Cover to Cover
There are a couple of things that happen in between the sixth and seventh seal.
At the beginning of chapter 7, God holds back the four winds from the four corners of the earth. Whenever the four corners of the earth are mentioned, God is including the entire planet, including all direction, north, south, east, and west. When God is talking about wind from the four corners, He is referring a global move, possibly referring to four spirits, or these four angels. The four angels were given instructions to harm the earth and sea. Another angel appears from the east, instructing the four angels to wait on the devastation so that 144,000 can be sealed, marked, as those they were not to harm. These are Jews that will live through the wrath of God during the Day of the Lord, and these are Jews that will enter into the Millennial reign of Christ from Jerusalem. As far as we know, this is a spiritual activity, not something we may recognize in our natural awareness.
In verse 9 we see that the Rapture has happened. This is the catching away of Christians from the earth and into the air. This is after the sixth seal, after the shaking of the heavens and earth, and after the Great Tribulation.
Life on Earth is not God’s original plan for His children. Pride has caused mankind to live independently of God, leading to physical and spiritual death, or separation from God. Even nature itself has been distorted, affecting animals, weather, and the entrance of disease and dysfunction. Sin gave Satan access to become the god, or ruler, of the world, and he is always working to harm the human race. People are far from God and His life, and the human race has become distorted, broken, and far from God’s glory. There is a desire for control. There is manipulation and abuse. There is crime, conflict, and violence. There is greed and selfishness. There is tremendous heartache and pain. This is why this verse has much meaning and expression of God’s heart for us:
“And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes (7:17).”
In addition, those cravings and needs we have will not be an issue in our resurrected bodies – we won’t thirst or hunger. We will live a satisfied life in the Presence of God. We won’t be uncomfortable because weather. Jesus will shepherd us, care for us, and there will be no lack of anything. We will be completely restored without any dysfunction, without any brokenness of soul, without any emotional distress, without any troubling thoughts, without any physical illness or malfunction, and without sinful desires. What a day that will be! But first, we have a job to do – we need to bring as many with us as we can.
Chapter 7 begins a section on five visions of God’s judgment.
1. Vision of the locusts. 7:1-3
God showed Amos He would judge with a swarm of locusts. Amos prayed that it would not be, and God changed His mind.
2. Vision of the fire. 7:4-6
God showed Amos He would judge Israel with a consuming fire. Amos prayed that it would not be so, and God changed His mind.
3. Vision of the plumbline 7:7-17
A plumbline is a tool to help build a building with straight angles. God had tested Israel and found them defective. Amaziah, priest of Bethel, complained about Amos to King Jeroboam. He told Amos to leave his city because he didn’t want to hear the prophetic words. Amos responded that he was a shepherd and a tree keeper. It was God who called him; Amos did not call himself. Amos then delivered additional words from God of judgment that applied directly to Amos.
4. Vison of summer fruit. 8:1-14
The Hebrew word for summer fruit is qayis. The Hebrew word for end is qes. They sound the same. This is a word play, using the qayis to mean God is bringing their prosperity and freedom to an end. God promises to go silent, saying, they will seek to hear from Him, but will not.
5. Vision of the Lord by the altar 9:1-10
God is bringing judgment, sifting Israel as through a sieve, yet not even the smallest grain will fall to the ground. However, the chaff will be separated.
The remaining portion of chapter nine is the restoration of Israel. In verse 12, Gentiles are included in the rebuilding. God says that in those days the plowman will overtake the reaper. In other words, as soon as a harvest is being reaped, another crop is being sown. It speaks of the fertility of the land. Even though there is sin, God does not give up on His people. God will judge in order to purify, and then God will restore.