The Sealed of Israel
And I heard the number of those who were sealed. One hundred and forty-four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel were sealed."
-Revelation 7:4, emphasis added
In chapter 7, the Lamb's servants are protected; no harm can come to those who are sealed. Who are these people? They are tribes of Israel, the Jews, not the church or anyone else. Many commentators have tried to show that they are not Jews-especially Reformed scholars who believe that God is through with the Jews forever, and is dealing with the church only. They believe that these special missionaries are either denominations or great triumphant Christians of the past. But what do Judah, Rueben, Gad, Asher, Naphtali, Manasseh, Simeon, Levi, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph, and Benjamin have in common? They are all sons of Jacob.
The servants in this passage are born-again Jewish people. Jesus either confronts each of them personally, just like He did the apostle Paul, or perhaps there is a great outpouring of God in Israel at this time. We do not know for sure how they've come to Christ, but we do know from the Scriptures that these 144,000 are all converted.
In Ephesians 1, we see that when believers come to Christ they are: chosen, sealed, spiritually filled, spiritually led, protected, rewarded, servants, and owned. And, as Romans 8:16 says, the Spirit assures us that we are saved: The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.
This is exactly what God does for the 144,000 Jews who become Christians. The Holy Spirit of God seals them, so they likewise get to experience the great Shepherd's betrothal gift to His bride, which is the Holy Spirit-"the earnest" or "guarantee of our inheritance": In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee [earnest] of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory (Ephesians 1:13-14).
The thought behind the word "guarantee" (NKJV) or "earnest" (KJV) is exactly the thought behind the idea of an engagement ring or down payment on something. Just as a bride-to-be delights in showing off her engagement ring, so we are to delight in "showing off" the Holy Spirit before the world to signify that our affections have been engaged to another: "to Him who is raised from the dead" (Romans 7:4). No longer are we to show any allegiance to the decaying and soon-passing world system. That is why it is spiritual adultery to love the world and all that is in it.
If you are truly engaged to Jesus Christ, this will be evident through special spiritual changes in your life. If you can see no such changes, you would do well to question: Am I really betrothed to Christ? Is He my beloved?
To find this message online, please click here.
For more from Discover the Book Ministries, please visit discoverthebook.org.