A Pause...THE 144,000
1 And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree.2 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,3 Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.4 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 the children of Israel.
After the opening of the sixth seal, John sees a different vision.
He sees four angels on the four corners of the earth holding the four winds of the earth.
Notice how many times it is stated that these things occurred on the earth. Not in heaven.
It appears that what we are seeing here is a restraining from destructive judgment on the earth.
The four corners of the earth represent the four directions or the whole face of the earth.
In the Old Testament, God often spoke of the judgments He brought on nations as winds:
Against the people of Elam (Jer. 49:36).
Against Babylon (Jer. 51:1).
Another angel arrives from the east.
It is another angel of the same kind (allos).
Coming from the east means it is bringing good news.
The angel has the seal of the living God. He comes with God=s authority.
He tells the other four angels not to hurt the earth or sea.
The coming judgment was not to hurt Christians.
This reminds one of Ezekiel 9:1-8.
This was not to be a physical mark but spiritual (Rev. 14:1; 22:4; 2 Tim. 2:19).
The number of the ones sealed was 144,000.
Is this a literal number?
Some say it is: the Jehovah=s Witnesses.
It makes much more sense to view the number as figurative.
5 Of the tribe of Juda were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Reuben were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Gad were sealed twelve thousand.6 Of the tribe of Aser were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Nepthalim were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Manasses were sealed twelve thousand.7 Of the tribe of Simeon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Levi were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Issachar were sealed twelve thousand.8 Of the tribe of Zabulon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Joseph were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Benjamin were sealed twelve thousand.
Ephraim and Dan are omitted but Joseph and Levi are included.
These tribes are symbolic like the 144,000.
NOW TO THE SAINTS IN HEAVEN...
9 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;10 And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.11 And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God,12 Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.
There is a great multitude before the throne.
White robes represent purity, holiness.
Palms in their hands represent joy (Lev. 23:40; Jn. 12:13).
All present fall and worship God and the Lamb.
13 And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?14 And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
An elder asks John who these are who are wearing the white robes.
The great tribulation being spoken of here is probably the persecution brought about by the Roman Empire.
The wordAcame@ actually means a continuous coming, not something that has already been completed.
They had made themselves pure through the blood of Christ.
15 Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them.16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat.17 For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.
After making through the great tribulation, saints are allowed into heaven where they enjoy all its blessings.