Center for Biblical Theology and Eschatology
IntroductionIt is not coincidental that the seventh chapter of the book of Revelation reads as an interval between the opening of the six seals in chapter 6, and the opening of the seventh seal in Chapter 8. We would (humanly) expect that as the preceding chapter deals in the opening of the 6 seals, that this chapter would reveal to us the contents of the 7th seal. However, this chapter reads as a "pause" between the 6 seals, and the opening of the 7th. Chapter 6 ends with God asking, "For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?" And this Revelation chapter 7 answers that question as it depicts those who are sealed by God and thus made "secure" and safe from God's judgments. The number seven being the number of completeness or totality, this interval between the 6th and 7th seal illustrates what must occur before the completion in the events of that 7th seal, which are the judgments of God poured out upon the earth, that the third part of trees, and all green grass are burnt up. It is self evident that God is using this seventh chapter to illustrate to us that before the judgments (chapter 8) of the seventh seal is poured out, all Israel who are to be sealed, must first be sealed. That is the nature of this chapter, and of the gospel, and indeed the very command that the messenger ascending from the east gives herein. It is declaring that all the servants of God must first be sealed in their foreheads, and it is only after this, that this judgment that the earth and trees be hurt, can take place.
Reading over this chapter superficially it might appear that a literal understanding of the physical nation of Israel is warranted, and that only 144,000 Jewish people are sealed or saved. However, when studied carefully, we find such an understanding is untenable. Considering not only the facts of the immediate context, but also as these things are studied in the light of related passages, this cannot be speaking of national Israel. Indeed, if we are to take this Israel as the literal nation, or of only physical Jews, then we must of necessity also take the number sealed as "literally" only 144,000 that will be secured or saved. But even the staunchest advocates of a totally literal exegesis will generally not accept such a conclusion. i.e., they once again violate their own rules when it contradicts their theories, and will find ways to get around them.
Moreover, there are peculiarities with this list of tribes which also serve to illustrate that they are not to be taken literally. We are informed that they are sealed from "all" the tribes of Israel, but two of the literal tribes (Dan and Ephraim) are missing. This naturally brings up the question, "..what all Israel?" The consistent and round number of exactly 12,000 people from each of the tribes, is another clue that we should not take this literally. If there are literally only 12,000 saved from each tribe of Israel, it is a minuscule number. And if it is not to be taken literally, then it is inconsistent to take the number of the tribes, or the nation Israel as literal.
Moreover, Levi is listed here when it is not normally listed in the tribes of Israel. And the tribe of Joseph, through Manasseh, is listed twice. These are just a few of the oddities which would alert any prudent student of sound hermeneutics, that this is not to be taken as a literal narrative. And this is not even taking into consideration that all throughout the chapters of Revelation we see events pictured symbolically, and what is clearly figurative language, rather than a literal straight forward history. And we will see the reasons for this unfold vividly as we search through these verses, illuminating their spiritual truth in the light of the rest of scripture.
Let us pray that in the study of this chapter of Revelation, the Lord will give us humility, that we faithfully give thoughtful attention to what He has written, that we might with unbiased consideration of His Word, be guided into it's truth, and not our own. Amen!
AN EXPOSITION OF
REVELATION CHAPTER 7
by Tony Warren
- "And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree."
There are those who have come to the conclusion that the phrase, "after these things," is a statement of a chronological progression of events, continuing from chapter six. However, this introduction is not indicating that John is now having a vision of things which take place after all those events in the preceding chapters, rather, he is introducing a vision. The book of Revelation is in the order which the visions were given John, but they are not to be interpreted as a total chronological narrative going from chapter 1 to 22. The book of Revelation is not of chronological events, else we would have interpretive confusion. For example, Revelation chapter 12 speaks of Christ's birth, yet five chapters before, in Revelation 7, we read of all the tribes of Israel's being sealed, and Revelation 5 speaks of the Root of David (Christ) having prevailed to loose the seals of the book. Obviously these events do not occur in strict Chronological order. But the vision of the 7 seals are opened chronologically, and this chapter is a visionary interlude which shows what must happen before the events of the last seal. It is to illustrate that all Israel must be sealed before the judgments of the messengers in the opening of the 7th seal.
The visions of revelation are apocalyptic, where God uses symbolism to paint spiritual pictures which are uncovered for God's servants to reveal His plan and judgments. The number four  in scripture signifies "universality." These four messengers [aggelos] are universally present. They are standing on the four corners of the earth, signifying that they are all over the world. They stand in the north, south, east, and west, the four points of the compass, and they hold back this coming judgment of God.
Wind or breath in scripture is often symbolic of the spirit. In fact the very word spirit means a current of air (wind), and often from the mouth, as breath. It is synonymous with the unseen life, which is the spirit. Just as you can feel the wind, but cannot see it, so is the Spirit. This is seen from the beginning (Gen. 2:7) when the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. The breath signifies the life or the spirit of man.
- "All the while my breath is in me, and the spirit of God is in my nostrils;"
- "Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live."
- "Thus saith God the LORD, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein:"
The four winds they are holding back from hurting the earth are symbolic of the wild spirit of the air, of which God says Satan is the Prince of. In other words, this spirit or wind is a worldwide judgment of evil that is held back that it not come upon the earth until certain criteria are met. We will see in later verses that this criteria is that all the Israel of God must be sealed first. Then, and only then can this great tribulation period occur where evil rules worldwide. It is Satan who is the ruler of the power of the air, which will one day blow on the earth and hurt it.
- "Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:"
This word air is the base word of the word wind. Wind is it's plural. The ruler of this power of the air is the spirit of Satan. And this wind is not allowed to blow on the earth to hurt it because these universal or world wide (4) messengers, are commanded of God that they cannot hurt until all Israel is sealed.
Keeping in mind Revelation is cryptic, and yet an apocalyptic book, the earth, sea, and trees, are images used to symbolize the peoples of the world. This is neither unusual nor uncommon. In fact it is typical in God's Word. We very often see these same words used throughout scripture in these symbolic terms. As an example, the earth is very literally, man! Man is made of earth, he is from the earth, and he is earth. The earth represents the world, and man, he who grows out of it. Like a tree growing out of the earth, or of wheat, or tares, etc. Man is equated with being of, and from, and of being earth.
1st Corinthians 15:47-48
- "The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven.
- As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly."
The contrast here is between the earth, and heaven, the kingdom of man, and the kingdom of God. The sea also is often used in symbolic terms to represent the world. As when Jesus said, I will make you fishers of men , signifying that the sea was the world, and men were fish, pulled out of it? Again:
- "They shall lay hold on bow and spear; they are cruel, and have no mercy; their voice roareth like the sea; and they ride upon horses, set in array as men for war against thee, O daughter of Zion."
- "But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt."
- "These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots;
- Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever."
Wandering stars, which are also pictured as messengers of the Churches (rev. 1:20), to whom is reserved of God the blackness of darkness forever. God is speaking of reprobate men, and using cryptic symbolic language saying that they are carried about "by the wind," and that they are "waves of the sea." They are carried about by the spirit of evil, as wind carries the waves of the sea. Likewise, the symbolism of men "as trees" whose fruit withereth, all the exact same illustrations as seen in Revelation, of the wind, the sea, and the trees. Trees are symbolic of men growing in the earth (world).
- "And it was told the house of David, saying, Syria is confederate with Ephraim. And his heart was moved, and the heart of his people, as the trees of the wood are moved with the wind."
- "To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified."
- "And he looked up, and said, I see men as trees, walking."
- "And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire."
So we see that these symbolisms are not unusual, in fact they are typical throughout God's Word. And we should also not overlook the significance of the implicit reference to creation in these images. The earth, sea and trees are some of the first things God speaks about in creation (Genesis 1:10-11) as His Spirit moved upon the face of the waters. And as we go through Revelation we see that when this earth, sea, and trees, are hurt by this wind, it is a de-creation of sorts. A destroying of life by the spirit of Satan, as he moves over the face of the sea. As God devided light from darkness, his attempt is to mix light with darkness. He gathers the nations from the four corners of the world to make the earth void and dark again in his assault on the Church. Christ, the creator, verses the Anti-Christ, the de-creator. The spirit which blows upon the the whole world, deceiving men in that He brings death, while having horns like the lamb of Life. This is what is determined to happen when the wind these messengers hold, is loosed upon the earth.
The meaning of the four messengers [aggelos] seems quite clear to most Theologians. They surmise that the messengers are angels who will be the ones to execute the judgment when Christ allows, and who hold the evil (wind) back which will someday be loosed upon the face of the earth. This is a plausible argument and is not without merit, but I believe that they represent the messengers of the Churches (as seen in the like-signification of the 7 messengers of the 7 Churches of Asia -Rev. 2-3). I believe God rules these messengers as His Spirit works within them to restrain evil in the world. God restrains evil in the Churches via the Spirit, until it is taken out of the midst (2nd Thess. 2:7). I believe that this is ultimately what is being spoken about here. In the illustration of the 7 messengers of the Churches of Asia, the number 7 signified the "total or complete" Church and it's messengers. In these 4 messengers, the number 4 signifies their presence all over the world. And just as illustrated in the 7 churches of Asia, there is a corporate Church which can be removed out of it's place if it is not faithful, and there is the indivisible Church, which the gates of Hell can never prevail against. The warnings of Revelation chapters 2 and 3 are a stark reminder of this. As the messengers are faithful, evil is restrained in the Churches, but as they fall away, God gives them up in judgment.
In the following verses when the Lord commands that these 4 messengers hurt not the earth and trees, it is desire that the Church continue to restrain the wind or spirit until all His servants are sealed. It mirrors the command (commission) of Christ to the Church, when it was given "power" to go forth to all parts of the earth (universality) with the gospel, and that they had restraining power as the spirits were subject unto them through Christ.
- "He that heareth you heareth me; and he that despiseth you despiseth me; and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me.
- And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.
- And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.
- Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.
- Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven."
The devils are subject unto the messengers through the name of Christ, the spirits are subject unto the Church through Christ, nothing can hurt us because our names are written in heaven. i.e., we have been sealed (secured) and these spirits cannot hurt us. The messengers of the Churches restrain the power of the air in the world, by the power of the Spirit in preaching the gospel of Christ. I believe these 4 messengers signify the Church, rather than angels. And this seems to be confirmed as it is "given" to them to hurt, and also in Revelation chapter 9:14, as the 4 messengers were curiously "bound" in the great river Euphrates.
- "Saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates.
- And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men."
Angels of heaven are not messengers "bound" in the great river Euphrates that must be loosed, this is the signification of wicked messengers of the Churches being bound from their evil for a time by God, and then being loosed at the appointed time. The Great river Euphrates is a synonym for the bottomless Pit or abyss where Satan is bound. Euphrates [perath], means "to break forth." These four messengers bound there, break forth as a flood in judgment of God upon the whole world. The messengers will be led by the spirit of antichrist, driven as a wind drives waves upon the sea, to hurt. The 4 messengers in Revelation 9 depict a great evil bound in the Church by the cross, now being loosed as it falls away from God.
These creation images of revelation chapter 7 are allegorical representations of the people of the world, and how when the wind blows upon them, they are deceived and hurt. These messengers universally hold the wind which blows on the earth, trees, and the sea to hurt it. They hold this spirit, and are bound by the Word of God from falling away to hurt the earth until God allows it. Even in this we see the Sovereignty of God as He is in full control. Ultimately, what hurt comes upon the earth by means of this wind, is in the hands of God.
This is not unlike the image of the Ship on the raging sea as it represents the Church in the world being tossed about by the spirits that try and destroy it. These are all stories with spiritual meaning illustrating that even in this, God has full control over all things. Even the winds or spirits obey him!
- "But the men marvelled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!"
Symbolic pictures of the power of God in the world to bring our ship safely to port, even in the midst of the wild spirit of the air, blowing on the sea. When the times are darkest, that is when God comes to us to remind us that He is still in control, and he has overcome the world, and we overcome in Him. Though the Sea be contrary, we are safe in the hand of God. These are Blessed truths such as illustrated in:
- "And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone.
- But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary.
- And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea."
With our ship tossed to and fro, Christ comes to comfort us. Peter in faith walked on the sea, and without faith he saw the wind boisterous, and was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried, saying, "Lord, save me!" Jesus was there, took his hand and saved Him. These are spiritual lessons for us all. The wind driving the waves all conspired to make Peter perish in the sea, but Christ Saved Him in the midst. Just as He calmed the wind and the waves before this. Even the evil spirit of this world is subject to God, and this lesson is illustrated vividly in the very next verse of Revelation chapter 7.
- "And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea."
The messenger ascending (not descending) from the east is the Messenger of the Covenant, Jesus Christ. When He ascended up to the throne of heaven, He established His Kingdom, and sent the Holy Spirit to seal those who are chosen of God. It is by His death, resurrection, and ascension that allows these servants to be sealed as His Kingdom is extended throughout the world through their preaching of the Gospel of Christ. The gospel is the sword in spiritual warfare waged in extending His Kingdom. It was the Lord's command that the gates of Hell not prevail against his servants, and to accomplish this, Satan had to first be bound, so that his kingdom could be spoiled. And Christ declared that He that is not with Him, was against Him. This is the spiritual warfare of the messengers, in holding in check the wind that it not blow on the earth.
- "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places."
- Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand."
The four messengers stand on the four corners of the earth and the spirits are subject unto them, through the spirit and the preaching of the gospel of Christ. The gospel Kingdom goes forth conquering because Christ, the Messenger of God, ascended to the throne, restraining Satan that he not deceive the nations until after Christ had built His Church. This is the cryptic language of the Messengers not being able to hurt the earth and sea and trees (the nations, or the gentiles) until after He had sealed (Saved) all the servants of God. That is precisely why Satan had to be bound by the cross. That Christ could spoil (take by conquest) the possessions in his House, and loose the bonds of those held captive by him. Christ ascends from the east because He is the light of the World, and the east is where the Sun rises. The same symbolism we read in:
- "But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall."
Christ is that Sun rising in the east with Healing in His wings. He indeed healed the nations (again, which is why Satan was bound, that the nations be not deceived), and He is the one who shines as the Sun in His glory as He takes His place at the right hand of the Father. The east is symbolic of the rising of that Sun. The commission of Christ was that His servants go to "all parts of the earth" and evangelize. i.e., heal the nations! That could only happen as the Messenger of the Covenant bound Satan that the nations could be healed. This messenger has the seal of God to illustrate that healing power. The Prophets indeed looked forward to His rising from the east.
- "Afterward he brought me to the gate, even the gate that looketh toward the east:
- And, behold, the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east: and his voice was like a noise of many waters: and the earth shined with his glory."
The Glory of "The God of Israel" came from the way of the east! The rising of the Sun. And he brings healing, and has the seal of the living God, that many are made "secure" in the righteousness of Christ. He is the one with the keys of the Kingdom, and who cries with a loud (Great) voice to the four messengers to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, saying, "Not until we have sealed all the servants of God!" It's the same Covenant Kingdom signification we see illustrated in Revelation chapter 20 as Satan is bound until the consummation of the millennial Kingdom.
The seal [sphragis] of the living God which this messenger has, is signifying His stamp of "security." It is a spiritual lock or security measure to protect anything from any alteration, and insure genuineness. God, by His Spirit, secures us that we cannot be brought into servitude of Satan. That is the seal that this Messenger of the Covenant ascending from the east, possesses. He is the Sun of Righteousness, the light of the world with healing in His wings, bringing security in the Spirit of God.
- "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."
We are sealed or secured by the Holy Spirit of God unto the redemption. The same spiritual security which permeates the entire gospel message. In other words, There is nothing that can separate us from the Love of God, we are secure, having God's mark or stamp of guaranteed safety. This seal is a symbolic term for security. It is the exact same word we find God uses when speaking about the 7 seals of the book, or in Revelation chapter 20 when God says the bottomless pit wherein Satan is bound, was sealed. It means that it is "secured" of God that nothing can come against it to break that security. No one, and no-thing can tamper with that security of God. And this is the language God uses for those whom He has redeemed from the earth. He seals or secures them with the Holy Spirit, that none can snatch them out of His hand.
- "Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads."
The command is given by the Messenger ascending from the east, that these messengers on the four corners of the earth could not hurt the earth, sea or the trees until we have put a seal on the servants of our God. The "we" is also illustrating this is God and not an angel. As this would mean an angel was talking to angels, as if they were not the very same angels. Rather, This messenger from the east is Christ, and the "we" implies the working of the Holy Spirit (of the triune God) in this equation. And the "servants" of God He speaks of, are all of those who serve God, regardless of their nationality. Indeed, letting the Bible be it's own interpreter, we see these are those to whom the book of Relation was addressed to, in the first instance.
- "The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto His servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:"
Signified [semaino] means to mark as a sign, as to make an indication of something. It's the exact same word used in Acts 11 when it says:
- "And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the Spirit that there should be great dearth throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar."
Likewise, the revelation was sent and signified by God's messenger unto His servant John. The like servants which Revelation 7 says are sealed by this messenger of God. The judgment where the wind will be allowed to blow on the earth, and hurt it, cannot take place until all these servants of God, chosen to be Saved (sealed or secured of God), have been Saved. The Saints must first be sealed, that they are "spiritually secure" and distinct from the rest of the world. Then and only then can the judgement of the last seal of the book take place. For then the plagues which God pours out, will not be able to hurt these "servants of God." They will have all been secured that they are in no danger from this evil spirit upon the land.
It would be impossible not to notice how the plagues poured out on the earth mirror the plagues of Egypt that God brought upon them by the hand of Moses. And like that glorious picture, the children of God, by the blood of the Lamb, are passed over in God's judgments in smiting Egypt. We are likewise spiritually marked of the blood of Christ. We spiritually have His name in our foreheads and are thus passed over in judgments. The forehead signifies that we are spiritually instructed of God, having the mind of Christ.
- "I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin."
1st Corinthians 2:16
- "For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ."
This is the sealed mind. This is the symbolism of the mark in the foreheads which all the servants of God receive. It is the sealing by the Holy Spirit making a distinction between them, and the children of the world. The mind of Christ wherein they are secure by being born from above, sealed unto the day of redemption. It is not a literal mark in anyone's head, but a spiritual seal, known only of God. To be sure, God doesn't have to see a literal mark. God knows those who are Elect!
2nd Timothy 2:19
- "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."
Man doesn't see this seal, for it's not worldly writing. It is a seal known by those who have it, and God alone. And Revelation 7 is giving us a symbolic picture of that spiritual sealing (Ephesians 1:3, 4:30) of God's servants.
2nd Corinthians 1:21-22
- "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."
God knows who are His servants, for they are spiritually sealed of Him that they cannot be hurt of men. God has a real spiritual significance to this image symbology of the seal on the forehead. It is also reminiscent of Ezekiel chapter 9 where God instructs a mark to be put on the foreheads of only those who grieved and lamented because of all the detestable thing done in Jerusalem. This was a mark of security from the judgment that God would bring.
- "And the glory of the God of Israel was gone up from the cherub, whereupon he was, to the threshold of the house. And he called to the man clothed with linen, which had the writer's inkhorn by his side;
- And the LORD said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof.
- And to the others he said in mine hearing, Go ye after him through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity:"
This is God's showing us that He marks those who are His servants, that they are not hurt by His judgments on unrighteous men. The world is hurt, but those who mourn (the servants of God) for the unrighteousness, are kept of God from harm. There are many illustrations of Israel being kept from harm by God, and this promise is kept both in old and New Covenant Israel, as God delivers His servants in the midst of the plagues He pours upon the unrighteous. They are sealed by the name of the Lord written (spiritually) in their foreheads illustrating that they belong to God and cannot be harmed, as those of the world are. The world is appointed to it, but those sealed of God are not. Just as Jesus demonstrated when He prayed that the disciples would be protected by name of Christ, while the world was not prayed for.
- "I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.
- And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them.
- 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."
One Israel, One Olive tree, one Holy Temple of God, one Body of Christ, not two. Through the name of Christ the servants of God are kept while those who are of the world are not. This is the same signification of the servants being sealed in their foreheads. They are kept through the mind of Christ, spiritually, having His name written in their minds. Which of course is yet another reason why this is not to be taken literally. God isn't literally writing in the skin of Christians with carvings, or brands, or any outward manifestations on the foreheads, we worship Him in "spirit" and truth.
- "For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:"
This is the fulfillment of the writing the name of God in our foreheads. There is no literal writing on Israel's heart, or a branding of the laws written on their minds, but the language is of a new nature in man, of Godly obedience and spiritual guidance. The very opposite of human nature, or the natural man. Likewise, in Revelation 7, this seal of God in the servants forehead is the antithesis of the mark of the beast, which is on the forehead of all those who are ruled by Satan. Those having the mind of Christ verses those having the mind of Satan.
- "And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:"
Again, this is symbolic language to signify that these people of the nations have been deceived and belong to the kingdom of Satan. It is him they follow and not God. Just as we are marked of God and serve Him in His kingdom, these are marked of Satan and serve him in his kingdom. A spiritual warfare, a battle between the forces good, and the forces of evil in the world. Not as the fantasies as so many try and make it in our day, but actual spiritual warfare where the forces in the world serve two distinct and contrary rulers. The Prince of the power of the air, and the prince of Peace with God.
If we jump to chapters of the sounding of the fifth trumpet in Revelation chapter 9, we see in verse 4 the locusts loosed from the pit were commanded they could only harm those people who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads. Again a "clear" illustration that the seal is illustrating God's security and the protection of His servants in this time of judgment. The fact that the sea and trees are actually significations of people, is also illustrated again in chapter 9, where when the judgments are taking place, God says:
- "And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power.
- And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads."
These are not "literal" locusts shaped like horses, and with faces of men, coming from a literal pit, commanded not to hurt literal trees and grass. This is the symbolism which is revealing a far more sinister picture. God says don't hurt the earth, sea or trees until the servants are sealed. After they are sealed, God says (rev 9) now don't hurt the grass, earth or any green thing, only those who "are not sealed." By this God is alerting us that this symbolism is of the peoples of the world. In Revelation 9 this grass, trees and green things represent those of the world who "are" sealed of God and cannot be hurt, but in revelation 7 we saw they represented all the peoples of the earth. They couldn't be hurt until all God's servants were sealed. Because if they were hurt, obviously some being elect, would be hurt also. That is why the judgment was held back and Satan bound until all were sealed who are to be sealed of God. Then all those "not sealed" would be hurt, while those people of the world who were sealed (Grass, trees, Green things of Revelation 9), would not be hurt.
And this symbolism is nothing new, so it is strange that some would be surprised at the cryptic symbolism of Revelation, for God has "consistently" all throughout scripture, used grass, trees, and and other growing things as representations of peoples. i.e., Men as trees (Judges 9:9; Psalms 52:8; Matthew 7:17-18; Mark 8:24), men are as grass (Psalms 90:5; Isaiah 37:27; James 1:10), and other growing things (Isaiah 33:12; Jeremiah 24:5; Matthew 13:30), etc. The most basic of fundamental hermeneutics is that we must interpret scripture "by scripture" (God's Word), else we have nothing but our own words or what is called private or personal interpretation.
1st Peter 1:24
- "For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away:"
This type symbolism is not even uncommon in books of the bible not steeped in symbolism, so why would anyone even question it's symbolism in the book of Revelation. When God says, "Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads," God is saying that the people of the world will not be hurt by this judgment of wind until all of His servants are sealed (secured) that they cannot be harmed by it. This judgment will not come until all Israel which is to be sealed of God, will have been sealed. Then and only then are the "four messengers" loosed which are bound in the river Euphrates, prepared for this judgment.
- "And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel."
Those who attempt to read Revelation as a literal narrative must say that this means that only literally 144,000 Jews are converted. But this number is used elsewhere, and is understood symbolic in nature. The root numbers of 144,000 are quite obviously the numbers 10 and 12. The number 10 and it's multiples (100, 1000, etc) are the numbers of fullness. As demonstrated in the 10 virgins, or the 100 sheep with one going astray, or the 1000 years being as one day. They all signify the fullness of whatever is in view. And the number 12 is illustrative of the Congregation of the Lord, as seen in the Old Covenant 12 tribes of Israel, or the New Covenant 12 Apostles. 1000 times 12 is 12,000. That is the fulness of those children of God who are sealed. And of course, 12,000 times each tribe is 144,000. The perfect measured fulness of the house of God from all tribes, as also illustrated in the perfect City of Jerusalem.
- "And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs. The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal."
Moreover, there are peculiarities that should readily alert us to the fact that this 144,000 is not the tribes of earthly Israel. First of all, we've seen symbolism all throughout Revelation, and why would God suddenly have this chapter to be curiously understood as a literal narrative, in the midst of all this symbolism? It makes no sense whatsoever.
Secondly, those sealed are said to be made up all the tribes of Israel, and yet all the literal tribes of Israel are not listed. This is because this is Spiritual Israel, an Israel in Christ, not the nation in the middle east. When we examine the census carefully, we find there are significant differences from lists in other places in scripture.
Thirdly, the number 144,000 is 12000 times the 12 tribes, signifying the measured congregation of the Lord's Chosen. 12 is the number of the Church, both seen in the Old and New Covenant. And each tribe here has "exactly" 12,000 sealed, which is yet another indication of the spiritual signification, as also seen in the City of God.
- "And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel:
- On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates.
- And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
- And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof.
- And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs. The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal.
- And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel."
The City of God is not 12,000 furlongs by coincidence anymore than each tribe has 12,000 sealed by coincidence. The wall is not 144,000 cubits by coincidence anymore than those sealed of Israel are 144,000. These numbers are God ordained to signify the full measure of the Israel of God. This liberal use of the number 12 in Revelation illustrates this. Whether the 12 Apostles, the 12 tribes, the tree of life which bare 12 manner of fruit, the 12 gates, the 12 pearls, the 12 foundations, etc., these are spiritual significations of the fullness, for, and of, the body of believers. Not a literal city Jerusalem in the middle east, but a Spiritual Jerusalem in the Israel which is Christ. Not a worldly Israel, but a heavenly habitation of God. This Israel is also illustrated in revelation chapter 14.
- "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.
- And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps:
- And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth.
- 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.
- And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God."
Here God tells us clearly who these 144,000 represent. The body of Christ are those who stand on Mount Zion with this Lamb and all have the Father's name written in their foreheads. All part of a New Covenant with Israel, which is not an earthly nation, but spiritual agreement or promise, which is something far superior. As also seen in Hebrews chapter 12.
- "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."
This is the heavenly Jerusalem, the City of God which is 12,000 furlongs and the wall of which is 144,000 cubits. Quite obviously a Spiritual City made up of all those in Christ. Hebrews tells us, "this" is the City which those who are sealed have come unto. "This" is the Mount Sion that the New Covenant signifies, it's not just literally 12,000 each, or 144,000, but an innumerable company of messengers. We are the Children of God. Jew, Greek, or Roman, we are all "one" in Christ. He has broken down that middle wall of partition which separated Jew and Gentile, and has reconciled both as one unto God. There is no separate New Covenant with an Israel of Jews and a New Covenant with the Israel of Gentiles, there is only "one" New Covenant, and one mediator, which is Christ! Hebrews chapters 8 and 9 make that abundantly clear, if we will receive it. It is the whole congregation of God.
Revelation 14 speaks of this Chosen people, these Children of God, this Israel of God. They alone sing the new song, and none but these can learn it. It is none but the Chosen of God who are the ones Revelation says were redeemed from the earth. By the New Covenant Redeemer, who is Christ!
- "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people,"
- "And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins."
- "And for this cause he is the mediator of the New Covenant, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first Covenant, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance."
The First Covenant with who? Israel of course, and the New Covenant of this redemption is likewise with Israel. All in Christ, are that Israel redeemed from their sins by this mediator of the New Covenant.
Likewise, these are they which are undefiled by women. Revelation is again using symbolic language to signify that these are virgins, who have not fornicated (spiritually) with the great harlot. Just as in the parable of the 10 virgins. And we are the only ones who follow the lamb (Christ) wherever He goes. It is the Church which are the only firstfruits unto God. There cannot be two firstfruits. Christ is thee firstfruit, and we (the body of Christ) are the firstfruits, in Him. Likewise, only those redeemed by the blood of the Lamb can be spoken of as "in their mouth is no guile," and only the Church is without fault before God! All these things spoken about of these 144,000 who are sealed, apply to the body of Christ alone. No one "but" those in Christ qualify, and additionally, all those in Christ qualify.
1st Corinthians 1:7-8
- "So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ:
- Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ."
In order to be blameless, these sealed must be those who are in Christ! Man dreamed vain genealogies notwithstanding, Christ is not divided!
- "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus."
And so where is the mystery about this 144,000 redeemed from the earth? The 12 tribes of Israel here are a synonym for the Children of God, or the Church, just as the 12 Apostles represented the Children of God or the Church. Redemption comes only by the cross, and all those redeemed by the cross are one body, called Christians. They have one head, which is Christ! These 12,000 of each tribe, 144,000 strong, are the Israel of God redeemed by the cross from all tribes or families. This is confirmed in Revelation chapter 22:
- "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."
Again, where is the mystery? These 144,000 with the name of God in their foreheads represent the fullness of the Israel of God. It is all those in Christ (Israel). In order for there to be a sealing from "all the tribes of the Children of Israel," this has to be understood spiritually. For there can be no question but that the Church is the sons of God, the seed of Abraham, the Chosen people, the Elect, the special or peculiar people, the Holy nation, the kingdom of Priests, and the branches of the Olive Tree, right along with the Jews! They are part of this New Covenant with Israel in Christ, just as physical Jewish people are.
- "Of the tribe of Juda were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Reuben were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Gad were sealed twelve thousand."
Here to give us some understanding of the whole body of Christ, God breaks it down into the 12 tribes, or families, each having it's own "spiritual" signification. In Biblical History (as in some places to this day), Children are often named for something which occurs regarding them, or their parents. For example a child being born with a reddish color might be called the Hebrew word for it, which is ruddy. In this traditional naming system, God illustrates some spiritual truths which we shall uncover as we go through these verses. The first of these families is Juda or Judah. The Hebrew word Judah [yehuwdah] means to glorify or praise.
- "And she conceived again, and bare a son: and she said, Now will I praise the LORD: therefore she called his name Judah; and left bearing."
This is to signify that the Children of Israel, the born of God, give praise to the Lord, for Judah is illustrative of the strength of the children in Christ. It is in Him that they praise and Glorify God. Jesus Christ is the Lion of the tribe of Judah, of which all His brethren will sing praises, and give Glory to God for!
- "Judah, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise: thy hand shall be in the neck of thine enemies; thy father's children shall bow down before thee.
- Judah is a lion's whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up?"
In Christ is our praise, the Lion of the tribe of Judah has prevailed, and thus we have the strength to be the Children of God. This answers the question which ends chapter 6, of, "who shall be able to stand." Christians stand because of the Lion of the tribe of Judah.
Notice that though Reuben is the firstborn of Israel, and is usually the first brother listed, he is here listed second to Judah. This is because Jesus is the firstborn, and He is the Judah of which the brethren shall praise. This being spiritual Israel rather than literal or earthly Israel, He must have preeminence, that in Him, we also can be the firstborn of the Father, and Children of Israel.
- "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."
This again alerting us that this is all those who are firstborn in Christ, the Son of God, the "true" Israel of God. By being conformed to the image of Christ, we become of the tribe or family of Judah, firstborn in Him.
- "For he of whom these things are spoken pertaineth to another tribe, of which no man gave attendance at the altar.
- For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood."
Christ is the firstborn of God, that we might be firstborn of God "in Him," and He is from the tribe of Judah. This is not a literal census, and shows vividly the significance of the firstborn being listed of Judah. The very image of God, and yet also thee firstborn of the Children of God.
- "In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:
- Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:"
Judah is listed first for this signification of being the firstborn. That in being the firstborn, we might also be the firstborn sons of God, in Him.
- "And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence."
- "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,"
12,000 are also sealed of the tribe or family of Reuben, who is now pushed back to the position of the second son listed. The Hebrew word reuben [reuwben] means, "seen son," and by implication "someone looked upon."
- "And Leah conceived, and bare a son, and she called his name Reuben: for she said, Surely the LORD hath looked upon my affliction; now therefore my husband will love me."
In Reuben we see the picture of the Children of God who are hated and afflicted, yet in Christ, who was hated and afflicted, they find mercy and are looked upon of God that they be Blessed. A family that finds their inheritance in the deliverer.
- "And the people believed: and when they heard that the LORD had visited the children of Israel, and that he had looked upon their affliction, then they bowed their heads and worshipped."
Those words translated "looked upon their affliction" [raah] [oniy], are the same Hebrews words translated looked upon affliction in Genesis when Leah said it about Reuben. And it is the same spiritual signification of God looking out for His children that he will bring them out of affliction. It is a signification of the redemption of the family of God, by the deliverer. Reuben, the looked upon, being the physical firstborn, represents the beginning of glory, the favored of God though afflicted.
- "Reuben, thou art my firstborn, my might, and the beginning of my strength, the excellency of dignity, and the excellency of power:"
Though the physical firstborn, He defiled his father's bed, and is thus not worthy to be listed firstborn, but in Christ, the lion of the tribe of Judah, will he be firstborn, mighty, the excellency of power, and the son in whom God will look upon his affliction, through Christ.
- "Let Reuben live, and not die; and let not his men be few."
In those sealed of Reuben, the spiritual picture is that those who cannot keep the law, and though they be afflicted, in Christ shall they live and not die. Though they be worthy of death, they will live and be a great family, and inheritance, in He whom God looked upon.
Of the tribe of Gad were also sealed 12,000. The Hebrew word [gad] means a crowd, or a group.
- "And Leah said, A troop cometh: and she called his name Gad."
Again, Gad is a spiritual picture of a sin laden son, overcome by a troop or group, yet who in the end, will triumph. Because he shall overcome in Christ. As Christ is afflicted, persecuted, and killed by the great troop that came against Him, but in the last, He overcomes all. Likewise, we overcome all "in His" overcoming.
- "Gad, a troop shall overcome him: but he shall overcome at the last."
- "And of Gad he said, Blessed be he that enlargeth Gad: he dwelleth as a lion, and teareth the arm with the crown of the head.
- And he provided the first part for himself, because there, in a portion of the lawgiver, was he seated; and he came with the heads of the people, he executed the justice of the LORD, and his judgments with Israel."
Another spiritual picture of the Children of God who become a great nation in Christ, and dwells with the strength of the lion, and has inheritance of the first part, because of the lawgiver, Christ! He is this Lion.
- "The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be."
Gad, in Christ, provides the first part for himself, because there, in a portion of the lawgiver was he seated, and it is in Him that we abide in the justice of the Lord, and His judgments with Israel. Only in the Israel of God is this promise fulfilled.
- "Of the tribe of Aser were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Nepthalim were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Manasses were sealed twelve thousand."
The Hebrew word [asher] means to make straight, and by implication, to be happy or to feel straight or right. It is used in the sense of feeling blessed.
- "And Leah said, Happy am I, for the daughters will call me blessed: and she called his name Asher."
Again, is God saying that only literally 12,000 of Asher is to be sealed? No, it is a spiritual illustration of a Child of Israel (God), and how in Him they are the blessed, they are those made right or straight, they are those who are happy, because in Christ are they blessed, and have no want.
- "Out of Asher his bread shall be fat, and he shall yield royal dainties."
Because He is a Son of God, a Child of Israel, Leah said the daughters would call her blessed. His fatness and yield flow from the blessings in Christ. He, and all families of Israel, are satisfied with the fatness because Christ is their nourishment.
- "My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips:"
- "And of Asher he said, Let Asher be blessed with children; let him be acceptable to his brethren, and let him dip his foot in oil.
- Thy shoes shall be iron and brass; and as thy days, so shall thy strength be."
Illustrations of the bounty which the Children of Israel have, and the anointing, and the strength wherein their days shall be, because their fatness and root is Christ. And Asher signifies this.
- "And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert grafted in among them, and with them partakest of the Root and Fatness of the olive tree;"
This is the fatness wherein Asher's bread shall be fat. In the New Covenant tree Israel, both Jew and Gentile branches in one tree, partaker of that one fatness of the Root, which is Christ. He is the strength of the tribes or families of Israel. He is the bread of Asher wherein there is the fatness, and no famine. It is in this Son Christ that Asher will never hunger nor thirst again.
Likewise, of the tribe of Naphtali were sealed 12,000. The Hebrew word Naphtali [naphtaliy] means to intertwine, and by implication, to struggle with or wrestle.
- "And Rachel said, With great wrestlings have I wrestled with my sister, and I have prevailed: and she called his name Naphtali."
In this tribe we see the spiritual picture of the struggle of the child of God, and how through that struggle, the Children of God are made strong. Only in being a son of Israel, can one struggle and prevail. For we prevail in Christ, who is our New Birth and righteousness. Our favor is only because He is favored, and good words only because of His good Word, our blessing only in that He is blessed. The Children of Israel are what they are only as they are made the image of the Son, through the struggle of Christ. Without "His" struggle, there are no children of God with these goodly words.
- "Naphtali is a hind let loose: he giveth goodly words."
- "And of Naphtali he said, O Naphtali, satisfied with favour, and full with the blessing of the LORD: possess thou the west and the south."
We have possession and Words of wisdom because they are words of God. We are satisfied with favor, and in the full blessings of the Lord. Grace or favor of God, is the reward of the the Child of Israel. This is signified in the tribe or family of Naphtali.
Of the tribe of Manasseh there was sealed 12,000. The Hebrew word Manasseh [menashsheh], means to forget.
- "And Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh: For God, said he, hath made me forget all my toil, and all my father's house."
This is to signify that the Children of God are not in bondage to works, but are set free from Satan's house of toil, by God. He has forgotten all our works of the law, which could never be righteous enough to save us, and redeemed us from the law, in Christ. This is why Manasseh means forget. For the Lord has forgotten all the Children's transgression, by means of Thee Son, who atoned for them.
- "That he who blesseth himself in the earth shall bless himself in the God of truth; and he that sweareth in the earth shall swear by the God of truth; because the former troubles are forgotten, and because they are hid from mine eyes."
All our former trouble is forgotten and hid from God's eyes as Condemnable because our works are made totally righteous in Christ, so that our works in the flesh are forgotten. In a word, Manasseh, for God has made us forget all our toil or work in our former house.
- "He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.
- For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him.
- As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us."
Again, we deserve to be condemned, but in this signification of Manasseh, God does not reward us as we deserve, all our sins are forgotten.
You will note that this Son Manasseh is the "only" deviation from the original 12 Sons of Jacob. He is not an immediate son of Jacob. When we look more carefully, we find that of all the original sons of Israel, Only Dan is missing here, and is replaced by this tribe Manasseh. Interesting that Manasseh is a son of Joseph, who also received a portion of the inheritance in Israel, and is also listed here. Dan is not included because His rank idolatry makes him unsuitable to be used by God as a symbolic representative of His Children made perfect in Christ. Rather, he is illustrative of the fallen son, the one who is lost, a son of perdition.
- "Dan shall be a serpent by the way, an adder in the path, that biteth the horse heels, so that his rider shall fall backward."
- "And of Dan he said, Dan is a lion's whelp: he shall leap from Bashan."
The very name Dan signifies His judgment. The Hebrew word dan [dawn], means judge.
- "And she gave him Bilhah her handmaid to wife: and Jacob went in unto her.
- And Bilhah conceived, and bare Jacob a son.
- And Rachel said, God hath judged me, and hath also heard my voice, and hath given me a son: therefore called she his name Dan."
I believe in this God is showing forth that a part of the people of God will be judged. The 13th tribe, in a sense, as that "outside" of the fullness of the Body of Christ! Dan is missing in this list of the true Israel of God, just as Judas, as one of the chosen 12, was judged of God, and is missing from the true Children of God, replaced by another Apostle. Dan betrayed God, by going after false gods, as Judas betrayed our Lord for his god of silver. Dan is a picture of the betrayer, the old serpent by the way, the child which turns away from the father to serve other gods. God places the half tribe of Manasseh here instead of Dan to illustrate that no idolatry shall come into the "true" Israel of God. That this tribe of Dan is missing from the Children of Israel is no insignificant hurdle for those insistent on taking this chapter literally. For it says "all the tribes of Israel," and yet it does not list Dan, an original and "literal" tribe. If the promise was "indeed" to all the literal or worldly tribes (and the promise was made BEFORE Dan fell away), something is terribly wrong here with the promise. That cannot be! In fact we have an unsolvable enigma if we attempt such a inconsistent literal interpretation. Only in God's true Israel do we understand the spiritual significance in this representing "all" of the families of Israel, tribes from every nation who have Salvation, redeemed by the deliverer out of Zion who turned away ungodliness from Jacob. Not by blood lines or vain physical genealogies, but by promise.
- "Of the tribe of Simeon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Levi were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Issachar were sealed twelve thousand."
There are 12,000 sealed from the tribe of Simeon. In this tribe we see our cry for deliverance, and how God will hear our cry and bring the child of God to deliverance, in Christ.
- "And she conceived again, and bare a son; and said, Because the LORD hath heard that I was hated, he hath therefore given me this son also: and she called his name Simeon."
Simeon is the Hebrew word [shim'own], meaning to hear. This tribe of God is illustrating that though the children of God are hated, yet the Lord hears our cry, and in Christ will redeem us unto God, as children of the inheritance of Israel. Though we be cruel and full of anger, yet Christ takes upon himself our sin, that our prayers though unworthy, are heard by our father.
- "Simeon and Levi are brethren; instruments of cruelty are in their habitations."
As the Lord heard Leah, so in this tribe of Simeon God shows His faithfulness to bring to birth a people, though their habitation be in sin, only in Christ can they have inheritance in Israel. Simeon's inheritance is within Judah, which signifies they are only children "in Christ," the lion of the tribe of Judah! God hears them because Christ has made intercession for them, making the prayers of the saints as a burnt offering, or a sweet smelling incense that comes before God.
Of the tribe of Levi were sealed 12,000. The Hebrew word Levi [leiy] means, joined or attached.
- "And she conceived again, and bare a son; and said, Now this time will my husband be joined unto me, because I have born him three sons: therefore was his name called Levi."
As illustrated with the tribe of Simeon (joshua 19:1), Levi has it's inheritance in the Lord. And this is yet another indication that these tribes are Spiritual Israel, not literal or physical Israel.
- "Wherefore Levi hath no part nor inheritance with his brethren; the LORD is his inheritance, according as the LORD thy God promised him."
It is indeed telling that Levi, the tribe of Priests which is excluded from the census of literal or physical Israel, is included here. In other scriptures, we see the tribe of Dan listed, but as stated, they went off after idolatry are thus excluded from the "true" Israel listed here, and replaced by the Priestly tribe of Levi. Once again God is giving us pause, to alert us that this is not the physical people Israel, but the spiritual people Israel. The Children of Israel who are all Kings and Priests unto their God. Those who are of "this" Israel, must enter in by the "12" gates of the city, and no idolatry must come therein (rev. 22:14:15). They must be spiritual Priests of God, not a literal levitical priesthood. The Levites are listed here because the Children of God are made kings and Priests unto God, through Christ. This is a clear departure from the listings of the literal tribes.
- "But the Levites after the tribe of their fathers were not numbered among them.
- For the LORD had spoken unto Moses, saying,
- Only thou shalt not number the tribe of Levi, neither take the sum of them among the children of Israel:
- But thou shalt appoint the Levites over the tabernacle of testimony, and over all the vessels thereof, and over all things that belong to it: they shall bear the tabernacle, and all the vessels thereof; and they shall minister unto it, and shall encamp round about the tabernacle."
Yet from the tribe of Levi are sealed 12,000, because this is not the literal tribes which were spoken of to Moses, but the Children of God who are a Kingdom of Priests, or a Royal (same word) Priesthood in Christ. And it includes people from all races and nations and languages. This tribe of Levi "signifies" the fullness of the Kingly Priests of God, to whom the promises were "truly" made.
- "Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine:
- And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel."
We can only obey and keep the commandments of God, in Christ. As these promises are fulfilled only in Him, as illustrated in 1st Peter chapter 2.
1st Peter 2:9
- "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:"
This is the heir of the promises to Israel, the Church in Christ, Israel. the Holy nation from every tribe or nation, the Sons of God, a chosen People, a Kingdom priesthood, a special or peculiar people, the called of God made Priests not by blood line, but by being washed in Christ's blood.
- "And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,
- And hath made us Kings and Priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen."
After the cross, there is no such thing as a separate tribe of Priests of God, apart from the Church. The whole idea is ludicrous, as Christ is the anti-type of the type, and we cannot go back to shadows of Priests, when the "true" has fulfilled them. The figure has been completed, we cannot have Levitical Priests again in the Temple, except as we are all levites and Priests in Christ.
We also read there was 12,000 sealed from the tribe of Issachar. Issachar is the Hebrew word [yissa'kar], which means to exact payment, and by implication, wages or compensation.
- "And Jacob came out of the field in the evening, and Leah went out to meet him, and said, Thou must come in unto me; for surely I have hired thee with my son's mandrakes. And he lay with her that night.
- And God hearkened unto Leah, and she conceived, and bare Jacob the fifth son.
- And Leah said, God hath given me my hire, because I have given my maiden to my husband: and she called his name Issachar."
In the tribe of Issachar we see the work of Christ in purchasing the Children of God. It is a spiritual picture of the hire, or wages which were paid for the new birth of the children of Israel.
- "Issachar is a strong ass couching down between two burdens:
- And he saw that rest was good, and the land that it was pleasant; and bowed his shoulder to bear, and became a servant unto tribute."
Again, the picture of us, the obstinate as an ass, and this rest which we have because it was purchased for the Children, by Christ! Likewise, we bow the shoulder and become servants unto tribute! These are all marvelous spiritual pictures which show forth the Glory of the families of Israel, as they are synonymous as the Children of God.
- "Of the tribe of Zabulon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Joseph were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Benjamin were sealed twelve thousand."
Of the tribe of Zebulon were sealed 12,000. The Hebrew word Zebulon [zebuwluwn], means a habitation or a dwelling. Genesis 30:19
- "And Leah conceived again, and bare Jacob the sixth son.
- And Leah said, God hath endued me with a good dowry; now will my husband dwell with me, because I have born him six sons: and she called his name Zebulun."
This of course illustrating that the Children of God have a dwelling, a tabernacle which is a safe haven from all the elements of the world. And the husband of the Children of God who dwell with them, is Christ! It is in fact He who makes our dwelling a safe haven.
- "Zebulun shall dwell at the haven of the sea; and he shall be for an haven of ships; and his border shall be unto Zidon."
The tribe of Zebulon, who dwells safely, and is a haven for ships that they can have peace, is a spiritual signification of how the Children of God have a secure habitation, and dwell safely, because they are in Christ.
- "Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses.
- He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still.
- Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven."
Ships in the sea are often symbolic pictures of Churches in the world. Ships are brought to a safe haven in Christ. Just as Paul was brought to safe haven when the sea was contrary and broke up the ship he was on. That the tribe of Zebulun dwell at the haven of the sea, and shall be for an haven of ships, illustrates this personal relationship with Christ, that we have Peace and security in Him. Very much as the seal, with which these tribes are sealed by. As the Psalms says, He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still. This is our peaceful habitation or security from harm.
Of the tribe of Joseph were also sealed 12,000. Joseph is the Hebrew word [yowceph], which means an addition.
- "And God remembered Rachel, and God hearkened to her, and opened her womb.
- And she conceived, and bare a son; and said, God hath taken away my reproach:
- And she called his name Joseph; and said, The LORD shall add to me another son."
Joseph is a type or figure of Christ, and it is in him that all Christians are Israelites, the adoption of sons. Christ is thee seed or Son, wherein we are all "added" or adopted sons of God.
- "But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,
- To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons."
- "Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises;"
Just as God says in Romans 9 when declaring that this promise of God has not been abrogated or made null and void, but the Israel of the flesh is "not" all Israel, only the ones who are of the promise, are the Israel of God. i.e., only those who are in Christ, the children of the promise are "counted" for the Seed! Contrary to popular belief, it's not a mystery.
- "Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel:
- Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called.
- "That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed."
- "Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise."
Where is the mystery? Clearly, this delineates that the Church, the chosen people of God, are, as Isaac, the Children of promise. We are adopted sons of God.
- "For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father."
It is only because Christ is the son, that we are called sons, and cry abba father! It is only because Christ Israel keeps the law, that we are in God's eyes able to keep the law. It is because He is the inheritor of the promised land, that we are inheritors of everlasting life.
- "My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments:
- For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee."
If we keep His commandments, we shall live forever and have a peace that passeth understanding, and we keep the law "only" in Christ. This is the significations of the tribe of Joseph.
- "And of Joseph he said, Blessed of the LORD be his land, for the precious things of heaven, for the dew, and for the deep that coucheth beneath,"
As of Joseph, it is in Christ's land that the precious things of heaven dwell. His land is the promised land that it is full of milk and honey, that is a habitation wherein we are blessed, and is the dew of heaven, and the fatness of the earth, and plenty of corn and wine. Because Joseph is a child of Israel, we are adopted (or added) Children of God, in Him. What many theologians do not comprehend is that becoming a son, born of the father, automatically gives us full rights as an heir of the promises to Israel. Thus separation theology is confusion.
- "Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,"
The tribe of Joseph is actually represented twice (another vivid illustration that these are not literal tribes) as the tribe of Manasses (verse 6) is a direct descendant of Joseph. He is Joseph's immediate Son! i.e., the exact same tribe! But you see this is done because Joseph is a "type" of Christ. And keeping in the theme of the firstborn, Judah being listed First, Joseph also must be listed, as He was given the birthright of Reuben (the physical firstborn), and dan cannot be listed.
1st Chronicles 5:1-2
- "Now the sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel, (for he was the firstborn; but, forasmuch as he defiled his father's bed, his birthright was given unto the sons of Joseph the son of Israel: and the genealogy is not to be reckoned after the birthright.
- For Judah prevailed above his brethren, and of him came the chief ruler; but the birthright was Joseph's:)"
Joseph's sons (Manasses or Ephraim) is normally listed as tribes of Israel, instead of Joseph, but not here. Instead, Joseph, the "type" of Christ is listed. And we note the deep spiritual significance in this. Joseph was betrayed and sold into Egypt by his brethren for 20 pieces of silver and Christ was betrayed and sold into spiritual egypt by one of his brethren (Judas, one of the 12) for 30 pieces of silver. But just as it was ultimately for the good of Israel, so the betrayal of Christ was for the good of Israel. And as Joseph was given rule over Egypt, and his word as word of the King, and was crowed with honor and Glory, so Christ was given rule over all, crowned with honor and Glory, and His Word as the Word of the King This all signifying that Joseph is the type, and Christ the anti-type, which would bring this all to "spiritual" fulfillment.
- "Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall:
- The archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and hated him:
- But his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob; (from thence is the shepherd, the stone of Israel:)"
The magnificent picture of how Christ, whom the archers shoot their arrows at, and of whom they grieved and hate, is the fruitful bough or branch. He is the offshoot from which the fruit would come. It is Christ whom the hands of the mighty God has made strong. From this branch is the shepherd, the stone of Israel! This is the spiritual significance of Joseph listed here.
And of the tribe of Benjamin were sealed 12,000. The Hebrew word Benjamin [binyamiyn] means, "son of the right hand." In this tribe I believe we see the children of God as the vessels of God's working in Christ, both in salvation and in judgment. As the stars in God's right hand, the Saints are given to witness both with both power and authority, in Christ. They are in Christ, a son of God's right hand. Interesting that Rachel wanted to name this son, but the father instead changed what she had called him.
- "And it came to pass, when she was in hard labour, that the midwife said unto her, Fear not; thou shalt have this son also.
- And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, (for she died) that she called his name Benoni: but his father called him Benjamin."
Benoni [benowniy] which means son of my affliction or pain, which was changed by the father to, "son of my right hand" (Benjamin). I believe that this is to illustrate that the Church has sorrow, affliction or pain, but it is changed to a great blessing wherein "the Son" is seated at the right hand of the father. Just as the woman who travailed has pain, but when she is delivered of the Child, she is happy and blessed! The families of God, in Christ, are sons of the right hand.
- "And of Benjamin he said, The beloved of the LORD shall dwell in safety by him; and the LORD shall cover him all the day long, and he shall dwell between his shoulders."
The beloved of the lord dwell in safety by him because Christ dwells with him. It is in Christ, that the Children of God are secure, and are the son of the right hand. The right hand is the favored one! Just as today, most people are right-handed, or favors their right hand. We are the sons of favor through Christ.
So this is the 144,000 from "all" the tribes of Israel. It is a representation of the Children of God, in Christ, who is the true Israel of God! The perfect number of 12,000 from each indicating that this is the full and perfect families of God. Perfectly even, no irregularities, no inconsistencies, immaculate and a full measure of God. Just as the pictures of the city of Jerusalem, which is the same measure on every side. When all the tribes of this Israel are sealed so that all Israel is Saved (Rom. 11), it will not be a country in the middle east, nor a elite genealogical bloodline, nor a political nation, it will be a body which is a new creation. For not all Israel are Israel in God's defining, the Children of the Promise (according to God) are counted for the seed. This is the only Israel of God to whom the promises pertain.
- "After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;"
Note the marvelous seamless pattern God is weaving in saying that when "all Israel" is Saved, we see not literally 144,000 but a great multitude assembled! Not of literal tribes of Jews, but people of all nations, and of all tongues (languages). This is the illustration of all the Israel of God whom He has sealed. From Abel to the last person sealed with the Spirit of promise, this is the true Israel of God. A number which no man can number. Just as was prophesied, God has made the seed of Abraham more than the sand of the sea. Certainly literally 144,000 saved in Israel cannot fit the bill. To take this literally, in the separatist theology of today, it means that only 144,000 Jews get saved, but a multitude no man can number of gentiles get saved. This is not the case. There is not two bodies of Christ, there is only one, made up of Jews and Gentiles alike.
And this great multitude assembled here all have white Robes, which signify that righteousness of Christ!
- "I put on righteousness, and it clothed me: my judgment was as a robe and a diadem."
- "Let thy priests be clothed with righteousness; and let thy saints shout for joy."
- "I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels."
The symbolism of the Children of God all clothed in white Robes is to signify that they do not walk in spiritual nakedness or sinfulness, but have on the righteousness of Christ. These are those who stand before the Lamb, righteous, because of His shed blood. These are not a separate olive tree (New Covenant with Israel) of only physical Jews, these are one body, Jew and Gentile in the same tree, heirs according to one promise.
- "For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.
- For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
- There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.
- And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise."
How much clearer can it get? There is no separation between Jews and Gentiles, there is one Body of Christ, one head, and one Promise, and one Children of God, all adopted in Christ, Israel. He is thee Son of the Father in whom all the seed shall be blessed.
Revelation speaks of these palms in their hands to signify their rejoicing in the Saviour Christ who will come to His Temple. Palms in scripture are spoken of as goodly trees which are used to celebrate the tabernacle Christ. This is seen also in the celebration of feasts, which look forward to Christ.
- "And ye shall take you on the first day the boughs of goodly trees, branches of palm trees, and the boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook; and ye shall rejoice before the LORD your God seven days.
- And ye shall keep it a feast unto the LORD seven days in the year. It shall be a statute for ever in your generations: ye shall celebrate it in the seventh month."
These goodly trees are used to signify the Children of God's rejoicing and recognition that Christ is our Saviour and King, and it is in Him that we keep these feasts forever. He is the Holy Temple which the earthly temple was a shadow of, and who would come as King to rule the house of God. This is why the House of God was ceremonially carved with palm trees. They are figures or "significations" of the goodness of the coming King of Israel.
1st Kings 6:29
- "And he carved all the walls of the house round about with carved figures of cherubims and palm trees and open flowers, within and without."
The house of God has these Cherubims, Palm trees and Open flowers to signify the goodness, beauty and glory of the House. And the house is a figure of Christ, in whom we must tabernacle to be Children of God. Palm trees are often used this way, as is also seen in their use in the Feast of tabernacles, and also as the children of Israel spread them before Christ, saying Hosanna, when He came to Jerusalem for the passover feast!
- "On the next day much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem,
- Took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord."
Hosanna is a word of Hebrew origin which means "Oh Save!" It is the rejoicing in recognition that this is the King of Israel, the "Saviour" who will deliver the Children of God. Compare those New and Old Testament scriptures:
- "Save now, I beseech thee, O LORD: O LORD, I beseech thee, send now prosperity.
- Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the LORD: we have blessed you out of the house of the LORD."
This is what the Children singing Hosanna was referring to. This is why the House of the Lord was decorated with Palms. The Palm branches signified the tabernacle, and is used in their rejoicing that this was the King of Israel, the Saviour, and all glory belongs to Him. Likewise, in Revelation 7 this is the symbolism of this great multitude with palms in their hands, who are clothed in righteousness. And take careful note, in the very next verse, they are saying the exact same things as the Children saying Hosanna!
- "And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb."
Oh save! Salvation belongs to God, He giveth it to whomsoever He will. For He is the King of the Jews, He is the King who sits upon the throne, He is the King who rules in righteousness. Hosanna, Blessed is he who cometh in the name of the Lord. It's what we declare in Glory to God, Salvation belongs to Him who rules, and to His Christ. In Chapter 4 the same giving of Glory to God is illustrated in the 24 Elders casting their crowns at His feet. That signified they know that though they are "kings" and Priests unto God, yet they know they rule only in Christ, and their crown is subservient to His crown. All their Glory goes to Him. Their rule is in His rule. Their crowns belong at His feet, for He is "King of Kings!" This illustration of casting their crowns before Him is the same glorious spiritual picture of the Children of God giving all their rule and Glory to God. When all Israel is sealed, this great multitude cries with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.
- "And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God,"
This again shows this is the Children of God giving Glory to God. The Messengers of God fall before the throne of God on their faces, and they worshipped God who has done this great thing. This is another signification of Christ in the midst of His Church, and they gathered round about the throne of God. A great multitude of all nations, gathered to serve this Israel, not a nation in the middle east. These are the tribes or families of Israel that the prophecy spoke of raising up, a remnant of people of the world, Chosen/Elect in Christ.
- "And now, saith the LORD that formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob again to him, Though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the LORD, and my God shall be my strength.
- And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.
- Thus saith the LORD, the Redeemer of Israel, and his Holy One, to him whom man despiseth, to him whom the nation abhorreth, to a servant of rulers, Kings shall see and arise, princes also shall worship, because of the LORD that is faithful, and the Holy One of Israel, and he shall choose thee.
- Thus saith the LORD, In an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in a day of salvation have I helped thee: and I will preserve thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, to establish the earth, to cause to inherit the desolate heritages;"
A servant which is a light unto the Gentiles, and raises up the tribes of Israel in the acceptable time. Reconciling both Jew and Gentile to make of two, one new man by the cross. Making all of the commonwealth of Israel by His flesh. This is the tribes of Jacob (Israel) sealed, and who stand a great multitude gathered around the throne of God. These are the redeemed of God who shall be able to stand, because of Christ.
- "Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen."
They say, Amen [am-ane] or truly! This Greek word is from the root Hebrew word for firm, and by implication, meaning absolutely, solidly or truly established! [am-ane] is the same word translated "verily verily," or "truly truly." It is a signification that this is an absolute. All Blessings, and all Glory, and all wisdom, and all thanksgiving, and all honor, and power and might be unto "our" God. Absolutely! Truly! Not one of them is looking for reward or merit, they come with palms in their hands aware that all Glory and honor goes to God. And they give thanksgiving to Him. For He is who has sealed all the tribes of Israel, and is who has made it possible that this multitude stand before God in white Robes, without condemnation.
- "And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?"
Elders in scripture signify the officers or heads of Israel, and are illustrative of the leaders of the Congregation. They are the heads of the people of God.
- "And the LORD said unto Moses, Gather unto me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom thou knowest to be the elders of the people, and officers over them; and bring them unto the tabernacle of the congregation, that they may stand there with thee."
Elders are often used to signify great knowledge or wisdom (for obvious reasons). Just as in the axioms today like, "old and wise," or "wise old man!" Because with age comes learning, knowledge, it is generally equated with being wise and knowledgeable. ..or at least it was until our time.
In this vision John is having of Salvation, one of the Elders (A picture of the wisdom in Christ) answers John by way of a rhetorical question. He asks, "who are these dressed in white, and where did they come from?" And then He proceeds to answer His own question. It is indeed the question which the body of Christ asks, and which is answered only in the wisdom of Christ.
- "And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb."
John says to the Elder in the vision, Sir, you know! And the Elder begins to tell John who they are. God wants the Church to know who these are, and so He has the vision unfold so that the elder is a witness to Revelation of the great multitude. He declares they are those which came out of great tribulation. Those who come out of Great tribulation, are the saints, the ones persecuted for Christ's name sake.
2nd Timothy 3:12
- "Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution."
- "Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life."
- "Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds."
When Christ speaks of the falling away of the Church He speaks of a time of great tribulation when Christians should not go after false prophets and false Christs.
- "For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be."
All Believers from righteous Abel, to Zecharias, to those in our day, have gone through tribulation because of Christ, and near the second advent, that tribulation will be greater than it has ever been throughout History. But we all (the Israel of God) will persevere because if we be Christ's, we cannot fail, for we overcome or prevail in Him.
- "These things I have spoken unto you, that in Me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world."
We overcome great tribulation not by being taken out of the world, but by Christ! He has overcome, and we overcome in Him. we have Peace, not in the world, but in Christ! In the world we have enmity and spiritual warfare, because the world is at enmity with Christ. But in Him, is how we overcome. We have washed our sins away and have no condemnation, therefore do we stand around the throne and are clothed in "His Righteousness." In the symbolic language of Revelation, we are these who have washed our robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
- "Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them."
Therefore! In other words, "this is why" they can stand before the throne of God without condemnation, and "this is why" they are servants who worship and obey and serve Him for ever in His Temple. It is because Christ went to the cross, and because salvation belongs to Him. It's by Grace, not race! His cross has instituted the sealing of the Lord's Servants in righteousness. This is why they are around the throne, and continually serve Him day and night and He shall never leave nor forsake them.
- "They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat."
These hunger no more, for they have the bread, which is Christ, the manna from Heaven! Once man has eaten of this bread, he never hungers again and can never die. He will live forever!
- "I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world."
They do not hunger anymore for Christ has filled that need, and there can never again be that emptiness of bread. Likewise, they do not thirst anymore, for they have the living waters which do not dry up, nor run out.
- "But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life."
That ability never to thirst is Eternal Security. It is eternal Salvation! It is everlasting Life wherein they cannot hunger for it again, as it will never cease to flow.
And neither can these children of God be scorched by the heat of the Sun.
- "But the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away.
- For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withereth the grass, and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth: so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways.
- Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him."
The sun will never wither the grass which is sealed of the Spirit of God! Remember the symbolism earlier in this chapter of the Messengers being commanded not to hurt the grass until all the servants of God were sealed? This is the apocalyptic language God uses to symbolize these things. This plague will never hurt the righteous, because God has sealed them that they are that grass whom the sun and heat cannot harm. God's judgments do not hurt these Chosen.
- "And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads."
Here after all are sealed who are to be sealed, now it is commanded that they cannot hurt this grass, ONLY THOSE WHO "DO NOT HAVE" THE SEAL OF GOD. Stark testimony to the truth of the symbolism of the grass and trees Saved by the seal of God, and those as grass of the earth who are not sealed, being hurt by the sun and heat!
Moreover, if these who are sealed in revelation chapter 7 are only literal Jews (as many surmise), then this verse of Revelation 9 is anti-christian. For it then means that all the Christians will be hurt, and only Jews will not be hurt. For it "Clearly" says, hurt "only" those who have not this seal of God in their foreheads, and these theologians declare these are only literal Israel or Jews. Their conclusion is therefore ludicrous! Either that, or there is not a single (non Jewish) Christian left on the face of the earth. If their theory of only Jews being sealed is correct, then these locusts will indeed hurt the Christians who are Gentiles, for it declares that only the tribes of Israel, sealed, are immune! That is the absurdity of this view. The truth is more consistent and scripturally sound. Those who are sealed that they cannot be hurt are Jews and Gentiles alike, in one body of Christ!
- "And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun; and power was given unto him to scorch men with fire.
- And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues: and they repented not to give him glory."
Note "carefully" the contrast between the symbolism of the Children of God who after they are sealed in their foreheads, giving Glory to God, and never thirsting again, and never having the sun light on them or the heat to hurt them, over against those signified in Revelation 16 who are hurt by these vials of God poured out, and whom the heat does hurt, and who despite this will will not give God Glory, and will not repent of their sins. This is the marvelous nature of God's spiritual symbolism.
- "For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes."
Christ which is Glorified on the throne makes sure that the Israel of God never hungers or thirsts, because He is their subsistence. Their water and their bread, and they shall never have need to mourn again. For their desire has come, and He wipes away all tears. We have a Joy and Peace that passeth understanding, because it is no more an earthly Joy or Peace than this is an earthly water or bread. It is the Spiritual security signified by our sealing in our foreheads. We belong to God's Kingdom, and all our desire is accomplished in God's will.
This chapter of revelation is a great synopsis of the Israel of God, the whole body of believers consisting of both Jews and Gentiles, and how God has made the faithful promise that He will not bring these end-time plagues upon the earth until all the families of Israel are sealed. Then and only then will God loose the beast which He bound by the cross. And to be sure, the "All Israel" Saved will be from the beginning of time to this last one sealed at the end-time. The 144,000 symbolize the perfect family of God. All who have ever been sealed! All who have part in the Promises made to Israel. The promise that His seed would be as the sand of the sea will not be made null and void, it is accomplished not in vain genealogies, nor blood lines, but in Christ! THEE Seed Israel, the Son brought out of Egypt, and we in Him.
- "When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called My Son out of Egypt."
The prophesy looking forward to the birth of Christ, the fulfillment of the "true" Israel of God, and how we would all be brought out of spiritual Egypt or bondage, in Him.
- "When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt:
- And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called My Son.
- Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men."
This is the Son, Israel, called out of Egypt! Many Theologians choose to ignore or disregard these verses (and many others), but the fact is, they all consistently and unwaveringly tell the fundamental truth about Israel, it's bondage, deliverance, and how this was a "type" of how the Children of God would be set free from spiritual bondage. When we are brought out of bondage to sin, it is equated with Israel being brought out of bondage to Egypt. Christ Israel was tempted (Proved or tested) in the Wilderness 40 days (Mark 1:13) just as the nation Israel was tempted in the wilderness 40 years (Deu. 8:2). This is all to symbolize that Christ is the Son Israel (matt. 2:15) that was called out of Egypt, the fulfillment of the earlier literal "type" called out of Egypt. It is pointing to the fact that without Christ, Israel is not made free from her bondage. And with Christ, all are the Israel made free from their bondage! Jesus made this manifest as he talked to the Jews about captivity:
- "And the SERVANT abideth not in the HOUSE for ever: BUT THE SON abideth ever.
- If the Son shall make you FREE, ye shall be free indeed."
Consider wisely what is being said here. Israel can only be free from bondage in the Son (Christ). They must be brought out "in Him" by Promise, or else they abide not in the house of God. Just as Israel was promised to be brought out of Egypt, and God kept His promise. Likewise, Jesus is telling these that they can be set free from bondage, but only in the Son. If they abide not in the Son, they abide not in the house of Israel. They remain servants in spiritual Egypt, not free! For the Son has inheritance! The servant works, but works will not get anyone inheritance. In other words, if they reject the Son of God (which is Israel, the House which they must abide in), they cannot be the "true" Israel of God. For no one can be God's Israel, and reject the Israel of God. It's a contradiction of terms. That verse above carries the pertinent message of just how, "if they abide in the Son (Christ) then they abide in the house of Israel forever. Else, they abide not!"
This again is what Paul is talking about in Romans Chapter 9 when he says, "..they are not all Israel which are of Israel". For all do not abide in the House which is Christ, therefore they cannot truly be Israel in God's defining of Israel. Certainly in carnal definition man can say all physical Israel, is Israel, but God says something quite different. There is a remnant Chosen by Grace (Romans 9:27) that are the Children of God, but except the people be in Christ, that they be the Children of Promise, they are not children, not sons, and not the true Israel of God.
Israel [yisra'el] is the Hebrew word meaning Power of God. It's from the two Hebrew words [sarah] meaning to have power, and [el], meaning God. [Sa'rah] is the same word used in:
- "The LORD hath also a controversy with Judah, and will punish Jacob according to his ways; according to his doings will he recompense him.
- He took his brother by the heel in the womb, and by his strength he had power with God:
- Yea, he had power over the angel, and prevailed: he wept, and made supplication unto him: he found him in Bethel, and there he spake with us;"
That word Power is [sa'rah]. Israel, (yisra'el) means power of God. And this is illustrated by God Himself when He first gave this name to Jacob.
- "And he said unto him, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob.
- And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed."
Israel has the power of God because the "true Israel" who struggled with God, is Christ. It is He who is the power of God, it is He who has prevailed as a Prince! Just as in the Previous chapter of Revelation it states the lamb of God has prevailed to loose the seals of the book. This is the Israel in whom anyone (Jew and Gentile together) who will be Saved, must be Saved.
- "But Israel shall be saved in the LORD with an everlasting salvation: ye shall not be ashamed nor confounded world without end."
A literal nation will not be saved with an everlasting Salvation, a physical people will not be saved with an everlasting Salvation, but a "particular" people will. An election chosen by Grace before the foundation of the world, a remnant will be saved in Christ Israel. It is explicit that there is no everlasting salvation for national Israel (Romans 9:6-9), but there is for the Israel of God. It is in "this" deliverer, that All Israel shall be saved! The New Covenant makes a distinction between the literal descendants of Israel and the true Israel of God. A physical descendant Jew, and he who is the true Jew circumcised in heart, rather than in flesh. These are God's distinctions, not man's.
And we must conclude that anyone who makes the claim that all Israel (the nation) will be Saved, or that the Israel of God is a physical lineage, or race, or that the Israel of the promise is by heritage or bloodline, is directly contradicting God's Word that all Israel "is not Israel," and that Israel is defined by God in His own way. The key phrase in that sentence being "by God". He says clearly, that Israel is not defined as a nation because they are not all Israel that are of Israel. Not by blood line because they are not all Israel which are Israel. Not by Race because they are not all Israel which are of Israel. In other words, it's not a race of people which is Israel, but a remnant of that nation, and of all nations, who are in Christ. Just as this Chapter of Revelation demonstrates, a Jew is not a Jew who is one outwardly, but only in the Spirit of God, as he has a new nativity.
- "For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh:
- But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God."
When all the Jews (as defined by God, not men) are Sealed, when all Israel is sealed, then and only then will the messengers who hold the wind be permitted to loose it, as God will pour out the plagues upon the earth as judgments.
And that is the Glorious symbolism of this Chapter. God is longsuffering not willing that one sheep out of 100 should be lost, but he will leave the 99 to go secure the other one as well. Total security, and none lost! And that is the essence of this chapter, and why these messengers wait until all who are to be sealed, are sealed. The second coming of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, but God will not come until the fullness of time when He has sealed all the servants of God. He is longsuffering, that of all that He has chosen from the foundation of the world, would not perish.
2nd Peter 3:8-9
- "But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
- The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance."
God is not willing that all who are in the world come to repentance, He is omniscient, He already knows that all in the world will not be saved. Why would God be patient waiting for someone to be Saved, who He already knows won't be saved. This is confusion. But He is longsuffering knowing that He must wait until all "who are to be sealed" have been secured. That all "which He has Chosen before" have become saved. Then and only then will this judgment on the earth occur, and the second advent of Christ will come to fruition. Patience in knowledge, not in ignorance of who is going to be saved. And this is why the command to the 4 messengers is that they cannot hurt the earth until all Israel are sealed. It is the fulfillment of the promise that not one be lost, either by impatience, or by this wind on the earth. The Lord knows who are His. They are sealed with the Spirit for security, and also that "thy themselves" know.
May the Lord who is Gracious above all give us the wisdom and understanding of these verses of His Holy Word.
. And so all Israel Shall be Saved (Romans 11:26) - The Israel of God, Tony Warren 1993 (http://www.mountainretreatorg.net/eschatology/israel.html) [Back]
.The Numbers in scripture, Tony Warren 1993 (http://www.mountainretreatorg.net/bible/numbers.html) [Back]
. Matthew 4:18-19 - the parable of casting a net into the sea. [Back]
. Malachi 3:1 - The messenger of the Covenant, which is Christ. [Back]
. Exodus 12:3 - The plagues passed over all those with the blood of a Lamb on their doorposts. [Back]
. Exodus 28:36-38 - Ceremonial law marking consecrated of the Lord. [Back]
. Exodus 9:4, 9:26, 10:23, 11:7, 12:23 - The Children of God are always protected [Back]
. Ephesians 2:12-14 - For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; [Back]
. Revelation 5:5 - And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof. [Back]
. Genesis 35:22, Genesis 49:4, 1st Chronicles 5:1; [Back]
. John 16:33, 1st John 4:4 - Warfare in the world, but Peace with God, in whom we overcome a troop, because greater is He who is in us, than he that is in the world. [Back]
. Revelation 21:27, 22:15 - idolaters are excluded, and nothing enters this Holy City that defiles, only those written in the Lamb's book of life. [Back]
. Luke 6:22, Mark 13:13 - And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. [Back]
. Joshua 19:1-8 [Back]
. Genesis 37:28 [Back]
. Matthew 27:9, Revelation 11:8 [Back]
. Genesis 41:39-45, Hebrews 2:9 [Back]
. Revelation 1:16, 20 - Messengers of the Churches [Back]
. Revelation 3:18 - We are counseled to buy of God white raiment that our nakedness of shame not appear. [Back]
. Ephesians 2:6-19 Reconcile both Jew and Gentile in one body, by the cross, to make in Himself, of two, one new man. [Back]
. Acts 1:8, Acts 13:47 [Back]
. Luke 9:1-2, John 12:31-32, Mark 16:17-18, Colossians 1:13, 1st John 3:8 [Back]
. Matthew 12:28-30 [Back]
. Revelation 20:3 - Satan cannot deceive the nations until after millennial Kingdom reign, when the Church is accomplished. [Back]
. Revelation 5:1 - a book written on both sides of the scroll (page), sealed with seven seals. [Back]
. 1st John 2:27 - As God declares we need not that any man teach us, but as the same anointing of the spirit teaches us. [Back]
. Titus 3:9 - The Church is told to avoid foolish questions and genealogies and arguments about the law, as they are all vain. [Back]
Peace,Feel free to duplicate, display or distribute this publication to anyone who would like a copy, as long as the above copyright notice remains intact and there are no changes made to the article. This publication can be distributed only in it's original form, unedited, and without cost.
Copyright 2001 Tony Warren
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