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Week - 13 THE GREATEST REVIVAL EVER! Revelation 7:1-17

Updated: Dec 15, 2021

Authored by Jerry Marshall

The passionate plea of the fully devoted follower of Jesus Christ is that he might behold a time of great revival; a unique time when great numbers of people would respond to the Gospel message in faith. A spiritual dynamic when those who are saved would be inflamed in their hearts to know the Lord better and to live for Him without compromise. Holy Spirit revival produces a detectable and measurable impact upon prepared souls for the cause of Christ.

In the annuals of history, there is a record of such great responses to the Gospel. Scripture records that a great revival occurred at the time of the birth of the church, at the conclusions of Peter’s Pentecost message (Acts 2).

(Acts 2:41)

41Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.

The Bible further states that in the early days of the church, the believers were filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the Apostles; the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved (Acts 2:43-47; 5:12-16).

As a result of Peter and John’s evangelistic efforts in the Temple, the Scripture records, “But many who heard the message believed, and the number of men grew to about five thousand.” (Acts 4:4)

Following the martyrdom of Stephen, many of the early disciples scattered into various places. But the Lord used this event for the accomplishment of His objectives. The martyrdom of Stephen did not end the revival that was experienced by the early church. Actually, it served to spread this time of great spiritual awakening to other parts of the world.

(Acts 11:19-21)

19 Now those who had been scattered by the persecution in connection with Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, telling the message only to Jews. 20 Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. 21 The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.

History records the great spiritual revival that spread across Europe during the time of the Reformation during the sixteenth century. Here in America, our nation experienced a time of great revival in the eighteenth century known as “The Great Awakening,” under the ministries of George Whitefield and Jonathan Edwards.

These times are characterized by the faithful servants of the Lord going with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and faithfully proclaiming that life giving and life transforming message, in the power of the Holy Spirit.

But did you know that there is a time in the future, when there will be a worldwide response to the Gospel that will far exceed any other in history? The results of this time of spiritual awakening will far exceed all the others combined.

This unique explosive response to the Gospel will occur in the midst of a most unexpected time, during the darkest hour of human history. It will be a time when the wrath of God will be unleashed in various increments upon those who dwell upon this earth. Yet, in the midst of this final expression of judgment of the Lord, the grace of God will be poured out resulting in the greatest response to the Gospel the world will ever see.

This morning, we will take note of those who will be the key human agents that God will use for this day of the greatest revival as well as vast multitudes who will come to a saving faith in the midst of the darkest hour in human history.

I. The Sealed Servants Revelation 7:1-8

A. The Vision of the Angel (verses 1-2a)

“After this”, indicates that the vision of the sixth seal has ended and that John was about to see something entirely new. The scene would shift from the judgment of the ungodly, to a provision of special protection in the midst of the storm of God’s wrath. This special protection will be provided to those who are the servants of the Lord for this unique moment of the pouring out of God’s righteous judgment.

What John beholds first are four angels, standing at the four corners of the earth that are given power over a key element of nature - the winds of the earth.

The four corners of the earth is the same as the four primary points on a compass, north, south, east and west; this is also the directions from which the winds of the earth come.

The Scripture states that they were holding back the four winds of the earth. This is a translation of the GK. word krateo { krat-eh’-o}, which speaks of restraining something or holding fast on to something in order to keep it from breaking free. In this context, the idea would be that these angels, who are the agents of God’s Judgment on the inhabitants of the earth during this time of Great Tribulation, are essentially holding back and restraining those expressions of God’s end time wrath associated with the Trumpet judgments, in which the land, the sea and the trees will be greatly affected.

The reason for this interruption of the expression of God’s wrath is made clear as John now beholds a fifth angel coming into the scene (verse 1b).

This angel comes from the place of the rising of the sun, out of the east and he has the seal of the living God (verse 2). The seal would be a mark of distinction which in this context, would primarily indicate ownership and protection.

In John’s day, a seal could be a reference to an inscription made by a signet ring in wax by a monarch, or some official upon a document in order to signify its authenticity. Sometimes the sealing took the form of a brand or a tattoo of a master that was place upon those who were his servants. That is the sense that it is used in this context. This not just the mark of some monarch or master, for this is the seal of the living God.

Having beheld the five angels, the scene shifts now to the actually sealing of the servants of the living Lord.

B. The Sealing of the Servants (verses 2b-3)

Before the four angels release the elements of God’s wrath that will bring terrible destruction upon the land, water and trees, the fifth angel in a loud or commanding voice that reaches the four primary directions of the earth, declares that they are not to harm the land, sea or trees until the angels put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of the Lord.

This seal would not only indicate ownership, but also provide protection from the ill effects of God’s wrath, that will be unleashed upon this world in the trumpet and bowl judgments yet to come.

(Revelation 14:1) indicates that this sealing is in the form of a mark on their foreheads. This mark is identified as the name of God the father and the name of the Lamb. The counter part to this special marking of these servants of the living God is the mark of the Beast. (Revelation 13:16-18).

More detail is given to us regarding who these sealed servants of the Lord are.

C. The Identity of the Servants (verses 4-8)

1. Their Number (4a)

There are some who interpret this number symbolically. However, nothing in the text or the context would indicate that we should understand this numerical expression other than in its literal and normal sense. It’s one hundred forty-four thousand people who receive this seal of ownership and protection.

(At one time, the Jehovah Witnesses taught that they were the one hundred forty-four thousand; that was before their numbers began to exceed one hundred forty-four thousand).

2. Their Nationality (4b)

Although the sealed servants come from every tribe of Israel, we are not to think that this is the total number of saved Jewish people who are on the earth at this time.

The context of this chapter seems to indicate that these sealed Jewish servants of God make up a kind of missionary corps responsible from sharing the glorious Gospel message to the world, during the time of the Great Tribulation (A wonderful sign of the grace and mercy of God expressed in the midst of the wrath of God).

(Revelation 14:1-5), gives us more detail about these sealed Jewish servants of God. In that passage, their moral purity, undefiled character and uncompromising devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ is revealed. They are described as those who have been purchased from among men as the first fruits to God and to the Lamb. They are Jewish believers who have been redeemed by their faith in the sacrifice of the Lamb of God.

One commentator says of them:

They will be the most effective missionaries the world has ever seen and will be instrumental in the conversion of both their own countrymen and the nations.

(J. MacArthur Commentary on Revelation- page 219).

3. Their Tribes (5-8)

5 From the tribe of Judah 12,000 were sealed,

from the tribe of Reuben 12,000,

from the tribe of Gad 12,000,

6 from the tribe of Asher 12,000,

from the tribe of Naphtali 12,000,

from the tribe of Manasseh 12,000,

7 from the tribe of Simeon 12,000,

from the tribe of Levi 12,000,

from the tribe of Issachar 12,000,

8 from the tribe of Zebulun 12,000,

from the tribe of Joseph 12,000,

from the tribe of Benjamin 12,000.

If only twelve Jewish men made such a major impact upon their world in the first century, can you imagine the impact that twelve thousand times twelve will have upon the world at large.

The size and the scope of their evangelistic efforts are revealed in the next section of this chapter.

II. The Saved Multitudes Revelation 7:9-17

It’s important to note some of the contrast between the first vision mentioned in (7:1-8) and this second vision (7:9-17). In the first vision, there are a specific number of people mentioned, one hundred forty-four thousand. In the second vision, there is a great multitude that no one can number.

In the first vision, the one hundred forty-four thousand come from the nation of Israel. In the second vision, the great multitude comes from every nation.

In the first vision, the one hundred forty-four thousand are sealed with the seal of the living God in order to protect them from God's wrath expressed during the great tribulation. In the second vision, the great multitude have come out of the great tribulation and are now safe and secure in the presence of the Lord.

A. The Vision of the Great Multitude (verses 9-10)

1. Their Location (9a)

After this... introduces a new aspect of John’s vision which is distinct from the one just described in (Revelation 7:1-8).

John beheld such a great multitude of people that no one could possibly count. This multitude was composed of people from every nation, every tribe, and every language. This is descriptive of a multiethnic, multicultural and multi-linguistic people.

This had to be especially thrilling to this old Apostle, who at the time of this writing, was exiled to the Island of Patmos because of the persecution that the church was experiencing. The churches that existed at this time seemed weak and spiritually in trouble as noted in the letters of the Lord that was addressed to the seven churches in Asia Minor.

And where is this great multitude? John sees them standing before the throne (in heaven), in front of the lamb.

2. Their Appearance (9b)

Their white (brilliantly gleaming white), robes (stole- the long flowing robe of royalty), symbolized their victory of faith as well as the righteousness of Christ imputed to them. Verse fourteen states that their robes were made white by being washed in the blood of the Lamb.

The palm branches were commonly used for festive occasions, a time of celebration and joy, sort of like our use of balloons. They were used for example, by those who greeted Jesus in His triumphal entry into the city of Jerusalem.

3. Their Proclamation (10)

Their loud expression of adoration focused in on the truth that their salvation is not the product of their own efforts. It is not something they earned. It is not a product of their work for God. Salvation in its entirety is a product of the sovereign will of God and the redemptive activity of the Lamb.

God the Father planned this salvation before the foundations of their earth. God the Son, the Lamb of God provided the only sacrifice that made salvation possible. God the Holy Spirit applied that salvation to all those who were given to Christ by the Father (i.e., John 6:37-40; 10:22-29; 17:1-3).

The strong expression reflects the depth of gratitude of the crowd and a determination to give credit where credit is due, to God and to the Lamb. Dr. Thomas. Commentary on Revelation - page 489

One translator paraphrased this passage... To our God...and to the lamb, we owe our salvation.

As opposed to our self, our efforts, our devotion, our good works, our receiving of certain sacraments.

B. The Worship of the Heavenly Host (verse 11-12)

1. Their Location (11)

In response to the proclamation of the great saved multitude regarding the work of God in redemption, the heavenly Host who were standing around the throne, fell down on their faces before God's throne and worshipped Him. Again, highlighting the truth that only one is worthy of praise and adoration for the salvation of the souls of mankind and that is God and God alone. Notice that not even the people who are now standing before throne of God are praised for their willingness to believe.

2. Their Proclamation (12)

In affirmation of the proclamation of the great multitude, the heavenly host declares, “Amen!” so be it, or this is the truth! In response to the jubilant cry of the saints, they offer a sevenfold doxology of praise.

C. The Identity of the Great Multitude (verses 13-17)

One of the elders, in anticipation of a question he knew had to be on the mind of John, inquires rhetorically about the origin of this great multitude.

1. Their Origination (13-14)

In terms of Who they are: They are the ones who have personally appropriated the redemptive work of Jesus Christ which cleansed them from sins defilement. These are saved people - from every nation, from every language, from every culture.

In terms of where they come from, they have come out of the Great Tribulation - that time of testing that is about to come upon the whole world, (3:10). That three- and one-half year period that precedes the Second Coming of Christ, which will be the darkest period in human history, as well as the greatest period of spiritual revival the world has ever seen.

It refers to a specific time unique in human history in which God will give expression to His divine judgment upon this fallen world. It was Jesus who coined this phrase, Great Tribulation (Matthew 24:21). He limited to the second half of Daniel's Seventieth week (Matthew 24:13-22).

The words, “have come” are more correctly translated "Are Coming," which suggest that this multitude in heaven are be continuously augmented by more arrivals from the Great Tribulation. These people have lived in the Great Tribulation and were redeemed during this unique period at the end of world history. Now they have come out of it. And more are still coming through the vehicle of death, perhaps by martyrdom, or the cataclysmic catastrophes experienced in the world at this time.

2. Their Location (15a)

They have arrived at the place that they longed to be, in heaven, before the throne of the God of heaven and earth.

3. Their Vocation (15b)

They are not seen in heaven floating on clouds and playing harps for eternity. They will serve Him day and night in his Temple. The word serve comes from the Gk. word latreuo, which speaks of the performance of a sacred service, sort of like the kind performed by the priest of the O.T. in the temple of the Lord. They serve the Lord in heaven as worshipping priest, not in ritual performance but rather in the spiritual worship of adoration and praise.

4. Their Protection (15c)

No one could ever again do them any harm because they are now protected by Him who sits on the throne. The immediate presence of God will shelter and protect them from all that harmed them while on earth.

5. Their Provisions (16-17)

This is in stark contrast to what happened to them on earth. They had been hungry, for they couldn't buy food without the mark of the beast; they were thirsty, for the rivers were turned to blood; they were scorched by the burning sun. But now the agony of their lives will be over. Dr. David Jeremiah “Escape the Coming Night” - (page 122).

Practical Implications

1. The only people who are in heaven are those who have appropriated the cleansing provision of the Lamb’s substitutionary sacrifice and His victorious resurrection (Revelation 7:9-10, 14). Note that this scene in heaven is not made up of “good people.” What John saw in this vision was an incalculable amount of “redeemed sinners” from all over the world, standing before the throne in heaven worshipping the one true God. Note also, that this incalculable crowd does not include people from other belief systems who placed their faith in salvation formulas that are in opposition to God’s exclusive formula of salvation.

2. God protects those who are His and guarantees their ultimate destiny (1 Peter 1:3-5; Ephesians 1:13-14; 5:30).

3. Even in the expression of God's wrath, we find a manifestation of God’s grace and mercy (Revelation 6:16-17, 7:9-10, 13-17).


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