Verse 1 starts with a continuation of the previous verses, “After this.” It seems much of this chapter relates to Matt 24:31–the gathering of the chosen from all around the land. The angels here seem to be given God’s seal to protect the first Jewish converts following Christ—the firstborn of the new Kingdom. These appear to be those referenced in the epistles (1 Thes 4:17), and earlier in Revelation (chapters 2 and 3), that might be alive to see Jesus’ return , but we do not see them being taken up just yet, only marked for protection.
We see another multitude in verse 9. This innumerable group is explained in verse 14, those that came out of the great tribulation. It would seem these are the Christians that had been killed from the beginning of the events taking place until the time that was now being envisioned. As the epistles seem to state, this was a great time of oppression for Christians also.
The oft abused Heb 10:25 makes reference to this. This wasn’t an issue of the congregation not wanting to meet out of boredom or laziness as many have manipulated this verse to mean. This was because of extreme persecution by penalty of torture and death. The author here encourages them in “exhorting one another, and so much the more, as you see the Day approaching.” How often this verse is abused in an attempt to force others into congregational attendance while ignoring the overture of what the congregations of this time were seeing—the Day approaching. This seems to be referencing that “Great and Terrible Day of the Lord” when the unrepentant were to be punished and the repentant rescued.
Through the rest of this chapter, we see a familiar view of heaven—no hunger, thirst, or scorching heat and tears wiped away.
Overall, chapter 7 seems fairly easily understood once some of the symbolic language is taken in perspective.
Here things may seem to get a little more tricky. My personal view is to take the text as simply and as straightforward as possible to at least garner a basic understanding of what was going on.
In verse 1, the seventh seal is opened and heaven is silent for about half an hour. Verse 2 continues with the introduction of the seven angels with seven trumpets. Another angel takes a golden censer, fills it with incense and the prayers of the saints, sets it aflame with fire of the alter, then hurls it to earth which causes “thunders, sounds, lightnings, and an earthquake” (v5). This seems to be the correlating catastrophe to the seventh seal and introduction of the seven trumpets.
The first four trumpets (v6-12) don’t seem to have a specific historical verification, though there are some allusions to these things. It would seem these first four trumpets worked similar to the first four seals. Whereas the seals seemed to have more of a direct effect on people, the trumpets seem more to effect the creation itself, thereby effecting the inhabitants. Likewise, we see another parallel to the gospel predictions such as in Luke 21:25. It would seem the entire creation was caused to groan because of the unrepentant nation, who were God’s chosen.
The last verse (13) of the chapter states there are three more trumpets yet to sound.
So far, the general theme and symbolism seems similar to the prior chapters and should be somewhat ascertainable as to the intent. I’m also trying to develop a general framework as to the timing and people affected. So far, there’s been no allusion to a time transition that would make these events relevant to a far-future fulfillment. Likewise, the people referenced as the objects of punishment still seems to be pointing to those of the Jewish nation of that time.
I’m trying to hit the major portions of each chapter while not being too repetitive. I freely admit that I’m most likely not entirely right—no one is. I’m mostly “thinking out loud” as I go through and attempt to untangle much of what has been popularized far out of context as a chaotic and time-confused book that God has no intent for us to understand. In addition, I don’t generally discuss these concepts unless someone is asking my personal opinion on them. Knowing the Bible in this context has greatly helped in my relationship with God and further exemplifies the New Covenant of grace that we now live under. This helps see others as being under this covenant instead of one of laws and punishment which seems to have ended completely in 70 AD by the destruction of that infrastructure.
Note – I’m linking all of these posts on a page that can be found here.