not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have sealed the
bond-servants of our God on their foreheads." 4And I heard the number
of those who were sealed, one hundred
and forty-four thousand sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel:
Revelation 7:3-4 (NAS)
"Every tribe of the sons of Israel"
In the Old Testament, the tribes of Israel
represent the families of the sons of Israel.
Jacob (later called Israel) had 12 sons, but oftentimes the descendants of Israel were categorized
into groups of 12 in other ways (e.g., sometimes the
names of the tribes included grandsons of Israel such
as Joseph's sons Manasseh and Ephraim). For
more information on the various lists of the tribes,
see "12 Tribes of Israel."
The spiritual sons of Israel and Abraham:
Prior to the new covenant of Christ, generally
only the direct descendants (blood relatives) of
Israel were considered to be the true sons of Israel
(also called the children of Israel, Israelites or
However, under the new covenant both Jews and
non-Jews (Gentiles) were given the opportunity to
follow the Messiah (Jesus, the Christ). All
those that believe in Jesus and obey the gospel
become children of God and heir of the promise given
to Abraham (Abraham is the grandfather of Israel).
you are all sons of God through faith in Christ
all of you
who were baptized into Christ have clothed
yourselves with Christ. 28There is
neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor
free man, there is neither male nor female; for you
are all one in Christ Jesus. 29And
if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's
offspring, heirs according to promise.
Galatians 3:26-29 (NAS)
For more information, see
144,000: Figurative or Literal?
Is this figure of 12,000 for each of the 12 tribes (144,000 in total) a
literal and final number...or is it, like many other references in the
revelation, just an image or representation of a larger concept? For more
information on the use of figurative numbers in the revelation,
Click on Question 4 below to continue...