Notes on the Book of Revelation
The Seal of God & The 144,000
This chapter is referred to as an interlude of hope1 and answers the question in the last verse of the previous chapter (Revelation 6:17), which asks who can stand during the time of judgment.
Revelation 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.
7V1: The book of Revelation contains four views of the 144,000 with different emphases:
Revelation 7:1-8: The sealing of the 144,000.
Revelation 14:1-5: The character of the 144,000.
Revelation 15:2-3: The victory of the 144,000.
Revelation 19:1-9: The jubilatory song of praise to God of the 144,000.
(Anchor School of Theology Class: From The Close of Probation to the New Earth: A Study of Revelation Chapters 15 to 22, by Pastor Stephen Bohr, SecretsUnsealed.org, SUMTV.org)
7V1: Four corners of the earth = World-wide, all directions of the compass. These angels are holding back the winds of the tribulation. The tribulation has not fully begun as long as the angels hold back the winds of strife or the final cataclysmic time of trouble.
7V1: Four winds = Strife, war and calamities, Jeremiah 49:36-37; 25:31-33; 51:1; 4:11-13; Zechariah 7:14. Destruction through natural calamities are being held back until the people of God can be sealed, similar to Ezekiel 9:1-6 (Destruction is not coming to those that are sealed).
7V1: Tree = People, leaders, or God’s people. Trees = Leaders/People, Matthew 7:19 (People); Psalm 1:3 (God’s people are like trees); Psalm 92:12 (The righteous…shall grow like a cedar); Luke 23:31 (Green tree = Jesus/Himself and Dry tree = People without the Holy Spirit); Luke 3:9 (Root of the trees = God’s people); Daniel 4:20-22 (Tree = King Nebuchadnezzar or a leader); Ezekiel 20:46-47 (Forest = People; Green tree = Leaders; Dry tree = Those without the Holy Spirit); and Luke 13:6-9 (Jesus uses a fig tree to represent the people of Israel). As you can see the Bible clearly uses the symbol of a tree to represent people, leaders, or God’s people depending on the context in which it is used.
Revelation 7:2, 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,
7V2: Seal of the living God = Seal of God. For a complete study on the seal of God see the study at the end of the chapter called, The Seal of God. Satan tries to counterfeit everything that God has put in place, so God has His seal for His people and Satan has the mark of the beast for his people. The saved will have the seal of God and the lost or the wicked will have the mark of the beast. There are only two sides in this great battle between Satan and Jesus. Even now, there are only two sides. People can call themselves atheists, agnostics or Buddhists or whatever they want, but if they have not accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior, then by default they are on the same side as Satan.
Revelation 7:3, Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.
7V3: Tree = See Revelation 7:1.
7V3: Servants of our God = The sealed are sealed to serve God just like the 12 tribes of Israel and the 12 apostles, Revelation 7:15 (serve Him day and night).2
7V3: In their foreheads = In their hearts and minds.
Revelation 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.
7V4: 144,000 = Symbolic number of the redeemed in heaven (they are described as a great multitude in verse 9).
“The fact that the 144,000 number comprises 12,000 from each of the twelve tribes of Israel strongly suggests that this is a symbolic number, not a literal one. The twelve tribes formed the totality of God’s chosen people in the Old Testament. Twelve thousand from each of these twelve tribes indicates completeness. It’s a symbolic representation of the complete number of the redeemed that live through the final tribulation and see Jesus come. These are people who are fully committed to Jesus Christ in the end time of church history.” (Mark Finley, Understanding Daniel and Revelation, page 239)
7V4: Heard = Revelation 7:9: Beheld, John is seeing what he heard and they are the same group, the 144,000 and the great multitude; Revelation 1:10: Heard = Trumpet = Revelation 1:12-13: Son of man, John heard a trumpet and then turned and saw Jesus.
7V4: All the tribes of the children of Israel = This is a symbolic statement and does not refer to the literal children of Israel. This refers to all those that have a saving relationship with Jesus Christ because once we accept Jesus we are grafted in to the Jewish nation and become spiritual Jews, Romans 2:28-29 (a Jew inwardly); Romans 9:6-8 (the children of the promise are counted for the seed); Galatians 3:26-29 (if we are Christ’s then we are Abraham’s seed); Romans 11:16-23 (the Jews that did not accept Jesus were cut off, but the gentiles that accepted Jesus were grafted in to the main tree).
7V4: This verse and verse 9 answers the question in Revelation 6:17. Who shall be able to stand when the great day of His wrath has come? The 144,000 (the great multitude).
Revelation 7:5, Of the tribe of Judah were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Reuben were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Gad were sealed twelve thousand.
7V5: Judah = The meaning of this name is ‘I will praise the Lord.’
7V5: Reuben = Also as Ruben = The meaning of this name is ‘He has looked on me.’
7V5: Gad = The meaning of this name is ‘Given good fortune.’
7V5-8: Twelve = Kingdom of God in the Old Testament and the New Testament (represents the redeemed of the OT and the NT). In Revelation 21 it describes the 12 gates with the names of the 12 tribes and the 12 foundations with the names of the 12 apostles of the Lamb. This represents both the saved in the Old Testament and the saved in the New Testament.
God’s people are made up of all people saved throughout the history of the world that have accepted Jesus (either looking forward by faith to the cross by those in the Old Testament or by us now looking back by faith at the cross).
Many believe that because these verses list the 12 tribes of Israel that the 144,000 must be a literal number of Jews that are saved, but this is not an accurate interpretation of these verses. See Revelation 12:17 for the full study on the Remnant of Her Seed, which explains that God only has one church - a spiritual Israel. These verses represent God’s people all over the world because spiritual Israel is world-wide and not confined to a geographical location.3
Revelation 7:6, 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.
7V6: Aser = Also as Asher = The meaning of this name is ‘Happy am I.’
7V6: Nepthalim = Also as Nepthali = The meaning of this name is ‘My wrestling.’
7V6: Manasses = Also as Manasseh = The meaning of this name is ‘Making me to forget.’
Revelation 7:7, 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.
7V7: Simeon = The meaning of this name is ‘God hears me.’
7V7: Levi = The meaning of this name is ‘Attached to me.’
7V7: Issachar = The meaning of this name is ‘Purchased me.’
Revelation 7:8, 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.
7V8: Zabulon = The meaning of this name is ‘Dwelling.’
7V8: Joseph = The meaning of this name is ‘God will add to me.’
7V8: Benjamin = The meaning of this name is ‘Son of His right hand.’
7V5-8: A few things to note about the listing of the names of the tribes in these four verses, first, this is the only place in the Bible that the names are listed in this order. The names are not in the order of birth from oldest to youngest as it would normally be listed. Reuben is the first born but is listed second. All the names of the tribes have a meaning. They are listed here in the order given:4
Judah = I will praise the Lord.
Reuben = He has looked on me.
Gad = Given (or granted) good fortune.
Aser = Happy am I.
Nepthalim = My wrestling.
Manasses = Making me to forget.
Simeon = God hears me.
Levi = Attached (or joined) to me.
Issachar = Purchased me.
Zabulon = Dwelling.
Joseph = God will add to me.
Benjamin = Son of His right hand.
When the meanings of the names are lined up in a paragraph (with some connecting words added in italics for clarity) it describes the story of salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.
“I will praise the Lord for he has looked on me and granted good fortune. I am happy because my wrestling, God is making me to forget. God hears me and is attached to me. He has purchased me a dwelling and God will add to me the Son of His right hand.”
This would point to the fact that the 144,000 are not literal Jews only from these tribes and that verses 5 through 8 were placed here for the symbolic meaning and to relay the plan of salvation and that the 144,000 have a close relationship with Jesus Christ. Again, the names are not in order of birth from oldest to youngest as it would normally be listed.
Revelation 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;
7V9: Great multitude = Fulfillment of promise to Abraham, Genesis 15:5; 22:17; 26:4; Exodus 32:13; This great multitude is the hope (interlude of hope); purpose of this chapter. The great multitude represents the children of Israel which is made up of spiritual Jews. Romans 2:28-29 (a Jew inwardly); Romans 9:6-8 (the children of the promise are counted for the seed); Galatians 3:26-29 (if we are Christ’s then we are Abraham’s seed); Romans 11:16-23 (the Jews that did not accept Jesus were cut off, but the gentiles that accepted Jesus were grafted in to the main tree).
7V9: This verse and verse 4 answers the question in Revelation 6:17. Who shall be able to stand when the great day of His wrath has come? The 144,000 (the great multitude).
Revelation 7:10, And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.
7V10: God which sitteth = This is God in judgment. Daniel 7:9, says that the Ancient of days did sit; this is to represent a judge sitting in judgment.
Sit in judgment: Psalm 9:4-5, 7-8 says, “...thou satest (sitting in the New International Version) in the throne judging right.” And verse 7-8 says, “...throne for judgment...he shall judge the world in righteousness...”
Acts 2:34-35 says, “…Sit thou on my right hand, Until I make thy foes thy footstool.”
Hebrews 1:3 says, “…sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high…”; and 10:12 says, “…sat down on the right hand of God…till his enemies be made his footstool.”
Malachi 3:1-3, 5 says, “...he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver...and purge them as gold...I will come come near to you to judgment...” Gold and silver are purified through fire, which is representing the fiery judgment of God.
Stand (when done with judgment) - Daniel 12:1 says, “And at that time shall Michael stand up…and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation…”
Luke 13:24-28 says, “When once the master of the house is risen up and hath shut to the door…” This is referring to Judgment ending and the closing of probation.
Acts 7:54, 56 says, “…Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.”; James 5:9 says, “…behold, the judge standeth before the door.”; Ezekiel 9:1-6 says, “…stood beside the brazen altar…Slay utterly old and young…”; and 1 Peter 4:17 says, “…judgment must begin at the house of God…”.
Revelation 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,
7V11: Angels stood round about the throne = The angels of God surround the throne in heaven, Revelation 5:11 (angels about the throne); Revelation 3:5 (before his angels). God’s throne is in heaven (Psalm 103:19).
Revelation 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.
Revelation 7:13, And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?
Revelation 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.
7V14: Great tribulation = This refers to the seven last plagues of Revelation 16. The tribulation is also mentioned in Daniel 12:1 and Matthew 24:21.
So these are saints that were alive after the close of probation and went through the seven last plagues.
Revelation 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.
7V15: Temple = This refers to the temple in heaven where God’s throne is located. Note: The Bible mentions seven different temples5, so context (both situational and timing) is important when the temple subject comes up in scripture.
Here are the seven temples:
1. Moses’ temple in the wilderness, Exodus 25:8-9.
2. Solomon’s temple, 1 Kings 6:1-38.
3. The rebuilt temple, Ezra 6:13-22.
4. Our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20.
5. The church is the temple, 1 Corinthians 3:16-17.
6. The heavenly temple, Hebrews 8:2.
7. God and the Lamb as the temple.
7V15-17: Heaven = Compare to Revelation 21:1-4; John is taking us from the Apostolic age to the restoration of Eden.
Revelation 7:16, They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat.
7V16: Neither shall the sun light on them = This draws from Psalm 121:6 which says, “The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.”
Isaiah 49:10 which says, “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.”
7V16: Hunger no more, neither thirst any more = This draws from Isaiah 49:10 which says, “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.”
7V16: Neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat = In the New Jerusalem (the city in heaven, Revelation 21) God will be the light. Revelation 21:23 says, “And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.”
Revelation 22:5 says, “And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.”
As described in Revelation 21, when the city is in heaven where God’s throne is located, there is no need for a sun since God provides the light. But, once the city descends onto earth and God recreates the earth into its former glory before the fall, Revelation 21:1, there will be a sun for outside the city. But in the city there is no need for light, God’s glory will be the light in the city where His throne is located.
Revelation 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.
7V17: The Lamb…leads them = This refers to Jesus as the Lamb of God. Revelation 15:3 says, “And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints.”
1 Peter 1:19 says, “But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot…”
John 1:29 says, “The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” and verse 36 says something similar, “And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God!”; and the rest of the verse describes Jesus as our Shepherd, John 10:11.
7V17: Shall lead them unto living fountains of waters = This draws from Psalm 23, specifically verse 2 which says, “He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.”
7V17: Wipe away all tears from their eyes = This draws from Isaiah 25:8 which says, “He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the LORD hath spoken it.”
Revelation 21:4 which says, “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”
Chapter 7 Resources and Notes
1. Pastor James Rafferty and Pastor Ivor Myers, Salvation in Symbols and Signs (Program on 3ABN’s Dare To Dream Network), video series can be accessed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i42C2tZ5yuI&list=PLZE9r6f37K0AJPuImVU9DX-Y1Ntikqv0R.
3. Pastor Stephen Bohr, Unsealed Secrets Ministry video series called, Three Angels Message, can be accessed here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL6A480C40F7BA55A4.
4. Pastor Doug Batchelor of Amazing Facts Ministry, Evangelistic series called The Most Amazing Prophecies episode #10, The 144,000, can be accessed here: https://www.amazingfacts.org/media-library/media/e/942/t/the-144-000.
5. Pastor Doug Batchelor of Amazing Facts Ministry, Where Is the Temple of the Lord? Part 2, video sermon can be accessed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ob_2wE8Mtu8.
Ellen White references can be found here: https://beta.egwwritings.org.