The Seal of the Living God
Verse 1 And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree. 2 And 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 given to hurt the earth and the sea, 3 Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.
The time of the work here introduced is established beyond mistake. The sixth chapter closed with the events of the sixth seal, and the seventh seal is not mentioned until we reach the beginning of Revelation 8. The whole of Revelation 7 is therefore thrown in here parenthetically. Why is it thus introduced at this point? Evidently it is given fro the purpose of stating additional particulars concerning the sixth seal. The expression, "after these things," does not mean after the fulfillment of all the events previously described, but after the prophets had been carried in vision to the close of the sixth seal, that the consecutive order of events as given in Revelation 6 might not be broken, his mind is called to what is mentioned in Revelation 7, as further particulars in regard to the seal. We inquire, Between what events in that seal is this work done? It must be accomplished before the departing of the heavens as a scroll, for after that event there is no place for such a work as this. It must take place after the signs in the sun, moon, and stars, for these signs have already been fulfilled, and such a sealing work has not yet been accomplished. It comes in therefore between the 13th and 14th verses of Revelation 6. There, as already shown, is just where we now stand. Hence the first part of Revelation 7 relates to a work the accomplishment of which may be looked for now.
Four Angels.--Angels are ever-present agents in the affairs of the earth. Why may not these be four of those heavenly beings into whose hands God has committed the work of holding the winds while it is God's purpose that they should not blow, and loosing them when the time comes for the hurting of the earth?
Four Corners of the Earth.--This expression denotes the four quarters, or the four points of the compass, and signifies that these angels in their particular sphere have charge of the whole earth.
Four Winds.--Winds in the Bible symbolize political commotion, strife, and war. (Daniel 7: 2, Jeremiah 25: 32.) The four winds, held by four angels standing in the four quarters of the earth, must denote all the elements of strife and commotion that exist in the world. When they are all loosed and all blow together, it will constitute the great whirlwind just referred to in the prophecy of Jeremiah.
Angel Ascending From the East.--Another literal angel, having charge of another specific work, is here introduced. Instead of the words "ascending from the east," some translations read, "ascending from the sunrising," which is a more literal translation. The expression evidently refers to manner rather than locality, for as the sun rises with rays at first oblique and comparatively powerless, then increases in strength until it shine in all its meridian power and splendor, so the work of this angel begins in moderation, moves onward with ever-accumulating influence, and closes in strength and power.
Seal of the Living God.--It is the distinguishing characteristic of the ascending angel that he bears with him the seal of the living God. From this fact and the chronology of his work we are to determine if possible what movement is symbolized by his mission. The nature of his work is evidently suggested by his having the seal of the living God. To ascertain what his work is, we must determine what the seal of the living God is.
A seal is defined to be an instrument of sealing, that which "is used by individuals, corporate bodies, and states, for making impressions on wax, upon instruments of writing, as an evidence of their authenticity." The original word in this text is defined, "A seal, i.e., a signet ring; a mark, stamp, badge; a token, a pledge." The verb signifies: "To secure to any one, to make sure; to set a seal or mark upon anything in token of its being genuine or approved; to attest, to confirm, to establish, to distinguish by a mark." With these definitions as a basis, we compare Genesis 17: 11 with Romans 4: 11, and Revelation 7: 3 with Ezekiel 9: 4, and find that the words "token," "sign," "seal," and "mark" are used in the Bible as synonymous terms. The seal of God brought to view in our text is to applied to the servants of God. In this case it is not some literal mark to be made in the flesh, but some institution or observance having special reference to God, which will serve as a "mark of distinction" between the worshipers of God and those who are not His servants, though they may profess to follow Him.
A seal is used to render valid or authentic any enactments or laws that a person or power may promulgate. Frequent instances of its use occur in the Scriptures. In 1 Kings 21: 8, we read that Jezebel "wrote letters in Ahab's name, and sealed them with his seal." These letters then had all the authority of King Ahab. Again, in Esther 3: 12: "In the name of King Ahasuerus was it written, and sealed with the king's ring." So also in Esther 8: 8: "The writing which is written in the king's name, and sealed with the king's ring, may no man reverse."
A seal is used in connection with some law or enactment that demands obedience, or upon documents that are to be made legal, or subject to the provisions of law. The idea of law is inseparable from a seal.
We are not suppose that to the enactments and laws of God binding upon men, there must be attached a literal seal, made with literal instruments. From the definition of the term, and the purpose for which a seal is used, as shown before, we must understand a seal to be strictly that which gives validity and authenticity to enactments and laws. This is found in the name of signature of the lawmaking power, expressed in such terms as to show what power is, and its right to make laws and demand obedience. Even with a literal seal, the name must always be used as indicated in the references given above. An instance of the use of the name alone seems to occur in Daniel 6: 8: "Now, O king, establish the decree, and sign the writing, that it be not changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not." In other words, affix the signature of royalty, which shows who it is that demands obedience, and what his right is to demand it.
In the prophecy of Isaiah 8, we read: "Bind up the testimony, seal the law among My disciples." This must refer to a work of reviving in the minds of the disciples some of the claims of the law which have been overlooked, or perverted from their true meaning. In the prophecy this is called sealing the law, or restoring to it its seal, which had been taken from it.
The 144,000 who in the chapter before us are said to be sealed with the seal of God in their foreheads, are again brought to view in Revelation 14: 1, where they are said to have the Father's name written in their foreheads.
What Is the Seal of God?--From the foregoing reasoning, facts, and declarations of Scripture, two conclusions inevitably follow:
1. The seal of God is found in the law.
2. The seal of God is that part of His law which contains His name, or descriptive title, showing who He is, the extent of His dominion, and His right to rule.
The law of God is admitted by all the leading evangelical denominations to be summarily contained in the decalogue, or ten commandments. We have, then, but to examine these commandments to see which one it is that constitutes the seal of the law, or in other words, makes known the true God, the lawmaking power.
The first three commandments mention the word "God," but we cannot tell from these who is meant, for there are multitudes of objects to which this name is applied. There are "gods many and lords many," as the apostle says. (1 Corinthians 8: 5.) We pass over the fourth commandment for the time being. The fifth contains the words "Lord" and "God," but does not define them, and the remaining five precepts do not contain the name of God at all. With that part of the law which we have examined, it would be impossible to convict the grossest idolater of sin. The worshiper of images could say, This idol before me is my god, and I worship him according to this law. Thus without the fourth commandment the decalogue is null and void, as far as it pertains to the definition of the worship of the true God.
But let us now add the fourth commandment, restore to the law this precept, which many are ready to contend has been expunged, and see how the case will then stand. As we examine this commandment, which contains the declaration, "For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is," we see at once that we are reading the requirements of Him who created all things. The sun then is not the God of the decalogue. The true God is He who made the sun. No object in heaven or earth is the being who here demands obedience, for the god of this law is the one who made all created things. Now we have a weapon against idolatry. Now this law can no longer be applied to false gods, who "have not made the heavens and the earth." Jeremiah 10: 11. The Author of this law has declared who He is, the extent of His dominion, and His right to rule; for every created intelligence must at once assent that He who is the Creator of all has a right to demand obedience from all His creatures. Thus the fourth commandment in its place, this wonderful document, the decalogue, the only document among men which God ever wrote with His own finger, has a signature, it has that which renders it intelligible and authentic, it has a seal. But without the fourth commandment, the law is incomplete and unauthoritative.
From the foregoing logic it is evident that the fourth commandment constitutes the seal of the law of God, or the seal of God. The Scriptures give direct testimony on this conclusion.
We have seen already that in Scripture usage, "sign," "seal," "token," and "mark" are synonymous terms. The Lord expressly says that the Sabbath is a sign between Him and His people. 'Verily My Sabbaths ye shall keep; for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the Lord that doth sanctify you." Exodus 31: 13. The same fact is again stated in Ezekiel 20: 12, 20. Here the Lord told His people that the very object of their keeping the Sabbath was that they might know that He is the true God. This is the same as if the Lord had said, "The Sabbath is a seal. On My part it is the seal of My authority, the sign that I have the right to command obedience; on you part it is a token that you accept Me to be your God."
Should it be said that this principle can have no application to Christians at the present time, as the Sabbath was a sign between God and the Jews only, it would be sufficient to reply that the terms "Jews" and "Israel" in a true Scriptural sense are not confined to the literal seed of Abraham. This patriarch was chosen at first because he was the friend of God while his fathers were idolaters. His posterity were chosen to be God's people, the guardians of His law and the depositaries of His truth, because all others had apostatized from Him. These words respecting the Sabbath were spoken to them while they enjoyed the honor of being thus set apart from all others. But when the middle wall of partition was broken down, and the Gentiles were called in to be partakers of the blessings of Abraham, all God's people, both Jews and Gentiles, were brought into a new and more intimate relation to God through His Son, and are now described by such expressions as "a Jew which is one inwardly," and "an Israelite indeed." Romans 2: 29; John 1: 47. These declarations apply to all such, for they have as much occasion to know the Lord as had His people of old.
Thus the Sabbath of the fourth commandment is taken by the Lord as a sign between Him and His people, or the seal of His law for all time. By keeping that commandment people signify that they are the worshipers of the true God. In the same commandment God make Himself known as their rightful ruler, inasmuch as He is their Creator.
In harmony with this idea, the significant fact is to be noticed that whenever the sacred writers wish to point out the true God in distinction from false gods of every description, an appeal is made to the great facts of creation, upon which the fourth commandment is based. (See 2 Kings 19: 15; 2 Chronicles 2: 12; Nehemiah 9: 6; Psalm 96: 5; 115: 4-7, 15; 121: 2; 124: 8; 134: 3; 146: 6; Isaiah 37: 16; 42: 5; 44: 24; 45: 12; 51: 13; Job 9: 8; Jeremiah 10: 10-12; 32: 17; 51: 15; Acts 4: 24; 14: 15; 17: 23, 24.)
Notice again that the same company who in Revelation 7 have the seal of the living God in their foreheads, are brought to view again in Revelation 14: 1, having the Father's name in their foreheads. This is good proof that the "seal of the living God" and the "Father's name" are used synonymously. The chain of evidence on this point is made complete when it is ascertained that the fourth commandment, which has been shown to be the seal of the law, is spoken of by the Lord as that which contains His name. The proof of this will be seen in Deuteronomy 16: 6: "But at the place which the Lord thy God shall chose to place His name in, there shalt thou sacrifice the Passover." What was in the place where they sacrificed the Passover? There was the sanctuary, having in its holiest apartment the ark with the ten commandments, the fourth of which identified the true God, and contained His name. Wherever this fourth commandment was, there God's name was placed, and this was the only thing to which the language could be applied. (See Deuteronomy 12: 5, 11, 21; 14: 23, 24.)
The Sealing Work.--Since we have now ascertained that the seal of God is His holy Sabbath, with which His name is identified, we are prepared to proceed with the application.
By the scenes introduced in the verses before us--the four winds apparently about to blow, bringing war and trouble upon the land, and this work restrained until the servants of God should be sealed--we are reminded of the houses of the Israelites marked with the blood of the paschal lamb, and spared as the destroying angel passed over to slay the firstborn of the Egyptians. (Exodus 12.) We are also reminded of the mark made by the man with a writer's inkhorn on all those who were to be spared by the men with the slaughtering weapons who followed after. (Ezekiel 9.) We conclude that the seal of God placed upon His servants is some distinguishing mark, or religious characteristic, through which they will be exempted from the judgments of God that fall on the wicked around them.
As we have found the seal of God in the fourth commandment, the inquiry follows, Does the observance of that commandment involve any peculiarity in religious practice?--Yes, a very marked and striking one. It is one of the most singular facts to be met with in religious history that, in an age of such boasted gospel light as the present, when the influence of Christianity is so powerful and widespread, one of the most striking peculiarities in practice which a person can adopt, and one of the greatest crosses he can take up, is the simple observance of the fourth commandment of God's law. This precept requires the observance of the seventh day of each week as the Sabbath of the Lord; while almost all Christendom, through the combined influences of paganism and the papacy, has been beguiled into the keeping of the first day. A person has only to begin the observance of the day enjoined in the commandment, when a mark of peculiarity is upon him at once. He is distinct from both the professedly religious and the secular world.
We conclude that the angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God, is a divine messenger in charge of a work of reform to be carried on among men involving the Sabbath of the fourth commandment. The agents of this work on the earth are of course ministers of Christ, for to men is given the commission of instructing their fellow men in Bible truth. But as there is order in the execution of all the divine counsels, it seems not improbable that a literal angel may have the charge and oversight of this reform.
We have already noticed that the chronology of this work locates it in our own time. This is further evident from the fact that in the next scene after the sealing of these servants of God, they appear before the throne with palms of victory in their hands. The sealing is therefore the last work to be accomplished for them prior to their deliverance from the destruction brought upon the world in connection with the second advent.
Identity of the Sealing Angel.--In Revelation 14 we find the same work again brought to view under the symbol of an angel flying in the midst of heaven with the most terrible warning that ever fell upon the ears of men. While we shall speak of this more fully when we reach that chapter, we refer to it now because it is the last work to be accomplished for the world before the coming of Christ, which is the next event in order in that prophecy, and hence must synchronize with the work here brought to view in Revelation 7: 1-3. The angel with the seal of the living God is therefore the same as the third angel of Revelation 14.
This view strengthens the foregoing exposition of the seal. As the result of the sealing work in Revelation 7, a certain company are sealed with the seal of the living God, while as the result of the third angel's message of Revelation 14 a company of people obey all the "commandments of God." Revelation 14: 12. It is the fourth commandment of the decalogue and that alone which the Christian world is openly violating and teaching men to violate. That this is the vital question in this message is evident from the fact that the keeping of the commandments, including the Lord's Sabbath, is what distinguishes the servants of God from those who worship the beast and receive his mark. As will be hereafter shown, this mark is the observance of a counterfeit sabbath.
After thus briefly noticing the main points of the subject, we now come to the most striking feature of all. In accordance with the foregoing chronological argument, we find this work already in process of fulfillment before our eyes. The third angel's message is going forth. The angel ascending from the east is on his mission. The reform on the Sabbath question has begun; and it is surely, though yet in comparative silence, working its way through the land. It is destined to agitate every country that receives the light of the gospel, and it will result in bringing out a people prepared for the soon coming of the Saviour, and sealed for His everlasting kingdom. The sealing of the servants of God by the angel mentioned in verse 3, is therefore in recognition of their faithfulness in keeping the law of God, who is identified in the fourth commandment as the Creator of heaven and earth, and who established the seventh-day Sabbath in commemoration of that great work.
Holding the Winds.--With one more question we leave these verses, upon which we have dwelt so long. Have we seen among the nations any movements which would indicate that the cry of the ascending angel, "Hurt not" by the blowing of the winds, "till we have sealed the servants of our God," has in any manner been answered? The time during which the winds are held could not from the nature of the case be a time of profound peace. This would not answer to the prophecy, for in order to make it manifest that the winds are being held, there must be disturbance, agitation, anger, and jealousy among the nations, with occasional outbursts of strife, like fitful gusts breaking away from the imprisoned and struggling tempest. These outbursts must be unexpectedly checked. Then, but not otherwise, would it be evident to him who looked at events in the light of prophecy, that for some good purpose the restraining hand of Omnipotence was laid upon the surging elements of strife and war. Such has been the aspect of our times. New and unlooked-for complications have suddenly arisen, throwing the world into apparently inextricable confusion, and threatening immediate and direful war, when suddenly and unaccountably all subsided into quiet again. In the last half of the nineteenth century outstanding examples of such coincidences are found in the sudden conclusion of the Franco-German War in 1871, the Russo-Turkish War in 1878, and the Spanish-American War in 1898.
Then there came in the early part of the present century the devastating World War I when the four winds were permitted to blow over much of the world. It was declared by many writers to be the Armageddon of the Apocalypse. As the years went by, it seemed that this great conflagration would consume the entire world, leaving neither root nor branch. But suddenly the angel cried, "Hold," for the sealing work was not yet fully accomplished. On November 11, 1918, the four angels stopped the winds of strife, and a war-sick world, distraught by the terror of four years of blood and carnage, rejoiced once more in apparent peace and safety.
The Armistice was acclaimed as marking the beginning of a golden age of peace and prosperity and good will among men, for had not this been "a war to end war"? Millions believed that another war would never come, that the human race had learned its lesson. But may it not be that the hand of God was moving in the affairs of nations to make possible the completion of the great work depicted in verse 3 of this chapter in the words of the angel, "Until we have sealed the servants of God in their foreheads"?
The period extending from the Armistice in 1918 until the breaking out of the second world war was far from peaceful, for the World Almanac listed no less than seventeen conflicts during this time, which touched four continents. Many of these outbreaks possessed potentialities of expanding into serious proportions. But every time the troubled world began to fear the spread of these conflicts, the troubles unexpectedly subsided. Did this angel interpose in behalf of peace?
Then suddenly the four angels again loosed their hold, and the four winds took on whirlwind velocity in a devastating global conflict we call World War II, and almost the entire world was engulfed. In its magnitude and fearful depredations on all that mankind holds dear and precious, this struggle entirely overshadowed World War I.
We are unable to understand or explain the ebb and flow of these currents of war and peace on any other basis than the revelation of Jesus Christ given through the prophet John and recorded in the verses before us. When it suits the plans and purposes of God to permit the winds of strife to blow, then human nature untouched by the grace of God is seen in unbridled display. But when He says, "It is enough," the angel cries, "Hold, Hold, Hold, Hold," and the strife ceases that the work of God may proceed. Thus is will be until the great consummation of the plan of salvation.
Are you troubled, dear reader, over the turmoil and confusion among the nations? Do you desire to know what it all means? You will find the answer in the picture presented in these verses. "The Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever He will." Daniel 4: 32. In His own chosen time He will make "wars to cease unto the end of the earth." Psalm 46: 9.
Verse 4 And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel. 5 Of the tribe of Juda were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Reuben were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Gad were sealed twelve thousand. 6 Of the tribe of Aser were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Nepthalim were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Manasses were sealed twelve thousand. 7 Of the tribe of Simeon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Levi were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Issachar were sealed twelve thousand. 8 Of the tribe of Zabulon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Joseph were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Benjamin were sealed twelve thousand.
The Number to Be Sealed.--The number sealed is here stated to be one hundred forty-four thousand. From the fact that twelve thousand are sealed from each of the twelve tribes, many suppose that this work must have been accomplished as far back at least as the beginning of the Christian Era, when these tribes were literally in existence. They do not see how it can apply to our own time, when every trace of distinction between these tribes has been so long and so completely obliterated. We refer such persons to the opening language of the Epistle of James: "James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting. My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations." Those whom James here addresses are Christians, for they are his brethren. Some were converts from paganism and others were Jews, yet they are all included in the twelve tribes. How can this be? Paul explains in Romans 11: 17-24. In the striking figure of grafting which the apostle there introduces, the tame olive tree represents Israel.
Some of the branches, the natural descendants of Abraham, were broken off because of unbelief in Christ. Through faith in Christ the wild olive scions, the Gentiles, are grafted into the tame olive stock, and thus the twelve tribes are perpetuated. Here we find an explanation of the language of the same apostle: "They are not all Israel which are of Israel," and "he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly, . . . . but he is a Jew, which is one inwardly." Romans 9: 6-8; 2: 28, 29. so we find on the gates of the New Jerusalem--which is a New Testament, or Christian, city--the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel. On the foundations of this city are inscribed the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. (Revelation 21: 12-14.)
If the twelve tribes belonged exclusively to the Jewish era, the more natural order would have been to have their names on the foundations, and those of the twelve apostles on the gates; but no, the names of the twelve tribes are on the gates. As through these gates, so inscribed, all the redeemed hosts will go in and out, so all the redeemed will be reckoned as belonging to these twelve tribes, whether on earth they were Jews or Gentiles.
It will be observed that the enumeration of the tribes here differs from that given in other places. In the text before us, Ephraim and Dan are omitted, and Levi and Joseph put in their places. The omission of Dan is accounted for by commentators on the ground that that tribe was the one chiefly addicted to idolatry. (See Judges 18.) The tribe of Levi here takes it place with the rest, as in the heavenly Canaan the reasons for their not having inheritance will not exist as in the earthly. Joseph is probably substituted for Ephraim, it being a name which appears to have been applied to the tribe of either Ephraim or Manasseh. (Numbers 13: 11.)
Twelve thousand were sealed "out of" each of the twelve tribes, showing that not all who in the records of heaven had a place among these tribes when this sealing work began, stood the test and were overcomers at last, for the names of those already in the book of life will be blotted out unless they overcome. (Revelation 3: 5.)
Verse 9 After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; 10 and cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb. 11 And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, 12 saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honor, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.
After the sealing is accomplished, John beholds a countless multitude worshiping God in rapture before His throne. This vast throng is undoubtedly the saved out of every nation, kindred, tribe, and tongue raised from the dead at the second coming of Christ, showing that the sealing is the last work accomplished for the people of God prior to translation.
Verse 13 And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? And whence came they? 14 And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15 Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple: and He that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. 16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. 17 For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.
A Special Company.--The questions put by one of the elders to John, "What are these which are arrayed in white robes? And when came they?" taken in connection with John's answer, "Sir, thou knowest," implying that John did not know, would seem to be devoid of point if they had reference to all the great multitude now before him. For John did know who they were and whence they came, inasmuch as he had just said that they were people--redeemed of course--out of all nations, kindreds, people, and tongues. John could have answered, These are the redeemed ones from all the nations of the earth. No company is brought to view to which special allusion would more naturally be made than the company spoken of in the first part of the chapter, the 144,000. John had indeed seen this company in their mortal state as they were receiving the seal of the living God amid the troublous scenes of the last days; but as they here stand among the redeemed throng, the transition is so great, and the condition in which they now appear so different, that he does not recognize them as the special company which he saw sealed upon the earth. To this company, the following specifications seem to be specially applicable.
Came Out of Great Tribulation.--While it is true in some degree of all Christians that they "must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God" (Acts 14: 22), it is true of the 144,000 in a very special sense. They pass through the great time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation. (Daniel 12: 1.) They experience the mental anguish of the time of Jacob's trouble. (Jeremiah 30: 4-7.) They are to stand without a mediator through the terrible scenes of the seven last plagues, those exhibitions of God's unmingled wrath in the earth as we shall see in Revelation 15, 16. They pass through the most severe time of trouble the world has ever known, although they shall finally triumph and be delivered.
Wear White Robes.--They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. To the last generation the counsel is very emphatic on the subject of obtaining the white raiment. (Revelation 3: 5, 18.) The 144,000 refuse to violate the commandments of God. (Revelation 14: 1, 12.) It will be seen that they have rested their hope of life on the merits of the shed blood of their divine Redeemer, making Him their source of righteousness. There is peculiar force in saying of these that they have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
Called First Fruits.--Verse 15 describes the post of honor they occupy in the kingdom, and their nearness to God. In another place they are called "the first fruits unto God and the Lamb." Revelation 14: 4.
Shall Hunger No More.--In verse 16 it is said, "They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more." This shows that they have once suffered hunger and thirst. To what can this refer. As it doubtless has reference to some special experience, may it not refer to their trials in the time of trouble, more especially during the seven last plagues? In this time the righteous will be reduced to bread and water, and that "will be sure" (Isaiah 33: 16), enough for sustenance. Yet may it not be that when the pastures, with all fruits and vegetation, are dried up (Joel 1: 18-20), and the rivers and fountains are turned to blood (Revelation 16: 4-7), to reduce their connection with the earth and earthly things to the lowest limit, the saints who pass through that time will be brought occasionally to extreme degrees of hunger and thirst? But the kingdom once gained, "they shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more."
The prophet continues: "Neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat." The 144,000 live through the time when power is given unto the sun "to scorch men with fire." Revelation 16: 8, 9. Though they are shielded from the deadly effect which it has upon the wicked around them, we cannot suppose that their sensibilities will be so deadened that they will feel no unpleasant sensations from the terrific heat. No, as they enter the fields of the heavenly Canaan, they will be prepared to appreciate the divine assurance that the sun shall not injure them.
The Lamb Shall Lead Them.--Another testimony concerning the same company, and applying at the same time, says, "These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth." Revelation 14: 4. Both expressions denote the state of intimate and divine companionship to which the blessed Redeemer admits them.
In the following beautiful passage the psalmist seems to allude to the same promise: "They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of They house; and Thou shalt make them drink of the river of Thy pleasures." Psalm 36: 8. The phraseology of this promise to the 144,000 is also partly found in a glowing prophecy from the pen of Isaiah: "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." Isaiah 25: 8.