There are two events that happen before the wrath of G-d falls:
1. A sealing of the 12 tribes of Israel. G-d has not forsaken, or replaced, Israel.
2. The rapture. [This only takes place after a falling away (apostasy) occurs, and the man of lawlessness (antichrist) is revealed – the antichrist is against the commandments of G-d. He will go into the Holy of Holies and announce that he is G-d – this is called ‘the abomination that causes desolation’ (2 Thess 2v1-4, Matt 24v15, Dan 9v27)]
v1: Four is a global number. G-d’s wrath will affect the whole world.
· This wind is the wind of G-d’s wrath.
v2: There is a Biblical relationship between the east and G-d’s judgement (Ex 10v13, Ps 48v7, Jonah 4v8 etc).
· This seal marks ownership or shows possession. When Cain killed Abel a mark was placed upon Cain, in order that no one would kill him (Gen 4v13-16). Cain was not righteous, and had not done anything to merit this mark of protection. He was given it because of the kindness and mercy of G-d. In much the same way, G-d created and called Israel. He still has a plan and a purpose for her (see Roms 11v25-32).
v3: This angel’s unique proclamation delays G-d’s wrath from coming upon the globe immediately. It will only fall after a sealing, on the foreheads of His people, has occurred. This sealing protects them from the wrath of G-d, but will not protect them from the persecution that will originate from the antichrist and his empire. G-d used His judgements in Exodus and, similarly, He is going to use them, in the last days, to bring Israel back into a right, new covenant, relationship with Him. When Israel went out of Egypt they took a mixed multitude with them (Ex 12v38). In the same way, there is going to be a remnant of the nations that will be brought to faith in the G-d of Israel and Messiah Yeshua.
v4: There are a few major interpretations of the 144 000.
1. A literal 144 000 people (from the 12 tribes of Israel) are sealed. They are going to be used by G-d to evangelise (primarily to the Jewish people) during the tribulation.
2. Some people say it is not a remnant of the Jewish people (i.e. a small amount), but it is the Jewish people, as a nation, who G-d is going to preserve (i.e. 144 000 is a figurative number standing for a collective sealing of the whole of Israel – The problem with this view is that when the 144 000 are mentioned, in Revelation 14, such an interpretation becomes problematic and most are forced to spiritualise the information in this chapter)
3. The 144 000 in chapter 7 do not refer to the same, identical people as in chapter 14. (We will deal further with this in chapter 14)
For the purpose of this study we are going to view the 144 000, in chapter 7, as relating to the tribes of Israel in a general sense (i.e.The Jewish people who will be alive on earth during the final 7 years.) The seal shows G-d’s protection and recognition of Israel as His covenant people. The gospel will be proclaimed to them through the two witnesses and at the Second Coming of Yeshua.
v5: The 1st tribe mentioned is Judah, instead of the ‘firstborn’ Reuben. Judah will have leadership and pre-eminence of the tribes in the last days. (Gen 49v10)
v6: Manasseh, Josephs firstborn son (Gen 48v14), is mentioned in this sealing. Ephraim, the 2nd son, had received Jacob’s special blessing. In the Kingdom there is going to be a transition back to what G-d had always intended. A correct ordering.
v7-v8 The tribe of Dan is left out of this accounting. When the tribes received their allotments of land as inheritance Dan was given the territory by the Philistines. He rebelled against this and went up into the North of Israel in order to take a land that he considered better and easier for him to conquer. (Josh 19v40-48, Judges 18v1-2) He was not committed to G-d’s inheritance or purposes and so many believe that that is why he is not mentioned here.
· G-d has sealed Israel for the purpose of redemption, and to be used mightily in the last days.
The “time of Jacob’s trouble” (spoken of in Jer 30v7) happens at a parallel time to G-d’s wrath falling upon the world. Without the seal of G-d upon them, the children of Israel would not survive.
For G-d to be faithful to His Word, there is going to be a remnant from the house of Israel used by G-d in the last days. (Zech 8 v23 – the hem of the robe/fringe garment represents the commandments of G-d) The testimony, of many Gentile people taking hold of this robe, will show the desire of many in the nations to serve and obey the G-d who first revealed Himself to the Jewish people. We are not saved by our obedience, but we are saved to obey and submit to G-d. This picture, of one Jew bringing ten Gentiles into the Kingdom of G-d, reveals to us that G-d has a purpose for His people in the last days.