Since the death of Herbert W. Armstrong, a deeper understanding of Revelation 7 now reveals these people are not the Church of God, but descendants from the 12 tribes of ancient Israel (Rev. 7:5-8).
“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).
The word “of” denotes origin, the point from which motion or action proceeds. A better translation for “of” would be “out from.” These 144,000 come “out from” the total number of Israelites who go into Great Tribulation. This demonstrates the tribes of ancient Israel are not lost as many have falsely been taught.
Ezekiel shows many Israelites will die during Great Tribulation as punishment for their disobedience. (Ezek. 5:2, 6, 12) Yet, God promises a remnant will survive because they repent of their wicked behavior. (Ezek. 6:8-9)
Their repentance comes in the third year of Great Tribulation. (Hos. 6:1-2a) Prior to the final half year (verse 2b), God will protect them from the impact of the trumpet plagues. (Rev. 7:2-4)
Sealing these 144,000 Israelites is God’s stamp of security or preservation for their physical protection only. This protection covers the remaining six months of Great Tribulation (Rev. 9:4), through the Day of the Lord, which immediately follows. (Matt. 24:29-30)
These 144,000 Israelites do not have God’s Spirit at the time of their sealing and will not receive it until after Christ’s millennial rule on earth begins.
“But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” (Jer. 31:33)
“For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all the countries, and bring you into your own land. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.” (Ezek. 36:24, 26-27)
God’s Law cannot be kept without having the Holy Spirit.
“I have heard the voice of the words of this people which they have spoken to you. They are right in all that they have spoken. Oh, that they had such a heart in them that they would fear Me and always keep all My commandments, that it may be well with them and their children forever.” (Deut. 5:28b-29)
Historically, Israel was unable to keep God’s Law. Moses prophesied the same would be true for their descendants in the end-times.
“For I know that after my death you will become utterly corrupt, and turn aside from the way which I have commanded you. And evil will befall you in the latter days, because you will do evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke Him to anger through the work of your hands.” (Deut.31:29)
During Great Tribulation these physical Israelites will come to recognize how “utterly corrupt” they are. The great pain and suffering they endure during three years of Great Tribulation and God’s work through the two witnesses (Rev. 11:3) will bring them to repentance.
“Then those of you who escape will remember Me among the nations where they are carried captive, because I was crushed by their adulterous heart which has departed from Me, and by their eyes which play the harlot after their idols; they will loathe themselves for the evils which they committed in all their abominations. And they shall know that I am the Lord; I have not said in vain that I would bring this calamity upon them.” (Ezek. 6:9-10)
This calamity is soon to fall upon the modern descendants of Israel!