Revelation 7:1–3 describes four angels holding the four winds of the earth until the servants of God are sealed in their foreheads. These winds will only be let loose after Christ, our High Priest, leaves the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary and ceases His work of intercession. The sealing time occurs just before Michael stands up and the time of trouble begins. Daniel 12:1 describes this time: “Thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.” Those who are sealed are the 144,000 who have the Father’s name in their foreheads. Revelation 7:4; 14:1.
The 144,00 are those ready to go through the time of trouble. The pen of inspiration describes this time: “Their affliction is great, the flames of the furnace seem about to consume them; but the Refiner will bring them forth as gold tried in the fire. God’s love for His children during the period of their severest trial is as strong and tender as in the days of their sunniest prosperity; but it is needful for them to be placed in the furnace of fire; their earthliness must be consumed, that the image of Christ may be perfectly reflected.”1
In His mercy Christ intercedes and pleads for the remnant who are not sealed, thus prolonging the investigative judgment period. This period is described in Daniel 7:13 as the coming of the Son of Man to the Ancient of Days, in Malachi 3:1 as the Lord coming suddenly to His temple, and in Daniel 8:14 as the cleansing of the sanctuary.
The final phase of the investigative judgment will include the mark of the beast test. Those who refuse the seal of God will accept the mark of the beast, and thus the final demarcation will be drawn between those who keep the commandments of God and those who prefer human traditions and customs. That testing time is at the door. When it comes, it will reveal “those who have made God’s word their rule of life.”2
Oh may we seek the Lord in humility and contrition, that He may cleanse us from our sins and engrave us upon the palms of His hands!
 Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy, p. 621.
 Ibid., p. 602.