Revelation 7 Reading Guide
Chapter 7 is a continuation of the second perspective from which John tells of Christ's victory, which began in chapter four. So far we've seen the Lion/Lamb as the only worthy one to open the seals on God's scroll (signifying Christ as the one who brings God's will to completion). We read about how all things, even the things caused by sin (which God doesn't cause, but does allow), are going exactly according to God's plan.
In chapter 7, this second perspective comes to an end, once again with the Lamb victoriously "at the center of the throne (v17)" surrounded by His saints and angels.
v1-3 - The angels are standing reading to bring all things to an end, but no harm will come until all of God's saints are sealed.
v4-8 - The 144k are sealed, a number not meant to be taken literally, but the perfect factor of 12, representing the full number of God's elect from the 12 tribes of Israel.
v9-12 - The 144k from Israel are not the only ones sealed unto redemption. An uncountable throng from all over the globe is included as well.
v13-14 - Another representation of what it will be like for those redeemed and sealed in Christ, who will never hunger or suffer again, praising God and the Lamb who are at the center of the throne.
Many people today are basing their core identity in external factors, such as race, nationality, gender, and sexual orientation. These constructs have constantly shifting definitions that no longer reflect any sort of absolute truth, often each segment tries to present itself as more victimized than the others. The result of this is a society which has become more and more fractured, polarized and isolated.
Contrast this hopeless mindset with the picture of God's saints assembled before the throne in v9-10:
After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude
that no one could count,
people and language,
standing before the throne and before the Lamb.
John makes no attempt to categorize, segment or otherwise separate out different types of people that God calls to themselves. All of the identities that we cling to: nationality, subcultures, customs and foreign languages all will fade away.
What is it that will bind all of these differences together?
wearing white robes
and were holding palm branches in their hands.
The white robes signify the perfect righteousness given to them by Christ, and all their actions, symbolized by their holding palm branches, are focused on praising the Lord.
Certainly we will need to wait until that blessed day for this to all come together the way God describes, but remember that you've been called to live this way right now. Don't fall into the trap of basing your identity infinite and ever changing list of definitions the world provides. Rather, identify yourself as one of a great multitude set apart by your Savior.
OLD TESTAMENT REFERENCE:
This chapter ends with the promise that:
The Lamb will be their shepherd (v17).
Notice how this fulfills the familiar metaphor in Psalm 23:
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
EYE FOR DETAIL— What were the angels holding back at the four corners of the earth? (v1)