On the Revelation of Yahshua Christ, Part 10: The Assurance of God


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On the Revelation of Yahshua Christ, Part 10: The Assurance of God

Discussing the so-called Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse in relation to The Pattern of Empires in Revelation chapter 6, we sought to reconcile them to the apparent stages of the rise and fall of the Roman empire, since even though other empires certainly seem to have followed the same general pattern, Rome is the primary subject of the prophecy in these chapters of the Revelation. Now before we commence with our commentary on the Revelation itself, we shall take a moment to review Daniel chapter 2, as it is directly relevant to Revelation chapters 6 and 8. As we had also cited in that last presentation, this same observation was made by the 2nd century Christian bishop Irenaeus.

But first we must offer another digression. In our observance of the pattern of empires we noted that the various stages actually overlap one another. Rome’s White Horse stage began to take form when the city warred against the other tribes of the Italian peninsula and subjected them to itself. Then it turned to the nations abroad and began to subject them as well. Initially this expansion of the empire was conducted under the pretense of good intentions, especially as the bickering Greek states invited Rome to settle their disputes with one another. This White Horse seems to parallel the original expansion of the United States, when the contiguous territory on the North American continent was subjected up through the mid-19th century.

Then Rome’s Red Horse stage clearly began in the days of Sulla and Marius and the first of its civil wars in the early 1st century BC, and seems to have taken a hiatus with the victory of Octavian over Antony at Actium in 31 BC. But the White Horse stage did not end until the territorial peak of the empire under Trajan in the mid-2nd century AD. Later in its history, civil wars would rage again as generals competed with one another for control of the empire. First there was the so-called “year of the four emperors” after the death of Nero, and then the crisis after the murder of Alexander Severus in the 3rd century AD, and finally the civil wars between the co-emperors of the 4th century AD. Likewise with the United States, significant portions of the population were turned on one another in the War of Northern Aggression, which was not properly a civil war but which had the same effect on the people. However American expansion abroad continued soon after, and its White Horse period probably ended by 1948, after its victory in the so-called Second World War. Of course, that opinion is arguable and it may beckon discussions which are beyond the scope of our purpose here, but the subsequent failures to gain further territory or to subject certain hostile nations were the results of policy and politics.

The decay of the Black Horse period of Roman history seems to have overlapped the instability of the period of the Red Horse, before the advent of the Green or Pale Horse and the plagues which led to the fall of Rome. But there was a lengthy period of relative peace before the symptoms finally surfaced under Caracalla in the early 3rd century, and as we had noted, the rider of the Black Horse had no sword. But since the Pale Horse was also given power to kill with the sword, the later civil wars of the 3rd and 4th centuries may be attributed to it. Likewise, while the conditions were created immediately after the War of Northern Aggression, we may view our own Black Horse period with the beginnings of the Civil Rights movement in the South, as the predominately White society was forced to accept Negros in the same manner that Caracalla had made citizens of all the free aliens within the empire in 3rd century Rome. It is not a coincidence that both historical events were also accompanied by inflation, mostly on account of a debasement of the currency. The current situation in America, the negro unrest and revolts against the rule of law, the Jewish Communist agenda and the increasingly divided citizenry, has also invited rumor and discussion of renewed civil war here, and that seems to be be an indication of the advent of the Pale Horse. So while the Black Horse has been with us for at least 70 years, we are already beginning to see America display many signs of increasing national illness and decay.

While we do not like to speculate on anything which may come in the future, and we do not even like to interpret prophecy according to current world events, the pattern of empire described here in the Revelation is just as fully apparent in America today as it is looking back at the history of ancient Rome. While Revelation chapters 6 through 8 are not a prophecy of events in our time, as they are only a prophecy of the fall of ancient Rome, we cannot help but to see the same patterns being repeated in our own history.

We are given these prophecies so that as Christians we may understand what is happening when we see certain events and circumstances. Speaking prophetically of several different future events in Luke chapter 21, Yahshua Christ had said in part: “25 And there shall be signs in the sun and moon and stars, and upon the earth an affliction by the heathens, the sea and the waves roaring in difficulty, 26 men fainting from fear and the expectation of that coming upon the inhabited earth. For the powers of the heavens shall be shaken! 27 And then they shall see the Son of Man coming in a cloud in the midst of power and much effulgence. 28 And upon the beginning of these things happening, straighten up and raise your heads, since your redemption approaches.” So we should also be encouraged upon seeing these things, and we should not despair.

Turning to Daniel chapter 2 and the fall of Rome, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had a vision which troubled him greatly, and called on all of his diviners, astrologers, sorcerers and other such men to both reveal it to him, so that he would know that they spoke truth, and also to interpret it for him. When they all failed, he ordered them all to be executed, including those of the Judahites among them. So when he was called forth, the prophet Daniel avowed that he could meet the king’s demands, and persuaded him to allow him the opportunity. So after it was granted and he had an audience with Nebuchadnezzar, we read in part: “29 As for thee, O king, thy thoughts came into thy mind upon thy bed, what should come to pass hereafter: and he that revealeth secrets maketh known to thee what shall come to pass. 30 But as for me, this secret is not revealed to me for any wisdom that I have more than any living, but for their sakes that shall make known the interpretation to the king, and that thou mightest know the thoughts of thy heart. 31 Thou, O king, sawest, and behold a great image. This great image, whose brightness was excellent, stood before thee; and the form thereof was terrible. 32 This image's head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass, 33 His legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay. 34 Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces. 35 Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshingfloors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.”

Now while some of the comments in Daniel’s description of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream are useful in helping to understand the interpretation, it really cannot be interpreted properly without Daniel’s own interpretation, as that is also from Yahweh, who had revealed the dream and its meaning to Daniel. So Daniel continues and we read: “36 This is the dream; and we will tell the interpretation thereof before the king. 37 Thou, O king, art a king of kings: for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory. 38 And wheresoever the children of men dwell, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the heaven hath he given into thine hand, and hath made thee ruler over them all. Thou art this head of gold.” Here it is manifest that this prophecy does not encompass people of other geographical regions, races or cultures, since the bounds of the “children of men” are generally reckoned as the bounds of these kingdoms which Daniel is now describing, beginning with the Babylonian empire. So the only honest way to interpret this vision is in the four kingdoms, or empires, which had ruled over the same general area and the same people beginning with Nebuchadnezzar.

Continuing with Daniel: “39 And after thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee, and another third kingdom of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth.” The arms of silver must represent the empire of the Persians and Medes, which persisted from the fall of Babylon to Cyrus in 539 BC unto the coming of Alexander just over two hundred years later, around 330 BC. Then Alexander’s empire would be the kingdom of brass. Later in Daniel, in chapter 11, the prophet once again prophesied of the coming of Alexander, and his words are uncannily accurate where he said “4 And when he shall stand up, his kingdom shall be broken, and shall be divided toward the four winds of heaven; and not to his posterity, nor according to his dominion which he ruled: for his kingdom shall be plucked up, even for others beside those.” Alexander’s empire was divided among four of his generals after his death in Babylon in 323 BC.

Here we also see that these kingdoms, those of the Persians and Greeks, would “bear rule over all the earth.” So the phrase “all the earth” is limited in context to the people of Europe and Mesopotamia, and the Near East as far as the Indus River. This is the same general area described by the geographer Strabo of Cappadocia as the οἰκουμένη, or the dwelling-place of men. All of the ancestors of modern White Europeans originated in this same area. In his gospel account, Luke had used that same word as Strabo, οἰκουμένη, where he wrote that “there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.” So where the Scriptures refer to “all the earth” or to the “world”, if we want to interpret them honestly then we must acknowledge that the perception of the terms should be limited in this same manner as the Scriptures had originally used them, and as Daniel had used them here.

Now Daniel describes a fourth empire: “40 And the fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron: forasmuch as iron breaketh in pieces and subdueth all things: and as iron that breaketh all these, shall it break in pieces and bruise. 41 And whereas thou sawest the feet and toes, part of potters' clay, and part of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; but there shall be in it of the strength of the iron, forasmuch as thou sawest the iron mixed with miry clay. 42 And as the toes of the feet were part of iron, and part of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong, and partly broken. 43 And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men: but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay.”

We have often described these toes as the original ten Senatorial provinces of the Roman Empire, the provinces which were perceived as having belonged to the Roman people, whereas all other provinces were Imperial provinces, governed by the emperor since they were subjects of conquest. Irenaeus, in our opinion, had confounded elements of this prophecy in Daniel chapter 2 with another prophecy of Rome in Daniel chapter 7, however that latter prophecy relates better to Revelation chapter 13, and we shall leave it for our commentary on that chapter. Here in Daniel chapter 2 it is evident that at least one significant reason for the fall of Rome was the fact that so many alien slaves were introduced into the empire from abroad, and when Caracalla made the freemen among the aliens equal citizens, he tried to get the iron to bind to the clay. Even Irenaeus had understood this to mean that “there shall be minglings among the human race, but no cohesion one with the other, just as iron cannot be welded on to pottery ware.”

Now Daniel describes a fifth kingdom, which was not a part of the beast image in Nebuchadnezzar’s vision: “44 And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever. 45 Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure.” These words should be a comfort to us today, to those who have descended from those same Germanic tribes who had destroyed Rome.

In the 3rd through the 5th centuries, it was exclusively Germanic tribes which had invaded and overran practically every portion of the falling Roman empire. They are the “stone … cut out of the mountain without hands”, the mountain itself being a reference to Zion, the Israel of Yahweh. They “filled the whole earth”, as it says in the first account of the vision in verse 35, when they occupied nearly all of the former provinces of the Roman Empire during the very centuries of its fall. The Visigoths and Vandals poured into the Iberian peninsula and crossed over to Africa, the Franks moved from eastern Germany to occupy Gaul, the Angles, Saxons and Jutes invaded Britain and also took territory which the Romans had held in western Germany. Other Germanic tribes, Goths and Huns moved into former Roman provinces south of the Danube, and the extent of the occupation being indisputable there should be no doubt that the Germanic peoples are the subject of this prophecy. Even if the Byzantine half of the empire was able to maintain itself for many more centuries, it suffered greatly and lost many cities and people to the Goths and the Huns. Some may doubt the identity of the Huns as being Germanic, but I would dismiss the propaganda of Jordanes and Cassiodorus in this regard. The Byzantine historian Procopius, who knew both Huns and Goths intimately, had explained that both tribes descended from the Scythian Massagetae of central Asia, and he even used the terms Huns and Massagetae interchangeably. In our opinion, Daniel corroborates the historian here. These Germanic tribes collectively had formed most of the nations of modern Europe, along with their Keltic, Roman and Greek predecessors and their Slavic neighbors, however nearly all of these had also descended in whole or in part from the ancient tribes of Israel, along with elements of the other Genesis 10 nations of Mesopotamia and Europe.

We shall return to Daniel when we discuss Revelation chapters 9 and 13. Now continuing with our commentary, Revelation chapter 7 is itself a digression. While the pattern of empires was described in chapter 6, visions representing the circumstances relating to the actual fall of Rome are not described by John until Revelation chapter 8. Here, before those events continue, John pauses to describe the assurance of God for a world teetering on the precipice of destruction:

VII 1 After this [א and the traditional MT have “And after this”; the MT mss. following Andreas of Caesareia have “And after these things”; the text follows A and C], I saw four messengers standing upon the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth that a [C has “the”] wind would not blow upon the earth [A wants “upon the earth”] nor upon the sea nor upon any [A wants “any”] tree. 2 And I saw another messenger ascending from the rising of the sun [or “the east”] having the seal of Yahweh who lives, and he cried out with a great voice to the four messengers to whom it had been given to do wrong to the earth and the sea, 3 saying: “Do not do wrong to the earth nor [A has “and”] to the sea nor to the trees, until we should seal the servants of our God upon their foreheads!”

Here in John’s vision the destruction of Rome is depicted as having been momentarily suspended while a certain number of men from all of the tribes of Israel could be sealed. This is an assurance that a sufficient number of Israelites would survive the judgement which is about to come upon the empire. But these are not just any Israelites. They are certain Israelites who are apparently already Christians, as we shall see in the explanation of the sealing given after the enumeration of the tribes.

The word for seal, σφραγίζω, is basically to seal for oneself or to have sealed, and also to assure of a thing. Then metaphorically it also meant to confirm or stamp with approval. The noun, σφραγίς, described either the seal or signet, or the impression which such a device made when it was applied. In ancient times, the seal was used to safeguard documents, such as this scroll which is being opened by the Lamb here in this vision, but also to sign contracts, as every seal used by men was unique and identified its bearer. As the King James Version translates a passage where John the Baptist had used the noun speaking of Yahshua Christ in John chapter 3: “33 He that hath received his testimony hath set to his seal that God is true.” There, in our own translation, we have “33 He receiving His testimony has assured that Yahweh is true!” So here, as Yahweh God sealed these hundred and forty four thousand men of the tribes of Israel, He both indicates that they are reserved, and preserved, for Himself, and also that they have an assurance from Him of that preservation.

4 And I heard the number of those being sealed, a hundred [C and the traditional MT mss. insert “and”] forty-four thousand, being sealed out of all the tribes of the sons of Israel:

The Codex Alexandrinus (A) wants the entire opening clause of the verse, which reads “And I heard the number of those being sealed”. In that case, we would have to interpret the words of this verse through verse 8 to have been uttered by the angel who speaks in verse 3, rather than as having been something which John had heard after that angel had spoken.

Underlying this message, it is evident that Yahshua Christ Himself must have understood that a large number of Israelites dwelt within the Roman empire, and that they certainly were not Jews, but only one hundred and forty four thousand were being given an assurance that they would be preserved from the tribulation which would come upon it.

5 from the tribe of Iouda twelve thousand being sealed,

from the tribe of Rouben twelve thousand,

from the tribe of Gad twelve thousand,

6 from the tribe of Aser twelve thousand,

from the tribe of Nephthalim twelve thousand,

from the tribe of Manassa twelve thousand,

7 from the tribe of Sumeon twelve thousand,

from the tribe of Levi twelve thousand,

from the tribe of Issachar twelve thousand,

8 from the tribe of Zaboulon twelve thousand,

from the tribe of Ioseph twelve thousand,

from the tribe of Benjamin twelve thousand being sealed.

Codex Alexandrinus Revelation 7
A portion of the Codex Alexandrinus from Revelation chapter 7, Manasseh and Joseph are underlined, and two other anomalies in the text are marked.

The Codex Sinaiticus (א) wants the entire clause “from the tribe of Sumeon twelve thousand”, so it cannot add to a hundred and forty four thousand. Certainly this was the erroneous admission of a scribe. An 11th century Greek manuscript, numbered 1854, substitutes “Dan” for “Gad” in verse 5, and the Bohairic manuscripts of the ancient Coptic sect of lower Egypt have “Dan” in the place of “Manasseh” in verse 7. However here there is a greater question. Why is it that in the oldest Greek manuscripts, Manasseh is mentioned here, and not Dan, the brother of Naphtali who may be expected to have occupied this place?

Codex Sinaiticus Revelation 7
A portion of the Codex Sinaiticus from Revelation chapter 7, Manasseh and Joseph are underlined, and and also Levi, to show that Simeon is wanting from the listing.

The first two of the listed tribes, Judah and Reuben, are sons of Leah but they are not placed in the order of their birth. Reuben was the eldest, and then Judah was born fourth, after Simeon and Levi. So it is apparent that these two are placed in an order consistent with the value of the blessings of Jacob and Moses which were bestowed upon each of them. Reuben was not even blessed by Jacob, and where he blessed the tribes Jacob spoke only of Reuben’s instability and his transgression against him. However, at least from our earthly perspective, that logic does not extend to the entire list. Christ Himself being of the tribe of Judah, and Judah having been known to lead the children of Israel in war, as we read in Judges chapter 20, are also factors which may be considered in their ordering here.

But then a premature break is made, as Leah apparently had given birth to both Simeon and Levi before any of the sons of the handmaids were born, as the Genesis account relates in chapters 29 and 30. So here, before Simeon and Levi, Gad and Asher are mentioned, and they were the sons of Leah’s handmaid Zilpah, who were born after Dan and Naphtali, the sons of Rachel’s handmaid Bilhah. While Dan does not appear in the manuscripts here, from Manasseh the list returns to the remaining sons of Leah beginning with Simeon, in the same order in which they were born in relation to one another, with the exception of Judah who was mentioned first. If Simeon and Levi were lowered on this list on account of the incident at Shechem, or their lack of a blessing from Jacob, then we may think that they would have been moved all the way to the bottom, and that would make Reuben’s placement as second here even more of an anomaly. Reuben had sinned against his father grievously, by violating one of his wives. Finally, Joseph and Benjamin are mentioned, and they were indeed the very last who were born of Jacob’s sons, by Rachel his wife.

The reference to Joseph would include both the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh. So in verse 6 Manasseh is completely out of place, as he is also a son of Joseph. It seems as if Manasseh belonged in verse 6, in place of Dan, then Ephraim would be listed in verse 8 rather than Joseph. Furthermore Manasseh is out of place in another manner, because being a son of Joseph, rather than a son of the handmaid, it may be expected that he would have been mentioned along with Joseph and Benjamin, and not in verse 7 among the sons of the handmaids Gad, Asher, and Naphtali. So in spite of the contents of the oldest manuscripts, an argument may be made that there must have been an early scribal error in verse 7, early enough to have affected all of the surviving Greek and Latin manuscripts, and that is completely plausible but it cannot be proven by any actual evidence.

As a digression, preparing for this program I located and investigated these verses in the available facsimiles of the Codices Sinaiticus and Alexandrinus, and each of them do have Manasseh in the place of Dan, in a manner which is highly consistent with their own peculiar styles of writing. I will include the relevant images along with the text of this presentation.

So I may offer the opinion that an early scribal error caused Manasseh to be mentioned in place of Dan here, even if I could never prove that. But there is still much more to it than that. What if Yahshua Christ Himself meant to indicate something by omitting Dan here and inserting Manasseh? That would not mean that the tribe of Dan no longer existed, as many commentators have rather erroneously claimed. It would only mean that none of the tribe of Dan needed to be sealed as an assurance from God upon the imminent collapse of the Roman Empire. Additionally, the mention of Manasseh would indicate Joseph’s double portion of the inheritance, although once again we would expect to see Ephraim mentioned rather than Joseph.

It is apparent in history, that although many of Dan had accompanied Moses in the Exodus, many had instead departed from Egypt by sea, where the first home of Dan abroad is found in the Danaans of the Peloponnese, who were the founders of the Mycenaean civilization of the early Greeks. It is also apparent that some centuries later, the Dorians, who invaded the Peloponnese and supplanted the Danaans several centuries after the Exodus, had originated in Dor, a prominent city of ancient Israel situated on the coast belonging to the tribe of Manasseh. We have explained this history in a rather concise essay published at Christogenea titled Classical Records of the Dorian & Danaan Israelite-Greeks.

Therefore the Dorian Greeks who came to supplant Dan and reduce the Danaans to slavery in the Peloponnese were of the tribe of Manasseh. From the time of their invasion of Greece, the Dorians came to dominate practically all, if not all, of the areas of Greece formerly held by the Danaans, who are also sometimes called Achaeans, and the Danaans as a distinct tribe among the Greeks became marginalized from that time. So perhaps the replacement of Dan by Manasseh here is a type of prophetic indication that our interpretation of the history of these tribes is indeed correct.

But there were Danaans in other parts of the world. It is evident that the first inhabitants of Sardinia were Danaans, and that the early invaders of Ireland, the Tuatha de Danaan, were also of the Israelite tribe of Dan, as were the Danes who occupied what had later become known as Denmark. So perhaps the tribe of Dan was not mentioned here, because a significant enough body of that tribe was not living within the bounds of the empire nor among those who had invaded the empire at that time, but rather, for the most part, they were outside the bounds of the empire, in northern and western Europe. The relationship of the men who were sealed as well as the people in the verses which follow to those saints under the altar who were mentioned in the previous chapter (6:9-11) seems to provide further assurance that this interpretation is sound.

Here we do not learn much of the one hundred and forty four thousand Israelites who have been sealed. But we can safely interpret this sealing as the assurance from God, that these men would survive the fall of Rome without harm. These men who are sealed must be those who, having kept themselves unsoiled from the world and the decadence of the empire, were assured preservation from the tribulations prophesied to come upon the world, which shall be seen in Revelation chapters 8 and 9. They are mentioned once again in Revelation chapter 14, where much more concerning them is revealed: “1 And I looked, and behold! The Lamb stood upon Mount Sion, and with Him a hundred forty-four thousand having His Name and the Name of His Father written upon their foreheads. 2 And I heard a sound from out of heaven like a sound of many waters and like a sound of great thunder, and the sound which I heard like lyre-players playing on their lyres. 3 And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders, and no one was able to learn the song except the hundred forty-four thousand, those having been purchased from the earth. 4 These are they who have not been defiled with women, for they are virgins. These are they who follow the Lamb wherever He should go. These have been purchased from among men, a first-fruit for Yahweh and for the Lamb, 5 and in their mouths a lie is not found: they are blameless.”

As we shall see, these hundred and forty-four thousand are not the only Israelites who are saved, but rather, they are the firstfruits of the tribulations which were to come upon the children of Israel of which the Revelation prophecies here. It is also certain that these hundred and forty-four thousand were already Christians, as they are described as firstfruits, and as having been unsoiled and blameless. So they are almost certainly dwelling within the empire as it was about to fall. At this time there were very few Christians on the European continent outside of the empire. While some of the tribes of the Goths and the Alans had heard the Gospel and had accepted a form of Christianity by the 3rd century AD, most of the Germanic tribes were not Christian, but were still pagans, and some of them would remain as pagans for many centuries after the fall of Rome. Furthermore, these hundred and forty-four thousand men of Israel dwelling within the bounds of the empire having an assurance from God that they would survive the tribulations about to come upon it, we may see how Christianity had also survived and continued to thrive both during and after the fall of Rome.

It is evident in the description of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and the opening of the first 6 seals, as well as the prophecy of Daniel, that Rome was destroyed on account of its sins. Furthermore, aside from Daniel and the context of Revelation chapters 4 and 5, we know that chapters 7 and 8 relate to the fall of Rome by the context set in the opening of the fifth seal. So we read the following in Revelation chapter 6: “9 And when He opened the fifth seal, I saw beneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain on account of the Word of Yahweh and on account of the testimony which they had. 10 And they cried out with a great voice, saying ‘How long, Holy and True Master, do You not judge and exact vengeance for our blood from those dwelling upon the earth?’ 11 And there had been given to each of them a white robe and spoken to them that they should rest for a little while until they should be satisfied, and their fellow-servants and their brethren who are also going to be killed like them.”

These souls under the altar having died for their testimony of the Word of Yahweh, in this context they can only be those Christian martyrs who had been slain on account of the Gospel of Christ during the first 3 or 4 centuries of the spread of Christianity throughout the empire. Therefore they expressed a desire for vengeance against the Romans who had killed them. Note also that the saints of Revelation chapter 6 did not have to wash their robes in the blood of the Lamb. Rather, they were given white robes by the Lamb as a reward. We should keep this passage in mind as we now commence with verse 9 in chapter 7. Now we shall see that although only the hundred and forty-four thousand had an assurance from God that they would remain unharmed, many more than that shall be saved even if they had to die for their sins in the tribulations described in these chapters:

9 After these things I looked, and behold! A great crowd [A wants “and behold”, having only “I saw a great crowd”], which [A has “and”] to number it no one was able, from all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues standing before the throne and before the Lamb, having been cloaked in white robes and palm-branches in their hands, 10 and they cry out in a great voice, saying: “Salvation is with our God sitting upon the throne and with the Lamb [א inserts ‘for the eternal ages, truly’, for which see the end of verse 12]!”

The phrase “all nations” here could only be a reference to all of the nations of the Adamic οἰκουμένη – that part of the world over which Rome had ruled and which had suffered this tribulation. While the hundred and forty-four thousand are certainly all of Israel, this innumerable multitude must also all be of the children of Israel, as only Israel had ever had these promises of salvation. The phrase “all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues” must concur with the promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, that their seed would become innumerable and from it would come many nations which would then inherit the world.

Thus we read in Romans chapter 4, in part: “16 Therefore from of the faith, that in accordance with favor, then the promise is to be certain to all of the offspring, not to that of the law only, but also to that of the faith of Abraham [the faith of Abraham being what Abraham had believed], who is father of us all; 17 (just as it is written, ‘That a father of many nations I have made you,’) before Yahweh whom he trusted, who raises the dead to life, and calls things not existing as existing; 18 who contrary to expectation, in expectation believed, for which he would become a father of many nations according to the declaration, 'Thus your offspring will be:' 19 and he not being weak in the faith, nor having considered his own body by this time being dead, being about a hundred years old, and the deadness of the womb of Sarah, 20 but at the promise of Yahweh he did not doubt in disbelief, rather he was strengthened in faith, giving honor to Yahweh, 21 and having full satisfaction that what He has promised, He is also capable of doing; 22 for that reason also 'it was accounted to him for righteousness.'”

In 1 Corinthians chapter 10, speaking to Dorian Greeks whose ancestors had been in the Exodus with Moses, which Paul had explained in the opening verses of the chapter, had later admonished them to “18 Behold Israel down through the flesh: are not those who are eating the sacrifices partners of the altar? … 20 Rather, that whatever the Nations sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons, and not to Yahweh.” There Paul had referred to the Nations of the same οἰκουμένη, those in the vicinity of the Corinthians, as “Israel according to the flesh”, as it is in the King James Version. The nations of Europe by the time of Christ were in great part descended from the ancient children of Israel, those are the nations which are the subjects of this prophecy here in the Revelation.

Our interpretation of this prophecy also concurs with the prophecy of Daniel, that the four empires of Nebuchadnezzar’s vision would rule “wheresoever the children of men dwell”, so none of this can possibly apply to any of the races of aliens elsewhere on the planet, who were outside of that world. So the great crowd, which no one was able to number, is a glimpse into the fulfillment of the promise to Abraham – for all of these people are descendants of the ancient Israelites.

11 And all the messengers stood around the throne, and those of the elders and the four living creatures also fell on their faces before the throne and they worshipped Yahweh, 12 saying: “Truly, the praise and the honor and the wisdom [A wants ‘and the wisdom’] and the gratitude and the dignity and the power and the might are for our God for the eternal ages, truly [C wants ‘truly’]!”

Evidently, the throngs around the throne of Yahweh praise Him, because as history progresses and His prophecy is fulfilled, it is made manifest that He keeps His Word and His promises. So this description of the praise which the elders, which must be a reference to the patriarchs of ancient Israel, is an acknowledgment that Yahweh God had indeed kept His promises to them.

Now we shall learn more of this innumerable multitude, which also upholds our interpretation of these chapters:

13 And one from among [א has “one of”] the elders responded, saying to me: “These who are cloaked in white robes, who are they? And from where have they come?”

In John’s vision, one of the elders is portrayed as having asked him this, but the elder himself had the answer, as John now protests and receives the answer:

14 And I said to him: “My [A wants ‘My’] lord, you know!” And he said to me: “These are they coming from out of the great tribulation and they have washed their robes and have whitened them in the blood of the Lamb.

Here John sees a vision of the fulfillment of what had been said concerning the Christian martyrs in Revelation chapter 6, where they had cried for Yahweh to “exact vengeance for our blood from those dwelling upon the earth” And they were told to wait “a little while until they should be satisfied”, until that vengeance would be exacted, and until “their fellow-servants and their brethren who are also going to be killed like them.”

So this innumerable multitude are the fellow-servants and brethren of the earlier Christian martyrs, and not having been sealed they had no assurance of God that they would survive the tribulation, but they would nevertheless be saved, preserved by Yahweh in heaven where they must have repented of their sins as they are described as having washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb. So they were not necessarily Christians when they died, and they were apparently sinners, as all men are sinners, however they certainly were Israelites or they could not have been both fellow-servants and brethren of the Christian martyrs.

We see the first explicit promise of a resurrection in Job chapter 19: “25 For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: 26 And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: 27 Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me. 28 But ye should say, Why persecute we him, seeing the root of the matter is found in me? 29 Be ye afraid of the sword: for wrath bringeth the punishments of the sword, that ye may know there is a judgment.

So the souls under the altar are the Christian martyrs, those having been sealed are Christians who had an assurance of God that they would survive the tribulations suffered during the fall of the Roman empire, and this innumerable multitude are evidently those Israelites who would die in that tribulation, having been judged in the wrath of Yahweh, but who would nevertheless be saved as the others, for the promised and future resurrection. Now the elder continues his explanation to John and says:

15 For this reason they are before the throne of Yahweh and they serve Him day and night in His temple, and He sitting upon the throne shall tabernacle [or dwell, σκηνόω] with them [א has ‘shall know them’].

This was also prophesied in Ezekiel chapter 37, in a Messianic prophecy related to the joining of Israel and Judah into one stick, which was also fulfilled in Christ, where the children of Israel in the captivity are the subjects and we read, in part: “26 Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore. 27 My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 28 And the [Nations] shall know that I the LORD do sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore.” Now there are further promises expressed by the elder:

16 They shall hunger no longer [א has ‘shall not hunger’], nor shall they thirst any longer, nor shall the sun fall upon them nor any burning heat, 17 because the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne shall shepherd them and shall guide them to fountains of living waters, and Yahweh shall wipe every tear from their eyes!”

These promises parallel those which are made to the children of Israel who attain the City of God in the closing chapters of the Revelation, so it is evident here that these souls have also attained their final destination. These words which promise that “they shall hunger no longer” evoke another Messianic prophecy found in Ezekiel, in chapter 34 where we read: “23 And I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant David; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd.” Likewise, where Yahweh had also addressed the captive children of Israel, we read in Isaiah chapter 49: “ 8 Thus saith the LORD, In an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in a day of salvation have I helped thee: and I will preserve thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, to establish the earth, to cause to inherit the desolate heritages; 9 That thou mayest say to the prisoners, Go forth; to them that are in darkness, Shew yourselves. They shall feed in the ways, and their pastures shall be in all high places. 10 They shall not hunger nor thirst; neither shall the heat nor sun smite them: for he that hath mercy on them shall lead them, even by the springs of water shall he guide them.” Paul of Tarsus had cited that passage from Isaiah in 2 Corinthians chapter 6, announcing that the day of salvation had arrived in Yahshua Christ.

Then where it is promised that “nor shall they thirst any longer”, there is an earlier promise in the 23rd Psalm: “1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.” Then in the Gospel, in John chapter 4, speaking to the woman at the well in Samaria Yahshua Christ had referred to Himself and said: “ 14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” Finally, we read of those Israelites who attain the City of God in Revelation chapter 21: “6… I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.”

The promise to “wipe every tear from their eyes” was also made to the children of Israel, first in another Messianic prophecy in Isaiah chapter 25: “8 He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the LORD hath spoken it.” Paul of Tarsus had cited this promise in 1 Corinthians chapter 15, once again in reference to Christ. A similar prophecy is found in Jeremiah chapter 31, the same chapter where there is an explicit promise of a new covenant for Israel and Judah, and we read: “16 Thus saith the LORD; Refrain thy voice from weeping, and thine eyes from tears: for thy work shall be rewarded, saith the LORD; and they shall come again from the land of the enemy.” Then, once again in Revelation chapter 21, which also applies to the children of Israel explicitly, and evokes the prophecy cited here from Ezekiel chapter 37, we read: “ 3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. 4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”

So all of these promises concerning those who would die in these tribulations are the same promises that had been made to the children of Israel all along, and Yahweh God certainly shall keep them as He had originally uttered them, because He does not change. We have that assurance.

This concludes our commentary on Revelation chapter 7.

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