Introduction to Chapter 7
Chapter 7 answers the question, “Is there any hope for those
who enter the tribulation?” Daniel’s 70th week, the seven-year
tribulation period, starts with the agreement regarding of the 3rd
9;27). The tribulation is a time of incredible tumult on the earth,
unequaled in history and never to be equaled again. How will people come to
Christ during this period? Throughout the book of Revelation, we see several
oasis’ of salvation in the desert of tribulation, how the saints become
victorious. Here in chapter 7, we see God’s plan to reach the lost in the
One of the controversies in the book of Revelation is the
role played by the Church and
Israel. The two main views
here are the Covenant and Dispensational perspectives.
The Covenant perspective views the church as the “New Israel”, the
church has replaced
Israel, because Israel rejected Christ as their Messiah. Verses in the Old
Testament and New Testament referring to Israel symbolically mean the church
and not literal Israel
in scripture yet to be fulfilled. Basically, Covenant theology views as God
having one covenant, the covenant of Grace, from Adam until now,
operating under different institutions. The church is now the recipient of
this covenant in substitution to Israel. Therefore, references to Israel in
the end times are symbolic and actually refer to the church.
Dispensational theology views the Church and
Israel as two distinct
groups. The word dispensation is translated from the Greek word,
Oikonomia, meaning the management of a household or of household
affairs. The church, for the present time, is responsible for establishing
“Salvation” in the earth, by presenting the Gospel to the lost. Prior to
the church, Israel
was responsible for dispensing salvation in the earth. When Israel rejected
Jesus Christ, the Messiah,
Israel’s dispensation was placed in suspension until the
“Fullness of the Gentiles” (Romans 11;25, Luke 14;15-24).
Israel, is not replaced by
the church and references to
unless otherwise stated apply to Israel. Following the rapture of the
Church, Israel is restored to its dispensational position. The place
occupied before their fall. (Romans 11:11-12) In the tribulation period,
through the ministry of Israel, the Gospel of salvation, dispensed to the
lost throughout the earth fulfills Israel’s initial call from God. (Exodus
19:6, Duet. 14:2).
In chapter seven, we see 144,000 from the 12 tribes of
Israel, 12,000 from each
tribe. The 144,000 has been the subject of great debate in many circles.
Interpretations often center on ones view of Israel and the Church. Those
who view Israel as “replaced”, view the 144,000 as “Symbolic” and not
literal Israel. While those from a dispensational understanding see the
144,000 as literal “Israel”, fulfilling the mission established for the
descendents of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The 144,000 are “End
time” harvesters who spread the Gospel to the nations.
From scripture, we can see two events, which will prepare the world for
the end times harvest at the start of the Tribulation period. One, the
rapture and two,
victory over an Islamic/Russian attack, known as the battle of Gog and Magog
The effect of the Rapture (I Thes.
The tribulation has a definite starting point, the covenant allowing the
Temple to be rebuilt
and Jewish sacrifice to commence on the
Mount. According to the pre-tribulation view, the rapture will occur prior
to the tribulation. The amount of time between the rapture and the start of
tribulation is up to debate.
But if you could imagine the effect this would have on the populations of
the earth. People will want to know what happened to these people who
claimed to be Christian, who just one day vanished. Ultimately, many on the
earth will look to scripture and find Christ. Others whose hearts are
hardened to the Gospel today, will become open to its message.
Battle of Gog and Magog (Ezekiel 38-39)
Another event presented in the scripture as witnesses to God’s identity
in the end times is the battle of Gog and Magog. Ezekiel actually looks
forward to the event, and quotes the world looking back to the book of
Ezekiel, foretelling what would happen in their day. The defeat of Gog and
Magog will be a sign to the world. God will be known in the nations for
what has taken place, leading many whose hearts were hardened to be open.
The world will see
Israel’s period of
desolation as the result of punishment for their rejection of the Messiah.
This event will cause many to read the Bible and see God’s hand in the
fulfillment of Bible prophecy.
17 'Thus says the Lord God:
"Are you he of whom I have spoken in former days by My servants the prophets
of Israel, who prophesied for years in those days that I would bring you
against them?23 "Thus I will magnify Myself and sanctify Myself, and I will
be known in the eyes of many nations. Then they shall know that I am the
21 "I will set My glory
among the nations; all the nations shall see My judgment which I have
executed, and My hand which I have laid on them.22 "So the house of Israel
shall know that I am the Lord their God from that day forward. 23 "The
Gentiles shall know that the house of
went into captivity for their iniquity; because they were unfaithful to Me,
therefore I hid My face from them. I gave them into the hand of their
enemies, and they all fell by the sword.Ezekiel
The Rapture along with the Battle of Gog and Magog will prepare the
hearts of those living on the earth for the greatest ingathering of souls
ever known. Those living in the tribulation period will have a clear choice
to make. Do they choose Jesus Christ as Messiah, or the system put in place
by the Antichrist? Those who choose Christ will be killed on earth but enter
The 144,000 from Israel
Vision of the four angels
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. 2 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, 3
saying, "Do not harm the earth, the sea, or the trees till we have sealed
the servants of our God on their foreheads."
After these things:
Chapter 7 in the book of
Revelation is placed between the 6th seal (Revelation 6:12-17)
and the 7th seal (Revelation 8:1). In Chapter 7, we are given
insight into the events surrounding the 5th seal. How do the
martyrs in heaven in the 5th seal find Christ after missing the
“Rapture”. This chapter spreads light on the events taking place at the
start of the tribulation period and demonstrates God’s mercy and grace.
There are two views on the timing of these events here in chapter seven.
Some view the sealing of the 144,000 following the six seals of Chapter 6,
prior to the opening of the 7th seal. Therefore, the 144,000
would have lived through the first part of the tribulation and come to
realize Jesus Christ is the Messiah. They would then be supernaturally
empowered by Christ to advance the Gospel throughout the Earth. Henry
Morris author of the Revelation Record writes about this break in between
the 6th and 7th seal,
After the judgments under
the sixth seal (earthquakes, stars falling, etc.,) there was thus to be a
brief respite on the earth. This would give God’s enemies an opportunity to
recover from their fears and to rationalize their experiences
naturalistically, fixing them more firmly than before in their wickedness.
Its main purpose, however, was to give those who had come to believe in God
an opportunity to understand their new faith, to study His Word….
…….In particular was this to
be vital for the preparation of a very special group of God’s servants. They
were to have a key role in witnessing to the world in the latter years of
the tribulation period and then in the millennial age to come.
Others view the sealing of the 144,000 at the beginning of the
tribulation period and their ministry of evangelism causing many to find
Christ in the early part of the tribulation, specifically the martyrs in the
5th seal. Following the rapture, and the battle of Gog and Magog
a select number of Jewish males come to understand Jesus is Messiah, and
begin a world-wide campaign proclaiming the Gospel. Tim LaHaye writes,
They seal the servants of
God, the 144,000 Tribulation witnesses. Since the sixth seal takes place
toward the end of the first quarter of the Tribulation, we find that the
destroying angel is ordered to wait until the work of sealing is finished.
This indicates that at the beginning of the Tribulation, the 144,000
servants of God will be sealed and begin their ministry of preaching the
gospel, attended by a mighty worldwide soul harvest that will culminate in a
time of severe persecution for believers, inspired by the Antichrist.
forces are waiting to unleash God’s judgment in the physical world, as the
world goes about killing the new believers who are now in Heaven (Revelation
6;9-11). We see angelic judgment in Sodom, two angels destroyed the city of
Sodom, but first they needed to remove Lot and his family before judgment
could proceed (Genesis 19:13).
These four angels are granted power to hurt the sea and the land. The
trumpet and bowl judgments both involve physical destruction to the Earth.
(Revelation 8, 16). These four angels are held back from judgment, lest the
servants who are to be sealed get hurt in the judgment. Once they are sealed
the second phase of judgment can proceed, the Trumpet Judgments
Four corners The
Greek word tevssare Tessares,
means four, and can viewed as the four quadrants of
the earth, meaning the entire earth. (Isaiah 11:12, Ezekiel 7:2, Revelation
20:8) The physical inhabited earth.
Like the four corners of
the earth, the term four winds also refers to complete earth, but to the
environmental aspects. God chooses these four angels, to dole out the
punishments on the inhabitants on the earth.
Here we see in the angelic world there is order, Angels
participate in God’s work and are ranked. This angel commands the 4 angels,
to hold back until the right time.
Till we have sealed
The servants of God, 144,000 are set aside for God’s service.
The word used for sealed is,
The word means
marked, or protected. This is the same word used in Ephesians in reference
to the saints who are “Sealed” with the Holy Spirit. (See also 2 Cor. 1:22,
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,
is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased
possession, to the praise of His glory.
God knows who his servants, are for specific purposes chosen to
accomplish his will. The Holy Spirit seals every believer who is saved,
until the day of redemption. This means nothing will be able to counter
their salvation. In the same way the believer is sealed, the 144,000 Jewish
males from the tribes of
Israel will be sealed to
accomplish God’s will.
Another example is in Ezekiel 9:14 where specific people who mourn over the
sin of the city are sparred from God’s wrath against the city of
Angels are commanded to mark those who will be sparred.
the Lord said to him, "Go through the midst of the city, through the midst
of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and cry
over all the abominations that are done within it."
Sealing of the 12 tribes of
4 And I
heard the number of those who were sealed. One hundred and forty-four
thousand of all the tribes of the children of
were sealed: 5 of 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; 6 of 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. Revelation
Sealed To understand who this section of scripture is talking about
depends on whether scripture is viewed as literal or symbolic. By viewing
this section of scripture as symbolic many groups have taken the “144,000”
and applied the number to their membership.
Probably the most famous among this is the Jehovah Witnesses. According
to the Jehovah Witnesses, the 144,000 are not of the tribes of physical
“Spiritual Israel” which they apply to their group. This group of 144,000
JW’s, known as the “Anointed class” were part of the Watchtower Bible
and Track Society (Jehovah’s Witnesses) when their numbers were much
smaller. The problem they have today, is most of the members of the
“Anointed class” are dead. So the JW’s are forced to change their positions
to accommodate these problems.
The JW’s are not alone in applying this number to their organization.
Seventh Day Adventists, Mormons (Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day
Saints), Catholics and mainline Protestants also apply this select group to
their body. The only way this could seem plausible is if “Israel”
does not really mean “Israel” and the tribes of Israel do not mean the
tribes of Israel.
Once a literal understanding of scripture is applied, there
is little choice but to understand this section of scripture as referring to
the literal descendents of
Israel. When taken in
context of scripture, understanding the role Israel plays in the End times
is the only option.
There are several import points in understanding the role
Israel plays. Those who
remove literal Israel from scripture will never be able to grasp the book of
Revelation and God’s plan for the end times. This is because the meaning of
“Israel” will always change to fit the current situation. Today, one church
is Israel and tomorrow another church is Israel. The question is can we take
God at His Word, does He mean what He says?
Here, we see the role of 144,000, from the 12 tribes of
Israel. Do we know who
belongs to what tribe in
today? No, we do not, but God certainly knows who belongs where. Twelve
thousand from each of the 12 tribes of Jacob (Israel) represent a select
group, descendents of Jacob who will fulfill the role planned for Israel, to
be a light to the nations. They will spread the Gospel throughout the earth,
and reap an end-times harvest unequaled in the history of the world.
Out of all the nations of the Earth, God had chosen the descendents of
Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to be a light to the nations, to be his witnesses
Israel has for the most part has failed to accomplish this mission. In the
end-of-days, during the tribulation period Israel will succeed where
preceding generations have failed. The 12,000 from the 12 tribes will reap
a harvest unequalled in the history of the world.
Without understanding the role and plan for
Israel in the end times,
its hard to grasp the events in scripture. Here are 6 points to consider
when we understand the role of Israel and the Church.
God keeps his word.
Throughout scripture, God clearly makes literal promises to Abraham, Isaac,
Jacob and their descendents. His promises are unconditional, and literal,
if God does not fulfill His promises to Israel, why should anybody expect
Him to fulfill his promises to others?
withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever."
2. The land was promised to Abraham and his descendents as
an eternal covenant.
land of Israel is the
center of political controversy, over half the worlds population claim a
link to Israel and Jerusalem. Yet the land was promised to the descendents
who number less then 20 million in the world and only 5 million in Israel.
possession of the land was an event foretold about extensively. (See Also
Genesis 13:15 17:3,8 26:3 28:13 Exodus 33:1; Numbers 32:11; Deuteronomy
1:8; 6:10 30:20 Psalms 105:9-12; Romans 9:8; Galatians
And the LORD
appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and
there builded he an altar unto the LORD, who appeared unto him
And the LORD
said unto Moses, Depart, and go up hence, thou and the people which thou
hast brought up out of the land of Egypt, unto the land which I sware unto
Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, saying, Unto thy seed will I give it:
Israel though disobedient would in the future be an obedient and righteous
Scripture teaches about
fall, but scripture also teaches this fall is only temporary. Israel will
recover and be restored to the position of blessing amongst the nations.
as a people and nation will again be restored to their land and have a
relationship with the God of the Universe.
then the LORD thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon
thee, and will return and gather thee from all the nations, whither
the LORD thy God hath scattered thee.
any of thine be driven out unto the outmost parts of heaven, from thence
will the LORD thy God gather thee, and from thence will he fetch thee: 5 And
the LORD thy God will bring thee into the land which thy fathers possessed,
and thou shalt possess it; and he will do thee good, and multiply thee
above thy fathers. Deuteronomy 30:3-5
Behold, I will gather them out of all countries, whither I have driven them
in mine anger, and in my fury, and in great wrath; and I will bring them
again unto this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely:
they shall be my people, and I will be their God:
I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear me for ever, for
the good of them, and of their children after them: 40 And I will make an
everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do
them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not
depart from me.
Israel is part of God’s end time plan
In both the Old and New Testaments,
plays a central role in the end times. Armageddon the famous battle known
the world over takes place north of Jerusalem in the plain of Megiddo. We
are told the nations will of the earth will surround
Jeremiah and Daniel, look to a period unequaled in the history of the world,
centering around Israel.
7 Alas! for
that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob's
trouble; but he shall be saved out of it.
it shall come to pass in that day, saith the LORD of hosts, that I will
break his yoke from off thy neck, and will burst thy bonds, and strangers
shall no more serve themselves of him:
they shall serve the LORD their God, and David their king, whom I will raise
up unto them.
Therefore fear thou not, O my servant Jacob, saith the LORD; neither
be dismayed, O Israel: for, lo, I will save thee from afar, and thy
seed from the land of their captivity; and Jacob shall return, and shall be
in rest, and be quiet, and none shall make him afraid. Jeremiah 30:7-10
at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for
the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such
as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that
time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in
many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to
everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. Daniel
Jesus would return to a repentant Israel Both in the Old and New Testaments, we see Christ
returning to a repentant Israel who rejected Him at His first coming, but
will accept Him at the second coming. Christ in fact informed
Israel, in the Gospel of
Matthew, they would not see Him again until they recognized Him as their
9 And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will
seek to destroy all the nations that come against
Jerusalem. 10 And I will
pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the
spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom
they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his
only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness
for his firstborn. Zechariah 12;9-10
Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who
are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a
hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! 38 "See!
Your house is left to you desolate;
"for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, 'Blessed is
He who comes in the name of the Lord!' " Matthew 23:37-39
The Church cannot replace Israel (See also Jeremiah 31:31) Paul, in the section of Romans chapters 9-11 makes a clear
Israel and the Church. The Church for the time being has received the
covenant blessing of Israel, who rejected Jesus Christ as Messiah.
Following the Rapture, “the fullness of the Gentiles” will be complete. Then
Israel will be restored to the position they had before they rejected
Christ. This time, however Israel will not reject Christ but as a nation
will turn to Him and cry out for His coming. Christ will then return, with
the armies of Heaven (Revelation 19, Matthew 24:30,25:30, Zechariah 12:9-10)
and establish the Messianic Kingdom.
The Church is in the “New Covenant” promised to
Israel in the book of
Jeremiah. This promise was made to Israel, they failed to attain it, and
the Church received it, but Israel as a nation will one day receive what God
I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest
you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened
to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.
so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: "The Deliverer will
come out of Zion,
And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob;27 For this is My covenant
with them, When I take away their sins."
"Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new
covenant with the house of
and with the house of
according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I
took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant
which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the Lord.
this is the covenant that I will make with the house of
after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write
it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying,
'Know the Lord,' for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the
greatest of them, says the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and
their sin I will remember no more."
The Great Multitude in
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!"
After these things
John now sees the resulting
work of the 144,000 from
John is in heaven and sees people before God’s throne,
gathered from the nations of the earth. This group of people in Heaven is
all encompassing. John uses four terms so there is no mistake about the
composition of these souls in Heaven before the throne, nations, tribes,
peoples and tongues.
Again the book of Revelation affirms to those on earth, the home of the
saint is in Heaven in the presence of God, before His throne. Heaven is not
just for the 144,000 as the JW’s like to claim, but for all who have a
relationship with Christ.
Imagine being on Earth, and about to die for your new faith in Christ,
this section in Revelation will serve as refuge to any suffering believer.
Following the blade of execution, the believer can look forward to entering
the presence of God in Heaven.
In the tribulation, all throughout the earth, persecution will break out
and those who put their faith in Christ will die. Here we see the
fulfillment of Matthew 24:14, “this gospel of the
kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations”.
The ministry of the 144,000 will be to proclaim the gospel to the nations,
and from their work, we see a great multitude in Heaven.
Before the throne So there is no mistake, the multitude is in Heaven. They are
not on earth, but before the throne of God, in Heaven. This is the hope of
the believer, John want to assure them.
White robes In the fifth seal, we saw under the altar the souls of those
who were killed for their faith in Christ. They were told, rest a while
until their fellow servants should also die and white robes were given to
them. Here we see the completed number of saints, gathered out of the
tribulation standing before God’s throne in Heaven.
This event of the saints
before God’s throne waving Palm branches is actually pictured in the Feast
of Tabernacles. Israel was to rejoice before God with branches for seven
days. The Feast of Tabernacles was a prophetic shadow of a future event when
the saved both Jews and Gentiles would stand before God’s throne and
celebrate their salvation.
you shall take for yourselves on the first day the fruit of beautiful trees,
branches of palm trees, the boughs of leafy trees, and willows of the brook;
and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days. Leviticus
Praise of in Heaven
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."
All the angels
The Heavens again rejoice
over this group gathered from the nations of the world. This is the third
time we see the Heavens rejoicing in unison (Revelation 4:9-11, 5:9-14).
John again demonstrates this multitude is in Heaven, lest there be any
The identity of the great
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."
The identity of this group
is a mystery to John. The fact the elder asks John to identify this group
gathered from the nations demonstrates their ingathering is separate from
the believers raptured into the Lord’s presence.
Arrayed in white
In Revelation 6:9-11, the
martyrs werel told to wait until their number was complete. These before the
throne are clearly the redeemed of humanity and not angels. They are
wearing white, the clothing of the redeemed in Heaven. Jesus promises the “Overcomers”,
they will wear white. (Revelation 3:4,5,18, 4:4, 6:11, 19:14)
John, asked if he knows where this multitude came from
could not say. This group is a mystery to John. The elder then informs John
they came out of the “Great Tribulation”. T
Jesus uses the term “Great
tribulation” to apply to the second half of the Tribulation period following
the Abomination of Desolation (Matthew 24:21) In the first half of
the tribulation, according to Revelation half of the earth population dies.
In both the first and second half people will die for their in Christ. In
the second half, people will be forced to choose between Christ and the
Antichrist. Those who choose Christ, will not be able to buy or sell and
will become fugitives in the world. Left to the elements of the
environments, they will face hunger, thirst and the scorching sun. Here
they are reassured following death, they will be in the presence of Christ,
the Lamb. They will never again be subject to suffering again.
Before the throne
They tribulation saints will dwell before the throne of God
and the Lamb and know God personally like saints of the church age.