Revelation 7

In the previous chapter, John was given an overview of the major events that will take place in the Last Days through the opening of the First Six Seals. From our reading of that chapter, it is obvious that there are more details to be filled in concerning these things. Accordingly, before being shown the opening of the Seventh Seal, John is given more information concerning those who will be on earth when these events take place.

After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth to prevent any wind from blowing on the land or on the sea or on any tree. Rev. 7:1

When John begins this passage by saying, “After this I saw,” it does not mean that the ensuing events happen next but that he saw them next. This corresponds with how the Revelation is written, which will give us a general overview of the events of the Last Days, through the opening of the Seven Seals, and then provides more details to these same events in later chapters. In this case, John is shown the Four Angels who have been given the power to harm the land, the sea, and the trees before a remnant from Israel is sealed.

Then I saw another angel coming up from the east, having the seal of the living God. He called out in a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm the land and the sea: “Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.” Then I heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel. Rev. 7:2-4

In the angels command to the Four Angels, they are told not to harm the land, the sea, or the trees until the remnant is sealed, which he identifies as the 144,000 From all the Tribes of Israel, who will be set apart by the seal that will be placed on their forehead before the Plagues on the Land, the Sea, and the Trees begin. We can assume that the seal of God that is placed on the 144,000 will be visible only to God and the angels who will impart the mark. As for the angel who commands the Four Angels, we are not given his identity, other than that he speaks with a loud voice, which denotes his power and authority.

It should be noted that many Bible teachers believe that the description of the 144,000 From all the Tribes of Israel is not a literal account of God’s people but, rather, a symbolic description of the church. This theory is based on the use of the number 144,000, which is a whole number that derives from the number 12. The number 12, in turn, is thought to carry spiritual significance due to its repeated use in the Scriptures in such cases as the 12 apostles, the 12 tribes of Israel, and the 24 elders. Although these examples do reveal a symbolic pattern in the Bible, in each of the above instances they also describe the literal number of people being mentioned, i.e., there are 12 literal apostles, 12 literal tribes of Israel, and 24 literal elders. Likewise, the number 144,000 can be said to have symbolic importance while at the same time describing the literal number of God’s people who will be sealed

When we search the Bible, we find several instances where similar type numbers carry both literal and symbolic meanings. The first instance occurs in the account of the prophet Elijah, and the 7,000 prophets who God preserved and who did not bow their knee to Baal (1 Kings 19:18). As with the 144,000, the number 7,000 derives from a spiritual number, 7, which is considered to have symbolic meaning based on it’s many uses in the Scriptures such as the 7 days of creation, the 70 elders of Israel, and the 7 Trumpets, etc. Since the 7,000 are universally accepted to be the literal number of prophets who were set apart by God, we find that in the Bible, a number can carry both literal and symbolic meaning. This is also the case in the story of Giedion, whose army was reduced down to just 300 men (Judg. 7:4-7). As in the previous examples, the number 300 is a whole number which derives from the most spiritually significant number in the Bible, 3, as God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Accordingly, the numbers 300, 7000, and 144,000 each have spiritual meaning but they also describe the literal number of people set apart by God.

Finally, when examining the Scriptures, we find that no other group of people, including the church, is ever described as the “Tribes of Israel”. Instead, whenever the tribes of Israel are mention in the Bible, it is always a reference to the literal descendants of Jacob (See: Matt. 19:28, Lk. 22:30, Acts 26:7, James 1:1). Based on this context, we can confidently say that the144,000 from all the Tribes of Israel is a literal description of the physical descendants of Jacob (Israel) who will be sealed before the Plagues on the Land, and the Sea, and the Trees begin.

From the tribe of Judah 12,000 were sealed, from the tribe of Reuben 12,000, from the tribe of Gad 12,000, from the tribe of Asher 12,000, from the tribe of Naphtali 12,000, from the tribe of Manasseh 12,000, from the tribe of Simeon 12,000, from the tribe of Levi 12,000, from the tribe of Issachar 12,000, from the tribe of Zebulun 12,000, from the tribe of Joseph 12,000, from the tribe of Benjamin 12,000. Rev. 7:5-8

In the above account, the Revelation gives a breakdown by tribe of those who will be sealed. This is further evidence for the literal interpretation of the 144,000 From all the Tribes of Israel, as genealogy accounts of this type are always used in the literal sense in the Scriptures. As mentioned earlier, we can assume that the sealing of the 144,000 will not be dependent upon the 144,000 being able to prove their ancestry but will be known by the angels. In this way, the 144,000 will be set apart from the Inhabitants of the Earth before the Plagues on the Land, and the Sea, and the Trees begin.

In addition to the 144,000 from all the Tribes of Israel, John was next shown a great multitude that no one could count.

After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying: “Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!” Rev. 7:9-13

In these passages the great multitude before the throne is said to come from every nation, tribe, people, and language. As with the earlier example of the Twenty-Four Elders, who John saw at the Throne of God, the white robes worn by the worshipers signifies their righteousness. From this we know that great multitude is a picture of God’s servants from throughout the world. Next, John is given more information concerning the identity of the great multitude.

Then one of the elders asked me, “These in white robes—who are they, and where did they come from?” I answered, “Sir, you know.” And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
Rev. 7:14

In the above account, the word that is translated as tribulation comes from the Greek word meaning affliction (Strong’s 2347; thlipsis). This same word is also translated as distress, troubles, suffering or persecution, etc. By itself, this word can refer to any affliction that God’s people experience for their faith, but, in this passage, when the word tribulation is preceded by the word great, it is referring to a future event, known as the Great Tribulation. As these passages describe, during the Great Tribulation, more people will be killed than can be counted. This is the same event that was described in the previous chapter in the account of the opening of the Fifth Seal when John saw the Martyr’s in Heaven pray for judgment and revenge. In answer to their prayers, the martyrs were told that they would have to rest a little longer until the full number of their brothers and sisters were killed just as they had been. In this chapter, we are given a more detailed description of who these brothers and sisters are and the size of their numbers. Accordingly, this chapter ends with a description of the blessings that will follow the uncountable Martyrs of the Great Tribulation, namely that they will serve the Lamb day and night in his temple.

Therefore, “they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence. ‘Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat down on them,’ nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; ‘he will lead them to springs of living water.’ ‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’” Rev. 7:15-17

The above passages are a literal account of how the Martyrs of the Great Tribulation will serve as priests of God in His Temple as their reward for remaining faithful even to the point of death. We will read more about the blessings that will follow the Martyrs of the Great Tribulation in future chapters. In the meantime, the above account along with the information provided in the previous chapters gives us the three groups of people who will be present on earth when the Martyrs in Heaven pray for judgment and revenge as follows 1.) The Inhabitants of the Earth, which is a description of the unrepentant among mankind, 2.) The 144,000 From all the Tribes of Israel, who will be sealed, and 3.) The Followers of Christ from every nation, including those who will be martyred in the Great Tribulation. In addition, we are given the name of the event that describes when the full number of brothers and sister will be killed as mentioned in the events of the Fifth Seal. Accordingly, we can place this event as coming at some time after Martyrs in Heaven pray for judgment and revenge.

Order of Events of the Last Days
1. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ

2. Wars, Rumors of Wars, Earthquakes, and Famines (Seals 1-4)
3. The Martyrs Pray for Judgment and Revenge (5th. Seal)
4. The Great Tribulation when the Full Number of Brothers and Sisters will be Killed
5. The Wrath of God is Poured Out (6th. Seal)
6. To be Announced (7th. Seal)

Revelation Chapter 6
Revelation Chapter 8

Questions and Comments may be sent to:
Bryan Coray is the author of Keep Watch: The Order of Events of the Last Days, available on Amazon