144,000 servants of God are sealed at a particular point in the prophetic events foretold in the book of Revelation. There are some important events that lead up to that time. I will include some background information so you can see how these events fit together.
In the book of Revelation there are three main sequences of numbered events. There are 7 seals, 7 trumpets and 7 bowls (plagues). All three of these sequences follow the same pattern.
First there is an introduction followed by 6 events. Then there is a break and then the seventh event. Here is a picture of how this works:
|Seals||Introduction 1 2 3 4 5 6 Break 7|
|Trumpets||Introduction 1 2 3 4 5 6 Break 7|
|Bowls||Introduction 1 2 3 4 5 6 Break 7|
In each series, the events happen in the exact order they are given. The introduction happens first and events 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 follow. The break is the only part that occurs out of chronological order. The break is a separate vision that portrays events that do not occur sequentially after 6 and before 7. In each case the break has the words “I saw” near the beginning.
|Seals||'After these things I saw'||Revelation 7:1|
|Trumpets||'I saw'||Revelation 10:1|
|Bowls||'And I saw'||Revelation 16:13|
The events during the seven trumpets are described in Revelation chapters 8 – 12:
|Trumpet 1||Revelation 8:7|
|Trumpet 2||Revelation 8:8,9|
|Trumpet 3||Revelation 8:10,11|
|Trumpet 4||Revelation 8:12|
|Trumpet 5||Revelation 9:1-12|
|Trumpet 6||Revelation 9:13-21|
|Break||Revelation 10:1 - 11:14|
|Trumpet 7||Revelation 11:15-19|
Introduction to the seven trumpets
"2 And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and to them were given seven trumpets. 3 Then another angel, having a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. 4 And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angel's hand. 5 Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and threw it to the earth. And there were noises, thunderings, lightnings, and an earthquake. 6 So the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound." Rev 8:2-6
"7 The first angel sounded: And hail and fire followed, mingled with blood, and they were thrown to the earth. And a third of the trees were burned up, and all green grass was burned up." Rev 8:7
Notice the sequence of events:
|1||7 angels are given 7 trumpets||Introduction|
|2||Another angel with a censer offers incense||Introduction|
|3||Angel throws censer to the earth||Introduction|
|4||7 angels prepare to sound their trumpets||Introduction|
|5||The first angel sounds his trumpet||Trumpet 1|
These five events happen in the precise order they are listed above. Let’s look at each event in more detail.
Seven angels given seven trumpets
"2 And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and to them were given seven trumpets." Rev 8:2
God has seven important angels that stand before Him. They are waiting to do whatever He asks. They carry seven messages to the seven churches, they blow seven trumpets and then they pour out seven bowls. Four of the seven angels hold the four winds so the winds don’t blow.
God gives the seven trumpets to the seven angels. Each of the angels is responsible for blowing one of the trumpets. It is God who initiates and controls the blowing of the seven trumpets. They are judgments from Him.
Four angels holding four winds
When God hands trumpets to the first four angels He is also giving them the four winds of the earth.
"1 After these things I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, on the sea, or on any tree." Rev 7:1
The four angels standing at the four corners of the earth are the same four angels who blow the first four trumpets. The four winds are the first four trumpets. Wind is what makes a trumpet blow so when the wind is held the trumpet makes no sound.
When the four winds blow, the earth, the sea, and the trees will be hurt. When the first four trumpets blow, the earth, the sea, and the trees will be hurt. As long as the four angels are holding the winds the trumpets can’t sound.
|Trumpet 1||Earth and trees hurt|
|Trumpet 2||Sea hurt|
Something very important has to happen before God will allow the winds to blow and the trumpets to sound.
144,000 sealed with the seal of God
"2 Then 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 granted to harm the earth and the sea, 3 saying, 'Do not harm the earth, the sea, or the trees till we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.' 4 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." Rev 7:2-4
The angel ascending from the east is Jesus. He rises from the east as the sun of righteousness. He has the seal of God and He is preparing to seal 144,000 servants of God. He calls to the four angels, telling them not to let the winds blow, not to blow the first four trumpets, until the 144,000 servants of God have been sealed on their foreheads. He tells the four angels not to harm the earth, sea or trees. The first four trumpets harm the earth, sea and trees.
Before the winds are let loose and the trumpets blow, God will seal His 144,000 servants.
Angel with censer offers incense
"3 Then another angel, having a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. 4 And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angel's hand." Rev 8:3,4
The angel with the golden censer is Jesus. He stands at the altar of incense in heaven. He is given much incense to offer with the prayers of the saints on the altar. The saints are in earnest prayer because the Holy Spirit is convicting them that something important is happening in heaven and they need to repent and be converted.
"19 Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord. Acts 3:19
We can’t see into the sanctuary in heaven. We can’t smell the incense or feel the heat from the fire on the altar. By faith we can understand that Jesus is mixing His righteousness with our prayers and presenting them to God.
Censer filled with fire and thrown to Earth
"5 Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and threw it to the earth. And there were noises, thunderings, lightnings, and an earthquake." Rev 8:5
Jesus fills the censer with coals of fire from the altar and throws it to the earth. This represents the righteousness of Christ and the cleansing power of the Holy Spirit being poured out on people in a singular way. There is a worldwide earthquake with noises, thunder, and lightning. We cannot see and hear the censer being thrown to earth. But we can see, hear and feel the earthquake, noises, thunder and lightning. When we feel this first worldwide earthquake we will know that the censer has just been thrown to the earth. We know it because the Bible says it.
The censer being thrown to earth marks the beginning of several significant events on earth:
- The Holy Spirit being poured out with latter rain power, bringing times of refreshing
- The sealing of 144,000 servants of God
- The Great Tribulation
We cannot see events that take place in heaven. We can only understand and experience them by faith. The first event that we will see and feel with our senses will be the worldwide earthquake occurring with noises, thunder and lightning. We will see, hear and feel these powerful events. We will know that the censer has been cast to the earth when we feel the earthquake, see the lightning, and hear the noises and thunder.
Coals of Fire
Coals of fire from the altar are used to cleanse people and take away their sins. Notice the experience of Isaiah, the prophet when he was given a vision of the glory of God. He became painfully aware of his own sinfulness and he cried out,
"5 Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, The LORD of hosts."
"6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar. 7 And he touched my mouth with it, and said: 'Behold, this has touched your lips; Your iniquity is taken away, And your sin purged.'
"8 Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: 'Whom shall I send, And who will go for Us' Then I said, 'Here am I! Send me.'" Isaiah 6:5-8
When the Holy Spirit comes to God’s people and presents Jesus in His purity and righteousness, they will be convicted of their own sinfulness. Like Isaiah, they will cry out for cleansing. These are the prayers of the saints that are ascending before God. Then the censer, filled with coals of fire from the altar, is thrown to the earth. These coals of fire will touch the lips of the repenting saints and their iniquity will be taken away. This prepares the 144,000 to be sealed and to give God’s messages to the rest of the world. They will give the three angel’s messages to the world with power and clarity.
The coals of fire from the altar will be an outpouring of the Holy Spirit with even more power than on the day of Pentecost:
"1 When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance." Acts 2:1-4
Seven angels prepare to sound
"6 So the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound." Rev 8:6
Right after the censer is cast to the earth and the first worldwide earthquake occurs, the seven angels prepare to sound the seven trumpets. They know that within a few days the 144,000 will be sealed so they prepare themselves to sound their trumpets.
The seven angels know that as soon as the 144,000 are sealed the seven trumpets should blow. As soon as the 144,000 are sealed the 4 angels will release the 4 winds and the first 4 trumpets will blow. Since the angels don’t immediately begin to blow their trumpets we know that the 144,000 are not all sealed yet. We also know that the 144,000 will be sealed very quickly because the angels are already preparing to sound.
During the few weeks following the worldwide earthquake, the Holy Spirit will be poured out in latter rain power and the 144,000 will be sealed.
144,000 sealed servants of God
The 144,000 people who are sealed are call God’s servants. God’s servants are also His prophets. Look at these two verses:
"7 but in the days of the sounding of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, the mystery of God would be finished, as He declared to His servants the prophets." Rev 10:6-7
"11 And that You should reward Your servants the prophets and the saints. Rev 11:18
God will have 144,000 prophets give His three angel’s messages to the people of the world.
"4 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:" Rev 7:4-8
Jesus seals exactly 144,000 servants. He selects 12,000 from each of 12 tribes. These 12 tribes are spiritual Israel and not literal Israel.
"28 And He said, "Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed." Genesis 32:23
Jacob’s name was changed to Israel when he struggled with God and prevailed or overcame. When we prevail with God and overcome we become part of spiritual Israel as well.
For they are not all Israel who are of Israel, 7 nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham; but, 'In Isaac your seed shall be called.' 8 That is, those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted as the seed." Romans 9:6-9
When a person chooses to worship Jesus he becomes a member of one of 12 spiritual tribes. In God’s kingdom, the New Jerusalem, there are 12 gates and all the redeemed will enter in through the gate from the tribe they belong to. When Jesus was on earth He had 12 disciples who followed Him during His 3 ½ year ministry. He will now have 12 X 12,000 who will follow Him and witness for Him during the Great Tribulation.
The 144,000 have been cleansed, purified and sealed. They are prepared by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit to give the three angel’s messages to the world.
Now something needs to happen that will get the attention of each person on earth. Each mind needs to be opened so the three angel’s messages can be heard. God will use the seven trumpets for this purpose.
Read the 144,000 First Fruits next.