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Revelation 7:1-8 “Sealing The 144,000”

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SIH STSTA ICONTHE TEXT:

 

The sealing of the 144,000 children of Israel.

 

 

Rev 7:1-8 KJV

(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.
(2)  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.
(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.
(5)  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.

 

THE INTRODUCTION:

In chapter 6, we begin to see the seals being opened. All seven seals represent for us the events that will lead up to the  the Christian’s receipt of their eternal inheritance:

Opening Seals 1-4 (Revelation 6:1-8)  – All four of these seals affect everyone who is living on earth

  1.  1st Seal – White Horse – False Teachers/Christs 1-2
  2. 2nd Seal – Red Horse – Wars and Rumors Of War  3-4
  3. 3rd Seal – Black Horse – Famine and Scarcity  5-6
  4. 4th Seal – Pale Horse – Death  7-8

Opening Seals  5-6 (Revelation 6:9-17)

  1. 5th Seal – Persecution/Martyrdom 9-11 – This seal is pointed towards Christians (faithful servants of Christ)
  2. 6th Seal – Heaven’s Shaken – God’s Wrath Falling 12-17 – This seal is pointed towards the unsaved (those who oppose the work of Christ on earth.

 

Keep in mind seal six was revealed in Rev 6:12-17.  The seventh seal, which represents the Lord’s wrath falling upon sinful mankind at His second coming, will be opened in Rev 8:1.  The events of chapter 7 take place following the end of seal 6 and prior to the opening of seal 7.

In other words, chapter 7 explains the events that take place immediately prior to, and in preparation for, the second coming of Christ in wrath.

What has to take place immediately after the events of today’s time, but before the second coming?

The Lord will take His people off the sinful, fallen earth and give to them glorified bodies (1 Cor 15:50-54, Matt 24:29-31 etc).  In doing so, He will be removing them from the wrath that is about to fall upon the sinful earth (2 Pet 3:10 Rev 8:1-on).   It is the taking of Christ’s people that will be in view in this section of our study…

 

 

THE EXPOSITORY STUDY:

 

And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth,

Following the vision of the opening of the six seals (“these things”), John now sees a new vision.  This vision involves 4 angels that are standing in the North, South, East, and West (“four corners of the earth”).

These heavenly angels, God’s servants working among His people on earth, remind us that the event that is about to take place is sanctioned by God.  Any work these angels may do or any words these angels might say find their origin in God Himself.  He is the One that has sent them and they are simply doing His bidding.

The angels position in the four corners of the earth show us that the events that are about to take place are world-wide, affecting all of mankind.

 

holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree.

These four angels are seen holding back mighty winds that are ready to blow forcibly and harm the earth, sea and living creation upon earth (see 7:2-3).

These four winds are a picture of Christ’s earth-wide wrath that will fall at His second coming.  These angels symbolize God’s holding back the winds of wrath because His people have not yet been removed.  If the wrath fell at this instant, both lost and saved would feel the wrath of Christ falling upon them.

 

And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God:

Another angel appears in the east.  He possesses the seal of the living God.

This angel is a symbolic representation of Christ. Please note:

  1. Christ is described as a messenger of God. Angels, being messengers of God, makes fitting symbols of Christ. (Mal 3:1)
  2. The angel comes from the east. Christ is said to come from the east at the second coming (Matt 24:27)
  3. The angel is pictured as the rising sun. Christ is pictured as the rising sun at the second coming (Mal 4:2, 2 Pet 1:19)
  4. The angel possesses the “seal of the living God”. Christ, who is God Himself, would have the authority to possess the seal of Almighty God and use it accordingly.  Only God, Himself, could possess and use the seal of God. No man, or angel could possess it.
  5. In the next verse, we see this angel possesses the authority to command the other angels. This again, shows that this is no mere angel, but Christ who possesses the authority of 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.

This angel with the seal of God, commands the other four angels to continue to hold back the winds from blowing and hurting the earth.   The reason for the delay is that the people of God have not been protected as of yet.  It is only following God taking His people from the earth that His wrath against sinful mankind will be allowed to fall.  (Isa 26:20-21)

In those days, a seal was placed on a document to prove its authenticity, ownership and authorship, as well as to protect its contents. The seal was made of melted wax that was then imprinted with an individualized signet ring of the writer of the document.

The sealing of God’s people that is described here is simply taking them to be with the Lord.  The taking of God’s people  from this sinful earth (prior to God’s wrath falling) has two basic results… it identifies them as a genuine possessions of God and citizens of His spiritual nation of Israel (Rev 14:1) and protect them from the wrath of God that is about to fall on sinful mankind at His second coming. (Isa 26:20-21, Rev 9:4)  

 

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.

A description of God’s sealed, protected people (all the saved are now described.  They are symbolized by 144,000 Jews.

Please keep in mind:

  1. All believers are symbolized by Jews – In the Bible the physical Jews of the OT represent for us God’s saved people throughout history. As a matter of fact, several places in the New Testament actually describe the saints of God as making up the spiritual nation described as “The Israel of God”. (Zech 11:4-14, John 10:24-30, Roms 2:17, 28-29, Roms 4:10-18, Roms 11:7-32, Gals 4:28-30, Gals 6:14-16, Rev 2:9, Rev 3:9 etc)
  1. All believers are symbolized by 144,000 – In the Bible, the number 12 is the number of eternal perfection. And is representative of God’s people set apart for His use and will share eternity with Him. In the Old Testament we find that the 12 tribes making up Israel (the physical nation set apart for God’s use), and in the New Testament we find that there were 12 apostles (men separated to God’s use).  When multiplied together they give us 144.

The number 1000 throughout God’s Word is the number of completeness or fullness.

144,000 symbolically helps us to understand that we are talking about each and every believer in both Old and New Testament times are included in this group.  He will lose none of those He has redeemed… all will be taken from the earth, all will escape His wrath and all will spend eternity with Him (John 6:39).

 

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.  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.  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.  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 now have the tribes of Israel listed.  Please note differences between the original 12 tribes and the 12 tribes that are said to possess the land and in Ezekiel’s vision of eternity and the 12 tribes mentioned in this text:

 

Original Twelve Tribes (Jacob’s Sons) Tribes In Ezekiel Vision (Ezek 48:) 144,000 In Revelation 7:
Reuben Reuben Reuben
Simeon Simeon Simeon
Levi Levi
Judah Judah Judah
Dan Dan
Naphtali Naphtali Naphtali
Gad Gad Gad
Asher Asher Asher
Issachar Issachar Issachar
Zebulon Zebulon Zebulon
Joseph Joseph
Benjamin Benjamin Benjamin
Manasseh Manasseh
Ephraim

Why is there a difference?

  1. In Ezekiel’s vision Levi and Joseph are missing…. Manasseh and Ephraim are added. Why?  Joseph’s family is given a double portion of the land (Manasseh and Ephraim are sons of Joseph) while Levi’s portion is taken away.

 

Levi had not been given a portion of the promised land.  They were to be totally dedicated to the Lord’s service, not be hindered by the things of the world, and were reliant upon the divine supplies of God (Joshua 13:33).

Joseph received a double portion (Joshua 14:4 as the replacement tribe).  Remember Reuben should have received the double “replacement portion” of the land, but because he committed adultery, it went to Jacob’s favorite son instead (1 Chron 5:01)

 

This account helps us to understand two very important truths…

First, our faithfulness to the Lord NOW will affect our inheritance in eternity (the receipt of rewards with which we will honor Christ).

Secondly, as we serve the Lord we are to fully dedicate our lives to His service by putting our full faith in Him and subordinating all the things the world has to offer to a position of insignificance.

 

  1. In John’s vision Dan is missing and Manasseh is added. Why?

Dan is in the OT is a picture of our flesh ruling our lives.  He was born as a result of envy and selfishness (Gen 30:1-6)

Manasseh is a picture of faith and grace.  Manasseh was born as a result of God gracious intervention of comfort (Gen 41:51)

From this we can learn that those who will enter God’s kingdom and spend an eternity with Him are those in whom the Lord has intervened by grace.  Those who are ruled by their flesh, will have no part in the eternal inheritance awaiting the people of God.

(Please notice the listing of tribes found in this passage (Rev 7:1-8) proves this cannot have a literal interpretation.  If this was literal you would have Manasseh counted twice (once in Manasseh and once in Joseph the father of Manasseh).  This is an impossibility when you are counting the tribe members because in essence you would have more than 144,000 total in you counted the tribe of Manasseh twice. 12,000 x 13 tribes = 156.000)

(Also note the order of the sons given by John is different from that of the original 12 in birth order.  Judah is placed  first in John’s listing because it is the tribe from which the Messiah would come.  Also the 3 sons of the Gentile concubines, Gad, Asher and Naphtali, (Dan is excluded) are placed in positions immediately following the first born Reuben to emphasize the inclusion of Gentile blood that is found in this listing of tribal Jews.  This again, is an indication of John recognizing these “Jewish” tribes, in actuality contained Gentiles and Jews that make up spiritual Israel.)

 

CHRIST REVEALED:

In this passage, we can see that Christ is pictured as the Almighty protector of His people.  He is the One that will avenge them by sending His wrath upon those who have abused them.  And He is the One that will protect them by taking them to be with Him prior to the falling of His wrath.  What a wonderful truth it is to know that our Lord is our Protector!

2Sa 22:3-4 KJV

The God of my rock; in him will I trust: he is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my saviour; thou savest me from violence.  I will call on the LORD, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies.

 

 

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION (SUMMARY)

Folks, may we always appreciate the Lord for His promises of protection and security that we find in Him.  Whether His care is shown to us by His constant presence in the life of His people, or it be our homecoming to be present with Him, we can know with certainty that He is there for us supplying our needs, allowing only what is for our good and keeping our eternity secure in His work!

 

Heb 13:5-6 KJV

Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.  So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.

 

Isa 43:1-4 KJV

But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.  When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.  For I am the LORD thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee.  Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee: therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life.

 

1Th 1:9-10 KJV

For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God;  And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.

 

May the Lord bless us as we seek to see Jesus in the pages of the book of Revelation.

 

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5 Comments

  1. SLIMJIM says:

    Finally got to this after Sunday!

  2. Wow! Bless you. I love these in-depth studies.

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