UNDERSTANDING THE BOOK OF REVELATION
Chapter Seven and the Seventh Seal
By Gary Ray Branscome
The portion of John’s vision that is recorded in chapter seven has to do with sealing the saints. In reading this section it is important to know that this sealing is not something that will happen in the future, but something that has been going on for centuries. As it is written, “you… were also sealed with the holy Spirit of promise, after you believed,” (Ephesians ). And, again, “Do not grieve the holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption,” (Ephesians ).
In the previous lesson I pointed out that the “white horse” of chapter six corresponds to the gospel going forth on the day of Pentecost, while the “red horse” indicates persecution. I also gave the reasons for that interpretation. And, am referring back to that because chapter seven was inserted between the sixth and seventh seals to clarify what is going on.
Just as the “white horse” corresponds to the gospel going
forth after the day of Pentecost, the sealing of the Jews mentioned in verses
four through eight also corresponds to the gospel going forth on the day of
Pentecost. How do I know this? Why, because that is exactly what the Bible
tells us in the Book of Acts. The Bible tells us that, “about three thousand
souls were added to their number that day,” the day of Pentecost (Acts ). And, those “souls” were primarily Jews, if not all
Jews. A short time later, “about five thousand” more were added (Acts 4:4).
And, it has been estimated that almost one third of the population of
In chapter seven, the sealing of the Jews is followed by the sealing of a great multitude “that no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues,” (Rev. 7:9). “These are those who have come out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (Rev. 7:14). And, we know that they were sealed, because all who have had their sins washed away through faith in Christ have been sealed. [Compare Ephesians 1:13, with Galatians 3:2.]
The “great tribulation” that is mentioned in chapter
seven is persecution. Those “who
have come out of great tribulation,” have come to faith in Christ in the face
of great persecution. And, this has been going on throughout history. Paul
spoke of it when he said, “We must through much
tribulation enter into the
These are things that have been going on since the day of Pentecost, and there is absolutely nothing in the text to support the claim that this tribulation will only last for seven years. Nothing! That claim is rooted in a private interpretation of Daniel 9:27, a verse that says absolutely nothing about the antichrist or tribulation. All of those things are being read into the text. And, reading unscriptural ideas into the text is the mark of a false prophet (2Peter ). The people who make that claim are so far off base that the 2014 Journal of the “Spiritual Counterfeits Project” devoted an entire chapter to it (Volume 37:3-37:4). It was Christ who brought an end to animal sacrifice, not some future antichrist.
At the beginning of chapter eight the seventh seal is
opened, and seven angels are given seven trumpets. At this point, I want to
stress that fact that John is seeing a vision, not actual events. One place
where the Bible reveals that is in chapter twelve, where John sees a red dragon
who tries to devour Christ as soon as He is born. As you read those verses it
should be obvious that the people who lived in
At the beginning of chapter nine, as the fifth trumpet sounds, the bottomless pit is opened, releasing the forces of hell upon the earth (Rev. 9:1-2). In connection with that opening I want to point out some parallels between this vision, and the vision that is recorded in chapters twelve through twenty-two. I have already pointed out the parallel between the white horse (Rev. 6:2), and the woman clothed in the white light of the sun (Rev. 12:1); and, between the red horse (Rev. 6:4), and the red dragon (Rev. 12:3). But, the fact that both visions mention Satan’s release from the bottomless pit provides us with another parallel (compare Rev. 9:1-2 and Rev. 20:2, 3, 7). The vision of the seven seals covers the period from Christ’s victory over death (Rev. 5:5) to the end of the world (Rev. 6:13-17 and ). And, the vision recorded in chapters twelve through twenty-two covers the period from Christ’s birth (Rev. 12:1-5) to the new heavens and new earth (Rev. 21:1). As you read the things that John describes it is important not to be sidetracked into useless speculation about unexplained details. While there is much that we will never understand this side of glory, speculation only tends to lead us away from God’s Word (1Corinthians ).
In the fifteenth verse of chapter eleven, the seventh and last angel sounds his trumpet. And, we know that the resurrection will take place at that time, not only because the Apostle Paul said, “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible,” but also because verse eighteen tells us that it is the time for the dead to be judged (Rev. 11:18).
For that reason, we need to look at what the Bible says about the last day. I am not talking about looking at interpretations, because interpretations are often wrong. We need to look at truths so clearly stated in Scripture that we do not need to interpret them. So here is the doctrine of the Last Day, presented line upon line, line upon line, Just as Isaiah said (Isaiah 28:10).
John And this is the will of him who sent me, that every one who looks to the Son, and believes on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up on the last day.
John Martha responded, I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.
John He who rejects me, and does not receive my words, has one who judges him: the word that I have spoken, will judge him on the last day.
2Timothy 4:1 I charge you therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom [on the last day, John ].
1Thessalonians 4:16-17 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first [on the last day, John 6:40]: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
1Corinthians In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump [on the last day, John ]: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
2Peter But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise [on the last day], and the elements will melt with intense heat, and the earth and everything in it will be burned up.
Three important things to remember are: 1) The sealing of the saints, which John saw in chapter seven, has been going on since the day of Pentecost, 2) The great tribulation is a reference to persecution, which has always gone hand in hand with the spread of the gospel, and 3) there is absolutely nothing in Scripture to support the claim that this tribulation will only last seven years, or that it will take place after Christ raises believers from the dead.
In the next section we will look at the vision of the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet which begins with chapter twelve.