revelation 7-9

Day 1

Chapter 7


7 After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth to prevent any wind from blowing on the land or on the sea or on any tree. 2 Then I saw another angel coming up from the east, having the seal of the living God. He called out in a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm the land and the sea: 3 ‘Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.’ 4 Then I heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel.

Here we return to those mentioned when the fifth seal was opened back in chapter 6 verses 9-11, who were under the altar and are to be preserved here from the evil being delivered on the world. A seal is placed on the forehead of God’s people. In chapter 14 we read that the seal on the forehead of the 144,000 is the names of the Father and the Son. Again, this is symbolic language signifying God’s ownership of and protection of, his people [2 Cor 1:21-22; Eph 1:13-14; Eph 4:30], and it may well indicate that this seal is in fact the Holy Spirit. 

What of the 144,000? Is it a literal number? Well, all things are possible with God, however the book of Revelation elsewhere depicts only two groups, those who have been saved by the lamb and those who will suffer God’s righteous judgment. The number symbolises completeness. 144 is twelve (the twelve tribes of Israel representing the Old Testament saints) multiplied by twelve (representing the 12 apostles and the whole news testament era believers). In chapter 21 we’re told that the new Jerusalem has twelve gates with the names of the twelve tribes inscribed on them and has twelve foundations each with an apostle’s name on it. The wall is 144 cubits high. That number of 144, representing the entire church before and after the coming of Jesus, is multiplied by a thousand to show it’s a large number believers. That is confirmed in verse 9. 

If the seal is the Holy Spirit, as seems most likely, then the vision tells us how God will protect his people from all the evils coming upon the world.  He will protect their souls. This makes sense when realise that God’s protection does not seem to mean physical protection. After all, in the letters to the seven churches we read of persecution leading to the death of God’s people [2:10, 13]. Jesus himself talked of the death of some of his people yet states that not a hair of their head will perish [Luke 21:12-18]. He is using imagery to convey the truth that God will save us for eternity. 

That is picked up in the following verses in this chapter. 9 “After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.”

At the end of chapter 6 when the righteous judgment of God falls on the earth the question is asked, “Who can stand” in the light of that judgment. The vision tells us that the 144,000, those sealed by God, his people, they stand. This great multitude that no one can count is the one symbolised by the 144,000. 


What a promise! What an encouragement! And it’s not just pie in the sky when you die. This promise of God’s protection of our souls for eternity has implications for us in the here and now. This book is all about the encouragement of the future God has for us empowering us in the present in the face of suffering and trial. A rather trite example of that is my visits to the dentist. I hate going but I face the visit knowing that the discomfort and pain is momentary and that the end result will be freedom from pain and discomfort. 16 “Never again will they hunger;
    never again will they thirst.
The sun will not beat down on them,” 
    nor any scorching heat.
17 For the Lamb at the centre of the throne
    will be their shepherd;
“he will lead them to springs of living water.” 
    “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”’

Amen and Amen.


Loving Heavenly Father, give me such a confidence in your goodness and your promises that I can face whatever life brings with joyful confidence. Amen



Day 2

Chapter 8


8 When he opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.

2 And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them.

3 Another angel, who had a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense to offer, with the prayers of all God’s people, on the golden altar in front of the throne. 4 The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of God’s people, went up before God from the angel’s hand. 5 Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and hurled it on the earth; and there came peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning and an earthquake.

Ever wondered why, if God is all powerful and all loving, there is so much that goes wrong and causes pain and suffering? It’s one of the big objections people seem to come up with to Christianity. They say, “what about floods and fires and tsunamis and earthquakes? If God is real, how can he allow all that suffering?” In fact, many people say “If there is a God either he doesn’t care about us or he is not powerful enough to stop the suffering.”

The first 5 chapters of Revelation deal with both those assertions. The new Christian church was going through some terrible times of persecution and suffering. Back in Chapters 1-3 we saw that Christians were being put in gaol and even killed for their faith. We can imagine the Christians asking their leaders “What is going on – if God loves us why the suffering?”

Does God love us?  Does he care?  Revelation gives a clear resounding “Yes!” to that question. 

The book starts off with a picture of Jesus walking among the lampstands which represent the churches.  It’s a picture of a Jesus who is right there with us. He is caring for the church and he is totally involved. In chapter 7 God marks out the people who are his – the 144,000 and the great multitude from every tribe and nation and language. These are God’s people, loved and cherished by God. He puts his seal upon them. There is no doubt about God’s love for his people. 

There can be no doubt about his power either. In chapters 4 & 5 we have a picture of God the father on the throne in total control of the cosmos, and with Jesus also ruling in heaven. He is on the throne and every creature in heaven and earth bows down to him and worships him.  God wants us to know that nothing that happens in our world is outside his control – nothing. Even the forces of evil do not operate without God’s overall control.

So, if God loves his people and he is all powerful, why doesn’t he deal with the suffering?

Well notice how God’s servants who have his seal on them are described in chapter 7 verse 14. “these are the ones who have come out of the great tribulation.”

God loves them, and God is in total control and yet they have endured the great tribulation. They have suffered and been persecuted. They have endured war and strife. 

In lots of way that’s a real relief.  Just because bad things happen to us it doesn’t mean that God has turned his back on us.  It didn’t mean that back in John’s day and it doesn’t mean that today. Tomorrow we’ll look at the why of suffering.



Father of all love, source of all goodness, thank you for the assurance of your love and power. May your Holy Spirit strengthen me and give me your joy. Amen




Day 3

Chapter 8

2 And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them.

3 Another angel, who had a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense to offer, with the prayers of all God’s people, on the golden altar in front of the throne. 4 The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of God’s people, went up before God from the angel’s hand. 5 Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and hurled it on the earth; and there came peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning and an earthquake.


In chapter 8 we have the beginning of the second cycle which introduces the seven trumpets.  The trumpets are much like the seven seals but looking at the troubles of our world from another perspective. 

This scene starts with the prayers of God’s people. God’s people pray and then God acts.  Our prayers are mixed with incense, it says in verse 4 – they are a sweet smell to God. You’ll remember that John says much the same thing about our prayers back in Chapter 5 verse 8 which introduces the 7 seals. Our prayers result in God going to work.  That’s what the peals of thunder and rumblings and flashes of lightning are all about. They are the symbol of the presence of God.  Remember the thunder and lightning over the throne of God in Chapter 4?  Remember when God came down on Mt Sinai when he gave Moses the ten commandments?  There was thunder and lightning then as well. When God’s people pray, God goes to work. We don’t know what those prayers were, but I doubt whether they were “God punish those people who persecuted us and who ignored you.  Send drought and flood and plague on them.” I really can’t see them praying that. They prayed and God acted but I’m guessing it’s not in the way they expected him to act. But act he does, and in response to our prayers. Just because God doesn’t do what we expect, it doesn’t mean our prayer hasn’t been effective. God will act; after all, our prayer is a fragrant offering to him. He delights in our prayers. We’ve decided to plant a few roses at home and I am really keen to have highly scented roses. In fact, I can’t pass a rose without getting my nose close and taking a deep draught. (I might be a Philistine but I can’t see the sense of roses without scents.). For a sweet moment it excludes everything other than its delicious perfume. It fills the senses.  I think it is like that for our God, his senses are filled with our prayers. 

If ever there was a motivation to pray that’s it. 

Notice how God answers their prayer. God answers their prayers here by bringing judgment. God’s people have been persecuted and they’ve called out to God to help them, and God acts in Judgement on those who have been doing the persecuting. 

Trumpets in John’s day were used to announce things. With the first 4 trumpets different aspects of the world are affected or destroyed. The first affects the land, the second the seas, the third the inland waterways and the fourth heavens. That’s just about everything!

“The first angel sounded his trumpet and there came hail and fire mixed with blood and it was hurled down upon the earth. A third of the earth was burned up, a third of the trees were burned up, and all the green grass was burned up.”

If you’re waiting for blood and hail or the Tasman Sea turning to blood, I think you’ve got the wrong idea. It might happen, but it’s really all about complete disaster and horror with the details being poetic license.  We call it apocalyptic language. It’s not intended to be taken literally and we can see that with the fourth trumpet where a third of the sun is turned off and the result is a third of the day and night is without light. That just doesn’t make sense.  Take out a third of the sun and there will still be light.  This says that a third of the day disappears, and although God can do anything, this is picture language for things that are going to be awful and cause great terror. It will seem like the whole world is messed up.  It’s the undoing of the creation order; a reversal of the Genesis account. 


At times things can feel just like that, either in our own personal world or in the world at large. We can think there is no hope and that the future is only darkness and pain. Many Christians have talked of experiencing “the dark night of the soul.”, a time when all seems dark and there is no light in life. But Jesus is walking among the lampstands. God is on his throne. We have been sealed with the Holy Spirit. 



Father, thank you for your loving care for me. Keep me trusting your good will towards me. Amen






Day 4

Chapter 8 & 9

13 As I watched, I heard an eagle that was flying in midair call out in a loud voice: “Woe! Woe! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth, because of the trumpet blasts about to be sounded by the other three angels!”

9 The fifth angel sounded his trumpet, and I saw a star that had fallen from the sky to the earth. The star was given the key to the shaft of the Abyss. 2 When he opened the Abyss, smoke rose from it like the smoke from a gigantic furnace. The sun and sky were darkened by the smoke from the Abyss. 3 And out of the smoke locusts came down on the earth and were given power like that of scorpions of the earth. 4 They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any plant or tree, but only those people who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads. 5 They were not allowed to kill them but only to torture them for five months. And the agony they suffered was like that of the sting of a scorpion when it strikes. 6 During those days people will seek death but will not find it; they will long to die, but death will elude them.

7 The locusts looked like horses prepared for battle. On their heads they wore something like crowns of gold, and their faces resembled human faces. 8 Their hair was like women’s hair, and their teeth were like lions’ teeth. 9 They had breastplates like breastplates of iron, and the sound of their wings was like the thundering of many horses and chariots rushing into battle. 10 They had tails with stingers, like scorpions, and in their tails they had power to torment people for five months. 11 They had as king over them the angel of the Abyss, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon and in Greek is Apollyon (that is, Destroyer).

12 The first woe is past; two other woes are yet to come.


Before the 5th trumpet John sees an eagle flying around and calling out “Woe! Woe! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth, because the trumpet blasts about to be sounded by the other three angels.”  You think those first four were bad, he’s saying – wait until you get the last three.  

The fifth trumpet heralds the opening of the Abyss, the place where evil beings lived. With the first four trumpets natural disasters are sent, now evil with intent is let loose. That is represented by locusts, but not just any locusts.  These locusts had power to torment and torture people – to put them in agony. Verse 6 says, “During those days men will seek death, but will not find it; they will long to die, but death will elude them.” 

These scorpions are led by their king, Apollyon, which means “Destroyer”. They aren’t ordinary locusts.  Just read their description in the following verses. They don’t destroy crops like normal locust plagues - they harm mankind – the ones who haven’t been sealed, it says in verse 4, and for a limited time only, here it’s 5 months. 

The sixth trumpet heralds 4, probably evil, angels being released to kill off a third of mankind. They lead an army of 200 million troops. There is a description of those troops in the following verses, and again it’s a picture to evoke terror and horror and fear and trembling.  The details and numbers probably aren’t literal.

Each time a trumpet is blown, death and plague and terror strikes down a third – a third of the vegetation, a third of the sea creatures, a third of mankind.  It is not the end of the world because at that time everything would be destroyed. But it is judgement. And its purpose is to turn people back to God in repentance.  That’s in chapter 9 verses 20-21

“20 The rest of mankind who were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshiping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood—idols that cannot see or hear or walk. 21 Nor did they repent of their murders, their magic arts, their sexual immorality or their thefts.”

John says the same thing in chapter 16 after the 7 bowls pour out judgment on the earth – mankind refused to repent.

God sends judgement to encourage people to repent and turn to him. It’s a severe mercy! We all know how we don’t make changes in life until we get desperate. We all know people who only start treating their spouse well when they walk out on them.  

We all know people who only get life into perspective when they get told their dying. 

We all know people who only deal with addiction when they get found out.

The catastrophes in life, all those things that occur and rock our world, the things that bring us to our low points, they are meant to draw people who are lost to God back to Him. These things are going on now.  This is life as we know it. We live in a world that is under God’s judgement right here and now. One of the reasons behind God allowing suffering is to turn the lost sheep back to him. 



Merciful Lord, please us me in the process of bringing the lost back to you. Amen







Day 5

Chapter 8 & 9

12 The first woe is past; two other woes are yet to come.

13 The sixth angel sounded his trumpet, and I heard a voice coming from the four horns of the golden altar that is before God. 14 It said to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, “Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.” 15 And the four angels who had been kept ready for this very hour and day and month and year were released to kill a third of mankind. 16 The number of the mounted troops was twice ten thousand times ten thousand. I heard their number.

17 The horses and riders I saw in my vision looked like this: Their breastplates were fiery red, dark blue, and yellow as sulphur. The heads of the horses resembled the heads of lions, and out of their mouths came fire, smoke and sulphur. 18 A third of mankind was killed by the three plagues of fire, smoke and sulphur that came out of their mouths. 19 The power of the horses was in their mouths and in their tails; for their tails were like snakes, having heads with which they inflict injury.

20 The rest of mankind who were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshiping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood—idols that cannot see or hear or walk. 21 Nor did they repent of their murders, their magic arts, their sexual immorality or their thefts.



Listen to Jesus’s words in Luke 13:1.

Some people told Jesus about a recent occurrence where Pilate, the Roman governor, killed a bunch of people while they were in the temple sacrificing.   

2 Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? 3 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. 4 Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”


Jesus says, “Look, those people were not especially deserving of God’s punishment: it’s not as though they all did something really bad and God was punishing them – No. But it’s a warning to all of us. Get your life in order with God.”

And then he recalls another recent disaster – a building had fallen and killed eighteen people. Again, Jesus says, “Look, those eighteen weren’t being punished for some specific thing.  It’s not that they were especially evil that God let this happen.  They were no more or less evil than anyone else – than any of us. But heed the warning. Unless you repent you too will all perish.”

We live in a world that is under God’s judgement. Earthquakes and floods and famine and drought and fire and storms and disease and war – all these things happen because we live in a fallen world. We live in a culture that has turned its back on God. God sends these things to punish those who ignore him and to encourage them to turn back to Him. 

But it’s not normally a direct correlation. We can’t look at a mouse plague in NSW and say, “that’s God’s judgement on NSW for passing this or that law.”   It’s not that the people of Forbes in NSW are any more evil than anyone else that God allowed floods to hit them, but these things are part of the judgement God has sent on our world. We should all take the warning.

Is it any wonder that God has unleashed his judgment on the world?  Our culture is a mess when viewed from God’s eyes. Is it any wonder that we suffer from natural disasters and at the hands of those who are evil and influenced by the evil one when our culture kills of hundreds of thousands of unborn human beings for the sake of convenience? 

Is it any wonder when we celebrate what God call evil when we promote greed?

Is it any wonder when we treat gambling as though it were a normal part of life and our children are encouraged to gamble by sports commentators talking about the odds?

Is it any wonder when the most widespread use of the internet is to view pornography?

Is it any wonder when our culture is making it illegal to stand up for the truth against false religion? 

God has unleashed disaster on our world in order to bring us back from the brink.

Jesus says, “unless you repent, you too will all perish.”

We shouldn’t be surprised when disaster strikes.  It doesn’t mean that God isn’t in control.  Quite to contrary.  When disaster strikes it is evidence that God is a work calling men and women back to him. He is cutting out all forms of support, all the things we depend upon to give us control of our lives so that people who have previously ignored him will turn to him.

Believers are, for the most part, are not going to avoid this general judgment of God – it falls on the godly and ungodly alike.  That was the way in John’s day; it was the way back in the Old Testament and it’s the way it is today.  We may not like it, we may not understand it, but it is very clear in the Bible that that is the way it is this side of heaven. 

If you are a follower of Jesus, do not lose heart. You are sealed by God; he loves you and will never leave you, even in the darkest times.  The dark times are evidence that God is at work. In fact, for the follower of Jesus, all those sufferings are used for good – they mature us and strengthen us and grow our faith. 



Lord God, please send your Holy Spirit to convince the world of its need for you and the forgiveness Jesus bought by his death. Amen

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