Every Thought Captive

Salvation Belongs to Our God

After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth, that no wind might blow on earth or sea or against any tree. Then I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, with the seal of the living God, and he called with a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm earth and sea, saying, “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.” And I heard the number of the sealed, 144,000, sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel:

12,000 from the tribe of Judah were sealed,  
12,000 from the tribe of Reuben, 
12,000 from the tribe of Gad,
12,000 from the tribe of Asher,
12,000 from the tribe of Naphtali,
12,000 from the tribe of Manasseh,
12,000 from the tribe of Simeon,
12,000 from the tribe of Levi,
12,000 from the tribe of Issachar,
12,000 from the tribe of Zebulun,
12,000 from the tribe of Joseph,
12,000 from the tribe of Benjamin were sealed.  

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”

Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

“Therefore they are before the throne of God,
and serve Him day and night in His temple;
and He who sits on the throne will shelter them with His presence.  

They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore;
the sun shall not strike them,
nor any scorching heat.

For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their Shepherd,
and He will guide them to springs of living water,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”  

Revelation 7

As we wind our way through Revelation, it’s easy to lose the forest for the trees. We get fixated on angels or horsemen or the meaning of 144,000, and we lose the big picture. Revelation 7 gives us so much to imagine and debate, but it also gives us an exclamation that summarizes the whole message of the Bible. It’s what David declares in Psalm 3:8. It’s what Jonah proclaims from the belly of the fish (Jonah 2:9). And here, in Revelation 7:10, it’s what “a great multitude that no one could number” cries out as they stand before the throne: “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” This is a fitting summary of the Bible because it reminds us that the Lord is sovereign in planning, purchasing, and applying salvation to His people. Truly, salvation belongs to the Lord. The great multitude around the throne has no doubt that salvation is by His grace and for His glory.

But, we might ask, if salvation belongs to the Lord, how can we know that it belongs to us? Or to ask it another way, how can we know that we belong to the Lord? Most of us have been in a situation where we needed to prove ownership—of a car, a pet, or an account. We had to provide evidence that we are who we say we are and the thing in question belongs to us. In the ancient world, proof of ownership was often communicated through seals. You could find a seal or symbol on a coin (Matthew 22:20-21), a letter, an animal, or other objects. The seal was a way of saying, “This belongs to me.” In our time, our signature often serves as the proof of ownership or the promise to fulfill an agreement. New Testament authors like John and Paul borrow this concept of “sealing” to illustrate what happens in salvation.

We can know that we belong to the Lord—that salvation belongs to us—because the Lord has sealed us. John uses this word explicitly or implicitly 15 times in Revelation 7:3-8. One angel tells four other angels not to bring God’s judgment until they have “sealed the servants of our God” (Revelation 7:3). Paul explains the seal in Ephesians 1:13-14 when he writes, “In Him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in Him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of His glory.” For the one who believes in Jesus Christ, the seal is not an external marker, like a symbol, letter, or brand. It’s not a signature on a piece of paper. The seal is “the promised Holy Spirit” who indwells those who believe in Jesus. Every human is stamped or sealed with the image of God, but the Christian experiences a more astounding reality: being sealed with the very presence of God. As Lord of all the earth, God doesn’t need to prove His ownership to anybody, but the seal of the Holy Spirit provides us with wonderful assurance. It means that we are His. Because we are His, we are assured that Jesus will save us from the wrath that is to come (1 Thessalonians 1:10). Because we are His, we can rest as sons and daughters in the perfect love of our Abba, Father (Galatians 4:6). Because we are His, we can be confident that the Lord will fulfill every promise He has made to us. For the Holy Spirit is the down payment, “the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it”. The seal of the Holy Spirit means that we belong to the Lord, and He belongs to us. As we wrestle with questions, heartache, and even death, do we know the invincible joy of belonging to God? By His grace, will we join the song: “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”?

About the Author

Photograph of Robby Higginbottom

Robby Higginbottom

Pastor of Community

Park Cities Presbyterian Church

Robby Higginbottom was born and raised in Dallas, Texas. Beginning in high school, he sensed the Lord calling him to pastoral ministry. Robby is a graduate of Highland Park High School, Duke University, and Redeemer Seminary. He currently serves as Pastor of Community at PCPC. Robby is married to Ann, and they have two children: Will and John.