In a world in outright rebellion against the one of the throne does God see, does God care and does God act?

In Revelation 6 we saw a cry for justice, the divine response and cosmic breakdown.
Who can stand before the one on the throne?
Who can stand before the wrath of the lamb?

Revelation 7

After the sixth seal is broken in chapter 6 we have a pause before the seventh seal.

Now we ask the question - who can stand?
We find that there is a group who are sealed, set apart and given protection from the onslaught that the removing of the seals bring.

Who are they?

Through history people have tried to understand who these 144,000 are.

Revelation is a book of symbols, this is a very unique number, it should cause us to pause, numbers matter.
The genre does not allow us to pick and choose when to read a number symbolically or statistically.
144,000 = (12 * 12) * (10 * 10 * 10)
In the grand story of God 12 is a significant number (tribes of Israel, apostles).
Salvation is not restricted to the Jews - to the Jews first then through them to the gentiles.
The number 10 represents many, 10*10*10 represents countlessness.
This number represents the complete people of God (both Jew and gentile - the Israel of God Galatians 6:15-16).

The genealogy recorded here stands out. Genealogies are important.
Israel was a man who wrestled with God, here we have a list of his twelve sons, well almost but not quite!
What's going on? This is a list of the 12 tribes which is unique to Revelation, nowhere else in the Bible.
What's unique about this? It is a picture of the Gospel.

  • The tribe of Judah is mentioned first. However, Rueben is the firstborn.
    The lion comes from the tribe of Judah. Jesus is supreme.
  • The tribe of Dan is missing - how did God forget them?
    The tribe of Dan is replaced by the tribe of Manasseh - as son of Joseph.
    Manasseh was a son of Joseph's Egyptian wife.
    Why does God omit Dan? Dan is notorious in Israel for idolatory.
    In New Convenant people Judah comes first, Dan is omitted and replaced with a half-breed.
    Jesus is supreme and there is no room for idolatory.
  • The tribes of Gad, Asher, Naphtali are raised up - they are usually last.
    In the list of the Apostles, Judas who betrayed Jesus is listed last.
    Gad, Asher, Naphtali were born to concubines, not wives of Israel (Jacob).
    In the reign of Jesus idolatory is removed and the bastards are raised up.
    Jesus came for the bastard, leper, sinner, whore, tax collector.
    Jesus welcomes the Egyptian.

What did John hear in verse 4?
He heard the number, but has not seen anything yet (verse 9).
In Revelation 1:10-12 we see the same hear - see sequence.
In Revelation 5:5-6 John heard 'lion' he saw 'lamb'.
Then in verse number he saw a great multitude (10*10*10) - the glorified church, for all time from all people and all places.
There is nothing new in Revelation, its just packaged differently. Do we have this idea of being sealed elsewhere in the Bible?
2 Corinthians 1:21-22 Established in Christ and carrying his seal.
Ephesians 1:13 We are sealed and set apart.

The seal of God protects us from final judgement, but not from tribulation (verse 14).
Sealed by washing in the blood of the lamb, but not exempt us from tribulation.
Why not? Paul answers this in Romans 8 "who shall separate us?".
The tribulation demonstrates the strength of the seal. We are safe in Christ. Picture of security.
John 16:13 Jesus warned us of tribulation, but he has overcome, we can have peace.
Peace in tribulation, not peace because there is an absence of tribulation.

Revelation 6:15-17

To wrapup - who can stand?
In Revelation 7:9 we see the multitudes standing before the throne and the lamb.
What allows us to stand there - the blood of the lamb.
Standing in worship and waving palm branches - the symbol of victory.
This emphasises Jesus, places Jesus at the centre - see the lamb on the throne.

Images on coin - monarch on one side, polar bear on other.
Two images, one coin.
He heard lion and saw a lamb - the same Jesus.
He heard 144,000 and saw a countless multitude - the same church.
Why two images?
First image gives us assurance - we are secure, nothing can separate us.
Second image fires us up, can look forward to the future. The heat will be off, we will be sheltered.

Further Reading

Romans 11:25
John 12-15
Matthew 24:15-28