Just as we discovered in 2 Peter 3:10 that Peter describes the bookends of ‘the day of the Lord’ in An Examination of the ‘Day of the Lord’ – and Revelation 14: Tribulation Outline gives us a timeline outline to help us insert events of the wrath of God during the Tribulation – so does Revelation 7 give us the bookends to the beginning and the ending of the seven-year Tribulation.
Let’s begin our excavation into this gold mine of a chapter!
The Beginning of the Tribulation – The 144,000 Israeli Evangelists
John witnesses the sealing of the 144,000 Israeli evangelists in preparing for their service up until the midway point of the Tribulation.
“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. 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, Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads” (Revelation 7:1-3). (emphasis mine)
We need to take note that these evangelists will reside throughout the whole world as the angels are “holding the four winds of the earth” and told to “not hurt the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.”
This is the key verse that tells us when the 144,000 are sealed, because of the information we are provided in Revelation 8.
“And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound. The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up” (Revelation 8:6-7). (emphasis mine)
And, in wrapping-up the phrase, “Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads,” the second angel’s trumpet takes care of the sea portion of this Scripture:
“And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood; And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed” (Revelation 8:8-9). (emphasis mine)
This should more than indicate that the 144,000 are sealed just before the sounding of the first trumpet judgment, which seems to herald the beginning of the seven-year Tribulation.
In case there is any question to who these 144,000 evangelists are, John clearly tells us:
“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” (Revelation 7:4).
Not only does John tell us who they are, he gives us a breakdown:
“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.
“Of the tribe of Aser were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Nephthalim were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Manasses were sealed twelve thousand.
“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.
“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” (Revelation 7:5-8).
An interesting note is that the tribe of Dan is not mentioned – though they will be a part of the Millennial reign of Christ (Ezekiel 48:1-2, 32). The reason there are still 12 tribes listed is for the following two reasons.
One: Levi is listed. Levi is often omitted among the 12 tribes because they are the Lord’s inheritance and were not allotted a portion of the promised land as the other tribes were.
Two: Joseph’s two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, are always listed as two separate tribes because of Jacob’s pronouncement that Joseph’s two sons would be as the other sons of Jacob (Genesis 48:5). But in this list, while Joseph is still split between two tribes, they are listed as “Joseph” and “Manasses,” or Manasseh. Again, Joseph is omitted from other lists of the 12 tribes of Israel because of the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh, his sons. Thus, “Joseph” seems to be representative, in this list, for the tribe of Ephraim.
I personally, believe the 144,000 will begin witnessing all over the earth after the rapture of the church. I discuss the reasons why in Revelation 14: Tribulation Outline. In that article, I also explain why the information provided to us in Revelation 14 indicates that they will be taken to heaven by Christ at approximately the midway point of the Tribulation, and possibly in conjunction with the resurrection and ascension of the Two Witnesses.
Even though they may be witnessing soon after the rapture of the church, it appears, from what we have learned, that they won’t be sealed until just prior to the beginning of the Tribulation in conjunction with the signing of covenant between Antichrist, Israel, and the many (Daniel 9:27). We can be sure that they will be supernaturally protected by the Lord during the gap of time in between the rapture and the beginning of the Tribulation when they will be sealed for their continued service to God, up until Christ takes them to heaven as a first fruit offering (Revelation 14:4).
What About Revelation 9:4?
When the fifth trumpet is sounded and the demonic “locusts” are released to torment men five months, we read:
“And it was commanded them [the demonic “locusts”] that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads” (Revelation 9:4).
These demonic “locusts,” described by John in Revelation 9:7-10, have only one mission: to hurt “men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads,” to the point that men would wish to die (Revelation 9:5-6).
There are two possibilities to this verse, in regard to those who have the seal of God in their foreheads.
- Because I believe the trumpet judgments coincide with the first half of the Tribulation – and the seven vial judgments with the second half of the Tribulation – these “men which have… the seal of God on their foreheads,” could very well be the 144,000 Israeli evangelists.
- The Greek word translated “men” is 444 ἄνθρωπος “anthrópos” and means a man, human, mankind. [Definitions biblehub.com] One could suggest that there is a possibility that, even though not mentioned, a remnant of Saints could be sealed that God intends to bring through the Tribulation and will be some of the “sheep” at the Separation of the Sheep from the Goats Judgment.
I subscribe to the first possibility, as it makes much more sense in light of what we have been studying. Plus, we lack Scriptural support for the second possibility. These men must be the 144,000 Israeli evangelists who will be spared from the demonic hordes’ tortures.
The Ending of the Tribulation – The Great Tribulation Saints
John, in his vision, takes a leap of seven years into the future to the end of the Tribulation as he sees the Great Tribulation Saints before the Lamb and the Throne of God.
“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 cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.
“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, Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.
“And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?
“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. 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.
“They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. 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” (Revelation 7:9-17). (emphasis mine)
How do we know this is at the end of the Tribulation? Because these Saints “came out of great tribulation.” This is the same wording Jesus used to describe the last half of the Tribulation after the Abomination of Desolation.
“When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains:
“Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day:
“For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be” (Matthew 24:15-20). (emphasis mine)
The Greek in both passages for “great tribulation” is exactly the same.
The Greek word for “great” 3173 μέγας “megas” meaning great, large, exceeding, in the wildest sense. And the Greek word for “tribulation” is 2374 μέγας “thlipsis” and means tribulation, persecution, affliction, distress.
In addition, in describing these Saints that came out of the Great Tribulation, verse 16 states:
“They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat” (Revelation 7:16). (emphasis mine)
We see this very condition in the fourth vial that is poured out at the end of the Tribulation:
“And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun; and power was given unto him to scorch men with fire. And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues: and they repented not to give him glory” (Revelation 16:8-9).
Revelation 7 is another chapter we can add to our arsenal of prophetic understanding and helpful tools to align the proper order of events when God pours out His wrath on a God-hating, Messiah-rejecting world from the rapture of the church until Christ comes back at His Second Coming. When combined with Revelation 14: Tribulation Outline, the picture should begin to take shape and become clearer.
I always marvel at the Word of God – it never ceases to amaze me! I pray it does you, too!
May the Lord richly bless you all, as you continue to bless others through Him and for Him. Never grow weary, beloved Saint, of reaching the lost for Christ, until He calls us all home.
Love, grace, mercy, and shalom in Messiah Yeshua, and Maranatha!
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