The Sealing and End-time Israel
Revelation 7, Part 2
r07b
Text
Comments
.4 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.   Heard the number The total number is accounted for. The judgment (counting) is ended.
  Number ... sealed This and the tribes are summarized below.
  Sealed To be able to withstand the winds. Note 4a. Under the captivity motif, these have escaped is0402.
  All the tribes I do not see this as a literal number. The important thing for those living at the end of time is to be part of it. We know that God does not turn anyone away who wants to follow re2217. Note 4b.
.5 Of the tribe of Juda were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Reuben were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Gad were sealed twelve thousand.   Of the tribe ... So not all Israel is to be sealed for the blowing of the winds.
  The tribes listed are different in order and composition from those listed in the OT nu0105, de2711. Compare ge3522, ge4903, 1ch0201.
  Twelve thousand The number may have come from nu3104 leading us to see the tribes numbered here to represent those who are at war with the powers of evil at the end of time re1217.
 6 Of the tribe of Aser were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Nepthalim were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Manasses were sealed twelve thousand.
 7 Of the tribe of Simeon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Levi were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Issachar were sealed twelve thousand.
 8 Of the tribe of Zabulon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Joseph were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Benjamin were sealed twelve thousand.
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Who are the 144,000? An overview

    Because this commentary tends to explore details, it may be hard to understand the overall principles involved. So here is a quick view of the 144,000 from a response to someone who discovered that the Bible doesn't describe them as Jews.
 

The 144,000
For a fuller picture, read beginning from the beginning of chapter 7 - link just below.

They are sealed in order to withstand the blowing winds of strife re07.
They are Israel in a sense because they are symbolized as the 12 tribes although not the same 12 as seen elsewhere. This is a clue that the Israel is somehow different.
They are different in heaven, too, if we look at the beginning of ch. 14. They can sing a song others don't know. This again points to their unique experience of passing through the blowing winds (time of trouble) protected.
The number itself is symbolic apparently expressing solidarity or completeness. Essentially the whole book of Revelation is symbolic. Some people believe the number is literal.
Being Jews is thus symbolic. This is often not understood. ga0328ff, ro0229.
The Jewish nation ended in the sight of God long ago. mt2133-45, mt2337 although Jews, as any other ethnic group, may be saved. The OT prophecies about Jews returning to the land was fulfilled after the end of the captivity in Babylon.
Where do the 144,000 fit into the timeline of prophecy? Notice the end of Rev. 6. The wicked are being destroyed at the coming of Christ. We hear them ask, Who will be able to stand (who will not be destroyed) re0617. Their response is the 144,000 at the beginning of chapter 7. They stand through that terrible time having prepared their hearts for the trial never before known.
To see this timing we look at the sanctuary system which explains God's plan of salvation. The sanctuary calendar had a series of feasts following the path of Egypt to Canaan sin to salvation. The day of atonement is the last one before the feast of tabernacles which represents peace in Canaan or, for us, heaven. On the day of atonement, the people humbled their hearts while the high priest was in the most holy place. Then they were cleansed. le1629. Those who did not were cut off from the camp le2329.
   This has been a quick outline. You can study from your Bible and follow the comments here.


7:4a
144,000 sealed

   So the nation of Israel will be saved at the sealing time. Or will they? First, the text says that 12,000 from each tribe are sealed. What else does the Bible say? If you have not yet read the first part of this chapter and the comments that go with it, you might want to do so to understand the background re0701.
   "And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:" (Rom. 11:26) See ro1107 and onward.
   " . . . the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates:" (Gen. 15:18). Also consider Heb. 11:8-10, 39, 40 he1108; 10:36, 37 he1036; Rev. 5:9 re0509.

The seals and the sealed and the seal
   In chapters 5 and 6 we explored the meaning of the seven seals on the scroll 05. Are they the same as the seal that identifies the final generation of righteous the 144,000? No. The seven seals seal the book or scroll. The lamb that had been slain 0506 resolved the problem of the human race by breaking them. As professional sinners we are all doomed to eternal death. Christ's sacrifice made Him worthy to break the seals on the scroll, justifying His repentant people. Thus the seals on the record of history including our personal part of it spell our death. They are Satan's claim that our characters are evil like his. The seal of God, by contrast, is the Father's character imprinted in our minds 1401c! This is the incomprehensible gift of grace. See on mal0306. There we identify the sealed ones as the twelve tribes.
   Since God's law is the standard of His character, the part of that law which identifies Him is, in a sense, a seal. It is His mark of authority. We study this in chapter 14. 1407g. To see that the law is his character we turn to Romans 7:12 and find that the character of the law matches that of its author. It is holy, just, and good ro0712.

7:4b
Israel in end-time prophecy

   To understand, we need to consider the historical perspective. Abraham was called out of Ur and accepted a covenant relationship with God ge1314f. He was to be the father of a great nation and especially the Messiah ge1202f; ga0316 and v23f. It was a spiritual relationship and depended on his faithfulness.
   Jacob was blessed for spiritual perseverance, expressed in his physical conflict with an angel. "And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day. . . .  And he [the man/angel] said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed." (Gen. 32:24, 28).
   Jacob, with his extended family, moved to Egypt when his son, Joseph, was prime minister. Then came a new pharaoh who instituted slavery. Eventually, when God called His people out of Egypt, they were known as "the children of Israel" meaning Israel's descendants. Later the name became simply, Israel. They were the covenant people, confirmed particularly with the commandments from Sinai.
   We could continue the story showing that true Israel has always had a spiritual connection with God. In the New Testament we find a new definition of Israel. Also see the comments which follow:

Wailing wall image from an old book. Okay to copy

Principles for identifying Israel

Promises to Israel were conditional
   "And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the LORD thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth. . . . But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee: Cursed shalt thou be in the city, and cursed shalt thou be in the field." More curses are listed. (Deut. 28:1, 15, 16)
   "I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: That thou mayest love the LORD thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life, and the length of thy days: that thou mayest dwell in the land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them." (Deut. 30:19, 20.)

The Israel that is gathered after being scattered for unfaithfulness is holy and obedient, a remnant of the original people.
   "And I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all countries whither I have driven them, and will bring them again to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase." (Jer. 23:3).
   "And say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land. . . .  Neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions: but I will save them out of all their dwellingplaces, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them: so shall they be my people, and I will be their God. And David my servant shall be king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd: they shall also walk in my judgments, and observe my statutes, and do them." (Ezek. 37:21-24)
   Could modern Israel be described as pure, holy people, walking in the judgments of God, cleansed from the places of their sin, no longer in transgressions? If not, they do not meet the qualifications of their Scriptures (our Old Testament) as the Israel of end-time prophecy.

Israel was given a limited time to accept God's gathering.
   "Seventy weeks [of years] are determined upon thy [Daniel's] people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins. . . ." (Dan. 9:24).
   Some believe that the 70th week (the last 7 literal years) was cut off from the rest to appear in the distant future. The idea was born in the movement of the Counter Reformation. I see no justification for the idea. In fact the whole 70 were cut off, according to the literal meaning of the Hebrew word, chathak, which is translated "determined." If another part were cut off again, one would expect a clear explanation. The prophecy, as it stands, accurately predicts the baptism and death of Christ. Paul, no doubt had the 70 weeks in mind when he wrote: "But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law," (Gal. 4:4).
   According to Daniel's prophecy, the Messiah would confirm the covenant with many during the last week. (See Luke 1:67-72; Rom. 15:8). Most, of course, refused to listen. In the sight of heaven, the sacrificial system ended when the true Lamb was slain on Calvary. This end was signaled by the ripping of the giant curtain in the temple from top to bottom. (Matt. 27:51). The temple functioned in vain until its destruction in 70 A.D.
   "And he [the Messiah] shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease. . . ." (Dan. 9:27). Christ confirmed it in person during his 3½ year ministry, then through the Holy Spirit and the apostles for the rest of the 7 years. Historical references in the biblical record pinpoint dates for the birth and baptism of Christ. Evidence for his death is not as specific, but dates it at approximately the middle of the 70th week. The stoning of Stephen (Acts 7) would take us to approximately 34 A.D. at which time the thrust of the gospel went to the Gentiles. I believe these dates are accurate according to the Bible. They are reasonably well confirmed by history. The beginning date is 457 B.C. too much to explain here ezr07. The point we emphasize, is that God gave the Jewish people, as a nation, a definite time in which to complete their mission. It was long ago.

Jesus announced the end of the the biblical mission of the Jewish nation
   "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house [temple] is left unto you desolate." (Matt. 23:37, 38).
   "Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen [gardeners], and went into a far country: And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it. And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another. Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did unto them likewise. But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son. But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance. And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him. When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen? They say unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons. Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes? Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. . . . And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them." (Matt. 21:33-45).

Jesus also confirmed the direct fulfillment of Daniel's prophecy
    "But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not, (let him that readeth understand,) then let them that be in Judaea flee to the mountains:" (Mark 13:14).

A new Israel is evident from the description in Revelation 7
   "Of the tribe of Juda were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Reuben were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Gad. . . . Aser. . . . Nepthalim. . . . Manasses. . . . Simeon. . . . Levi. . . . Issachar. . . . Zabulon. . . . Joseph. . . . Benjamin. . . ." (Rev. 7:5-8).
   Some feel that the "lost" tribes of Israel will be found. The list here shows more evidence that the end-time Israel is different. Two of the original tribes are missing. These are Dan (Gen. 49:16, 17; Judges 18:30) and Ephraim (Isa. 7:17; Hosea 5:3; 11:8). In Revelation, the two are replaced by Joseph (instead of his inheritance being divided between his sons, Ephraim and Manasseh) and Levi (Deut. 18:1).
  "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven." (Matt. 7:21).
   The reformed list and twelve thousand from every tribe may be seen to symbolize the completeness and perfection of the final people of God.

"Israel" has become those who belong to Christ
   "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." (Gal. 3:28, 29; compare Rom. 11:26).
   "For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh:" (Rom. 2:28)

   How wonderful to know that we are heirs to all the promises of the Scriptures correctly understood. Of course, ethnic Jews are included. Teaching that they have a different process of salvation, however, is preaching a different gospel. (Gal. 1:8).

Click the butterfly for more about death and going to heaven.

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