Revelation 7:1-8

Sunday Morning Bible Study

December 4, 2011


Do people see Jesus? Is the gospel preached? Does it speak to the broken hearted? Does it build up the church? Milk – Meat – Manna Preach for a decision

Reminder about Christmas Service schedule.

The apostle John found himself caught up into heaven where he found himself before the throne of God.

He saw Jesus take a scroll from the hand of God that had been sealed with seven seals.  As Jesus broke each seal and unrolled the scroll a little further, events begin to take place on the earth and the time that we call the Tribulation begins to unfold.

The Tribulation is a time when God’s wrath is poured out on an unbelieving world and God begins to make right all the things that have been so wrong.

We have seen Jesus break six of the seven seals, and now a few things will happen before the seventh seal is opened.

7:1-8 The 144,000

:1 After these things I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, on the sea, or on any tree.

:1 four angels

Who are these four angels?

Zechariah also had a vision that had four angels in chariots going throughout the earth and reporting back to God (Zech. 6:1-8)
(Zec 6:1–8 NKJV) —1 Then I turned and raised my eyes and looked, and behold, four chariots were coming from between two mountains, and the mountains were mountains of bronze. 2 With the first chariot were red horses, with the second chariot black horses, 3 with the third chariot white horses, and with the fourth chariot dappled horses—strong steeds. 4 Then I answered and said to the angel who talked with me, “What are these, my lord?” 5 And the angel answered and said to me, “These are four spirits of heaven, who go out from their station before the Lord of all the earth. 6 The one with the black horses is going to the north country, the white are going after them, and the dappled are going toward the south country.” 7 Then the strong steeds went out, eager to go, that they might walk to and fro throughout the earth. And He said, “Go, walk to and fro throughout the earth.” So they walked to and fro throughout the earth. 8 And He called to me, and spoke to me, saying, “See, those who go toward the north country have given rest to My Spirit in the north country.”
The angels here have power over the wind and will be allowed to hurt the earth, sea, and trees.
It’s possible that these angels might also be connected to the first four angels that will blow trumpets (wind – blow) starting in Rev. 8.  Note the parallels:

1st Trumpet:  Trees and grass burnt

2nd Trumpet:  Sea becomes blood

3rd Trumpet:  Earth, rivers, springs polluted

4th Trumpet:  Sun, moon, stars darkened

:1 cornersgonia – corner; an external angle, a corner; internal corner, i.e. a secret place

:1 holdingkrateo – to have power, be powerful; to become master of, to obtain; to take hold of; to hold; to keep carefully and faithfully; to continue to hold, to retain

:1 windsanemos – wind, a violent agitation and stream of air; a very strong tempestuous wind

Perhaps this is talking symbolically, the idea that no trouble is going to happen for a period of time.

It might be literal.  Wind can cause a lot of damage.

Play “Wind” clips. From ducks to stage collapse , our recent windstorms, to hurricanes. (comment on “Ducks” – the mom is saying, “OMG, is everyone okay?”  The ducklings are saying, “Barrel roll! Do again, do again!!!”)

:1 blowpneo – to breathe, to blow; of the wind

:2 Then 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 granted to harm the earth and the sea,

:2 another angel

Another angel appears.  He will have the job of putting a “seal” on the servants of God. He must be of a higher rank than the four previous angels because he gives them orders and they obey.

:2 ascendinganabaino – ascend; to go up

:2 from the east – literally, “from the rising of the sun

:2 sealsphragis – a seal

sealedsphragizo – to set a seal upon, mark with a seal, to seal

This is the same word used to describe the seven “seals” on the scroll that Jesus is in the process of opening.

Here, there will be a “seal” or “mark” put on the foreheads of God’s servants.

There will also be another kind of “mark” or “seal” in the time of the Tribulation.

It will be found on those who choose to “worship” the antichrist:
(Re 13:16–18 NKJV) —16 He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, 17 and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. 18 Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is 666.
There will be two “marks” or “seals” found in those days.

:2 to harmadikeo – to act unjustly or wickedly; to do wrong; to do hurt; to hurt, damage, harm

:3 saying, “Do not harm the earth, the sea, or the trees till we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.”

The angel with the seal tells the four other angels to hold on to the winds until his job of “sealing” the servants of God has been completed.

:3 till we have sealed


We Are His

One of the things that a “seal” signifies is ownership and protection.
In the days of Paul, the city of Ephesus was one of the major seaports of Asia.  Most of the goods coming from the east to be sold in the west came through the port of Ephesus.  It was the merchandising center of the world.  Great caravans would come from the east bringing their wares.  Merchants from Rome would gather in Ephesus to purchase these articles and pack them for shipping to Puteoli, the great port city of Rome.  From there they would be distributed throughout the empire.  The goods would be stamped with a wax seal and then imprinted with a signet ring bearing a unique mark of ownership.  Then the cargo would be loaded on the ships and sent to Rome.
When the merchandise arrived at Puteoli, servants of the merchantmen used the seals to identify their master's goods as they were unloaded.  The seal was the mark of ownership.

- From "Living Water" (Chuck Smith, pg.72)

Paul wrote that we too have a “seal” from God.
(Eph 1:13–14 NKJV) —13 In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.
(2 Co 1:21–22 NKJV) —21 Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, 22 who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.
(Eph 4:30 NKJV) —30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
When you first put your trust in Jesus Christ to be your Savior, God put the Holy Spirit into your life.
He’s like the “seal” that’s going to be stamped on the foreheads of a special group of people we are about to meet.
Just like the merchants used to do, putting their seal on the goods in Ephesus, God has put His seal on you.
But you aren’t arriving at the port of Puteoli, you are going to arrive one day at the port of heaven – and there you will be identified as having been bought by God.
In the same sense, these 144,000 will have a “seal” on their forehead that will give them a measure of protection during the time of the Tribulation, at least until their time is up.
Perhaps what we’re seeing here are these special people coming to trust in Christ, and so they are being “sealed”.


Seeing the Seal

What will the “seal” look like?  (Sea lion picture?? Navy seal?)
Actually, we don’t know what this particular seal will look like.  We don’t know if it’s even visible with human eyes.
Ezekiel had a vision that reminds us of what is happening in Revelation.
Ezekiel lived in Babylon during the time when the Babylonians would finally wipe out the southern kingdom of Israel and destroy the Temple in Jerusalem.
Ezekiel had a vision of angelic beings about to destroy the city, but before they did, there was another angel who first had to mark people:

(Eze 9:4 NKJV) and the Lord said to him, “Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and cry over all the abominations that are done within it.”

This angelic being would put some sort of a mark on those who were just as grieved as God was over the wickedness in Jerusalem.  And the destroying angels came through to wipe out the city, they would not harm those who had this “mark” on their foreheads.

What do you “sigh and cry” over?

Are you grieved by the things that are going on in this world?

Sometimes we get angry at the things that are going on in this world, but do we stop to think about what’s happening?

Do we stop to think about the people that are being deceived?

Do we stop and think about the people who are going to hell?

Maybe we ought to be a little less angry, and a lot more grieving.

There is another way of identifying the “seal” in our lives.
Jesus said,

(Mt 7:20 NKJV) Therefore by their fruits you will know them.

Can people see the “seal” on your life?  If the “seal” is the Holy Spirit, how can people tell if the Holy Spirit is at work in your life?

(Ga 5:22–23 NKJV) —22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control.

PlayLead Me” video

:3 the servants of our God

We will see them again in Revelation 14, but by then they are in heaven with Jesus.  The implication is that they have finished their ministry and are in heaven because they have been killed by the antichrist.

We have a little more insight into these servants:

(Re 14:4–5 NKJV) —4 These are the ones who were not defiled with women, for they are virgins. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These were redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb. 5 And in their mouth was found no deceit, for they are without fault before the throne of God.
For those who are so anxious to be part of the 144,000, here’s a little clue – you not only have to be Jewish, but you cannot be married, you have to be a virgin, and you have to have the highest moral character.
Oh, and you will die a martyr’s death one day.

:3 foreheadsmetopon – the space between the eyes, the forehead

:4 And I heard the number of those who were sealed. One hundred and forty-four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel were sealed:

:4 the numberarithmos – a fixed and definite number; an indefinite number, a multitude

:4 One hundred and forty-four thousand

Some people think this is purely a symbolical number.  They say it is symbolic of perfection, 12 x 12,000.

I’m not really convinced that it isn’t a literal number.  If it wasn’t meant to be literal, why is it be so specific, broken down to 12,000 from 12 specific tribes?

:4 of all the tribes of the children of Israel

Some folks like to look at this in such a symbolic way that they see this as the picture of all those who will be saved in the end.

And so they want to make sure that they are in that number.
The Jehovah Witnesses used to use this as being a reference to them, until they passed 144,000 in number.
From time to time you will see churches pop up who claim that they are the “144,000”.
I think that’s because they want to be seen as “special”.

These are not the only people in history to have been “saved” or “sealed”.

This is a specific group that will be used by God during a specific time in history – the time of the Tribulation.

These are Jewish people.

Part of the problem that older commentators had was their thought that God was finished with the nation of Israel.
After all, there was no nation of Israel.
Yet God is NOT finished with Israel.  Paul wrote,
(Ro 11:1 NKJV) I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.
Paul wrote,

(Ro 11:25–26 NKJV) —25 For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. 26 And so all Israel will be saved…

For now, God is shining His light through the mostly Gentile church.  But there will be a day when God is finished with the Gentiles, and will once again work through Israel.

Do we know what tribe Jewish people are from today?
Some with the last name of “Cohen” are probably from the tribe of Levi since this is the Hebrew word for “priest”, and the priests were from the tribe of Levi, the family of Aaron.
Most Jewish people do not know what tribe they are from.

But some of this is beginning to change.

One phrase you will find is “The Ten Lost Tribes” of Israel.
This phrase refers to the ten northern tribes that were scattered when the Assyrians conquered the northern kingdom of Israel in 722 BC.
Some people have come up with weird ideas of what happened to these lost tribes.

There is a doctrine called “British Israelism” that teaches that these lost tribes migrated to Europe.  They say things like the “Dan-ish” people are the tribe of “Dan”.

The Mormon church teaches that some of these tribes migrated to America and that contrary to modern DNA evidence, the American Indians were descendants of these lost tribes of Israel.

Keep in mind that these tribes may be “lost” in man’s eyes, but they’re not lost in God’s eyes.

Even in Jesus’ day,

(Lk 2:36 NKJV) —36 Now there was one, Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, and had lived with a husband seven years from her virginity;

Asher was one of the “lost” northern tribes, yet Anna was from that tribe.  Hmmm.

Even if WE never find out who belongs to what tribe, God knows.

There is work going on in Israel to trace Israelite roots around the world.
There are people in Ethiopia that have been linked to the tribe of Dan.

A group called Beta Israel in Ethiopia are possible descendants of the tribe of Dan.

A group in Nigeria claims ties to Ephraim, Naphtali, Manasseh, Levi, Zebulun, and Gad.

Igbo Jews of Nigeria claim to be descendants of the tribes of EphraimNaphtaliManassehLeviZebulun and Gad.

Another group in South Africa traces its roots through Yemen to Israel.

The Lemba people of South Africa have been traced to Jews fleeing Israel toward Yemen, and then southward in Africa.

Persian Jews in Iran claim to be from the tribe of Ephraim.
Pashtuns in Afghanistan and Pakistan have been traced to the tribe of Joseph.
Bukharian Jews in central Asia have been linked to Issachar.
Groups in India lay claim to Ephraim and Manasseh

Bene Israel Jews in southern India have been linked to the tribe of Ephraim.

Bnei Menashe Jews in northern India have been linked with Manasseh.

A group called the Kaifeng Jews appeared in China as early as 200BC.

:4 tribesphule – a tribe

:4 were sealed

These servants will receive a measure of protection from God from some of the difficult things that are going to happen during the Tribulation. This is just like how:

Noah and his family were protected through the Flood.
Israel was protected from the plagues of Egypt.
Rahab and her household were protected when Israel conquered Jericho.

:5 of the tribe of Judah twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Reuben twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Gad twelve thousand were sealed;

:6 of the tribe of Asher twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Naphtali twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Manasseh twelve thousand were sealed;

:7 of the tribe of Simeon twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Levi twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Issachar twelve thousand were sealed;

:8 of the tribe of Zebulun twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Joseph twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Benjamin twelve thousand were sealed.

:4 all the tribes

It is an interesting study to trace the names of the twelve tribes of Israel.

One scholar says the Bible has 29 lists of the tribes of Israel, and in each and every case there are twelve names listed for the tribes.

There are always TWELVE tribes of Israel.
It’s just that the lists don’t always include the same twelve names.  Why?

Jacob (or, Israel) had twelve sons.

One of his sons, Joseph, received a “double blessing” as the favored son, and his two sons Manasseh and Ephraim became promoted to the same status as their uncles.  That kind of makes “13” tribes.
When the nation conquered the land of Canaan, the land was divided into twelve plots, and Ephraim and Manasseh each got a plot of land in the place of Joseph.
It was the tribe of Levi that didn’t receive a plot, but as the priestly tribe they were scattered to live among each of the other tribes. Count.  There’s Twelve.

Usually when a tribe is omitted in a list, it’s the tribe of Levi.

If you look carefully at our list, you’ll see that Levi is included, and so is Joseph, and so is Manasseh.
Ephraim isn’t listed, but it is part of Joseph, so it’s still there.
The tribe that’s missing is the tribe of Dan.
Why is Dan missing?  I have some suggestions.

On Thursday night we looked at a story in the book of Judges that involved the tribe of Dan.

Dan was the first tribe to walk away from God’s standards about worship and to set up their own idolatrous temple in the north.  It’s found in Judges 17-18.

Dan is sort of the “standard” of the person who does things their own way instead of paying attention to God’s ways.

My point on Thursday night was, “Don’t Be A Dan Fool”.

The early church father Irenaeus suggested that the Antichrist was expected to come from the tribe of Dan.  Some have pointed to a prophecy in Genesis as a support for this (Gen. 49:16-18)

(Ge 49:16–18 NKJV) —16 “Dan shall judge his people As one of the tribes of Israel. 17 Dan shall be a serpent by the way, A viper by the path, That bites the horse’s heels So that its rider shall fall backward.

Though Dan is missing from this list, it is not totally lost.

Ezekiel describes the kingdom that is set up after Jesus comes back.  He describes how the land of Israel is once again divided up among the twelve tribes – and Dan is one of those tribes mentioned (Eze. 48:1-2)

(Eze 48:1–2 NKJV) —1 “Now these are the names of the tribes: From the northern border along the road to Hethlon at the entrance of Hamath, to Hazar Enan, the border of Damascus northward, in the direction of Hamath, there shall be one section for Dan from its east to its west side; 2 by the border of Dan, from the east side to the west, one section for Asher;

The city of Jerusalem will have twelve gates, and one of the gates is set aside for Dan. (Eze. 48:32)

(Eze 48:32 NKJV) —32 on the east side, four thousand five hundred cubits, three gates: one gate for Joseph, one gate for Benjamin, and one gate for Dan;



We think the 144,000 will be evangelists.  Here’s why …
Some folks see a parallel between what we’ve seen of the first six seals and Jesus’ description of the end times in Matthew 24.
You can make a pretty clear connection of the events of Matthew 24:4-13 with the seals we’ve seen:  The antichrist, war, famine, death, martyrs, and cosmic troubles.

(Mt 24:4–13 NKJV) —4 And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. 6 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of sorrows. 9 “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. 10 And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. 11 Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. 12 And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But he who endures to the end shall be saved.

The next verse reads:

(Mt 24:14 NKJV) And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.

It’s possible this is what the 144,000 is all about.

Another clue is found in the next passage in Revelation 7, when a great multitude of Gentile believers show up in heaven, people who have come to Christ, and then have been martyred during the Tribulation (Rev. 7:9).
(Re 7:9 NKJV) —9 After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands,
Where did this great multitude of Gentile believers come from?  It’s possible that they are the fruit of the 144,000 Jewish servants who are sealed in our current passage.
God wants us to be a part of evangelism as well.  It’s not just Greg Laurie’s job.  Jesus said,
(Mt 28:19–20 NKJV) —19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
But sometimes we have the wrong idea of what evangelism is all about.
PlayChristmas Linebacker
A better place to start is to pray for the people you care about.  Pray for God to give you opportunities to share with them.  Watch God open the doors.