Sunday, 6 December 2020
saying, “Do not harm the earth, the sea, or the trees till we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.” Revelation 7:
These are the words of the “angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God” from the previous verse. Before analyzing them, it should be noted that because there were four angels and He then came, it means He is now the fifth angel in the scene. EW Bullinger defines the number five, saying –
Five is four plus one (4+1). We have had hitherto the three major Offices of the Godhead. Now we have a further revelation of a People called out from mankind, redeemed and saved, to walk with God from earth to heaven. Hence, Redemption follows creation. Inasmuch as in consequence of the fall of man creation came under the curse and was “made subject to vanity,” therefore man and creation must be redeemed. Thus we have:
These are the five great mysteries, and five is therefore the number of GRACE.
Five, being the number of grace, is exactingly seen in this Angel. He is the Redeemer of His people, and it is by faith in Him that one is sealed as a sign and a guarantee of this redemption. He is Jesus, the Giver of God’s grace.
He now instructs with a loud voice the four angels who are holding back the four winds of the earth, “saying, ‘Do not harm the earth, the sea, or the trees.’” In this, it is evident that the judgments to be unleashed upon the earth will affect everything, and there will be great destruction as the winds accomplish their tasks. This would include everything that the earth produces and all that is established on the earth. It is a time of grace, regardless as to its actual length. Understanding this order, the voice next says, “till we.”
The use of the plural indicates that the process of sealing is not done solely by the Angel crying out. Rather, it is similar in thought to the sealing of those to be saved before the destruction of Jerusalem in Ezekiel 9 –
Then He called out in my hearing with a loud voice, saying, “Let those who have charge over the city draw near, each with a deadly weapon in his hand.” 2 And suddenly six men came from the direction of the upper gate, which faces north, each with his battle-ax in his hand. One man among them was clothed with linen and had a writer’s inkhorn at his side. They went in and stood beside the bronze altar.
3 Now the glory of the God of Israel had gone up from the cherub, where it had been, to the threshold of the temple. And He called to the man clothed with linen, who had the writer’s inkhorn at his side; 4 and the Lord said to him, “Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and cry over all the abominations that are done within it.”
5 To the others He said in my hearing, “Go after him through the city and kill; do not let your eye spare, nor have any pity. 6 Utterly slay old and young men, maidens and little children and women; but do not come near anyone on whom is the mark; and begin at My sanctuary.” So they began with the elders who were before the temple. 7 Then He said to them, “Defile the temple, and fill the courts with the slain. Go out!” And they went out and killed in the city.
As these things are symbolic of truths that occur in the spiritual realm, it may be that the word “we” is referring to Jesus as the Redeemer and the Holy Spirit as the Sealer, as is the case noted by Paul several times, such as –
“In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.” Ephesians 1:13, 14
A process is set forth with intent. It is looking to “have sealed the servants of our God.” These are people who will be sealed because of faith in Christ’s accomplished work. They will be brought into the household of God, and in their salvation, they will become witnesses of the truth of God in Christ Jesus.
This designation, servant, is used to speak of those who minister the gospel to others. The word is one that Paul, James, Peter, and Jude each use as a title when referring to themselves. Paul designates several others as such as well. The word is doulos, and it signifies someone who belongs to another. He is a bonded slave without any of his own ownership rights. It is used by Paul in this manner, including when referring to Jesus in Philippians 2 –
“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” Philippians 2:5-8
These to be sealed are thus to be considered bondservants of Christ for the purpose He has determined. With this understood, like the typology from Ezekiel 9, these servants are to be sealed “on their foreheads.” Some translations incorrectly say, “in their foreheads.” It is a mark upon the head which is clearly visible (in a spiritual sense). They are known for their faith in Christ. Having acknowledged Him, they are marked as His.
The nature of the mark is revealed later in Revelation 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.”
Life application: After the task of marking the people in Ezekiel 9 was accomplished, by the one with the inkhorn, the others were told to destroy anyone without the mark. The mark in that account is the Hebrew word tav.
The word is the same as the 22nd letter of the Hebrew aleph-bet. The ancient tav was in the shape of crossed sticks, resembling a cross. In other words, these “servants of God” in this verse in Revelation have accepted the work of Jesus Christ and are being sealed just as those in Ezekiel’s time were. This seal isn’t necessarily a visible mark, but a change in attitude; an understanding in their minds of who Jesus is and their role in His work.
Such a mark is given with the inner sealing of the Holy Spirit. These people are being saved by God, and for His purposes. Hence, it is defined in Revelation 14 as being that of the Father’s name. What God has done in Christ, and through the cross of Christ, is a witness in these servants.
As noted, the term for “servants” signifies a bondservant (or a slave). Such a person was often captured during battle. These to be sealed are won in the great battle for the human soul. It is the spiritual battle between light and darkness. These people of the tribulation period are to be sealed, having been brought into the marvelous light of the glory of Jesus Christ before the angels are unleashed to bring destruction on the earth.
At this time in human history, during the church age, we too must be sealed by the Holy Spirit. That can only happen by placing one’s faith in Christ according to the gospel. None deserve what God offers in Christ, but when that grace is received, it is a guarantee of salvation. This is because God is pleased to save them. Through Christ, He has done the work. He is the God/Man. He is JESUS.
Lord God, it is ever so comforting to know that we have been sealed with the Holy Spirit from the moment we accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. We know that You don’t make mistakes and, therefore, we are eternally saved despite our failings. When we stumble and fall, we can still trust that You have already forgiven us of our sins. Great and wonderful You are, O Lord! Amen.