I’m going to blog about chapter 27 of my book. The passage of Rev. 7.1-17 is quite difficult. People have been fascinated by it, sometimes to an unhealthy degree. Their main fascinations by it are two. First, many would speculate on what the 144,000 people are. Second, some may go further to what the seal meant.
Once again, the method to solve the identity exists both within and outside of the text. Within the text, how does number function in Revelation? As I said before, we need to make sure our system of interpretation is consistent within Revelation. 144,000 is a number in multiples of 12 and 10. How are 12’s and 10’s used in Revelation? What about the sealing of the forehead in Revelation? Within the storyline, what did the sealing mean for the entire story of Revelation itself? Is there another instance of sealing in Revelation? How about 666?
Another item within the storyline that deserves our attention is the identity of Israel? Who is Israel? Many commentators just speculate that this Israel is the same as the Jews in Romans 11. Before we can harmonize Paul and John, we have to ask how language of nationality and nations functioned in the book. For the answer, we have to look at all instances of geographical locations and nationalities in the storyline of Revelation to determine the meaning of Israel instead of assigning it arbitrary meaning based on other biblical texts that may not even be related at all.
External to the text, what would numbering of people do in the time of John? The social and political function of numbering something we need to consider. What about the image of a seal on the forehead? How did John’s audience see a seal to the forehead? What did sealing of the forehead or any other body part do?
These are the hints in solving the problem.
As I always say, the texts are not at fault. The interpreter is!