Wednesday, January 30, 2013

144,000 Sealed

Revelation 7:1-8

144,000 Sealed

1 After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth to prevent any wind from blowing on the land or on the sea or on any tree.

2 Then I saw another angel coming up from the east, having the Seal of the Living God. He called out in a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm the land and the sea:

3 “Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.”

4 Then I heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel.

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

from the tribe of Reuben 12,000,

from the tribe of Gad 12,000,

6 from the tribe of Asher 12,000,

from the tribe of Naphtali 12,000,

from the tribe of Manasseh 12,000,

7 from the tribe of Simeon 12,000,

from the tribe of Levi 12,000,

from the tribe of Issachar 12,000,

8 from the tribe of Zebulun 12,000,

from the tribe of Joseph 12,000,

from the tribe of Benjamin 12,000.


The Seal of the Living God.

Greek: σφραγῖδα θεοῦ ζῶντος (sphragida theo zontos, a seal of God the Living One)

Σφραγίς sphragís – an etched (engraved) object pressed into soft wax or clay to seal a document (letter); a ‘seal, ‘signet ring.’

Haggai 2:23

“‘On that day,’ declares the Lord Almighty, ‘I will take you, my servant Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will make you like My Signet Ring, for I have chosen you,’ declares the Lord Almighty.”

As to the form of the seal, we have no information. It would be most natural to suppose that the “Name of the living God” would be engraven on it, so that that Name would appear on anyone to whom it might be affixed.

Compare the notes on 2 Timothy 2:19 below. It was customary in the East to brand the name of the master on the forehead of a slave and such an idea would meet all that is implied in the language here, though there is no certain evidence that there is an allusion to that custom.

In subsequent times, in the church, it was common for Christians to impress the sign of the cross on their foreheads. As nothing is said here, however, about any mark or device on the seal, conjecture is useless as to what it really is.

2 Timothy 2:19 (Aramaic Bible in Plain English)

“But the foundation of God stands firm, and it has this seal: “And THE LORD JEHOVAH knows those who are His, and let everyone who calls on the Name of THE LORD JEHOVAH separate from evil.”

Similarly, Revelation 14:9 refers to the mark of the beast on the forehead of its worshiper.

“If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives his mark on the forehead or on the hand.”

Ezekiel 9:4 records;

And the LORD said to him, “Pass through the city, through Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations that are committed in it.”

144,000  Sealed

Some people do not take the number 144,000 literally and take it as a mere symbolic expression. Some even spiritualize the 144, 000 into a Christian group

There is no textual basis to support those who claim that the 144, 000 are any entity other than physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. John gives the reader every detail necessary to correctly identify this group. The critical phrase “from every tribe of the sons of Israel” should settle any debate about their identity. This phrase always refers to physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Out of six hundred and thirty-five occurrences of this phrase throughout the Scriptures, Revelation 7:4 would be the only exception. There is no compelling reason to spiritualize away the literal sense. Every tribe of the sons of Israel has solid biblical support as a referent of Jews only.

‘Every’ would seem to suggest that all twelve sons of Jacob are intended here. However, Manasseh is included and Dan is left out. Manasseh’s inclusion and Dan’s exclusion are interesting. Who is included or excluded from a list of Jacob’s sons is determined by the author’s intent.

A biological list of Jacob’s sons would include Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Zebulun, Issachar, Dan, Gad, Asher, Naphtali, Joseph, and Benjamin. A land grant list would include Reuben, Simeon, Judah, Zebulun, Issachar, Dan, Gad, Asher, Naphtali, and Benjamin. Joseph and Levi would be excluded and Manasseh and Ephraim would be included reflecting that Joseph received the double portion of his father’s inheritance. A blessing/curse list would include or exclude those not affected by it. In the case of Moses’ blessings list of Deuteronomy 33, Simeon is not included.

A change in the list of Jacob’s sons occurs after Genesis 49. There, Jacob stripped Reuben of his rights as first-born. The right of the first-born to receive a double portion of the father’s inheritance passed to Joseph. The reason Reuben lost it is that he defiled Jacob by sleeping with Bilhah, Jacob’s concubine. This is how Ephraim and Manasseh received land grants from Joshua. Judah prevailed over his brothers and from him came the leader (king) of Israel (1 Chronicles 5:1-2).

It is clear that the list of Revelation 7 is not based on the land grant, which would exclude Joseph and Levi. The list is not based on physical lineage, for Manasseh is not the biological child of Jacob, but is adopted. Like the list of those blessed by Moses in Deuteronomy 33, this list is based on blessings/curses. As Simeon was left out of that list, Dan is left out of this list. Dan is left out of the list because he is not blessed. The purpose of the sealing is to prevent harm to those sealed. The fact that no members of the tribe of Dan receive this special protection is at first surprising. However, the selection of only twelve thousand from each tribe indicates that only a few of the larger group receives this special protection. That not a single Danite receives this special protection indicates an unfavorable attitude towards him. Some have suggested that Dan’s idolatry is the reason for his exclusion at this point. There is no explicit biblical basis to be dogmatic either way.

Retrieved from and  modified for posting 01/30/2013

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