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Revelation 7 Bible Study With Questions – 144,000 Sealed By God

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Outline

I. Sealing of the 144,00 (1-8)
II. The Great Multitude Before the Throne (9-17)

I. Sealing of the 144,00 (1-8)

Discussion Questions

  • What are the “four winds” that the angels are holding back?
  • What does it mean that “no wind might blow on earth or sea or against any tree?”
  • How does verse 2 shed more light on this situation?
  • Why are the angels doing this?
  • What is the reference to harming earth and sea? Is there anything in the context (before or after) this which can explain this?
  • Who will be sealed?
  • What is the significance of the sealing? Why is it on the forehead? Do you think it will be visible?
  • How will this comfort believers during this time?
  • What does this passage show us about the nation of Israel during this time?
  • Which tribe is not mentioned? Why?

Cross-References

Ephesians 1:13 – In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit.

2 Corinthians 1:22 – And who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.

John 6:27 – Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.

Teaching Points

1. Overview – Chapters 6 and 8 describe the judgments that God is going to send against the world. Sandwiched in-between is this chapter, which highlights God’s mercy toward those who belong to Him. We are reminded again and again that God’s justice is not without mercy.

2. Holding back the four winds – The Bible often uses the term “four winds” to describe something global, coming the “four corners” of the earth, North, South, East, and West. In this passage the winds seem to refer to God’s judgment on the world. In verse 1 the winds (judgment) are being held back from harming the earth. And in verse 3 the angels are commanded to wait to release judgment upon the earth until God seals His followers.

If you move forward to Revelation 8:6 the trumpet judgments are initiated. The first four of these target the earth’s ecosystem, including the seas, trees, and grass. Each one of these begins when an angel blows the trumpet.

So we can conclude that the chapter 7 portrays an interval. The judgments are put on hold for a period of time while God’s people are sealed and protected.

Even in the midst of judgment, God is showing mercy. His judgment is not wild, chaotic, or random. It is released precisely according to the time and amount of God’s choosing. Unlike a parent who loses his temper and abuses a child, God is in complete control. His judgments are firm. But at the same time, He shows grace and mercy, allowing for repentance.

If God did not hold back His wrath, then the earth would have been destroyed long ago!

Application: Firstly, we should be thankful to Him for His mercy. We should make sure that we receive His offer while there is time. Secondly, we should learn from Him by maintaining control of your emotions. Parents should not unleash upon their children. If for example, you are angry and have lost control, then go to a quiet place first for a period of time to calm down. Only after you gain control of your emotions and can discipline your child in a measured way according to Biblical principles, should you proceed.

3. Sealing of the 144,000 – Throughout the New Testament, we see that God seals believers (Ephesians 1:13, 2 Corinthians 1:22, John 6:27). This is an invisible mark signifying the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. It shows that we belong to God and that we are under His protection.

Later in Revelation we will see that the Antichrist will also require his followers to take a mark of loyalty, called the mark of the beast. This will prove that they belong to him. It will be a visible symbol of their allegiance.

The seal for the 144,000 is also likely a visible mark. Revelation 7:3 says that they will be sealed “on their foreheads.” This is different terminology from the more generic sealing seen elsewhere in the New Testament. Specifically mentioning the forehead would be odd if it just means that the Holy Spirit indwells them or that they are under God’s protection. Another reason to suspect that it is visible is that the mark of the beast will be visible. The ranks will be clearly defined. Satan will have his army of followers loyal to him and all can see and know who they are. And God will have a group of followers who are loyal to Him.

The forehead is the most visible place on the body. It is easily seen by other people. In Deuteronomy 6 believers are commanded to write God’s Words on their foreheads and on their hands. Words written on their hands could be checked easily by the wearer like a watch. But words written on the forehead were designed to quickly identify the person as a follower of God to others he encountered.

Therefore it seems that these 144,000 are sealed in a visible way to quickly identify them as followers of God. As the sealed, they will likely have a special protection both from God’s judgments (like the Israelites in Egypt). That is reinforced by the context, which shows us that the angels wait to bring judgment until after these believers are sealed. In addition, they would likely have a special protection from the Antichrist’s wrath. This is an educated guess considering that if they did not have special protection their visible mark would mean quick executions.

4. Their mission – We see that “after this” in verse 9 there is a great multitude of believers before the throne from all tribes and nations. That multitude does not specifically represent people from all time. Verse 14 tells us that these came out of the great tribulation. They lived during the seven year period of the tribulation.

The great multitude of believers appears to be the effect of the ministry of the 144,000. These 144,000 likely have the mission to evangelize the world. And this public witnessing is why they need a mark of protection from God.

From the second half of the chapter it is clear that their mission is extremely fruitful. Huge numbers will come to faith in Christ.

5. First fruits of the turning of the nation of Israel – Throughout Scripture it is prophesied that the Jews will finally accept Jesus as the Messiah as a nation and come back to Him.

Zechariah 12:10 – And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn.

Romans 11:25-27 – Lest you be wise in your own sight, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written,
“The Deliverer will come from Zion,
he will banish ungodliness from Jacob”;
“and this will be my covenant with them
when I take away their sins.”

Luke 13:34-35 – O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! Behold, your house is forsaken. And I tell you, you will not see me until you say, Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’”

The 144,000 are a kind of “first fruits” of this eventual turning of the nation of Israel to Jesus. By the very end of the tribulation the nation as a whole (not every individual) will repent and trust in Christ.

6. 12,000 from each tribe – While the majority of the people from the ten northern tribes were exiled by the Assyrians and then lost, some of their descendants lived in the Southern Kingdom.

For example, Anna is listed as being from the tribe of Asher in Luke 2:36. This is almost 700 years after the Northern Kingdom was destroyed. Jesus was from the tribe of Judah. Paul was a Benjamite. John the Baptist was a Levite. For many, their lineage back to one of the other tribes is extremely difficult to trace at this point. However, God knows those who are His and He can keep track. We can note that most likely those from the Northern Tribes are not 100% purely belonging to that tribe, but would have mixed marriages in their ancestry so may descend from more than one tribe.

II. The Great Multitude Before the Throne (9-17)

Discussion Questions

  • What do we learn in this passage about God’s end vision?
  • How does seeing God’s end vision affect your life now?
  • Knowing that He desires people from every nation and tribe, what should you do?
  • Who will be before the throne? What will they have faced?
  • What will they be doing?
  • How does this chapter contrast with the judgments in chapters 6 and 8?
  • Knowing that you will be worshiping then, what should you do now?
  • What protections are offered to the believers there?

Cross-References

Deuteronomy 4:5-6 – See, I have taught you decrees and laws as the Lord my God commanded me, so that you may follow them in the land you are entering to take possession of it. Observe them carefully, for this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations, who will hear about all these decrees and say, “Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.”

Psalms 18:49 – Therefore I will praise you, Lord, among the nations; I will sing the praises of your name.

Psalms 96:3 – Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples.

Ezekiel 5:5 – “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: This is Jerusalem, which I have set in the center of the nations, with countries all around her.

Luke 2:32 – A LIGHT OF REVELATION TO THE GENTILES, And the glory of Your people Israel.

Teaching Points

1. A great multitude – There will be a great soul harvest even during the tribulation. While God will be judging the world for its rebellion, these same judgments serve as warnings to repent before it is too late. The witnesses all over the world along the supernatural signs which were prophesied millennia ahead will all serve to reap a huge harvest among those who finally decide to follow Jesus. The multitude of saved souls is so great that it says here “no one could number” it.

2. There will be representatives from every people group on earth –

Matthew 24:14 – This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.

Throughout Scripture we see God’s desire to see people saved from every people group on the planet. It will not be a kingdom composed only of one or several favored countries.

The “tribes and peoples” mean that only will the large nations be represented. But minority people groups from within those nations will also be included. Every group of people with their own language will have at least one representative.

Scriptures like these serve as the motivation for many movements of missionaries around the world. They rightly target unreached peoples with little or no access to the gospel.

Application: Consider how you can support this movement. What can you personally do to help see the gospel advance into every corner of the world?

3. They will be clothed in white (11, 14) – Every person will be there only because they have been righteous through the blood of the Lamqb. No one will be there due to his own merit.

4. They will be worshiping – God created us to worship Him. That is what we are designed to do. The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. He will receive the worship that He deserves and we will joyfully give it.

5. These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation – This reference to the great tribulation is strong evidence that people will have the opportunity to believe in Christ during this seven year period. Large numbers will do so. At the same time the tribulation is not over yet. The fact that huge numbers of believers from it are in heaven shows the sheer magnitude of persecution toward the saints, which results in a countless number of martyrs.

6. They have washed their robes and made them white – God is the one who makes people righteous. Yet people also have a responsibility to respond to His calling. And here they are recognized because they have done so.

7. Protection and promise – Many blessings will be bestowed on believers. Although they were martyred and faced horrible torment during their last days on earth, it will be worth it when they enter God’s kingdom for eternity.

Romans 8:18 – For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

  • They are before the throne of God – They will be with Him forever.
  • They will serve Him – It will be our honor to serve Him face to face.
  • He will shelter them – No one will be able to hurt the saints anymore.
  • They will never hunger or thirst – He will provide for all their needs.
  • The sun shall not strike them – No more natural disasters will bother us.
  • The Lamb will be their shepherd – We can directly follow Jesus and He will lead us.
  • He will guide them to springs of living water – He will give us eternal life.
  • God will wipe away every tear from their eyes – Believers will have perfect joy forever.

8. Application: invite more people to join this grand celebration –

Spurgeon – Someone asked Will the heathen who have never heard the Gospel be saved? It is more a question with me whether we — who have the Gospel and fail to give it to those who have not — can be saved.

Our job is not to judge those people. God will judge them. But the fact that so many people have not heard, should drive us to do everything we can to give them an opportunity to hear. That means going out. That means taking initiative. A fisherman cannot catch any fish unless he throws a hook/net into the water. You cannot catch any fish unless you first share the gospel.

Matthew 9:36-38 – When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

This passage has been very meaningful in my own life. Many years ago (almost 20 now) my family moved overseas for a one year commitment to be workers for the Lord here. Halfway through that year I was contemplating this verse. And as I was thinking about the need for workers, I thought, “why not me?” And I would ask the same to you, “why not you?” You can and you should be a worker in this harvest. There is a great harvest field here. But the workers are still far too few.

Many believers are not workers in the harvest at all. They go to church week after week, sit there, listen, and go home without ever helping. They are content to leave the “work” for the trained “professionals.” Let the pastor or missionary do that. That is their job. Is it? Yes, it is. But is also yours. This is the role that God has given to every single believer.

Elton Trueblood – Evangelism is not a professional job for a few trained men, but is instead the unrelenting responsibility of every person who belongs to the company of Jesus.

We see in Matthew 9 that Jesus had compassion on the people. Do you feel compassion for the lost around you? Every day you go to work, you pass thousands of people on the subway or buses. They are likely listening to music, playing games on their phones, watching shows on their electronic devices. They get up early and go to work. There they stay and work long hours slaving away. They strive for more wealth, a higher position, a greater sense of achievement. And yet just like the Jews millennia before they are like “sheep without a shepherd.” Do you feel compassion for the lost around you? That’s good, but if that is the end of it, then it is useless. Jesus’ compassion drove Him to act. His entire life was spent helping these very people.

Reflection: Now that we have seen God’s vision for the world and how we can be part of it, let us take a few minutes to personally reflect on what God wants you to do. What should you do with this list? Instead of telling you what to do with it, I would like you to spend a couple minutes of silent prayer on your own asking God for His leading. After prayer/reflecting, write down any applications you think God would want you to do. Is there anything you need to obey? What should you do with this list?

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