KEY TEXT: Revelation 7:1-8 After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth, that no wind might blow on earth or sea or against any tree. Then I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, with the seal of the living God, and he called with a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm earth and sea, saying, "Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads." And I heard the number of the sealed, 144,000, sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel: 12,000 from the tribe of Judah were sealed, 12,000 from the tribe of Reuben, 12,000 from the tribe of Gad, 12,000 from the tribe of Asher, 12,000 from the tribe of Naphtali, 12,000 from the tribe of Manasseh, 12,000 from the tribe of Simeon, 12,000 from the tribe of Levi, 12,000 from the tribe of Issachar, 12,000 from the tribe of Zebulun, 12,000 from the tribe of Joseph, 12,000 from the tribe of Benjamin were sealed.
KEY THOT: Our interpretation of this passage reveals our theological presupposition, viz., Israel's place in God's redemptive history. The question often debated in theological circles is: does God have a separate plan of redemption for Israel as His chosen people through Abraham? Or has the Church replaced Israel in God's redemptive purpose, so that the present-day Israel is just a freak accident in history, nothing to do with God's prophetic fulfilment in history? Whatever may be our theological presupposition, Revelation 7:1-8 tells us that a remnant of Israel will be saved: "'Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.' And I heard the number of the sealed, 144,000, sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel" (Revelation 7:3-4). Whether the number 144,000 is literal or symbolic is matter of debate, but what is certain is that a remnant of Israel will be "sealed" for salvation.
Paul in his letter to Romans has made it clear that Israel will be saved, not as part of the Gentile Church, since they are not grafted in as the Gentiles are: "I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! For I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew...So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace...Lest you be wise in your own conceits, I want you to understand this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And in this way all Israel will be saved" (Romans 11:1-2, 5-6, 25-26).
So we Gentile believers should not become party to the anti-semitic spirit of this age, whether out of political expediency or out of fear of standing with Israel. Israel is still God's chosen people and Jerusalem is still His chosen city. We must not allow political correctness to define our theological understanding of Scripture. So it behooves us Gentile believers to continue to pray for Jerusalem and for Israel, so that we would not come under God's judgement instead of blessing: "I will bless those who bless you (Abraham's descendants), and him who dishonors you I will curse" (Genesis 12:3).
Israel and Jerusalem as God's end-time clocks are ticking. And the nations of the world have in recent weeks aligned themselves among those who bless Israel and those who curse Israel. May we believers be found on the side of God's blessing, not cursing.
Abba-Father, You have chosen Israel on the basis of Your grace because of Your promise to Abraham, and never on the basis of the Law. We thank You that You have not forgotten nor forsaken Your people. In Your faithfulness to Your promise we place our hope in You. Amen.