The four winds mentioned in Rev 7:1 are instruments of divine judgment, and the four angels who control them are the agents to administer those judgments on God’s behalf. (Jer 49:36-37; Zech 6:7-8) In Zechariah’s vision, he sees the winds being sent from Heaven, whereas John sees the winds in position on the Earth waiting to be released at the opening of the seventh seal – the final one to begin God’s trumpet judgments and warnings to humanity to repent. These tribulation judgments will cover the entire Earth (‘the four corners of the Earth’). The first four trumpets bring judgments from the sky (8:7-12).
Here in Revelatiion chapter 7 we see that the angels are told to hold back the winds until the sealing of the 144,000 servants of the Living God of the living.
Who Are The 144,000?
? – Jewish/Israeli evangelists, sealed with the Father’s name upon their foreheads during the Tribulation period bringing in a great harvest of Gentile believers for theMillennialKingdom
? – Jewish/Israeli evangelists during the Tribulation period specializing in witnessing to Jewish people around the world (like when Jesus sent out first the 12, then the 70, to the lost sheep of the House of Israel), and then martyred for their testimony of Jesus by the antichrist and his legions (rather than simply murdered as Jews/Israelis unfaithful to YHVH God’s covenant), and having part in the first resurrection of the Church
? – Jewish/Israeli remnant from all the tribes sealed by God for protection and preservation through the Great Tribulation, to enter into theMillennialKingdomalong with countless other redeemed peoples (similar to the blood at Passover in Egypt guarded Israelis from God’s final plague)
Whichever scenario one considers, only believers in Jesus – i.e., born-again Christians/the Church – are God’s witnesses of the truth. Believers are those sealed with the Holy Spirit. Israel as a nation (Ezek 47:21 – 48:35)– meaning those Jews/Israelis who were not born-again through repentance and faith in Yeshua – only become believers when they see Him whom they pierced at His second coming. This will fulfill the prophecy given to Daniel about the 70 weeks. Then will Israel be a knowledgeable and righteous nation to be YHVH’s priestly and servant people to the nations.
In chap. 14, the 144,000 are seen as having been redeemed and standing with the Lamb on Mt. Zion, while we next read of angels preaching the everlasting gospel of the Kingdom of God (Acts 28:30-31) to people still in the Tribulation – an indication that the 144,000 are not a special group of evangelists. The 144,000 are “firstfruits” and “servants” of God with respect to the Davidic kingdom during the Millennium. The innumerable company with them include Gentiles upon whom God has shown mercy. (Mt 25)
Since John does not clearly write what the function of the 144,000 is – and since the scene in 7:13-17 is post-tribulational – we can consider a view which does not assume that they are a special group of Jewish evangelists, nor that they have been martyred and become part of the Body of Messiah. The 144,000 are said to be virgin men. Perhaps, as in the feeding of the 5000/4000 men, there could be numerous others – women and children – who would be included to make up the full remnant from all the tribes to comprise the all Israel to be saved.
These would not then be born-again believers to be resurrected or raptured, but rather Jews/Israelis who are physically preserved through the Great Tribulation, protected from the persecution of the antichrist and from the wrath of God (Gen 4:15; Ezek 9:4), who will be converted immediately after the first resurrection/rapture when they see their Messiah Redeemer descending onto the Earth (Zech 3:8-9; 12:9-13; Mal 3:1-5; Rom 11:26-27). They then enter the Millennial Kingdom in their natural bodies to form the core of the Kingdom restored to Israel, who is the ‘servant’ of YHVH (Is 42:18-25). Their preservation through the Tribulation, Great Tribulation, and through God’s wrath could be likened to the situation in Egypt at the time of the Passover and Exodus. They being “first-fruits” (14:4) could then indicate the pledge of the multitude to be born and blessed as children of the righteous during the 1000-year reign of Christ. Being virgins undefiled with women may be literal, and probably indicates spiritual purity as well (2Cor 11:2; James 4:4; Heb 13:4; Prov 7 – 8).
Three passages in the Old Testament (Tanach) support the view that the 144,000 are sealed as a special protection from the persecution of antichrist (whom they resist while still not believing in Jesus as Messiah, the Son of God), and also sealed to shield them from God’s wrath:
—Joel 2:32 (3:5 Heb); (Mt 24:29-30) In the context of Armageddon, and immediately after mention of celestial phenomena which occur between the Great Tribulation and the Presence (Parousia) of the Lord, God promises/prophesies the salvation of a Jewish remnant.
—Zeph 3:8-13 Here is a prophecy of a conversion of a Jewish/Israeli remnant following the battle of Armageddon, described in language similar to John’s description in Rev 14:5: no guile or deceit found in their mouths.
—Zech 12:2 – 13:1; (Mt 24:30; Rom 11:26-27) At the post-trib advent of Jesus, the prophecy speaks of the Jews/Israelis repenting and being cleansed when they look on Him whom they have pierced as He comes to deliver them from their surrounding enemies.
(See online, ICHTHYS, Bible Study for Spiritual Growth, by Robert Luginbill, which is helpful, due to its comprehensiveness, to make me study to show why I may not always be in agreement.)