Through the end-time persecution, God seals the 144000 for the plagues.

SUMMARY

The purpose here is to determine where the sealing of the 144000, as described in Revelation 7, fits chronologically in the end-time events, as described in Revelation 13 to 16, and for what purpose God’s people are sealed. Are they sealed:

    • For the end-time persecution of Revelation 13 or
    • For the plagues of Revelation 16.

AFTER THE END-TIME CRISIS, EVERY PERSON WILL HAVE THE MARK OF THE BEAST OR THE SEAL OF GOD.

Revelation 13 describes the end-time crisis during which the image of the beast will attempt to mark all people with the mark of the beast.

Rev 13:16-14:3 identifies both the mark of the beast and the seal of God as names on foreheads. This implies that that end-time persecution will divide the world into two groups:

    • Those with the mark of the beast and
    • Those with the seal of God.

GOD’S PEOPLE ARE SEALED THROUGH PERSECUTION TO PREPARE THEM FOR THE PLAGUES.

The introduction to the seven last plagues (Revelation 15) defines God’s people as “those who had been victorious over the beast” (Rev 15:2). In other words, they have been the target of the efforts of the image of the beast to mark them with the mark of the beast in Revelation 13. But Revelation 14 describes the same people as the 144000 with the seal of God (Rev 14:1). The “victorious” people of Rev 15, therefore, are the same as the 144000.

After the description of the “victorious” people, the seven angels pour out the plagues on “the people who had the mark of the beast” (Rev 16:2). For the following reasons, there will be no switching of sides after the plagues begin to fall:

    • None of the people with the mark of the beast will repent during the plagues (Rev 16:9, 11) and
    • The seal of God implies that the eternal destiny of the people that have God’s seal has been permanently settled.

Therefore, the introduction to the plagues (Revelation 15) describes a point in human history when every person will either have the mark of the beast or the seal of God. At that time, there will be no third ‘undecided’ group.

Since God’s people are described as the 144000 with the seal of God AFTER the Rev-13-persecution (Rev 14:1) but as the victorious people BEFORE the plagues fall (Rev 15:2), God’s people will be sealed DURING AND THROUGH the Rev-13-persecution but the sealing will be complete before the plagues begin to fall. This means that God’s people receive the seal of God to prepare them for the plagues.

THE FOUR WINDS ARE THE SEVEN LAST PLAGUES.

In Rev 7, four angels hold the four winds back until God’s people (the 144000) are all sealed. The winds will be released as soon as they are sealed (Rev 7:1-3).

However, it was concluded above that the seven plagues will be poured out as soon as all of God’s people have been sealed. Therefore:

    • The sealing (Rev 7:1-8) coincides with the Rev-13-persecution and
    • The four winds are the seven last plagues.

– END OF SUMMARY –

PURPOSE OF THIS ARTICLE

The 144000 are explicitly mentioned twice in Revelation; in chapters 7 and 14:

    • In Rev 7:1-3, the four winds of the earth are held back “until we have sealed the bond-servants of our God on their foreheads.”
    • Rev 7:4-8 describes them as 144000; 12000 from each of the 12 tribes of Israel.

    • Rev 14:1-5 describes their character: They have “His name and the name of His Father written on their foreheads,” which means that they are like God in their thinking. They “have not been defiled with women,” which means that their theology is pure.

Revelation 13 describes the end-time efforts of the image of the beast to mark every person with the mark of the beast. Revelation 16 describes the subsequent plagues that fall on the people that accepted the mark of the beast. The purpose of this article is to compare the sealing of the 144000, as described in Rev 7:1-8, to these later chapters to determine where the sealing fits chronologically, compared to the end-time persecution and plagues. This should also indicate for what purpose God’s people are sealed. Are they sealed to protect them against the image of the beast or that they would be able to remain standing during the seven last plagues? Or is the seal simply an indication that their eternal destiny is fixed?

This article begins with an overview of the plagues of Revelation 16, then compares that to the end-time persecution of Revelation 13, and then uses that information to draw conclusions with respect to the sealing in Rev 7:1-8.

REVELATION 15 & 16
THE SEVEN LAST PLAGUES

Rev 16 describes the seven last plagues. Rev 15 serves as an introduction to Rev 16.

Rev 15 refers to “those who had been victorious over the beast and his image” (Rev 15:2). Then seven angels receive seven plagues (Rev 15:7) and pour the plagues out on “the people who had the mark of the beast and who worshiped his image” (Rev 16:2).

These descriptions of people refer to Revelation 13, where the people of the world made “an image to the beast” (Rev 13:15) – a replica of the system of government during the high middle ages. This image became alive and sought to kill everybody that do not worship (obey) it. It will attempt to force everybody to accept the mark of the beast (Rev 13:16-18).

The way in which the two groups are described means that:

    • They are the people that will LIVE DURING the time when the image will attempt to force all people to accept the mark of the beast. “Those who had been victorious over the beast and his image” are the people who will refuse to accept the mark. The others will accept the beast’s mark.
    • Rev 15 describes a point in human history when every person has made the final decision to accept or reject the mark of the beast. At that point in time, every person will either have the mark of the beast or the seal of God. There will be no third ‘undecided’ group. This conclusion is based on the following observations:

      • These two groups are described as if complete before and at the beginning of the plagues (Rev 15:2; 16:2).
      • None of the people with the mark of the beast will repent during the plagues (Rev 16:9, 11).
      • The seal of God implies that the eternal destiny of the people that have God’s seal has been permanently settled.

At that point in time, God will command the seven last plagues to be poured out but, after that point in time, there will be no changing of sides.

The closing of the temple before the plagues fall (Rev 15:8) confirms that there will be no repentance during the plagues, for the temple is where people go for forgiveness (Heb 10:10, 19).

Revelation 15, therefore, is a major moment in the history of mankind. We might not be able to see much change immediately. Things will remain as before, but then increasingly horrible catastrophes that will threaten life and property will be added. But the people of the world have survived and even thrived through many catastrophes over the millennia and they will think that they always will survive:

Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation” (2 Peter 3:4).

Therefore, the persecution of God’s people will continue during the plagues. However, since there is no changing of sides during the plagues, the mark of the beast and the seal of God on the foreheads of people indicate that the eternal destiny of every person, living on earth at that point in time, is fixed.

REVELATION 13/14
THE END-TIME PERSECUTION

While, in Revelation 13, people are forced to accept the mark of the beast, Revelation 16 describes the seven last plagues (Rev 15:1) on the people that accepted the mark of the beast. This implies that the Revelation-13-persecution PRECEDES the plagues.

Rev 13 shows Satan’s attack on the people of the world through the organizations of the world (image of the beast). People will be forced by the laws of government to conform to blasphemous religious practices (the mark of the beast).

Rev 14 shows God’s response through His people. While the image of the beast persecutes people that do not accept the mark of the beast, God’s people will preach the message of the three angels (Rev 14:6-11). The three angels fly “in midheaven” (Rev 14:6), symbolizing that this message will go out with exceptional clarity and power, ensuring that everybody that accepts the mark of the beast is fully aware of the eternal consequences (Rev 14:9-11).

The Rev-13/14-crisis will be a period of final decisions. On the one hand, the image of the beast will force people through the strong arm of the state to accept the mark of the beast. On the other hand, God’s warning will go out with clarity.  Everybody will be forced to make a decision.

THE 144000 ARE THE VICTORIOUS PEOPLE.

Rev 15-16 describes God’s people as “those who had been victorious over the beast and his image” (Rev 15:2). This means that they are God’s people during the war over the mark of the beast that is described in Revelation 13 and 14. However, Revelation 13 and 14 symbolize the overcomers as the 144000 sealed with the seal of God (Rev 14:1). Therefore, the 144000 are the same as the “victorious” people. To confirm this, notice that the “victorious” and the 144000 are both contrasted with the people with the mark of the beast:

    • Rev 15:1-16:1 contrasts the victorious people with the beast’s people.
    • Rev 13:16-14:1 contrasts the 144000 with the beast’s people.

SEALED DURING THE REVELATION-13-CRISIS

We know now that God’s people are sealed before the plagues begin. The question remains: Is the sealing completed also before the persecution of Revelation 13 begins? For the following reasons, God’s people will also be sealed DURING AND THROUGH that persecution:

ETERNALLY SEPARATES THE PEOPLE OF THE WORLD

Rev 13 ends with the image of the beast forcing people to accept the mark of the beast. Rev 14 begins by describing the 144000 with the seal of God on their foreheads (cf. Rev 7:1-3). These six verses (Rev 13:16-14:3), unfortunately, due to the contrast it sets, are separated by a chapter break. But, by mentioning the mark of the beast and the seal of God together and by describing them both as names on foreheads, these verses indicate that that persecution will divide the world into the following classes:

    • People with the mark of the beast. It can be on the forehead (Rev 13:16), which means to think like the beast. It can also be on the right hand, which means to go along with what the law requires even though they know it is wrong. This includes nominal Christians that will become intimidated by this fierce persecution.
    • People with the seal of God on the forehead (Rev 7:3; 14:1) – the 144000, which means to think like God; to have “the mind of Christ” (1 Cor 2:16).

No group is mentioned with the seal of God only on the hand because God never forces people to do His will through intimidation. See, Why Satan thought he could win against God.

The mark of the beast and the seal of God, therefore, serve a similar function, namely to identify the group into which a person is classified. Since the persecution divides the world into these groups, the conclusion is that God’s people are sealed DURING AND THROUGH that persecution; just as the beast’s people will receive the mark of the beast during this period. God’s people, therefore, will not be sealed BEFORE the end-time persecution.

MENTIONED AFTER THE PERSECUTION BUT BEFORE THE PLAGUES

This conclusion can be confirmed as follows: While the 144000 are described in Rev 14:1 AFTER the Rev-13-persecution, in Rev 15:2 they are mentioned BEFORE the plagues fall. This implies that God’s people will be sealed during that persecution but that that sealing will be completed before the plagues begin to fall.

This also means that God’s people are sealed (receive the seal of God) to prepare them for the plagues. The plagues will be a trying time for God’s people, for they will be warned:

Blessed is the one who stays awake and keeps his clothes, so that he will not walk about naked and men will not see his shame” (Rev 16:15).

REVELATION 7 – THE SEALING

In Rev 7, four angels hold back the four winds of the earth, until God’s people (the 144000) are all sealed. The winds will be released as soon as they are sealed (Rev 7:1-3).

However, it was concluded above that God’s people are sealed DURING the Rev-13-crisis and that the seven plagues will be poured out as soon as everybody has received either the mark of the beast or the seal of God. Therefore:

    • The sealing of the 144000, as described in Rev 7:1-8, coincides with the Rev-13-persecution.
    • Since both the four winds and the seven plagues are released after God’s people are sealed, the four winds are another symbol for the end-time devastations that are also symbolized by the seven last plagues.
    • God delays the winds because His people are not sealed (Rev 7:3). This means that God delays the plagues because His people are not yet ready. As discussed in the Purpose of the Plagues, the plagues serve a very important purpose, and God’s people need to be prepared.

NATURE OF THE END-TIME PERSECUTION

The people with the mark of the beast profess to be Christians. See – The throne of the beast is religious authority. OR The beast in Revelation is the mainstream church of Christendom.

During the intense conflict of the Revelation 13 persecution, people will be forced by laws of government, by the threat of the death penalty (Rev 13:15) and economic sanctions (Rev 13:17) to conform to long-standing (orthodox) religious practices and beliefs that are contrary to the revealed will of God.

At the same time, God’s warnings will be preached with exceptional clarity and power (Rev 14:6)—to provide all intelligent human beings with sufficient evidence on which to base their decisions. In this regard, the message of the first angel is pertinent: “worship Him who made the heaven and the earth and sea and springs of waters” (Rev 14:7), namely the One whom we identify today by the modern word “God” (Rev 4:11). By this powerful teaching, everybody will be made sufficiently aware that this age-old teaching, which is adopted by the majority, blasphemes God. In this way, every person will be forced to make a decision, and their decisions will show the quality of their faith. The 144000 will give heed to this warning, in spite of the threats of persecution. Contrary to the revealed will of God, nominal Christians will submit to the image of the beast and receive the mark of the beast.

People believe what they WANT to believe (Romans 7). The miracles of the land beast (Rev 13:13) will provide sufficient evidence for those who WANT to believe the false gospel.  The powerful proclamation of the gospel (Rev 14:6) will provide sufficient evidence for those that want to believe in the Creator God.

FINAL CONCLUSIONS

  1. The introduction of the plagues (Revelation 15) describes a point in human history when every person will either have the mark of the beast or the seal of God.
  2. Those who had been victorious over the beast” (Rev 15:2) are the same as the 144000 sealed with the seal of God (Rev 14:1).
  3. God’s people will also be sealed during and through the Revelation-13-persecution.
  4. God’s people receive the seal of God to prepare them for the plagues.
  5. The sealing (Rev 7:1-8) coincides with the Rev-13-persecution.
  6. The four winds are the seven last plagues.

ARTICLES ON THE SEVEN SEALS

OVERVIEW

REVELATION 4

REVELATION 5

REVELATION 6

    • Seal 1: The white horse is the gospel.
    • Seals 2 to 4: Bloodshed, famine and death
    • Seal 5: Who are the souls under the altar?
    • Seal 6 includes the plagues and concludes with Christ’s return.

REVELATION 7

REVELATION 8

For further reading on Revelation, I recommend Jon Paulien’s commentary. For general discussions of theology, I recommend Graham Maxwell, who you will find on the Pineknoll website.

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