are first mentioned in Revelation 7:4, “Then I heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel.” This passage comes in an interlude between the judgment of the sixth seal of the tribulation (Revelation 6:12–17) and the opening of the seventh seal (Revelation 8:1).
These 144,000 Jews are “sealed,” which means they have the special protection of God. They are kept safe from the divine judgments and from the wrath of the Antichrist. They can freely perform their mission during the tribulation. It had been previously prophesied that Israel would repent and turn back to God (Zechariah 12:10; Romans 11:25–27), and the 144,000 Jews seem to be a sort of “first fruits” (Revelation 14:4) of that redeemed Israel. Their mission seems to be to evangelize the post-rapture world and proclaim the gospel during the tribulation period. As a result of their ministry, millions—“a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language” (Revelation 7:9)—will come to faith in Christ.