Much of this book is references timeless cycles of human rebellion, judgement, salvation and restoration.
“Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees until we have sealed the bond-servants of our God on their foreheads.” (7:3)
We just read in Ezekiel how the LORD had the people who mourned the idolatry in the temple marked before the destroyer came through. Time and time again, from Noah and Lot to the exodus and exile, the LORD knows how to save the righteous and judge the wicked.
I’m reminded of the story in 1 Kings 22, when the king of Israel, Ahab, convinces Jehoshaphat to come into battle with him, after a prophecy makes it clear Ahab will die. He dresses up Jehoshaphat as a deterrent, but the LORD is not fooled. He saves Jehoshaphat and causes a random, stray arrow to pierce the armor and disguise of Ahab as he hides in his chariot, slowing bleeding out.
These judgements in Revelation are reminiscent of the exodus plagues by design. A bloody lamb should also harken us back to that time in Israel’s history.
The LORD knows the hearts of mankind. He knows who is tender toward Him—grieved by what grieves Him—and who is hardened, like Pharaoh.
This doesn’t mean that those who follow the LORD will be free from pain. On the contrary, those around the throne are the ones who “came out of the great tribulation.”
“They will hunger no longer, nor thirst anymore; nor will the sun beat down on them, nor any heat;” (7:16)
Meaning, they endured quite a lot before their salvation was realized. It’s not about pain avoidance, it’s about Allegiance.
Where do we place hope and trust? What sort of safety hedges do we create for ourselves? What is sacrificed for the sake of those?