One Hundred and Forty-Four Thousand (Rev. 7:4–8)

 


One Hundred and Forty-Four Thousand

(Rev. 7:4–8)

The seal of the living God, in (Rev. 7:3), denotes the indwelling of God’s Spirit in the believers (1 Cor. 3:16). The seal of God is not exclusive to the disciples at the Pentecost. Instead, it is for all believers in Christ. God seals His people, making them as one body of the new creations in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17). According to the Spirit, they are Israel of God (Gal. 6:16; Gal. 3:26–29; Rom. 2:28–29).

7:4 And I heard the number of those who were sealed. One hundred and forty-four thousands of all the tribes of the children of Israel were sealed: 

The identity of the one hundred and forty-four thousand, in (Rev. 7), is heavily debated. However, many commentators see them, and their number one hundred and forty-four thousand, as symbolic. Most of the numbers in the Book of Revelation have symbolic significance.

John identifies the sealed people and their origins as a symbol of the characteristics of the new creation in Christ. The irregular listing of the tribes confirms that Ethnic Israel is not in consideration (1 Cor. 10:18). John placed Judah first as the Messiah’s tribe. He omitted Dan, included Levi as an ordinary tribe, and replaced Ephraim with Joseph.[1]

Their Number

The number one hundred and forty-four thousand equals 12 x 12 x 1000, and the number twelve indicates the fullness of the number. In the Old Testament, the people of God are twelve tribes (Gen. 35:22; Deut. 27:12–13; Ezek. 48:1). The apostles in the New Testament are also twelve apostles (Matt. 10:2; John 6:70). After the apostles lost one of the twelve, Judas, the remaining eleven apostles chose Matthias to replace him and keep the number twelve (Acts 1:26).

The number 1000 refers to this group reigning in the Kingdom of God with Christ (Rev. 20:4,6). With the Lord, one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years is as one day (2 Pet. 3:8). Therefore, these people must have a spiritual nature.

The one hundred and forty-four thousand are those whom God “redeemed from the earth” (Rev. 14:4) and sealed them in Christ by the Holy Spirit (Eph. 4:30). God gave them the grace to follow the Lamb wherever He goes (Rev. 14:4). They “have been redeemed from mankind as firstfruits for God and the Lamb, and in their mouth no lie was found, for they are blameless (Rev. 14:4-5, ESV).

Their Names

7:5 of the tribe of Judah twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Reuben twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Gad twelve thousand were sealed; 

God made them new creations. They are members in the one body of the Lord Jesus Christ, for He pleased that, in the dispensation of the fullness of the times, He might gather all together in Christ (Eph. 1:9–10).

A name is much more than an identifier in the Bible as it tends to be in our culture. Personal names and even names of places had their meaning. Thus, the people of the Bible were very conscious of the meanings of names. They believed there was a vital connection between the name and the person who has the name. A name somehow represented the nature of the person.[2]

In (Rev. 7), the names mentioned reveal our new natures’ characteristics in the kingdom of God. They also refer to how God has regenerated and transformed people by His Holy Spirit to become members of the one new man in Christ.

God sealed the 12,000 members of the tribe of Judah, by His Spirit, in Christ. The name “Judah” is from the Hebrew word for “praise,” indicating that God created the believers for His glory and His praise (Isa. 43:7). 

God sealed the 12,000 members of the tribe of Reuben, by His Spirit, in Christ. The name “Reuben” means “behold a son,” indicating that the believers are members of the church of the firstborn, registered in heaven (Heb. 12:23). 

God sealed the 12,000 members of the tribe of Gad, by His Spirit, in Christ. The name “Gad” means “fortune” or “gift,” indicating that the believers are offerings, sacrifices to God for a sweet-smelling aroma (Eph. 5:2).

7:6 of the tribe of Asher twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Naphtali twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Manasseh twelve thousand were sealed;

God sealed the 12,000 members of the tribe of Asher. The name “Asher” means “happy,” indicating that the believers are a great multitude, rejoicing over the Eucharistic table as they are in the wedding banquet of the Lamb of God (Rev. 19:9). 

God sealed the 12,000 members of the tribe of Naphtali, by His Spirit, in Christ. The name “Naphtali” means “my wrestling” (Gen. 30:8), indicating that the believers are the outcome of Christ’s suffering and death. Because of what Christ did, they are no longer wrestling with their old man and with memories of sin. Through Christ, they entered into God’s rest (Heb. 4:9). 

God sealed the 12,000 members of the tribe of Manasseh, by His Spirit, in Christ. The name “Manasseh” means “causing to forget,” indicating that God made the believers forget their misery and turned their wailing into dancing. He removed their sackcloth and clothed them with joy. As a result, their hearts sing to God, “O Lord [Yahweh] my God, I will give you thanks forever” (Ps.30:11–12, NIV).

7:7 of the tribe of Simeon twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Levi twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Issachar twelve thousand were sealed; 

God sealed the 12,000 members of the tribe of Simeon, by His Spirit, in Christ. The name “Simeon” means “God hears,” indicating that the believers are dear to God. He listens to them for the sake of Christ (John 16:23).

God sealed the 12,000 members of the tribe of Levi, by His Spirit, in Christ. The name “Levi” means “joined,” indicating that the believers are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, and God’s people in  Christ (Rev. 1:6, 5:10; 1 Pet. 2:9). 

God sealed the 12,000 members of the tribe of Issachar, by His Spirit, in Christ. The name “Issachar” means “there is hire or reward,” indicating that Christ has borne the grief of the believers and carried their sorrows. Thus, they became the reward of Christ’s righteousness (Isa. 53:4–11).

7:8 of the tribe of Zebulun twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Joseph twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Benjamin twelve thousand were sealed.

God sealed the 12,000 members of the tribe of Zebulun, by His Spirit, in Christ. The name “Zebulun” means “dwelling,” indicating that the believers enjoy dwelling with God. They are before the throne of God and serve Him in His temple day and night. God, who sits on the throne, will dwell among them (Rev. 7:15).

God sealed the 12,000 members of the tribe of Joseph, by His Spirit, in Christ. The name “Joseph” means “may God add or increase,”  indicating that the believers enjoy the heavenly blessings of God in Christ (Eph. 1:3).

God sealed the 12,000 members of the tribe of Benjamin, by His Spirit, in Christ. The name “Benjamin” means “son of the right hand,” indicating that the believers became children of God by His mighty power through the suffering and death of Christ (John 1:12–13).

Living Under the Grace

John omitted the tribe of Dan from the list because Dan represents the Old Serpent, Satan. Jacob prophesied that Dan would be a serpent by the way, a viper by the path that bites the horse’s heels so that its rider shall fall backward (Gen. 49:17).

The name “Dan” means “judgment.” The judgment seat for the believers was on Golgotha, at the cross, where every believer must come to receive a complete revelation of the death of Christ. Once we have done that, God has acquitted us from judgment, and the Holy Spirit seals us. Now we live under the grace of God (Rom. 5:17; 8:1).

John also omitted the tribe of Ephraim, as he was the leader of the northern tribes, became a tribe of disgrace, as it became the seat of Israel’s idolatry. John dropped the infamous name of Ephraim and substituted it with Joseph for that half-tribe (Rev. 7:8). Ephraim was Joseph’s younger son, yet he took precedence over his elder brother (Gen. 48:17–19). 

God circumcised the hearts of those He sealed by His Holy Spirit in Christ (Deut. 30:6). They love the Lord God with all their hearts, with all their souls, and with all their strength (Deut. 6:5).

Excerpt from: Revealing the Father through the Book of Revelation, by Hegumen Abraam Sleman, With God's grace, the book is available on Amazon. I would be blessed if you could get a copy of the book and review it. For more information about the book, please visit frsleman.net. I am looking forward to hearing your feedback. Pray for me!

Blessings to you,

Fr. Abraam Sleman
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[1] Nelson, Thomas. Revelation (p. 179). Thomas Nelson.

[2] Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Copyright © 1986, Thomas Nelson Publishers.

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