Dear Student of the Word,
Happy New Year and thank you for helping me edit my Revelation studies with a view toward publishing in 2018. How are you helping? You are helping by receiving this study and by responding if something impacts or impresses you. This week we move into chapter seven, which includes a reference to angels, the 144,000 and a seal being placed on the heads of the believers. Remember, Revelation is not to be interpreted literally unless the book itself is specific. When it is not literal, then we must be careful not to make the symbols used mean something they were not intended to mean. This is what I wrote about Revelation 7:4 (you can download the entire study of Revelation 7 below):
4Then I heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel.
7:4 – Some sects have taught that there would be exactly 144,000 people saved based on this verse. This again is nonsense. Why would we begin applying a literal interpretation to this verse, when everything up to this point has been symbolic? The 144,000 must be symbolic of something and is not to be taken literally.
144,000 is a number obtained by multiplying12 times 12 times 10 times 10 times 10. I have done a little study on the meaning of biblical numbers and twelve is the number of God’s government or rule (12 tribes, 24 elders around the throne, 12 apostles) and ten is a combination of 7 plus 3, both being perfect and complete numbers.
Also, we have here another reference back to the Old Testament. Revelation is not only a book about the future (although not about specific events) but also about the past, showing how God has fulfilled all His promises to His people through Christ. There were 12 tribes in Israel, and the 12,000 from each tribe indicates that God will gather a full harvest from all the people of the earth – every race, kindred, tongue, and tribe.
144,000 represents the fact that all who are to be sealed will be sealed. God’s sovereign rule and oversight will not miss or overlook one single person, no matter where they live! He will not overlook anyone who has called on His name for salvation. No one knows what that exact number is, but God knows. And if you are His servant, you will be sealed, identified, and preserved as God’s own, no matter what happens in human history.
"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going” (John 14:1-4).
Why is there a seal on the forehead? A seal on the forehead is hard to miss! There will be no mistaking God’s protection and distinctive presence on His people. People can and do wear some jewelry or decoration on the nose, cheeks, ears, lips, and eyes, but usually not on the forehead. When God marks His people, all creation will know that they are His! It will be impossible to overlook.
The forehead is also the frontal protector of the brain. Perhaps the seal is a protection at the front of my brain to keep one’s mind focused on Him: “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you” (Isaiah 26:3). This could correlate with my theory that the four winds mentioned in 7:1 are deceiving doctrines that could seduce and affect the minds of people, but not believers. God will seal your mind with the power of His Spirit, leaving no room for fear or error.
As always, I welcome your comments to this week's study. For additional Bible studies, check out my website archive, which contains a complete collection of all my verse-by-verse New Testament studies, along with the daily devotional entitled Your Life Matters: Daily Reflections from the Book of Psalms. Thank you and soon I will begin sending you my edited studies from James' epistle. After that, we will only have the book of Revelation to complete before the entire New Testament is on the site where this study is posted.