We look into Chapter 7; we first have to fully understand Chapter 6 because the beginning of Chapter 7 describes a pause in the judgments described in Chapter 6, so what exactly is being paused here?
The judgments found in chapter 6 are the first of 3 seven part judgments: the seals, the trumpets, and the bowls. The "scroll" of chapter 6 is not wholly opened until the 7th seal is broken, which will set the end of human history into motion. The scroll's contents reveal mankind's depravity and portray God's authority over the events of human history.
The sixth seal had been opened, and the people of the earth had tried to hide from God, asking who would be able to survive God's judgment (6:17). Just when destruction seemed sure, four angels held back the four winds of judgment until God's people were sealed as his own. This sealing occurred in this interlude between the sixth and seventh seals. An interlude also comes between the sixth and seventh trumpets (10:1–11:13) but not between the sixth and seventh bowls (16:12–21). God did not open the seventh seal until he had marked his people as his own (8:1).
This chapter answers the question in 6:17, "Who is able to stand?" The faithful believers would be kept safe. This chapter contains two pictures: the sealing of the 144,000 to protect them through a time of great tribulation and suffering in verses 1-8 second, then the great multitude worshiping before God's throne in heaven in verses 9-17.
Verse 3 describes that a seal would be placed in the foreheads of the servants of God.
This seal differs from the seven seals on the scroll that the Lamb had been opening.
In ancient days, a king would push his signet ring into wax on a scroll or document as a seal to mark his ownership and to protect its contents. God places his seal on his followers, identifying them as his own and guaranteeing his protection over their souls. Here, God's seal was placed on the foreheads of his servants. Satan would counterfeit this seal in 13:16 (a seal known as "the mark of the beast"). These two marks would separate the people into two distinct categories—those owned by God and those owned by Satan. The seal that the angel put on the believers' foreheads was the name of the Lamb and his Father's name (see 14:1).
Why did the believers need this seal of protection? They needed protection from what would be a time of intense difficulty on the earth, for the angels at the four winds were told, "Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until …" At the end of history, people will face a time that will be marked by unprecedented evil and persecution (see Daniel 12:1). In 9:3–4, for example, during the fifth trumpet, stinging locusts (locusts that sting like a scorpion) descend on the earth and are told "to attack all the people who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads" (NLT). In 16:2, "the first angel left the Temple and poured out his bowl over the earth, and horrible, malignant sores broke out on everyone who had the mark of the beast" (NLT). However, the seal would not protect the believers in all instances from the pain and suffering of these judgments, nor would it protect them from death. Ultimately, the seal was a sign of spiritual and eternal protection. Those sealed would be protected from God's punishment of an unrepentant world. They would not face God's wrath, even though they would face the wrath of those who hate God.
The next question we must ask is who the 144,000 are, and what do we know about them?
They are called the children of Israel (Revelation 7:4); their tribal affiliation is specific (Revelation 7:4–8). They seem to be protected and triumphant through the period of God's wrath, meeting with Jesus at Mount Zion at His return (Revelation 14:1). They are celibate (Revelation 14:4). They are the beginning of a greater harvest (Revelation 14:4). They are marked by integrity and faithfulness (Revelation 14:5).
It is best to see the 144,000 as specifically chosen Jewish people who come to faith in Jesus, protectively sealed throughout the tribulation as a sign or as messengers of the gospel to lead to a great harvest during the tribulation.
The harvest is illustrated in the second part of the chapter when describing the multitude in verses 9 and 10. The diversity here proves that the Great Commission will be fulfilled before the end, even as Jesus promised (Matthew 24:14).
Who is this great multitude?
John needed to know the identity of this group of people. But he didn't realize he should ask, so one of the elders prompted him. In 7:14, they are described as those who have "come out of the great tribulation." for example, the martyrs described in Revelation 6:9.
This vast multitude, from every tribe, tongue, and nation, are those rescued for God's kingdom during the great tribulation period.
“They had trouble on the earth during the great tribulation.”
In the ancient Greek grammar of this passage, "the" is emphatic. This was a time of great tribulation for this multitude. This leads many to believe that most, if not all, of these are martyrs from the great tribulation. The presence of so many tribulation saints is a powerful statement of God's grace and mercy. Many are saved even in this time of judgment and wrath on the earth.
The scene is pretty amazing as we see this multitude dressed in white as a sign of righteousness and priestly service worshipping God.
What an incredible future we have when God provides us with an eternal home where there will be no hunger, thirst, or pain, and He will wipe away every tear as we spend the rest of our days in his presence.
Now, this scene ends abruptly as chapter 8 begins, and heaven is silenced as the seventh seal is opened that we will talk about tomorrow.
I want to continue to encourage you to be rapture ready so the things we read about throughout the tribulation will not be a part of your story. The way we are rapture-ready is to keep our eyes on the Lord and our life pure.