Revelation Chapter 7 – The 144,000 (word doc available here)
In many ways this chapter answers the desperate cry at the end of the previous chapter (6.17) – who can stand in the day of God’s wrath? – Only those protected by his seal (v1-8). The passage forms a break in the unveiling of the 7 seals, right before the final seal is opened. The second half of the chapter (v9-17) echoes back to the universal worship of chapter 5v13 and anticipates chapter 21v1-4.
- Why does God choose this moment to hold back the destructive forces coming upon the earth (v1) in order to seal his people? What is the seal (Revelation 14.1, Ephesians 1.13)? What difference does the seal make to them?
- If the seal is a mark of God’s Spirit, how can we know that we have received this mark (2 Corinthians 1.21-22 & Romans 8.14-16))? What does this mean for someone who believes we can never know if we are saved or not? Do you have assurance of your salvation?
- In v4 John hears the number of those to be sealed. Is this number symbolic or literal? Explain your answer. Who is missing from the list of sons, and which grandson is included? Does the fact that by AD70 the ancestral records of the 12 tribes had been lost effect your interpretation? If it is symbolic, what is it symbolising and who are included in this number?
- What do Jehovah’s Witnesses believe this number to represent? How would you respond to their interpretation? Compare and contrast the two groups of believers in this chapter (v4 & v9) – do you think they are the same group of the redeemed church seen from two vantage points? Why or why not?
- One commentator writes that the 144,000 are “faithful believers about to enter the period of final testing”. What will the result of their faithfulness be (6.9-10, 14.1-5)? How would we feel if we were one of this number?
- What do we fear most about embracing suffering for the sake of Jesus? Would we be ready to lose our homes, jobs or life, or see those that we love suffer in order to remain faithful? What encouragement does this passage have for suffering persecution today for the sake of Christ?
- Another commentator states that God’s seal protects against tampering, marks ownership and certifies genuine character. If you are a Christian, how does this threefold stamp of adoption comfort you in the face of your own troubles and difficulties?
Spend a few moments meditating on the fact of God’s seal over your life, thanking him and offering our lives in adoration. Remember each other in the trials we each face and particularly those who face martyrdom today for the sake of the Lord.