Important documents such as marriage licenses or certain contracts often have a seal on them. Some are fancy; others are plain. The important thing is not what the seal looks like but what it does. A seal is an authenticating mark that validates the document.
At the end of Revelation 6, those who realized that the time of God’s wrath had begun asked, “Who can withstand it?” Today’s chapter provides the answer: only those marked by God as His. This section is a pause or interlude that focuses on two important groups. One group is made up of 144,000 people drawn from the twelve tribes of Israel (see Rom. 11:25–26).
Another larger multitude is “from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb” (v. 9). While the 144,000 from the twelve tribes of Israel are on earth, this much larger multitude appears in heaven. “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (v. 14). This is the group of Gentiles who will be saved during the pouring out of God’s wrath described in the chapters that follow.
The promises of verses 16 and 17 probably allude to some of the sufferings they experienced during this period of tribulation, including hunger, thirst, and scorching heat. The text does not say why they suddenly appear in heaven at this point, but the fact that they came “out of” tribulation seems to imply that they are another company of martyrs.
The 144,000 and this innumerable company from every nation, tribe, people, and language share the same mark. It is the mark of one who was purchased for God by the blood of Jesus Christ. You too can have the mark of God’s ownership. It is yours as a free gift by faith. Pray now and ask God to make you His through the blood of His Son.