelation 7:2
John continues here with the scene that was newly presented in verse 7:1 which saw the four angels who were holding back the four winds of the earth. Now, another angel is introduced. As John says, “Then I saw another angel.” This does not have to be another angel in the sense of a being who has never been seen before, but simply another angel coming into this new scene that began in verse 7:1.
The word “angel,” (in Greek, aggelos) as has been explained previously, simply means “messenger.” It is one who brings tidings. The comparable Hebrew word (malak) is used, at times, to speak of the Lord (Yehovah) of the Old Testament, such as in Malachi 3:1 where it is used twice. In that passage, once it refers to the coming of John the Baptist, and once it refers to the coming of Jesus Christ –
“’Behold, I send My messenger,
And he will prepare the way before Me.
And the Lord, whom you seek,
Will suddenly come to His temple,
Even the Messenger of the covenant,
In whom you delight.
Behold, He is coming,’
Says the Lord of hosts.” Malachi 3:1
This angel is said to be “ascending from the east.” Rather than “from the east,” the Greek reads, anatolēs hēliou – “from the rising of the sun.” Scholars debate who this angel is, but the wording seems sufficient to answer the question. Returning again to Malachi, this time Chapter 4, there it says –
“But to you who fear My name
The Sun of Righteousness shall arise
With healing in His wings;
And you shall go out
And grow fat like stall-fed calves.” Malachi 4:2
In that verse, the word “arise” is translated from zarach, a verb with the same basic meaning as the Greek anatolé. This is the same Lord described in Malachi 3:2 as an Angel, and who is now in Malachi 4:2 said to rise as the “Sun of Righteousness.” Thus, the implication is “from the east.” This then is equated to Christ in Luke 1:78 –
“Through the tender mercy of our God,
With which the Dayspring from on high has visited us.” Luke 1:78
There, the word “Dayspring” is anatolé, the same word translated as “rising” in the analysis above. With this understanding so far, John next says, “having the seal of the living God.” The same word, sphragis, translated as “seal,” is found also in 2 Timothy 2:19 –
“Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: ‘The Lord knows those who are His,’ and, ‘Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.’”
This Messenger carries the seal of the living God. Paul says that the seal by which believers are identified indicates that the Lord, meaning Jesus, “knows those who are His.” The corresponding verb, sphragizó, is used when referring to the sealing of believers with the Holy Spirit in 2 Corinthians 1:22, Ephesians 1:13, and Ephesians 4:30. This sealing comes by faith (believing) in Christ.
The purpose of the seal of the living God here in Revelation will be explained in the coming verses. It is to seal one hundred and forty-four thousand of the tribes of Israel. That is then explained in verse 14:1 –
“Then I looked, and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His Father’s name written on their foreheads.”
John next notes, “And he cried with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea.” This Messenger is giving instruction to the angels of the four winds, meaning He has control over the elements to withhold or let loose destruction. This is an attribute of the Lord as well. When He spoke, the storm on Galilee abated. At His command, the elements obey – symbolized by the four angels of the four winds.
Thus, this Messenger is another revelation of the Lord Jesus. It is why the book is called the Revelation of Jesus Christ. The many aspects and manifestations of Him are being presented to us so that we can have faith that what was spoken of Him in the Old Testament, and what is spoken of Him in the New, is a reliable witness to who He is.
Life application: In Genesis 3:24, we read, “So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the Garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.” Later, when the temple was built in Jerusalem, it was oriented east and west. The Most Holy Place was to the extreme west and so worshippers appropriately would face west, away from the rising sun. One reason for this was certainly to prevent idolatry of the rising sun. Instead, the people would look to God for their life.
It was also to allow for the coming promised Messiah, to be the one to rise from the east in order to make entrance into God’s paradise possible once again. The east, qedem in Hebrew, signifies both the direction and “aforetime,” meaning eternity past. Micah 5 tells us that Jesus is the One who would come “from of old,” meaning “from the east,” using the word qedem –
“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
Though you are little among the thousands of Judah,
Yet out of you shall come forth to Me
The One to be Ruler in Israel,
Whose goings forth are from of old,
From everlasting.” Micah 5:2
In Ezekiel 10, the glory of the Lord departed from the temple because of the idolatry of the people. When it did, it left going out over the threshold which is on the east. In Ezekiel 43, when describing a future temple, the glory of the Lord returns from the east.
These, and many other clues, are given in Scripture to reveal the coming of Messiah. In the future, there will be a group of Jewish people who will come to understand this and accept Him as the Messiah they had long rejected.
The coming verses will explain what will be done to and for them. Believers today are marked with the seal of God, which is the Holy Spirit, the moment they put their trust and faith in Jesus Christ. Ephesians 1 tells us that this seal is a deposit or guarantee of our future redemption. As God is sealing us, there is no greater seal possible. It is given as a guarantee, and therefore our salvation is eternal; it can never be lost. The Angel in this verse carries such a seal – an everlasting mark of God’s faithfulness. This Angel is JESUS!
What a majestic and splendid display to behold! We can look to the pages of the Bible and see a heavenly drama being played out before our very eyes. It is awesome to our souls to be allowed to peer into these events and see the very workings of the heavenly throne room, if we will just pick up the word and read it. Thank You, O God, for Your wonderful, precious, and superior word! Amen.