Thursday, January 17, 2013

Revelation 7: Heaven is Serving God Night and Day

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The 144,000 of Israel Sealed (v. 1-8)

Then John saw 4 angels standing on the corners of the earth, holding back the wind so that not wind would blow anywhere on the earth.

I thought I was reading a science textbook for a second there. Clearly the bible should be used as a primary source in science class in high school.

Again, today I will be relying on Guzik's commentary. He says that the 4 corners of the earth means the 4 points of the compass. I don't really know what that means, is it just north, south, east, and west? That doesn't really describe points on the earth. I suppose north and south could be the poles, but for east and west we really don't have something like that. At any rate, this clearly seems like they are trying to cover up the ignorance of the writers of the bible to me.

The winds are supposed to be the destructive force of God's judgement. Potentially the 4 horsemen he just unleashed. So basically, according to this interpretation, God unleashed the 4 horsemen, and then sent some other angels to hold them back until it was time for the to begin their reign of destruction. Why wouldn't God just wait to unleash them until the time is right?

Then John saw another angel with the seal of the living God who called to "the four angels who had been given power to harm the earth and sea" (presumably the 4 horsemen we met last chapter). He told them not to harm anything until "we have sealed the servants of our God on their forehead". 144,000, 12,000 from each tribe.

So the 4 horsemen have been told to wait until they mark 12,000 from each tribe, presumably so that they will avoid the coming destruction. Doesn't this mean that at most, there can only be 144,000 Christians at the time of the apocalypse. Further, last chapter didn't God say he is waiting until "their brothers should be complete"? That sounds to me like it means we are waiting until the numbers grow to 144,000. If I'm interpreting this correctly, that means there can never be more than 144,000 true Christians, otherwise the apocalypse would have already started.

Guzik tries to get around this by saying that it is mysterious what these 144,000 people are being marked for, but it is some kind of protection, but that protection isn't limited to these people. The holy spirit is also a seal of protection or something. Clearly seems like a later justification.

One other detail I picked out is that apparently Jehovah's witnesses claimed that their entire group would be the 144,000. This of course fell apart once their numbers exceeded 144,000 people.

A Great Multitude from Every Nation (v. 9-17)

John then looked around and saw a multitude of people from every nation wearing white robes crying out that salvation belongs to God. An angel then said that these are the people coming out of the great tribulation, they have washed their robes in the blood of the lamb.

So these people are clearly Christians. I bet this is the passage the people use to say that the apocalypse can't happen until Christianity is spread to every nation.

The multitude is protected by God's presence, and they will never be hungry or thirsty again. They are before the throne of God and they serve him day and night.

Is it just me, or does this seem like a really crappy afterlife? And why would an omnipotent God need to be served by a bunch of followers?

"Heaven is not only a place of rest from earthly toil but also a place of privileged service"

Yeah, I'll pass

What did we learn today?


Revelation 7:15 Heaven is serving God day and night

"Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple"


Revelation 7:1 The Earth has 4 corners, where wind originates from

"After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth, that no wind might blow on earth or sea or against any tree."


  1. Not sure where I picked this note up, but in the verses listing the tribes. Genesis 49 actually doesn't mention the tribe of Manasseh isn't mentioned. I wonder if this is on purpose.

    1. I didn't go into detail on this, but in the commentary there is a fair bit of discussion about tribes. Certain tribes weren't mentioned, some can be mentioned in different ways, etc. The way it is justified:

      "Just because a list is different doesn’t mean it is fanciful symbolism. It is proper to regard each of these lists as legitimate, and to consider that each specific variation serves a purpose, meaning to emphasize something."

      awesome right?

    2. Interesting.. Not really sure if that answers my question or not, or if I'm just not "getting" the explanation.

    3. He definitely goes into more detail. And I'll be honest, all of the tribe stuff is a bit over my head. I'd definitely recommend checking out his commentary though

  2. The tribe thing does get a bit complicated. Manasseh isn't listed because it is a "half-tribe." Manasseh was one of Joseph's sons. So technically the tribe of Manasseh is a subset of the tribe of Joseph. Ephraim is the other half of the tribe, the other son of Joseph.

    Personally I disagree with the interpretation that the winds are the horsemen. I think this is a separate event, and this is specifically aimed at harming the earth and sea; destroy crops, make the waters unnavigable, etc.

    1. "make the waters unnavigable"

      now that is interesting. I bet that was an obvious implication back then, and yet it didn't even cross my mind.


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