Revelation 7:1–8 (NKJV)
After sharing the vision of cosmic disruptions with the sun and moon and stars, John moves to the statement concerning the sealing of the one hundred forty-four thousand Jews for the eternal preservation of the nation.
1 After these things I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, on the sea, or on any tree. 2 Then 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 granted to harm the earth and the sea, 3 saying, “Do not harm the earth, the sea, or the trees till we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.” 4 And I heard the number of those who were sealed. One hundred and forty-four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel were sealed:
5 of the tribe of Judah twelve thousand were sealed;Revelation 7:1-8
of the tribe of Reuben twelve thousand were sealed;
of the tribe of Gad twelve thousand were sealed;
6 of the tribe of Asher twelve thousand were sealed;
of the tribe of Naphtali twelve thousand were sealed;
of the tribe of Manasseh twelve thousand were sealed;
7 of the tribe of Simeon twelve thousand were sealed;
of the tribe of Levi twelve thousand were sealed;
of the tribe of Issachar twelve thousand were sealed;
8 of the tribe of Zebulun twelve thousand were sealed;
of the tribe of Joseph twelve thousand were sealed;
of the tribe of Benjamin twelve thousand were sealed.
The scene here is reminiscent of a coronation or proclamation. The winds are stilled by the force of four mighty angels. No wind is blowing on earth, sea, or trees. Then, from the east, comes another angel with a seal, the seal of the living God. He orders the four angels to continue holding the winds until he completes his task of sealing the “servants of God” on their foreheads. Later in the Revelation, in chapter 14, the seal is identified as the name of the Lamb and of His Father. This seal offers divine protection. It is telling that the angel orders the other four angels, who were standing at the ready to unleash the four winds on the earth for some type of destruction. This signals a hierarchy among the angels, which has been alluded to earlier in the word of God by the title archangel being bestowed on some prominent angels like Michael and Gabriel. This is not the only place that a divine seal is spoken of, as prophecies of Ezekiel, Isaiah, and Job. This number of the tribes of Israel to be marked is announced, and is one hundred and forty-four thousand, and is a double indicator of the number of completion, as 12,000 from each of the twelve tribes of Israel are chosen. Although there is some discussion as to the identity of the 144,000, most scholars would say that this is a representation of the perceived existence of people from the twelve tribes of Israel itself.