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Originally published in "The Lord's Coming Herald & Wesleyan Bible Prophecy Advocate," October Edition 2007

Revelation Chapter Seven Explained

In last month’s issue of this newsletter we saw that Revelation chapter six provides a selective overview of the great forces of conquest and conflict that must shape the destiny of this whole age between Christ's first and second advents. No time frames are mentioned in that chapter, indicating that the visions are essentially time-transcendent, and cover the whole age. This makes perfect sense; it is in accord with the realities of Church history; and, it is a vital part of that "revelation" or unveiling of Christ's lordship over history, which Jesus would have all of his followers to understand.

Now, in chapter seven the emphasis shifts to what would be the great over-arching concern and work of God during this whole age between Christ's first and second advents. From this perspective the contents of this chapter are also part of an overview. Here we have an interlude, or hiatus, between the synopsis of the second coming of Christ introduced at the end of chapter six, and the beginning of an expansion on that coming apocalyptic event resumed in chapters eight and nine.

The chapter begins with the words "hurt not the earth until we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads" That "hurting of the earth" mentioned here begins to take place in chapter eight. Before the judgments of the end arrives, however, God has a mission to accomplish. That mission is to gather out from among the peoples of the earth the eternal bride of Christ, the church.

Chapter seven falls naturally into two divisions. The first is found in verses 1-8, the second we see in verses 9-17.

In the first division, we see a picture of the early Jewish church (the sealed 144,000) who comprise the true "remnant" of the old covenant people of God, or the Jewish nation.

Jesus chose twelve disciples to build the new covenant Christian church, which was to replace the leaders of the twelve tribes of Jacob that had begotten ancient Israel. We notice, fruther, that not all individuals from each of the twelve tribes of Jacob that comprised old covenant Israel were sealed here, but only a portion from each tribe is sealed (12,000 from each tribe). This points to both a universal and a complete application of the remnant principle. The number 12 is indicative of the whole nation, the universal aspect, and the multiplication of that number times itself to the 1,000th degree suggests the fulness of completion.

Clearly it is the first century Jewish believers in Christ who are being pictured in symbol here by the venue of the 144,000 sealed ones. They (the Jewish believers) are not all that constitute the new covenant gathering of the holy nation of "kings and priests unto our God" (Rev. 5:10; I Pet. 2:9), however. They are only half of it. The other half of the new covenant priesthood (the Gentile half) is picture in the second part of Revelation chapter seven, beginning at verse nine.

We notice from I Chronicles 25:7 that there were 288 individuals selected from the old covenant levitical priesthood that were especially appointed to minister praise before the Lord. According to that passage, there were 24 courses of temple service, admitting 12 participants in each course (Lk. 1:8ff.). Correspondingly, the 144,000 sealed ones in Revelation chapter seven is only half of the 288 represented by the old covenant antetype. The other half is represented by that great multitude, which no man can number, from all nations kindreds peoples, and tongues (7:9ff.), which is a clear representation of the later Gentile inclusion into the corporate body of Christ, the church.

All this clearly points to the unprecedented fact of Jews and Gentiles now being made completely equal in the gospel, and thus, the one and only "remnant" of Abrahamic faith (Gal. 3:26-29).

In contrast to this understanding, modern dispensational premillennialism teaches that non-Christian racial Jews are now God's chosen people, based on old Testament promises that are falsely believed to have been unconditional.

All the promises of God to ancient Israel, however, were ALWAYS conditional--the predestinarian false assumptions of such dispensational teachers being flatly contradicted by the plainest teaching of the New Testament.

The "remnant" of God is never unbelievers, friends, for unbelieving racial Jews are "cut off" from the Messianic hope and promise; they are not the chosen people of God, or a remnant of anything! Those who believe that dispensational lie of the Devil usually end up falling into the trap of Pharisaical hypocrisy and hubristic self-righteousness--and this is exactly what is wrong with much of the modern, so-called "Religious Right" movement under the auspices of the false teachings of Scofield/Darbyism!

From its humble beginnings among the Jews, Christianity eventually spread to include those from every people grouping of the world, who are pictured in the second division of this chapter. Together, these Jewish and Gentile believers comprise the one true people of God, the glorious universal Christian church, gathered out, throughout history.

Revelation chapter seven is the picture of it.

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