What Does Revelation 7:4 Mean?

And I heard the number of those who were sealed, one hundred and forty-four thousand sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel:

Revelation 7:4(NASB)

Verse of the Day

The first five chapters of Revelation set the scene for the Great Tribulation (the time of Jacob's Trouble as it is often referred to in the Old Testament). This is a time when God will punish both unbelieving Israel for rebelling against Him and rejecting His Son, and the Christ-rejecting sinful nations of the world. However, God is a merciful God and this will also be a time when a multitude without number, both Jew and Gentile, will turn to Christ for salvation. 

Church-age believers are not appointed to go through this time of divine judgement, because God's wrath was poured out on Christ when He died on Calvary's Cross to pay the price for our sins.

Church-age believers will be removed from the earth prior to the Tribulation, but as soon as the first seal on the 7-sealed scroll is broken in heaven by the Lamb on the throne (Revelation chapter 5), the first horseman of the apocalypse will gallop onto earth's history (Revelation chapter 6) followed in quick succession by the next five seals and their corresponding judgements. Chapter 6 ends with an important question: "For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?"

Chapter 7 acts as a parenthesis between the sixth and seventh seals and provides the answer to the question: "Who is able to stand?" We discover that God is going to save two groups of people during the first part of the Tribulation: 1) A special group of young Jewish men. 2) A vast multitude of people, which no one could number, from every nation, tribe, kindred, and language. 

The coming Tribulation will be on a global scale and in chapter 7, we discover four angels standing at the four corners of the earth restraining the four winds and preventing the prophesied wrath of God from harming anyone until a special group of Jewish believers is sealed by the Holy Spirit of God. The angels are commanded not to harm anything on the earth, or in the sea, or on the trees until they had sealed this particular group of 144,000 young Jewish men: "And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed a hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel."

Just as Church-age believers are sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise at the time of our salvation and are God's 'purchased possession' who are to do His will, so also this group of Jewish Tribulation believers are to be sealed in order to be used by Him during this time of trouble. 

In Old Testament times, God made a covenant with Israel and they became His chosen people. The Messiah was to be born through Israel, they were given the prophecies and oracles of God, and the entire nation was to be a light to the pagan nations surrounding them. Israel was to tell the Gentiles about God and proclaim the good news of the coming Kingdom of God on earth, bringing believing Gentiles into the camp so that they could also worship the Lord God of Israel.

Sadly, the nation rebelled against God. They failed to obey His commands, refused to acknowledge His heavenly position, poured scorn on Christ's ministry, and even blasphemed the Holy Spirit by attributing His miracles to Satan. They did not recognise the time of Christ's visitation, they rejected their Messiah, and they crucified the Lord of glory. And so, Israel was set aside for a season, during which time the Spirit of God continued to work the works of God through the Christian Church.

However, God is not finished with Israel as they still have to fulfil the work that God has ordained for them to do, and the coming Tribulation period is the time when God will once again work His works through the nation of Israel. These 144,000 Jewish evangelists will be given the opportunity to fulfil the worldwide, evangelistic work among the Gentiles that Israel failed to do in times past (to proclaim the gospel to all nations). As Matthew 24 proclaims, this special group of young Jewish men will be used by God to preach the gospel of the kingdom in all the world for a witness unto all nations, and then shall the end come. Then, Jesus will return to earth as King of kings in power and great glory to sit on the throne of His father, David, set up His Millennial Kingdom on earth, and rule the nations with righteousness, justice, and peace.

God's plan of redemption began when sin entered the world. Today, Christians are sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise and proclaim the gospel of the grace of God to every creature: "For we are saved by grace through faith in Christ." In the Tribulation, the 144,000 Jewish evangelists will preach the gospel of the kingdom throughout the world, proclaiming the imminent arrival of the King of kings - and a multitude without number will be saved.

Whether we live or die, all who are washed in the blood of the Lamb will be able to say: "In all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

My Prayer

Heavenly Father, thank You for Your protection and mercy throughout the ages for those called by Your name. Lord, there has been much confusion and deception involving the identity of these 144 thousand people, sealed by You in the 7 year Tribulation period. May I be led by the Holy Spirit into all truth as I read about these people from the 12 tribes of Israel, and not be led astray when studying these things. In Jesus' name, AMEN.

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