Between the 6th and 7th Seal
“After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth to prevent any wind from blowing on the land or on the sea or on any tree. 2 Then I saw another angel coming up from the east, having the seal of the living God. He called out in a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm the land and the sea: 3 “Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.” 4 Then I heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel.
5 From the tribe of Judah 12,000 were sealed,
from the tribe of Reuben 12,000,
from the tribe of Gad 12,000,
6 from the tribe of Asher 12,000,
from the tribe of Naphtali 12,000,
from the tribe of Manasseh 12,000,
7 from the tribe of Simeon 12,000,
from the tribe of Levi 12,000,
from the tribe of Issachar 12,000,
8 from the tribe of Zebulun 12,000,
from the tribe of Joseph 12,000,
from the tribe of Benjamin 12,000.
The Great Multitude in White Robes
9 After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice:
“Salvation belongs to our God,
who sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb.”
11 All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying:
Praise and glory
and wisdom and thanks and honor
and power and strength
be to our God for ever and ever.
13 Then one of the elders asked me, “These in white robes—who are they, and where did they come from?”
14 I answered, “Sir, you know.”
And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they 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 shelter them with his presence.
16 ‘Never again will they hunger;
never again will they thirst.
The sun will not beat down on them,’ nor any scorching heat.
17 For the Lamb at the center of the throne
will be their shepherd;
‘he will lead them to springs of living water.’
‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’” Revelation 7:1-17 NIV
As we begin our journey through Revelation 7, we find an interlude between the 6th and 7th seal. It’s important that we differential two groups of people described in this chapter.
1 – Revelation 7:1-7 – The 144,000 Jews that were sealed on earth. There are 12,000 from each of the Twelve Tribes of Israel.
Revelation 7:2 speaks of an angel that descends from the east having the seal of the living God. In the ancient world, seals were familiar. A king or property owner could use a seal to show ownership or authenticity. The 144,000 receive God’s protective seal on their foreheads. We aren’t told exactly what their ministry was, but we know God had sealed them for a purpose.
Many groups, such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses claimed to be the 144,000, but most scholars believe they are the church or Israelites converted to faith in Jesus Christ. Revelation 7 and 14 give us insight into who these 144,000 are:
- They are called children of Israel – Revelation 7:4
- Their tribal affiliation is very specific – Revelation 7:4-8
- They are protected and triumphant through the period of God’s wrath and meet Jesus at His return on Mount Zion – Revelation 14:1
- They are celibate – Revelation 14:4
- They are the beginning of a greater harvest – Revelation 14:4
- They are marked by integrity and faithfulness – Revelation 14:5
Given all of this, it seems unlikely that they are the church in the New Testament – as the New Testament church is not referred to as Israel until 160 A.D. It’s also difficult to imagine that the entire church of 144,000 survives the entire Tribulation.
It would seem the best explanation of the 144,000 is that they are a group of specifically chosen Jewish believers in Jesus who are sealed throughout Revelation as a sign. They are not a part of the church today as their repentance comes too late for the rapture. It has been suggested that since the great multitude of Gentiles in the next passage are mentioned, that the 144,000 are responsible for sharing the Gospel with the Gentiles.
2 – Revelation 9-17 – The Gentiles from all nations that were not numbered (nor could they be numbered) standing in Heaven before God.
There is no question who this multitude is because one of the elders explained it to John. They are Gentiles who have been saved through faith in Jesus Christ in the Tribulation. They also appear in Revelation 14. The diversity in this group suggests that the Great Commission of Matthew 28:19-20 has been fulfilled before the end. Since John knew they were people from different nations, tribes, and peoples, we can conclude that we will be individuals in Heaven. We will not all be the same. There will be differences between people. They are clothed in white robes which symbolizes the priesthood. They held palm branches, which signified great victory.
Here are three things we need to know about the believers who were faithful to God in the Tribulation. If we remember the reason John wrote Revelation. He wrote to give a picture of there and then, so we know how to live in the here and now. Here’s a picture of those who are faithful to God in the midst of the Great Tribulation.
- They were accepted. Revelation 7:14 says they are standing, “before the throne of God.” They enjoyed the immediate presence of God. There were no waiting lists, no appointments to be made, no barriers that held them back. They were accepted by God.
- They were joyful. Revelation 7:10 says “and they cried out.” They sang praises to the Father and to the Lamb. Their worship was joined by all those who surrounded the throne.
- They were rewarded. Revelation 7:14 says “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” These believers had the privilege of being before God’s throne and serving Him. They knew affliction on earth, but they triumphed over it and now serve God. God will now dwell among them. He Himself will wipe away every tear from their eyes. The hurts and struggle from this earthly life are gone. Tears are a thing of the past.
This great scene in Heaven is followed by the breaking of the seventh seal which results in the coming of the seven trumpets.
Lord Jesus thank You that there are great rewards for enduring in my faith. O Lord grant that I would have courage in these end times days to be faithful to follow and serve You. In the strong name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Ty Tamasaka is an author who hold a Master of Arts Degree from Pacific Rim Christian University in Christian Ministry He is a Bible teacher who loves to encourage people to enjoy Jesus’ grace and extend His Kingdom. Ty just released his new book Starting Fresh: Following Jesus on the Adventure of a Lifetime in addition to More than a Conqueror: 5 Pathways to Personal Revival.