FOUR CORNERS OF THE EARTH
Scrolls of the Four Corners of the Earth
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7 After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth to prevent any wind from blowing on the land or on the sea or on any tree. 2Then I saw another angel coming up from the east, having the seal of the living God. He called out in a loud voice 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 put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God." 4Then I heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel.
This chapter tells us that four angels are standing on the four corners of the earth holding the four winds. They were to prevent the winds from blowing on land, sea, or tree. The Old Testament supplies us with many verses that tell us that the four corners of the earth are the four directions, namely North, South, East and West. In this chapter you will see that the winds of war will not come from any direction till God seals the 144,000 Jews and a multitude of Gentiles, which no man could number. To be sealed in the forehead is to have an understanding and acknowledgment of God when we hear the gospel of our salvation and believe we are sealed with the Holy Spirit. This group of people had come out of great tribulation. The previous chapter gives us insight into the tribulation that they had gone through. They are before the throne (to be before the throne must mean in prayer and praise). They are serving him day and night. They are living on the top of the mountain, drinking the living water and eating the hidden manna. Alleluia.
1 After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth to prevent any wind from blowing on the land or on the sea or on any tree.
Four corners means from four directions, North, South, East, West.
It is evident that when the Bible uses the words "four corners" that it means four directions. When the exile ended God brought his remnant back from Pathros (a portion of Egypt), Cush (Africa), Elam-East of Tigris river (now Iran), Shinar-Babylonia (now Iraq), and Hamath (a Cannanite city). Holding the four winds. Winds as used as a sign of strife, confusion, commotions, destruction, turmoil, war.
When God said that he would bring the four winds against Elam (now Iran) he meant war would come from four quarters. The Lord sent three invasions by Assurbanipal and one by the Babylonians. In the passage here in the Revelation we are told that the four winds were to be held so that they would not blow. We understand this to mean that the "Winds of War" would be restrainedthat war would be prevented from every quarter. We must therefore look for a period in history when there was a restraining of strife thus preventing war. We assign this period in history to A.D. 340-395 as the fulfillment of this prophecy. Gibbons Decline and Fall of The Roman Empire has a heading for chapter 15 Vol. 1 p. 430 as follows: "The Progress of the Christian Religion." In his enquiry into the progress and growth of Christianity he lists five causes for its growth during this period: 1) the conduct of the government toward Christians, 2) the attitude of it Emperors, 3) the martyrdom of Cyprian, 4) Varying policies of persecution, 5) Galerius's edict of toleration. As I researched the writings of Gibbon I was faced with the fact that 20% of the Roman Empire was given over to the following of Jesus Christ by the conversion of Constantine. Nor could I fail to see that swarms of Christians were in Egypt, Syria, Jerusalem, Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Etc. Gibbon says, "As soon, as Christianity ascended the throne, the zeal of those barbarians obeyed the prevailing impulsion, the cities of Egypt were filled with bishops, and the desert of Thebais swarmed with hermits." Gibbons p. 490. On page 491 Gibbon writes about a peace that lasts for 38 years. Gibbon estimates the Christian population in Rome at this time to be 50,000. We can say that from Gaul to Africa Gods people were being sealed in the forehead.
2-3 Then I saw another angel coming up from the east, having the seal of the living God. He called out in a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm the land and the sea: "Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God."
The sealing of the servants in the forehead must mean an open and real acknowledgment of Christ. A public testimony of his grace, a life devoted to his service, a warfare that keeps continually unfurled the banner of the cross.
4-8 Then I heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel.
There are 19 arrangements of the tribes in the old testament. Here in our text, Dan is omitted. In Genesis 49 Manasses is omitted. In Numbers 13 Levi is omitted. In Ezek 48 there are two arrangements One has Levi and the other omits him. In Deuteronomy 33, Simeon and Levi are omitted. It is evident from the context that nothing but Jews are being considered. If Gentiles were under consideration then the mention of tribe would not be made.
9 After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.
This verse shows that a large group of Gentiles were being sealed. The previous verses of the 144,000 were Jews. Clothed in white robes, and palms in their hands. White robes and palms are emblems of peace and victory.
10 And they cried out in a loud voice:
This was the victory cry. Gods people on earth who have been saved are seen praising God for their salvation. This group of Christians could shout and sing that salvation has been brought down. They wanted to tell the news and spread it over land and seathey were shouting salvation to our God. Hallelujah!
11-12 All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying:
Not only are the redeemed of earth praising God but all of heaven fell on their faces and worshipped. The sevenfold character of the ascription of praise denotes its universal and all embracing character.
13-14 Then one of the elders asked me, "These in white robeswho are they, and where did they come from?" I answered, "Sir, you know." And he said, "These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
One of the elders answered. The elder speaks because he is one of the ruling class in heaven cf. my comments on chapter 4:4 What are these which are arrayed in white robes? It was a rhetorical question. And I said unto him, "Sir, thou knowest." This reminds us of a similar incident in Ezekiel:
These are they that have come out of great tribulation. This refers to the pressure, affliction, anguish, burden, persecution and trouble that these Christians had been exposed to from the first day they became Christians.
Washed their robes. and made them white in the blood of the lamb.
In the blood. We often sing:
Here is the testimony of Scripture:
Admitted to the presence of God.
And serve Him day and night in his temple.
It is not necessary for us to die and go to heaven to be before his throne and serve him.
And he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. (Shall spread his tabernacle over them R.V.)
This is an allusion to the Shechinah which overshadowed the mercy seat.
16 Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst.
The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat.
A similar promise is made in Isa. 49:10 regarding the coming of the Messiah.
17 For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd;
On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him." By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified. JOH 7:37-39
Links to other Revelation chapter commentary below