The tribes of Israel.
And I heard the number of them which were sealed: [and there were] sealed a hundred [and] forty [and] four thousands of all the tribes of the children of Israel. Revelation 7,4
Revelation chapter 7 talks about 144,000 to be sealed with the seal of the living God. This comes in the first interlude of the prophecies of Revelation, and those who are to be sealed are called as we see the 144,000 of all the tribes of the children of Israel.
The question is whether this is something to be interpreted literally or whether it is a pictorial representation. The first thing we need to find out is whether those listed are really the twelve tribes of Israel or put another way. Is it really the 12 sons of Jacob who are listed in the order of birth which are reproduced here in Revelation 7?
The 12 tribes of Israel are listed in four different books of the Bible. It is in Genesis chapter 49, Numbers chapter 13, Ezekiel chapter 48 and in Revelation chapter 7. In Genesis after the order of birth, in Numbers after how the scouts who were to spy out Canaan were picked out, in the book of Ezekiel they are mentioned according to where the different tribes were to settle and in Revelation they are listed in a seemingly arbitrary way.
In Numbers, Levi is omitted and Ephraim the second son of Joseph is inserted. In Ezekiel, both Levi and Joseph are omitted and both sons of Joseph, Ephraim, and Manasseh, are inserted. In Revelation, Joseph and Levi are reinstated, while Dan and Ephraim are omitted.
In Numbers they are listed in this order: Reuben, Simeon, Judah, Issachar, Ephraim, Benjamin, Zebulun, Joseph, Dan, Asher, Naphtali, and Gad.
In Ezekiel they are listed in this order: Dan, Asher, Naphtali, Manasseh, Ephraim, Reuben, Judah, Benjamin, Simeon, Issachar, Zebulun and Gad.
Let us compare Genesis chapter 49 where the sons of Jacob are listed in the birth order, and Revelation chapter 7 which is of interest to us now, where the 12 tribes of Israel are listed. Let us look at how this is related.
Genesis 49 verses Revelation 7 verses
(1) Reuben 3 (4) Judah 5
(2) Simeon 5 (1) Ruben 5
(3) Levi 5 (8) Gad 5
(4) Judah 8 (9) Asher 6
(5) Zebulun 13 (10) Naphtali 6
(6) Issachar 14 Manasseh * 6
(7) Dan 16 (2) Simeon 7
(8) Gad 19 (3) Levi 7
(9) Asher 20 (6) Issachar 7
(10) Naphtali 21 (5) Zebulun 8
(11) Joseph 22 (11) Joseph 8
(12) Benjamin 27 (12) Benjamin 8
Numbers in parentheses are the birth order of Jacob’s children. * Jacob’s grandson, Joseph’s son.
As we see from Genesis and Revelation, the 12 tribes of Israel in chapter 7 are not Jacob’s 12 sons by birth order. The order of birth is found in Genesis 49. Then we must ask why this is so. There is always a reason why things are the way they are, and if we can find the answer to why they are listed in this order, it will give us a better understanding of who the 144,000 are.
As we see they are mentioned just after the question in verse 17, which concludes chapter 6: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?
The question itself sets the time for this event. We are on the great day of His wrath, which is the day Jesus returns in all his glory. The fact that we are in the end times ranging bone under an interpretation that says that these should come from the 12 tribes of the physical Israel.
With respect to report, no one knows where the 12 tribes are after the Assyrian king Sennacherib led the ten-tribe kingdom into captivity beyond the river in the year 721 BC. and the great diaspora that spread most of the Jews throughout the world in the years 66 – 70 AD. when Jerusalem and the temple were laid in ruins, and the last remnant of Jews expelled from Judah by the Romans in the year 135 AD. after the failed Bar-Kokhva uprising (132 – 135).
John was probably worried about the church he had helped to found, and when he had now seen all the misery that the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th seals bring with them, he was probably desperate, which is evident in the terrible closing question in Revelation chapter 6 who shall be able to stand? Is there anyone at all who can stand through all the terrible events John sees unfolding?
And questions require, as we know, answers, so I think that this sequence, the interludes in Chapter 7, was given to comfort John before he sees the seven trumpets and more of the misery that will fall upon the people of the earth. Through this prophecy, the interlude in chapter 7, God tells us that even though the church is going through terrible times, God will fulfil the plan of salvation, and just as when God led Moses out of Egypt from captivity, God will deliver His people in the end times. Here John sees that God’s people will also have some protection through all trials and tribulations, and when it really ties together, God will give the ultimate protection to His people, He will give them the seal of the living God on their foreheads. And it is to show John that He will fulfil the plan of salvation that God shows him the 144,000 of all the tribes of the children of Israel in the order in which they appear here in Revelation chapter 7. John who was a Hebrew, was well acquainted with what the names meant, and which indicated there is probably a good reason why God uses these 12 names as the 12 tribes of Israel. Here are the names and what they mean.
Judah = I will praise the Lord Ruben = He has looked on me Gad = Made me happy Asher = Lucky am I Naphtali = My battle Manasseh = Makes me forget Simeon = God hears me Levi = With me Issachar = Purchased me Zebulon = Dwelling Joseph = Will lead me to Benjamin = The son at his right hand
When we write the meaning of the words in the order the names appear in Rev 7, we get the following text: I will praise the Lord for He has looked on me and made me happy. Lucky am I because my battle makes me forget. God hears me and is with me. He has purchased me a dwelling and will lead me to the Son of his right hand.
This is the plan of salvation expressed using 12 names. The 12 tribes of Israel in Revelation 7 give us assurances that God will take care of his people. Then we have come a long way, but we do not know who the 144,000 are. Some interpret the 144,000 literally and claim that these are descendants of Old Testament Israel. There is little reason to trust it, if we are to believe Paul as in Romans 2,28-29: 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.
- As an apropos to the 12 tribes, I can mention that the same principle is found in Genesis chapter 5 where the ten patriarchs are listed, and these are: Adam, Set, Enos, Kenan, Mahalalel, Jared, Enoch, Metusalah, Lamek and Noah. These names mean: man, given, lethal/incurable, sorrow, the blessed God, shall descend, teach, his death shall prevail, the lost, rest. Here we find a Christ prophecy, and with three conjunctions to bring flow to the text, it goes like this:Man is given a lethal/incurable sorrow. The blessed God shall descend and teach. His death shall prevail the lost rest.
Jehovah’s Witnesses interpret the prophecy of the 144,000 both literally and symbolically. They say that the 144,000 are an exact number, a literal interpretation, and that these 144,000 are only the most pious of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, a symbolically interpretation. It is an incredibly resilient exercise to interpret two parts of the same sentence in two different ways. It is impossible that this is right.
We will probably interpret both this number and who they are symbolic. I mean, the prophecy does not give a specific number of people, just that it tells about a large group of people. But the number is unknown. That the number 144,000 is used may be incomprehensible at first glance as we read just before this sequence about the martyrs (Revelation 6,9) that a separate group saved. No number is given here, neither symbolically nor literally. Just after the sequence of the 144,000, we read about the great multitude (Revelation 7,9) that was so large that no one could count it. Here, too, no number is given.
If we are to try to explain why the number 144,000 is used, then these 144,000 constitute the Lord’s warriors or foot soldiers in the end times. In this perspective, the number 144,000 may be somewhat easier to understand. A division of soldiers in John’s time consisted of 1000 soldiers, we add that God’s people once in Old Testament times consisted of 12 tribes, and that the church was founded by 12 apostles in New Testament times, we get the following calculation: 1000 X 12 X 12 = 144,000 – to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people (Revelation 14,6) who live in the end times and: – that keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus (Revelation 14,12), – which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ (Revelation 12,17), – that have the testimony of Jesus … for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy (Revelation 19,10). But the number is still unknown, and it will still be unknown to the end. We only know that there is a large group of people but limited to those who remain faithful to God in the absolute end times.
Verse 4 tells us that the four winds would not damage anything on earth until the 144,000 were sealed with the seal of the living God. This tells us that we are in the absolute end time. In chapter 14 John sees the 144,000 in heaven where it is said that these were redeemed from among men, [being] the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb.
The firstfruits were special, and of the first that was harvested in Israel, some were to be sacrificed to God. Now it says that this firstfruit, the 144,000, has been redeemed. They are not a sacrifice as the martyrs are. But what are they redeemed from? They are redeemed from the earth. Yes, but from what on earth are they redeemed from is not said. However, it is said that they sing a new song before the throne, a song that no one but the 144,000 could learn. This is a clear parallel to Exodus and the Exodus from Egypt. When Israel left Egypt, they were pursued by Pharaoh and his soldiers. At the Red Sea, they were captured. In front they had the sea, on both sides they had high mountains and behind came the Egyptians. In other words, they were trapped by three insurmountable barriers in front and on the sides, and behind them came the enemy who wanted to destroy them. What God is doing now is amazing. He opens the sea and deliver His people so that Israel can walk dry-shod over to the other side, while Pharaoh and all his soldiers perish in the Red Sea. When they are delivered, they sing a song to the Lord, and only those who experienced this miracle could sing this song.
We see the same thing in Revelation 14. They sing a new song because they have a special experience that no one else on earth has experienced. They were redeemed from the greatest tribulation ever on earth because they were able to stand against false prophets and false teachings, and they did not give in to fall down for the image of the beast and worship it. Therefore it says that they follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth.
The 144,000 live in the absolute end time, and in addition to what is described above, the Bible says about them:
… those who hold fast to the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. Revelation 14,12 … the others of her seed, those who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. Revelation 12,17 … those who have the testimony of Jesus. God you must worship! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. Revelation 19,10 … And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God. Revelation 14,5
That is why this group is indicated by a symbolic number – 144,000. This number includes all who belong to God’s remnant in the end times who fulfil the verses above. It is thus a limited group, but it is uncertain how many this group consists of. We only know that they come from all nations, kindred, peoples and tongues, and who live the day Jesus returns to fetch His faithful people.
We know that God’s people will be sealed, but we do not know when. The only thing we have to stick to is that it will happen in the end times. But the end time is a fleeting concept, it started once, and will not end until Jesus returns to retrieve His faithful remnant.
Here, as elsewhere, is the divergent view. Some believe that the sealing began in the time just after the Adventists began to keep God’s Sabbath, the seventh day of the week, while others extend this even further in time, and that all who have kept the Sabbath in both Old Testament and New Testament times are sealed, and say with that keeping the Sabbath means being sealed, because God’s Sabbath is God’s seal.
The question should rather be why God’s people should be sealed, what is the purpose of this sealing, and then the time for the sealing will be given by itself. We know from Ellen G. White’s vision that the sealing will not take place until Jesus finishes his service in the heavenly temple, and just before the last seven plagues hit the earth. On the day these trials begin to fall upon the earth, Jesus clearly states that those who have kept His word of endurance will be spared from these afflictions. We will look closer on the sealing in the type and antitype further down.
In the book Early Writings, Ellen G. White tells us that on the Sabbath of January 5, 1849, she had a vision regarding the sealing, which begins with Jesus will not leave the Most Holy until every matter is decided to salvation or perdition. When Jesus leaves the Most Holy, the remnant of God will be sealed because; a) God’s people will stand without a mediator between themselves and God the Father when Jesus has left the Most Holy, and b) then God the Father will unleash the last seven plagues that are God’s wrath on the wicked.
Under the heading God´s love for His people, in the same book, she says this: I begged of my attending angel to let me remain in that place. I could not bear the thought of coming back to this dark world again. Then the angel said, You must go back, and if you are faithful, you, with the 144,000, shall have the privilege of visiting all the worlds and viewing the handiwork of God. This cannot be understood in any other way than that EG White’s accompanying angel is quite clear that she is not counted among the 144,000. The angel truly says that if she is faithful she will, together with the 144,000, have that privilege … … … It must have been obvious to E. G. White’s accompanying angel that she would rest in the tomb on the day of the Lord, the second coming of Christ, otherwise he would not have worded himself as he did.
And under the heading My first vision, in the same book, she says this: And as we were about to enter the holy temple, Jesus raised His lovely voice and said, Only the 144,000 enter this place, and we shouted, Alleluia. This temple was supported by seven pillars, all of transparent gold, set with pearls most glorious. The wonderful things I there saw I cannot describe … //… I saw there tables of stone in which the names of the 144,000 were engraved in letters of gold.
To find the meaning of the sealing, we must see if we find a type of the seal in the Bible. If we find this type, we will soon see that the sealing will be an antitype. The sealing will be of great importance to God’s people. But to find the historical type, we need to know what event to look for.
It is said today that we are spiritually are standing on the banks of the Jordan, ready to leave this world, which is the spiritual Egypt, and enter the promised land – the heavenly Canaan. This is the antitype. Then it should not be difficult to find the type. The type we are looking for must be Israel’s exodus from Egypt – on its way to the promised land – the earthly Canaan.
The Exodus from Egypt.
In connection with Israel’s exodus from Egypt, we can begin with the last event that took place in Egypt before Israel was liberated by the power of God: they were to prepare for the last great plague that was to strike Egypt, while they were already out of reach of the destroyer. What Israel did here was an act of faith. If they wanted to be on the train leaving Egypt, they had to show this by a sign, made in faith and believe that this sign could protect them. In Exodus chapter 12 we read:
Verse 7: And they shall take of the blood, and strike [it] on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it.
Verses 12-13: For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I [am] the LORD. And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye [are]: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy [you], when I smite the land of Egypt.
As we see, the blood that was stroked on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses was to be a sign to the angel of death passing through Egypt at night. In faith, in other words, God’s people had to strike blood on their houses before the angel of death passed through the land and killed all the firstborn in homes where there was no blood stroked on the two side posts and on the upper door post. But this raises a question.
Did not God know in advance who His people were?
Of course, God knew very well who His people was at that time as well as He knows who His people are today. The fact that the children of Israel had to strike blood on their houses was not to show God and the angel of death that the Israelites live here. It was 1) to show their faith in God and that He was able save them that they did it. The blood they stroke on their doorposts was a picture of Jesus’ blood flowing at Calvary, and 2) to give all in Egypt a visible sign or proof that God is stronger than the gods of Egypt, and 3) for all the other nations to see that this sign – the blood – that Israel had stroked on their houses protected the people of God from Pharaoh and his people. This became very visible when the angel of death passed through Egypt that night. All male firstborns, both humans and animals, died except in the houses that had stroked the blood of the lamb on their doorposts.
Jacob’s trouble and battle.
Soon, God’s faithful people, those who keep God’s Sabbath, will be subjected to the worst trials and sufferings that any human being has inflicted on his fellow man. Because they will not submit to human commandments and laws, a decree will be issued stating that those who do not take the mark of the beast will be subjected to the most severe punishments and eventually the death penalty. This is the time that the prophet Jeremiah calls the time of Jacob’s trouble: For thus saith the LORD; We have heard a voice of trembling, of fear, and not of peace. Ask ye now, and see whether a man doth travail with child? wherefore do I see every man with his hands on his loins, as a woman in travail, and all faces are turned into paleness? Alas! for that day [is] great, so that none [is] like it: it [is] even the time of Jacob’s trouble; but he shall be saved out of it. Jeremiah 30,5-7
What more can we find about Jacob’s tribulation and battle in the Bible? And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day. And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him. And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me. 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. And Jacob asked [him], and said, Tell [me], I pray thee, thy name. And he said, Wherefore [is] it [that] thou dost ask after my name? And he blessed him there, (Genesis 32,24-29).
When Jacob was on his way home after serving his uncle Laban for more than 20 years, he was told that his brother Esau was on his way with 400 armed men to take revenge for what Jacob had done more than 20 years earlier. Jacob was afraid, and he went for himself to pray, and ended up fighting the Man, whom Jacob would not let go until he had blessed him. The experience Jacob had this special night when he fought and feared for his own life and the lives of all those he had with him must also God’s end-time church experience just before our Saviour returns to earth.
Alas! for that day [is] great, so that none [is] like it: it [is] even the time of Jacob’s trouble; but he shall be saved out of it, (Jeremiah 30,7).
Although Jeremiah tells of a time of great trouble, and that God’s people fear for their lives during this period, they will not give up their faith. It is now that they want to do the same as Jacob. They will fight with God hour after hour with their prayers for deliverance and salvation. And even though they are experiencing unparalleled tribulation, God will remember His people, and He will hear their prayers, and answer them by delivering them in His miraculous way. God has promised to save His people, and He will, and when it looks darkest, in the middle of the night, then the Saviour comes in the clouds of heaven to deliver His longing people.
We can say that Jacob was marked (sealed) by God, because when Esau came to Jacob’s camp he could not raise his hand against Jacob. Jacob was under the special protection of God. In a way, Jacob had received the seal of God. But the most important thing here is to know that Jacob had a time of trouble and a struggle.
When were Israel and Jacob sealed?
Israel had been in Egypt for a long time when Moses came to lead them out of slavery, and they had suffered oppression and all kinds of afflictions. When Moses had come to liberate Israel, God began to send plagues on Egypt, and the first three plagues that fell over Egypt when Pharaoh hardened also affected the children of Israel. Even though they had suffered during all these years, God had not forgotten their people, but they still received no special protection – not yet, and he allowed them to be tried.
It was not until God sent the fourth plague that he delivered his people from the plagues and sealed them. It is very important to remember this moment when later we will see the sealing of the faithful remnant of God in the time of the end. The first three plagues afflicted everyone who lived in Egypt, including God’s people, Israel, but before God released the fourth plague, He said to Moses: … And the LORD said unto Moses, Rise up early in the morning, and stand before Pharaoh; lo, he cometh forth to the water; and say unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Let my people go, that they may serve me. Else, if thou wilt not let my people go, behold, I will send swarms [of flies] upon thee, and upon thy servants, and upon thy people, and into thy houses: and the houses of the Egyptians shall be full of swarms [of flies], and also the ground whereon they [are]. And I will sever in that day the land of Goshen, in which my people dwell, that no swarms [of flies] shall be there; to the end thou mayest know that I [am] the LORD in the midst of the earth. And I will put a division between my people and thy people: tomorrow shall this sign be. Exodus 8,20-23
The phrase I will put a division between literally means I put a ransom between, (see also Exodus 9,4; 11,7). Israel was present in Egypt during all ten plagues. They were affected by the first three plagues, but they were spared the last seven plagues. God had set a ransom between the two groups, the people of God and the people of Pharaoh, and in a way sealed Israel between the third and fourth plagues.
Jacob lived with Laban for many years to settle the dowry for two wives and was constantly deceived because Laban had discovered that everything Jacob did was blessed by God, and he wanted Jacob to stay there. We see from the story of Jacob that God was with him and blessed the work he did, but he was not protected from Laban’s intrigue and deceit. They were given as trials for Jacob. It was not until he almost stood face to face with his brother Esau, who wanted to kill him to avenge Jacob’s deception more than 20 years earlier, that he felt that his sin weighed heavily upon him and became afraid that his brother also would kill all the innocent who was with him that he fought the battle of his life. This happened on the last night before Jacob and his people set out on the last leg to the promised land, that God in a way sealed Jacob, and through this his whole house.
When will God’s faithful people be sealed?
If the exodus from Egypt, and Jacob’s trouble and battle, are types of the sealing of the 144,000, then the sealing will not take place until late at night – figuratively speaking.
Ellen G. White writes that when our high priest has finished his service in the most holy place, he will put on the garment of vengeance, and only then will the last seven plagues be unleashed. Furthermore, she writes that the wicked become angry with the righteous and believe that the torments will end only if they kill them, and the righteous pray to God night and day to be delivered. This is what E. G. White calls Jacob’s tribulation. Then she sees the four angels holding back the four winds. These are stopped by Jesus, who says: My blood, Father, my blood, my blood, my blood! then Jesus tells the four angels to wait until God’s servants are sealed.
Can we find some clues that tell us something about when the sealing will be done? One thing we are absolutely certain of, and that is that we have entered the end time, and that we did so in 1844, when Jesus went from the holy into the most holy in the heavenly sanctuary. As we see, it is necessary for God’s faithful remnant in the end times to go through Jacob’s tribulation before they will be sealed, so that they may be cleansed and prepared for the greatest event in history, which is Jesus’ return and their deliverance. God’s angels are not allowed to release the four winds until this sealing is done.
Furthermore, we can also be sure that when Jesus leaves the Most Holy, the temple will be filled with smoke (Revelation 15,8), and the mediation service that Jesus has performed for us will cease, and the temple will be inaccessible to us. We cannot reach God the Father with our prayers through Jesus Christ, who until he leaves the Most Holy will be our mediator.
Now we can go to the prophecy to see where we are on the timeline. Prophetically, we are finished with the first six seals in Revelation 6, where the sixth seal shows us the signs that herald the end times. That the 144,000 are mentioned just after the sixth seal is due solely to the fact that the sixth seal ends with a question, and questions require answers, and the answer is given in what we call chapter 7. This chapter consists of the first intermezzo, or parentheses as many call it. Chapter 7 is thus outside the chronology of the seven seals, and thus does not belong here, but is inserted to provide an answer to the question that ended the sixth seal.
What did Ellen G. White say about the four angels? The four angels will not be released until the 144,000 are sealed. During the sixth trumpet, the angels who hold back the four winds are loosened (Revelation 9,14). This means that when we get as far as the sixth trumpet, then the 144,000 have been sealed.
Chapter 6 ended, as mentioned, with a question: For the great day of His wrath is come, and who shall be able to stand? Here, in addition to the question, we have an indication of where on the timeline we are when the 144,000 are alive. It is on the great day of His wraththat is literally the day Jesus returns to redeem his faithful remnant. So we know that we are in the end times, and that the 144,000 will be sealed at some point in the near future, but it still does not say much about the time when the sealing will be done. Thus, according to E. G. White, God’s faithful remnant in the end times must go through Jacob’s tribulation. This time of trouble cannot have begun before the end time began in 1844, therefore we must be in the time after 1844, but before the sixth trumpet. Some of the seven trumpets will therefore constitute the plagues which for the 144,000 are the time of Jacob’s tribulation, but when on the timeline, or between what events, will they be sealed?
If we go to the fifth trumpet, we will find the last clue. It says: And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit. And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit. 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. Revelation 9,1-4
The fifth trumpet is very clear that the locusts, which here are an image of the destroyer, or the demonic spirits – the fallen angles, are not given the power to destroy those who have the seal of God on their forehead, (locust: see Joel chapters 1 and 2). I believe that God will seal his faithful people between the fourth and fifth trumpets. This is because it appears that they are sealed when the fifth trumpet sounds. The plagues that fall before the fifth trumpet are necessary because God’s faithful remnant must go through Jacob´s trouble and battle to be refined as gold is refined in fire, or put another way, they must be made ready to receive the seal that will preserve them through the last seven plagues that will hit the earth. The last great trial will be the Sunday law (s). This must come before the sealing so that all living people can have a real opportunity to repent and turn to God and accept Jesus as their Saviour. When the sealing is done, it will mean that the door of grace is closed forever and ever, and the choices we have made are sealed with the mark we have chosen and will follow us into eternity. Either we have chosen God and God’s commandments and been sealed with God’s seal, or we have chosen the beast and taken the mark of the beast on the hand or forehead.
E. G. White writes this about the sealing in Early Writings, under the title The trials of our Faith, and shows us that the sealing will not happen until after Christ leaves the heavenly temple. When Jesus leaves the sanctuary, then they who are holy and righteous will be holy and righteous still; for all their sins will then be blotted out, and they will be sealed with the seal of the living God.
If we look at what the seven trumpets contain and what the seven vials contain, we find the following: The first six trumpets contain what I call plagues and are clear parallels to the plagues that fell in Egypt. The seventh trumpet contains neither plagues nor judgments, but like the seventh seal the seventh trumpet gives several interludes, and the seven vials are prepared.
The first five vials contain what I call plagues, and are, like the trumpets, clear parallels to the plagues that fell in Egypt. The sixth and seventh vials do not contain plagues, but what we might call judgments. For as the Pharaoh of Egypt pursued Israel when they left Egypt, so will the sixth bowl be; gathering at Armageddon *, and the seventh bowl bears witness to the final redemption in the same way as when Israel was beyond the reach of the Egyptians. * Armageddon must be understood in a figurative sense.
All the plagues that fall during the first four trumpets will affect all people on the planet, including God’s faithful remnant in the end times just as the children of Israel were affected by the first 3 plagues in Egypt, and together with Sunday Law (s), this will constitute Jacob’s trouble. Now some will probably miss the seventh trumpet, and the sixth and seventh vial, but if we look at the text we will see that these are not plagues in the same sense as the fifth trumpet or the third vial. The seventh trumpet tells us that the kingdom belongs to Christ, and that cannot be trouble. The sixth and seventh vials are explained above.
Who shall be able to stand?
This is the question that concludes Revelation chapter 6, and the answer is that those who can be able to stand when the great day of His wrath comes are the 144,000, who at one time or another before this event, which is the great day of His wrath, are sealed. It was probably imperative that John knew this before he saw the seventh seal, and therefore the answer to the question came before he saw the continuation through the seventh seal.
The seventh seal opens sometime after we have entered the end time. Jesus entered the Most Holy Place in 1844 and is serving for us there, and it happened right after the sixth seal was opened. When the seventh seal is opened, it will first be silence in heaven for half an hour. Then the seven trumpets are made ready, and we see the angels blowing their trumpets, one by one until the sixth angel blows his trumpet. Then there is a drastic change that will affect the whole world: And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God, Saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates. Revelation 9,13-14
In verse 15 it says that these angels were kept ready for an hour and a day and a month and a year … Uriah Smith and Josiah Litch are two of many who have interpreted this as prophetic time, but the problem with this is that we have moved into the end time, and all the way to the absolute end time where we are just before Jesus’ second coming. Uriah Smith’s interpretation was perhaps intended as a support for the theory that Turkey was the king of the north when he linked this period to the Ottoman Empire. If we look at the time period an hour and a day and a month and a year as prophetic time, it will be like this. A prophetic hour is 1/24 part of a literal year, or 15 days, a day = a year, a month = 30 years and a year = 360 years, a total of 391 years and 15 days. According to Uriah Smith, the Ottoman Empire would then last for 391 years and 15 days. Did the Ottoman Empire last exactly 391 years and 15 days?
William Miller measured the time of the trumpets, and in this connection he claimed that the fifth and sixth trumpets together embraced a time frame of 541 years and 15 days. When Josiah Litch revised Miller’s calculations, he specified that the fifth trumpet was from July 27, 1299 to July 27, 1449, then the sixth trumpet from July 27, 1449 to August 11, 1840. This is based on that an hour and a day and a month and a year are prophetic time. If so, the calculation of this period will fit 100% into the Miller/Litch interpretation. Litch claims that the beginning of this period is July 27, 1449, and of the end of this period is August 11, 1840. So far, so well. This is explained by the fact that it took the Ottoman Empire 150 years to consolidate the position, and for that reason they did not count the Ottoman Empire from before 27 July 1449. This despite the fact that the Ottoman Empire arose 150 years earlier, in 1299.
If we look at how Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and the Roman Empire have been dated, it is from the year they took over world domination that we calculate the beginning of the empire. Why should this be different with the Ottoman Empire? It was a power to be reckoned with, even though the Ottoman Empire was nowhere near the same as the four kingdoms in the book of Daniel. Babylon became world empire in 605 and was there until 539, when the Medo-Persian Empire took over. In 331, the Greek Empire came and conquered Medo-Persia, and later expanded all the way to approx. 320, but Greece was counted from 331 until it was conquered by the Roman Empire in 168 BC. The Roman Empire also expanded after the year 168 BC. which is the year the prophecy is based on the dating of the Roman Empire. It seems that they do not emphasize this in view of the Ottoman Empire.
Another important point is that the Ottoman Empire did not perish in 1840, but 83 years later in 1923. The Ottoman Empire, present-day Turkey, was founded in 1299 by Ottoman I, and was ruled by the Ottoman dynasty right up to Mustafa Kamal Atatürk formed the Republic of Turkey in 1923. The Ottoman Empire thus existed for a full 624 years, from 1299 to 1923, neither 391 years and 15 days from 1449 to 1840, nor 541 years, from 1299 to 1840. The interpretation of Smith and Litch is therefore far from 100% correct, and for that reason I think there is reason to reject this interpretation. The reason why Turkey, the Ottoman Empire, was read into the prophecies at that time was probably that this was the nation that was on everyone’s lips in the first half of the 19th century. Many people do the same nowadays when they interpret the prophecies according to what news they are served on TV.
If we try to analyse what the text wants to convey, I think it is quite clear that two of the keywords are the Greek hétoimasme´noi and eis; which in English is translated to which were prepared for …
It appears from the text that it was four angels which were prepared. When something or someone is prepared, which in this case is four angels, then there is always a reason for it, and here it is so that these angels, at some point in the future, from the time they were made ready (prepared), should be loosed because they have a task to perform, and it is for this particular task that they are prepared to perform.
When these angels are to be loosed, God does not spend 391 years and 15 days doing this, but it happens in an instant, in a twinkle of an eye, and when they are loosed, this happens at a very specific point on the timeline, and therefore we must have something that indicates the time for when these angels are to be loosed, and we have this point of time. The time for these angels to be loosed is exactly on the hour, and the day, and the month and the year when a series of events have taken place, which God in his wisdom has determined must happen before these angels are loosed, and we know what two of these events are. One is the sealing and the other is the last event that must take place before the angels are loosed – and these are the events in the fifth trumpet.
These four angels were thus prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month and a year, which is a specific point on the timeline, and which is the same as the fifth trumpet. We are well into the end time, and about the end time the prophecy says that there should be time no longer (Revelation 10,6). Time is irrelevant as it is the events that happen that determine the course of history, not time.
From Strong’s Concordance hóra: a time or period, an hour Original Word: ὥρα, ας, ἡ
Part of Speech: Noun, Feminine
Phonetic Spelling: (ho’-rah)
Definition: a time or period, an hour
Usage: (a) a definite space of time, a season, (b) an hour, (c) the particular time for anything.
In other words, it is that particular hour what should be the basis for ours interpretation of the text. Even if the English translation uses an hour, in indefinite form, it will not have any particular effect on the comprehension. Whether it is the particular hour sometime in the future, or it is a specific hour sometime in the future, the result will be the same. It is, however, the particular time for something, which is exactly at that point in history, that God will loosen the four angels, and we can understand this as the appointed time.
We find something similar in Daniel 11,27, where it says: And both these kings’ hearts [shall be] to do mischief, and they shall speak lies at one table; but it shall not prosper: for yet the end [shall be] at the time appointed, and Daniel 11,35, which saith, And [some] of them of understanding shall fall, to try them, and to purge, and to make [them] white, [even] to the time of the end: because [it is] yet for a time appointed.
Let us also include the first three verses of Revelation chapter 7. They say something important about these four angels and why they are being held back. 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. 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, Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.
So it is God who will do something, and what he will do e has kept four angels ready to perform, and it will happen when we get to a certain point in history. It is not a predetermined date, but it is the day when a series of events are fulfilled that it will happen, and one of these events that must be fulfilled before this happens is the sealing of the 144,000, and the day the angels are loosened is an hour, and a day, and a month and a year when the sixth trumpet sounds, neither before nor after.
When the great day of God’s wrath comes, it means Jesus’ return to earth, and we know that the dead in Christ will rise, and together with the living saved, who are the 144,000, they will meet the Lord in the clouds and so shall we ever be with the Lord. The wicked die at the sight of the glory of Jesus Christ. And, thou son of man, thus saith the Lord GOD; Speak unto every feathered fowl, and to every beast of the field, Assemble yourselves, and come; gather yourselves on every side to my sacrifice that I do sacrifice for you, [even] a great sacrifice upon the mountains of Israel, that ye may eat flesh, and drink blood. Ye shall eat the flesh of the mighty and drink the blood of the princes of the earth, of rams, of lambs, and of goats, of bullocks, all of them fatlings of Bashan. And ye shall eat fat till ye be full, and drink blood till ye be drunken, of my sacrifice which I have sacrificed for you. Thus ye shall be filled at my table with horses and chariots, with mighty men, and with all men of war, saith the Lord GOD. Ezekiel 39,17-20
I am sure that in the end times the people of God will be sealed at the same time as Israel was sealed in Egypt, before the seven last plagues. This happens towards the end of Jesus’ service in the most holy place in the heavenly temple when His ministry there ends. Then we have no direct access to God’s throne, as we had before all ministry related to salvation was performed. Therefore, in the end times, God’s people will not be sealed until we have come late at night, or just before Jesus’ return.
God’s little but faithful remnant has experienced the greatest tribulation in human history, and they have come through this tribulation without the help of our High Priest. They feel that they have been left alone, just as Jacob felt before meeting his brother Esau. And as Jacob was sealed by the Angel of the Lord, so also the faithful little remnant is sealed by the angels of God, because they have developed a faith similar to the faith that appeared in Jacob’s battle with the Angel of God (Genesis 32,22-28), and similar to the faith that Jesus had (see Revelation 14,12), an unshakable faith that makes them stand firm on the Word of God no matter what persecution they face and what punishment they are threatened with. They are willing, as Jesus was willing, to face death before giving up their faith.