Sealing of the one hundred and forty four thousand. What is their purpose and what do they mean?
1 And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four
winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree.
2 And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with
a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea,
3 Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God
in their foreheads.
4 And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and
four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel.
5 Of the tribe of Juda were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Reuben were sealed twelve thousand.
Of the tribe of Gad were sealed twelve thousand.
6 Of the tribe of Aser were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Nephthalim were sealed twelve
thousand. Of the tribe of Manasses were sealed twelve thousand.
7 Of the tribe of Simeon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Levi were sealed twelve thousand.
Of the tribe of lssachar were sealed twelve thousand.
8 Of the tribe of Zabulon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Joseph were sealed twelve
thousand. Of the tribe of Benjamin were sealed twelve thousand.
9 After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds,
and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and
palms in their hands;
10 And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the
11 And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell
before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God,
12 Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might,
be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.
13 And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes?
and whence came they?
14 And 1 said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great
tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
15 Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple: and he that
sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them.
16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat.
17 For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living
fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.
The purpose of the one hundred and forty four thousand is not that clear, God has sealed them that we know, but their function is not specified. Many people believe that they will be super evangelists during the tribulation period when the gentile church has been removed, (hence the large number before the throne who are described as coming out of the tribulation period) and God’s focus is once more on the Israeli people. He
has chosen this group to go out and preach the gospel to His people hence the huge crowd in front of the throne
mentioned in verse 9.
What no one should miss is the immensely special place this particular group will have in God’s economy, again I am reminded of Jesus’ words that “the last shall be first and first shall be last.” They have a privileged position and will be given special rewards. The concept does not usually sit very well with a good
many modern Christians, and many do not even entertain the thought that the Israeli people have relevance today. I believe again that Jesus knew what He was talking about when He said that “there will be weeping and the gnashing of teeth”. Many behave as though the story of the Bible is complete and that it is all
historical, my response is that they are mistaken and will soon see just how much.
What is interesting in these verses is the order and inclusion or exclusion of certain names in the given list of the tribes. The tribe of Joseph is included and the tribe of Dan is excluded and Joseph’s son Manasseh is included whilst his brother Ephraim is not. Added to this is the fact that the order that these names are given in seems almost random. They are not in order of oldest to youngest, or most important to least important.
There is a good deal of what God is saying hidden in the message that is encoded into the list. The message in the code is revealed when the meaning of the name of each tribe mentioned is defined and then this meaning substituted for the name.
The meaning of the names and the origin of the names as given in the Bible are provided below:
35 And she conceived again, and bare a son: and she said, Now will I praise the LORD: therefore she called his name Judah; and left bearing. (KJV)
Juda means – Confessors or Praisers of God
32 And Leah conceived, and bare a son, and she called his name Reuben: for she said, Surely the LORD hath looked upon mv affliction; now therefore my husband will love me. (KJV)
Reuben means – Looking upon or viewing
11 And Leah said, A troop cometh: and she called his name Gad. (KJV)
Gad means – A troop or band
13 And Leah said, Happy am I, for the daughters will call me blessed: and she called his name Asher. (KJV)
Asher (Hebrew Asher) means – Happy or Blessed
8 And Rachel said. With great wrestlings have I wrestled with my sister, and I have prevailed: and she called his name Naphtali. (KJV)
Nephthalim (Hebrew Nephtali) means – Striving or wrestling
51 And Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh: For God, said he, hath made me forget all my toil, and all my father’s house. (KJV)
Manasses (Hebrew Manasseh) means – Forgetfulness
33 And she conceived again, and bare a son; and said, Because the LORD hath heard that I was hated, he hath therefore given me this son also: and she called his name Simeon. (KJV)
Simeon means – Hearing and obeying (the word)
34 And she conceived again, and bare a son; and said, Now this time will my husband be joined unto me, because I have born him three sons: therefore was his name called Levi. (KJV)
Levi means – Cleaving or adhering to
18 And Leah said, God hath given me my hire, because I have given my maiden to my husband: and she called his name Issachar. (KJV)
Issachar means – Payment or reward
20 And Leah said, God hath endued me with a good dowry; now will my husband dwell with me, because I have born him six sons: and she called his name Zebulun. (KJV)
Zabulon (Hebrew Zebulun) means – A home or dwelling place
24 And she called his name Joseph; and said. The LORD shall add to me another son. (KJV) Joseph means – An addition
18 And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, (for she died) that she called his name Benoni: but his father called him Benjamin. (KJV)
Benjamin means – A son of old age (Born in the extremity of the age)
If you take the meaning of the names and put them together they come out like this:
Confessors or praisers of God, looking upon or viewing the Son, a band of blessed ones, striving with forgetfulness, hearing and obeying the word cleaving to a reward, a home, an addition, sons born in the extremity of the age.
The meaning of the word Dan is judgement
6 And Rachel said. God hath judged me, and hath also heard my voice, and hath given me a son:therefore called she his name Dan. (KJV)
There is no judgement on this one hundred and forty four thousand and is therefore not included in the list.
The meaning of the name Ephraim is increase
52 And the name of the second called he Ephraim: For God hath caused me to be fruitful in the land of
my affliction. (KJV)
The number of these people is locked in at one hundred and forty four thousand and there will be no
increase, and therefore the name of Ephraim does not appear on the list.
At the end of this section John sees a huge number of people standing before the throne and the angel asks him as to who this special group of people are. After John indicates that he does not know, the angel goes on to describe the origin of this distinguished group as those who come out of the great tribulation that
they are about to enter. This section ties up with chapter 14:4 – 7 where we are given a greater insight regarding the rewards that will be attributed to this remarkable one hundred and forty four thousand.
-Edwin Talbot, “Where on Earth are We Going” A Treatise on theBook of Revelation, pp 40-43