PMW 2019-080 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.
I have been giving a brief survey of Revelation beginning in Rev. 4. Now we must note that as the wrath of the Lamb against the Jews builds, we will witness a surprising pause in the horrifying drama. Four angels hold back the wind from “the land,” i.e., Israel (Rev. 7:1-3). This act is symbolic imagery, relating what Robert Thomas calls (at another place) “picturesque apocalyptic.” The angels are not holding back literal winds, but the winds of destruction (cp. Jer. 49:36-37; 51:1-2). The first six seals represent the early stage of the Jewish War wherein Vespasian fights his way through Galilee toward Jerusalem. But before he has an opportunity to besiege Jerusalem the action pauses as these angels seal the 144,000 from the twelve tribes of Israel (Rev. 7:3).
The number 144,000, as most commentators agree, is surely symbolic. In fact, in Revelation perfectly rounded thousands all appear to be symbolic. Ten is the number of quantitative perfection, and one thousand is the cube of ten. Frequently Scripture uses 1000 as a symbolic value, not expressing a literal enumeration (e.g., Ex. 20:6; Deut. 1:11; 7:9; 32:30; Josh. 23:10; Job 9:3; Ps. 50:10; 84:10; 90:4; 105:8; Eccl. 7:28; Isa. 7:23; 30:17; 60:22; 2 Pet. 3:8). Continue reading