Revelation 7: 1-3
The End Times
In my last post, we concluded our journey in Revelation 6 as the sixth of the seven seals was opened. In this post, we begin to explore Revelation 7, which is an interlude before the Seventh Seal is opened at the beginning of Chapter 8.
Chapter 7 is an interlude between the Sixth and Seventh Seals, though some see it as part of the Sixth Seal. It is divided into two sections, each dealing with a different group, one group on earth, the other in heaven. Like Chapters 4-6, Yeshua again provides Yochanan with visions of what is occurring on earth and in heaven simultaneously through the seven years of tribulation.
Oliver Greene writes concerning the nature of Chapter 7: 
Chapter 7 of Revelation is parenthetical. In this chapter, we look away from the breaking of the seven seals, in order that the Spirit might enlighten us concerning the sealing of a chosen group of evangelists to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom to the teeming millions who never heard the Gospel of the Grace of God. After the Rapture, these 144,000 will do what the church should have done during this Dispensation of Grace. God has never been without a witness on the earth, and He never will be.
“After this, I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth, so that no wind would blow on the land, on the sea or on any tree. 2 I saw another angel coming up from the east with a seal from the living God, and he shouted 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 have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads!” ~ Revelation 7:1-3 (CJB)
The servants of our God are sealed … on their foreheads so that certain plagues, such as the one from the fifth trumpet (Revelation 9:4), will not affect them. Yechiel Lichtenstein writes, “From 14:1 it seems that on the seal was written the name of the Lamb and of his Father.” See also Ezekiel 9:4, where a mark is set on the foreheads of those who oppose the abominations done in Jerusalem. 
After this, I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth, so that no wind would blow on the land, on the sea or on any tree. A storm is about to burst upon earth; the imagery is derived directly from the language of Jeremiah and the destruction of Elam (Jeremiah 49:36). That it is a terrible storm of the hurricane or typhoon class is pictured in the anticipation that it will “hurt” the earth and all upon it. Four angels stand on the four corners of the earth holding the four winds of heaven. As the book unfolds angels are shown in control of not only of the winds but also of fire (Revelation 14:18) and waters (Revelation 16:5). The scene is designed to show that, however terrible the storm winds may be, they are under divine control and cannot be released until heaven gives permission. The four corners of the earth is the scriptural metaphor (Isaiah 11:12) for the earth as a whole and says nothing about first century cosmology; it is language used by middle-eastern nations in antiquity much as the expression “the four points of the compass” is used today. The mention of any tree seems to indicate the stillness before the storm as might be said today “not a leaf moves”. Three things may be readily deduced from this picture:
- The tribulation is seen as a terrible storm that will bring “hurt” or “damage” to the earth in its entirety. Not stated, but implied, is the injury it will bring to persons and in view of this there is the sealing of the 144,000 for divine preservation.
- The threefold repetition of the word four – the four angels, the four corners of the earth and the four winds – suggests a universality in the storm, as the tribulation sweeps over all of earth.
- Since the storm is restrained until the first company is sealed it is clear that the sealing must take place before the Lamb opens the seals.
I saw another angel coming up from the east with a seal from the living God, and he shouted 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 have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads!” The restraining order is given to the four angels to hold back their judgments as God’s elect are precious in His sight and He is acting to protect that which is His. Because of His grace, judgment must wait. In preparation for this task this angel carries the seal from the living God.
In the Greek-Roman world the seal primarily denoted ownership. Slaves and soldiers (especially the imperial guard) had a visible tattoo on hand, or forehead, or neck to ensure that their allegiance was known. It also served to deter a slave from running away or a soldier from deserting. That cattle were similarly branded tells much about slavery in the days of the Roman empire. The basic idea was to mark one’s own property. While scriptural usage also carries the idea of ownership in the sealing of men, it also carries the idea of security. This was seen in Jerusalem (Ezekiel 9:1-7) when the judgment was stayed until the man with the ink-horn had marked those who mourned for sin. Roy B. Hilton explains what this phrase sealed the servants, means:
What is this seal and how is it applied? God has always had a mark for his own. In Abraham’s day, it was circumcision. In Moses’ day of Egyptian plagues, it was blood over the door. In Rahab’s day, it was the scarlet thread. In Ezekiel, chapter nine, a man clothed in linen carrying an inkwell marked the forehead of those who cried out against the wickedness of the time. In our day, we are sealed with God’s Holy Spirit of promise. Ephesians 1:13 speaks of a sealing of the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 4:30 speaks of the Spirit whereby we are sealed. 2 Cor. 1:22 and Yochanan 6:47 stresses the same truth. Rev. 14:1, the name of their father is written on their foreheads. The seal is the seal of the Holy Spirit. “The foundations of God standeth sure having this seal, the Lord knoweth them that are his” (2 Tim. 2:19).
During this period, people will either be sealed by the Holy Spirit or bear the mark of the Antichrist (Revelation 13:16-18). Satan will have his sealed followers and God will have His sealed witnesses. God’s witnesses will be protected from all divine judgments (Revelation 9:4) as they go about evangelizing the world. In Joel 2:28-32, the prophet seems to coordinate the judgments of the last days with a special endowment of the Ruach HaKodesh. This passage is quoted by Kefa on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2:16-21. Notice that Kefa doesn’t say Joel’s prophecy is fulfilled, rather he says, “This is what was spoken…” or to put it another way, “This is that same Ruach that Joel spoke about.” There is no way, apart from doing injury to the Scripture, to say that this prophecy of Joel was literally fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost. The full prophecy of Joel, with its dramatic signs in the heavens, will not be fulfilled until the last days.
Special Comparative Note on Chapter 7: 1-3 
Historicists see this chapter as the second half of the Sixth Seal. The four destructive angels are held in check until the sealing of God’s servants is completed prior to the threatening tempest of barbarians who would be unleashed against the Roman Empire though the sounding of the first four trumpets. Matthew Henry and Adam Clarke agree with Preterists in seeing Chapters 6 -7 as pertaining mostly to the fall of Jerusalem in 70 CE. Clarke writes: “it is worthy of remark that not one Christian perished in the siege of Jerusalem; all had left the city and escaped to Pella.”
Very similar to the Historicist Approach above.
Futurists see the mission of the four angels is to “prevent an outbreak of the fury of elements. Very soon such an outbreak will occur … The purpose of the suspension is that a certain group may be sealed.” Isaiah 26:20-21 speaks of a time when the Lord will go forth to punish the inhabitants of the earth. It may well be that those sealed in this chapter are the ones of whom Isaiah wrote.
Idealists believe after this I saw does not indicate a sequence of events, but only the order in which the visions were presented to Yochanan. Those sealed are clearly servants of God. What Yochanan saw here gave the answer to the closing of Chapter 6 who can stand? The answer is those who have the seal of God on their foreheads.
In my next post, we will continue to explore Revelation 7 with the sealing of the 144,000.
 A Layman’s Commentary on Revelation.
 Jewish New Testament Commentary.
 Material in this section is taken from “Revelation: Four Views, Revised & Updated” by Steve Gregg