Salvation in Spite of Tribulation: Rev. 7:1-17 :: By Donald Whitchard

Matthew 11:28-30; John 14:6; Acts 4:12; 1 Timothy 1:15, 2:5-6; Revelation 7:1-17

Summary: God’s call to salvation in Christ will continue after the time of the Rapture. He will call out 144,000 Jewish believers to spread the Gospel worldwide during the Tribulation, resulting in a massive global harvest of the redeemed.

John has been given the honor of writing down the things that will occur in the future according to the words and promises from the glorified Lord Jesus Christ. He wrote down the words of commendation and criticism to the seven churches of Asia and then was “caught up” to witness the glory of heaven and experience the worship and praise to God from the elders and the angelic host. He also witnesses the first series of judgments upon the inhabitants of the earth who have rejected the Gospel and who now face the arrival of the Antichrist and his harvest of war, famine, and death (Rev. 6:1-19).

These first seven seal judgments are the start of God’s wrath, as more will come. John now receives another vision: that of four angels who are placed strategically upon the earth to hold back “the four winds” so that they should not blow on the land, the sea, or any tree (7:1-2). Another angel appears who has “the seal of the living God” and gives a command that the earth is not to be harmed until “we have sealed the bondservants of our God upon their foreheads” (v.3). This seal indicates that the object that is sealed comes from the Sovereign King and the instructions protected by the seal must be carried out and obeyed.

The bondservants are 144,000 Jews, 12,000 from each tribe (except for the tribe of Dan), called by the LORD to go throughout the world and preach the Gospel to those who will truly listen. These Jewish evangelists, along with Gentile believers of the Tribulation, will be protected by the LORD for a distinct purpose and for a period of time. The 144,000 Jewish evangelists continue their work (vv.4-8) until the mid-point of the Tribulation. We see them again in Revelation 14 as they stand in glory with the Lamb. They had undergone persecution and death at the hands of the Antichrist, but we see that they, along with the Gentile believers, are triumphant because of the redeeming work of the Lord Jesus Christ.

When any follower of Jesus Christ dies, by whatever means, they are immediately ushered into the presence of the LORD (Luke 23:42-43; 2 Corinthians 5:6-8). There is no such thing as “soul sleep,” nor is there any place such as “purgatory” where we need to be “purged of sin” for a set time until we are allowed into heaven. This erroneous teaching nullifies the work of grace and redemption that the Lord Jesus accomplished upon the cross (Ephesians 2:8-9). We are saved by the work of Jesus Christ alone (Romans 1:16-17). To add anything to it is a false gospel (Galatians 1:8-9).

John also sees a great crowd from every nation upon the earth. They are clothed in white robes and have palm branches in their hands (7:9). These are Gentile believers who come out of the Great Tribulation giving praise and glory to God (7:10). The twenty-four elders and the four living creatures (Rev. 4:6) are also there to join in on this time of praise and worship.

Accolades and honor are given to the LORD for His great redemption of all those who suffered during the time of the Great Tribulation. They shout “Amen” as they enter glory and dwell in the presence of the living God (vv.13-15). They are forever free from the bonds of sin and its rotten harvest (v.16). Jesus will serve as their heavenly Shepherd, guiding them to the springs of the water of life, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes (v.17). One could not ask for more comforting and joyous words in light of all the suffering experienced by these martyrs of the Tribulation.

Chapter 7 concludes with all of heaven on its face before God. His Divine Sovereignty is extolled in His redemption of Israel and the Gentiles alike. What a wonderful, glorious Savior we have!

If you are not certain where you stand before the LORD, you need to settle that NOW! You have no guarantee of tomorrow (Luke 12:13-21; 2 Corinthians 6:2; Hebrews 9:27; James 4: 13-15). Admit you’re a sinner and that you cannot save yourself (Isaiah 64:6; Romans 3:23). Believe in your heart that Jesus Christ is Lord and that God has raised Him from the dead, and according to Scripture, you will be saved (Romans 10:9-10, 13).

Call out to Jesus to save you now. He will answer that cry for help and give you eternal life (John 3:16). Anything else is chasing the wind. Heaven is waiting for you, and God is ready to embrace you.

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