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Milepost 16: Tribulation Ministry

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Milepost 16: Tribulation Ministry

Primary References: Revelation 7:1-8

Between the sixth and seventh seals, God suspends all judgments while 144,000 Jews receive the protection of His seal. During this time, even the earth's winds stop blowing. No detailed descriptions of the seals or their functions are given; but clearly they serve to protect the bearer from any harm including the seven-year tribulation judgments and the great tribulation's three beasts. Their seals are suggestive of a powerful spiritual version of the peculiar signs the Jews used to wear:

Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes. (Deuteronomy 11:18)

As Revelation 9:4 confirms, the angels place God's spiritual seals on the same parts of the bodies, hands or foreheads, of this very select group of men:

And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads.

Shortly, the antichrist will imitate this mark and require everyone to have his counterfeit mark permanently engraved on their right hand or forehead (Revelation 13). Though similar, the two marks have opposite effects. God's mark gives the bearer eternal life and protection from His judgments while the beast's mark condemns its bearers to eternal death in the lake of fire and exposes them to the full weight of God's wrath.

God carefully handpicks Jews of pure character and behavior (Revelation 14:1-5) equally from each of twelve of Israel's tribes to be His witnesses on earth. Joseph's double portion inheritance is evident as each of his sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, stand as full independent tribes, increasing the number of tribes from twelve to thirteen. Throughout the Bible, lists of the tribes are often reduced to God's perfect number of governmental perfection, twelve, through the omission of single tribe. In this case, the omitted tribe is Dan and as previously mentioned, their omission is a likely indictment of his traitorous full tribulation role in betraying the other tribes. An interesting subtlety of this list is Ephraim's replacement by Joseph, his father. Since there were twelve thousand already sealed from the tribe of Ephraim's brother, Manasseh, then it makes sense that Joseph's tribe is composed of members of the tribe of Ephraim. Like Dan's omission, the omission of Ephraim's name may also be an indictment of their traitorous full tribulation role in implementing the covenant with death and hell (Isaiah 28).