The announcement of the seventh seal is delayed by an interlude, where the Lord wants the saints to be assured that God knows and protects them even in the midst of the mess of chapter 6. They are sealed from spiritual harm like in Ezekiel 9:4.
Notice the hearing and seeing motif again. John hears of 144,000 and then sees a great multitude.
John hears of 144,000. The Jehovah’s Witnesses used to talk of only 144,000 until they grew that large and then changed their tune! It’s a symbolic number – each tribe having 12,000 speaks of it being all God’s people. In the list of the 12 tribes, Dan is omitted and instead there is Joseph and Manasseh. Manasseh and Ephraim were the sons of Joseph – so logically we would expect either Joseph alone, or Manasseh and Ephraim listed. It’s symbolic. It’s not 144,000 Jews or J.W.s, it is symbolic of a military census like the one in Numbers 1. This is the Lamb’s army, who will be victorious by being faithful.
Then John sees a great multitude from every nation, tribe, people and language fulfilling God’s promise to Abraham of all peoples on earth being blessed through him. They have come through the great tribulation – this is not just a future time of tribulation but every tribulation the people of God have had to go through – this passage provides comfort to every generation of Christians.
The blood of the lamb has made their robes white – purity and victory. It is startling that blood makes them white. Victorious saints get to appear before God to enjoy his presence in blissful peace and comfort! This anticipates the final peace in chapters 21 and 22.
Then the seventh seal is the end – drawn by the prayers of the saints.