The Expository Files

"Who Is Able To Stand?"

Revelation 7


The seventh chapter of Revelation is an encouraging interlude, in the midst of the conflict depicted in the seals opened in chapter six. {Pause here and read Revelation 7}
As the seals are opened and John sees what is pictured, saints are suffering persecution in worsening successions, yet God remains in control (as assured in chapter five). As the sixth seal is opened, John sees "the great day of" the Lord's wrath. This tragic pictorial sequence leads to the question at the end of chapter six: "Who is able to stand?"
Chapter seven answers, the people of God. Observe how they are described: "The servants of our God," (verse 3) are the 144,000 (verse 4). The people of God are "sealed" (acknowledged, approved and protected by God). The great multitude of the faithful are clothed with white robes and their confession is, "Salvation belongs to our God!" These are the people of God, strengthened by God to come out of tribulation. They are redeemed by the blood of the Lamb and they are led by the Lamb (verses 14-17). Their eternal destiny is to serve God "day and night" and be perfectly comforted by Him ("And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes," v.17).

The chapter gave hope then and gives hope today. To those in the seven churches, suffering the persecution revealed in the seals, the message was one of hope and victory. To Christians today who suffer at the hands of those hostile to God, the hope is the same.
Every moment on earth, every activity and turn of events, ultimately serves the redeeming purpose of God for mankind. The kings of the earth may set themselves up against God. Arrogant rulers may take counsel together, "against the Lord and against His Anointed," saying, "Let us break Their bonds in pieces and cast away Their cords from us." But God "who sits in the heavens shall laugh." "The Lord shall hold them in derision. Then He shall speak to them in His wrath, and distress them in His deep displeasure...," (see Psalms 2).
God is in control. "Winds may be strong or gentle, a curse or a blessing; but whichever they may be, they are held in restraint until God chooses to release them. Judgments are under His control," (Homer Hailey, Revelation, p.#201). "Holy, Holy, Holy," is the "Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come," (Rev. 4:8).
God's people are not destined for wrath. When discouraged and when our view of things is limited to what's happening on earth now, we may be tempted to think there is no hope, or that evil is winning. When these attitudes dominate, we ought to turn to the book of Revelation and see that "God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ," (1 Thess. 5:9).
Everything happens in His time. "The restriction of destructive forces in these verses primarily teaches that the present order of creation shall be providentially preserved till the complete fulfillment of God's redemptive purpose on earth." (Coffman, Commentary on Revelation, p.#153). "God will bring to judgment both the righteous and the wicked, for there will be a time for every activity, a time for every deed," (Eccl. 3:17).
Perfect relief lies ahead. "...there was a beautiful propriety, at a time when such calamities impended over the church and the world - when there was such a certainty of persecution and sorrow - in permitting the mind to rest on the contemplation of these happy scenes in heaven, where all the redeemed, in white robes, and with palms of victory in their hands, would be gathered before the throne. To us also now, amidst the trials of the present life - when friends leave us; when sickness comes; when our hopes are blasted; when calumnies and reproaches come upon us; when, standing on the verge of the grave, and looking down into the cold tomb, the eyes pour forth floods of tears - it is a blessed privilege to be permitted to look forward to that brighter scene in heaven, where not a pang shall ever be felt, and not a tear shall ever be shed." (Barnes). "And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes," (Rev. 7:17).


By Warren E. Berkley
From Expository Files 12.1, January  2005