Revelation 7 Commentary

Interval before the seventh seal (7:1-17)

God gives John two additional visions before he reveals the vision of the final seal. He wants to reassure his people that he does not forget them during the difficult days when an ungodly world is preparing itself for judgment. God does not allow the winds of judgment to blow across the earth without thought for his people’s security. He knows those who are his and marks them out for his special protection (7:1-3; cf. Ezek 9:4-6). The repetition of the number of people protected in each of the twelve tribes (symbolic of God’s people on earth) emphasizes that God protects all his people. None is missed (4-8).

Having seen God’s people on earth, John now sees the same people in heaven. They come from all nations and are more than anyone can count. They may have suffered persecution and even martyrdom on earth, but in heaven they are seen as conquerors, dressed in white and holding palm branches. The Lamb who died triumphed over death, and his victory is now theirs (9-10). Angels add their praise to that of the triumphant believers (11-12).

All this is explained to John, with special emphasis on the victory of the cross. Although the believers have been victorious in suffering persecution for Christ’s sake, they are fit to stand in God’s presence only because Christ died to give them cleansing and new life (13-14). As priests of God they will be permanently in his presence, where they will worship and serve him in true fellowship. No longer will they suffer, but the good shepherd, Jesus Christ, will protect them and care for them (15-17).

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