THE APOCALYPSE 7
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The sealing of the servants of God-going back to the inside of the scroll.
Verse 1 - The angels hold back the four winds. These are the wind trumpets of chapter 8 - the barbarian invasions that were to destroy the Western Roman Empire centered in Rome. The barbarians were now providentially held back for a period of about 50 years, from 325 to 375 AD, so that God's servants could be sealed under these entirely new circumstances.
The establishment of Christianity, so-called, and the rise to political power about 315 AD by the victory of Constantine was a tremendous change for the true people of God. There had to be a new sorting out and a new line up-a new feeling. Up to this point, Christians, real or pretended, were all one body in the eyes of the government, whether they joined the world and took the sword and entered politics or remained faithful to the Truth.
But now there is a complete open and public cleavage. The worldly and nominal - the overwhelming majority-rise to power. The faithful brethren disassociate themselves from these and call upon all others to stand with them against the new imperial apostasy - to come out and be separate.
The true brethren are the angel from the east (verse 2) who are to seal a symbolic 144,000 out of the tribes of Israel. This is spiritual Israel, which is now apostate - now raised to political power under Constantine. The faithful must be taken out of that formerly faithful, but now corrupt, body - the Laodecean state.
The latter part of chapter 7, verses 9-17, show the final result of the sealing - not only just of this 50-year period of sealing, but the end of the whole process down through the centuries-the great multitude glorified with the lamb.
Bro Growcott - Review of the Apocalypse
The Laodicean State is parallel with the Seventh Seal from its opening to the Fall of Babylon after the appearing of "THE ANCIENT OF DAYS."
A.D. 324 to the appearing of Christ "as a thief;"
1 And AFTER THESE THINGS I saw four angels standing <at> the four corners of the earth, <restraining> the four winds of the earth, that <a> wind blow <not against> the earth, nor <against> the sea, nor <against> any tree.
...meta tauta, "after these things"...the only things that can be intended, are those recited in the sixth seal which immediately precede the chapter.
Of Things Written on the inside of the Scroll
The arena upon which the predicted operation of sealing the servants of the Deity was to be performed was "the earth and sea." The reason given why the four angels were to restrain the four winds from blowing to the injury of these, is proof of this.
The blowing of the winds upon the earth and sea, by injuring them with the tempests they were capable of exciting, would have rendered the work of sealing impossible. Greece, Italy, Britain, France, Spain, Africa, the islands and coasts of the Mediterranean, the countries of the Danube, the Rhine, and the heights and valleys of the Alps and Appenines -- these constituting the western Roman empire, were "the earth and sea" upon which the apocalyptic tempests were forbidden to blow until the work of sealing should have been complete.
At the four corners of the terrestrial of this arena, stood four angels, or restraining powers, having a certain mission to execute in favour of the inhabitants of the earth and sea. In the period of the sixth seal, the Devil had come down to them with great wrath, knowing that he had but a short time (xii. 12); but that time had passed with the termination of the seal period, A.D. 324; and now a period of tranquillity was granted them, for the sake of those who might be separated among them as the sealed ones of the Deity.
History shows us that the first "wind" began to blow upon "the earth" A.D. 396. Hence, the interval between A.D. 324 and A.D. 396, a period of three score years and twelve, must be regarded as the time allotted for the work of
"sealing the servants of the Deity in their foreheads."
...The seventy-two years of the sealing were the first seventy-two years of the seventh seal-period; and though the Laodicean Catholic Apostasy imperialized in the heaven, richly deserved all the judgments restrained by the four angels, its adherents were spared the infliction for the sake of the servants to be sealed.
... in this opening period of the Seventh Seal, judgment was restrained, not for the sake of the Laodiceans, but on account of the sealing angel's work.
Sealing the servants of the Deity
2 And I saw another angel <having ascended from sun's rising>, having <a> seal of the living <Deity>: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given <for them to injure> the earth and the sea,
The death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus are essential and indispensable elements of the faith that seals the intellects of men... reject these facts and their doctrinal signification and no such professor can be saved -- he is unsealed with the seal from a sun's rising.
3 Saying, < Injure ye> not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, <while that we may seal the servants of our Deity upon> their foreheads.
But, besides the four angel-powers standing at the four corners of the earth restraining the four winds thereof, John saw a fifth, or "another angel."
... having ascended from sun's rising... Having once ascended, is the force of the tense or time of anabanta. When John saw him he was up. He was not down east, and about to set out on his ascent. John ... saw him in the west -- "having ascended from sun's rising." His back was therefore towards the sun rising, and his face consequently westward. His ascending from east to west had been completed when John saw him in this scene. The phrase quoted shows this. The exact rendering of anabanta relieves us of a great difficulty.
... an ascended angel in the west. There we find one in activity who had already arrived from the east. We find him there, too, just at the right time -- the time the Woman turned her back upon the emperors and courts and fled into the western wilderness, where she had henceforth two wings of the Great Eagle -- a place which had been prepared of Deity, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days (xii. 6,14).
We find him effecting her transition from imperial sunshine, and developing her as the Mother of the Servants of the Deity being sealed in their foreheads; and thus, by the sealing, constituting them "the remnant of Her seed, who keep the commandments of the Deity, and have the testimony of the Anointed Jesus" (xii. 17). In other words, the persecuted woman and the remnant of her seed, are identical in time, place, and persons, with the sealed ones, or 144,000.
...In his address to the four angels, he commands them not to injure any thing, "while that WE may seal the servants of OUR Deity in their foreheads." Here, the "we" and the "our" are indicative of a plurality associated in the sealing operation upon the foreheads of men. The agency divinely appointed for the carrying on of this work when the apostles and their inspired colaborers should have been withdrawn from the scene, was that enjoined by Paul in 2 Tim. ii. 2, where he says to his son in the faith,
"The things which thou hast heard of me with many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men who shall be able to teach others also."
... there was extant at this time a class of true believers, or Brethren of Christ, Christadelphians, who refused to identify themselves in fellowship with those "Fellowservants," who now styled themselves the "Holy Apostolic Catholic Church;" -- a class which included the "few names," the "little strength," and the "loved, convinced, and instructed," who still lived to witness the Jews after the flesh, and the heathen humiliated, and compelled to do homage to "the Galileans."
Only twenty one years had elapsed since the beginning of the emblematic cry of the symbolic souls underneath the altar. In this sanguinary period, some of their number had been killed by the enemy; but he had not succeeded in exterminating them all. There were many survivors of the Christadelphian class, styled "the Brethren;" yet, compared with contemporary "Fellowservants," they were what would now be called "a contemptible few."
But few and contemptible as they may have been in the judgment of "the Synagogue of the Satan who say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie," they were the enlightened few, beloved, convinced and instructed by the Lamb.
They were those of the fourth century who had responded to the counsel of the Spirit in Apoc. iii. 18-20. They had bought of Him "gold tried in the fire," that they might be "rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom" promised in verse 21: they had bought of Him also,
"white raiment that they might be clothed, and that the shame of their nakedness appear not;" and they had "anointed their eyes with eye salve, that they might see."
The effort made in the Diocletian and Galerian persecution of the fifth seal period to destroy every copy of the Holy Scriptures that could be found, while it failed, served to endear these writings to the faithful, and to stir them up to a more diligent study of their contents.
There was, then, in this sealing period, a class of men "completely fitted" by scripture study, for the "good work" of sealing those of their contemporaries who were teachable. They were Paul's "faithful men, able to teach others;" and who in this crisis of Laodiceanism, heard the voice of the Spirit, who had come into them, and supped with them, and they with Him (iii. 20).
...They are devoted students of the scriptures themselves, and earnest in their endeavors to induce all within the sphere of their influence to study them also; and to enable them to understand them that they may believe and obey the truth.