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. (Revelation 7:4)
The first six seals release unprecedented havoc upon the earth, and the seventh seal is next in line. Meanwhile, John shifts the focus from the judgments taking place on earth to the grace and mercy that God continues to offer the inhabitants of Earth. Even in these times, God is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
John says, “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. 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, Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads” (Revelation 7:1-3).
John sees four angels that control the wind currents from the four points of the compass. As such, they have power over the weather on Earth, and they are prepared to unleash their fury on Earth. However, another angel appears from the rising sun (translated as “east”) to temporarily halt the next judgment. John says that this angel has “the seal of the living God.”
This “seal” is probably something like a stamp, brand, or signet ring that carries with it the authority of God. John does not elaborate on the mark, but I wonder if it could be the Hebrew letter shin (שׁ). One of the names of God is El Shadday – “Almighty God.” The initial of this name is the Hebrew letter shin. At the dedication of Solomon’s Temple, God said, “… I have hallowed this house, which thou hast built, to put my name there for ever; and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually” (1 Kings 9:3, emphasis mine). The Temple Mount in Jerusalem is geographically cradled above three valleys that come together in the shape of the letter shin (שׁ) when viewed from the air. I find that intriguing.
Perhaps the shin is the symbol on the seal that the angel carries. Some suggest that the angel with the seal of God is Jesus. They come to this conclusion because he seems to have the authority of God by way of the seal. However, it is not beyond God to delegate His authority to His angels. Arguably, Jesus controls all the events concerning the Tribulation, and He holds the scroll and opens the seals. It makes sense that He is directing this angel and has delegated His authority to this angel for the sealing of His servants. Also, there is the point that John describes this angel as “another angel” (7:2) like those holding the four winds. So, in my view, this is not Jesus.
The angels holding back the four winds are temporarily restrained from unleashing their judgments until “we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads” (7:3). “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” (Revelation 7:4, emphasis mine). These 144,000 who are sealed are Jews, not Jehovah’s Witnesses. There are 12,000 from each of the 12 tribes of Israel and are listed in the verses that follow. The tribes listed are as follows: Judah, Reuben, Gad, Asher, Naphtali, Manasseh, Simeon, Levi, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph, and Benjamin. For those who pay attention, there is an apparent discrepancy between the Revelation list and the lists found in the Pentateuch (Genesis-Deuteronomy). This list includes Joseph from whom the two “half tribes” originated: Manasseh and Ephraim. Here, Joseph is listed as a stand-alone tribe and Ephraim is omitted from the list. The tribe of Dan is also missing.
The reason for their omission is due to a specific sin of idolatry that they allowed in their territories after the kingdom of Israel split under the reign of Rehoboam, successor to Solomon. Before entering the Promised Land, God issued a warning and a curse to anyone who led Israel into idolatry. “The LORD will not spare him, but then the anger of the LORD and his jealousy shall smoke against that man, and all the curses that are written in this book shall lie upon him, and the LORD shall blot out his name from under heaven. And the LORD shall separate him unto evil out of all the tribes of Israel, according to all the curses of the covenant that are written in this book of the law” (Deuteronomy 29:20-21). Dan was the first to lapse into idolatry. “And the children of Dan set up the graven image: and Jonathan, the son of Gershom, the son of Manasseh, he and his sons were priests to the tribe of Dan until the day of the captivity of the land” (Judges 18:30, emphasis mine). After the kingdom split, Jeroboam, king of the northern kingdom, had two golden calves made, and he placed one in Ephraim and the other in Dan. Granted, all 12 tribes of Israel continually had problems with idolatry, but these two seem to be the first of the overt violations of God’s warning and may be the reason for the omission of these two tribes from the list of the 144,000.
These 144,000 Jewish sealed servants of God seem to be partly responsible for the conversion and salvation of innumerable souls during the Tribulation. John reports, “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; And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb” (Revelation 7:9-10, emphasis mine). As we have seen before, the “white robes” represent the righteousness of Christ that is imparted to them who have placed their faith and trust in Him (7:14). John records the celebration for these saints. “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, 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 7:11-12). Jesus said, “there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth” (Luke 15:10), and here we see millions upon millions.
One of the elders approached John and asked the same question we might ask. “What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?” (7:13). John had no answer, so the elder explained, “These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (7:14, emphasis mine). They have come out of “great tribulation.” These are Tribulation saints; they are not the Church that was snatched out at the Rapture before the Tribulation begins. This is the amazing thing to me about this time. Even though God is unleashing His great wrath upon a sinful world, He still makes opportunities for people to be saved. “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
We will see later on that God sends two untouchable Old Testament prophets to preach, and He even sends an angel to proclaim the Gospel around the earth. God is not willing that any should perish, but with all of His effort, we know that the greater majority will continue to reject Him. Jesus said, “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat” (Matthew 7:13, emphasis mine).
For all who enter through the “strait (narrow) gate” there is this promise: “Therefore are they [those ‘who have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the lamb’ (7:14)] 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. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. 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” (Revelation 7:15-17).
Reader, are you prepared for what is coming to the world? You do not need to go through the Tribulation, God’s wrath, that is coming upon the world. Read my page on “Securing Eternal Life,” and ask Jesus to save you from the wrath to come.
 Genesis 49:1-27; Exodus 1:2-6