"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
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 Nephthalim 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."
Many have tried to somehow
tie the above to the literal twelve tribes of Israel. However there are several
reasons why this won't fit. First, the timing is wrong. Ten of the twelve
tribes had already been dispersed among the Gentiles and had lost their identify
centuries before. Second this is written in the opening of the seven seals of
salvation and thus should be identified with the new covenant of worship.
Third, a new definition of Jews is given to us in Rom. 2:28 "For he is not a
Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in
the flesh: 29 But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is
that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of
men, but of God." Thus the true Jew or the true children of Israel are not
natural descendants of Israel, but spiritual children of Israel. This includes
both Jews and Gentiles. Fourth, the twelve names in this passage of scripture
do not correspond to any other listing of the twelves tribes of Israel in the
entire bible. Jacob or Israel as his name was changed by God had twelve sons and the descendents of
these twelve sons became the original twelve tribes of
Israel. Later Joseph, the next to youngest son
of Israel had two sons and his two sons were given tribe status and were
sometimes called half tribes and other times they were called tribes and Levi
was not listed as Levi had not a separate inheritance in Israel but were
dispersed among the twelve tribes.
The above listing includes
both Joseph and Manasses, the eldest son of Joseph. This is not done anywhere
else in the scriptures. Also Dan is not listed as a tribe in the above listing,
but in all other places in the scriptures Dan is listed as a tribe.
The key to our understanding
starts with realizing the significance lies not in the natural descendents of
Israel, but the key is in the names that are given and in the numbers that are
The one hundred and forty
four thousand were previously identified as the servants of God and that they
were sealed in their forehead. Since the sealing took place after they heard
and believed the gospel and trusted in Christ, this is another reason why the 12
tribes cannot be a literal 12 tribes of the natural descendants of Jacob. Using
Ezek. 9:3-6 as an example we find the purpose of the sealing was to exempt the
ones sealed from the future judgment: Ezek. 9:3 "And the glory of the God of
Israel was gone up from the cherub, whereupon he was, to the threshold of the
house. And he called to the man clothed with linen, which had the writer's
inkhorn by his side; 4 And the LORD said unto him, Go through the midst
of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads
of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the
midst thereof. 5 And to the others he said in mine hearing, Go ye after
him through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity:
6 Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but
come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary. Then
they began at the ancient men which were before the house."
When each of the sons of
Jacob were born they were named by either Leah or Rachel and the meaning of the
name was based on the circumstances of their birth:
1. Gen. 29:32 "And
Leah conceived, and bare a son, and she called his name Reuben: for she said,
Surely the LORD hath looked upon my affliction; now therefore my husband will
love me." Thus the name Reuben means He looked.
2. Gen. 29:33
"And she conceived again, and bare a son; and said, Because the LORD hath heard
that I was hated, he hath therefore given me this son also: and she called his
name Simeon." Thus the name Simeon means hearing.
3. Gen. 29:34
"And she conceived again, and bare a son; and said, Now this time will my
husband be joined unto me, because I have born him three sons: therefore was his
name called Levi." Thus the name Levi means joined.
4. Gen. 29:35
"And she conceived again, and bare a son: and she said, Now will I praise the
LORD: therefore she called his name
Judah; and left bearing."
Thus the name Judah means praise.
5. Gen. 30:6
"And Rachel said, God hath judged me, and hath also heard my voice, and hath
given me a son: therefore called she his name Dan." Thus the name Dan means
6. Gen. 30:8
"And Rachel said, With great wrestlings have I wrestled with my sister, and I
have prevailed: and she called his name Naphtali." Thus the name Napthali
7. Gen. 30:11 "And
Leah said, A troop cometh: and she called his name Gad." Thus the name Gad
means a troop.
8. Gen. 30:13 "And
Leah said, Happy am I, for the daughters will call me blessed: and she called
his name Asher." Thus the name Asher means blessed.
9. Gen. 30:18 "And
Leah said, God hath given me my hire, because I have given my maiden to my
husband: and she called his name Issachar." Thus the name Issachar means
10. Gen. 30:20 "And
Leah said, God hath endued me with a good dowry; now will my husband dwell with
me, because I have born him six sons: and she called his name Zebulun."
Thus the name Zebulun means endowed.
11. Gen. 30:24 "And
she called his name Joseph; and said, The LORD shall add to me another son."
Thus the name Joseph means adding.
12. Gen. 35:18
"And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, (for she died) that she
called his name Benoni: but his father called him Benjamin." Thus the name
Benjamin means son of my right hand.
13. Gen. 41:51
"And Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh: For God, said he, hath
made me forget all my toil, and all my father's house." Thus the name
Manasseh means forgetting.
Since Dan's name means
judged and Dan is not listed in chapter 7 this signifies that eternal judgment
is passed for God's servants. It, of course, took place at the cross of
Calvary when Jesus became sin for
us to deliver us from our sins.
The meanings of the names
above speak to us about the relationship between Christ and his servants. The
name Reuben means looked and the Lord looks upon his servants and thru an eye of
faith they look upon him.
The name Simeon means
hearing and the Lord hears our cries and petitions and we hear him thru the
preaching of the gospel and the testimony of his word and the providential
experiences of life.
The name Levi means joined:
1 Cor. 6:17 "But he that is
joined unto the Lord is one spirit."
The name Judah means
praise. We are created spiritually to praise the Lord and Rom. 2:29 tells us
that we are to God's praise: Rom. 2:29 "But he is a Jew, which is one
inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the
letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God."
The name Napthali means
wrestled. As Jacob of old wrestled with the Lord for a blessing, the Lord
allows his servants to wrestle with him, but eventually they cling to him.
The name Gad means troop.
The Lord has made his servants an "army of heaven."
The name Asher means
blessed. The Lord's servants are certainly a blessed people.
The name Issachar means
hired. The scriptures speak of the Lord hiring servants throughout the day.
The scriptures also tell us that the laborers are worthy of their hire. The
hire of the servants is the blessings they receive in his service.
The name Zebulun means
endowed. The Lord has endowed us with his name and his kingdom and the service
of his kingdom and to eat at the master's table.
The name Joseph means
adding. When his servants seek first the kingdom of
God and his righteousness, the
Lord adds to them the necessities of life.
The name Benjamin means son
of my right hand. The sheep are set on the right hand of God when the sheep and
goats are separated.
The name Manasses means
forgetting: Heb. 8:12 "For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and
their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more."
Since twelve tribes are
listed in this chapter, we should consider the significance of the number
twelve. Twelve is a representative number and it represents the whole. For
instance, there were twelve princes in Israel, being one to represent each
tribe. The twelve princes together represented all of Israel. There were
twelve stones on the breastplate of judgment on the breast of the High Priest.
Each stone had a name of one of the tribes of
Israel. This signified that the High Priest thru his High Priestly duties was
representing all of Israel. There were
also twelve spies sent to spy out the land of Canaan. Each spy represented
a tribe of Israel. Thus all Israel was represented by the twelve spies. Thus
twelve is used to represent the whole. In the context of the seventh chapter
the twelve represents the whole of the servants of God.
The number twelve thousand
is associated with an army. Please notice this association in the following
1. Num 31:5
"So there were delivered out of the thousands of
Israel, a thousand of every tribe, twelve
thousand armed for war. 6 And Moses
sent them to the war, a thousand of every tribe, them and Phinehas the son of
Eleazar the priest, to the war, with the holy instruments, and the trumpets to
blow in his hand."
2. Jud. 21:10
"And the congregation sent thither twelve thousand men of the valiantest, and
commanded them, saying, Go and smite the inhabitants of Jabeshgilead with the
edge of the sword, with the women and the children."
3. 2 Sam. 17:1
"Moreover Ahithophel said unto Absalom, Let me now choose out twelve thousand
men, and I will arise and pursue after David this night: 2 And I will come
upon him while he is weary and weak handed, and will make him afraid: and all
the people that are with him shall flee; and I will smite the king only:"
4. 1 Kings 14:26
"And Solomon had forty thousand stalls of horses for his chariots, and twelve
5. 1 Kings 10:26
"And Solomon gathered together chariots and horsemen: and he had a thousand
and four hundred chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen, whom he bestowed in the
cities for chariots, and with the king at
Based on the above we
conclude that the servants of God compose the army of heaven (the kingdom of
heaven). This explains what Nebuchadnezzar said: Dan. 4:35 "And all the
inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his
will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can
stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?" In conjunction of this
Paul told Timothy, "Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of
Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this
life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier." Also
Paul wrote to the disciples in Ephesus to put on the whole armour of God. The
following verses also speak to us of certain aspects of the servants of God
composing the army of heaven:
1. 1 Cor. 9:7 "Who
goeth a warfare any time at his own charges? who planteth a vineyard, and eateth
not of the fruit thereof? or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of
2. 2 Cor. 10:4
"(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the
pulling down of strong holds;) 5 Casting down imaginations, and every
high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into
captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; 6 And having in a
readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled."
3. 1 Tim. 1:18
"This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which
went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare;"
4. 2 Tim. 2:4
"No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he
may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier."
5. Rev. 12:17
"And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant
of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus
Rev 7:9, 10 "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."
The background for v. 9
begins with some covenant promises that God made to Abraham. When God appeared
to Abraham he begin to make promises to him about his seed. According to Gal.
3:16 that seed is identified as Christ: Gal. 3:16 "Now to Abraham and his
seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of
one, And to thy seed, which is Christ." Thus the promises concerning the
"seed" of Abraham are really promises concerning Christ. The following promises
were made to Abraham concerning his seed:
1. Gen. 12:3
"And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in
thee shall all families of the earth be blessed."
2. Gen. 22:17
"That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed
as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy
seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; 18 And in thy seed shall all the
nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice."
3. Gen. 13:16
"And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number
the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered."
4. Acts 3:25 "Ye
are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our
fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the
earth be blessed."
From the above we gather the
1. All families
of the earth are blessed in Christ. The word "kindreds in Acts 3:25 comes from
the Greek word "patria" meaning of the Father. This identifies a family as
consisting of a father, and, of course, a mother, and at least one child. Since
all families of the earth are blessed in Christ then at least one of every
family is a part of the elect of God!
2. The seed of
Abraham which is Christ is multiplied to an innumerable host (dust of the earth,
sand of the sea shore, stars of heaven). This corresponds to the prophesy
concerning Rebekah made by her brother and mother: Gen. 24:60 "And they
blessed Rebekah, and said unto her, Thou art our sister, be thou the mother of
thousands of millions, and let thy seed possess the gate of those which hate
them." Thus the seed of Abraham numbers at least into the billions.
3. The seed of
Abraham would possess the gate of his enemies. To possess the gate of ones
enemies means that you have the victory over your enemies. Christ won the
victory over sin, death, hell, the grave, and Satan on behalf of his covenant
Next, let us identify who
the multiplied seed of Christ are. Gal. 4:28 tells us who the multiplied seed
are: Gal. 4:28 "Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise."
The children of promise are the multiplied seed. They are children of promise
as Isaac was a child of promise. Let's review how Isaac was a child of promise
and we will then see how we are also children of promise:
1. God promised
Isaac before he was ever conceived: Gen. 17:21 "But my covenant will I
establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear unto thee at this set time in the
2. God promised
Isaac would be born contrary to the flesh. According to the scriptures
Abraham's body was dead (i.e. his reproductive ability was dead) and Sarah's
womb was dead: Rom. 4:19 "And being not weak in faith, he considered not his
own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the
deadness of Sarah's womb:"
3. God promised
Isaac would be born at God's appointed time: Rom. 9:9 "For this is the word
of promise, At this time will I come, and Sarah shall have a son."
Similarly, according to the
covenant of redemption (Rom. 8:28-30) we are chosen in Christ before the
foundation of the world: Eph. 1:4 "According as he hath chosen us in him
before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame
before him in love." Second, we are born spiritually when we were dead in
trespasses and sins: Eph. 2:1 "And you hath he quickened, who were dead in
trespasses and sins." Finally our spiritual birth is at God's appointed
time: John 3:8 "The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound
thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every
one that is born of the Spirit."
This innumerable host is
said to be of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues. Thus this
would consist not only of nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues that
are in existence today, but also all nations, and kindreds, and people, and
tongues that have existed in the past. God's covenant of redemption is far more
inclusive and encompassing than all the religious works systems of men
"They stood before the
throne." They stand before the throne of judgment because "Who shall lay any
thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that
condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even
at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us." They stand
before the throne of glory because they have been glorified: Rom. 8:29 "For
whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of
his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover
whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also
justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified." They stand
before the throne of grace, because their salvation is by grace: 2 Tim. 1:9
"Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our
works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ
Jesus before the world began." They stand before the throne of mercy,
because they deserved to be condemned, yet God is merciful to his elect.
They were "clothed with
white robes." They having no righteousness of their own are clothed with the
righteousness of Christ: 2 Cor. 5:21 "For he hath made him to be sin for us,
who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him."
They had "palms in their
hands." The palm is a symbol of victory. This victory wasn't one in which they
accomplished, but it is one given to them: 1 Cor. 15:57
"But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus
They "cried with a loud
voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the
Lamb." Notice that all the credit for their salvation is given to God and to
the Lamb. It was God in covenant that purposed to save them from their sin and
it was the Lamb who came and executed the purpose of God.
Rev 7:11-12 "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."
Whether the angels mentioned
above are the angels in glory or the messengers to the churches I am unable to
prove one way or the other. One thing we can be certain of is that they were
worshipping God for his blessings, glory, wisdom, thanksgiving, honour, power,
and might. All praise was being given to God. This is according to what the
psalmist wrote: Ps. 115:1 "Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto thy
name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth's sake." The fact that
they fell before the throne on their faces shows us that they had humbled
themselves before God. How we should follow their example and humble ourselves
before God and give him all the praise, honor, and glory for our eternal
salvation and recognize that he has all wisdom and power and might.
Additionally we should thank him for all his blessings and watch care over us in
this time world and for the spiritual kingdom he has set up for us to worship
and serve him in this time world.
The use of the word "amen"
twice shows us the statement is both truthful and without doubt. Surely if we
pay attention to what the scriptures tell us we will know for a truth and be
without doubt that all the praise, honor, and glory belongs to God and none
belongs to man.
Rev 7:13-17 "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. 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."
Verses 9 and 10 of this
chapter give us a word picture of the entire elect redeemed family of God
standing before God and glorified. The questions in verse 13, "What are
these which are arrayed in white robes? And whence came they? are answered
in verse 14: "These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have
washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." The
questions are answered in the experience of God's people. All that stand before
God in glory shall know why they are there. Some know through their personal
experiences here in time and the rest will know in the resurrection. We are, as
David said of himself, conceived in sin and shapen in iniquity. We come into
this world as sinners and begin to live out our sin nature. Prior to being born
of the Spirit we live out our lives without a heartfelt conviction of sin. At
God's appointed time we are born of the Spirit of God at which occurrence God
writes his laws in our heart and mind and sprinkles our heart from an evil
conscience. Thus a courtroom is set up in our heart and mind in which the laws
of God are the basis and our thoughts either accuse us or else excuse us and our
conscience bears witness with our heart either condemning us or condemning us
Sometime after the spiritual
birth we begin to be convicted of sin. We see ourselves as guilty before a just
and holy God. Upon being convicted of sin in our heart and mind often God's
people begin to attempt to get right with God. However, there is nothing we can
do that will do away with our sins. All the rituals, legal wrangling, and good
works we may perform cannot atone for past sins, nor current or future sins.
The conviction of sins and the efforts to get right with God are a great
tribulation for God's born again people. Those who are blessed to hear and
believe the gospel or good news that Jesus has redeemed his people from their
sins come to realize that Jesus blood is what makes them righteous before God.
Thus in their experiences of mind and heart they wash their robes (which before
were filthy garments) and make them white (through the imputed righteousness of
Christ) in the blood of the Lamb. In other words they see their sins redeemed
by the blood of the Lamb. While many of God's elect continue throughout their
lives attempt to get right with God through a corrupt works system, yet in glory
they will know precisely why they are there as they will know it wasn't their
works that got them there, but the blood of the Lamb.
"Therefore are they
before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple." This
gives us the reason for service. We don't serve God in order to get eternal
life, but we serve him because we have eternal life and the redemption of sins.
We love him because he first loved us. There is a cause and effect
relationship. Those who believe in a works system of salvation believe that
their works is what makes them righteous before God and what gives them eternal
life. In that system the cause is their works and the effect is justification
and eternal life. However, those who believe in the truth, which is that the
Lamb redeemed us and God gives us eternal life, we serve him because of these
things. The cause is redemption and eternal life from God and the effect is
that we serve him.
It says that they will serve
him day and night in his temple. Since there is no night in the glory world,
this is referring to service here in this time world. God's people who serve
him, do so, both in the day seasons of their lives and in the night seasons of
"He that sitteth on the
throne shall dwell among them." God dwells in his temple and in 2 Cor. we
read that the church is his temple: 2 Cor. 6:16 "And what agreement hath the
temple of God with idols? for ye
are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and
walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people." God
dwells among his people here in time as the Lord said, "Where two or three
are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them."
"They shall hunger no
more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any
heat." Now we hunger and thirst after righteousness and it is a blessing to
do so. But we that know the truth about salvation by grace, no longer hunger or
thirst after a saviour. There is no need to hunger and thirst after a saviour
for our Saviour has come and we are perfectly satisfied that he has saved us
from our sins.
As the sun and the heat of
the sun represent the law and judgment under the law, the sun no longer lights
on us nor any heat as Rom. 8:33, 34 proclaims, "Who shall lay any thing to
the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth?
It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the
right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us." Therefore the law
no longer condemns us and we are no longer subject to eternal condemnation from
judgment under the law.
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
In the glory world there
won't be any tears to wipe away from our eyes. Here in time, however, we mourn
over our sins and the effects of our sins. We are in a blessed state to so
mourn and we are doubly blessed in that God comforts us from our mourning (wipes
way our tears from our eyes).
Furthermore, God feeds us
spiritually here in time with the gospel as the Lord told Peter to "feed my
lambs, and feed my sheep." Also Paul through the Holy Spirit instructed the
elders at Ephesus to "Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the
flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church
of God, which he hath
purchased with his own blood." Also it is the Lamb who leads us into living
fountains of gospel waters to refresh our souls in our journey through life.