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The Four Winds of Revelation -
An Example of Restraint and Release

The four winds of Revelation 7 and 8 are a good example of God restraining evil, in this case, by having His angels hold back the winds of destruction. The restraint is maintained for a time until an objective is reached and then they are released. Then, in a sense, permission is given for Satan to work or we can look at it as God no longer preventing him from causing destruction.

It is important to understand that God does not send evil; rather He protects us from it when we allow Him to. This is explained on this page about Jesus character.

Even in the Garden of Eden before sin, there was an example of Satan being restrained. Satan was limited to the tree of knowledge of good and evil. He could not go wherever he wanted to tempt Adam and Eve. By going near that tree, listening to the serpent and giving in to temptation, Eve and then Adam essentially loosed Satan to go where he wanted to on planet Earth. In fact, Adam, by sinning, forfeited his God-given dominion (Gen 1:28) to the earth and it passed to Satan who is later called "the god of this world." (2 Cor 4:4)

Let's look at the instances of restraint and release in the book of Revelation.

Restraint - the four winds are held:

"And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree. And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads." (Rev 7:1-3)

Release - the four winds are released; the earth, sea and trees are hurt:

"The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up. And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood;" (Rev 8:7-8)

Restraint - the pit is closed (implied by its later opening)
Release - the pit is opened to release "locusts":

"He opened the shaft of the bottomless pit, and from the shaft rose smoke like the smoke of a great furnace, and the sun and the air were darkened with the smoke from the shaft. Then from the smoke came locusts on the earth, and they were given power like the power of scorpions of the earth." (Rev 9:2-3)

Also, in this passage, is another example of permission being given where it was not there before: the locusts "were given power" implying they did not have it before.


Restraint of the locusts:

"They (the locusts) were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any green plant or any tree, but only those people who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads. They were allowed to torment them for five months, but not to kill them, and their torment was like the torment of a scorpion when it stings someone." (Rev 9:4-5)

We see three limits in this passage:

  1. "... not to harm the grass ... any green plant or any tree"
  2. "torment them for (a limited time of) five months"
  3. "not to kill them"

Release

"So the four angels, who had been prepared for the hour, the day, the month, and the year, were released to kill a third of mankind." (Rev 9:15)

So evil forces were not allowed to kill in verse 5 but by verse 15 we read of them killing a third of mankind.


Restraint - the angels are bound
Release - the angels are released:

"saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, 'Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.'" (Rev 9:14)


Restraint

"And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years," (Rev 20:2)

Release

"and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he might not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be released for a little while. ... And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison" (Rev 20:3,7)

The four winds and a number of other passages from Revelation show that Satan is restrained for periods of time and then, when certain conditions are met, he is released. It's not that God is sending Satan out to destroy so much as that God restrains Satan's activities while He can based on the balance of good and evil. Think of the example of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 18) where the cities would have been spared if there had been more people in them who were righteous.


We can rejoice that, at last, Satan will be eternally restrained by his final destruction:

"and the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire ... the lake of fire. This is the second death." (Rev 20:10, 14)
"Thou hast defiled thy sanctuaries by the multitude of thine iniquities, by the iniquity of thy traffick; therefore will I bring forth a fire from the midst of thee, it shall devour thee, and I will bring thee to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold thee. All they that know thee among the people shall be astonished at thee: thou shalt be a terror, and never shalt thou be any more." (Eze 28:18-19)
Never will he be able to tempt and harass again. While the release of the four winds will bring great difficulty on earth, when it happens we will be able to rejoice that time is very short.  


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