Sealing of the 144,000 on Earth: Part 1 of 4 (series: Lessons on Revelations)

by John Lowe
(Woodruff, S.C.)

The Book of Revelation

By: Tom Lowe Date: 12/10/2015


Lesson: III.B.7.a: Sealing of the 144,000 on Earth (Revelation 7:1-8)


Revelation 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 Nephthalim 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.


Introduction

The sixth seal had been opened, and the people of the earth tried to hide from God, asking who would be able to survive God’s judgment (6:17). Just when destruction seemed sure, four angels held back the four winds of judgment until God’s people were sealed as His own. This sealing occurred in this interlude between the sixth and seventh seals. An interlude also comes between the sixth and seventh trumpets (10:1-11:13), but not between the sixth and seventh bowls (16:12-21). God did not open the seventh seal until he had marked His people as His own (v. 3).

This chapter answers the question in 6:17, “Who is able to stand?” Those described in this chapter will stand in the sense that they will be spared to enter the Millennium with Christ. The faithful believers would be kept safe. This chapter contains two pictures: first, the sealing of the 144,000; second, the great multitude worshipping before God’s throne.

The seventh chapter of Revelation explains and expands the horror unleashed at the breaking of the fifth seal. Persecution develops into the full-blown horrors of the great tribulation. The events described do not take place until later in the book, when the beast comes to power and puts down all that stands in his way. Once the seals are broken and the restraints removed, it can only be a matter of time before such wickedness comes to a head. Here the ultimate, inevitable collision between holiness and inequity is described. God wants us to know what lies ahead for His people in the terrible period of trial which follows the rapture of the church. They will go through almost seven years of hell on earth—especially the last 3 ½ years of the reign of the Antichrist. To the nations who have rejected Antichrist and refused to receive his mark, and the people of Israel (those who have not been butchered or beheaded), the message of swift judgment and holy fury against the Antichrist and his armies will be good news indeed. The announcement of the everlasting Gospel will be made to those who are saved during the Tribulation (Revelation 7:9-17; Luke 21:28; Psalm 96:11-13; Isaiah 35: 4-10). How are they going to be saved? They are going to be sealed. The Holy Spirit is going to be here, not only to regenerate them, but he will also have a special ministry of sealing during this period. The Holy Spirit guarantees that they will make it through the Great Tribulation. If it weren’t for the seal, they wouldn’t make it through. If you really want to know the truth, Tom Lowe would not make it through today if it weren’t for the Holy Spirit.

In Matthew 24:22 we read, “And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s (Israel’s) sake, those days shall be shortened.” In my heart, I believe the message of the everlasting Gospel is the message to Israel, that final judgment is about to be meted out to the Antichrist and his henchmen, and the days will be shortened assuring them that judgment will come upon their enemies before those enemies are allowed to annihilate the elect of God.

The multitudes of sealed

and saved persons who come into view in this chapter are probably the fruit of the ministry of those two mysterious witnesses whom God will raise up during the first part of the beast’s career. It will be his murder of these two witnesses which will give the beast much of his support with godless humanity. The converts of these two men will face the rage and fury of the beast and will be called upon to seal their testimony with their blood. This chapter focuses on this testing and triumph. The world, exasperated by the toughening judgments of the seals and trumpets, will look for a scapegoat on which to vent its rage. As Nero singled out the Christians for persecution, so the beast will turn in fury on those who believe in God in his day. Long before the dreadful time comes, God tells in advance how He will love and care for His own, sealing some and strengthening others for the dreadful hour of trial.

Chapter seven is actually two visions, with the second both interpreting and concluding the first. The sealing of the 144,000 uses totally Jewish symbols to describe those who know God through Jesus Christ. Clearly John was referring to Christians as the 144,000. Verse 3 refers to the “servants of God,” a term consistently used throughout Revelation to refer either to Christians in general or Christian ministers, but never to the non-Christian Jew (or Gentile). Language employed in the Old Testament to refer to the Jews was characteristically used in the New Testament to refer to those who know God through Jesus Christ. For example: “And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:29; also see 2 Corinthians 6:16-18). Those who are in Christ are the beneficiaries of the promises made to Israel (Romans 4:13-17; Galatians 3:8-9, 15-29).


Commentary

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.

The first thing the Apostle John is given is a magnificent revelation of God’s absolute control over all the factors of time and space. There is a calm in the midst of the storm. “Four angels” (v. 2) who are active in the judgments and who hold in their hands further tempests of fury are restrained by a decree of God. Some of God’s people must be sealed (v. 3) before anything else can transpire. Before the end of this age actually arrives, a great persecution will bring the number of the martyrs to the necessary total— “. . . and they were told to wait a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and brothers who were to be killed as they had been was completed” (Revelation 6:11; NIV). “After these things” refers to the tremendous judgment of the previous chapter, the riding of the four horsemen. In this riding of the four horsemen I believe we have been given a birds-eye view of the Great Tribulation Period, an overall picture, and now the details are going to be given to us.

John’s vision is expressed in conceptions of the world which were widely held in the days in which John wrote. One popular concept was that the earth is a square, flat earth. In John’s vision, an angel is standing at each of “the four corners of the earth,” waiting to unleash the weapons of destruction. It was the common belief that all the forces of nature were under the control of angels. The sudden silence and the angels holding back the “four winds” from blowing upon the earth picture God’s protection from harm; they contrast the peace and security of the believers with the terror of those hiding in the rocks— “They called to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!” (6:16). The winds described here picture harmful winds as agents of God bringing destruction— “Daniel said: “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me were the four winds of heaven churning up the great sea” (Daniel 7:2). The four angels hold back the winds so that not a leaf rustles in the trees, and the sea became as smooth as glass. This scene contrasts with the earthquakes and meteor showers that had just occurred— “I watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind” (6:12-13).



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