About Jesus     Steve Sweetman

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ch. 7:1-8      ch. 7:9-17

144,000 Sealed  (ch.7:1-8)


We’ve just seen the sixth seal open and now you’d expect to see the seventh seal open, but you don’t.  That has been delayed to chapter 8.  What happens in this chapter is that we step back from the sequence of events that take place on earth and have the contents of this chapter interjected to give us certain understanding of other related things.


In verse 1 John sees four angels standing at the four corners of the earth holding back the winds.  Some might ask, “How can John see four angels at four corners of the earth when the earth is a ball shape”?  John could have easily been moving around.  Nowhere in the text does it say John was always standing still.


Some view these four corners as a figure of speech to mean the four points of the compass, north south east and west.  That would be how I view it at the moment. We use many figures of speech that aren’t scientifically accurate to make a point.  For example, we say that the sun rises and sets.  In reality the sun stays in the same place.  It neither rises nor sets. It is the movement of the earth that causes day time and evening.  Besides, John had no concept of the earth being round, so what was spoken to him had to be spoken in words and concepts that he would have understood, and in this case, the would have meant a flat earth.         


All of the above being said, let me suggest the following.  If you hold a globe of the world in your hands, and, if you pretend to see angels at the extreme ends of north, south, east, and west, on the globe' you'll see all four angels that appear to be at the four corners of the earth.  The question thus arises, Did John see a globe shaped earth?  Did he now believe that the earth wasn't really flat?  Of course, I don't believe we have the answer to these questions.       


It should be noted that this angel controls the winds of the earth.  This tells us that angels are in control of our weather, and I believe, in all things pertaining to this planet.  When the Lord wants something to take placed on earth, like an earthquake, he'll tell the angel in charge of earthquakes to cause the earth to shake.     


In verse 2 we see yet another angel.  This angel tells the four angels not to harm the land or the sea because they had the power to do so.  Before these four angels caused harm to come on the earth God’s people had to receive the seal of God on their foreheads.  John says that there were 144,000 of these sealed people.


Angels help the Lord when it comes to matters on earth.  Here we see angels involved in the environment.  Again, this should tell us that so-called Mother Nature isn't in charge of things.  Angels are in charge by implementing the will of God. 


The angel who came from the east had a seal of God placed on his body.  The seal was in some way a signet, stating he belonged to God.  He would then give God’s people the same seal before these angels were let lose to harm the earth.


Revelation 14:1 tells us that this seal had the name of God written on it.  That being said, as we will see when we come to Revelation 14, not all believe that the 144,000 in Revelation 14 are the 144,000 we see here in chapter 7   


The people who were sealed were composed of 12,000
 from each of the twelve tribes of Israel.  The question is, “who are these 144,000 people”?  Some suggest that this number is symbolic, not really a 144,000.   Others believe that this is a literal number.  I believe that it is a literal number, because, for the most part, when it comes to numbers and prophecy, I understand we should not symbolize them.  One example of this would be the seventy years Jeremiah predicted Israel would be captive in Babylon.  Daniel understood these to be seventy literal years and history proves that.    


If you look at this list you will notice that there are certain discrepancies from lists that appear in the Old Testament.   The tribes of Dan and Ephraim are not mentioned in this list.  The tribes of Levi and Joseph take their place.  The reason for this might well be seen in Deuteronomy 29:18 to 21.  There, the text states that any person, family, or tribe, that introduces idolatry into Israel , will be blotted out from under heaven and will receive the curses of the Law.       


Some suggest that the anti-Christ will come from the tribe of Dan because Dan introduced idolatry into Israel. See Leviticus 24:10 to 16.  See also Judges 18:2, 30, and 31, and 31, and, 1 Kings 11:26 and 12:28, and, Hosea 4:17.   


In any lists of the 12 tribes, there isn’t a consistent listing.  The twelve tribes are at least listed in twenty different ways in the Old Testament.  These variations obviously have their significance.


At one point the Jehovah Witnesses believed they were the 144,000.  A problem arose when there ended up being more than 144,000 Jehovah Witnesses.  At this point they redefined their thinking and said that only the elite of their group were in the 144,000.


Some people regard these people as converted Gentiles.  I don't see it that way.  The text clearly states that they are Jews.  There is no need to twist things around here.        


Paul speaks of “all Israel being saved” in Romans 11:25 - 32.  The preaching of these 144,000 clearly plays a part in the salvation of Israelis.  We should understand that when Paul speaks of all Israel being saved he is speaking of all those who end up surviving the tribulation.  The Jews who don't turn to their God will be killed during the last seven years as seen in Zechariah 13:8 where it says two thirds of Israelis will be killed.      



The Great Multitude Of White Robes  (ch. 7:9-17)


Some view this section of Revelation as taking place during the tribulation while others view it as taking place after the tribulation.


In verse 9 John saw a great multitude of people from every nation on earth, and from every race of people, standing before the throne.  There’s not much controversy over these people.  These people are the redeemed men and women.  You also should note that even in Heaven these people have different ethnic backgrounds, or at least they are recognized as coming from various ethnicites pior to their arrivl in Heavan.  If you are white on earth, it appears that you'll be white in Heaven.  If you're black on earth, it appears you'll be black in Heaven.  We won’t all be the same.  We’ll all have our own specific appearance and personalities.  To be specific, these people are not just Jews, they include Gentiles.  Some people view this crowd of people  as those who had been raptured from the age of the church prior to the tribulation.  On the other hand, some feel these people are the martyred saints of the tribulation as we will see later.  I believe this view. 


One thing that distinguished this huge crowd that was so great that no one could count them from the 144,000 is that the great multitude was in Heaven and the 144,000 was on earth.          


Note that the multitude has palm branches in their hands.  Does this mean there are trees in Heaven?  Is Heaven a spiritual place where there are no material things like trees?  I believe Heaven is some kind of spiritual place, but, it clearly has things that can be seen, like trees, like a throne, like an altar, and, like many other things.  These things may consist of a different material than what we're used to on earth, but they are present in Heaven in some form.  My opinion is that all that we see on earth is an earthly expression of what is already in heaven; thus the reason for palm branches.   


Note again the palm branches held by those
in the multitude.  The Jewish tradition was that just
before the Feast of Passover Jews visiting Jerusalem for the feast would walk from the temple to the Mount of Olives carrying palm branches.  This is why we see the Jews carrying palm branches the day Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey just p
rior to His execution.  Once arriving at the mountain they would sing Psalms 112 to 118.  This was a Jewish custom that appears to be carried over into the heavenly realm.   This is yet another allusion to the Jewish nature of the book of Revelation.         


Verses 9 through 11 sounds very much to me like the worship service we saw in chapter 5.  It might well be the same event.


This crowd cried out, “salvation belongs to our God.”   This is another proof that this great crowd of people are redeemed people, not angels, because angels aren’t redeemed.  Mankind is redeemed.   Besides, the next verse speaks of the angels standing around the throne as a different group. 


Notice how the angels worshipped in verse 11.  They fell down on their faces before God.  This is true worship.   In humble fear and reverence worshippers can do nothing else but fall on their face in the presence of God. 


In verse 12 the angels worshipped by proclaiming some great things about God.  This too is worship.  This is what many of us should learn in our time of worship today.  Worship is not speaking about us.  It's not asking for anything from God.  It's proclaiming His greatness.   


In verse 13 John was asked who these were who wore clothes in white.  John didn't know who they were.              


I find it interesting that the elder asked John who these people are.  I find it even more interesting how John responded.  John deflected the question back to the elder when he said, "you know".  John clearly didn't know who these people were, and, maybe, just maybe, he was a bit embarrassed about his lack of knowledge and thus the reason for this deflection.  


Verse 14 tells us exactly who the great crowd of people are.  They are the redeemed that came out of the Great Tribulation and have made their robes white with the blood of the Lamb.  These people were martyrs.  So, even though in the most terrible time of God’s wrath, a great multitude was saved.  This is why I said earlier that the great multitude of people weren't those who were raptured prior to the tribulation.  This tells me that there will be many Jews and Gentiles won to Jesus during the tribulation.  I believe it will be the greatest revival ever known. 


You might ask how these people washed themselves in the blood of the Lamb.  Anyone who hands his life over to Jesus and accepts God's provision of the shedding of Jesus' blood has been washed in the blood of the Lamb.  That being said, these people shed their own blood because of their association with Jesus.  In one sense of the word, they exchanged their blood for Jesus' blood and thus became white and pure.


There is a controversy among Prophetic Futurists whether Gentiles can be, or actually will be, saved during the tribulation period.  Verse 14 is linked with verse 9 where we see the crowd of people from all nations and tribes tells me that Gentiles will be saved during the tribulation period, and probably because of the preaching of these 144,000 Jewish preachers.  If this were not the case, the large crowd would only be designated as Israelis.       

This statement tells us something about this whole chapter.  It tells us that indeed we have stepped back from the scenes of Revelation.  You might say that we are between scenes.


In verse 15 we see these people serving God both day and night.  Note that there is a day or night in Heaven, but once again, this means their serving is continuous.  The point to be made in this verse is that in Heaven, we will be working; we will be serving God in some way shape or form.  What this looks like is uncertain to me, but it is clear that we will be serving God.    


The use of the word "tent" in verse 15 is an allusion back to the Old Testament.  The tent expresses the idea of a covering and protection of those in the tent.  


In verses 16 and 17 we see the struggles of the earthly life gone.  Jesus will be the Shepherd for these martyrs.  The sun won’t scorch them.  Tears will be wiped away from their eyes.  They will be led by springs of living water.


There are a few different views about the tears being wiped from the eyes of the redeemed.  My opinion at the moment is that we will not remember anything that would cause tears.  If my sons don't make it to the next life with me but end up in the Lake of Fire, that would bring countless tears to my eyes.  How could I live without tears in the next life knowing my sons are burning in the Lake of Fire ?  The only way that I can see not crying over this would be not knowing who my sons were and where they ended up.  I say this based on Isaiah 65:17 that tells us that nothing from our present sinful age will be remembered in the next life.


Some have suggested that we will think like God at this point. So, even though we may see loved ones in the Lake of Fire , we will view this from God's position, from His holy sense of justice.  We won't view these things from our present humanness.        


In verse 17 we see the Lamb in the centre of the throne.  We've seen God in the centre of the throne in previous chapters and now we see Jesus there.  We know that Jesus, at this present moment, sits at the right hand of God in a place of universal authority. 


Also note in verse 17 that Jesus will lead the redeemed by springs of water.  This might well be in reference to the new earth that we see at the end of the book of Revelation.   


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