The church is sealed by God. This guarantees her safety
in the midst of a world which is being
plagued and shaken by God. The sealing is performed by God
to preserve to Himself certain individuals.
In the midst of all the evils and judgments which will characterize
the end, these individuals will be
preserved by the power of God. Who is sealed, and what is
the result of that sealing?
The church must understand that when God will send great
judgments and terrible plagues as we
have them described in the sixth seal and the ensuing seven trumpets,
even though the outward
manifestation of these shall fall upon all men everywhere (they
shall cover the whole earth for the four
angels will release the four winds of heaven), yet these terrible
things will not be given to the people of God
as judgments. As surely as God sends sunshine and rain to
all men everywhere, yet from a twofold motive
(as favor for His people and as tokens of wrath upon the wicked
. . . that their measure of iniquity may be
filled), so also God sends His plagues upon all men for this same
twofold purpose (as judgments and wrath
upon the wicked . . . tokens of the fiery cinders that shall enflame
them in death and hell, but as tokens of
favor for His people . . . assuring them that even in the tribulation
He works all things for their spiritual
well-being, c.f. James 1:2-5 and draws them into the redeeming arms
of love in Jesus Christ).
We must now ask, just who is sealed?
John did not actually see the throng of people who had this
seal on their foreheads, he "heard the
number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed a
hundred and forty and four thousand of all the
tribes of the children of Israel," Rev. 7:4.
According to the Dispensationalists who divide the Bible
into various epochs or periods, the Israel
of the Old Testament is obviously intended. they refer this
even to the saving of the nation of Israel.
Many serious objections must be raised against this view.
First, the literal 12 tribes are not
intended because the list excludes two tribes, viz Ephraim and Dan.
Besides, Joseph is mentioned as a
tribe, which he never had except through his two sons Ephraim and
Manasses. Judah is mentioned first
rather than Reuben who was the oldest and therefore is mentioned
first in other lists, e.g. Numbers 1. No
one is willing to make the 12,000 a literal figure as if each tribe
had exactly the same number of people
saved, a fact which would be contradicted by history. the
emphasis here is rather upon the spiritual house of
Israel. The Israel of the Old Testament is here representative
of the people of God of all ages as they are
redeemed in Jesus Christ. Judah is mentioned first because
it was out of Judah that Christ was to be born,
c.f. Gen 49:10, "The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a
lawgiver from between his feet until Shiloh
come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be."
Secondly, throughout the New Testament,
"Israel" is referred to as the church of all ages. consider
Matt. 2:6 where Christ is presented as a "Governor,
that shall rule my people Israel," a reference to the entire church
of all ages.
Similarly Rom. 11:26, "So all Israel shall be saved" is a
reference to the entire church, the children
of Israel according to election and the church of our day, Jew and
Gentile. These same children are
identified as the children of Abraham (Rom. 9:6), an obvious reference
not to the natural seed of Abraham,
but the spiritual seed. Here they are properly called, "servants
of our God," Rev. 7:3. Thirdly, if those
sealed referred entirely to the Jews of the nation of Israel, there
would be little significance in proclaiming
this to the Seven Churches of Asia Minor (Rev. 1:1-8). These
churches included Jews and Gentiles who
had been drawn together by the power of the gospel. To them
comes this vision, the tidings of good news.
Consequently, to each of us who are called by the gospel unto a
living faith in Jesus Christ comes the good
news: we are sealed by the living God and all the tribulations
that must come to pass in order to bring our
Lord Jesus Christ upon the clouds of heaven, shall not separate
us from the love of our God, Rom. 8:33-39.
Finally, this same truth is borne out in significance of the numbers
Numbers have revelatory significance in Scripture.
The total of 144,000 is the product of 3 x 4 x
12 x 10 x 10 x 10. Three is the number of God triune.
Four is the number of man as he reaches out into the
vast span of the earth (four directions, four corners). Three
times four speaks of the power of the three over
the four, or God's power over man, hence 12. Consider God's
power over the life of Israel as represented by
the 12; Twelve sons of Jacob formed the twelve tribes, twelve stones
in the Jordan after the miraculous
crossing, Elijah took twelve stones for the altar on which the fire
of God descended, there
were twelve gates to the temple, etc.
The number ten in Scripture conveys the idea of completion,
the full and perfect extension. Thus
the ten plagues on Egypt formed the complete expression of God's
wrath upon them, the ten virgins in the
parable of Christ represented complete humanity of which five were
wise and five were foolish. the
extension of 10 x 10 x 10 indicates the sum total of all the twelves
from generation to generation as they are
brought into the church throughout the history of the world.
If we put this together, we can understand that
in the Old Testament the 3 x 4 was represented in the 12 tribes
of Israel. In the New Testament the 3 x 4
was represented in the 12 disciples of Christ. By multiplying
them together we have the product of the two
as God unites them in Jesus Christ, both Jew and Gentile are saved
by the blood of Christ (Eph. 2:11-22).
This product multiplied by 10 then indicates to us that God will
gather His church from all the generations
of the earth, as long as the earth continues, He will gather unto
Himself all His people, the complete number
of every generation until all things shall be realized in the return
of Jesus Christ.
This then is the gospel of great comfort to the people of
God, whether Jew or gentile, we are sealed
by God Himself on the basis of the blood of Jesus Christ by the
working of the Holy Spirit. We
have the certification that though God subjects the wicked to terrible
judgments, His mercy is always upon
us as He draws us nearer and nearer unto Himself. In His hands
we shall rest safe and content.
Those that are sealed shall surely be saved. Already
in the later part of this chapter we are directed
to lift up our eyes beyond the church that militantly struggles
in this world and see her as she is redeemed in
the blood of the Lamb, "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. And they cried with
a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which
sitteth upon the throne and unto the Lamb," Rev. 7:9,10. These
are further described in Rev. 14:1,ff "And I
looked, and lo, a Lamb stood on the Mount Sion, and with him a hundred
and forty and four thousand
having his Father's name written in their foreheads . . . and they
sung as it were a new song before the
The kingdom of heaven is reserved for all those who are sealed.
Are you one? Now you
understand how to answer the question, don't you? You recognize
that all the 144,000 confess that they are
not living for a great kingdom of peace on this earth, their eye
of faith is directed to the new heavens and
new earth. They do not live for themselves ad seek the praise
of men, they recognize that they are dead in
sin and unworthy of the least of God's blessings, their great joy
is being sealed by the blood of Jesus Christ
and thus made worthy through Him. Finally, those who are sealed
have but one purpose in this life and in
that which is to come, they desire to praise God, to everlastingly
shout forth the greatness of our God who
hath saved us in the blood of the Lamb. If this is your confession,
do not doubt, but that you are sealed unto
that great day.
God assures us that we are sealed and preserved by His power.
This is our comfort when we look
at Rev. 9:1-12. the explanation of the fifth trumpet is terrible.
We thank God that His elect are sealed,
being redeemed by Jesus Christ and placed under His care.
May God give you that peace and
encouragement as you continue to seek His kingdom.