Revelation 7

This devotional is written by Matt Coombs.

Revelation 7

144,000 sealed
After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth to prevent any wind from blowing on the land or on the sea or on any tree. 2 Then I saw another angel coming up from the east, having the seal of the living God. He called out in a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm the land and the sea: 3 ‘Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.’ 4 Then I heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel.

5 From the tribe of Judah 12,000 were sealed,

from the tribe of Reuben 12,000,

from the tribe of Gad 12,000,

6 from the tribe of Asher 12,000,

from the tribe of Naphtali 12,000,

from the tribe of Manasseh 12,000,

7 from the tribe of Simeon 12,000,

from the tribe of Levi 12,000,

from the tribe of Issachar 12,000,

8 from the tribe of Zebulun 12,000,

from the tribe of Joseph 12,000,

from the tribe of Benjamin 12,000.

The great multitude in white robes
9 After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice:

‘Salvation belongs to our God,
who sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb.’

11 All the angels were standing round the throne and round the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshipped God, 12 saying:

Praise and glory
and wisdom and thanks and honour
and power and strength
be to our God for ever and ever.

13 Then one of the elders asked me, ‘These in white robes – who are they, and where did they come from?’

14 I answered, ‘Sir, you know.’

And he said, ‘These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15 Therefore,

‘they are before the throne of God
and serve him day and night in his temple;
and he who sits on the throne
will shelter them with his presence.
16 “Never again will they hunger;
never again will they thirst.
The sun will not beat down on them,”
nor any scorching heat.
17 For the Lamb at the centre of the throne
 will be their shepherd;
“he will lead them to springs of living water.”
“And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”


After the sixth seal, the Coming of the Lord, John hears and sees something hopeful (4,9).

He hears the sealed (saved) faithful of Israel numbering 144,000.

Jehovah’s Witnesses believe in a literal 144,000 of God’s faithful entering heaven because of this verse. But Revelation is not a book for literalists. We need to remember to treat these images as images. So what are we to make of the 144,000?

John heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel (4), but when he looked, there was a great multitude that no one could count from every nation, tribe and people. (9)

Like when John expected to see and then saw the Lamb. What John hears doesn’t match what he sees. He hears 144,000, but he sees a great multitude that can’t be numbered.

Biblical numerology is the use of numbers to convey meaning outside of the numerical value of the actual number being used. You’re probably familiar with the number seven representing completion or fullness and is associated with the seven days of creation.

In the Old Testament, 1000 is the number of a multitude and twelve is the number of the People of God.

12 x 12 x 1000 is an emphatic way of describing God’s people.

John hears the Jewish tribes but he sees a multitude from every nation, tribe, people, and language. In other words, the Lamb has extended salvation to all people.

In the context of the suffering that we have seen in the last couple of chapters, it implies God knows the suffering of all his people, under every war, affected by famine, and harmed by injustice.

John is assured that the Lamb will wipe away every tear from their eyes (17). The Lamb will bring justice to all his suffering people in every nation of the earth.

Thanks be to God.

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