Bible Study on Revelation 7: The Sealing of Israel in the Time of the End
by Steve Sterling 11/25/2011 / Prophecy
´And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners 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.
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 children of Israel.´ Rev. 7:1-4
The vision of the prophet John in Revelation 7 is evidently a portrayal of events to take place among the people of God before the Second Coming of Christ. In anticipation of disastrous events to transpire at some point in the future, the Lord has seen it fit to secure His people from harm and danger. And the means by which there protection is ensured is to put a mark on their foreheads identifying them as belonging to God. Just as the Lord protected ancient Israel from the tenth plague by putting blood upon every door posts in Goshen, so He will protect His people from the effects of the many catastrophes in the last days by putting a mark on each one of them.
It is interesting to note that according to the prediction in Revelation 7, the sealing of the saints are to immediately precede the release the winds of strife. Four mighty angels were seen holding back the winds of the earth until this sealing work is completed. Based on what is said in the urgent appeal from the angel that ascends from the east, the winds of strife were to have grievous consequences for planet earth whenever they are released. Therefore, in following the narrative development of the prophecy we should expect to see supernatural manifestations over which human beings have no control.
According to the prophet John, 12000 from each of the tribes of the children of Israel were sealed, totaling 144000 from 12 tribes. But are we to believe this to be a prophecy of a nation that was officially recognized in 1948? The reference to the 12 tribes of Israel in this prophecy has prompted many evangelicals to believe that this nation is still the chosen people of God and as such will play a major role in the fulfillment of the prophecies of Revelation. But what does the Bible teach?
The most pointed remarks concerning the destiny of Israel as the people of God is made in the following parable found in Matthew 21. In this parable Jesus told a story of a householder who planted a vineyard and let it out to a set of husbandmen and went into a far country. When the time of reaping draws near he sent his servants to the husbandmen to receive the fruits of the vineyard. But the husbandmen treat the servants spitefully; some were beaten, and others were killed. Then afterwards the householder decided to send his son. Beginning from verse 37, the rest of the parable continues:
´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.´
In this parable, Jesus was obviously speaking of what the Jewish nation will do to Him and had done to the prophets before Him. God sent his prophets time and time again to call Israel from a life of waywardness to holiness. But instead of heeding the message they killed many of the prophets and others they persecute. But in the answer of the chief priests and Pharisees to the question: ´what will he do unto those husbandmen?´ they have pronounced their own sentence.
In agreeing to the answer given by the Jewish leaders, Jesus made this interesting remark:
´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. 22:43
Clearly, this is a prophecy of what God will do with regard to Israel; based on the narrative development of the parable, the nation of Israel will be replaced as the agent of evangelism to carry forth the gospel message to the world. By crucifying the very person of whom the message of salvation is about they have disqualified themselves to be its bearer. Therefore, a more fitting nation will be sought who will bring forth fruit unto righteousness and, thereby, fulfill the gospel mission. It is for this reason that the 144000 was chosen.
As Bible students we need to understand that the choice of Israel as a nation to show forth the praises of God was not done by means of being hand picked. In other words, Israel did not become a nation before they were chosen. The Lord had chosen Israel in Abraham; it was because of Abraham´s faith in God why He decided to bless his family and make him a great nation. By choosing Israel God had intended that they follow in Abraham´s footsteps and become friends of God, but for the most part, they became rebellious until they have lost their birthright to a nation who is willing and obedient to God´s commands.
The sealing of the 144000 in Revelation 7 is a prediction of the manner in which the parable of the householder will be fulfilled. This group of people is said be from Israel not because they are born in the nation of Israel but because they are righteous people and have fulfilled all the specifications of being true children of Abraham. In recognition of this notion of what it means to be an Israelite, the apostle Paul placed on record the following statements:
´And if ye be Christ´s, then are ye Abraham´s seed, and heirs according to the promise´ Gal. 3:29
´For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but o God.´ Rom. 2:28, 29
Thus we have a description of the 144000, the nation who is to bring forth the fruit of the Lord´s vineyard. Having now been sealed they can now be entrusted with the same kingdom that was taken from Israel of old, and fulfill the purpose that their ancient counterpart had failed to accomplish. And, yes, they did bring forth the fruits thereof. As a result of the end-time ministry of a sealed people, a great multitude from every nation was reaped. Thus the prophet John declared:
´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.´ Rev. 7:9