This will begin by giving you the scripture from the King James Version of the Bible, then will go into our description of what the verses mean. You will be able to read various additional information contained in more specific files under "Research Materials".
Revelation chapter 7 is a parenthesis in the chronology of Revelation, showing God's program of grace and salvation during the period of judgment. The winds depict God's judgment of the earth, and the four angels are restraining agents who hold back the judgment until God's special servants can be sealed.
The parenthesis probably looks back to the same time period as that covered by the six seals, so that the 144,000 must be sealed before the Tribulation judgments begin. 144,000 Witnesses
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.
This "after" is after the happenings of the first six seals. These angels (ministering spirits) were to do something to the whole earth (four corners of the earth). These angels were waiting for orders from God. Their job at this moment was to control these four winds until God said release them. The wrath is held back until those who must be sealed are sealed.
The seal shows ownership and security, as a king's signet ring was used to authenticate and protect official documents. The 144,000 are all Israelites from the 12 tribes (12 times 12,000). This number may be taken literally, or figuratively of a national conversion. All 12 tribes (Isaiah 11:11-13; Ezek. 37:15-28). There are no "lost tribes." In the list of tribes, Joseph stands for Ephraim, and Dan is missing, possibly because it was the first tribe to go into idolatry and apostasy (Judges 18). The 144,000 will apparently be converted and commissioned to be a light to the Gentiles during the Tribulation.
Rev. 7 v.1-4 Suggest that before the world is plunged into the plagues and disasters ushered in by the sixth seal judgment at the end of the first quarter of the Tribulation, God will raise up an army of 144,000 Jewish evangelists to spread across the globe and bring in a soul harvest of unimaginable proportions. Each of these "servants" of God will receive a "SEAL" on his forehead. While we don't know exactly what this seal will be, the text seems to suggest it will be visible. (At least to Christians) Whatever the seal is, it affords these 144,000 Jewish witnesses "of all the tribes of the children of Israel" some kind of supernatural protection, at least until the great soul harvest of Rev. 7 v.9 can be accomplished
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," "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 sent from God was probably an archangel, or maybe even Jesus, Himself. This angel is entrusted with the job of taking a signet and putting God's mark upon the group that God will protect in the midst of the wrath of God. Even though this group will be on the earth during this terrible wrath that shall fall on the inhabitants of the earth, they will be protected, for they are sealed with God's name on their forehead in full view.
This angel comes from the east. This is the same location from which the light comes. This angel has authority over these four angels.
The "sea" here could be a literal sea or as in other places it means large groups of people.
God has said over and over throughout the Bible that there has been a remnant of Jews who have not bowed their knee to false gods. At one point in the Old Testament, He said that the number then was 7000. We read in the 11th chapter of Romans that God told Elijah that there were 7000 who had not bowed the knee to Baal. Romans 11:4, "But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal." You see, God has always had a remnant of physical Israel.
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.
"You Shall Seek Me and Find Me When You Search For Me with All Your Heart" - This is a promise from God Almighty (Deut. 4 v.29) - God has never been without a witness of His salvation on this earth. Since all believers from this present age will have been suddenly and miraculously removed by the event known as the Rapture, new witnesses must be raised up immediately.
Imagine what would happen if, suddenly, in the midst of some very trying times on earth, 144,000 Israelites instantly and miraculously became devout believers in Jesus as their promised Messiah and Savior. This will occur much the same as Saul of Tarsus (Paul) was miraculously brought to faith on the road to Damascus. I don't know what will cause the conversion, other than the power of the Holy Spirit.
But in multiple miraculous incidences, 144,000 Jews will be brought to faith in Jesus as the Messiah and Son of God, and will become powerful evangelists. Picture 144,000 Hebrew Billy Grahams running around the world and bringing this miraculous saving truth to a troubled and confused populace. That's just what's going to happen.
God's Special Protection for the 144,000 - Since these servants will be marked men on earth, working directly counter to the interests of the global leader, they will be "marked" men in more than one sense of the word. They will be under constant attack by the Antichrist's forces as well as the demonic powers unleashed upon the earth. At various times they will suffer from hunger, exposure, ridicule, torture and imprisonment. But they all will be miraculously preserved to continue their witness throughout the tribulation period.
At the very end, the 144,000 witnesses will stand triumphantly on Mount Zion with Jesus. Jesus refers to them as "these brothers of mine". (Mat. 25 v.31-46) The way a person treats these evangelists during the Tribulation will reflect whether he is a believer in their message or not. Keep in mind, it will be extremely perilous to aid and abet them. They will no doubt be on the Antichrist's "most wanted list". But the lesson is that God's man or woman is indestructible until God is finished with him here on earth.
Just the fact that there is a specific number given tells you that these are not the believers. The believers cannot be numbered for multitude. The Christians are not from the tribes of Israel necessarily. Many of them have no Jewish blood whatsoever. In Galatians chapter 3, we read that believers in Christ are Abraham's descendents because of faith, not blood.
In verse 8 of chapter 3 of Galatians the believers are called heathen, which people of physical Israel are never called. Abraham is not the father of believers because of blood line, but because they (the same as Abraham) are saved by faith. Galatians 3:7-8, "Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham." Galatians 3:8
"And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, [saying], In thee shall all nations be blessed." You see, the tribes we are about to see listed are all of the nation of Israel. The only way this makes any sense is that this 144,000 is the remnant of physical Israel that God has always had.
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." "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".
Some scholars argue that the 144,000 evangelists aren't necessarily Jews? But a reading of Rev. 7 verses 4 - 8 tells us they are wrong. Those verses go on to identify the "tribes" each of the 12,000 comes from. Most Jews alive today do not know which tribe they come from. But God does! And He purposely selects 12,000 from each of the 12 tribes. You may notice when you read Rev. 7 v.4-8 that 2 tribes are missing and 2 others have been substituted in their places. Why?
Some scholars believe the tribe of Dan is missing because the Jewish Antichrist, known as the False Prophet, will be a descendant. This certainly seems to be the meaning of an ancient prophecy that Jacob gave about the tribes of Israel in the last days: "Dan will be a serpent in the way, a venomous viper by the path, that bites the horse's heels so that his rider falls backward". (Gen. 49 v.17) We can expect the Holy Spirit to move on the hearts of people at the beginning of the Tribulation and culminate with the second coming of Christ.
Later in Revelation 14 we'll discover another 144,000. See if you think that they are the same or different.
From this list of 12 names both Dan (who we just discussed and Ephraim are omitted. Dan was omitted because of the evil in his life. On the other hand, Levi, Joseph, and Manasseh help to make up the twelve. Levi was not listed before, because he received no land. He was priestly. God chooses whom He will.
7:9 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;
These are obviously the believers in Jesus Christ (Lamb) who have been washed in the blood of the Lamb and raptured into heaven.
One comforting truth gleaned from Revelation is that although Antichrist will have power over all peoples and languages, he will not deceive every individual. Verse 9 makes it clear that the preaching of the gospel by the 144,000 Jewish witnesses will reach a multitude that no one can number, from every language, tribe, and people. Therefore, even Satan's control will not keep people from receiving Christ individually.
This is in accord with the way it has been all during the Christian dispensation. Nations and peoples have rejected Christ, but individuals have received Him. According to John 1 v.10-11, "He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him." But the text continues: "Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God." (v.12)
7:10 And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.
We cannot take credit for our salvation. Our salvation is a free gift through grace. Jesus deserves all the credit. He purchased our salvation with His precious blood. We must praise and worship Jesus for He alone deserves all the credit. Of course, the triune God (Elohim) sits on the throne.
7:11 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,
This is another view of the throne area. Of course, Elohim God is on the center throne. Jesus is sitting at the right hand of the Father. The four living beings are very near the throne. The twenty-four elders, representative of all Christendom, are very near, as well. The angels encircle the throne. All fall before the throne of God in total adoration and worship.
7:12 Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, [be] unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.
The "Amen" is saying, "so be it", to the praise and worship of Almighty God. This blessing here is seven fold. Spiritually complete blessings are spoken here in this heavenly setting.
7:13 And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?
This elder is certainly representative of the church. He must already know who these are. He probably asks this question to teach those who do not understand who these are.
Those which were "arrayed in white robes" cannot be the same people as those sealed in their forehead. Those sealed in their forehead would have no reason to be sealed, if they would be immediately transported to heaven. There are no winds of terror in heaven. There would be no purpose in putting the mark on them for heaven. This is certainly another group. They have been taken out of the great tribulation on the earth. The seven years are broken up into two 3 1/2 year periods. The first 3 1/2 years are called tribulation, and the last 3 1/2 years are known as the Great Tribulation.
Christians will know tribulation, but will be saved from the wrath to come. I Thessalonians 1:10 "And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, [even] Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come."
I believe this rapture, or catching away of the Church, occurs before these seven years. We read in Daniel 12:1-4 "And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation [even] to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book." "And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame [and] everlasting contempt." "And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever." "But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, [even] to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased."
You see there is no question that this we read in Daniel is the same time as what we have been reading in Revelation. In Daniel 12:9, "And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end."
Here is why some people believe that the rapture will take place at the beginning of the Great Tribulation. If we read the rest of chapter 12, verse 12 says: Blessed [is] he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days. (1335) This time I believe is at the end of the time of the Great Tribulation, when the earth is renewed and the sheep and the goats are separated. Meaning after the last 42 months, (thousand three hundred and five and thirty days. - 1335 days) an additional time (75 days) is added for this process.
During that period of time the Julian calendar was used (only 30 days per month) so the 1260 days is correctly.
7:14 And I said unto him, Sir, thou 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.
You see, he definitely already knew who they were. This was just emphasizing a lesson to be learned. This white is such a bright white that, I believe, it even glistens as the Shekinah Glory of God. Here again, white stands for righteousness. We are righteous because we have taken on Jesus' righteousness. Notice also, that they were not saved from tribulation, but in it.
Don't forget, every one of those new believers will have been left behind after the Rapture precisely because he or she had rejected God's offer of salvation up to that point.
The white robes portray a standing of righteousness, and the multitude praises God especially for their salvation. Note the sevenfold praise of verse 12.
The redeemed Gentiles of this vision are either saints who will be martyred during the tribulation, or believers who will survive the Tribulation and enter the Millennium in their natural bodies, or both. The temple may be either the earthly, millennial temple, or the throne and presence of God in heaven. Earthly sorrows will be over (21:3, 4). Christ will give them spiritual sustenance. There will be absolutely no crying or sorrow in the presence of God, for He will have wiped away all tears from their eyes.
7:15 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.
We, Christians, are before the throne because we decided to follow Jesus, to accept His salvation, to be washed in His blood, and to believe in the resurrection. We are to be His servants and to dwell with Him forever. It speaks of "day and night" here, but there is no night in heaven with Jesus. We are in the presence of the Light, and there is just one eternal day with Him.
We read in Ephesians 5:27 "That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish."
Revelation 21-3 speaks of this very thing, "And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God [is] with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, [and be] their God." How much more wonderful could it be?
7:16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat.
If we read in Isaiah 49:10 we will read, "They shall not hunger nor thirst; neither shall the heat nor sun smite them: for he that hath mercy on them shall lead them, even by the springs of water shall he guide them."
Both of these remind us of the 23rd Psalm. Jesus is the Shepherd. He sees to the needs of His flock.
Jesus is the Light, and there will be no need for the sun or the moon. There will be a presence of Light.
7:17 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.
This is surely heaven where there is eternal peace and joy. Here again, we see Jesus as the Shepherd of His sheep, providing for all our needs, and making us blissfully happy. We have tears on earth but not in heaven.
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