Where does the sealing (Revelation 7:1-8) fit in the end-time events?

This is an article in the series on the vision of the book with the seven seals (Rev 4:1-8:1).


Summary

Purpose

In Revelation 7, four angels are instructed to hold back the four winds until all of God’s people (symbolically, the 144000) are sealed on their foreheads with the seal of God. As soon as they are all sealed, the four winds of end-time destruction will be released (Rev 7:1-3). The purpose of this article is to determine where this sealing fits in the end-time events as described in Revelation 13 to 16.

The End-Time Persecution

Revelation 13:11-18 describes the end-time persecution of God’s people. The beast from the earth (the false prophet – cf. Rev 16:13) will convince the people of the world to create an image of the beast (Rev 13:14). In other words, an end-time replica will be made of the persecuting system symbolized by the beast.

This image will attempt to force all people, with threats of death (Rev 13:15; 14:13), to receive the mark of the beast “on their right hand or on THEIR FOREHEAD” (Rev 13:16-17).

144000 in Revelation 14

Next, Revelation 14 describes the people who refuse to accept the mark of the beast. Instead of the beast’s mark, they have on their foreheads “His (Jesus’) name and the name of His Father” (Rev 14:1):

Since both are 144000 in number (Rev 14:1), the 144000 in Revelation 7, who receive the seal of God (Rev 7:4), are the same as the 144000 in Revelation 14.

Since they have both “the seal of the living God” and “His name and the name of His Father” on their foreheads (Rev 7:2-3; 14:1), the seal of God is God’s name.

Sealed During Persecution

For the following reasons, it is concluded that the Revelation 13-persecution will divide humanity into two classes;
(1) those with the mark of the beast and
(2) those with the seal of God of people:

1) The text mentions the mark of the beast and the seal of God TOGETHER (Rev 13:16-17; 14:1) IN THE CONTEXT of the end-time persecution (13:11-14:13.

2) Both the mark of the beast and the seal of God are NAMES ON FOREHEADS.

3) While the 144000 are described in Revelation 14:1 AFTER the Revelation-13-persecution, in Revelation 15:2 they are mentioned BEFORE the plagues begin to fall in Revelation 16.

God’s people, therefore, will be sealed (Rev 7:1-8) DURING AND THROUGH the Revelation-13-persecution. In other words, they are NOT sealed to protect them during that time of persecution, but to protect them for what follows AFTER that persecution!

In Revelation, names on foreheads symbolize character. For example, the harlot’s character is reflected by the name ON HER FOREHEAD (Rev 17:5). Similarly, the mark of the beast is the name of the beast on the foreheads of people (Rev 13:16-17). They have the beast’s character! But the 144000 have God’s name is on their foreheads (Rev 14:1), meaning that they will think like God.

The Seven Last Plagues

The description of this end-time persecution ends in 14:13 and goes over to the return of Christ (Rev 14:14-20), when a sea of blood (of the people with the mark of the beast) will flow “out from the wine press, up to the horses’ bridles, for a distance of two hundred” (Rev 14:20; cf. Rev 19:21).

However, the seven last plagues, as described in Revelation 15-16, jump back to the time BEFORE His return because they describe the people with the mark of the beast still refusing to repent (Rev 16:2, 9, 11, 21).

The Victorious Ones

These seven last plagues are described in Revelation 16. God initiates those plagues in Revelation 15. That chapter, therefore, describes events and conditions AT THE BEGINNING of the seven last plagues:

It describes God’s people as “those who had been victorious over the beast” (Rev 15:2). They, therefore, are the people who have resisted the efforts of the beast to put the mark of the beast on them. In other words, these victorious ones are the 144000!

John saw “those who had been victorious over the beast” (Rev 15:2). By implication, he saw ALL of them. This means that, at the point in history represented by Revelation 15, which is when the plagues begin to fall, all of “the bond-servants of our God” have ALREADY been sealed (Rev 7:3).

No Switching of Sides

This conclusion is confirmed by the observation that there will be no switching of sides after the plagues began to fall:

    • NONE of the people with the mark of the beast will repent (Rev 16:9, 11, 21) and
    • The term “seal of God” implies that the eternal destiny of the sealed people has been permanently settled. Therefore, NONE of them will fall away during the plagues.

Since there will be NO switching of sides after the plagues began to fall, and since Revelation 15 describes the point in history when God sends forth the seven last plagues (Rev 15:7-16:1), we are further able to conclude that the seven last plagues will begin to fall as soon as EVERY person on earth is marked EITHER with the mark of the beast or the seal of God.

Further Conclusions

1) Since the end-time persecution of Revelation 13-14 will divide the people of the world into these two groups, the persecution of God’s people will continue during the plagues.

2) Since BOTH the seven last plagues and the four winds will be released as soon as God’s people are all sealed, the four winds are the same as the seven last plagues.

3) The purpose of God’s seal is to protect God’s people during the plagues; not during the Revelation 13-persecution.

4) Since the sealing describes the time BEFORE the sixth seal, and since the “four winds” will be released as soon as all God’s people are sealed, the four winds are the same as the sixth seal. It then also follows that the sixth seal is the seven last plagues.

– End of Summary –


Purpose

The 144000 are mentioned explicitly both in Revelation 7 and 14 (Rev 7:4; 14:1, 3):

In Revelation 7:1-3, the four winds of the earth are held back UNTIL ALL of God’s people have been “sealed … on their foreheads.” Revelation 7:4-8 describes them symbolically as 144000; 12000 from each of the 12 tribes of Israel.

Revelation 14:1-5 describes their character in the context of the end-time persecution by the image of the beast: They have “His name and the name of His Father written on their foreheads,” meaning that they think like God. They “have not been defiled with women,” meaning that they are not involved with Babylon’s daughters (Rev 17:5). In other words, their worship is not corrupted (cf. Rev 14:8; 17:2).

Revelation 13 describes the attempt of the end-time image of the beast to put the mark of the beast on all people.

Revelation 16 describes the plagues that fall on the people who have accepted the mark of the beast.

The purpose of this article is to compare the sealing of the 144000, as described in Revelation 7:1-8, to those later chapters to determine:

Where the sealing fits chronologically in the end-time events described in Revelation 13 and 16.

What the purpose and meaning of God’s seal are:
(a) Will the seal protect God’s people from persecution by the image of the beast?
(b) Or will it enable them to remain faithful during the seven last plagues?
(c) Or is it simply an indication that their eternal destiny is fixed?

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

Revelation 15-16

Revelation 16 describes the seven last plagues. The plagues are initiated in Revelation 15.

The World Divided into Two Groups

Revelation chapters 15 and 16 divide humanity into two groups:

1) Chapter 15 describes “those who had been victorious over the beast and his image” (Rev 15:2).

2) Then the seven angels receive the seven last plagues (Rev 15:7) and pour them out on “the people who had the mark of the beast and who worshiped his image” (Rev 16:2).

These descriptions of these two groups of people refer back to Revelation 13, where the people of the world made “an image to the beast” (Rev 13:15). This image is made alive and it then attempts to force all people to accept the mark of the beast (Rev 13:16-18).

When the Plagues begin to Fall

The way in which these two groups of people are described in Revelation 15 and 16 (see, Rev 15:2-4; 16:2) means that:

(A) They are the people who will LIVE 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.

(B) Revelation 15 – in which God initiates the seven last plagues – describes a point in human history when EVERY PERSON HAS MADE HIS OR HER FINAL CHOICE for or against the mark of the beast. At that time, every person on earth 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 when the plagues begin to fall (Rev 15:2; 16:2).
        • None of the people with the mark of the beast will repent during the plagues (Rev 16:9, 11, 21).
        • The seal of God implies that the eternal destiny of the people who have God’s seal has been permanently settled.
        • In Revelation 15:8, the temple closes and nobody is allowed to enter. Since the temple is where people go to receive forgiveness (e.g., Heb 10:10, 19), the closing of the temple symbolizes that nobody else will be saved.

Since there is no changing of sides while the plagues fall, 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 is fixed.

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, except that increasingly horrible catastrophes will threaten life and property; like people on a sinking ship. But the people of the world have survived and even thrived through many previous catastrophes over the millennia and they believe that humanity will always 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).

The persecution of God’s people, therefore, will continue during the plagues.

Revelation 13/14:
The End-Time Persecution

Persecution

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 who HAVE accepted the mark of the beast. Logically, the Revelation 13-persecution PRECEDES the plagues.

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

God’s Response

Revelation 14 shows how God responds through His people. While the image of the beast persecutes people who do not accept the mark of the beast, God’s people will preach the message of the three angels (Rev 14:6-11). These angels fly “in midheaven” (Rev 14:6), symbolizing that this message will go out with exceptional clarity and power. They will:

      • Warn all people to worship the Creator alone (Rev 14:6-7),
      • Explain the corruptness of the religious systems driving the persecution (Rev 14:8; see – Babylon, Mother of Harlots), and 
      • Warn people of the eternal consequences of accepting the Mark of the Beast (Rev 14:9-11).

The crisis of Revelation 13, therefore, will be a period of final decisions. Everybody will be forced to choose.

The 144000 are the Victorious People.

Those who had been victorious over the beast and his image” (Rev 15:2) are God’s people during the war over the mark of the beast as described in Revelation 13. However, Revelation 13 and 14 symbolize the overcomers as 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 already know that God’s people are sealed before the plagues begin to fall. But the crisis of Revelation 13 precedes the plagues. Then the question is: 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:

1) Persecution Separates.

Sometimes, chapter divisions create confusion. Revelation 13 ends by describing the image of the beast forcing people to accept the mark of the beast. Revelation 14 begins by describing the 144000 with the seal of God on their foreheads (cf. Rev 7:1-3). Since these two descriptions are in two different chapters, people sometimes fail to associate them. However, THEY FORM A UNIT.

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 the Revelation 13-persecution will divide the world into these two classes of people:

The people with the mark of the beast. This mark can be on the forehead (Rev 13:16), which means to think like the beast. Or it can be on the right hand, which means that they comply with the law, even though they know it is wrong, but because they are intimidated by threats of punishment. 

The people with the seal of God. The seal will only be on the forehead (Rev 7:3; 14:1), meaning that the 144000 will think like God. They will 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. For a further discussion, see – Why Satan thought he could win against God. Or God’s creatures are free to rebel against Him.

The mark of the beast and the seal of God, therefore, serve a similar function and identify the class to which a person belongs. 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 his mark during that period of persecution.

2) Mentioned after the Persecution but before the Plagues

This conclusion may be confirmed as follows: While the 144000 are described in Revelation 14:1 AFTER the Revelation-13-persecution, in Revelation 15:2 they are mentioned BEFORE the plagues fall in Revelation 16. This also suggests that God’s people will be sealed THROUGH that persecution.

This also means that God’s people receive the seal of God to prepare them for the plagues. The plagues will be a difficult 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

Based on the brief overview of Revelation 13 to 16 above, we are now able to explain where the sealing fits into those events.

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

It was concluded above that God’s people are sealed DURING the Revelation 13-persecution 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:

1) The sealing of the 144000, as described in Revelation 7:1-8, coincides with the Revelation-13-persecution.

2) Since both the four winds and the seven plagues are released as soon as God’s people are sealed, the four winds are another symbol for the seven last plagues.

3) God delays the winds because His people are not sealed (Rev 7:3), meaning 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 function, and God’s people need to be prepared. For a further discussion, see – Why has Christ not yet returned? What is God waiting for?

A War Over Worship

The end-time crisis will be a war over worship.

The people with the mark of the beast profess to be Christians. See:

During the intense conflict of the Revelation 13 persecution, people will be forced by laws of government, namely by the threat of the death penalty (Rev 13:15) and by economic sanctions (Rev 13:17) to conform to long-standing (orthodox) but blasphemous religious practices and beliefs. At the same time, the three angels will preach God’s warnings with exceptional clarity and power (Rev 14:6-11). This will provide all intelligent human beings with sufficient evidence on which to base their decisions.

The message of the first angel is: “worship Him who made the heaven and the earth and sea and springs of waters” (Rev 14:7). By implication, the orthodox practices and beliefs force people to worship another. By the powerful message of the three angels, everybody will be made sufficiently aware that this age-old teaching, which is adopted by the majority, blasphemes God. 

The persecution by the beast will force every person to make a decision, and their decisions will reveal their faith or the lack thereof. Despite the threats of persecution, the 144000 will heed the warnings of the three angels. Contrary to the revealed will of God, nominal Christians will submit to the image of the beast, thereby receiving the mark of the beast.

Final Conclusions

1) The 144000 in Revelation 7 are the same as the 144000 in Revelation 14 and as “Those who had been victorious over the beast” (Rev 7:4; 14:1; 15:2).

2) The Revelation 13-persecution will divide humanity into two classes; (1) those with the mark of the beast and (2) those with the seal of God. In other words, God’s people will also be sealed DURING AND THROUGH the Revelation-13-persecution – to protect them during the plagues.

3) The seven last plagues will begin to fall as soon as every person on earth either has the mark of the beast or the seal of God.

4) There will be NO switching of sides after the plagues began to fall.

5) The four winds (Rev 7:1-3) are the same as the seven last plagues and as the sixth seal (Rev 6:12-17).


Other Articles

Your comment is important.

Privacy Preference Center

Necessary

Advertising

Analytics

Other