Seal of the Living God
In Revelation 5, each seal on the scroll refers to wax bearing an imprint, serving to hide and thus protect the contents. In Revelation 7 the “seal of the living God” is the device used to make an imprint designating ownership (and here also protection)…this is almost certainly symbolic rather than literal. (Easley, Kendell H., Holman New Testament Commentary: Revelation. [Nashville: B&H, 1998], 136)
This is a Bible Study. Have your own Bible handy to look up the references mentioned.
If you do not have a Bible, I invite you to go to BibleGateway.com or another online Bible.
This chapter provides a divide between the sixth and seventh seal.
There are two groups who will escape going through divine wrath.
- Jewish evangelists
- Those martyred (vv. 9-17) (MacArthur, New Testament Commentary: Revelation 1-11. [Chicago: Moody Publishers, 1999], 212)
God will be merciful (Habakkuk 3:2)
The sixth seal has ended, John will receive another vision.
“The scene now shifts from judgment on the ungodly to special protection for the godly.” (MacArthur, 215)
“Angels are frequently associated in Scripture with God’s judgment.” (MacArthur, 215)
Standing at the four corners of the earth
And here I have been taught that the earth is round!
So, where are the corners?
Easley tells us that it refers “to the ‘four points of the compass’” north, southeast and west (124).
Holding the four winds of the earth
I picture a child holding a towel or sheet and letting it blow in the wind.
But how are the winds held back?
That the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree.
The angels turned off the engine of the earth’s atmosphere. (MacArthur, 216)
It is hard to believe but there will be no wind blowing during this time.
2. And I saw another angel ascending from the east
This angel came from the direction of the sunrise. (Easley, 124)
Seal of the Living God
This angel brought a blessing: The seal of the living God
He cried out with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea,
This seal protects God’s people from the coming judgments. (Easley, 124)
3. Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees.
Hold on folks until the servants of our God receive God’s seal on their foreheads.
Those with “God’s mark will not be hurt by the divine judgments”. (Easley, 125)
4. And I heard the number
When John wrote Revelation 144,000 people was an exceptionally large number. (Easley, 126)
For comparison, a stadium in Pyongyang, North Korea, the Rungrado 1st of May Stadium seats 150,000 people.
Think about stadium in your area. How large is it? What is it used for?
My guess is for some sporting events.
Them which were sealed
They were sealed with the Seal of the Living God!
An hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel.
McGee tells us “when God deals with Israel, I have always noticed that He deals with dates and He deals with numbers. When He is dealing with the church, He does not deal with either dates or numbers. Paul never turned in a report to anybody as to how many were saved.” (McGee, J. Vernon, Thru the Bible: Volume V: [Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1983], 951)
When I have read this passage before I must be honest, I just skimmed the verses and never really read them. Have you?
I just thought that it listed the twelve tribes of Israel. Read carefully.
“The New Testament’s only list of the twelve tribes of Israel is here.” (Easley 126)
Comparing the Old Testament list reveals the following.
Manasseh is the only son of Joseph listed in Revelation.
Reuben is the firstborn of Jacob and is normally listed first. (Easley 126)
In this passage Judah is listed first.
Reuben forfeited his birthright as punishment for his sexual misconduct with his father’s concubine (1 Chronicles 5:1). (MacArthur, 220)
The tribe of Dan is not listed (Easley, 126).
Dan’s tribe participated in idolatry (Deuteronomy 29:18-21). “Dan will share in the millennial blessings (Ezekiel 48:1-2,32) the tribe will not be selected for this duty or protected during the Tribulation.” (MacArthur, 220)
“The name of Ephraim is omitted in favor of his father Joseph because Ephraim defected from the ruling house of Judah (Isaiah 7:17). Also Ephraim, like Dan, was consumed with idolatry (Hosea 4:17). His brother Manasseh is included because he was the faithful son of Joseph.” (MacArthur, 220)
Many interpreters conclude that the listing is not literal, that physical descendants of Jacob are not in mind.
- Earlier in Revelation physical descendants of Jacob have been designated Jews and were condemned as hostile to Christianity and belonging to Satan (Revelation 2:9; 3:9)
- Can we believe that these people are now to be regarded as under God’s protective blessing?
- Does not make sense
- Modern Jews claiming physical descent from Jacob do not know their tribal ancestry.
- Ten tribes were virtually wiped out by the Babylonians (sixth century B.C.)
- We do not know if 12,000 have been alive at the same time who demonstrate biological descent from any of the ten tribes. (Easley, 126)
If these 144,000 do not signify physical descendants of Jacob, then can a case be made that they are Christians? A convincing yes can be found based on Paul’s teaching to the Galatians. There he tells the (Gentile) Galatian Christians that they are spiritually “not children of the slave woman [Hagan] but of the free woman [Sarah]” (Galatians 4:31) Paul thus calls Gentile Christians both “Sarah’s children” and “the Israel of God” (see also 1 Peter 2:9).” (Easley 127)
Twelve Tribes Listed
5. from the tribe of Judah, twelve thousand were sealed,
from the tribe of Reuben twelve thousand,
from the tribe of Gad twelve thousand,
6. from the tribe of Asher twelve thousand,
from the tribe of Naphtali twelve thousand,
from the tribe of Manasseh twelve thousand,
7. from the tribe of Simeon twelve thousand,
from the tribe of Levi twelve thousand,
from the tribe of Issachar twelve thousand,
8. from the tribe of Zebulun twelve thousand,
from the tribe of Joseph twelve thousand,
from the tribe of Benjamin, twelve thousand were sealed.
MacArthur says, “From the Jewish people will come the greatest missionary force the world has ever known. The result of their effort will be a redeemed Israel, as promised by God, and innumerable redeemed Gentiles” (220).
God is not done with us!
In this article Scripture quotations taken from KJV.
Easley, Kendell H., Holman New Testament Commentary: Revelation. Nashville: B&H, 1998
MacArthur, John. New Testament Commentary: Revelation 1-11. Chicago: Moody Publishers, 1999
McGee, J. Vernon, Thru the Bible: Volume V: Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1983
The Day of the Lord Redeemed Multitude