Jacob’s family in Revelation chapters 7&14 – source of encouragement
Scripture reading – Revelation 6:12-17: (Events during the opening of 6th seal that culminate with the 2nd coming of Jesus)
Today we will begin a first part of studies on the book of Revelation. We will take a new look at several texts in this book that traditionally may have made many people, including Christians very uneasy, even scared. We will study first part of chapter 7 and if time permits we will touch on chapter 14. If not we will do chapter 14 next time.
Revelation 7:1-5: “After 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: Of the tribe of Judah twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Reuben twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Gad twelve thousand were sealed; …” etc. etc.
Setting of this passage:
Read and summarize events under opening of the 6th seal in Rev 6:12-16
By opening the 6th seal Jesus unveils several events that will precede His 2nd coming and take place at His 2nd coming.
John sees glory of Christ’s 2nd coming, he sees people running for caves in terror. Overwhelmed by what he sees, he wants to know the answer to the question in verse 17:
“For the great day of His wrath has come and who is able to stand?”
Revelation chapter 7 is God’s response to the anxious question, “Who shall be able to stand?”
Let’s first summarize our text in Revelation chapter 7 which is God’s response to that question:
- 4 angels are holding back by force 4 universal winds that have power to affect the whole earth, sea and nature; the life on earth – the idea of angels restraining them, holding them in check
- Winds (Gr. anemos) here are strong, tempestuous, destructive winds as used elsewhere in NT
- Blowing (pneu) – strong, mighty, powerful
- Angels are restraining, limiting, restricting their full destructive potential
(In the Bible’s apocalyptic and symbolic language these winds represent powers that destroy, wars, calamities, destruction, decimation)
Now a new picture appears:
- another angel is ascending – coming from the east and he has in his hand the “seal of the living God”
- this is a signet or instrument that marks or shows the ownership or belonging to its rightful owner but also fences in, and protects from misappropriation (Greek Bible dictionary)
- This “another angel” has authority over the 4 angels in whose power it is to release universal destruction – commands them: “don’t destroy the earth!” (We need to understand that these 4 angels are not themselves agents of destruction, but by ceasing to entertain their restrictive powers over 4 winds – in the Bible language are described as if causing it)
- Rev 7:3 KJV: Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.
- This other Angel (Angelos = Messenger) says till “we have sealed” – who are “the We”? As we will see later in our next study the sealing process is done by the Holy Spirit. Would this imply that this Messenger ascending from the east is none other than Christ Himself? Are all 3 Persons of Godhead involved in this sealing process? I tend to believe it to be so.
- Sealed are only the servants of God and sealing is both an event and a process
- They are sealed in their foreheads
- Rev 7:4 KJV: And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed a hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of
- John only hears the number 144 000 (Of all the tribes of the children of
- Rev 7:5 KJV: Of the tribe of
- There is a problem: 2 original tribes are missing: Dan and Ephraim – comment possibly why: Ephraim – leader in idolatry that refused to repent, (see book of Hosea, for example Hosea 4:17, 9:17) Dan – (Genesis 49:16.17) – he was to be a judge in Israel, but turned into an insidious viper that attacks from behind on the heel - the most vulnerable spot, type that betrays sacred trusts committed to him. These 2 characteristics un-repented of seem to exclude people who live by them.
- Number 144 000 John only hears. It is further subdivided into 12 equal parts of 12 000 each.
- In verse 9 John looks and what he sees?
- Rev 7:9.10: After these things I looked and behold a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying, Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne and to the Lamb!
There is no self-exaltation with this group here, no one claiming any merit, they are lost in praise and adoration to God the Father and their Savior Jesus Christ through whose merits and sacrifice they stand saved.
Language of Revelation is highly symbolic. In the book of Revelation these symbols have universal meaning. At the same time they are pointing us to the real stories of a very real people in the OT.
To understand their true meaning we need to go to the original and actual happenings of these real people in OT to which they refer. Their life stories hold the keys for today’s for both the universal and personal application and benefit.
Jacob, of course! What kind of man was he? Well for one thing he was a sensitive person desiring God’s spiritual blessings.
His twin brother Esau was an opposite of him – carefree, daring, unrestrained, self-willed and really not much interested in spiritual things.
What did the name Jacob mean? “He who grabs the heel” – Hebrew idiom for deceiver, sup planter, dishonest, devious, manipulative and manipulating individual, not being straight, sort of “behind your back” type of person.
Well he grew in the shadow of his brother Esau – daring, courageous, self-confident older twin brother. Esau was dad’s boy and Jacob was mom’s boy. (Genesis 25:28)
“And Isaac loved Esau because he ate of his game, but Rebekah loved Jacob.”
We know the story of Jacob how he took advantage of his brother when hungry and exhausted; how he deceived his father to get desired birthright blessings.
He gained his desire, but at what a cost! He repented, yes and was forgiven, but he started a chain of events that proved to be the curse of his life. He began reaping what he has been sowing. In his uncle Laban he met more than his equal. And the same pattern of behavior we see exhibited in his wives and children – especially his sons.
Was Jacob “God’s servant”?
He definitely was! He was sincere, he desired God’s blessings, but he went about it in a wrong way. He never fully submitted his life to God.
Did he really trust God? Did he allow God to work out His purpose in his life? Did he fully surrender his life to God, or did he depend on himself and his shrewdness? Was he truly converted?
Answer to all of these questions is an obvious no.
When was it that Jacob finally surrendered his life to God and experienced thorough conversion?
It was at the brook of Jabbok when Jacob is in a situation threatening his life. Here he can do absolutely nothing to help or save himself. The only thing he can do is to plead with God for deliverance and salvation.
In answer to Jacob’s anxiety and pleading, comes the Angel to bless him and what does Jacob do? He is wrestling with “the Angel” the whole night! Until the Angel wounds him on a spot of his body that offers the greatest resistance!
It is only then that Jacob “gives up” (surrenders) and throws himself fully into the caring loving arms of God’s mercy and grace.
His name gets changed to
Jacob – (now
Revelation chapters 7 and 14 directs the attention of Christians to their struggles with self, their failures and final victories to learn from them and be encouraged by them
Lifestyles and experiences of Jacob and his sons and some grandsons are used in the book of Revelation as types of God’s people in their struggles with selfishness, unbelief and sin at the end of time prior to Jesus’ 2nd coming.
What kind of family did Jacob have? His sons reflected his insecurities, from the days prior to his full conversion observing his unconverted lifestyle. We are also directed to the insecurity and lifestyle of his 2+2 wives.
What kind of children were Jacob’s sons? They were the result of a rather dysfunctional family situation where jealousy, anger, preferential treatment, deception and manipulation bore sway. Just read their story!
Shocked? Rueben slept with his father’s wife,
We would “write them off”, but not God!
They “belonged” to the OT Church. What a material had God to work with! And what a marvelous work He did! Read “the rest of the story”!
What absolutely amazes me is the realization that when God records the names of
- The same “human material” that God had to work with when starting His OT church is the material He will work with and works with today – in His NT Church, but especially at the end of time!
- Each of that name revealed certain distinct characteristics and character traits of its carrier – with their darkest secret or open sins; but also it presented their potential under grace
- The similar problems exist in the families and individual lives of Christians today
- We are not any better than they were
- God does not leave us to ourselves
- If we like Jacob will seek God’s blessings and victory over self and resulting things that pollute and embitter our lives and lives of others, we can be victors and “stand” amidst the prevailing moral darkness in the world before and when Jesus comes again
Perhaps a question to ask:
Are you shocked, offended or encouraged?
I hope that you got encouraged. If God could save “this” Jacob’s family and its individual members, He can save you – if you let Him. Only stop depending on yourself and stop resisting His grace and Lordship in your life.
My appeal to you today is:
You don’t have to go the full circle like Jacob and most of his sons did. He holds victory for whatever inner or outer sin problems you may have. But the key to victory is a total surrender of all you are and have to the Lord. Only when self dies by the Holy Spirit’s workings, can the new life through the resurrection power begin by the same Spirit.
Will you let Him truly become your Savior, Counselor and Lord?
(In our next study we will look at the process of sealing, how it gets done and what role we play in it)