In Revelation chapter 7 John saw “four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth that the wind should not blow on the earth, on the sea, or any tree” (Revelation 7:1). In the previous verse (Revelation 6:17) the unbelievers who realize that Jesus is coming cry out, “The great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?” The “great day of His wrath” is another name for one important phase of the “Great Tribulation”, and is closely related to the Four Winds.
Daniel (in chapter 12), Jesus (in Mathew 24) and John (in Revelation 7) all talk about the “Great Tribulation” or the “Time of Trouble such as never was”. This is a period of stress, chaos and violence that takes place just before the Second Coming of Christ. The Great Tribulation has not yet begun because God continually restrains sinners and Satan.
Jesus said that Satan is the “ruler of this world” (John 12:31, John 14:30). He is the “destroyer”, a “murderer”, and the prince of the demons that cause so much harm. He would like to cause even more grief than he does, but God restrains him to a great extent.
We see this in the history of Job. Satan said to God, “You have made a hedge around (Job), around his household and around all that he has on every side” (Job 1:10). When God said, “He is in your hand” Satan went out and destroyed all of Job’s possessions, his children, struck him with painful boils and would have taken his life but God would not allow him to.
Paul said, “He who now restrains (God) will do so until He is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed” (2 Thessalonians 2:7). The restraining actions of God are described in Revelation 7 as “holding the four winds of the earth”. This phrase is a direct reference to Daniel 7:2,3, “I saw in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of heaven were stirring up the Great Sea. And four great beasts came yup from the sea…”. The beasts symbolized the great empires of Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome that ravaged God’s people.
In Revelation 13 we see similar beasts that will persecute God’s people at the end of time. Satan has plans to subject or destroy as many of God’s children as he can in a final campaign that is called the Time of Trouble, when God will allow him a brief period in which to try to prove his accusation that God’s children only serve Him because He protects and blesses them. This is similar, on a world-wide scale, to his attempts to establish his claim to ownership of the earth by attacking Job who was God’s faithful servant (see Appendix 8 in the Book).
The four angels hold back the winds so that “the wind should not blow on the earth, on the sea, or on any tree” (Revelation 7:1). In the next chapter the 7 trumpets begin to sound, and poisonous fire from heaven destroys the very earth, sea and trees that were to be protected until God’s servants were sealed (Revelation 8:7,8). This (along with other evidence) shows that the trumpet plagues are Satan’s destructive activity which he accomplishes through political powers, taking place after the sealing of the 144,000.
For more details and scriptural support see section 7:1 The Four Winds in The Book.