In affirmation and amplification of the topic The Winds of Strife, I would propose that Rev 7:1-3 illustrates one of the most overlooked and under-considered concepts of reality - with substantial implications.
What is it that enables (abundant) life to function as it should? Order or chaos?
And what is it that creates order in the natural world? Natural laws (as opposed to man-made rules) are the principles of consistency that underpin and therefore enable the order which is necessary for true (abundant) life.
As in the natural, so too in the realm of all living creatures, life is contingent upon order which is contingent upon the underpinning laws that alone give rise to that order. And it is critical to remember that self-renouncing love is the most foundational of all life-promoting laws and that all life-promoting laws reflect the nature of self-renouncing giving. It is this self-renouncing giving that contributes to the perpetual nature of abundant, eternal life (eg: the water cycle, the respiration cycle).
So, life requires two key, inseparably interconnected things. Firstly, It requires a Source (Jn 1:3,4) and maintenance of connection with that Source (Jn 15:5, Acts 17;28). And secondly it involves willingly living in harmony with the laws of life that foster order as opposed to chaos. This is what Adam and Eve did up until Gen 3.
In Gen 3 something changed. Adam and Eve were seduced by Satan into exchanging willing adherence to living in harmony with the necessary self-renouncing nature of life. Instead they, like Satan, embraced the principle of self-exaltation (Gen 3:5). This exchange resulted in an immediate disconnection from the two above mentioned necessities for life. They (inadvertently) disconnected themselves from the Source of life and they no longer lived in harmony with the (natural) laws that promoted and maintained order. What did this mean? Exactly what God had warned them would be the natural cascade of results (Gen 2:16,17).
Interesting that God had said that “on the day you eat… you will surely die”. Yet Adam and Eve didn’t. And people have explained this apparent discrepancy by suggesting that God had only meant they would die ‘spiritually’. But, on the basis of what I have outlined above, Adam and Eve would have died that very day (and I believe instantaneously too) except that God, consistent with His nature and character, intervened instantaneously in order to enable an opportunity for redemption and salvation (2 Pet 3:9).
But this is the overlooked point: death and chaos had become the new default state in both all living creatures and nature itself. Prior to that ‘fateful’ day in Gen 3, humanity’s default trajectory was abundant life. But as a consequence of Adam and Eve’s departure from - or transgression of (1 Jn 3:4) - the two necessary conditions for abundant life, humanity’s new trajectory was “perish” (as per Jn 3:16, etc) under chaos/‘lawlessness’ as opposed to order.
Another description for death and chaos is destruction. But the nature of that destruction is from forces from within - that is, self-destruction as a consequence of disconnection from that which would do the opposite. It is interesting that the 2 root words for the Greek word for perish in Jn 3:16 and 2 Pet 3:9 support an interpretation of to “die utterly” and “away from” - or to completely self-destruct/annihilate as a direct consequence of disconnection from life. The English also supports this interpretation as there is a difference between something that dies from perishing as opposed to dying from having been destroyed. So, since Gen 3 and as a direct natural consequence of Adam and Eve’s choice in Gen 3, self-destruction of nature and life for all living creatures is actually the default state here on planet earth (eg Rom 5:14) and, by extension, throughout our universe.
These winds of strife are natural consequences of reality - via the processes I have outlined above. Destruction (death and total chaos) are already embedded within the reality of this universe. It is not God who destroys - He doesn’t need to. Reality under sin is already doing that. Rather, God is instead restraining that destruction via holding back the 4 winds of strife. This is consistent with Jn 3:16: it is not God who is going to destroy us, it is the reality of sin. God is the one who is trying to save us. Jesus was telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth in Jn 10:10 - destruction is exclusively the activity of the thief and abundant life is the only thing that God is about.
I would propose that it is our lack of awareness of the above-mentioned aspect of reality that has made us vulnerable to Satan’s misportrayal of God as the source of death and/or destruction - especially at the end of the world. I would submit that Revelation 7:1 is but one further verse that challenges this misportrayal.