Revelation 6:17 asks, “Who is able to withstand the Lord’s wrath?” Chapter 7 shows us who. God is watching over his people. The angels hold back the wind of His judgment until His servants are sealed for their protection, similar to what we see in Ezekiel:
Ezekiel 9:3-6 “Then the glory of the God of Israel went up from the cherub where it had rested to the threshold of the temple. He called to the man dressed in linen who had the writing kit at his side. The LORD said to him, ‘Go through the city of Jerusalem and put a mark on the foreheads of the people who moan and groan over all the abominations practiced in it.’ While I listened, he said to the others, ‘Go through the city after him and strike people down; do not let your eye pity nor spare anyone! Old men, young men, young women, little children, and women—wipe them out! But do not touch anyone who has the mark. Begin at my sanctuary!’ So they began with the elders who were at the front of the temple.”
There are many theories as to who the 144,000 are. Although we find that they are specified as from the tribes of Israel, not all the tribes are represented, which may be a key that something else is going on here. The exact number from each tribe also suggests that there is symbolism involved. In chapter 5 we see that John is told to look because the Lion of the tribe of Judah is able to open the scroll (5:5), but when he does, he sees a Lamb instead (5:6). Here, John hears the number of those sealed (144,000), but then looks and sees an enormous crowd that no-one can count, “made up of persons from every nation, tribe, people and language.” The first revelation (144,000) could be symbolic with the second clarifying what is meant. This understanding is made more probable by the realization that Jew and Gentile have been brought together in the church (Ephesians 2:13-16), and that the promises originally given to the nation are now for all believers as well:
Isaiah 49:10 “They will not be hungry or thirsty; the sun’s oppressive heat will not beat down on them, for one who has compassion on them will guide them; he will lead them to springs of water.”
Isaiah 25:8 “he will swallow up death permanently. The sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from every face, and remove his people’s disgrace from all the earth. Indeed, the LORD has announced it!”
Those from every nation, tribe, people and language are identified as those who have come out of the great tribulation, and their white robes have been washed in the blood of the lamb. They praise both Father and Son, which prompts the angelic host and the elders to do the same!
While there are many ways to interpret this passage, and many ways to understand the great tribulation, the big reminder here is that God protects His own. What is true here is echoed throughout Scripture. We are bought with a price. We are sealed. We are His! And He will watch over us and keep us, eventually bringing us home where there will be no more hunger, thirst, suffering, or tears.
For worship: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kxLV4zRmhm8