Here in chapter 7 we have a brief interlude between all the events surrounding the breaking of the seals. There is a pause before the breaking of the final seal, in which the Angels go through the earth and put a mark on those who have been faithful and are to be protected.
There are 4 angels standing at the 4 corners of the earth, holding back the winds so that no damage is done in the meantime. The four winds represent the destructive agents of God.
A fifth angel appears carrying the seal of the living God and instructs the other angels to wait while the servants of God are marked before allowing the destructive winds to blow. This mark was apparently a Taw, the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet similar to an x (a cross?). This happened also in Ezekiel 9 v 4-6 where those that grieved and lamented the defiling of the temple were marked to distinguish them as a remnant to be spared from the coming slaughter.
Verses 4 to 8 of chapter 7 are very definite about this being a remnant from the tribes of Israel, with the 144,000 being made up of 12,000 from each tribe (note that Dan is missing from the list possibly because they went their own way and set up idols as seen in Judges 18) This indicates to me that those who teach that only 144,000 will be saved are incorrect – this clearly relates to a remnant of the faithful from the Jews, not those that have trusted in Christ.
We then come on the “the great Multitude” or crowd. Here there is no number given, these are those from every other tribe, nation, race and language that have come through the tribulation. They are dressed in white robes, made pure by the blood of the Lamb. I wonder if these are the ones referred to in chapter 6 verses 9 – 11 at the breaking of the fifth seal. Whether this means those that battled through the final phase of the tribulation, or those from throughout the 2,000 years of persecution of the church, again referred to in chapter 6.
It is a time for celebration as they are waving Palm branches which were traditionally used in festivals. The ones who had been waiting for God to act against evil could now celebrate.
Salvation comes from our God, who sits on the the throne, and from the Lamb (v 10)
is there song. The angels, living creatures and elders fall down and worship shouting;
Amen! Praise, Glory, wisdom, thanksgiving, honour, power, and might belong to our God for ever and ever! Amen! (v12)
They are standing serving before the throne of God in his Holy Temple. They are standing in the Holy place where previously only the Levites were allowed to serve, indicating that all believers can now approach the throne of God having been made priests in his service.
“He who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them”, again reflecting God’s covering as it was with the tent of the tabernacle in the wilderness.
Never again will they go hungry, or get thirsty. They will be protected from the scorching heat of the sun. He will protect them with his presence.
The tent would have protected them from the sun while they were in the desert place, but never again will they suffer from the heat or famine or drought.
because the Lamb who is the centre of the throne, will be their shepherd, he will guide them to springs of life giving water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes (v 11)
Just as a shepherd cares for and leads, guides and protects his sheep, so Christ, the Lamb will care for and protect us as long as we stay in his shadow and protection and follow him
All quotes from The Good News Bible