Revelation, Week 12: Preparation for December 15
Read the section from 6:1 to 8:1 in its entirety at least 3 times, without referring to notes or commentaries. Do your best to ignore chapter divisions.
(1) At the end of chapter 6, Jesus gives John a picture that looks to be the final judgment on the world, the end of the world as we know it. Chapter 7 and, specifically, the promise of 7:2-3 follow immediately thereafter. Similar juxtaposition of judgment and blessing appears throughout Revelation (you may recall that we saw this in its earliest form in 1:7). What is the purpose of revealing these two themes back to back?
(2) When do the events described here take place? Is there chronological progression between chapters 6 and 7? Consider 7:2-3 and 6:12-14 in particular. Look again at 7:1 and consider how John identifies the break between 6:17 and 7:2ff.
(3) What is a seal? What is the purpose of a seal? See Eph 1:13-14 and Ezekiel 9 for similar imagery; Esther 3:12 and 8:8 for the use of a king’s seal or signet ring.
(4) Who are the "the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea?" What options are there for understanding this phrase? Consider all of 6:1 to 8:1. In addition, look at Zechariah 6:1-8 (and note that in 6:5 "four spirits" can be translated "four winds").
(5) In verse 3, who is to be sealed? Can the answer to that question be different in verse 4?
(6) In verse 4, does John see the sealing take place?
(7) In verses 4-8, John lists 12 tribes. Of Jacob’s twelve sons, Dan is left out and Manassah, Joseph’s son, is included. Yet Ephraim, Joseph’s other son whose descendants received a portion of the promised land, is not listed separately. The words "Jews" and "Israel" together appear only five times in Revelation: 2:9, 2:14, 3:9, here in 7:4, and 21:12. Look at all of these verses, and enough of their context to understand them. What is emphasized in these other four references to Jews or Israel? Do any of these other verses help clarify the number 144,000? Note that 144,000 = 12 x 12 x 1000.
(8) After John hears the number to be sealed, what is the first thing he sees? How many does he see?
(9) Compare four groups of people: those mentioned in 5:3 & 5:13, those mentioned in 6:9-11, those to be sealed in 7:3, the 144,000 in 7:4-8, and those mentioned in 7:9 to 17. What similarities are there? What differences? Are these the same people or not? Where applicable, consider what they say as well as what is said about them.
(10) Consider the promises made to the multitude in 7:13-17. Are these blessing peculiar to a subset of saved people?
(11) Look at all occurrences of the word "throne" in chapters 4 through 7 (4:2-6, 9, 10, 5:1, 6, 7, 11, 13, 6:16, 7:9-11, 15, and 17). Is there any evidence that the text is referring to two different thrones here? Note that although English translations sometimes differ, 5:6 and 7:17 use the same Greek expression for the relationship of the Lamb to the throne.
Now read Wilcock pages 77-84 and Stedman’s sermon on Chapter 7. Their interpretations differ markedly, so allow enough time to read both carefully and go back over the passage and questions, seeing how each of them would respond above. Do their different interpretations have different implications for our response today to this passage? Do they have different implications for how a listener in 95 AD would respond?