Part 2/Week 6: The 144,000 & the Tribulation Saints

Revelation 7 is a parenthetical passage which draws our attention away from the devastation in chapter 6 and introduces us to the ministry of the 144,000 Jewish believers and Tribulation Saints. “In verses 1-3 [of chapter 7], the four angels who are commissioned to bring judgment on the earth are commanded to hold off their destruction until a specific number of servants have been sealed” (Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of the Messiah, p. 217). The 144,000 are appointed out of the 12 tribes of Israel, with 12,000 representing each tribe. Spiros says, “this does not mean that the number of Israelites who will be saved will be limited to 144,000. Rather it refers to 12,000 out of each tribe who are sealed from the wrath of Satan and the Antichrist” (Zodhiates, Hebrew Greek Key Study Bible, p. 1680).

“The mention of the four winds shows that these 144,000 Jews come from all parts of the world and not only from Israel” (Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of the Messiah, p. 217). Although Israel doesn’t have the greatest records of tribal descendants, God knows who they are. The 144,000 are sealed for protection and the proclamation of the gospel to the world. These precious Jewish believers will survive the entire 7 years and stand triumphantly with the Lamb on Mount Zion (Revelation 14:1).

The result of their ministry is a great multitude of Tribulation Saints. Revelation 7:9-10 says, “after these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”

Walvoord says, “if the elders represent the church, the multitude represents a different body of saints” (The Revelation of Jesus Christ, p. 144). Verse 15 tells us that “these are the ones who come out of the great tribulation and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (NKJV). Walvoord goes on to say that “this is a particular group coming from a particular time” (The Revelation of Jesus Christ, p. 144). The 144,000 sealed Jewish believers will fulfill Jesus’ prophecy in Matthew 24:14 which says, “this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come” (NASB1995). Some have confused “the end” with “the rapture,” but the rapture is an imminent, signless event and its timing does not depend on the world being evangelized. Revelation 7 shows us that an innumerable multitude will come to Christ during the 7-year tribulation as the result of the witness of the 144,000 which clearly happens after the rapture.

“From this chapter, it should be evident that the Holy Spirit will still be at work during the tribulation period, for the work of regeneration is His particular ministry. While the work of restraining evil is removed, allowing the Antichrist to begin his evil rise to power, the Holy Spirit Himself will still be in the world and will have an active ministry” (Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of the Messiah, p. 220).

“During the tribulation, countless people of all nations will come to know Christ. It will be a time of salvation for them in spite of persecution and even martyrdom” (Walvoord, The Revelation of Jesus Christ, p. 146). The age-old question remains. Can people who previously rejected the gospel get a second chance to be saved after the rapture? Many commentators agree that there will still be an opportunity during the tribulation for those who rejected Christ. But there are some who disagree based on 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12. Spiros Zodhiates is one of these respected commentators who believes “the only ones who will be saved during the tribulation will be those who have not heard the Gospel previous to that time” (The Hebrew Greek Key Study Bible, p. 1680). I wish I knew the answer to this question. One thing is for sure, it will be extremely difficult for those who had previously rejected Christ to be saved because of the great delusion that is coming upon the earth during that time.

Regardless of who is saved during the tribulation, “the Tribulation Saints, like all others, must rest alone in that sacrifice which Christ provided for them. What is true for them is true for the saints of all ages; only the blood of Christ avails to wash away sin” (Walvoord, The Revelation of Jesus Christ, p. 147).

The Tribulation Saints have experienced great suffering and will be comforted in God’s presence. We saw the heart of the Lamb in the fifth seal when the martyred saints cried out for justice under the altar. We see it again in chapter seven as the Tribulation Saints are comforted by their close proximity to the throne of God. Verses 15-17 give us a beautiful picture of this:

“For this reason, they are before the throne of God; and they serve Him day and night in His temple; and He who sits on the throne shall spread His tabernacle over them. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; neither shall the sun beat down on them, nor any heat; for the Lamb in the center of the throne shall be their shepherd and shall guide them to springs of the water of life; and God shall wipe every tear from their eyes” (Revelation 7:15-17 NASB1995).

“God will wipe away all tears resulting from their suffering on earth. In the glory of heaven, whatever burdens and cares may have been laid upon the saints in earthly life, there will be no sorrow, no tears, and no death” (Walvoord, The Revelation of Jesus Christ, p. 149).

Week 6: Homework Reflections

Day One: Vision of the 5 Angels

  1. Read Revelation 7:1 and record what you learn about the 4 angels.
  2. Read Revelation 7:2-3.What is the fifth angel carrying and what does he tell the other angels?
  3. Read Psalm 104. Record everything you learn about God in this chapter. What specifically does it say about the wind in verse 3? How does this relate to Revelation 7:1-3 and how does it remind you that God is in control of everything?

Day Two: The 144,000 Sealed

  1. Read Revelation 7:3-8. Who was sealed and how many were sealed? Where were they sealed?
  2. List the tribes mentioned in verses 5-8.
  3. What else do you learn about the 144,000 from Rev. 14:1-5? List everything you observe about them from this passage.

Day Three: The Tribulation Saints

  1. Read Revelation 7:9-12. List everything you learn about the Tribulation Saints from these verses.
  2. Read Revelation 7:13-14. How does the elder specifically describe these saints to John?
  3. How were their robes washed and made white? Read the following verses and record what you learn about the blood of Christ: Hebrews 9:22; Acts 20:28; Romans 3:25; Romans 5:9; Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:20; 1 Peter 1:18-19; Revelation 1:5; and Revelation 19:13.

Days Four & Five: The Comfort of the Lamb

  1. Read Revelation 7:15-17. Describe how the Tribulation Saints are comforted around the throne of God.
  2. For what reason are they before the throne of God based on Revelation 7:14-15? What do you learn about God’s throne in Hebrews 4:14-16 and how can you draw comfort from His throne now?
  3. Read 1 Corinthians 2:9 and 2 Corinthians 4:16-18. How do these verses reveal the comfort that awaits us one day?
  4. As we close out this week’s study, read Revelation 22:1-9. I can’t wait until we get to chapter 22! But how do these verses comfort your heart? What specific attribute of heaven stands out to you the most?

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