A Series on the
Function of Interludes
In some ways, the book of Revelation reads in a straightforward manner. As Jesus breaks each seal or an angel
blows a trumpet or pours a bowl, it signals some event(s). But the narrative has three significant intervening
pauses that are confusing and difficult to understand. What do they mean and why are these periscopes important?
Beginning at Revelation 7:1, the first interlude introduces
the 144,000 bond servants of God. In the first three verses of this interlude
(Rev 7:1-3), there are several significant observations that
should be made:
The four angels standing at the four corners of the earth are not in heaven and each carry out
harmful earthly events when signaled by their trumpet blowing partner in heaven.
When the first trumpet sounds, one of the four angels throws down to earth hail and fire mixed
with blood which results in the burning of 1/3 of the earth, 1/3 of the trees, and 1/3 of the green grasses
When the second trumpet sounds, one of the four angels throws down to earth's sea "something like
a great mountain burning with fire" which results in 1/3 of the sea becoming blood, killing 1/3 of all sea creatures,
and destroying 1/3 of all ships in the sea (Rev 8:8-9).
When the third trumpet sounds, one of the four angels throws down "a great star burning like a
torch" called "Wormwood" which results in 1/3 of the world's rivers and springs becoming poisoned and bitter and
killing many who drink it (Rev 8:10-11).
When the fourth trumpet sounds, one of the four angels strikes 1/3 of the sun, moon and stars
which results in the darkening of 1/3 of the sun, 1/3 of the moon, and 1/3 of the stars; the net effect is that 1/3
of the day and night is darkened (Rev 8:12).
An angel with the seal of the living God commands the four angels at the four corners of the earth,
and by implication the four angels in heaven with trumpets, to wait until the bond servants are "sealed on their
forehead." The bond servants are on earth, and the trumpet judgments commence only after these particular bond
servants are sealed the names of Jesus and Yahweh written on their foreheads
This sealing appears to be very different from the Holy Spirit's sealing of a new genuine Believer
(2 Cor 1:21-22; Eph 1:13-14).
The "seal of God" protected the bond servants from the woe of the fifth trumpet
(Rev 9:4) – the plague of stinging locusts from the bottomless pit
that tormented people with pain for five months.
The time it took to seal the 144,000 may have been the reason for the thirty minutes of silence in
heaven when the seventh seal was broken (Rev 8:1-2).
As a bond servant himself on earth (Rev 1:1), John is writing
"in the Spirit on the Lord's day" (Rev 1:10), and he learns that
the sealed bond servants number 144,000 from every tribe "of the sons of Israel."
As exemplified by Paul, Timothy, James, Peter and Jude
(Phil 1:1; James 1:1;
2 Pet 1:1; Jude 1:1),
a bond servant is one who is wholly devoted and dedicated to serve God. They serve without any wages and can be
seen as "slaves to Christ" (Eph 5:5-8).
The 144,000 are described as virgin Jewish men who "follow Jesus wherever He goes"
12,000 bond servants come from 12 sons of Israel:
There are at least two observations that can be made of the above list:
The original sons that Jacob blessed were (Gen 49:3-28):
Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Zebulun, Issachar, Dan, Gad, Asher, Naphtali, Joseph, and Benjamin.
Comparing the 144,000 bond servants to the original twelve sons of Jacob, the tribe of Dan is
missing and in its place is Manasseh who was the oldest and most prominent son of Joseph
(Gen 46:20; Num 26:28-37;
Josh 17:1). Although Manasseh was his grandson, Jacob accepted him
as his son.
Then Jacob went on to say: Joseph, your two sons Ephraim and Manasseh were born in Egypt,
but I accept them as my own, just as Reuben and Simeon are mine. Any children you have later will be considered yours,
but their inheritance will come from Ephraim and Manasseh. (Gen 48:5-6)
There are many hypotheses for Dan's omission, for Joseph's inclusion instead of his other son
Ephraim (who Jacob recognized as greater than Manasseh [Gen 48:8-20]!),
and the difference in the presentation order; but, there is no clear explanation found in the Bible.
For Messianic Jews, this information is of particular interest, because it defines special a role
God has for them in this period of judgment. And it seems apparent that Joseph had additional sons after Manasseh and
Ephraim from which 12,000 sealed bond servants would come.
From his view looking down at earth, the apostle John's attention returns to the throne of God in heaven. In
contrast to the finite 144,000 sealed bond servants who descended from Israel (Jacob), the apostle John sees a
great multitude of saints who "were from every race, tribe, nation, and language"
They were holy and worshipped before God with angels, the 24 elders and the four living creatures
When questioned by one of the twenty four elders, the apostle John learns that these Believers
died during the tribulation as "the ones who have gone through the great suffering"
They were released by the opening of the fifth seal: from "under the altar the souls of everyone
who had been killed for speaking God's message and telling about their faith"
They were Gentile Believers and Messianic Jews outside of the 144,000 sealed virgin Jewish
Because the resurrection has not occurred, these saints were clothed spirit beings.
These tribulation Saints were honored to stand before God's throne to worship Him day and night.
God would see that they will "never hunger or thirst again," will not "be troubled," "will wipe all tears from their
eyes," and will not be "scorched by the sun." Jesus Christ "will be their shepherd" and "lead them to streams of
life giving water" (Rev 7:14-17).
For Gentile Believers and Messianic Jews who aren't of the sealed bond servants, this information
is of particular interest, because it reveals the fate of all Believers who share "God's message and tell others
about their faith;" it is God's role for them in this period of judgment.
Subsequent to this first interlude, after the seventh trumpet and before the first bowl, the apostle John sees
Jesus Christ with the 144,000 sealed bond servants "who had been purchased from the earth"
(Rev 14:3-4), which indicates that they were dead and in heaven
as (presumably clothed) spirit beings (since the reaping has not yet occurred
They were at Mount Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem
(Rev 14:1). The heavenly location of Mount Zion was first
introduced by the writer of Hebrews:
But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem,
and to myriads of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God,
the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant,
and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel.
They were privileged to sing a new song before God, the twenty four elders and the four living
creatures that no other saint could learn (Rev 14:3).
They were blameless and incapable of telling a lie
(Rev 14:5), which implies a reference to what they may have been
like while on earth as mortal human beings. If true, is this intended to remind the world of Jesus' first coming
albeit a mortal and human version?
Thus, the trumpet judgments did not begin until the 144,000 bond servants were sealed, and by
the seventh trumpet, they were no longer on earth.
Using a chart to record these observations, the existence of the sealed bond servants of God would look like this:
|Third Heaven (location of the Temple of God)
||30 minutes of silence (Rev 8:1)
|Fate of the Believers
||The bond servants of God are being sealed (Rev 7:1-8)
||Presumption: the sealed bond servants have begun their ministry
||By the end of Trumpet 6, the sealed bond servants no longer exist on earth
(Rev 9:20-21) and after Trumpet 7, they are being honored
in heaven (Rev 14:1-5)