The Four Winds
3. (a) What special service performed by angels does John see? (b) What is symbolized by “the four winds”?
3 Before Jehovah unleashes this fury, heavenly angels perform a special service. John now beholds this in vision: “After this I saw four angels standing upon the four corners of the earth, holding tight the four winds of the earth, that no wind might blow upon the earth or upon the sea or upon any tree.” (Revelation 7:1) What does this mean for us today? These “four winds” are a vivid symbol of destructive judgment about to be let loose on a wicked earthly society, on the surging “sea” of lawless humanity, and on lofty treelike rulers that draw support and sustenance from the people of the earth.—Isaiah 57:20; Psalm 37:35, 36.
4. (a) What do the four angels represent? (b) What will be the effect on Satan’s earthly organization when the four winds are released?
4 No doubt, these four angels represent four angelic groups, whom Jehovah uses to hold back the execution of judgment until the appointed time. When the angels release those winds of divine wrath to whirl at one time from north, south, east, and west, the devastation will be tremendous. It will resemble, but on a stupendous scale, Jehovah’s use of the four winds to scatter the ancient Elamites, shattering and exterminating them. (Jeremiah 49:36-38) It will be a gigantic storm wind far more devastating than the “tempest” by which Jehovah annihilated the nation of Ammon. (Amos 1:13-15) No part of Satan’s organization on earth will be able to stand in the day of Jehovah’s fury, when he vindicates his sovereignty for all eternity to come.—Psalm 83:15, 18; Isaiah 29:5, 6.
5. How does Jeremiah’s prophecy help us understand that God’s judgments will embrace the entire earth?
5 Can we be sure that God’s judgments will ravage the entire earth? Listen again to his prophet Jeremiah: “Look! A calamity is going forth from nation to nation, and a great tempest itself will be roused up from the remotest parts of the earth. And those slain by Jehovah will certainly come to be in that day from one end of the earth clear to the other end of the earth.” (Jeremiah 25:32, 33) It is during this tempestuous storm that darkness will engulf this world. Its ruling agencies will be shaken into oblivion. (Revelation 6:12-14) But the future will not be dark for everyone. For whose sake, then, are the four winds held back?
The Sealing of God’s Slaves
6. Who tells the angels to hold back the four winds, and for what does this allow time?
6 John goes on to describe how some will be marked for survival, saying: “And I saw another angel ascending from the sunrising, having a 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 or the sea or the trees, until after we have sealed the slaves of our God in their foreheads.’”—Revelation 7:2, 3.
7. Who really is the fifth angel, and what evidence helps us establish his identity?
7 Though this fifth angel is not named, all the evidence indicates that he must be the glorified Lord Jesus. In line with Jesus’ being the Archangel, he is here shown to have authority over the other angels. (1 Thessalonians 4:16; Jude 9) He ascends from the east, like “the kings from the rising of the sun”—Jehovah and his Christ—who come to execute judgment, as did kings Darius and Cyrus when they humbled ancient Babylon. (Revelation 16:12; Isaiah 45:1; Jeremiah 51:11; Daniel 5:31) This angel also resembles Jesus in that he is entrusted with sealing anointed Christians. (Ephesians 1:13, 14) Further, when the winds are unleashed, it is Jesus who leads the heavenly armies in executing judgment on the nations. (Revelation 19:11-16) Logically, then, Jesus would be the one to command that destruction of Satan’s earthly organization be held back until God’s slaves are sealed.
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