Chapter 7: 144,000 Sealed on Earth and a Throne Scene of Delivered Saints
The events of Revelation 7 take place about 12 days prior to the
Middle of the Tribulation Week. [Print ---New
Window our Tribulation Timeline
Chart ---New Window -- for studying-- to see how we arrived at that conclusion.] "Through desire a man, having
separated himself, seeketh and intermeddleth with all Wisdom"
(Proverbs 18:1). The "four corners of
the Earth" (7:1) simply denote the compass points of North,
South, East, and West of a spherical Earth, i.e., making reference to a complete
or entire Earth. "It is He that sitteth
upon the circle of the Earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers;
that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to
dwell in" (Isaiah 40:22).
The "four angels" restraining the "four winds of the Earth" (7:1) will receive the attention of Earth dwellers; and, it will probably coincide with the Seventh Seal's ominous Heavenly Silence of "about the space of half an hour" (8:1). This will be a miracle of the Tribulation Week. "He causeth the vapours to ascend from the ends of the Earth; He maketh lightnings for the rain; He bringeth the wind out of His treasuries" (Psalm 135:7). Wind is the movement of air on the Earth's surface, which is effected by:
Therefore, preventing the wind from blowing may entail the LORD's circumvention of the heating and cooling of the planet; also, He may prevent the rotation of the planet. "Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for Me?" (Jeremiah 32:27). [See our article, "For the Elect's Sake" ---New Window , to see how the LORD can miraculously shorten the Tribulation Week.] Preparation for the opening of the Seventh Seal (Revelation 8:1) by sealing the 144,000 is part of the theme of Revelation 7. "Stormy wind fulfilling His Word" (Psalm 148:8) is to be expected from the LORD.
The "angel ascending
from the East" (7:2) is consistent with the pattern
of the Son of God's First and Second Advents. At the First Advent of our LORD, the
Wise Men saw in the East the star that announced the LORD Jesus' birth. "1 Now
when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold,
there came Wise Men from the East to Jerusalem, 2 Saying, Where is He that is born King of the Jews? for we
have seen His star in the East, and are come to worship Him" (Matthew 2:1-2). Likewise, the Second Coming of the LORD Jesus Christ is
compared to lightning coming out of the East. "For
as the lightning cometh out of the East, and shineth even unto the West; so
shall also the coming of the Son of Man be" (Matthew 24:27).
Preservation and deliverance of the Saints is the purpose of this angel out of the East "having the seal of the Living God" (7:2). God "knoweth how to deliver the Godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished" (2Peter 2:9). The seal of the Almighty is sure and certain-- He knows those who are His, i.e., the ones who "depart from iniquity". "Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The LORD knoweth them that are His. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity" (2Timothy 2:19).
The "four angels" (7:2)-- "standing on the four corners of the Earth" (7:1)-- are appointed "to hurt the Earth and the sea" (7:2). Pain and hurt were appointed to man for the First Sin. "But of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die" (Genesis 2:17). But, pain and suffering has been intended by our God to instruct us, as well, i.e., "When He slew them, then they sought Him: and they returned and enquired early after God" (Psalm 78:34). Pain which does not reform and instruct man, is meant by God to hurt and punish. "And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible" (Isaiah 13:11).
The Judge of All the Earth (Genesis 18:25) not only can, but will seal the "servants of our God in their foreheads" (7:3) to righteously preserve His Saints and judge His enemies. "And the LORD said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof" (Ezekiel 9:4). The sealing is to mark the Godly for preservation from His Judgments. "16 Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon His name. 17 And they shall be Mine, saith the LORD of Hosts, in that day when I make up My jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth His own son that serveth Him. 18 Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth Him not" (Malachi 3:16-18).
The emphasis of the first half of Revelation 7 is the sealing of
the 144,000 of the Twelve Tribes of Israel; but, this does not preclude Gentile Believers
from also receiving a similar sealing at this time. "And
it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the Earth, neither any
green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God
in their foreheads" (Revelation 9:4). Sealing protects
the Righteous from the Judgments of God poured out upon the Earth; but, martyrdom
at the hands of Antichrist may still be sovereignly allowed by the LORD-- or, disallowed,
as in the case of the 144,000. "[Fifth Seal Judgment] And white robes
were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest
yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that
should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled"
To be "sealed" (7:4) by God is to be given the Holy Spirit. "Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts" (2Corinthians 1:22). This would indicate that the Jewish 144,000 and any Gentiles sealed at this time-- about 12 days before the Middle of the Tribulation Week-- are newly converted. "In Whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the Word of Truth, the Gospel of your salvation: in Whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of Promise" (Ephesians 1:13). Remember, the martyrdom of Christians of the Fifth Seal Judgment (Revelation 6:9-11) began about 90 days before the Middle of the Tribulation Week. Even as our LORD marks His property, Satan will attempt to identify his property through the Mark of the Beast. "And he [the False Prophet] causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads" (13:16).
The very fact that "all
the tribes of the children of Israel" (7:4) are enumerated
in verses 5 through 8, indicates that Israel always existed in the eyes of God; and,
classifying the 144,000 by tribe at that time demonstrates that faith in Jesus as
the Messiah has made them "servants of
our God" (7:3). "Surely
there is no enchantment against Jacob, neither is there any divination against Israel:
according to this time it shall be said of Jacob and of Israel, What hath God wrought!" (Numbers 23:23). Missing from this particular list of
the twelve tribes of Israel is the tribe of Dan-- replaced by one of Joseph's sons,
Manasses (Manasseh, Hebrew). Some account for this omission as an indication that
the Antichrist will come from Dan. "Dan
shall be a serpent by the way, an adder in the path, that biteth the horse heels,
so that his rider shall fall backward" (Genesis 49:17).
The name of the tribe of Dan is connected to idolatry in the Book of Judges. "30 And the children of Dan set up the graven image: and Jonathan, the son of Gershom, the son of Manasseh, he and his sons were priests to the tribe of Dan until the day of the captivity of the land. 31 And they set them up Micah's graven image, which he made, all the time that the house of God was in Shiloh" (Judges 18:30-31). Definite punishment is promised for idolatry. "18 Lest there should be among you man, or woman, or family, or tribe, whose heart turneth away this day from the LORD our God, to go and serve the gods of these nations; lest there should be among you a root that beareth gall and wormwood; 19 And it come to pass, when he heareth the words of this curse, that he bless himself in his heart, saying, I shall have peace, though I walk in the imagination of mine heart, to add drunkenness to thirst: 20 The LORD will not spare him, but then the anger of the LORD and His jealousy shall smoke against that man, and all the curses that are written in this book shall lie upon him, and the LORD shall blot out his name from under Heaven. 21 And the LORD shall separate him unto evil out of all the tribes of Israel, according to all the curses of the covenant that are written in this Book of the Law" (Deuteronomy 29:18-21).
Why 12,000 from each tribe? Since 12 is the number of tribes of Old Testament Israel and the number of apostles of the New Testament Church, then 12 seems to imply the idea of "representative", i.e., of the whole of Israel and the Church. "But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God" (Romans 2:29). Also, we know that Israel will be a secular nation with a Temple during the Tribulation Week. "When ye therefore shall see the Abomination of Desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)" (Matthew 24:15).
What is the benefit of sealing, if the Antichrist will kill them anyway? It appears that the 144,000 sealed Jewish Believers will be delivered from the Antichrist, i.e., not killed, and will stand triumphantly before the Throne of God. "1 And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with Him an hundred forty and four thousand, having His Father's name written in their foreheads. 2 And I heard a voice from Heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps: 3 And they sung as it were a New Song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the Earth" (Revelation 14:1-3).
But, why would the Only Wise God allow the sealed Gentile Believers to be protected from His judgments, only to be killed by the Antichrist? First, only a portion of the Tribulation Saints will be martyred-- not all. "For this we say unto you by the Word of the LORD, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the LORD shall not prevent [literally, precede] them which are asleep" (1Thessalonians 4:15). Second, those that are martyred by the Antichrist have been sovereignly selected by Jehovah to bear witness for the LORD Jesus Christ by their death, and will be privileged to receive the Martyrs' Crown, i.e., "be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a Crown of Life" (Revelation 2:10). "Pilate therefore said unto Him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the Truth. Every one that is of the Truth heareth My voice" (John 18:37).
This "Great Multitude,
which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues" (7:9) speaks primarily of the Gentile Believers that come out of the Second
Half of the Tribulation Week, i.e., "out
of Great Tribulation" (7:14). "15 When ye therefore
shall see the Abomination of Desolation [at
the Middle of the Tribulation Week], spoken
of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)...
then shall be Great Tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world
to this time, no, nor ever shall be" (Matthew 24:15,21).
But, how can this be stated prior to the opening of the Seventh Seal (Revelation 8:1), which occurs at the Middle of the Tribulation Week? Notice that this Great Multitude is standing "before the throne" (7:9) in Heaven-- apart from any clock or sense of time, i.e., in eternity. It is as if the LORD is giving us a look into eternity at the martyrs of the Second Half of the Tribulation Week, which makes this passage parenthetical or unchronological. The same unchronological discussion takes place when Israel is remembered as a woman, "being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered" (Revelation 12:2), immediately after the Seventh Trumpet Judgment is described (11:15).
How do we know that these who are arrayed in "white robes, and palms in their hands" (7:9)
have been martyred? First, in the Fifth Seal Judgment, we are told that those martyred
under that Seal have been counseled to be patient until "their
fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should
be fulfilled" (6:11), i.e., their brethren of the Great
Multitude of chapter 7. Second, they are also given "white
robes" (7:13), just as the martyrs of the Fifth Seal Judgment,
i.e., "white robes were given unto every
one of them" (6:11). And, third, the events of chapter
7 occur as the Mark of the Beast is ready to be implemented-- Middle of the Tribulation
Week-- where it is promised that "as many
as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed"
This Great Multitude of glorified Saints enthusiastically worship and praise the Living God. "Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb" (7:10). Evidently, one of the results of removing the restraining influence of the Holy Spirit, working in the Pre-Tribulationally Raptured Saints-- "For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only He who now letteth [restrains] will let [continue to restrain], until He be taken out of the way [via the Pre-Tribulation Rapture]" (2Thessalonians 2:7)-- is the repentance of many that are left behind. That repentance is why there is a "Great Multitude, which no man could number" (Revelation 7:9) that "came out of Great Tribulation" (7:14), i.e., out of the Second Half of the Tribulation Week. "When He slew them, then they sought Him: and they returned and enquired early after God" (Psalm 78:34). [See our article, "Must There Be a Pre-Tribulational Rapture? Or, Taking Away the Restraining Influence" ---New Window , for an explanation of 2Thessalonians 2.]
The angels "round about the throne" (7:11) are:
"All the angels... worshipped God" (7:11). What a majestic spectacle this would be, to see, hear, feel, and experience more than 100,000,000 angels-- "ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands" (5:11)-- worshipping God! "Thou art worthy, O LORD, to receive glory and honour and power: for Thou hast created all things, and for Thy pleasure they are and were created" (4:11). Why attribute to God "blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might" (7:12)? Because the shoe only fits Him. "There is none like unto the God of Jeshurun, who rideth upon the Heaven in thy help, and in His excellency on the sky" (Deuteronomy 33:26).
These "elders" (7:13) refer to the 24 Elders (4:4), who seem to represent the entirety of the Saints of God, both Israel and the Church. Like us, they are intensely interested in the welfare and progress of their brethren, the Tribulation Saints, i.e., "What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?" (7:13). Again, the "white robes" (7:13) are brought up. And, we remark that the Fifth Seal Judgment describes the Martyred Saints in "white robes" (6:11), which is the clothing of the Bride of Christ. "And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of Saints" (Revelation 19:8).
"Whence came they" (7:13), or, "where are they from?" This question is asked by one of the elders to the Apostle John; and, John responded like you or I, i.e., "Sir, thou knowest" (7:14), or, "[I don't know, but] Sir, you know." The elder graciously replies to John, "These are they which came out of Great Tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb" (7:14). Normally blood will stain a garment, but the spiritual purity here described can only be achieved by washing away our sins through the blood of Christ shed in His sacrificial death on the Cross.
These martyred, but now glorified Saints now stand before the "throne of God", serving the LORD "day and night in His Temple" (7:15). "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever" (Psalm 23:6). Not only can we expect to be in God's presence forever, but He desires to dwell with us! "2 In My Father's house are many mansions [dwellings or abodes]: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also" (John 14:2-3).
What friend can we name that will cause us to never hunger, thirst, or be oppressed by so much as the harsh rays of the sun? Only Jesus can cause this to happen. "Ye are My friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you" (John 15:14). How many people in this old world can truly number Jesus as their friend? "A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a Friend that sticketh closer than a brother" (Proverbs 18:24). Remember, friendship with the world, i.e., desiring the world's companionship more than Christ's companionship, is to count Jesus as an enemy. "Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God" (James 4:4).
John the Baptist identified the LORD Jesus Christ as the Lamb of
God. "The next day John seeth Jesus coming
unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world" (John 1:29). Picture a Little Pet Lamb. That is the image of what the LORD
Jesus portrays Himself to be. But, instead of being the object of our care, He cares
for us, i.e., the "Lamb which is in the
midst of the throne shall feed them" (7:17). "Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for
you" (1Peter 5:7).
What are "living fountains of waters" (7:17)? Certainly these waters are more than ordinary fountains. "7 How excellent is Thy lovingkindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Thy wings. 8 They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of Thy house; and Thou shalt make them drink of the river of Thy pleasures. 9 For with Thee is the fountain of life: in Thy light shall we see light" (Psalm 36:7-9). Abundant satisfaction and rivers of pleasure flow from His fountain of life. "Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in Thy presence is fulness of joy; at Thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore" (16:11).
"God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes" (7:17). How unlike the destiny of the Lost Sinner Who Dies in His Sins! "47 And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire: 48 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched" (Mark 9:47-48). Contrast the suffering of the damned to the tender treatment of God personally wiping "away all tears" (7:17) from the eyes of the Redeemed. This picture of punishing the Sinner while tenderly treating the Righteous is unfair to the minds of those who reject the Little Pet Lamb. "For the preaching of the Cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God" (1Corinthians 1:18). All glory to the Little Pet Lamb! For the tears that He shall wipe away will be forever banished. "He hath done all things well" (Mark 7:37)!
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