Scripture shows that the servants of God are sealed, and this is the subject of John's prophecy of the 144,000 in Revelation 7:1-8. The four winds are held back, so that these people can be sealed, before the earth, and the trees, and the sea are hurt. The account is placed between the opening of the 6th and 7th seals.
This comes immediately after the announcement of the arrival of the "day of God's wrath" (Revelation 6:17), and as Dispensationalists have pointed out, the Church is "not appointed to God's wrath." John refers to the Church as God's servants in Revelation 1:1, 1:6, 5:10, 6:11, 7:15, 19:2, 19:5, 19:10, 22:3, 22:6, 22:9.
The sealing of believers occurs through all the ages of the Church.
They are sealed in their foreheads (Revelation 7:3), and they have God's name in their foreheads.
And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father's name written in their foreheads.
Seals on packages are used to certify ownership, much like a rancher brands his cattle. Jesus prayed that his disciples would be kept and protected by the Father's name.
And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.
At baptism, Christians are baptized into the name of the Father, Son, and the holy Spirit. [Mathew 28:19]
Christ had the seal of God the Father [John 6:27].
The name of God is in the forehead of those who are in the New Jerusalem:
And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him:
And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads.
The ones who grieved over the sins of Jerusalem were sealed, Ezek 9:4.
The Israelite high priest wore a plate on his forehead, "Holy unto the Lord." [Exodus 28:36-38]
John records that the number who were sealed is 144,000, which is a reasonable size for a city, and the saints are collectively called the 'holy city.'
This number is symbolic, just as in the description of the dimensions of the New Jerusalem, in Revelation 21:12, where its walls are 12,000 furlongs on each side.
Ross A Taylor wrote:
The 144,000 is not a literal number, it is the
complete church not
part of it. 144=12 * 12, i.e. OT * NT church, 1000=10*10*10 which means
symbolism ought to be evident from the breakdown of the number 144,000
into twelve tribes
of exactly 12,000 for each tribe.
Many think that the 7 churches in Asia to which Christ's messages are addressed in the early chapters of Revelation are representative of the entire Church, thoughout the ages. In a similar way, the number 144,000 is representative of the "firstfruits," which may in fact be far more numerous than 144,000. Daniel pictures the number of the servants of Christ as many millions:
A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened.
The number 144,000 is not the total number who are eventually saved, which is a vast group that "cannot be numbered" [Revelation 7:9]. This great multitude comes out of great tribulation, and they serve God day and night in his temple [Revelation 7:15].
The general epistle of James is addressed to the "twelve tribes which are scattered abroad."
James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.
The 144,000 are identified with the 12 tribes of Israel. Each tribe is listed, including Joseph (Revelation 7:8), but not Ephraim or Dan. Joseph was actually represented by two tribes.
In Galatians 6:16, the 'Israel of God' is the Church.
In the Church there is neither Jew nor Gentile, all are one body (Ephesians 3:6).
Jesus said Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are in the kingdom of God, but they were never part of the literal tribes of Israel. Jesus alluded to Gentiles being in the kingdom with Abraham, while the children of the kingdom were excluded.
Many shall come from the east and the west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.
These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb.
Paul described the Church as a "virgin bride." He refers to a spiritual virginity, as the context shows. He was talking about Christians being faithful to the truth, and not being led astray by false teachers.
For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
The 144,000 follow Christ everywhere he goes. [Revelation 14:4]
As Christ became immortal, these also inherit immortality.
1 John 3:2
Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.
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.
John says they are without fault before God [Revelation 14:5]
There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
They are the firstfruits of the redeemed [Revelation 14:4]
But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,
To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,
And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.
Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.
But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming.
Many Dispensationalists say these 144,000 are literal Jews, who are male virgins, who are sealed during the future great tribulation. They claim the Church will be raptured to heaven before the tribulation begins. But if the 144,000 are the "firstfruits," there can be no previous "rapure" of the Church. So this is the entire church. It is not only the church in the last age.
In a Web article, Wayne Jackson wrote:
The 144,000 of Revelation 14 likely signifies the entire body of the redeemed. They were "purchased" from among men. The only purchase price ultimately available for human salvation is that of the blood of Jesus Christ. His blood was effective for the obedient who lived before the cross (Gal. 4:5; Heb. 9:15-17), and for those who have submitted to God's will since that historic event (1 Pet. 1:18,19; Acts 20:28).
Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.
1 John 2:1-3
My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:
And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.
And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.
In Daniel 12:1, the saints, who are raised up to life in the resurrection, and who are called by the angel "thy people," are identified as those whose names are "written in the book." That shows they are the very same group as those mentioned in Revelation 21:27, whose names are in "the Lamb's book of life." They include the overcomers in the church at Sardis.
He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.
And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
The following scriptures show that the Spirit of God that given to believers is the essential 'seal' that identifies those who are in Christ.
Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.
In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,
And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.
Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
Then Jesus said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day."
In the description of the sealing of the 144,000 in Revelation 7:4-8, some tribes, Ephraim and Dan, are not mentioned. John lists the names of the tribes in an order that was not the order of birth. In the ordering of the names of the tribes there is a hidden psalm for the bride of Christ, which is the Church, that consists of believers of all nations. It could read something like this:
I will praise the LORD, (Judah)
Surely the LORD hath looked upon my affliction, (Reuben)
He has granted me good fortune, (Gad)
Happy am I, (Asher)
With great wrestlings have I wrestled, (Naphtali)
But God will make me forget all my toil, (Manasseh)
The LORD hath heard me, (Simeon)
He has joined Himself to me, (Levi)
He has purchased me, (Issachar)
He will dwell with me always, (Zebulun)
The LORD shall add more children to me, (Joseph)
By the son of His right hand. (Benjamin)
The tribe of Dan is missing. Dan means "judgment" and the implication of the omission of his name is that those included in the 144,000 will escape the judgment, which supports their identification with the church.
Copyright © 2008 by Douglas E. Cox
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