God’s People Will Be Preserved
7 Then I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds so they did not blow on the earth or the sea, or even on any tree. 2 And I saw another angel coming up from the east, carrying the seal of the living God. And he shouted to those four angels, who had been given power to harm land and sea, 3 “Wait! Don’t harm the land or the sea or the trees until we have placed the seal of God on the foreheads of his servants.”
4 And I heard how many were marked with the seal of God—144,000 were sealed from all the tribes of Israel:
|5 from Judah||12,000|
|6 from Asher||12,000|
|7 from Simeon||12,000|
|8 from Zebulun||12,000|
Praise from the Great Crowd
9 After this I saw a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes and held palm branches in their hands. 10 And they were shouting with a great roar,
“Salvation comes from our God who sits on the throne
and from the Lamb!”
11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living beings. And they fell before the throne with their faces to the ground and worshiped God. 12 They sang,
“Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom
and thanksgiving and honor
and power and strength belong to our God
forever and ever! Amen.”
13 Then one of the twenty-four elders asked me, “Who are these who are clothed in white? Where did they come from?”
14 And I said to him, “Sir, you are the one who knows.”
Then he said to me, “These are the ones who died in the great tribulation. They have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb and made them white.
15 “That is why they stand in front of God’s throne
and serve him day and night in his Temple.
And he who sits on the throne
will give them shelter.
16 They will never again be hungry or thirsty;
they will never be scorched by the heat of the sun.
17 For the Lamb on the throne
will be their Shepherd.
He will lead them to springs of life-giving water.
And God will wipe every tear from their eyes.”
The numbers 12,000 and 144,000 are variously interpreted in traditional Christianity. Some, taking the numbers in Revelation to be symbolic, believe it represents all of God’s people throughout history in the heavenly Church. One suggestion is that the number comes from 12, a symbol for totality, which is squared and multiplied by one thousand for more emphasis. Others insist the numbers 12,000 and 144,000 are literal numbers and representing either descendants of Jacob (also called Israel in the Bible) or others to whom God has given a superior destiny with a distinct role at the time of the end of the world. One understanding is that the 144,000 are recently converted Jewish evangelists sent out to bring sinners to Jesus Christ during the seven year tribulation period.
This last view is the one I would believe to be true, or at least a variation of it. I personally don;t think there is some big, deep meaning to the numbers or the fact that there is some from each tribe. I believe it is exactly as it says. In the tribulation, God will place a seal on 144,000 Jewish believers to go out and preach the Gospel during the worst time in history.
I heard some say something like this ” If God used 12 men to literally change history and start the church, image what 144, 000 could do”. It appears from the first few verses that these people were going to be under God’s protection. Nothing was to be harmed until they were all sealed with God’s seal.
Then in the next scene we see again the throne room of God, and the multitudes of people that died during the tribulation. It doesn’t say they were the martyred ones, but it may include them. Either way, they are now in God’s presence with great jubilation!
Again, our interpretation may not be correct, but it’s not really that important to understand fully. What we do know is that when we do all eventually come before the throne of God, it is going to be an awesome, joyful time. If we sit back and just imagine the scene described in the chapter, it’s almost breath-taking. And the verses describe a sense of peace for us all. We won’t be hungry or thirsty, we won’t be scorched under the sun, we will be lead springs of life giving water, and every tear will be wiped from our eyes. Soak in that thought and that picture today.
Pray today for strength to walk through this life well, as we eagerly await the time when we, too, will be able to be in God’s incredible presence