!! *Philadelphia Baptist Church*
!!! *4~/29~/2007 Sun.
!!! * *
*God’s Seal of Protection*
*Revelation 7:1–3, 9–17*
These [who are arrayed in white robes] are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
In the religions of the ancient world, blood was viewed as sacred.
Some ancients saw blood as containing the life principle, even the soul.
They did not understand the function of blood in the body.
The fact that blood circulated in the body was not well understood until about 1615’s A.D...
Blood was widely consumed as a food in the first century A.D..
This practice was repulsive to the Jews (Leviticus 7:26; 17:12, 14; 19:26) and was forbidden by the early church (Acts 15:20).
Like many of their contemporaries, ancient Jews believed a person’s blood contained his or her life.
If the blood drained from a person, they knew that that person would die.
Thus life and blood were tightly connected (Deuteronomy 12:23).
This helps us understand the frequent phrase */innocent blood./*
From our modern, scientific point of view, we cannot imagine blood itself being guilty or innocent any more than hair can be.
Yet */innocent blood/* conveys the idea of the violent /death of an innocent person./
To slay an innocent person would bring “blood” or “bloodguilt” upon the perpetrator *(Deuteronomy 19:10).*
The Old Testament taught that human blood was not to be shed in violence (Genesis 9:6).
Murder was more than a criminal act; it was an offense against God.
The Old Testament taught that blood purifies, as summarized in the New Testament passage *Hebrews 9:22:* /“without shedding of blood is no remission [of sins].”/
For the church to talk about the blood of Christ may seem “uncivilized” to many in our time.
There is a certain delicate balance here.
The blood that Jesus shed for us is a stark reality.
We are to teach this in a way that is understandable.
If we sugarcoat this fact too much, however, the message may be lost.
The Old Testament teaching about the purpose of blood sacrifices pointed to the seriousness of sin and how great its penalty must be.
Yet those sacrifices were not capable of paying sin’s penalty.
That is why we needed the death of Jesus to satisfy the price of redemption *(Romans 3:21–26).*
While no one can withstand God’s wrath, there is a protection for the people of God so that they will not have to face it.
This protection comes through the blood of the Lamb, our blessed Savior, Jesus Christ.
Seal of Protection** **(Revelation 7:1–3)*
Can you spot a Christian by appearance alone?
Do we look different from non-Christians?
While some styles of dress may identify persons as nonbelievers, most Christians look and dress like their non-Christian neighbors.
This text teaches that there is a spiritual seal on God’s people that somehow marks them.
Angels Controlling Nature **(v.
*And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree.*
The number /four/ symbolizes the whole /earth/ in Revelation.
This may be represented by the /four angels/ charged with the earth, /the four corners/ or quarters of the land *(Revelation 20:8),* or /the four winds/ that blow upon the earth (Jeremiah 49:36; Ezekiel 37:9; Daniel 7:2; Mark 13:27).
The four angels seem to be stewards of the earth.
Their actions demonstrate a pause in the furious activities of the previous chapter.
Angel with God’s Seal **(vv.
*And 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 given to hurt the earth and the sea.*
/Another angel/ enters the scene /(ascending from the east),/ symbolizing the dawning of a new stage in the events.
This angel possesses God’s /seal,/ giving him the ability to place a spiritual mark on people.
This angel also has authority over the four earth-steward /angels/ and is able to command them.
*Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.*
The spiritual seal of /God/ is pictured as a mark on the /foreheads/ of God’s /servants./
Any destruction to be done by the four earth-steward angels is “on hold” until the project of marking all servants of God is accomplished.
This /seal/ on the forehead is a repeated image in this book *(Revelation 9:4; 14:1; 22:4; Ezekiel 9:4).*
It stands in contrast to the “mark of the beast,” a type of sealing done on those who are not covered by the blood of the Lamb, whose names are not written in the Lamb’s book of life *(Revelation 14:9; 16:2).*
This mark is equivalent to having worshiped the false god of the beast.
The lake of fire awaits those who do *(19:20; 20:10, 15).*
Those who have placed their trust in Christ are not in danger of having the mark of the beast stamped on their souls.
Christians are *protected* by the blood of the Lamb.
Panoply of the Protected** **(Revelation 7:9–12)*
*Revelation 7:4–8* introduces God’s people numbering 144,000 witnesses.
The number 144,000, or 12 times 12,000, refers to the Jewish people of God.
These are pictured as coming from the nation of Israel, but they are not alone.
White-Robed Multitude **(vv.
*After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands.*
Added to the 144,000 is a great multitude.
The crowd defies any attempt to /number/ it.
This /multitude/ comes from all the families and peoples of the earth, not just Israel.
They are uniformly /clothed/ in /white robes/.
They are also carrying palm leaves.
This reminds us of Palm Sunday and Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem (John 12:13).
It is customary in the ancient world to carry palm branches at celebrations.
A white robe is the customary baptismal garb in many churches.
The color white has long symbolized purity.
In this text John sees a multitude of God’s people dressed in white standing before His throne.
Their robes are a symbol of the righteousness they had found in Christ.
*And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.*
The Palm Sunday cry of “Hosanna” meant “God, save us!” Understandably, the Jews of Jesus’ day were hoping for God’s miraculous saving of their nation.
The cry /Salvation to our God/ is a fulfillment of that Palm Sunday appeal.
In Heaven the people of God shout “Salvation!” to celebrate an accomplished fact.
They are the multitude of the saved, and the salvation is attributed both to God and to /the Lamb./
Heavenly Throng **(vv.
*And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God.*
The multitude of the saved is now joined by the heavenly cast of characters who worship.
We saw /angels, the elders,/ and /the four beasts /back in chapters 4 and 5.
As before, they assume a prostrate posture of worship.
*Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honor, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever.
The throng sings a sevenfold worship song.
It is like their earlier praise song (Revelation 5:12) with the change of riches to /thanksgiving./ /Amen/ means “it is true.”
The long-anticipated salvation of God is now finalized.
Blood of Protection** **(Revelation 7:13–17)*
Most men are not experts at doing laundry.