Text: Revelation 7
Thesis: To note that the 144,000 refers to the church who will win the victory.
(1) Revelation 7 is an interlude between the opening of the 6th & 7th seals.
(2) This chapter is basically an answer to the question raised in Revelation 6:17: “Who is able to stand?”
I. The Text:
A. In verses 1-3, angels are commanded to withhold punishment upon Rome until all of God’s people are sealed.
1. ‘Four corners of the earth’ is “an accommodative term used in Scripture to designate the four directions, the whole surface of the earth” (Hailey 201).
2. The ‘four winds’ is a reference to destructive agents of God (Mounce 155). Some see a connection with the 4 horsemen (e.g., Morris).
3. ‘Earth, sea, and trees’ “represent (by metonymy) the earth and its inhabitants” (Beale 407).
4. ‘East’ – “In Jewish thought, God’s gracious manifestations were connected with the east: Paradise was set in the east (Gen. 2:8), the glory of God came to the temple from the east (Ezek. 43:2), and the Messiah was expected to come from the east. Also, the tabernacle and the temple both faced east” (Roper 1:297).
5. A seal has a 3-fold purpose:
a. To verify ownership
b. To assure genuineness
c. To protect contents [Roper 1:298]
B. In verses 4-8, 144,000 people are sealed.
1. There are several irregularities with the listing of the tribes.
a. The tribes are listed some 18 different ways in the OT, and this list varies from all of them.
b. Why is Judah listed first? Probably b/c Jesus came from the tribe of Judah (Heb. 7:14).
c. Why isn’t Dan listed? Some have theorized that it was a scribal error (i.e., Dan was written as Man and later lengthened to Manasseh). However, others suggest that the exclusion is due to Dan’s being associated with idolatry.
2. Who are the 144,000?
a. Some interpret the number literally:
(1) The total # of people saved
(2) # of people in Heaven, the rest on a renovated earth
b. Most interpret the number symbolically:
(1) 12x12x1000 = “a twofold way of emphasizing completeness” (Mounce 158).
(2) Some believe that the # refers to literal Israel.
(3) Some believe that the # refers to Jewish Christians.
(4) Most believe that the # refers to Christians, both Jews & Gentiles.
(a) In verse 9, the same crowd includes ‘every nation, tribe, and people.’
(b) In the NT, the Israel of God = the Church.
i. Gal. 6:16 – Church = Israel of God
ii. Rom. 2:28-29 – Jew inwardly
iii. Phil. 3:13 – the true circumcision
iv. James 1:1 – the 12 tribes
C. In verse 9-17, the 144,000 are seen in Heaven where they have won the victory.
1. “The new vision anticipates a glorious day yet future when those who are to pass through the final persecution will enter the blessedness of the eternal state” (Mounce 161).
2. ‘Palm branches’ – “symbolized victory and rejoicing” (Roper 1:308)
3. ‘White’ – “the symbol of purity and holiness” (Woodruff 120)
4. The ‘elder’ is 1 of the 24 mentioned in Revelation 4:4.
5. What about the ‘great tribulation?’
a. Some say that it refers to the period of the anti-Christ.
b. Some say that it refers to the destruction of Jerusalem (cf. Matt. 24:21, 29).
c. Some say that it refers to the period of Roman persecution beginning with Nero (AD 64) until the edict of Constantine (AD 313).
d. Some say that it refers to all tribulations from Pentecost to the Coming of the Lord (cf. John 16:33; Acts 14:22; 2 Tim. 3:12).
II. The Application:
A. As Christians, we have been sealed with the Holy Spirit (cf. Acts 2:38; Eph. 1:13-14; 2 Cor.1:21-22).
B. Despite the difficulties of life, we can share in the victory.
C. Heaven will surely be worth it all!
(1) Who is able to stand? God’s People!
(2) Are you one of His?