Monday, 7 December 2020
And I heard the number of those who were sealed. One hundred and forty-four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel were sealed: Revelation 7:4
News Flash: When the Bible says “Israel,” it is speaking of an ethnic group of people who today are the Jewish people, not anyone else. Israel does not refer to the Jehovah’s Witnesses; British Israelism; Black Hebrew Israelites; Israelite Church of God; the Church of God, International; or a litany of other people who falsely claim they are the descendants of the Hebrew people (Israel) found in Scripture, or the “ten lost tribes” (which are not lost at all).
Nor does the church replace the people of Israel to become “spiritual Israel,” as claimed by replacement theologians. These are false claims and/or extremely poor analyses of Scripture. They are to be rejected outright.
Concerning the subject verse, the words of this verse are referring to “the servants of God” who are to be sealed on their foreheads, as was noted in the previous verse. Of them, it now says, “And I heard the number of those who were sealed.”
A specific number of the “servants of God” are to be sealed, and the number is heard by John. There is a specific number decided upon, just as there are a certain number of Gentiles who will be included in the portion of the redemptive narrative known as the church age. This is explicitly stated by Paul in Romans 11:25 (see commentary on Revelation 6:11).
God is building a house out of His people who are “living stones” (1 Peter 2:4, 6). This is “for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:22). Such terminology means that God has a plan. He is building something out of the redeemed. As this is so, it would hardly be expected that he would be imprecise in numbers. Rather, with God there is only perfection. Every aspect of what He is doing is precise and serves an exacting purpose. Concerning these servants of God to be sealed, the same is true. Understanding that, John hears the number. It is “One hundred and forty-four thousand.”
The number is precise and obviously serves its own particular purpose. That will be analyzed as the verses continue. However, and getting a bit ahead of the narrative, it will be seen that there are twelve tribes mentioned, and there will be twelve thousand from each tribe that are sealed. It calls out for understanding what the number twelve signifies in Scripture. EW Bullinger states that it –
“…is a perfect number, signifying perfection of government, or of governmental perfection. It is found as a multiple in all that has to do with rule. The sun which “rules” the day, and the moon and stars which “govern” the night, do so by their passage through the twelve signs of the Zodiac which completes the great circle of the heavens of 360 (12 x 30) degrees or divisions, and thus govern the year.
Twelve is the product of 3 (the perfectly Divine and heavenly number) and 4 (the earthly, the number of what is material and organic).
While seven is composed of 3 added to 4, twelve is 3 multiplied by 4, and hence denotes that which can scarcely be explained in words, but which the spiritual perception can at once appreciate, viz., organization, the products denoting production and multiplication and increase of all that is contained in the two numbers separately. The 4 is generally prominently seen in the twelve.”
In short, twelve is the number of perfection of government, or of governmental perfection. With this understood, John says, “of all the tribes of the children of Israel were sealed.”
As noted in the important News Flash above, this is referring to actual descendants of the people of Israel who have been regathered as a people, and who are living in the land of Israel today, with many still living in the nations of the world, but who are identified by their Jewish heritage. As a proof that this is referring to this group of people, and not the church having replaced Israel, one can go to the final Leviticus 26 sermon from the Superior Word which clearly reveals this.
This truth is also discussed throughout the Deuteronomy sermons of the Superior Word. One of note is the sermon on Deuteronomy 8:10-20, entitled “And You Shall Remember the Lord Your God.” Sermons such as these clearly reveal that God is faithful to this unfaithful group of people, and that it is they who are referred to in the book of Revelation.
As an example of the lightbulb properly lit on this issue, even scholars of the past – long before Israel was regathered as a nation – were able to deduce this. For example, speaking of the regathering of the people, Israel, Amos 9:14, 15 says –
“’I will bring back the captives of My people Israel;
They shall build the waste cities and inhabit them;
They shall plant vineyards and drink wine from them;
They shall also make gardens and eat fruit from them.
15 I will plant them in their land,
And no longer shall they be pulled up
From the land I have given them,’
Says the Lord your God.”
Although most scholars of the past spiritualized or disregarded these words as some type of allegory, several scholars looked to the seemingly impossible, and anticipated a literal fulfillment of them –
“And they shall no more be pulled up – Most certainly this prophecy has never yet been fulfilled. They were pulled out by the Assyrian captivity, and by that of Babylon. Many were planted in again, and again pulled out by the Roman conquest and captivity, and were never since planted in, but are now scattered among all the nations of the earth. I conclude, as the word of God cannot fail, and this has not yet been fulfilled, it therefore follows that it will and must be fulfilled to the fullness of its spirit and intention. And this is established by the conclusion: “Saith the Lord thy God.” He is Jehovah, and cannot fail; he is Thy God, and will do it. He can do it, because he is Jehovah; and he will do it, because he is Thy God. Amen.” Adam Clarke (1762-1832)
“…and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, saith the Lord thy God; by which it appears that this is a prophecy of things yet to come; since the Jews, upon their return to their own land after the Babylonish captivity, were pulled up again, and rooted out of it by the Romans, and remain so to this day; but, when they shall return again, they will never more be removed from it; and of this they may he assured; because it is the land the Lord has, ‘given’ them, and it shall not be taken away from them any more; and, because he will now appear to be the “Lord their God”, the ‘loammi’, Hosea 1:9, will be taken off from them; they will be owned to be the Lords people, and he will be known by them to be their covenant God; which will ensure all the above blessings to them, of whatsoever kind; for this is either said to the prophet, “the Lord thy God”, or to Israel; and either way it serves to confirm the same thing.” John Gill (1697-1771).
First and foremost, to understand sections of the Bible – such as these words in Revelation 7 – there must be an acceptance of God’s faithfulness to His covenant promises. If God were unfaithful to the nation of Israel, there would be no security for the believer in Christ. But God has used Israel as a template for eternal security in the individual believer. When the Bible speaks of Israel, it is referring to this group of people, and none other.
Life application: There is a complete structural unity to the number of people being sealed. And, this is occurring during the tribulation period, which is the 70th “week” or 7-year period of Daniel’s 70 weeks (see Daniel 9:24-27). This is speaking about the Jewish people and it is centered on Jerusalem, not the church. Only an extremely poor and/or anti-Semitic view of the Bible could come up with a “spiritual Israel” interpretation. Further, only an arrogant but false claim by fringe cults can be made by groups who attempt to co-opt the right to be called something they are not (as noted in those named in the News Flash above).
Rather, those referred to in this verse are the descendants of Abraham, through Isaac, and then through Jacob/Israel. They are Jews who are being sealed for God’s purposes as He deals with the world through the Jewish nation once again.
In accepting this truth, we – as believers in Christ through the New Covenant in His blood – can have the absolute confidence that He will deal with us according to the same covenant faithfulness that He has dealt with the disobedient people, Israel. Their unfaithfulness to Him in no way negates His faithfulness to His word. In Christ, we have the absolute surety of eternal salvation because God – who is ever faithful – has done it.
God in Christ has spoken, and He will perform. He is the embodiment of faithfulness and truth. He is JESUS!
Lord God, help us to not be deceived by those who would purposely or carelessly misapply the clear and concise statements of the Bible for selfish, hateful, or other reasons. May You open our eyes to the truth of Your word and lead us in the proper handling of it so that You will be glorified through our studies. This we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.