The Revelation Given to John by Jesus Through the Angel
John has just heard what the four winds/horses[i]have in store for the world[ii], the cry of the redeemed, and the dramatic climax. This would be scary stuff without the assurance of Yahweh’s protection.
So right away Yahweh shows John four angels standing in the four corners of the world holding the destruction in check until Yahweh’ family has the seal of his safety and security.
John sees another angel with the seal of our god rising from the east – as the sun does when it brings new light and comfort into each new day. Each sunrise is the promise of a new beginning, full of hope for the future – from where joy comes[iii]. Like the rising sun, this angel brought hope for the children of Yahweh. The bullies of disaster are about to unleash their destructive power on the earth, but before they can throw the first punch this angel, carrying the seal of the living God stops them with a thunderous shout. His voice and words are full of authority. Nothing can happen on earth till the servants of Yahweh are sealed. John remembers that Ezekiel had recorded[iv]another time when Yahweh’s people were sealed in their fore[v]heads, and he knew this seal was not something he could see with the naked eye.
John listens to the recording of the 144,000 that are sealed out of every tribe of Israel. Most of these tribes have been lost in the world since before the Babylonian captivity. John remembers that the pattern for the ideal temple from the book of Ezekiel is a picture of a perfect square, and knows that 144 is another perfect square. The 144,000 represents a large number, not definitely fixed, but: nevertheless, complete. It is a number that stands for completeness and perfection[vi]. 12×12[vii] is the most exhaustive and complete perfect square and is made even more complete by its multiplication by 1000, which also represents a large number, not fixed. This tells us that the number saved from Israel is very large and includes all 12 tribes. Dan has been replaced by Manasseh because of Dan’s great sin[viii]. Romans 2:28, 29 makes it clear that everyone included her is a blood bought, redeemed child of Yahweh with a heart circumcised unto Yahweh. The faithful are selected and preserved before the “Day of the Lord”. The faithful are safe in the hands of our God.
“God’s message: but just as one bad apple doesn’t, there are still plenty of good apples left. So I will preserve those in Israel who will obey me. I won’t destroy the whole nation. I’ll bring out my true children from Jacob, and the heirs of my mountains from Judah. My chosen will inherit the land, my servants will move in. The lush valleys of Sharon in the west will be a pasture for flocks; and in the east, the valley of Achor, a place for the herds to graze. These will be for the people who bothered to reach out to me, who wanted me in their lives, who actually bothered to look for me.”[ix]
“God, the Master, told the dry bones, ‘Watch this: I’m bringing the breath of life to you and you’ll come to life…You’ll realize that IAM God! Watch me! I’m taking the Israelites out of the nations in which they’ve been exiled.” [x]
John also knew that Israelite identity was never radially determined by being sexually transmitted, but was Yahweh determined by promise.”[xi] He also knew that if Yahweh could graft the uncircumcised nations into Yahweh’s family, he would have no trouble grafting branches back into the tree that had been cut off once because of unbelief; and before the end Israel would be complete.
There will be 144.000, a perfect square made even more perfect and complete by its multiplication by 1000. This includes all the so-called “lost tribes” of Israel – lost to human’s limited knowledge, but not to Yahweh who knows where everyone is and draws his own unto himself. Looking from the perspective of Yahweh’s overall plan, they remain his oldest friends, and the gifts and calling of Yahweh are under full warranty, one that is never canceled and never cancelled.
As an immediate preamble to the opening of the seventh seal John sees a huge crowd, too large for him to count. They include the 144.000 and are from every tribe and nation, from all races and languages; complete in matters of creation. They are all dressed in the white robes of Mashiach’s righteousness: a picture of the multitude saved out of the earth through the ages.
Remember these are all pictures of things to come for John’s time. They are, I believe, the saved from all time, safe and able to stand in the presence of the Lord at the end of the ages. They stand, an emblematic description of the highest dignity, in subjection to Yahweh alone, free from tribulation: The Church triumphant!
The John hears this great company of the Redeemed of the ages singing with great enthusiasm: Our God on his throne is glorious! The Lamb is supreme and lifted up! To me, this is the most hopeful and joyous picture of how we will spend our time with Yahweh. I can’t imagine anything better than singing praise to my god without restraint.
John noticed that the ones around the throne – angels, elders, and living creatures – are on their faces before the throne, worshiping and singing again. Everything that Yahweh does is an opportunity for praise and worship. Yahweh’s creation, including the redeemed, is just full of joyful song! “Absolutely!” they sing. “Our god is blessing and honor, and power, and strength. Yes he is!”
Just then an elder asks John if he knows who the white robed redeemed come from. When John admits that he doesn’t know and asks the elder to tell him, he is told. “These are they who have come out of great tribulation and have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb.”
Now John knows that literally washing something in blood won’t make it white; it will stain it. The elder isn’t being literal, but figurative, and John knows that too. “As the people of God worshiped the Holy One, they used symbols out of human experience, speaking of God as creator, covenant maker, liberator, judge, redeemer, shepherd, comforter, sovereign, begetter, and bearer. From the world of nature they ascribed to God the character of rock, well-spring, fire, eagle, hen, lion, or light…”[xii]these are examples of a theophany – a visible manifestation of divinity; or an anthropopathy– the ascription of human feelings or passions to a god.
John remembers Yahweh saying, through Isaiah, “…though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow,” and that David had said, “…cleanse me with hyssop and I shall be clean; wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.” He knew that David was referring to the hyssop used to sprinkle blood on the door frames of Yahweh’s people in Egypt, by faith that they would be spared from death during the time of great tribulation for the Egyptians[xiii]. And finally, he remembers Yeshua saying, “In this world you will have tribulation, but cheer up because I have overcome the world,” and that he had told them all of the wonderful, encouraging things that day so they would be unshakable and assured during the hard days to come.[xiv]He knew that Yeshua was, again, bringing a message of assurance and stability to his Church. This is hope for the future: the Church, pure and holy, standing tall before the throne because of what Mashiach has done; completely protected, fulfilled and cared for by the Lamb of God; captivated by the joy of the Lord.
Prayer: Lord, you bind my heart to you by your grace. There I am sealed by the power of your Holy Spirit. By your grace I will be faithful to my calling. I will treasure your commandments and listen to your wisdom, and I will apply my heart to understanding. I will not let mercy and truths forsake me; I have bound them around my neck and written then on the tables of my heart. You have promised me that I will find favor and high esteem in the sight of man as well as in your sight. Thank you, Lord. When I fear you – acknowledge your power and glory in my life – it is health to my flesh and strength to my bones. I will honor you with my possessions and the first fruits of my increase – and I claim your promise that my “barns will be filled with plenty” and I know that I will always have plenty of joy. Thank you, Lord, for Joy and Wisdom. Happy is the one who finds wisdom and understanding, for wisdom’s proceeds are better than the profits of silver and her gain better than fine gold. Wisdom is also more precious than rubies and all the things I may desire cannot be compared to the gain she brings.
[i] Zechariah 6:5-7
[ii] The seven seals are the result of mankind’s willful activity. Human beings do what is right in their won eyes.
[iii] Psalm 30:5
[iv] Ezekiel 9:4
[v] The seal of Yahweh is the mark of redemption, visible to no human eye, not given by human hand; marked by the hand of Yahweh, it cannot be removed. The sealed ones will never be lost in the crowd. Ezekiel 9:4; II Corinthians 1:22; Revelation 9:4; 14:1; 22:4: Ephesians 4:30
[vi] Barkley II, page 24
[vii] 12 is a complete number; 3×4(3 represents the Godhead, 4 represents creation. 4
+3=7, 4×3=12; complete and perfect
[viii] Judges 18:30; Romans 11:1-23, 25-29
[ix] The Massage Bible, Isaiah 65:8-10
[x] The Massage Bible, Ezekiel 37:5-14; 20-23; 39:25-29; romans 11:11, 12
[xi] The Massage Bible, Romans 9:5-9, 20-23; Ephesians 2:11-22; Romans 11:24,26, 29
[xii] The Constitution of the Presbyterian church (USA), Part II – The Book of Order, 2001=-2002, W-I. 2003
[xiii] Exodus 11, 12
[xiv] John 14-16