Revelation 7 –
After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth, that no wind might blow on earth or sea or against any tree. Then I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, with the seal of the living God, and he called with a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm earth and sea, saying, “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.” And I heard the number of the sealed, 144,000, sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel: (vs. 1-4)
After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.” (vs. 9-12)
“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 shelter them with his presence. (vs. 15)
This is a magnificent picture of heavenly worship. While there are many ideas about the 144,000, I would ask you to take the verses as a whole. In other words, 144,000 and the multitude refer to the same people. So that would mean that the 144,000 is not some special group or ethnic Jews, but all Christians who serve God. I know you may question that, so let me confirm this. Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones has an awesome book on doctrine (Great Doctrines of the Bible) and he describes this chapter in the following way. First, he says that the sealing of the 144,000 is keeping God’s people safe from God’s last judgments upon the world. The text is not talking about Jews, but about Christians. Lloyd-Jones notes that Revelation is a book of symbols and explains the meaning of the number 144,000. He says that the number is symbolic – starting with the number 3 which represents the Trinity and then taking the number 4 which represents the whole earth or the whole of mankind. Putting the 2 together (3 times 4) gives us the number 12, which means God’s concern for the whole world. The number 12 is of course used many times in Scripture in both the Old and New Testaments. Any third grader can tell you that 12 times 12 is 144. And when you take the number 10, which means completion or whole, and cube it (10 times 10 times 10) you get 1000. The number 1000 represents absolute completion. Lloyd-Jones says that the 144,000 is the culmination of all of that, all the saints of the New and Old Testaments are brought together, perfect and complete. Chapter 7 in Revelation is a picture of all glorified saints in heaven, whether Jew or Gentile, worshiping the King of glory. The nation, language or tribe does not matter, we all belong to Christ, and we will worship and serve him day and night and will spend eternity in his holy presence.
I cannot imagine a more beautiful picture! Let us serve the King of glory with all our might!
7 Lift up your heads, O gates!
And be lifted up, O ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
8 Who is this King of glory?
The Lord, strong and mighty,
the Lord, mighty in battle!
9 Lift up your heads, O gates!
And lift them up, O ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
10 Who is this King of glory?
The Lord of hosts,
he is the King of glory! Pslam 24:7-10