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Bible: What Does Revelation 7 Teach Us About the 144,000 and the Great Tribulation?

Updated on August 21, 2016

The 144,000

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Revelation 7: The 144,000 Jews; Tribulation Martyrs

The 144,000

Before the Lamb resumes the seal judgments, John provides a glimpse into the existence of two special groups who will minister during the seventieth week of Daniel: the one hundred forty-four thousand (vv. 4-8) and the martyrs (vv. 9-17).

[This chapter functions as a parenthesis between the first six seals (chapter six) and the seventh seal.

This last seal leads to six of the seven trumpet judgments (chapters eight and nine).

John picks up with the seventh trumpet after the end of another parenthesis (10:1-11:14).]

The apostle observes four angels restraining the “four winds of the earth” (v. 1).

[What climatological changes might no wind produce worldwide?]

Another angel bearing “the seal of the living God” arises from the East, and commands these four not to hurt the Earth and the sea until “we” have “sealed” the one hundred forty-four thousand Israelites on their foreheads (vv. 2-4).

[By “we,” the angel must mean that “the four” would aid him in this task.]

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The Twenty-Four Elders


Apparently, the four angels had not previously been told to wait until this sealing took place.

[“Sealing” signifies ownership (cf. other sealing [or marking] operations [Gen. 4:15; Ezek. 9:4; Eph. 1:13; Rev. 13:16]).

Twelve thousand Jews from each of the twelve tribes—John places Judah first, excludes Dan, and includes Joseph instead of Ephraim—receive the seal of God to protect them (vv. 5-8).

[The text offers no reason to understand “the one hundred forty-four thousand” as anything other than a literal one hundred forty-four thousand Jews.]

The Tribulation Martyrs

The apostle also sees an innumerable, mixed multitude (“of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues”) clad in “white robes” (Christ’s righteousness, or their own righteous deeds?), holding palm branches as they stand before the throne and before the Lamb, praising the Father and the Lamb for their salvation (vv. 9-10).

While an angelic host attends God around the throne, the twenty-four elders and the four living ones, prostrate in worship before the throne, chant a seven-part refrain that expresses His worth (vv. 11-12).

In response to his own question to the mystified John regarding both the identity and previous station of the white-robed multitude, the apostle’s attending elder (cf. 5:5) replies that these righteous ones--they have “washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb”-- have recently died in the “Great Tribulation” (v. 14).

Their continuous occupation now consists of temple service before the throne of God (v. 15a).

[Apparently, the Father and the Lamb take the place of this temple when the New Jerusalem appears (cf. 21:22).]

The Father (“He who sits on the throne”) will make His abode with them, they will no longer suffer from want, and the Lamb “who is in the midst of the throne” (underscoring mine) will protect, lead, and nourish them spiritually from the “living fountains of waters” (“springs of the water of life,”NASB). God will also comfort them emotionally (vv. 15b-17; cf. 21:4).

© 2013 glynch1


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    • glynch1 profile image

      glynch1 4 years ago

      I have not fully immersed myself in all of what this "ancient wisdom" teaches, but I am convinced of its historical and spiritual error. I am afraid you have been deceived (apparently millions of others have been as well) by this type of New Age/mystery type of philosophy. Your search is not done--that is, unless you turn to the Jesus presented in the Word of God, and trust Him as your Lord and Savior.

    • glynch1 profile image

      glynch1 4 years ago

      If one reads the text in Revelation 7 and interprets it as it stands, one should have no trouble seeing who the 144,000 are. The text clearly states that they are 12,000 people from each of the twelve tribes of Israel listed there. If one interprets the passage figuratively, one can come up with whatever one wants. That is the main problem with spiritualizing prophecy, whether in the OT or the NT; your guess is just as good as mine.

    • SeanBrook profile image

      Sean Brookfield 4 years ago from Vancouver, BC, Canada

      Most clergymen (and women) answer the same when I ask what /who are the 144000?..."not a clue" ...they are being honest. They are not stupid.

      There should be no mystery, no's our birthright to know. Controlling agendas and greed agendas for centuries have purposely produced the mystery and confusion, I believe.

      Recently I was presented with the following (new/ancient) source of information and my question was may be interested.

      Well chosen topic Mr glynch; good and well researched article. has taught this long time seeker much just recently.