How you place the timing of this sealing will affect the way that you translate this sealing (as well as chapters 9, 14, and other places). I had said in the previous post that I would deal with the timing of the trumpets later, but I have decided to deal with it in part now. We will expand much more thoroughly later, but for now we need to at least have a general idea. It is my opinion (which seems to be a lone opinion) that the trumpets are for the full seven years. Of course, we cannot place them with certainty at the very beginning of the seven year Tribulation. It might very well be that they begin with the inception of the sacrifice at the temple (Dan 8:13-14). The 2300 days that this sacrifice will be going puts us somewhere within that first year of the Tribulation, but not at the very beginning. Where exactly the first trumpet is blown cannot be discerned at this moment, however the sealing is certainly before it.
In these introductory remarks, we find that there are angels holding back the four winds of heaven. These four winds are going to blow upon the land, the sea, and the trees. Then, when we look at the first four trumpets, they affect the land, the sea, and the trees. So, it would make sense that whenever this sealing takes place, it would be before the trumpets. The trumpets cannot be placed within the last three and a half years, because the fifth trumpet is the Antichrist marching on Jerusalem to establish the abomination of desolation (compare Revelation 9:1-12 with Joel 1-2).
Once again in verse 1 we see the word μετα. This is “after” and “with”. After John saw the first six seals, he sees this. Along with the six seals, we place this vision. They happen side by side, and not one after another. This word is used when introducing a new scene, and so it is that we have a new scene.
After these things I saw four angels standing upon the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that no wind would blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor upon any tree. And I saw another angel having ascended from the rising of the sun, having the seal of the Living God, and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom power had been given to harm the earth and the sea, “Do not harm the earth, nor the sea, nor the trees, until wehave sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.”
What these winds represent, we cannot be sure. There is no more mention of them in the rest of Revelations. From the great references to Matthew 24 and parallels, it might have to do with the gathering of the elect. Another option is the four winds in Daniel 7:2, which stir up the sea. I favor this second option, because we are finding the seal to be before the trumpets, and the trumpets to be somewhere around the beginning of the Tribulation. In Daniel 7, we find the four beasts that come out of the sea, and the fourth is like a monster of sorts with ten horns. This language of these four beasts is hijacked and hybrid into an equally terrifying monster in Revelation 13, which is the establishing of the Antichrist. Now, in Daniel 7, the context would put us before the Tribulation (or maybe right at the beginning). If we were to take Revelation 13, we would find it to be at the halfway point.
In verses 2-3 we see the winds are destructive. Why the angel comes from the east (where the sun rises) may deal with Christ and His coming from the east (Isaiah 41:2, Daniel 11:44). Certainly there is symbolic significance in the “sun rising”, as we cross-reference 1 John 2:8 that the “true light is already shining”. Once again, this is significant language to express the coming of Messiah and the redemption that comes with Him.
We can compare verse 3 with Ezekiel 9:3-4. “Now the glory of the God of Israel went up from above the cherubim, where it had been, and moved to the threshold of the temple. Then the Lord called to the man clothed in linen who had the writing kit at his side and said to him, ‘God throughout the city of Jerusalem and put a mark on the foreheads of those who grieve and lament over all the detestable things that are done in it’.” Here we see the contrast being formed. There is the seal of God upon the forehead, and then there is the mark of the beast on the forehead. You will either be sealed unto righteousness or unto wickedness. Reading the whole context of Ezekiel 9 brings greater clarity: that the seal of God protects from the judgment of God.
In the Kabbalah, Jewish mystics claim that everyone at the end of the age will receive a mark. The Hebrew word for mark is tavah, sometimes simply tav. Tav is the Hebrew letter at the end of the alphabet, and in ancient Hebrew script it was in the shape of two sticks held together like a cross. For some the tav brings emet – truth – and for others it brings mavet – death. In Ezekiel 9:4, the word used for mark is tav. We find the context of Ezekiel 9 is that God starts at the temple and sends forth six “men” to slay anyone who does not have the mark. Notice that these “men” (truly, they are angels) might have a correlation with the seven angels who blow the trumpets – the seventh trumpet being the return of Christ.
It is interesting that the mark goes where the crown was laid upon the priest that read “HOLINESS UNTO THE LORD”. There is something about this particular place that God takes notice of.
And I heard the number of the sealed: 144,000 having been sealed out of every tribe of the sons of Israel. Out of the tribe of Judah, 12,000 having been sealed. Out of the tribe of Reuben 12,000, out of the tribe of Gad 12,000, out of the tribe of Asher 12,000, out of the tribe of Naphtali 12,000, out of the tribe of Manasseh 12,000, out of the tribe of Simeon 12,000, out of the tribe of Levi 12,000, out of the tribe of Issachar 12,000, out of the tribe of Zebulun 12,000, out of the tribe of Joseph 12,000, out of the tribe of Benjamin 12,000 having been sealed.
Before getting into the irregularities, lets at least try to understand up these are. These are they who “know their God” (Dan 11:32) and do not participate in the abominable practices that the rest of Israel endorses. Think of the Levites who separated themselves in Exodus 32. Think of the 7000 that did not bow the knee to Baal (1 Kings 19:18). Think of the people who separated from Absolom to follow David when Absolom stole the kingdom (2 Samuel 15). Think of the Levites who separated from the tents of Korah, Abiram, and Dothan (Numbers 16). Think about Daniel, Meshach, Shadrach, and Abednego. These 144,000 are likened unto them, who are still within Israel and yet are somehow able to discern that the practices everyone else is indulging in are detestable.
In Revelation 14, these are called the first fruits unto God. It is important to note that this is one of the few times where Israel is specifically mentioned in Revelations. It is always the Church, or the saints, or some other figure that can be debated, but here it is explicitly Israel. Not only that, but each tribe is explicitly mentioned to once again double the point that it is indeed Israel instead of some symbolic people. In chapter 14 they are called virgins, which if you cross-reference 2 Corinthians 11:2, you find that Paul wants to present us as virgins. It is very possible that these are a massive Jewish population that is redeemed unto Christ. Whenever this precisely happens, it appears that a mass of Jewish people are converted unto Christ and are thus a “first fruit” of the final harvest of Israel (Romans 11:25-26).
What are some of the irregularities? There are actually more than just that the tribe of Dan is missing. 1) Judah is placed first. 2) Dan is missing. 3) Joseph is mentioned instead of Ephraim. 4) The tribes seem to have no order.
Judah is mentioned first. This most likely is because from him sprang the Messiah. In numbers 2 and 7, Judah is listed first, and Genesis 48:9 puts Judah as the one his brothers will bow down to.
Before answering 2 and 3, lets examine irregularity number 4. If number 4 can be solved, then the other two seem to have an easier means of interpretation. Gad and Asher came from Leah’s handmaid, so why they are in between Leah’s sons is bizarre. It is important to note that no two lists of these tribes has the same order in the Old Testament. In Deuteronomy 33, Simeon is completely neglected. Simeon is missing. In 1 Chronicles 4-7, Dan is missing (and maybe also Zebulun?). From this we conclude that the order doesn’t really matter, and they who try to say it does are simply ignorant of fact.
To come back to why Dan is missing, I would immediately turn to 1 Chronicles 4-7 to show that Dan is missing there as well. It is accepted pretty close to universally that 1 Chronicles was written after the exile (many think by Ezra). If this is the case, that it was written during the time of Ezra and Nehemiah, then it would make sense that John wouldn’t list the tribe of Dan. They didn’t either. That there are Jewish people today who claim ancestry from the tribe of Dan is simply insignificant.
We have in Revelation 21:12-13 the mention of twelve gates symbolizing the twelve tribes. John is not purposefully neglecting Dan. There has to be a reason. In 1 Chronicles 4-7, Manasseh is mentioned twice. Here Joseph is mentioned as well as Manasseh. In Ezekiel 47:13, we read that Joseph shall get a double inheritance. Some have asserted that Manasseh should be Dan, because if Manasseh was abbreviated it could look like Dan. This assertion is impractical, and given the information I’ve already put forth it is unnecessary. Others have said Dan is missing because of their constant disobedience in the Old Testament. This is unsatisfactory, because if grace doesn’t apply to them, it doesn’t apply to anyone.
Dan is the Hebrew word for ‘judgment’ or ‘he judged’. We find in Genesis 49:16 that Dan will provide justice for his people, or ‘bring judgment’ to play off of his name. Yet, it is Christ and Christ alone that does this in our author. The ‘missing’ tribe of Dan is not to be considered ‘prophesied out’, but rather we find Manasseh in his place as a sign that Jesus is our only judge. Whether we appeal to 1 Chronicles and question if Dan is simply lost in their records, or to the Christology of John, or both, it all seems plausible and not worth crying over spilt milk.