REVELATION CHAPTER SEVEN  


 

REVELATION CHAPTER SEVEN

I. INTRODUCTION

In Revelation chapter five, we are shown a book (a scroll), that is bound by 7 seals. We learn later that the scroll contains the events of the DAY OF THE LORD (The trumpet judgments, Rev. 8:1-2; and the bowl judgments,
11:14-19; 15:1). The seals are wrapped around the SCROLL of God’s wrath and must be removed one at a time before God’s wrath can be READ, and poured out on the earth dwellers. The book and the seals are all symbols of events that will begin the final 7 years before Jesus sets up His earthly kingdom. There is no REAL BOOK and seals. When the time comes for fulfillment, the events portrayed by the seals and the book will occur, but there will be no seals to release and no book to read.

In chapter 6 we are shown 6 of those 7 seals, which outline events starting with the beginning of the 70th week of Daniel and ending with the return of Jesus. Shortly after the return of Jesus, the judgment of God will start to be executed on the earth dwellers (the unbelievers who are left behind). This is represented by the 7th seal, which is shown to us starting at Chapter 8:1.

A. OUTLINE OF THE SEALS
Verses 1-2, First seal: a worldwide "political" conquest via a
powerful, charismatic world ruler. This establishes a religious PEACE on the earth based on verses 3-4, where we learn that THE PEACE is taken from the earth. this corresponds with Daniel 7:8, 20 and 8:23. It also corresponds with Daniel
9:27, “And he (the prince who is to come) will establish a covenant with the many (the people of Palestine) for one week (7 years).”

Verses 3-4, Second seal: a disruption of THE political and religious peace by the same world ruler becoming oppressive. This is the beginning of the reign of the beast and the tribulation (Rev. 13:3-7). It corresponds with Daniel 9:27, “But in the middle of the week he (the prince who is to come) will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering.”

Verses 5-6, Third seal: stringent economic controls via the mark
of the beast (Rev. 13:16-17). This is not famine.

Verses 7-8, Fourth seal: worldwide death from several different causes as a result of the oppressive reign of the beast.

Verses 9-11, Fifth seal: The martyrs killed via the oppressive reign of the beast. This corresponds with Daniel 7:21, Revelation 13:7 and 12:7.

Verses 12-17, Sixth seal: The Day of the Lord is announced and Jesus arrives, which interrupts the oppression of the beast which ends the great tribulation by cutting it short as per Matthew 24:22.
Joel 2:31; Mat. 24:29-31; Luke 21:25-27

Verse 8:1, The 7th seal is broken and the wrath of God starts to fall upon
the earth via the 7 trumpet judgments.

The 6th seal arrival of Jesus occurs at an unknown day and hour after the midpoint of the 70th Week of Daniel (Mat. 24:36-44). That midpoint is when the beast begins his oppressive reign, which is known as the tribulation (Mat. 24:9-15; Dan. 9:27; 12:1, 6-7).
The tribulation will be CUT SHORT at an unknown day and hour by the signs in the sun, moon and stars, which announce the arrival of Jesus (Mat. 24:21-22, 29, 36).
The signs in the sun, moon and stars, will cause an all encompassing darkness, that gets everyone’s attention (Mat. 24:29), and then the SIGN OF THE SON OF MAN will appear in the sky (Mat. 24:30a). Then there will be TWO types of response. (1) the believers will look up with expectation (Luke 21:28) and (2) the earth dwellers will mourn and panic (Mat. 24:30b). Then immediately, everyone will see the Lord arriving in the clouds (Mat. 24:30c; Luke 21:27).
At that moment two things will happen. (1) the believers will be taken out of the earth and gathered to the Lord in the sky (Mat. 24:31; 1 Thes. 4:14-17), and (2) the earth dwellers, still in panic, will try to hide (Rev. 6:15-17). It is significant that in the gospel accounts, the panic actually occurs as a result of the SIGN OF THE SON OF MAN rather than His presence (Luke 21:26-27; Mat. 24:30). At Revelation 6:12-17, we are not shown the SIGN of the Son of Man or the ARRIVAL, but we are shown the mourning and the panic-motivated attempt to hide that will happen after the SIGN and Christ’s arrival.
At Isaiah 2:12-18, we are shown prophecy of the judgment that will begin at the arrival of the Lord. And in verses 19-21, we are shown how the earth dwellers attempt to hide from the presence of the Lord when He arrives.

At Revelation 6:12-14, we see the signs in the sun, moon and stars.
Then at verse 15, we see the PANIC of the earth dwellers.
That means that we must place the ARRIVAL immediately after verse 14.
That also means that we must place the RAPTURE immediately after verse 14. Neither the ARRIVAL or the RAPTURE are mentioned in the vision.
What we see in verses 15-17 is the EFFECT of Christ’s arrival upon the earth dwellers.
We should then expect to see the RESULT of the rapture as well. We do. At chapter 7:1-8, we are shown the RESULT on the earth, after the ARRIVAL, and at chapter 7:9-17, we are shown the RESULT in heaven. Here John sees the raptured saints STANDING before the throne. He does not see them ARRIVING in heaven, but ALREADY there. The language is very clear and does not leave room for any guesswork.
At Revelation 4:6, John sees in heaven a SEA OF GLASS before the throne, but it is EMPTY. At verse 7:9, he sees the saints standing before the throne, which means they would be standing ON the sea of glass.
At Revelation 15:1-4, just before the FINAL wrath of God is to be poured out on the earth, we see the saints in heaven praising God. These saints are STANDING ON THE SEA OF GLASS holding harps. This is therefore, BEFORE THE THRONE and we are seeing AGAIN, the raptured saints in heaven. BUT this is not the rapture EVENT, It is symbolic of the heavenly abode where the raptured saints “reside” AFTER the rapture. The raptured saints will not ALWAYS be standing on the sea of glass. This is just where John sees them IN THE VISION as a SYMBOL of their heavenly abode. The heavenly abode of the raptured saints is taught by Jesus at John 14:1-3.
It is the EXACT same idea that is seen at chapter 7:9. In the same way that Rev. 15:2 is NOT the rapture, but the result of the rapture, so also Rev. 7:9 is NOT the rapture, but the result of the rapture.
In addition, the FOCUS is on the TIMING of the rapture, which will take place during the reign of the beast, for the emphasis is on those who have come off victorious against the beast and have come out of the great tribulation.

The RESULT ON THE EARTH after the arrival of Jesus and the rapture, is the impact on a large body of orthodox Jews probably scattered throughout the world AND in Israel. These are probably well studied Jews who could perhaps be equated to 144 thousand little “Sauls of Tarsus.” When they witness the arrival of Jesus AND witness the rapture of the Christians, they will be able to “put two and two together” and will be convicted of sin, righteousness and judgment by the Holy Spirit using the words of the gospel that has been communicated by the Christians and by the two witnesses. They will express faith in Christ as the Messiah-Savior and become children of God AND bondservants of God to serve Him during the remaining months that God will deal with the people on the earth.

B. THE SECOND COMING AGENDA ITEM ONE

When Christ arrives in the clouds of the sky with power and great glory, there are TWO items on His agenda.
The first item is to rescue His saints, by removing them from the earth.
The second item is to bring wrath and judgment upon the unbelieving world.

The rescue of His saints is the focus of Christ’s teaching at Matthew 24:22.
“And unless those days (the tribulation) are shortened, no (believing) life would be delivered, but because of the elect ones, those days will be shortened.”

When it is therefore time for the arrival of Jesus according to the specific timing of the Father (1 Tim. 6:15; Romans 11:25) the tribulation will to be cut short by the SIGNS in the sun, moon and stars, which cover the earth in a world wide darkness. The SIGN of the Son of Man will then appear, piercing that darkness with its universal brightness. And then Jesus will arrive in the clouds of the sky, and every eye will see Him (Rev. 1:7).

The precise ORDER of the events at this time are recorded for us at Matthew 24:29-31.
“But immediately after the tribulation of those days (V. 29a)
THE SUN WILL BE DARKENED, AND THE MOON WILL NOT GIVE ITS LIGHT, AND THE STARS WILL FALL from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken, (V. 29b), and then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky (V. 30a), and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn (V. 30b), and they will see the SON OF MAN COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF THE SKY with power and great glory (V. 30c). And He will send forth His angels with A GREAT TRUMPET and THEY WILL GATHER TOGETHER His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other (V. 31).”

(1) Verse 29a, immediately after the tribulation: At the time that God has determined to CUT IT SHORT.
(2) Verse 29b, the signs in the sun, moon and stars, causing darkness.
(3) Verse 30a, The SIGN of the Son of Man appears in the sky.
(4) Verse 30b, The earth dwellers mourn and panic.
(5) Verse 30c, Then they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds.
(6), Verse 31, Then the gathering of the saints.
(7) From Rev. 6:15-17, Then, MANY of the earth dwellers will try to hide.

Concerning this rapture and resurrection of the believers, Paul writes at 1 Corinthians 15:51-52,
“Behold, I tell you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.”

At 2 Thessalonians 1:7, this is the promise of deliverance; relief and comfort, that Paul promises us will occur in direct connection with Christ’s return, for he writes, “and to give back relief to you who are in tribulation (being pressured) together with us at the appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire.”
This PERSONAL application to them simply indicates the POSSIBILITY that the persecution situation in the Roman world could escalate into the prophesied great tribulation of Matthew 24:9-29.

The priority of this FIRST item on Christ’s second coming agenda is also seen at 1 Thes. 4:16-17 where we read, “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of {the} archangel, and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first.
Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord.”

This priority is also seen in the next chapter, at 1 Thessalonians 5:2, “For you yourselves know accurately that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night.”
This IMAGE of the thief was first introduced to us by the words of Jesus at Matthew 24:42-44.
“Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the THIEF was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into.
“For this reason you be ready too; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think.”

This is taught in direct connection with the gathering of the saints, which is described as, “Then there shall be two men in the field; one will be taken (to the Lord), and one will be left (for judgment).
Two women {will be} grinding at the mill; one will be taken, and one will be left” (Matthew 24:40-41).

C. SECOND COMING AGENDA: ITEM TWO

The SECOND ITEM on Christ’s agenda is to pour out judgment on the earth dwellers; the unbelievers who remain behind after the rapture. It should be obvious that this judgment will not begin until after the believers have been removed. Paul tells us at 1 Thes. 1:10 that it is Jesus at His return “who delivers us from the wrath to come.”
At 1 Thessalonians 5:2-3, the coming of the Lord arrives like a thief and brings sudden destruction on the earth dwellers. At this arrival, BOTH the removal of believers AND the time of judgment will occur like a thief; suddenly and unexpected. However, the believer is in the LIGHT and for those who are watching and waiting, that day, the arrival of Jesus, will not come on them like a thief.

But wait, there is a delay in judgment; a delay to the pouring out of wrath. John’s vision in Revelation 7:2-3, continues, “And I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, having the seal of the living God; and he cried out 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 or the sea or the trees, until we have sealed the bondservants of our God on their foreheads.”

The wrath of God is about to be poured out, and the people who remain on the earth after the rapture react in fear and mourning, and vain attempts to hide from Christ’s presence (Matthew 24:30; Luke 21:25-26; Isaiah 2:19-21).

But many will understand what has happened and respond in faith toward Jesus as the Messiah and Savior of the world. This is taught at Joel 2:30-32. After the signs in the sun, moon and stars, “it will come about that whoever calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.”
This is just as it has been BEFORE the second coming of Christ (Romans 10:13), and it will be the same after His return. Salvation is gained by personal trust in Jesus as the Messiah/Savior.
The first ones to do this will be the 144,000 Jews mentioned in Rev. 7:1-8 and 14:1-7.

I repeat for emphasis that it is important to understand that Jesus returns in connection with the 6th seal symbol of Rev. 6:12-17.
According to Mat. 24:29-31, after the signs in the sun, moon and stars occur, bringing universal darkness to the earth, the SIGN OF THE SON OF MAN will pierce the darkness announcing the arrival of Jesus. Jesus will then arrive in the clouds of the sky and send forth His angels to gather the elect (believers) up into the clouds to meet Jesus there. According to Joel 2:31, these signs in the sun, moon and stars portend the DAY OF THE LORD.
According to 1 Thes. 5:2-3, The DAY OF THE LORD will come unexpectedly, like a thief in the night just as Jesus taught at Mat. 24:42-44; Rev. 16:15; and Peter at 2 Peter 3:10.
This is the same unknown day and hour that the believers will be TAKEN out of the earth and the unbelievers will be LEFT BEHIND (Mat. 24:36-42). Thus, the SIGNS, the SIGN, the ARRIVAL and the RAPTURE all occur within the same few minutes.

It is now time for the DAY OF THE LORD to begin, when the wrath and judgment of God will be poured out on the earth. Those who remain behind will recognize that this judgment is about to come, for they will proclaim, “Hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of their wrath has arrived; and who is able to stand?” (Rev. 6:16-17).

The 6th seal symbol represents the arrival of THE DAY OF THE LORD, at which time the second coming of Christ and the rapture will occur. All the passages that deal with the second coming place the gathering of the saints immediately upon the arrival of Jesus in the clouds of the sky. There is no GAP or DELAY for the rapture.
The order is, (1) arrival, (2) rapture, (3) judgment.
According to this and the other pertinent passages it is, (1) SIGNS in the sun, moon and stars, (2) SIGN of the Son of Man, (3) MOURNING and panic, (4) ARRIVAL, (5) RAPTURE (6) more PANIC. Some have suggested that there is a GAP of time between the arrival of Jesus and the gathering, but all the passages teach that the gathering occurs immediately upon the arrival of Jesus in the clouds of the sky. Of special note is 1 Thessalonians 4:16.
“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of {the} archangel, and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first.”

This trumpet blast is seen in direct and immediate connection with the descent of the Lord. The TRUMPET is the same as the “great trumpet” at Matthew 24:31 and “the last trumpet” at 1 Cor. 15:51-52.
However, it is NOT the same as the 7th trumpet of Revelation 10:7 and 11:15. The “great trumpet” is the AUDIBLE announcement and call to assembly for the believers on the earth. The 7th trumpet is a SYMBOL of events seen by John in his vision. See Article: THE 7th TRUMPET

It is thus clear that WHEN the Lord descends from heaven on the clouds with power and great glory, at that very instant, the gathering of the saints occurs.


II. Revelation 7:1-8

A. SALVATION OF THE BONDSERVANTS

After the arrival of Jesus at the 6th seal, we are shown two results that are recorded in Revelation chapter 7.
The first result is ON EARTH, and is recorded in verses 1-8. It is the conversion and sealing of 144,000 Jews who will trust in Christ shortly after He returns and gathers out (raptures) the believers.
The second result, recorded in verses 9-17, is IN HEAVEN, and is the PRESENCE of the raptured believers standing before God on the sea of glass.

Some teach that the 144,000 are saved prior to the rapture and sealed prior to the rapture, but stay behind because of their bondservant ministry that God has planned for them.
However, this view is untenable in view of several factors found in the Scriptures.
The 144 thousand are saved AFTER the ARRIVAL and after the RAPTURE.
It is at that time of salvation that they become bondservants.
If they were saved before the arrival, then they would be OF THE CHURCH and would be raptured along with all the other saints. However, they are viewed as FIRST FRUIT converts at Rev. 14:1-4, and that would have to mean first fruits of the day of the Lord. And that requires a conversion AFTER Jesus arrives in the clouds of the sky in power and great glory.

If one wants to view the SEAL as a mark of ownership BEFORE they are saved that occurs before the rapture, this is not consistent with the rest of Scripture. The seal is the Holy Spirit, whose presence in the soul of the believer marks that believer out as purchased and owned by God (2 Cor. 1:22; Eph. 1:13-14; 2 Tim. 2:19a; 1 Cor. 6:19-20).

Those who hold to the view that the 144k are sealed before the rapture, do so because of the ORDER given to us in Revelation 7. However, the order is NOT an order of OCCURRENCE, but an order of FOCUS.
At Revelation 7:9ff, we are not shown the EVENT of the rapture; we are shown the RESULT of the rapture. The language does not have John SEEING the multitude arrive, but seeing them ALREADY IN HEAVEN. The rapture occurs IN CONNECTION with Rev. 6:14-15. These unbelievers can not make the confession that is made in verses 16-17 UNLESS they have seen the Lord’s arrival, which is exactly what they see as recorded at Mat. 24:29-30. “And they will SEE The Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory.” And, as already established, the rapture occurs IMMEDIATELY upon the arrival of Jesus.

Some argue that since the two witnesses are not taken at the rapture, the same thing could apply to the 144 thousand. However, the fact that the two witnesses are not raptured is an entirely different situation. The two witnesses are Moses and Elijah who have been brought back for a prophetic ministry unique and special. The 144 thousand bondservants are the FIRST FRUIT converts of the day of the Lord and will function AS bond servants of God. Their ministry will be to proclaim the everlasting gospel with the result that by the end of the time period in view, there will be many Jew and Gentile believers to go alive into Messiah’s earthly kingdom after the battle of Armageddon.
There is just no indication that these people should be viewed differently than anyone else who is left behind after the rapture, other than the fact that they are the first ones to believe. Furthermore, as already established, the chronology of the passages involved show that the Lord returns and the rapture occurs BEFORE the conversion/sealing of the 144,000.


B. REVELATION 7:1-3
In the book of the Revelation, God uses angels to teach John things that will occur in the future. Not only are angels the teachers, but angels also occur in the vision as SYMBOLS of some of the things that will be done. When the historical reality of these events takes place, those angels will NOT be involved. God does sometimes use angels to administer His desires on the earth. In the “END TIMES” Scenario, it is possible that there will be some angels who will work “behind the scenes” of God’s plan to carry out His judgments on the earth, but there is no way to know for certain when that is the case. In the book of the Revelation, the safest course of interpretation is to view ALL the “event” angels as symbols and not ACTUAL participants. They are just being used IN THIS VISION to teach John what is going to happen. I don’t even think there will be TRUMPETS blown when the time comes for these judgments to be executed. You see, all of these things are shown to John and he describes them in a PAST TENSE format. These things are what he saw in the vision, but the actions and symbols are only REPRESENTATIVE of the events that will occur. The EVENTS will occur but the symbols will NOT OCCUR.

Verse 1
1. And I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth:
These are four angels used symbolically in the vision to portray divine control over the impending judgments. The four winds are symbols for the administration of that judgment. In actuality, there are no angels holding back the winds. God controls these things directly.

2. holding back the four winds of the earth: The specific administration of the DAY OF THE LORD judgments awaits His perfect timing, which here, is dependent on the conversion of the 144,000 bondservants. This symbol of the four winds is used 2 times in the Old Testament; Jer. 49:36; Dan. 7:2. And the term 4 spirits is used once at Zech. 6:5.

3. so that no wind should blow on the earth or on the sea or on any tree: it is time for the judgment of God; His wrath upon the unbelievers remaining on the earth; the beast and his kingdom.
The WINDS represent the administration of divine judgment that will be shown to John through the 6 trumpet symbols later in his vision.
But before these judgments can be executed, a certain group of men need to trust in Christ for salvation, and as a result of that be protected from the effects of those judgments.

Revelation 7:2-3
And I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, having the seal of the living God; and he cried out 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 or the sea or the trees, until we have sealed the bondservants of our God on their foreheads.”

John is shown another angel who is given administrative control over the actions of the four judgment angels. This angel HAS the seal of God to place on the forehead of those who will trust in Christ as Savior. Again, this is symbolism. The angels do not stamp a literal seal on the foreheads of the ones who believe.
Whether this conversion/sealing of the 144,000 Jews will take a few hours or a few days, we do not know, but judgment is held back until all are saved AND SEALED with the mark of divine ownership. At 2 Timothy 2:19, we read, “the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, The Lord knows those who are His.”
This is not something that is VISIBLE, but something that is an acknowledgment and CLAIM by God upon those who have trusted in Christ.
Since 30 AD, when God sent the Holy Spirit to the church, the SEAL of salvation and divine ownership has been the indwelling presence of the Spirit (Eph. 1:13-14; 1 Cor. 6:19-20; 2 Cor. 1:22; 5:5). There is no reason for that to change with converts after the rapture for the Holy Spirit is still involved with the whole salvation process. Some believe that the Holy Spirit LEAVES the earth at the rapture but there is no scriptural basis for this speculation. The Holy Spirit is not the restrainer of 2 Thessalonians 2:6-7.
See Commentary for 2 Thessalonians 2

At Revelation 14:1, we learn that the 144 thousand have the name of the Lamb and the name of the Father written on their foreheads. At Revelation 9:4, we see that there are those who do NOT have the SEAL of God on their foreheads. This indicates that the SEAL is a claim of ownership that is represented in John’s vision by the NAME of God on the forehead. Again, this is not a VISIBLE seal, but a spiritual FACT that is known only in a “spiritual” context and not known or seen by humans on the earth.
God knows and the angels involved know and divine protection will not let the demon oppressors of the 5th trumpet judgment hurt anyone who has that divine seal.

To repeat, the seal is said to be THE NAME OF GOD ON THE FOREHEAD (Rev. 14:1). This is a symbol of divine possession (2 Tim. 2:19) which is actually the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit (2 Cor. 1:22; 1 Cor. 6:19-20). It is not something that is given to them by an angel. John is seeing a vision of symbols that portray events. The symbol, an angel sealing the believers, will not occur, but the EVENT ITSELF, THE SEALING, which is the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, will occur.

C. THE NEW EVANGELISTIC AGENT

God’s plan is to use chosen members of the human race to represent HIM and His viewpoint to others who live on the earth. The primary concern in this representation is to proclaim the message of salvation through the Messianic promise. God will never leave Himself without representation here on the earth.
From Adam to the Exodus (the deliverance of Israel from Egypt), God used INDIVIDUAL “family” priests as the evangelistic agent, to bring spiritual truth and the gospel to the rest of mankind. We can view this period of time as the AGE or ADMINISTRATION (dispensation) of the FAMILY PRIEST. Adam, Seth, Noah, Shem, Job, Melchizedek, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Jethro, and others.

Eventually, the time came for there to be a larger, more specialized evangelistic agent to minister to the world. In anticipation of this, God genetically manufactured a new race of people, who were called Hebrews. After establishing their numbers in Egypt, He CREATED them into a new nation and commissioned them with the job of evangelistic agent to bear His name and message of salvation to others (Ex. 19:5-6; Deut. 4:6; Psalm 60:4. The age of the family priest was discontinued and once the individual “priests” died off, ONLY
Israel was the OFFICIAL herald of truth. An appropriate designation for this is the age of the NATIONAL priesthood, or the age of Israel.

The nation of
Israel had times of success and failure in her role as evangelistic agent. However, after many years of consistent failure God temporarily removed them by giving them a disciplinary vacation in Babylon which was to last for 70 years. When the time neared for that 70-year vacation to come to an end, Daniel was told that the nation would be given ANOTHER CHANCE and be given 490 years to accomplish its purpose of representing the Messianic promise to the world.

In the famous prophecy of 70 weeks found at Daniel 9:24-27, God gave Israel 490 additional years to be a successful evangelistic agent. Prior to the Babylonian captivity, the Southern Kingdom of Judah had the responsibility to be the evangelistic agent of God. They failed time and time again, and finally God disciplined them by removing them from the land, destroying the temple in Jerusalem, and sending most of the population into captivity in Babylon. Beginning with the nation’s return from the Babylonian captivity via the decree of Cyrus, God once again established
Israel as His evangelistic agent.

Of course, in anticipation via God’s foreknowledge, He knew that Israel would fail again, and ultimately reject the Messiah whom God sent to them. So once AGAIN, God temporarily removed them from being the evangelistic agent and TEMPORARILY replaced them with a SPIRITUAL nation and priesthood; the church.
Matthew 21:33-43; 23:37-39. But this time, the discipline would last for an indefinite amount of time, “until the fulness of the Gentiles comes in,” (Romans 11:25).

Based on the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, God established a new evangelistic body, made up of ALL believers in Jesus. Since ALL believers are designated as priests and ambassadors, to carry the message of salvation to the rest of the world, this period of time can be designated as the age of the UNIVERSAL priesthood, or the age of the church.
Mat. 21:33-43; 1 Peter 2:9-10

He did this after 483 years had passed from the decree of Cyrus; 7 years SHORT of the promised 490 years. His plan of course was to use the church for an undesignated number of years until the time was right for Israel to ONCE AGAIN function as the evangelistic agent. There was a TRANSITION period for this CHANGE, which was 40 years in length, and ended when God judged the nation and destroyed the city of
Jerusalem and the temple in 70 AD.

In the future, God will return to Israel and give her the remaining promised 7 years and once again make the nation, the evangelistic agent to bring the gospel to the world.
However, there will be several months of transition for this NEW CHANGE to take place. During this time of transition, the church will continue to function as the evangelistic agent in order to PREPARE Israel to TAKE OVER when the church is removed.
Thus, at Matthew 24:14, “and this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed in the whole world for a witness to all the nations, and then the end shall come.”
The END, is the end of the church age, which occurs when Jesus returns in the clouds of the sky with power and great glory.
This occurs at some unknown day and hour after the midpoint of the 70th week (that final 7 years promised to Israel) and will result in the removal of the church from the earth.
God will then REESTABLISH Israel as the evangelistic agent for the remaining months before the battle of Armageddon, after which Jesus will establish His earthly kingdom and reign on the throne of David in Jerusalem.

The EVANGELISTIC AGENT of Israel will function via the 144,000 Jews who will be converted very shortly after Jesus returns and raptures the church. As the NEW EVANGELISTIC agent, these men will function as bondservants of God to take the message of salvation to the world, giving those who have not taken the mark of the beast one last chance to trust in Jesus as the Savior before the bowl judgments are completed.
God’s purpose for returning to Israel is to use them once again as the EVANGELISTIC agent until the Millennial kingdom begins.
This is THE PURPOSE for the 144,000 “first fruit” converts from among the Jews, and is why they are called, “bondservants of God.” This is the primary issue in service and the primary issue for all the unbelievers still alive on the earth who have not taken the mark of the beast.


D. THE 144,000 BONDSERVANTS

The term, BONDSERVANTS that is used at Revelation 7:3, indicates the SERVICE activity of these new believers. In the context of Messiah’s arrival, the ONLY issue in service will be evangelistic, as israel is once again appointed as the evangelistic agent. This will be the ministry of these 144,000 Jewish believers, who will function as the NEW EVANGELISTIC AGENT until the beginning of the millennial kingdom. It is clarified for us at Rev. 14:4-7, which will be studied later. But to anticipate, these bondservants FOLLOW the Lord wherever He goes, which indicates devotion and service (not literally following along behind Him). In addition, I believe that the everlasting gospel is proclaimed world wide by these new converts, and that it is symbolized by the angel who is seen at Rev. 14:6. I do not believe that the angel is soaring through the sky proclaiming the gospel. This is just another one of those SYMBOLS to portray an event. The symbol will not happen, but the EVENT that the symbol portrays will happen. The event - the gospel will be proclaimed worldwide by the new priestly agent. That is why this symbol follows the description of the 144,000 at verses 6-7.

Someone might question how these UNBELIEVING Jews can be qualified to function as evangelistic bondservants of God so quickly after their conversion.
It is just like what happened to Saul of Tarsus. Just like Saul, the converted Jews will have been taught about the Messiah from the Old Testament scriptures. In addition to that, there will be the testimony of the two witnesses of Revelation 11:3-6, and the testimony of the church. Thus, as soon as they accept Jesus as that Messiah, they will be able to “put it all together” with the help of the Holy Spirit - just like Saul did, who “immediately began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, He is the Son of God.” (Acts 9:20). This is portrayed for us with the VISION-SYMBOL of the angel “flying in midheaven, having an everlasting gospel” at Rev. 14:6-7. God provides these bondservants with the specific gospel information they need to be effective as evangelists in the time remaining between the rapture and the battle of Armageddon.
Imagine 144,000 “little Pauls” traversing the world proclaiming Jesus as the Messiah and exhorting people to accept the everlasting gospel!

Another view is that this group of 144,000 Jews is the same as “the woman” of Revelation 12:6, 13-16. This cannot be because “the woman” represents a group of Jews who flee into the wilderness AT the midpoint of the week and are protected through the duration of the great tribulation. They are not even saved at this time, for they are clearly distinguished from “those who hold to the testimony of Jesus,” at Rev. 12:17. Although some of them, if not all will probably trust in Jesus as the Messiah after the Day of the Lord begins. The 144,000 are a separate group of Jews who come into play AFTER the arrival of Jesus in the clouds of sky and AFTER He raptures the church out from the earth.
Now, as mentioned above, many if not all of those who are of “the woman” might become believers after the rapture, and it is quite possible that some of these would be numbered with the 144,000 FIRST FRUITS. But the group of 144,000 “as a whole” is an evangelistic body that has a ministry to conduct world wide, and cannot be effective bond servants of God if they are hiding in the wilderness.

There are also some who are unwilling to assign the function of evangelist to the 144,000. I hope that the information in this treatise will adequately exlain why they ARE, and in fact, why they NEED TO BE men with a speicialized ministry of evangelism during the time they are on the earth after the rapture of the church.

E. REVELATION 7:4-8

And I heard the number of those who were sealed, one hundred and forty-four thousand sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel:

The newly converted Jews will be comprised of a specific number of 12,000 from each of the 12 tribes mentioned in verses 5-8.
This is because God will now RETURN to Israel as the designated EVANGELISTIC AGENT to represent God to the world.
According to Rev. 14:4, these are the FIRST FRUITS to be redeemed from among men on the earth after the rapture. All subsequent converts will be sealed as well, for it is the FACT of their salvation via the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit that is the seal. THESE are signaled out here because AS THE FIRST FRUITS and AS JEWS, they will be the special evangelistic agent of God to take the everlasting gospel throughout the world.

There is no basis for viewing the mention of the 12 tribes of Israel as symbolic because there is nothing that the symbol can point to other than speculative and fanciful denials of the intent of the vision. It is perfectly consistent with both Old Testament and New Testament truth that LITERAL ISRAEL will once again function as the evangelistic agent of God on the earth.

The challenge to anyone trying to interpret The Book of Revelation is how to determine what is and what is not a symbol.
We have to be careful in arbitrarily CHOOSING what “we” personally THINK is or is not symbolic. There will, of course, be disagreements, however, what is usually a safe axiom is: Take everything at its normal, natural, and literal sense UNLESS there is something in the context that takes the meaning OUT OF THE ORDINARY. For example, the image of the LAMB that John sees throughout his vision. John is seeing a SYMBOL of Jesus. In the scenes of heaven, and when the future events that are symbolized actually occur, it WILL NOT BE A LAMB that is seen, but the actual person of Jesus.
Here, there is NOTHING “out of the ordinary” that can be assigned to the 144,000 Israelites. It should therefore be taken as literally referring to 144,000 Jews, 12,000 from each of the 12 tribes mentioned.

It mentions the 12 tribes because that is EXACTLY what is intended for it to mean. In argument against this, it is commonly taught that, today, no one is able to trace their family lineage back to any particular tribe. But the individuals don’t need to know - God knows.
The tribes that are listed are: Judah, Reuban, Gad, Asher, naphtali, Simeon, Levi, Issachar, Zebulan, Joseph, and Benjamin.

There are two of the REGULAR tribes that have been left off of this list and replaced respectively by Levi and Joseph.
Levi, which is not an independent tribe, but shares inheritance with all the others, replaces Dan PROBABLY for 4 reasons:

(1) Leviticus 24:10-16
A man from the tribe of Dan is the first recorded person to blaspheme the Name of Yahweh.
Lev. 24:10-11
Now the son of an Israelite woman, whose father was an Egyptian, went out among the sons of Israel; and the Israelite woman’s son and a man of Israel struggled with each other in the camp.
And the son of the Israelite woman blasphemed the Name and cursed. So they brought him to Moses. (Now his mother’s name was Shelomith, the daughter of Dibri, of the tribe of Dan.)

(2) Judges 18:30-31
The tribe of Dan is the only tribe guilty of slaughtering a city of innocent people.
Judg. 18:27-29, Then they took what Micah had made and the priest who had belonged to him, and came to Laish, to a people quiet and secure, and struck them with the edge of the sword; and they burned the city with fire. And there was no one to deliver {them,} because it was far from Sidon and they had no dealings with anyone, and it was in the valley which is near Beth-rehob. And they rebuilt the city and lived in it. And they called the name of the city Dan, after the name of Dan their father who was born in Israel; however, the name of the city formerly was Laish.


(3) Judges 18:30-31
The tribe of Dan is the first tribe to go into idolatry.
Judg. 18:30-31, And the sons of Dan set up for themselves the graven image; and Jonathan, the son of Gershom, the son of Manasseh, he and his sons were priests to the tribe of the Danites until the day of the captivity of the land. So they set up for themselves Micah’s graven image which he had made, all the time that the house of God was at
Shiloh.

(4) Genesis 49:16-17
The dictator of
Palestine during the tribulation; the one who forces beast worship on Israel will probably be from the tribe of Dan. There is no other historical event that can fulfill this passage.

“Dan shall judge his people, As one of the tribes of Israel.
Dan shall be a serpent in the way, A horned snake in the path, That bites the horse’s heels, So that his rider falls backward.”

Joseph, who is not even officially a TRIBE, but has two sons who are tribes (Ephraim and Manasseh), replaces Ephraim PROBABLY because Jeroboam, from the tribe of Ephraim, established idolatry in the Northern kingdom of Israel. 1 Kings
11:26; 12:28-31; 2 Chron. 11:14-15
God took half the kingdom from Solomon and gave it to Jeroboam, promising him great spiritual and social blessing (1 Kings 11:29-38). But Jeroboam rebelled against and rejected the law of Moses and proper worship of Yahweh.
1 Kings 12:28-31
So the king consulted, and made two golden calves, and he said to them, “It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem; behold your gods, O Israel, that brought you up from the land of Egypt.”
And he set one in
Bethel, and the other he put in Dan. Now this thing became a sin, for the people went {to worship} before the one as far as Dan. And he made houses on high places, and made priests from among all the people who were not of the sons of Levi.

This EXCLUSION of the tribes of Dan and Ephraim does not mean that no one from those tribes will trust in Jesus as the Messiah during this time. It just means that no one from among those tribes will be part of the FIRST FRUITS and evangelistic bondservants of God.
The next time we see the 144,000 is at Revelation 14:1-7.

Continue to verses 9-17
 

 
 

Questions and comments are always welcome

Return to BIBLE FRAGRANCES index

 

 

©Ron Wallace, http://www.biblefragrances.com. Anyone is free to reproduce this material and distribute it,
but it may not be sold under any circumstances whatsoever without the author's consent.

 

Home | Recent Additions | Studies | Commentary

 

Prophecy | Articles | Topical | About Us