SIXTH SEAL, PART 3
these things I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth,
holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth,
on the sea, or on any tree. Then I saw another angel ascending from the east,
having the seal of the living God. And he cried with a loud voice to the four
angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea, saying, “Do not
harm the earth, the sea, or the trees till we have sealed the servants of our
God on their foreheads.” And I heard the number of those who were sealed. One
hundred and forty-four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel were
sealed. Revelation 7:1–4.
the sixth chapter of Revelation we encountered the restoration of the truth of
the biblical church of God. This truth was welcomed by some, but it was largely
rejected by the established church.
the seventh chapter we see the response to this truth by those called the
servants of God in verse 3. As people began to respond to the truth of the
biblical church, four angels appear at the four corners of the earth holding the
four winds of the earth. The holding back of these winds produced some kind of
harm, which then prompted the appearance of another angel. This angel instructed
the first four to do no harm until we—all five angels—seal the servants of
our God in their foreheads.
sixth chapter ends with the established churches anticipating the great day of
the wrath of the Lamb; these four angels are the agents of His wrath and His
wrath is nothing less than the withholding of the four winds from the earth, the
sea, and the trees.
the beginning of chapter 7 we encounter four angels standing at the four corners
of the earth. We understand from our previous studies that angels represent
ministers or ministries of the church. The four corners of the earth suggest the
four points of the compass, which then suggests that the effects of what is
about to happen are to be experienced across the entire earth. The picture is
that of the ministry of the true body of Christ around the world receiving and
preparing to proclaim the message of the biblical church that will unleash the
moving of the Holy Spirit throughout the world of the professed church-at-large.
We learned this began around 1800 a.d.
before we can consider that we must discover who the earth, sea, and trees are
that are affected by the wrath of the Lamb.
The Earth, the Sea and the Trees
to this point in the Revelation, the word earth has appeared 13 times. In
chapter 1 the tribes of the earth mourn because of the Glorified Christ. From
this we understand that the earth are those that lament or are grieved by the
presence of Christ. In chapter 3, the letter to the church at Philadelphia, a
trial was to come that would test those that dwell on the earth; those who keep
God’s commands would be kept from this trial. From this we understand the
earth is those that do not keep God’s commands. In chapter 5, the seven
Spirits of God are sent out into all the earth. From this we learn that the
earth are the unregenerate, those to whom God reaches out with the offer of
salvation from sin. In chapter 6 we read of the beasts of the earth and of
stars, or ministries that have fallen to the earth. Summarize what we have seen,
the earth is those: That are grieved by the presence of Christ; those that do
not keep God’s commandments; those to whom the Holy Spirit offers
salvation—people in sin; and fallen ministries—those in fallen apostate
churches. The earth, then, is an element of mankind that is not among the
redeemed, those not saved from sin through the atonement in Christ.
sea is that body of water that surrounds the earth. The sea appears in different
contexts in the Revelation. Being that the wrath of the Lamb affects this sea,
the sea cannot be a good or neutral thing. In 8:8, the sounding of the second
trumpet, we find that “something like a great mountain burning with fire was
thrown into the sea” causing the sea to become blood. In 10:2 we see a mighty
angel setting his right foot on the sea and his left on the land—or earth as
the King James Version. So, we learn that the sea is juxtaposed next to the
earth in the dealings of the Glorified Christ. In 12:12 that inhabitants of the
earth and sea are given over to the wrath of the devil. And in 13:1 we find a
blasphemous beast rising up out of the sea. And in 17:15 the harlot, Mystery
Babylon, sits on waters, which are defined as “peoples, multitudes, nations,
and tongues.” Considering these things, we see that the sea represents another
element of mankind that is not among the redeemed. It is largely the church
world without salvation—Christianity in name only.
are plants that live on the earth. In 8:7 a third part of the trees were burned
up under the sounding of the first trumpet. However, in 9:4 trees are protected
from the locusts that come out of the bottomless pit if those trees have the
seal of God. From this we suggest that trees are people that are among the
redeemed but are unstable and vulnerable in spiritual matters. They are saved
but have not been established in the faith.
Task of the Four Angels
task of the four angels in exercising the wrath of the Lamb is to hold back the
wind from the earth, sea, and trees.
wind represents the work and presence of the Holy Spirit. On the Day of
Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came upon the church as “a sound from heaven, as of
a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.”
Revelation 5, the Lamb sitting on the throne has “seven horns and seven eyes
which are said to be the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth.”
Can we say the four corners of the earth is the same as all the earth? The seven
Spirits of God in chapter 5 are actually the one Holy Spirit working throughout
the entire gospel dispensation. In chapter 7, the Holy Spirit is represented as
four winds of the earth, the one Holy Spirit that works across the entire world
of human life.
what is the work of the Holy Spirit? In John 16 Jesus promises to send the Holy
Spirit, whose work is to convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of
judgment. He brings conviction of committed sin to those He draws to salvation;
He convicts or admonishes those that accept God’s gift of salvation to live
holy, righteous lives; and He enacts judgment: He reinforces the truth of
absolute right and wrong; good and evil so that the human race is fully
accountable to God.
the four angles begin holding back the four winds, a fifth angel appears coming
from the east. As the wise men came from the east and were led to Christ by the
star, this angel represents the wisdom and caution of Christ working through His
ministry. As the wise men were led to Christ by the star, God’s people in the
organized visible-church-at-large are given the opportunity to see Christ’s
body, the real church, before God’s judgment is pressed on them. This ministry
of wisdom was given to the angel to seal the servants of our God in their
foreheads with the seal of the living God.
is the seal of the living God? Christ’s initial teaching about His church
shows us exactly what the seal of the living God is: Matthew 16:17,
“Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in
heaven.” The Living Bible styles the statement in very simple words: “My
Father in heaven has personally revealed this to you.” You will recall that
the Jews saw Jesus as a resurrected John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah, or some
other prophet. The disciples answered that they knew Jesus to be the Son of the
living God. The seal is the recognition and conviction that Jesus is the Second
Person of the Godhead sent to atone for our sins and to reconcile us to God.
is this recognition and conviction upon which Christ builds His church. No one
can be part of His church without that deep-seated conviction and the experience
of salvation from sin that comes from that conviction. Jesus gave a preview of
this truth in John 6:27 where He says, “Do not labor for the food which
perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of
Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.”
Apostle Paul tells us the seal, that conviction that Christ is God, is actually
the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit in 2 Corinthians 1:22, “who also
has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.” Paul
further stresses this truth in Ephesians 1:13,
“In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of
your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy
Spirit of promise,” and in Ephesians 4:30, “And do not grieve the Holy
Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” 2 Timothy
2:19 gives us this seal in the simplest of words, “Nevertheless the solid
foundation of God stands, having this seal: ‘The Lord knows those who are
His,’” and, ‘Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from
iniquity.” This is the seal the
wisdom of God says must be upon the servants of our God for them to be able to
recognize the biblical church, the real body of Christ.
of the Biblical Church Breaks Forth
we enter the time of the sixth seal, the days of the Lamb’s wrath, we see the
mercy of the Glorified Christ being shown by holding back His wrath until this
seal is placed on the foreheads of His servants.
this time in history, around the beginning of the nineteenth century, the truth
of the biblical church is difficult to comprehend as Christianity has been
divided and subdivided into many different churches and denominations. There is
no real sense of oneness, or unity, among the Christian churches at this time,
each essentially taking the position that it is the true church and the only
means of salvation.
the initial days of the Primitive Church Movement, the emphasis was on the
imitation of the Early Church and the shunning of creeds and confessions. To
listen to American ministers of this tradition, one could get the idea that this
was strictly an American movement, but the Revelation tells us it encompassed
the four corners of the earth.
record a great deal about the changes in the visible-church-at-large of this
period, but there were undoubtedly places around the world where the Holy Spirit
worked to move people towards unity as the one body of Christ that escaped the
notice of historians. In the 1830’s the influence of Alexander Campbell
reached England and Scotland, and congregations formed by people leaving the
Baptist churches. Kenneth Scott Latourette writes in his book Christianity In
A Revolutionary Age:
wished Christian unity and aspired to it by seeking to restore the New Testament
church and to be known by Bible names, such as Disciples of Christ and
Christians, rather than by sectarian designations.
1842 . . . G. C. Reid . . . made them aware of one another, the Church of
Christ, with more than twelve hundred members about equally divided between
Scotland and England and with a few members in Wales, formed a comprehensive
organization which, while respecting the autonomy of each congregation, provided
for cooperation in missionary efforts.
makes us aware of a similar movement that came into being earlier in the
movement, also seeking the restoration of New Testament Christianity, was known
by its adherents simply as the Brethren or the Christian Brethren but to the
outer world as the Darbyites or the Plymouth Brethren.
Brethren were convinced of the perfect acceptance of the believer in Christ
before God, of the present possession of eternal life by all believers, and of
the union of all believers to one another by the Holy Spirit’s indwelling.
They viewed the Church as both local, consisting of all the believers in a city,
and as the body of Christ and the universal Church of God on earth.
arising in the British Isles were similar para-church groups such as the
Salvation Army, the Church Army, the Evangelization Society, and the Open-Air
Mission. Latourette comments that “In the later part of the century the
Nonconforming churches developed and increasing sense of kinship”.
While no real union of these churches followed, some steps were put in place to
facilitate a union. William Reed Huntington put forth four principles on which
he proposed that a United Church could rest: The Holy Scriptures as the Word of
God, the primitive creeds as the rule of faith, The two sacraments ordained by
Christ, and, The historic episcopate.
This means there must be an actual line of ordination of ministers that goes
back to the original Apostles of Christ. It was this last point, the historic
episcopate, that prevented real union from taking place.
we observed in a previous lecture, similar things were happening as seen in the
Stone-Campbell movement and the Winebrennarian Church of God in the United
States. What other events were happening around the world with regard to the
awakening of a visible biblical church of God may never be known; nevertheless,
we can be assured that something was happening among God’s people around the
four angels were told to hold back the four winds of the earth. A world-wide
ministry was being awakened by the Holy Spirit as to the biblical need and
requirement for unity among the body of Christ. The established church did not
want to hear such a message as it would do away with denominations and sects
message would soon be released, but it was necessary for the Holy Spirit to stir
up those who are called the servants of God. To accept the message of unity
among Christians, individual Christians had to be convinced of salvation from
sin and holiness of life, not just as individuals, but collectively as the body
of Christ. When the message of the unity of the body of Christ was to be let
out, the unregenerate and nominal Christian church would reject it; and, many in
those churches that were truly saved would be dissuaded from accepting and
responding to the message when they heard it.
the servants of our God were sealed under this sixth seal, the message of the
biblical church was let loose and this mystical number of 144,000 out “of all
the tribes of the children of Israel were sealed” and emerged from caves,
rocks, and mountains to take a visible stand for the biblical church of God as
built by Jesus Christ through the work of the atonement.
next chapter will explore this coming out.
Latourette, Kenneth Scott, Christianity
In A Revolutionary Age, Zondervan
Publishing House: Grand Rapids, MI, 1959,
vol. II, pg. 343.
Ibid, in loco.
Ibid, pg. 344.
Ibid, pg. 345.
Ibid, pg. 349.
Ibid, ppg 349, 350.