Persecuted but Triumphant

KEY VERSE: “The Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.” —Revelation 7:9-17

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: Revelation 7:9-17

THE portion of John’s vision that concerns our lesson today centers around the events that are to occur because of the opening of the sixth seal. The first event to occur was to be a time of trouble pictured by a great earthquake and the sun was to become black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon was to become as blood. These, of course, are highly symbolic terms describing the onset of the time of trouble. The subsequent concluding verses (vss. 13-16) go into more detail but still use highly symbolic terms to describe the trouble. But the concluding verse of this chapter (vs. 17) very definitely refers to the phase of the development of the Lord’s plan that is being described, saying, “For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?” This is the time of trouble that is to precede the closing of the Gospel Age.

It is important to note that in the eleventh verse of the sixth chapter there were some of the fellow servants who were yet to be tried, tested and offered as a sacrificial offering as were those who had died previously. And also, it is apparent that these remaining fellow servants, whom we believe to be the footstep followers of Jesus, were to live and be tried and tested through at least a portion of the time of trouble.

Then in the seventh chapter of Revelation (the events in this chapter are still under the sixth seal) John saw “four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth.” (Rev. 7:1) The four winds are simply a way of describing a whirlwind of great destructive force. The thought seems to be that it is a much greater force than the time of trouble previously described, and the power of the winds could imply a supernatural force. The four angels were instructed, “Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants [those remaining fellow servants] of our God in their foreheads.”—Rev. 7:3

The word ‘sealed’ means ‘to stamp with a sign,’ indicating those who have made their calling and election sure. We believe this cannot be accomplished until the footstep followers of Jesus have “resisted unto blood” (Heb. 12:4), or have been “killed as they were, should be fulfilled.” (Rev. 6:11) Then in Revelation 7:4, John heard “the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel.” Then in the subsequent verses John heard the number of them (twelve thousand) taken from each of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel. This does not mean that this prophecy will be literally fulfilled as described in the text. It could have been the original purpose of God to take from Israel the full number of the church, but because of their unfaithfulness this privilege was taken from them, “because they knew not the day of their visitation.”—Luke 19:44; Matt. 23:37-39

The Apostle Paul, in explaining the result of Israel’s unfaithfulness, said, “What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded. … I say then, have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall, salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.” (Rom. 11:7-11) Then the apostle explains that since some of the branches of the olive tree (the Jewish nation) were broken off, the Gentiles were grafted in. They, however, were wild olive branches, but contrary to nature these branches partook of the root (the Abrahamic promise) and its fatness and brought forth good fruit.—Rom. 11:17-25

Turning again to Revelation, John saw another group—a great multitude—which no man could number, taken from all nations, and kindreds, and people and tongues. They stood before the throne clothed in white robes with palms in their hands. (Rev. 7:9) In answer to John’s implied question, an angel tells him who they are, saying, “These are those coming out of the Great Affliction, and they washed their robes, and whitened them in the blood of the Lamb.” (Rev. 7:14, Diaglott) We believe that these are those who were called to the high calling during the Gospel Age and were justified but who were not more than overcomers, but nevertheless loved the Lord. God in his mercy granted them spirit life on a lower spiritual plane to serve before the throne.

Dawn Bible Students Association
|  Home Page  |  Table of Contents  |