“The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to show unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John: 2 Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw. 3 Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.”
Revelation Chapter 7
The Sealing and The 144,000
Revelation 7:1 “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.”
After these things - The context for chapter seven is the sixth seal. The question was posed in verse 17 of Revelation six, who was going to be able to stand? And we find this answered here in chapter seven. From the events in the first verses of chapter seven, it is easily seen that they are after verses 12 and 13 of Revelation six as they have already come to pass (that is, been fulfilled), but before verse 14 as it deals with the second coming and the seventh plague. Let us continue on so as to gain a clearer understanding of this point.
Four angels standing on the four corners of the earth - We find this expression in Isaiah 11:12 also. It is clear that the four corners of the earth are the four points of the compass. If an object has only four corners, an expression like this would mean all encompassing, thus we are dealing with global events.
Holding the four winds of the earth - Here we are given the answer of what these angels are doing. They are holding the four winds of the earth. When talking of the four winds you are once again speaking in a global nature. (Mark 13:27, Matthew 24:31)
Winds in Bible prophecy represent war, violence, bloodshed, and strife. (Jeremiah 25:32-33) Therefore these angels are holding back calamities that are to come upon the entire earth. The only instances that we find in the Bible dealing with such events are Noah and the flood, which has already passed. In Daniel 12:1 we have the time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation, or commonly known as the time of Jacob's trouble Jeremiah 30:7, which deals with events on a global scale around the time of close of probation and the 7 last plagues. It is this that the four angels are holding back, the destruction that Satan will bring upon the earth, political strife etc.
Should not blow on the earth...sea...tree - Once again we see that this is on a global scale.
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Revelation 7:2-3 “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, 3 Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.”
Another angel ascending from the east - This is a different angel from the four that are holding back the four winds. Notice the direction that it comes from.
The east denotes that this angel comes from and is dispatched by God. (Luke 1:76-78 (sun rising margin), Ezekiel 43:2, Matthew 24:27)
Having the seal of the living God - This angel has the seal of the living God. Let us look at what this seal is.
In Isaiah 8:16 we see that the law of God is to be sealed amongst His own. A law is not valid unless it has a seal and thus the law of God must have a seal also. For a seal to be authentic it must contain three elements, 1. Name, 2. Title, and 3. Territory/Domain that the person rules over. These three elements we are to look for in the law of God. This is only found in the fourth Commandment of the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20:8-11.
Name - Lord thy God.
Title - Creator (made heaven and earth).
Territory - Heaven and earth.
Thus we see that the seventh day Sabbath is the seal of the living God. But in what way is it a seal?
From Romans 4:11 we are shown that the word sign and seal are used synonymously, that is, they are interchangeable with each other. In Exodus 31:17 the Sabbath is a sign/seal reminding us that God created all things, thus the Sabbath is a sign/seal of creation.
The Sabbath is a sign/seal to remind us that it is God that sanctifies us. (Ezekiel 20:12) The word sanctify means to make one holy. Man was created holy and in the image of God. When man sinned, his holy/sanctified state was lost. Also the image of God has been destroyed in man by sin. Thus the seal of the Sabbath also assures us that God intends on restoring the image of God in him.
How the believer receives this seal is found in Ezekiel 20:20. We are told to hallow the Sabbath of God which means, we are to treat the Sabbath as being sacred, keeping it holy. You can not merely believe in the Sabbath but to keep it holy.
Cried with a loud voice - This angel now cry's out to the four angels that are holding back the winds of strife.
3. Hurt not the earth - He tells them to not hurt the earth, sea, nor the trees, that is, not to loose the four winds until a certain time. What time?
Till we have sealed the servants of our God - The four winds of strife are to be held in check until the servants of their God had been sealed.
Those that are sealed are those that are servants of the living God. A servant is one that serves his master and does all that his master bids. Thus they are giving loving service to God and not serving sin. (John 14:15, Romans 6:19-22) So they are leading a sanctified life and keeping the Sabbath holy.
In Revelation 14:1 it is stated that the Father's name is written in their foreheads. This is not a contradiction as a careful study of the scriptures will show. Name refers to character in the Bible. The law is a transcript of the name/character of God. (Psalms 97:6; 119:172 and Exodus 33:18-19; 34:5-7; 20:5-6) Thus this shows that the 144,000 are leading a sanctified life and have the image/character of the Father reproduced in their lives.
In their foreheads - Behind the forehead is what is commonly known as the frontal lobes of the brain. It is scientifically proven that this part of the brain is where a person makes all their decisions. It is not a literal mark, for all to see, that is placed on the forehead. But it is a conscious freewill choice to follow all that the Lord has said in loving obedience, not a forced compliance.
Revelation 7:4 “And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel.”
The number of them - The number that were sealed was 144,000. Whether this is a symbolic or literal number is not of the greatest importance. What is of the greatest importance with this group is the character that they possess. We will look at this in Revelation 14:1-5.
All the tribes of Israel - Those that were sealed come from all the tribes of Israel, as listed in the next verses.
Revelation 7:5-8 “Of the tribe of Juda were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Reuben were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Gad were sealed twelve thousand. 6 Of the tribe of Aser were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Nepthalim were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Manasses were sealed twelve thousand. 7 Of the tribe of Simeon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Levi were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Issachar were sealed twelve thousand. 8 Of the tribe of Zabulon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Joseph were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Benjamin were sealed twelve thousand.”
We have listed here the tribes that the 144,000 come from. But does this refer to literal Israel? Let us compare the tribes of literal Israel to the list found here.
The difference between the two lists is that, the names of Ephraim and Dan have been left out and the names of Joseph and Levi being added in. The reason for excluding Ephraim is that they were heavily into idolatry. (Hosea 4:17) Dan was regarded as backbiters (Genesis 49:17) and there will be no backbiters/gossipers in heaven. (Romans 1:28-32)
This can not be literal Israel as the two lists do not line up. But we find it to be the twelve tribes of spiritual Israel that James was addressing his letter to. (James 1:1) See also Romans 11:17-24; 9:6-8; 2:28-29.
Before we move on we will take a closer look at the identifying marks of the 144,000.
1. In the context of chapter 6, they are those that will stand at the second coming.
2. They pass through great tribulation. (such as the 7 last plagues)
3. All 144,000 are a part of spiritual Israel not literal Israel.
4. They are righteous, see comments on verse 14.
5. All have hungered, thirsted, felt the effects of heat, and have wept. See comments on verses 16 and 17.
6. They sing the song of Moses which is the experience of deliverance and victory over their enemies. (song = experience, see Revelation 5:9) Also the song of the Lamb, which is the experience of living a life of the sacrificing of self. (Revelation 14:3; 15:3)
7. All of the 144,000 gain the victory over the beast, image, his mark, and the number of his name. (See comments on Revelation 15:2)
8. All 144,000 do not taste death, for they are redeemed from among men, that is, the living Revelation 14:4; not from among the dead/grave. (Hosea 13:14)
So we can see that, the 144,000 are a group of righteous (as they have the character of the Father reproduced in their lives), living in the end time, that pass through great tribulation and the 7 last plagues. They keep holy the seventh day Sabbath and live through this time of trouble, not tasting death, and see Christ coming the second time. For they have gained the victory over their enemies.
Revelation 7:9-12 “After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; 10 And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb. 11 And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, 12 Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.”
After this - After John saw the 144,000, he sees a great multitude which no man could number. (which clearly shows that these are two separate groups, as the 144,000 are numbered) They are from all nations, kindreds, people, and tongues, showing us that this is the redeemed of all ages.
Clothed in white robes - These stand before the throne of the Father and before the Lamb, Jesus Christ, in white robes. White, as we have already seen to be, is the symbol of purity, righteousness, and victory. They stand before the Father and Jesus in purity and righteousness.
Palms in their hands - Palm branches are a symbol of rejoicing and victory. (John 12:13)
10. Salvation to our God - This statement shows the equality of the Father and Jesus, for salvation belongs to them both, and no one else. (Isaiah 43:11, Jeremiah 3:23, Hosea 13:4) This statement is made by the great multitude.
Which sitteth - See notes on Revelation 4:2.
11. Elders - See notes on Revelation 4:4. Although various scenes have intervened since the scene in ch. 4, the general setting is much the same.
Four beasts - See notes on Revelation 4:6.
Fell - See notes on Revelation 5:8.
Worshiped God - When this statement was made, the reaction was one of worship. Once again we have seven different forms of praise mentioned here. And it is right for us, too, to give Him this praise.
12. Amen - See notes on Revelation 5:14.
Blessing - This is a sevenfold doxology as in Revelation 5:12. (see comment there and on verse 13) Here again, as in Revelation 5:8-14, is a vision of the vindication of God and Christ. Upon the testimony of the saved, the hosts of heaven are again reminded that God is wise and righteous. They worship Him with blessing, glory, thanksgiving and honor.
Revelation 7:13-14 “And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? 14 And I said unto him, Sir, you knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”
What are these...arrayed in white robes...whence came they - This questioned posed to John is to bring his attention to a special group. It can not be a reference to the great multitude as John knew exactly where they had come from and who they were. Thus this must be referring to the 144,000, as the list following will clearly show. John had seen the 144,000, in their mortal state, receiving the seal of God and passing through great tribulation; but as they now stand among the redeemed throng, the transition is so great, and the condition in which they now appear so different, that he does not recognize them.
14. Came out of great tribulation - All Christians must “through much tribulation enter the kingdom of God” Acts 14:22. But with the 144,000 it is in a greater sense. They pass through the time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation. (Daniel 12:1) A time of great mental anguish of the time of Jacobs trouble. (Jeremiah 30:4-7) They stand through the outpouring of unmingled wrath from God (in the form of the seven last plagues), upon the wicked, without a mediator. No other group has passed through a time as such.
White robes - We know that this is given to those that are overcomers. Revelation 3:5, 18) Each of them have overcome sin by the grace of God, they have obtained the victory. They would not violate one of the commandments of God, which is expressed by having the Father's name/character in their foreheads. (Revelation 14:1) Each of them have had their life washed in the blood of Christ. “The life of all flesh is in the blood” Leviticus 17:11, 14, and thus they have washed their lives in the life of Christ and it is Christ's life that is being revealed in them, a life filled with righteousness.
Revelation 7:15-17 “Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. 16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. 17 For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.”
Therefore they are before the throne - Because of the victory gained through Christ against sin, the experience of going through the great tribulation, they are very near to God. It is their keenest desire to serve Him day and night in His temple.
16. Hunger, thirst - Obviously they have suffered hunger and thirsting. This is a reference to their trials in the last days. Even though their bread and water will be sure, (Isaiah 33:16) or enough for sustenance, when all the pastures and fruitful places are dried up (Joel 1:18-20) and the rivers and fountains turned to blood, (Revelation 16:4-9) there will be time when the righteous will be brought occasionally into extreme decrees of hunger and thirst. Once in heaven they shall never hunger or thirst again.
Sun light on them, nor any heat - When power is given unto the sun to “scorch men with fire” Revelation 16:8-9, the righteous will be shielded from its burning rays. But they will not have their sensibilities so deadened as to not feel any unpleasantness from the terrific heat. But in the heavenly Canaan they will be able to appreciate the promise of God that the sun will not light on them.
17. The Lamb - See notes on Revelation 5:6.
In the midst of the throne - Jesus is portrayed as being closest of all to the throne of God.
Shall feed them - Greek poimainō, “to shepherd.” (cf. on Revelation 2:27) Although it is usually the lamb that is shepherded, here the Lamb is revealed as the true shepherd. (cf. John 10:11) The thought of the present passage is probably drawn from Isaiah 40:11.
Shall lead them - In Revelation 14:4 we find that they follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth. Both statements show to us the close companionship that they have with Christ.
Unto living fountains of waters - They have experienced hunger but they shall be feed, thirst but this shall be quenched. “They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house; and thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures” Psalms 36:8. They shall be abundantly satisfied in all things.
Wipe away all tears - “He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the LORD hath spoken [it].” Isaiah 25:8. Death has been swallowed up and all tears will cease.
Identifying Marks of the 144,000
Revelation 7 and Revelation 14:1-5.
1. Exist in the last days/end of time. (Revelation 6:15-7:4)
2. They belong to spiritual Israel, they are true Christians. (Revelation 7:5-8)
3. Each of them is sealed with the seal of the living God, which involves the observance of the true Sabbath. (Revelation 7:3-4)
4. They attain to perfection of character. (Revelation 14:5, 1)
5. They are virgins, undefiled. (Revelation 14:4)
6. They overcome the Beast and his Image. (Revelation 15:2)
7. They sing the song of Moses and of the Lamb. (Revelation 15:3; 14:3)
8. They experience the great tribulation of the end of time. (Revelation 7:14)
9. They are the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb. (Revelation 14:4)
10. None of them experience death, they are the living righteous who will be translated. (Revelation 14:4)
Explanation of each point.
1, 8. The context for Revelation seven is the sixth seal. The question was posed, in verse 17 of Revelation six, who was going to be able to stand when Christ comes again? And we find the answer to this question in Revelation seven, the 144,000.
Chapter 7 takes us back to the time just before the close of probation, just before the four angels let loose the four winds (the calamities, war, bloodshed etc) that are to come upon this earth just before Christ comes.
The only instances that we find in the Bible dealing with such events on a world wide scale are Noah and the flood, which has already passed. We also have the tribulation of the Dark Ages as referred to in Matthew 24. In Daniel 12:1 we have the “time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation”, or commonly known as the “time of Jacob's trouble” Jeremiah 30:7, which deals with events on a global scale around the time of the close of probation and the 7 last plagues. It is this that the four angels are holding back. The 144,000 live during this time.
2. In the New Testament era we are not dealing with literal but spiritual Israel, true Christians. (Romans 2:28-29; 9:6-8; Galatians 3:26-29; 1 Peter 2:5-10)
The 12 tribes listed are not the original Israel of the Old Testament as Dan and Ephraim are missing, but they are replaced with Joseph and Levi. Name denotes character and the name of the tribe denotes the particular characteristics of that section of the 144,000.
Dan means judging and was known for his backbiting. (Genesis 49:16-17) He represents those who persist in destructive criticism and those who are backbiters.
Ephraim was joined to idols (Hosea 4:17) and thus represents those amongst God's people who wish to belong to the world and Christ at the same time, but this can not be. (James 4:4)
There is importance to the way the names have been listed in the particular order they are in the book of Revelation, note when the meaning of the names are placed together;
“Praise God, a son, a company of sons, redeemed and happy, after wrestling in prayer, forgetting self and the past, hearing God's word, joined to God as servants, dwelling with added joys and blessing, as sons of the right hand.” A good description of the 144,000.
3. The 144,000 receive the seal of God which involves keeping holy the Sabbath day, (Ezekiel 20:20) for the Sabbath is a sign/seal.
It is also seen in scripture that the law of God is too been sealed amongst His disciples, (Isaiah 8:16) also Deuteronomy 6:8 which is where Revelation is quoting from. But there is only one of the Ten Commandments that constitutes or contains the necessary elements of a seal and that is the fourth commandment which is the Sabbath. It shows to whom we really belong in the last days.
4. The seal is in their forehead which is also the place that it is said to have their Father's name written, the seal and the Father's name are synonymous.
Once again name denotes character and thus this shows that the 144,000 have reached the stage of perfection or maturity of character by the grace of God. Their characters reflect that of Christ's. This is also seen by the statement that they are without fault before the throne and they have no guile/deceit in their mouths.
Generally in our endeavour to keep the commandments of God our obedience is imperfect. However, God accepts our best effort. While we are growing in grace, His righteousness covers our lack. But with the last generation who are awaiting translation, they will indeed come to the state where they fully “keep the Commandments of God” Revelation 14:12.
5. These are not literal virgins spoken of here as the Bible makes it clear that marriage does not defile. (Hebrews 13:4)
Firstly this denotes that they are morally pure for the blood of Jesus Christ has cleansed them from all sin. (Revelation 7:14) In a time of extreme moral corruption and perversion, the 144,000 have resisted the all-pervading immorality, and have overcome.
Secondly a woman in prophecy represents churches. In chapter 17 we have “Babylon the Great” which is the counterfeit religious organization inspired by Satan, also known as the mystery Babylon the great mother of harlots. This means then that she has daughters, or daughter churches, who are following in the footsteps of the mother church. We know the mother church to be the Papacy/Rome and the harlot daughters are those churches which have come out of Rome but who now follow in the mother's footsteps, the apostate churches of Protestantism. The 144,000 “are not defiled with women.” They are not defiled with the harlot churches of Christendom. In other words, the 144,000 have come out of Babylon as to the call of Revelation 18:4.
They have not been defiled by the false doctrines and practices of spiritual Babylon.
6. The overcome the Beast and his image which clearly shows that they live down at the end of time. They have not bent the knee to the overwhelming tide of evil but have kept the commandments of God by the same faith that Christ had.
7. They will sing the song of Moses and of the Lamb. This is a song of their experience.
The song of Moses was sung when God had divided the waters of the Red Sea and the children of Israel crossed on dry land delivering them from their Egyptian bondage. When Israel looked back and saw their enemies destroyed and realized that after hundreds of years of cruel captivity they were forever free, they burst into a song of gratitude to God. The song of Moses denotes deliverance from earthly foes.
The song of the Lamb is one of the experience of self-sacrificing love and deliverance from spiritual foes and the thralldom of sin.
They will have been delivered from the beast and his image. They will be delivered from earthly powers that have united together against God in the last days. They will be delivered from the evil world that will be intent of destroying them. Like the rest of the redeemed they also have been delivered from the guilt and power of sin.
9. They are the firstfruits., first in importance not necessarily the first in regard to time. In 1 Corinthians 15:20 Christ is regarded as the firstfruits of them that slept. (the dead) Jesus was not the first be raised from the dead but was the first in importance to rise from the dead, because of His resurrection all others can be raised. (John 14:19) In the Old Testament the firstfruits were the best fruits or the chief fruits of the crop, not necessarily the earliest of the fruit. (Numbers 18:12, Ezekiel 44:30 margin)
This means then that the 144,000 are not just the first to be reaped, in the great harvest at the second coming of Christ, but they also represent the best of the harvest. The 144,000 are without fault.
10. They do not experience death as they are redeemed from among men, that is, redeemed from among the living. Speaking of the righteous dead who will be resurrected, Hosea 13:14 says, “I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death…” that is, from the grave whereas the 144,000 are redeemed from the earth, from among men, from the living. They are living at the time of the second coming of Christ and have the privilege to behold it. They are translated without tasting death.
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