The Book of REVELATION
James J. Barker
PEOPLE SAVED DURING THE TRIBULATION PART 1
- In Revelation
chapter 6, we saw that six of the seven seals were opened, and the wrath of God
was poured out upon the earth.
- The seventh
seal will be opened in Revelation chapter 8. Before the breaking of the seventh seal,
we come to this parenthetical section in chapter 7, which deals with people who
are saved during the tribulation.
- Two major
groups of tribulation saints are mentioned in this chapter: the 144,000 from the
twelve tribes of Israel (7:4), and "a great multitude, which no man could
number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues"
- I use the term
"saints" because that is what they are called here in the book of
Revelation. There is no mention of
the church after Revelation chapter 3, but many people will be saved during the
tribulation, and they are referred to as "saints" (cf. 5:8; 8:3, 4; 11:18; 13:7,
10; 14:12; 15:3; 16:6; 17:6; 18:24; 19:8).
- In contrast to
Revelation chapter 6 which gives the chronological sequence of the major events
of the great tribulation, chapter 7 does not advance the narrative but gives us
information regarding these two major groups of saints in the
- The opening
portion of the chapter pictures 144,000 saved Israelites who will minister on
earth during the great tribulation. The latter part of the chapter describes
this great multitude of martyred dead in heaven. They are believers who died as
a testimony to their faith from every kindred, tongue, and nation, and they are
pictured before the throne of God in heaven (7:9).
WHO WILL BE SAVED AFTER THE
- People often
ask, "Who will be saved after the rapture?" Many are puzzled because of the
fascinating prophecies of II Thessalonians 2.
- The Scriptures
clearly indicate that a great multitude of both Jews and Gentiles will trust in
the Lord after the rapture of the church.
- The question is
often asked how people can be saved during the tribulation if the Holy Spirit
(the One who now restrains sin, according to II Thessalonians 2:7) is taken out
of the world.
- The answer to
that question is that the Holy Spirit is God, and God is omnipresent. The Holy Spirit will be removed from the
world in the same sense in which He came on the day of
- In other words,
the church age began with the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and it will end at the
- People were
saved before the day of Pentecost, and people will be saved after the
- Some mistakenly
believe that no one was indwelt by the Holy Spirit or filled with the Holy
Spirit before the day of Pentecost but that is not
- For example,
John 20:22 says our Lord breathed on the disciples, and said unto them, "Receive
ye the Holy Ghost." That was before
our Lord ascended into heaven, and therefore before the day of
- Luke 1:15 says
John the Baptist was filled with the Holy Ghost, "even from his
- Luke 1:41 and 1:67 say his mother Elisabeth and his
father Zacharias were also filled with the Holy Ghost.
- There are
several Old Testament examples also.
Exodus 31:1-3 says, "And the LORD
spake unto Moses, saying, See, I have called by name Bezaleel the son of Uri,
the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah: And I have filled him with the spirit
- The ministry of the Holy Spirit changed on the day of
Pentecost, when the Spirit of God came to permanently indwell the church. This was a fulfillment of John 14:16 and
17. Jesus said, "And I will pray
the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you
for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it
seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you,
and shall be in you."
- However, the Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit has
always been in the world and always will be. Way back in Genesis 1:2 we read,
"And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the
- According to the Bible, certain ministries which are
characteristic of our present dispensation will cease because the church will be
raptured, but there will be the continued ministry of the Holy Spirit in a
similar way to that which existed before the day of
- John Walvoord says, "When the present age ends and the
Holy Spirit is caught up with the church, the situation will return to that
which was true before the day of Pentecost. The Holy Spirit will continue to be
working in the world, but in some particulars in a different way. There is good
reason to believe, however, that the Holy Spirit will lead people to Christ, and
many will be saved during the tribulation time. A description of this is given
in the seventh chapter of the book of Revelation, which is so plain that no one
should question whether people will be saved after the rapture" (The
Revelation of Jesus Christ).
THE SEALING OF THE 144,000
- John sees four
angels holding the four winds of the earth (7:1). Holding the four winds means
God is holding back His judgment.
Verse 3 tells us why.
- The Bible
employs the language of appearance (7:1).
- In verse 2,
John sees another angel, "ascending from the east, having the seal of the living
- This angel
commands the other four angels not to hurt the earth and the sea until the
"servants" of God (the 144,000) are sealed in their foreheads (7:2,
- What we see
here is the Lord is going to set apart and protect His 144,000 servants before
He moves in judgment (7:3).
- In the verses
which follow, 12,000 from each of the twelve tribes of Israel are protected by
this "seal of the living God" (7:2).
- These men who
are sealed will be saved and supernaturally set apart as a special divine
remnant to be a testimony to Godís grace and mercy during the coming
tribulation, this terrible time of judgment.
- In chapter 6,
we read that the judgment has already begun with the opening of the first six
seals. However, chapter 7 is
parenthetical and does not advance the narrative. God is showing us that multitudes will
be saved during the coming tribulation period.
- Regarding the
divine protection of the 144,000, there are many other instances in Scripture,
when God set aside and protected His people from impending destruction.
- For example, when God sent the flood upon the earth, He
separated Noah and his family from the rest of the human race, and the flood did
not hurt them.
- Before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, Lot and
his wife and his two daughters were told to flee. The angel said to Lot, "Haste thee,
escape thither; for I cannot do any thing till thou be come thither" (Gen.
- When God destroyed Jericho, He protected Rahab the
harlot and her household. Though
Rahab was a pagan harlot, she had put her trust in the God of Israel, and so God
protected her from the judgment that fell upon Jericho.
- In a similar way in the time of the great tribulation,
protection will be given to this group of 144,000 Israelites.
THE 144,000 ARE JEWS FROM THE TWELVE
- Based upon
their erroneous interpretation of Revelation 7, the Jehovahís Witnesses teach
that only 144,000 people will go to heaven.
- They say that
God chose these 144,000 individuals, and their number was completed in the year
1935. Furthermore, they teach that
only faithful Jehovahís Witnesses were chosen for this special
Jehovahís Witnesses not chosen to be among the 144,000 (by this they mean those
who joined the Watchtower organization after 1935) will have to spend eternity
on earth. They cannot go to
eternity here on earth could be a problem since II Peter 3:10 says "the earth
also and the works that are therein shall be burned
- Revelation 21:1
says, "And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the
first earth were passed away."
- There are many
other problems with the JW interpretation.
For example, Revelation 7:9 says, "a great multitude, which no man could
number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before
the throne..." This throne is
in heaven. The "great multitude,
which no man could number..." will be in heaven, not on earth, because God's
throne is in heaven (cf. 4:1, 2; 5:1; etc.).
- The Jehovah's
Witnesses claim they are the 144,000 servants, but Revelation 7:4 says the
144,000 are from "the tribes of the children of
- Also, the
144,000 will be male virgins (cf. 14:1-5).
the names of the tribes and the number to be saved from each tribe are given in
great detail (7:4-8).
- The JW's say that we should not take the Bible so
literally. But when people move
away from a literal interpretation (like Mr. Camping, for example), they get
into great confusion, and "God is not the author of confusion" (I Cor.
- The golden rule of interpretation is: "When the plain
sense of Scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense; therefore, take
every word at its primary, ordinary, usual, literal meaning unless the facts of
the immediate context, studies in the light of related passages and axiomatic
and fundamental truths, indicate clearly otherwise. God in revealing His Word
neither intends nor permits the reader to be confused. He wants His children to
understand" (David L. Cooper).
- In this case, "the plain sense of Scripture makes common
sense." They will be literally
144,000 Israelites sealed by God during the coming
- Revelation 7 reveals that the twelve tribes of Israel
are still in existence, and the names of the different tribes are given.
- However, there are some differences and some omissions.
In some lists of the twelve tribes, Ephraim and Manasseh (the two sons of
Joseph), are numbered as separate tribes.
- In this list Manasseh is mentioned but his brother
Ephraim is not, and in place of Ephraim the name of Joseph his father is given
in Revelation 7:8.
- Interestingly, no mention is made of the tribe of Dan,
and no explanation is given for the omission. Some Bible teachers say the tribe
of Dan is not mentioned because Dan was the first tribe to go into
- However, Dan is named first in the distribution of the
land in the millennial kingdom, which will immediately follow the tribulation
(Ezek. 48:1, 2).
- Though Jews today do not normally know what tribe they
belong to, God certainly knows. The idea that the church is the true Israel
(so-called "replacement theology") is not taught in Scripture, and in Scripture
the word Israel is never used in reference to
- In the Bible, the word "Israel" refers only to those who
are literal descendants of Israel (or Jacob), as we see here in Revelation
- The mention of the twelve tribes of Israel is likewise a
refutation of the idea that the tribes of Israel are lost, as well as of the
ridiculous theory that the lost tribes are perpetuated in the English-speaking
people of the world ("British-Israelism").
- "Obviously none of the tribes are lost as far as God is
concerned. Though genealogies have been lost, a modern Jew can be assured that
he belongs to the seed of Abraham; and God knows into which tribe he should be
classified" (John Walvoord).
- James 1:1 refers to the twelve tribes of Israel as being
in existence at the time he wrote his epistle. James addresses his letter "to
the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad."
- The Bible teaches that God has a future purpose for
Israel and that in spite of satanic persecution a godly remnant will be
preserved on earth when Christ returns. Revelation 12 describes the
- There will be other Israelites saved in addition to
these 144,000. The 144,000 will be
a select group of preachers and soulwinners supernaturally protected by God
during the tribulation. These men
could even be alive right now.
- Regarding the other Jews saved besides these 144,000,
undoubtedly many of them will die martyrsí deaths and give up their lives for
- The 144,000 are those who will be delivered from their
persecutors and brought safely through this terrible time of tribulation. In
Revelation 14:1, they are seen standing with the Lord on Mount
- Since the Lord is with them, the prophecy in Revelation
14 will probably be fulfilled at the end of the tribulation when Christ
- In his book, We Can Have Revival Now, John R. Rice
refers to the great revival that will take place during the tribulation, and
that is recorded in Revelation 7.
- "In this
blessed revival to come and spread over the whole earth during the reign of the
Antichrist, during the tribulation period itself, when true preachers and
Christians will have been carried away in the rapture, to Heaven, and the
churches will have been taken over by unbelievers, and when it may mean death to
turn to Christ -- then uncounted multitudes that no man can number from every
nation and kindred and tongue and tribe will turn to God. What a revival!
Nothing less than millions could be meant by these terms, 'a . . . multitude,
which no man could number.' Past counting will be the converts in the marvelous
revival yet to come in the Great Tribulation. The Great Tribulation revival, so
clearly prophesied in Revelation 7:9-14, proves that the day of great revivals
is not passed, shows that the greatest revivals are yet to come. And this blessed revival also proves
that whatever the outward distress, God's people can seek His face and have His
power. Whatever the human limitations, we can have revival. We can have revival
when it means persecution and death for Christians. We can have revival when the
government is wicked and anti-Christian. We can have revival when modernism is
everywhere in the saddle. We can have revival, provided God's faithful few pay
God's price and have His mighty power! Thank God for this wonderful revival when
such multitudes will be saved in every nation of the world that they will be
uncountable! Thank God for the 144,000 Israelites saved to witness for Christ in
that period, but thank God still more for the multitudes, the uncountable
multitudes, to be saved in every nation, saved among every heathen tribe, every
language and dialect. What a revival God will give in the tribulation time!"
(We Can Have Revival Now).