Chapter Seven

Although church-age believers, represented by the twenty-four elders, are in heaven during the tribulation period on earth, there are two groups of believers who will be living on the earth during this tragic time. One group consists of 144,000 people who are supernaturally protected by God from the judgements and the tragedies. The other group is an innumerable multitude that come from every nation and language and become believers during the tribulation.

When the fifth seal was opened, we saw the martyrs of the past concerned with the justice and vengeance of God.

In Revelation 6:11 we have the following statement:

Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and brothers who were to be killed as they had been was completed.

From this verse we learn that there will be others who are yet to be martyred for their faith. In chapter seven we will read about those who become believers in the tribulation period and suffer martyrdom because of their faith. We also will read about a group of Jewish believers who do not suffer martyrdom but will be used by God to spread His message of salvation to the world.

The Purpose of the Four Angels 

Revelation 7:1-3 

After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth to prevent any wind from blowing on the land or on the sea or on any tree. Then I saw another angel coming up from the east, having the seal of the living God. He called out in a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm the land and the sea. “Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.”

These four angels have authority and power to carry out harm upon the earth, trees and sea but here they have to wait for the right time. They are told to wait for God’s judgements to be poured out until the 144,000 servants of God are sealed or protected. This means that yes, these 144,000 will be present during the tribulation but they will not be harmed by what will take place around them for God has put His seal of protection on them. 

The People Who are Sealed


Revelation 7:4-8

Then I heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel. From the tribe of Reuben 12,000, from the tribe of Gad 12,000, from the tribe of Asher 12,000, from the tribe of Naphtali 12,000, from the tribe of Manassah 12,000, from the tribe of Simeon 12,000, from the tribe of Levi 12,000, from the tribe of Issachar 12,000, from the tribe of Zebulun 12,000, from the tribe of Joseph 12,000, from the tribe of Benjamin 12,000.

We are given the following details concerning these 144,000:

1. They are called the servants of God according to Revelation 7:3

2. They are sealed on their foreheads according to Revelation 7:3

3. They come from all the “tribes of Israel” according to Revelation 7:4.

5. From each tribe twelve thousand are listed.

6. Two tribes from Israel’s past history are not listed: Ephraim and Dan.

The absence of the tribe of Ephraim might be because of their involvement in idolatry in the past.

In Hosea 4:17 we read: 

Ephraim is joined to idols; leave him alone. 

Similarly, the absence of Dan might be because of the tribe of Dan’s involvement in idolatry in the past as we can learn from:

Judges 18:30a 

There the Danites set up for themselves the idols…

7. Manasseh, Ephraim’s brother, is listed and so is their father, Joseph, perhaps as a replacement for Ephraim. 

8. Levi is listed, even though this tribe as the priestly tribe had no land inheritance in Israel’s past history.

The Scriptures contain twenty-nine lists of the tribes of Israel. Ezekiel 48 gives us a list of tribes during the Millennial reign of Christ. In this list Dan is mentioned first, and Ephraim appears again in the place of Joseph, his father. Levi is not listed in the land divisions, but is honoured with a special place and area immediately around the Millennial Temple. The final list can be found in Ezekiel 48:30-34 which deals with the names on the gates of the New Jerusalem. Once again Ephraim is left out, but his father Joseph appears on the list. Manasseh is also missing and is replaced by Levi. This list represents the original listing in Genesis 35:22-26 where only the sons of Jacob are listed, not the two sons of Joseph. The number of each tribe, the listing of the tribe, and the specific statement that they are “tribes of Israel” point to a literal interpretation. It is speaking of 144,000 Jews who will be divinely protected from the judgements of the tribulation to fulfill God’s purposes and plan. They are mentioned again in Revelation 14:1-5. 

The Great Tribulation Believers

Revelation 7:9-17

After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” All the angels were standing round the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshipped God, saying: “Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honour and power and strength, be to out God for ever and ever. Amen!” Then one of the elders asked me, “These in white robes – who are they, and where did they come from?” I answered, “Sir, you know.” And he said, “These are they who have come out of the Great Tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore, they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in His temple; and He who sits on the throne will spread His tent over them. Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb at the centre of the throne will be their Shepherd; He will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” 

Many, many people will be saved during the tribulation on earth. That is the good news. The bad news is that some will suffer greatly and be killed for their refusal to submit to the laws of this world leader. We will take a closer look at him later on in the study. They are standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb and are wearing white robes. This points out very clearly to their righteousness in Christ.

They are holding palm branches in their hands which points to victory and rejoicing. This scene reminds us of Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem which we can read about in:

John 12:13 

They took palm branches and went out to meet Him, shouting, “Hosanna!” Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. Blessed is the King of Israel!”

As for their identity, “they have come out of the great tribulation.” This group of believers is separate from any other group of saved people throughout history. They are unique to the tribulation period. Yet, salvation is the same in the tribulation as it is today – they too are saved by the blood of Jesus Christ, which paid for our sins. Very likely, they will die as martyrs and may well be the ones referred to in: 

Revelation 6:11 

Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and brothers who were to be killed as they had been was completed.

These believers are promised a special place for they will before the throne of God.

God promises to protect them, which will mean that they no longer will have to undergo the hardships they suffered during the tribulation, such as hunger and thirst. We will come back to that when we study Revelation 13. 

And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Life on earth will have been very difficult for them and will have caused them to weep much but God promises that there will be no more sorrow once they are with Him in heaven. 

Chapter Eight