CHAPTER SEVEN contains two of eleven segments or interludes inserted at various places to develop certain threads of the revelation. As such, these inserted pieces often cause a break in the chronology of the main portion of the book and may take the particular topic back to the beginning or to the end (flashbacks or flash-forwards). For the lack of a better name, they will be identified as “parentheses.”
Chapters six and seven have parallel sections:
Four horsemen, 1-8
Martyrs clothed in white robes, 9-11
Wrath of the Lamb, 12-17
Four Angels, 1-3
144,000 Israelites sealed, 4-11
Compassion of the Lamb, 12-17
There are two groups of people in chapter seven:
First Group (7:1-8)
Witnessing on Earth
Enter into the Kingdom
Second Group (7:9-17)
Worshiping in Heaven
Share in the Kingdom
The parenthesis of chapter seven covers the entire seven years of the Tribulation, showing who will be saved during this terrible time of distress. This parenthesis is the answer to prayers like Habakkuk’s prayer: “In wrath remember mercy” (Habakkuk 3:2).
Historicists view the visions of this chapter as the second half of the sixth seal, applying them to politico-religious revolution under Constantine around A.D. 312-360. The 144,000 (Jews) and the Great Multitude (Gentiles) proportionally represent the redeemed Church (Isaiah 54:1). Hence, the Church having gone through great tribulation is now seen in heaven.
Preterists view the breaking of the first six seals as dealing with the A.D. 70 destruction of Jerusalem, therefore, the 144,000 are the remnant of Jewish Christians who escaped the doomed city before its destruction and the Great Multitude is saved Gentiles killed under Roman persecution.
Idealists hold that the four winds are the same as the four horsemen based on their interpretation of Zechariah 6:1-8. Hence, the sealing of God’s people has taken place before the first seal is opened. They hold the 144,000 symbolizes the “church militant” while on earth and Great Multitude represents the “Church triumphant” in heaven.
Futurists hold that the 144,000 Sealed Israelites and the Great Multitude of this chapter are saved during the Tribulation Period after the Rapture of the Church.