The Sealed and the Saved – Revelation 7:1-17

 

                After John sees Jesus opening the first six seals of the scroll, he witnesses groups of people that he did not recognize as he listens to an explanation of who these people are.

                The 144,000 sealed Jews. Notice what Revelation 7:1-8 says, 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. Then 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 granted to harm the earth and the sea, saying, “Do not harm the earth, the sea, or the trees till we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.” 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: 5of 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; 6of 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.”[1]

                In verse one, it mentions that the ‘wind should not blow.’ Here we find sort of a calm before the storm. The first 3 ½ years of the tribulation has come to a close and the second 3 ½ years known as the great tribulation is about to begin. During this calm period, the 144,000 from the tribes of the children of Israel are sealed. The wrath of God that is about to be unleashed upon the earth does not fall until the elect of God is gathered together and given the seal of God. Reference is given to this in Matthew 24:31, where we read, “And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” [2]It is important to note here that, in this case, the ‘elect’ is the chosen ones of Israel. However, all those who come to faith in Christ are considered as part of the ‘elect’ of God, because we have been adopted into the family of God. It should also be understood that as you study the scriptures, the term ‘elect’ is never used in reference to individual people. God has called out for Himself a ‘people’. “The word translated “elect” is generally found in the plural and refers either to the members of God’s people as a whole or to those in a particular local church (Rom 8:33; Col 3:12; 1 Thes 1:4; 2 Tm 2:10; Ti 1:1; 1 Pt 1:1; 2 Pt 1:10; Rv 17:14; Rom 16:13 and 2 Jn 13 have the singular form). The use of the plural may partly be explained by the fact that most of the NT letters are addressed to groups of people rather than to individuals. More probably, however, the point is that God’s election is concerned with the creation of a people rather than the calling of isolated individuals.”[3]

                These 144,000 Jews that are sealed is understood to be witnesses of Christ to the world during the tribulation period. As a result of their witness, many will come to know Christ as their Savior. As Weirsbe points out, “While we are not told explicitly in Scripture that the 144,000 Jews are God’s special witnesses, and that the Gentile host is saved through their ministry, this appears to be a logical deduction; otherwise, why are they associated in this chapter? The parallel with Matthew 24:14 also indicates that the 144,000 will witness for the Lord during the Tribulation.”[4]

                A multitude that is saved. In addition to the sealed Jews, there is also a great multitude of Gentiles who will come to faith in Christ during the first half of the tribulation period. This great multitude is described in verses 9-17. “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 belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” 11 All the angels stood around the throne and 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, Thanksgiving and honor and power and might, Be to our God forever and ever. Amen.” 13 Then 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.” So he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and 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 shall 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.”[5]In verse 14, it explains that this large multitude is those who are saved during the tribulation period. “You cannot read the Book of Revelation without developing a global outlook, for the emphasis is on what God does for people in the whole world. The Lamb died to redeem people “out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation” (Rev. 5:9). The great multitudes pictured here came from “all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues” (Rev. 7:9). “Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature” was our Lord’s mandate (Mark 16:15).There is no doubt as to who this multitude is, because one of the elders explained it to John (Rev. 7:14): they are Gentiles who have been saved through faith in Christ during the Tribulation.”[6] It is interesting that these multitudes are mentioned here. As the last 3 ½ years, known as the great tribulation, it will very difficult for anyone to come to faith in Christ. Apparently, there are a great number of people who will be saved during the first half of the tribulation as opposed to the second half. Though we have distinction between believers in various dispensations such as Jewish believers, Gentile believers, the church, and the Tribulation Saints; there is coming a day when there will be no such distinctions. Wiersbe writes, “Of course, in the heavenly city (Rev. 21–22), all distinctions will cease and we shall all simply be the people of God in glory. But while God is working out His program in human history, distinctions still exist between the Jews, the Gentiles, the church, and the Tribulation saints.”[7]

                Principles to apply. Just as in every study of scripture, there are certain principles that apply to our lives that we see from this passage.

The first principle is that our salvation is secure. Just as the 144,000 believing Jews are ‘sealed’, we too, who come to faith in Christ during this age of grace are sealed with the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 1:13-14 says, “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory”.[8] The moment we accepted Christ as our personal Savior, the Holy Spirit of God indwelled us and by that indwelling, we are sealed. He has given us a down-payment, a guarantee that our redemption will be completed and we will possess an eternal home in heaven!

A second principle is that we will be rewarded. Just as the multitude that comes to faith in Christ during the tribulation period, we too will serve God throughout all eternity. When we are with Christ, we will not just sit around and do nothing. We will have a job to do. “When God’s people get to heaven, there will be work to do! We shall be able to serve Him perfectly! The Lamb will shepherd us and satisfy us with every good thing.” [9] What a wonderful day that will be, when we serve Him throughout all eternity!

The real question to consider is, have you been sealed? Have you placed your faith and trust in Jesus? Have you been sealed by the Holy Spirit? If not, why not trust in Jesus today?

 

 


[1] The New King James Version. (1982). (Re 7:1–8). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[2] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Mt 24:31). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[3] Elwell, W. A., & Beitzel, B. J. (1988). In Baker encyclopedia of the Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

[4] Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 590). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[5] The New King James Version. (1982). (Re 7:9–17). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[6] Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, pp. 590–591). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[7] Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 591). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[8] The New King James Version. (1982). (Eph 1:13–14). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[9] Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 591). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

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