Day 352 – Thru the Bible
Today we continue Revelation.
Revelation 7 – In verse God “seals” His servants; that is, He marks them with a sign that they are His, as an ancient king would seal a document with his signet ring on wax. This seal preserves them from the visitation of His wrath (see ), developing what Jesus said in , where He promised to keep those faithful to Him through the hour of trial coming on the whole world.
In 13:16–18 Satan also “seals” his servants, the mark of the beast being a cheap imitation of what God does for His people. The “number” of the beast protects Satan’s servants from his wrath but not from God’s. In that context Satan also kills those who are faithful to God, but Revelation depicts God raising them from the dead (20:4–6). When John shows the sealing of God’s servants and the mark of the beast, he is again preparing his audience for the persecution they will face. John assures them that it is not God’s wrath that results in their death. Indeed, though Satan conquers them by killing them, they will conquer him by the blood of the Lamb (12:11) and will finally be raised from the dead.
The listing of the tribes as 144,000 seems to give a whole, round number that depicts the same group as the innumerable multitude in verse 9. God will save all who believe in Jesus. Not one will be lost. And it will be a vast number of souls. John signals that the tribes are to be interpreted as a figurative depiction of the whole people of God by leaving out Dan and Ephraim and including Levi along with both Joseph and Manasseh. Joseph’s sons Ephraim and Manasseh were usually listed instead of Joseph, so John seems to have replaced Ephraim with Joseph.
In any case, the message of this passage comes through clearly: God will bring all His people into His heavenly kingdom. His purposes of grace will prevail. The ancient promises to His people of old cannot fail. Jesus, the Lamb, has secured their fulfillment.
As we saw in 5:9–14, in verses 9-17 the redeemed respond with praise to the Father and to Jesus for their work in accomplishing salvation. We are struck once more by the global scope of the Gospel as those from every people group give praise to God for his salvation in Jesus.
In 7:9, the redeemed wear white robes, and verse 14 says the robes have been washed white in the blood of the Lamb. This is a figurative description of the way that faith in Jesus—believing that God put Him forward as a sacrifice of propitiation (substitution) (Romans 3:25) and raised him from the dead (Romans 10:9)—cleanses the conscience (Hebrews 9:14) and gives assurance of forgiveness and cleansing from sin (1 John 1:9).
The white-robed redeemed have palm branches in their hands, which recalls the Feast of Booths Leviticus 23:40). The Feast of Booths celebrated God’s provision for and protection of Israel during the sojourn through the wilderness to the Promised Land. Wilderness/Booths imagery is invoked in verses 15–17, with language reminiscent of Isaiah 4:5–6. The booths built at the feast were reminders of the tents/tabernacles Israel used through the wilderness, and when verse 15 says He who sits on the throne will shelter them with His presence, the verb rendered “shelter” could be translated “tabernacle” (John 1:14). As water was provided from the rock along with manna from heaven in the wilderness, so in verse 16 those who experience the fulfillment of God’s protection and provision, which is the fulfillment of the booths (symbolically represented in the Feast of Booths), will neither hunger nor thirst, nor will the sun and its heat harm them.
Moses shepherded Israel through the wilderness; and when the Lamb fulfills this in verse 17 He will be their Shepherd who, like the good shepherd in Psalm 23, will guide them to springs of living water (John 4:10; 7:38). We saw the fulfillment of the exodus and Feast of Passover in the praise of Revelation 5:9–14. The praise of 7:9–17 presents the fulfillment of the wilderness sojourn and the Feast of Booths.
Just as the celebration of Booths was impossible without Passover, so here the fulfillment of the Feast of Booths is based on the fulfillment of Passover. Rightly, then, the declaration of verse 10 ascribes all glory in salvation to God and to the Lamb. The triune God alone works salvation, and Jesus is the one Mediator between God and man (1 Timothy 2:5).
The hosts of heaven worship God in response to the salvation He has achieved, and then the redeemed are identified. These redeemed come out of the great tribulation, in which John is their brother. This great tribulation seems to refer to the whole of church history, a period characterized by the messianic woes (Daniel 7:25–27; 11:31–12:3; Matthew 24:8–13; John 16:33; Acts 14:22; Rom. 8:18; 2 Corinthians 4:17; Colossians 1:24; Revelation 2:10). Those redeemed by the death and resurrection of Jesus (in fulfillment of Passover) will be protected and provided for by the Good Shepherd through the wilderness sojourn (in fulfillment of the Feast of Booths) to the new heaven and earth (in fulfillment of the Feast of Weeks, which celebrated God’s goodness in the Land of Promise).
How does this tiers the Old Testament help you see how the Old Testament points to Jesus?
Revelation 8 & 9 – This section of Revelation seems to present the future deliverance of the people of God at the end of history as the final fulfillment of the exodus pattern. The Lord heard the people’s “cry for rescue” in and delivered His people through the plague judgments at the exodus ( ). Similarly, the prayers of all the saints are presented before the Lord in verse , and the Lord will deliver His people from their bondage to corruption through the trumpet (chapters ) and bowl (chapter ) judgments—which John describes in ways that recall the plagues on Egypt.
The judgment of the first trumpet, hail and fire (8:7) matches the seventh plague on Egypt (Exodus 9:23–25). The second and third trumpets result in the sea turning to blood and the rivers and springs being made bitter, recalling the first plague on Egypt (Exodus 7:19–21). The fourth trumpet results in darkness (8:12), like the ninth plague (Exodus 10:21–29). The fifth trumpet is followed by locust-like scorpions (9:1–11), just as the eighth plague on Egypt was of locusts (Exodus 10:12–20). The sixth trumpet results in mounted troops who kill a third of humanity (9:13–21), perhaps recalling the death angel who killed the Egyptian firstborn (Exodus 11:1–10; 12:29–32).
That John means for the trumpet judgments to echo the plagues on Egypt would seem to be supported by the mighty angel, who is wrapped in a cloud and has legs like pillars of fire (Revelation 10:1). Just as God led Israel out of Egypt through the wilderness with a pillar of fire and cloud (Exodus 13:21), so now that the plagues have been fulfilled in the trumpet judgments, God sends an angel of cloud and flame to give guidance to the people of God through His servant John.
We marvel, amid all this, at what God has accomplished in Jesus on our behalf. We sinners, enslaved by sin and death, require nothing less than a new exodus out of slavery and into the Promised Land of restored fellowship with God. This is precisely what Jesus has accomplished—by being the sacrificial Passover Lamb. God passes over us in mercy because He did not pass over His own Son.
How does this lead you to worship Jesus?
What other thoughts or questions does today’s reading bring up?
Some of these notes are from the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible study notes. We highly recommend this study Bible.
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