Revelation 7 (Part 2)

III. Preliminary Considerations For Verses 9-17

-Chapter 7 represents an interlude (i.e. a reprieve or delay in action) between the events represented in the breaking of the first 6 seals and the events represented by the breaking of the seventh seal/seven

trumpets (8:1-6).

-The events represented in the breaking of the six seals = The Jewish War from its beginning to w/in 5mos of its end (MAR/67 AD – APR/70 AD).

-Chapter 7, therefore, takes place sometime close to APRIL of 70 AD.

-What else is going on at this same time: Titus has surrounded Jerusalem ready to siege; Jewish Christians are among those being allowed to leave the city w/o harm; Titus’ father Vespasian is now on the throne of Rome as her new Emperor (Dec 21st, 69 AD) and has canceled the edict against Christians issued by Nero.

Historical support:

-Both ancient historian Dio Cassius, and early church father Tertullian, identify Vespasian as the one who canceled the edict of persecution against the Christians.

“Vespasian sent a dispatch to Rome rescinding the dis-franchisement of Christians as had been condemned by Nero and succeeding rulers. His action included living and dead alike, and he moreover stopped the indictments made upon such complaints of ungodliness or impiety, however, they might be.” –Dio Cassius

IV. Contextual Interpretation For Verses 9-17

VERSES 9-17 REPRESENT THE FULL NUMBER OF CHRISTIAN MARTYRS DURING THE NERONIC PERSECUTION NOW CELEBRATING IN HEAVEN. THIS ALSO THEN REPRESENTS THE ANSWER TO THE

SECOND PART OF THE MARTYR’S PLEA IN REVELATION 6:10, AND THE END OF NERO’S EDICT OF PERSECUTION.

-Why this is significant/ironic = b/c it means THAT AT The SAME TIME the Jews’ attempts at exterminating the Christian religion failed –their own extermination (as a valid theistic religion) is coming to fruition! Christianity is being relieved while Judaism is being razed/destroyed; Christianity is being vindicated while Judaism is being annihilated.

Scriptural witness:

(9) Great multitude from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues standing before the throne and before the Lamb clothed in white robes (Rev 5:9, 6:9-11, VERSES 13 and 14 confirm them as Christian martyrs); palm branches in their hands (Lev 23:40 w/Rev 6:11 “rest”—until it is time to celebrate!–*WHICH is what they do in the remaining verses 10-14)

(10-17) Crying out w/the angels, four living creatures, and 24 elders in worship…and serving before God night and day in His Temple where every tear is wiped away and the Lamb guides them to the springs of life (Rev 4-5, 21:3-5 confirms the location of this as heaven).

*FOOD for ADDITIONAL THOUGHT:

IF this is what HEAVEN is for those who arrive there after death, why would anyone want to come back? Yet this is exactly the thinking of those holding to a Premillennial Eschatology!

“What shall we say of a supposed divine program which, after glorifying the spirit in heaven, resurrects the body, reunites it to the spirit, and then consigns the now—completely glorified believer to—not another one hundred years, but—one thousand years of life in the same sinful world he longed to leave? Such is not the hope of Scripture. Peter clearly states the Christian expectation in his second epistle: Looking for and hastening unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat. Nevertheless, we, according to his promise look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. There is no room in this simple, glorious hope for the complicated, semi-purgatorial experience of glorified believers which a post-resurrection millennium requires. It is unthinkable that those who experience the heavenly joys described in Revelation 7:15-17 should be torn from them, and demoted to the premillennialist powder-keg millennium!” –Jay Adams

Revelation 7 (Part 1)

I. Preliminary Considerations

-Verses 1-8 represent an interlude (i.e. a reprieve or delay in action) between the events represented in the breaking of the first 6 seals and the events represented by the breaking of the seventh seal/seven trumpets (8:1-6).

-The events represented in the breaking of the six seals = The Jewish War from its beginning to w/in 5mos of its end (MAR/67 AD – APR/70 AD).

-Where this places Titus and his Roman armies = they have surrounded the city of Jerusalem in anticipation of a full-scale siege on her walls. This is seen most specifically through what is communicated to us in the sixth seal (as discussed in the prev. study). It is the beginning of the end, the abomination of desolation, the prophetic consequence of Israel’s rejection of Christ/Son of God (Luk 21:20 w/Mat 24:15; Luk 19:41-44); regarding Daniel (Dan 12:11)

Historical support:

Re: Daniel and the regular sacrifice:

-According to Josephus, all of the priests (including the High Priest) were slaughtered by the zealots who took the city of Jerusalem and made the Temple their citadel at the beginning of the War (see Wars 4.2-5.2). This would have also meant that the regular sacrifices ceased to be offered (since those commissioned by God to do it were all dead).

Re: Prophetic consequence of Israel’s rejection of Christ (the Son of God)

“At Rome, Peter and Paul foretold that it would shortly come to pass, that God would send a king who would overcome the Jews and who would lay their city level with the ground. He would besiege themuntil they so pined with hunger and thirst, that they would start eating one another. Finally, they would fall into their enemies’ hands and would see their wives most grievously tormented in their sight andtheir virgins violated and prostituted. Their sons would be torn asunder and their little ones dashed to pieces. Everything would be destroyed by fire and sword and they would forever be banished from theirown lands. All this would happen, because they exalted themselves above the most loving Son of God, who was approved by God Himself.” –Lactantius (Divine Institutions, 4.21.7)

-(Deu 28:30, 47-58; Hos 13:12-16 w/Mat 23:32)

-However, before the full scale siege actually begins, a moment of divinely ordained reprieve (or delay) is granted. Titus allows those who wish to leave the city to go w/o harm.

Historical support:

“(Some of) the people had a great inclination to desert to the Romans; accordingly some of them soldwhat they had, and even the most precious things that had been laid up as treasures by them, for a verysmall matter, and swallowed down pieces of gold, that they might not be found by the robbers; andwhen they escaped to the Romans, went to stool, and had wherewithal to provide plentifully forthemselves; for Titus let a great number of them go away into the country, whither they pleased…” – Josephus (Wars, 5.10.1)

II. Contextual Interpretation

VERSES 1-8 REPRESENT THE ESCAPE OF THE JEWISH CHRISTIANS (i.e. the Jerusalem Church) FROM JERUSALEM WHO UNDERSTOOD AND HEEDED CHRIST’S WARNING OF WHEN TO FLEE THE CITY (LUK 21:20-24).

Scriptural witness:

(1) four angels, corners and winds..no wind to blow on the earth, sea or tree = God holding back the Romans from immediately destroying Jerusalem ( this is the job of the 4 angels = v2; “teis geis”; Jer 49:36-37; Eze 37:9; Dan 7:2, 8:8; Zec 2:6; Mat 24:31 = God’s decree to action—which means this then is what the blowing winds are carrying out, but now have been restrained). *note regarding the mention of the sea and trees: this (ml) points to its larger trajectory (or greater fulfillment).

(2-3) angel ascending from the rising of the sun (Isa 41:1-4, 25, 46:11; Eze 43:1-3); seal of the living God…do not harm…until we have sealed the bond-servants of our God on their foreheads (Eze 9:1-7; Exo 13:9, 16; in contrast Rev 9:4, 13:16-17, 14:9, 20:4; also consider 2Co 1:22; 2Ti 2:19)

*In light of these three verses consider “cut short” in (Mat 24:22)

“The protective ‘mark’ in Ezekiel 9 is literally the tav, the last letter in the Hebrew alphabet. The ancient Hebrew form of the tav was ‘+’, a cross, a fact that was not lost on the early Church…Tertullian believed that God had given Ezekiel ‘the very form of the cross’ which he predicted would be the sign on our foreheads in the true Catholic Jerusalem.” –David Chilton

(4-8) The Jerusalem Church/Jewish Christians =one hundred forty-four thousand (12 apostlesX12 Jews =Jewish Church (Mat 19:28; Luk 22:30) X 1,000 = completely preserved; Deu 1:11; Psa 105:8; Num 31:4-5; Psa 84:10; Ecc 6:6; SoS 4:4; Rev 20:4; Rom 11:26); STARTS w/Judah and excludes Dan and Ephraim =completely pure (Gen 49:10; Hos 4:17-14:8; cf. Hos 5:9; Judas Iscariot = Dan? Consider Act 1:25 w/Jud 18:1-3 same words used for portion/lot and place in each text– also similar context for both (loss of inheritance and idolatry). In addition: a comparison of the counterclockwise reversal of Ezekiel’s list (Eze 48:31-34) of tribes (as represented in Rev 7) and NT lists of the twelve disciples (Matt 10:2-4; Mark 3:16-19; Luke 6:13-16; and Acts 1:13) shows a startling parallel between Judas and Dan. Interestingly, only Peter, Philip, James of Alphaeus, and Judas Iscariot appear in the same position on all lists.

“Ephraim likewise may have been excluded from the Revelation7 list because of its association with idolatry. Ephraim was noted in distinction from the other tribes fro its penchant for idolatry, for which it was exterminated by divine judgment. Some suggest that these two omissions could be a hint that John is conducting a polemic against part of the professing church who are compromising through idolatry. But since these are omissions, they more likely point in the opposite direction, to an attempt to portray the professing church as apparently pure.” –GK Beale“Dan is omitted because (in Christian tradition) it was associated with Judas Iscariot and his forfeiture of apostolic office.” –Ross E. Winkle“The fact that the angel intervenes (in Revelation 7:2-3) before they are destroyed in the land surely indicates the era prior to the final and total devastation of the land in AD 70. Were the land already destroyed (as it was in AD 70), such protection would have been embarrassingly anachronistic.” — Kenneth Gentry“The 144,000 are Jewish Christians. The extreme care with which their ancestry is set forth removes all doubt concerning their Jewish character. Their Hebrew nature is further accentuated by the intended contrast between them and the great Gentile multitude. The former is a small, easily counted group, of one certain racial extraction, who escape persecution…If reasons previously stated, and others yet to be mentioned are sound, and the first section of the Revelation concerns the Judaistic persecution of the church and the fall of Jerusalem, then it is obvious that these 144,000 Christian Jews who are sealed against the destruction ought to be identified with those who escaped to Pella in accordance with Christ’s command (Luke 21:20-24) when they saw Jerusalem surrounded by Roman armies.” –Jay Adams

Historical support:

“The people of the church in Jerusalem had been commanded by a revelation, vouchsafed approved men there before the war, to leave the city and dwell in a certain town of Perea called Pella. And when those that believed in Christ had come thither from Jerusalem, then, as if the royal city of the Jews and the whole land of Judea were entirely destitute of holy men, the judgment of God at length overtook those that had committed such outrages against Christ and his apostles, and totally destroyed that generation of impious men.” –Eusebius (History of the Church, p. 111)

-Epiphanius (Heresies 29:7) argues that Revelation was written for the purpose of warning Christians to flee Jerusalem before the coming destruction.