CHAPTER SEVEN





THE SEALED OF ISRAEL

People usually accept history with little trepidation. I mean, once something is past, we know it, can think about it, make conjectures about it, discuss how it all may have come to be, ponder the consequences and in some instances, even allow it to help guide our future. In fact, history is about the only thing some people find easy to believe. This is because it's over and done with. It has been seen and much of it recorded. We take it in stride. Even atheists agree to the reality of history and in general, accept what historians say about it.

Now ponder this: with God, the future is as plain as the past! I realize that's no great revelation to most of you. But I want you to really think about it. Get hold of it. Let it sink in. Sometimes we know things without really letting the truth of it fully absorb. I want you to latch-on-strongly to the fact that God sees the future as easily as the past.

I am sharing this thought with you as an exercise. Thinking in terms of past events gives us an inkling of how it is with God concerning the future too. We may not fully understand God's "omniscience" (all-knowing nature) but if we really believe God's Word, if we really trust Him wholeheartedly, if we place every situation of our lives in His hands, then this should give us a great sense of security regardless of the severity of the present circumstances. Why so? Because knowing God has worked all things out in the past provides the assurance we need that He will do likewise with the future.

Even in this brief study thus far, we have learned that God gave us HIS STORY (history) in advance of the occurrences? This is a wonderful truth, folks. Allowing it to penetrate will add immeasurably to our confidence and faith in Almighty God. Christians need to have these facts indelibly sealed in their minds during these days which are filled with sin and temptation. Obviously this is not a new concept for most of you but many of us either act as if it were not true or as if we didn't know it.

Now with that thought in mind (i.e., convinced of God's faithfulness), let me go on with our study of Revelation. Chapter seven is very quiet as compared with surrounding chapters (sometimes called parenthetical). But then, what's wrong with that? Isn't this good "staging"? We all know any good play has peaks and valleys, right? The low points allow us to relax a bit, catch our breath and anticipate the next exciting episode. So, although chapter seven is low key, it is not without its own dynamic.

There are at least three main concepts to note:

1. The sealed 144,000 persons from the twelve tribes of Israel.

2. The great multitude resulting from their testimony.

3. This great multitude comes out of "great tribulation".

Now let's look at John's description of it:

1 "And after these things I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, on the sea, or 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 harm the earth and the sea,

3 saying, "do not harm the earth, the sea, or the trees till we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads."

4 And I heard the number of those who were sealed. One hundred and forty-four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel were sealed:

5 Of the tribe of Judah twelve thousand were sealed;

Of the tribe of Reuben twelve thousand were sealed;

Of the tribe of Gad twelve thousand were sealed;

6 Of the tribe of Asher twelve thousand were sealed;

Of the tribe of Naphtali twelve thousand were sealed;

Of the tribe of Manasseh twelve thousand were sealed;

7 Of the tribe of Simeon twelve thousand were sealed;

Of the tribe of Levi twelve thousand were sealed;

Of the tribe of Issachar twelve thousand were sealed;

8 Of the tribe of Zebulun twelve thousand were sealed;

Of the tribe of Joseph twelve thousand were sealed;

Of the tribe of Benjamin twelve thousand were sealed.

A MULTITUDE FROM THE GREAT TRIBULATION

9 After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands,

10 and crying out with a loud voice, saying, "salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!"

11 And all the angels stood around the throne, and around the elders and the four living creatures, and fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God,

12 saying:

"Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom, And thanksgiving and honor and power and might, Be to our God forever and ever. Amen."

13 And one of the elders answered, saying to me, "Who are these arrayed in white robes, and where did they come from?"





14 And I said to him, "Sir, you know." And he said to me, "These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

15 Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple. And He who sits on the throne will dwell among them.

16 They will neither hunger anymore, nor thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any heat;

17 for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."

Some people hold that the sealed 144,000 are merely symbolic; that these twelve tribes of Israel don't really mean the twelve tribes of Israel! They say this in spite of the fact John clearly spells it out with specific, Israelite, tribe names! As we see the believing "multitudes" which follow after the 144,000, it becomes obvious that the Holy Spirit plans to use this "remnant" group (the 144,000) for world evangelization at some point in time. I believe the precise period will be after the Church will have been raptured, during what is known as THE GREAT TRIBULATION (last half of the final seven years, just prior to the end of this age).

This chapter is like the quietness between two storms. In fact, I believe the reason God "sandwiched" chapter seven between Seal Six and Seal Seven was purposed to give us a clue as to when the 144,000 are being set aside for their unique, up-coming ministry. Therefore, since the Sixth Seal described WW1, this fixes the sealing dates sometime after 1918 (when that war ended), but before whatever happens in the Seventh Seal. Once again we see how magnificently God has interwoven the prophetic highlights of His pre-arranged plan of the ages. Surely He designed it this way to give us a general idea (time-wise) of where we are along our journey of His story.

During His first advent, Jesus confirmed a covenant (See Is. 61 and Dan. 9) with certain Jews who became His followers. His three and a half years earth mission with them represented the first half of the final, or 70th Week of Daniel.

The 144,000 Israelites will be those with whom Jesus re-establishes that same covenant to finish the last half of the 70th week. The 70th Week was cut short (ending precisely in the middle of it on the day of Jesus' crucifixion). The counting stopped there, leaving 3 1/2 years remaining to be fulfilled between Jesus and last-days, Christian Jews.

The specific time of ministry of the 144,000 Israelites will be during the last half of the Tribulation, usually referred to as The Great Tribulation. (A distinction is usually made between the first half and the second half of The Tribulation. The anti-Christ will be in "full swing" during the second part.)

Assuming you followed all this, you can see that the first half of Daniel's "70th Week", in a sense, is already over! This understanding will come as a total shock to those who have read other prophecy books. However, at the end of the age, there will still be a preliminary, 3 1/2 year "tribulation" for The Church to go through, before the Rapture occurs. This is a separate thing though from the ancient Covenant God made with Israel as spoken of in Daniel chapter nine. We Christians must be very careful to keep our thinking straight when it comes to national Israel (i.e., blood-line Jews) and 'spiritual Israel' (The Church). God made plans and agreements with national Israel and those bonds will be carried out to completion. These plans are separate from what He is doing with and through the Church today. We must understand though that God will stand by all His Covenants and a big factor at the end of this age will be the ministry of the 144,000 set-aside, real Israelites spoken of here in Revelation 7.

Romans 11 makes very plain that God will eventually open the spiritual eyes of national Israel, after the "fulness of the Gentiles" is completed. The new sight given to the 144,000 Jews for their work to do during The Tribulation represents a big part of their restoration.

I will cover "Daniel's Seventieth Week" more thoroughly in chapter 13. However, this present chapter is a key building-block of the book, so if you had any trouble understanding the concepts, please go through it again before moving on.