Revelation 7 forms an interlude between the sixth and seventh seals. In addition to answering the question in Revelation 6:17, this interlude shifts our attention from things happening on earth (the first six seals) to things happening in heaven, or at least to what heaven’s activity is.
What is the “heavenly activity” that takes place in Revelation 7:1-4?
Why is it so critical to understand, and participate in, this activity?
Revelation 7 reveals the individual, personal experience with Christ that will enable end-time believers to receive the seal of God at the close of Christ’s ministry in the heavenly sanctuary. Similarly, a second interlude (Revelation 10:1 – 11:14) between the sixth and seventh trumpets reveals heaven’s divine guidance in the formation of the Advent Movement around the year 1844. In this second interlude, our attention is again lifted from the earth-centered events of the first six trumpets to what Christ is doing through His ministry in heaven.
Why is it so important to keep our eyes on Christ in heaven?
What about the events contained in the first six seals (or the first six trumpets) might make it so difficult to keep this focus?
What is the reward for keeping our focus on Christ?
Revelation 7:1 describes four winds being held in check by four angels. These winds collectively represent the tools used by Satan to prevent people from being prepared for Christ’s return, and include war and strife (Jeremiah 23:19 and Daniel 7:2), “human passions” (GC 614), and false doctrines and spiritual deceptions (Ephesians 4:14). These winds, however, are in reality weak counterfeits to the most powerful wind in the universe—the wind of the Holy Spirit.
In His conversation with Nicodemus, Jesus revealed that the born-again Christian is now controlled by the wind of the Holy Spirit (John 3:8). Ultimately, each person must be controlled by the Holy Spirit or by the devil’s deceptive winds. “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?” (Romans 6:16). The servants of God that receive the seal of God choose to be controlled by the Spirit of God.
Which of the devil’s deceptive winds do you believe are the most dangerous for you, your family, or your church?
What factors make the decision to completely yield to the control of the Holy Spirit a difficult one? How can the right decision be made and followed?
Ellen White states that the seal of God points to a “settling into the truth, both intellectually and spiritually, so [that] they [God’s people] cannot be moved” (LDE 220).
What does “settling” mean? (Compare Matthew 7:24-27)
What is the “truth” that we are to be settled into? (Compare John 14:6 and 17:7)
What does it mean to be settled into the truth “intellectually”? (Compare 2 Timothy 2:10 and Acts 17:11)
What does it mean to be settled into the truth “spiritually”? (Compare Romans 12:1-2 and John 3:3,5)
Read the description of the saints in Revelation 14:12. Would you say this description fits with Ellen White’s statement above about the seal of God?
In Revelation 7:9-10, John sees a “great multitude” surrounding God’s throne.
What is encouraging about the fact that millions, perhaps billions, of redeemed people will surround God’s throne?
Stuck as we are on a sinful planet, is it always easy to believe that this will really be the case? How can we stay encouraged even when we feel like we might be standing alone?
One of the characteristics of the 144,000 mentioned in Revelation 14:4 is that they are a “firstfruits” to God. The lesson points out that this indicates their incredible privilege of being translated without seeing death (compare 1 Corinthians 15:50-52). This raises some important questions about what kind of experience is necessary in order to be translated. Fortunately, the Bible does not leave us to guess the answer, but provides a powerful illustration in the life of Enoch, who was translated to heaven after living on earth for 365 years (Genesis 5:22-24).
Read Hebrews 11:5. What “testimony” did Enoch have with God before his translation? (He pleased God.)
Read Hebrews 11:6a. What made it possible for Enoch to please God? (He had faith.)
Read Hebrews 11:6b. What was it about Enoch’s faith that pleased God so much? (Enoch did not merely believe that God exists or even that He is powerful enough to fulfill His promises. Enoch knew and loved God’s character and believed that God not only could but would fulfill His promises.)
Read Hebrews 11:39-40. What promise of God did Enoch and the other “elders” (Hebrews 11:2) believe? (That God would make them perfect.)
Read Hebrews 12:1-2. What will this kind of faith produce in the life of the believer? (It will enable Christ to free them from the power of sin.)
Is it easy or difficult to believe that Christ can free me from the power of my sins, temptations, and weaknesses?
Why is knowing and loving the character of God so important? Why isn’t just believing in His existence or His power enough?
In Revelation 14:5 we are told that the 144,000 are “without fault” before God’s throne.
Read Ephesians 1:4. What does it mean to you that God’s purpose has always been that human beings can stand blameless before His throne?
What does this say about His character and trustworthiness?
Revelation 14:1-5 identifies seven characteristics of the 144,000, and these seven identifying marks form a chiasm. A chiasm is a “mirror” literary structure in which ideas are repeated in the opposite order from which they are originally presented, usually with a unique idea in the middle, such as ABCB’A’. Often the unique, middle section is the most important, with the other mirroring sections building up to and supporting the middle thought. This is the structure of Revelation 14:1-5.
A Father’s name written in forehead (Revelation 14:1)
B Sing a new song (Revelation 14:3)
C Not defiled with women (Revelation 14:4)
D Follow the Lamb (Revelation 14:4)
C’ Redeemed from among men (Revelation 14:4)
B’ No guile found in mouth (Revelation 14:5)
A’ Without fault before the throne of God (Revelation 14:5)
The central idea in this passage is that the 144,000 follow the Lamb wherever He goes, and this also unlocks the secret to why they receive the seal of God, are victorious over the mark of the beast, and are ultimately translated to heaven. They have learned to follow Jesus and walk with Him.
What does it mean to “walk with God” like Enoch did (Genesis 5:24)?
What would that look like practically in our world today?
Walking with Jesus and following Him becomes natural when we are united to Christ. The Bible compares the relationship between Christ and His church to the marriage relationship, and reveals that Christ’s desire is that we become “one flesh” with our Savior (Ephesians 5:25-31). Just like a groom and bride (hopefully!) accompany each other through life, a born-again Christian will follow Jesus wherever He leads, for whatever happens to the Head must also happen to the body.
What is the easiest part about following Jesus wherever He goes?
What is the most challenging part about following Jesus wherever He goes?
What might need to change in my life to enable me to completely follow Christ?
** The spiritual principle of Christ as Head of the body (the church) is fundamental to correctly understanding end-time prophecies in Daniel and Revelation. The last week of Christ’s life formed a detailed, chronological prophecy of end-time events between 1844 and the second coming. Visit www.PathwayToParadise.org and follow the links to Living in the Final Week Bible study guides and prophecy seminar.
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October 22-23: Adventist Heritage Weekend
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