Who Are the 144,000 of the Book of Revelation? Are they a remnant of Ethnic Jews or Old Testament Saints who will be sent to earth to preach the Gospel during the End Times?
So we have a picture of 4 angels standing on the 4 corners of the earth, holding back the 4 winds.
This is not a picture of a square earth, the earth is not square but a circle or a sphere.
We see in Isaiah 40:22: “It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in:”
And so this is talking about the four sides of the earth, from the perspective of all directions: as in the North, South, East, & West.
And the 6th seal has just been opened … in chapter 6 of Revelation, & we see that:
13 … the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind.
14 And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.
And so we see the wind pictured as a tempest or a force of destruction and judgment.
We see the WIND PICTURED AS JUDGMENT elsewhere in Scripture, such as Jeremiah 49:36
36 And upon Elam will I bring the four winds from the four quarters of heaven, and will scatter them toward all those winds …
Sounds very much like Rev. 7.
We also see the “four winds” mentioned in Matthew 24:31:
“And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”
This is also the time of the Rapture or the gathering together of his elect in as the 6th seals is opened in Revelation 6.
And so the angels are holding back the winds of judgment, the wrath of God, which is about to hit the earth.
But before God’s wrath is poured out, an angel ascends from the east crying with a loud voice to the four angels, not to pour out judgment on the earth, until the 144,000 are sealed.
And so we read on in v. 4 … (through 10)
The next major chapter about the 144,000, is Revelation 14, which is a parallel to ch. 7, and we read:
These are the main chapters that we have available to us in the Bible about the 144,000 – and it’s scarce.
There’s not a lot specifically about the 144,000.
And that’s one of the reasons why there is so much speculation, controversy & mystery surrounding the 144.
So let’s begin with WHAT WE DO KNOW from these 2 chapters:
- We are told that the 144,000 are from the 12 specific tribes of Israel in Rev. 7
This is a very specific # and a specific list of tribes. We’ll get into the specific tribes in a minute.
- 14:1 – We know that the 14,000 are in heaven with the Lamb on Mount Zion.
The Zion that’s mentioned here is the ZION IN HEAVEN or the “HEAVENLY JERUSALEM”.
Hebrews 12:22 says: “But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels”
- We see that the 144,000 are singing a “new song before the throne”, a song that “no man could learn” but the hundredand forty and four thousand in 14:2-3.
- We also see in v. 3 that the 144,000 are “redeemed from the earth” & in v. 4 that they are men who are “virgins”, for they have not been defiled w/ women.
This speaks of both a LITERAL, PHYSICAL purity and a SPIRITUAL PURITY.
- We see also in v. 4 that they follow the Lamb “whithersoever he goeth” and are called “the firstfruits unto God and the Lamb”.
Following the Lamb everywhere he goes, simply means that they are obedient and faithful to Jesus in every way.
FIRSTFRUITS makes me think of OT Saints, from the OLD COVENANT or FIRST COVENANT … The First to be saved or redeemed from again men.
- In v. 5 we are told “in their mouth was found no guile, for they are without fault before the throne of God.”
It almost makes it sound like they are without sin.
That would be because they are ALREADY IN HEAVEN, having been cleansed by the blood of the Lamb.
- Finally, In Rev 7:3, the Bible calls them “servants of our God”.
So these are the Biblical facts that we have about them, that are WITHOUT DISPUTE.
There’s also 1 VERY IMPORTANT NUGGET of information about the 144,000 in Revelation 9, where we see a brief mention of the 144.
Rev. 9, as I’ve mentioned before, deals with the opening of the bottomless pit & the locusts which come out of the earth during God’s wrath to torture those who have taken the mark of the beast in their hands or in their foreheads.
STARING AT VERSE 3 in REVELATION 9:
3 And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power.
4 And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads.
5 And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man.
So we see that the 144,000 are mentioned in the midst of the wrath of God upon earth, during the 5th trumpet judgment, at the opening of the bottomless pit …
Which explains why they would need to be sealed, in order TO BE PROTECTED from the locusts, among the other trumpet & vial judgments.
NOW, WHY ARE THEY THERE? Why are they on the earth during God’s wrath?
The most common understanding and one that most of us agree on is that the 144,000 will be End-Times prophets & evangelists, preaching the Gospel to those who are left on the earth after Christians are raptured in Rev. 7 immediately after the 144,000 are sealed.
So we see in the 1st half of Rev. 7 the 144,000 sealed, and then immediately w/out any segway, we see believers from all tribes, all nations … suddenly in heaven …
Almost as though these events happen concurrently.
And so the 144,000 will be here to evangelize and prophesy during the final days on earth.
- This is because GOD WILL NEVER leave the world without a witness of Himself, even during the time of His wrath …
… because He is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”
BUT PEOPLE WONDER: will anyone be saved during the God’s wrath?
Or another question that comes up: Won’t every non-believer who is alive during that time take the mark of the beast?
And the answer is no. Not everyone will take the mark of the beast.
Of course, we know genuine born-again Christians won’t take the mark.
- And then you will have people who just out of principal and rebellion against the Anti-Christ system will not take the mark & will be forced to simply live off the grid & try to survive.
If this were to happen today, when I think about such people, I think about freedom loving Americans and support the Constitution, but who aren’t saved …
& these will be the people that the 144,000, along with the 2 witnesses of Rev. 11, will preach the Gospel to.
Revelation 11:3-4: “And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth. These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth.”
So we see this MASSIVE end-times campaign for the Gospel once the Saints have been taken to heaven.
- The 144,000 are entrusted w/ a special End-Times mission of preaching, replacing the church.
* BUT WHO ARE THE 144,000?
AMONG THE MOST COMMON VIEWS:
- Is that An End-Times Remnant of modern-day Jews from Each Tribe of Israel will be saved.
This is commonly supported by John Darby / CI Scofield / Tim Lahaye (Left Behind) & also dispensationalists & pre-tribbers …
Now, just technically speaking, that’s already incorrect, because a Jew is from the tribe of Judah …
… which made up the Southern Kingdom of Israel along with Benjamin, with the other 10 tribes making up the Kingdom of Israel in the North.
But what many Christians believe is that the 144,000 will be ethnic Jews who will be saved as a fulfillment of God’s OLD TESTAMENT promises Israel.
BUT HERE’S THE PROBLEM WITH THAT: The physical descendants of ISRAEL & the ethnic Jews, BROKE THEIR COVENANT with GOD, and GOD REJECTED THEM …
The promise WAS ALWAYS to the Spiritual Israel, to those who believe by FAITH.
IT WAS NEVER TO THE PHYSICAL SEED.
6 Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they [are] not all Israel, which are of Israel:
7 Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, [are they] all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called.
8 That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these [are] not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.
& How in the world are you going to find 12,000 ethnic Israelites in the End-Times from each specific tribe …Who are all men and virgins?
The only explanation that I’ve heard from Christians who promote this doctrine is that GOD KNOWS.
- So that even the 144,000 don’t know who they are. But God does.
But this explanation is unlikely because …
In 722 BC the Assyrians conquered the Northern Tribes & they were exiled & dispersed and mixed to the point that the 10 tribes were lost to history.
Only the tribes of Benjamin & Judah remained from the Southern Kingdom …
& so if there are ANY ethnic Jews or Israelites today, they are going to be from those 2 tribes.
- Now will some Jews get saved during God’s wrath?
After the Saints are raptured? YES! OF COURSE.
People from all ethnicities will be getting saved.
And some of those will be a remnant of ethnic Jews.
But they won’t be from the 10 NORTHERN Tribes of Israel … which are gone …
& so this WON’T fulfill the 144,000 from each tribe …
It’s just not possible.
And so there has to be another explanation for the 144,000.
- A second explanation is that the 144,000 is a symbolic # that represents all Jews or all believers.
Now I don’t believe this is the case.
So I’m telling you first, who the 144,000 ARE NOT, and then we’ll get to WHO THE ARE.
But they take the # 12, which is the # of the tribes of Israel & they square it to get the number 144 …
& multiply it by 1,000 (which symbolically is the number of completion or a # that represents a great number).
And they say that 144,000 represents All Israel being saved in the end times.
- But wouldn’t it have been easier to just say that instead of listing each of the 12 specific tribes by name?
- And I do believe that numbers can be symbolic at times.
And the best example of this that we have – if we are to be consistent in our eschatology – is Daniel’s 70 weeks.
So believers studying End-Times events, take Daniel 9 which is a Messianic prophesy of 70-weeks, and say that each 7-day week is actually symbolic of 7-years and that the first 69 weeks have been fulfilled …
… but that the 7-Year Tribulation & Wrath period is Daniel’s final week, which has not yet been fulfilled.
So numbers CAN BE symbolically interpreted at times.
The problem with the symbolic view here is that the Bible is TOO SPECIFIC about the tribes of Israel for this to be merely symbolic.
And it’s even more specific than you may realize.
THE FIRST TRIBE MENTIONED is the Tribe of Juda, from which Jesus Himself came forth.
Hebrews 7:14: “For [it is] evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood.”
Revelation 5:5: “And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.”
So first we have JUDA, then Ruben, Gad, Aser, Nephthalim, Manasses, Simeon, Levi, Issachar, Zabulon, Joseph, & Benjamin.
- Notice that the TRIBE OF DAN is left out …
When you compare this to the original list of the 12 tribes.
Manasseh, one of Joseph’s son, takes Dan’s place among the 144,000 in Rev. 7.
Why is DAN left out?
Dan is left out because of excessive idolatry.
This is mentioned in Judges 18:30 says: “And the children of Dan set up the graven image: and Jonathan, the son of Gershom, the son of Manasseh, he and his sons were priests to the tribe of Dan until the day of the captivity of the land.”
So Manasseh took over Dan & this continues all the way through to the sealing of the 144,000 …
& also then the millennial reign of Christ.
- We also see that among the list of the 144,000 that LEVI is re-instated as one of the 12 Tribes of Israel.
… If you remember, going back to the Book of Joshua, when the 12 tribes were apportioned land, LEVI was left out because they were to be the priesthood and God Himself would be their portion.
Ephraim, the other son of Joseph, replaced the TRIBE OF LEVI at that time.
But in the list of the 144,000 LEVI is placed back again, returning the list to ORIGINAL CHILDREN OF JACOB or ISRAEL, with the EXCEPTION OF DAN.
- Since under the NEW COVENANT, the LEVITICAL PRIESTHOOD has been replaced by Jesus Himself, LEVI now enters back again in his rightful place as one of THE ORIGINAL 12 TRIBES.
And so the list of the 144,000 are the original, unchanged, unaltered CHILDREN OF ISRAEL, with the exception of DAN, who is replaced because of IDOLATRY.
… This is a very specific list & NOT SYMBOLIC at all.
- The Third theory is from the Jehovah’s False Witnesses.
I don’t want to spend a lot of time on this, because it is the stupidest of all the theories & the easiest to refute.
The JFW believe that only 144,000 believers of a special class of very faithful Christians will be in heaven with Christ & that the rest of us will be living on the new earth.
But if we were to take seriously, we know that the 144,000 are MEN, VIRGINS, & from the Tribes of Israel.
And so this would exclude FROM HEAVEN the Apostle Peter (who was married), Jesus’ own mother (a woman), & even the founder of the Jehovah’s False Witnesses himself, Charles Taze Russell, who was not a Jew or from the 12 Tribes.
- & We also see in Rev. 7 “a great multitude” from EVERY tribe, EVERY nation, EVERY people standing before the Lamb & the throne IN HEAVEN.
So obviously it’s not just the 144,000 in heaven.
And so that’s an easy one.
- The Fourth View is, I believe, the most plausible …
& the first time that I heard this view was from Pastor Steven Anderson …
And I thought … no way …
I was sitting watching his 22-Hour Revelation series …
And everything he’s saying is making sense …
until I get to Revelation 7 or 14 …
& he proposes the view that the 144,000 are OLD TESTAMENT SAINTS who are already in heaven …
& are sent down to earth & sealed in order to preach the Gospel during the time of God’s wrath.
And at first I’m thinking … it sounds a little far-fetched …
I’m thinking Pastor Steven Anderson’s judgment is clouded by his Anti-Zionist views …
I’m thinking in my head, he’s just taking that too far!
But the more I look into it, it becomes the most likely interpretation that I’ve encountered.
& believe me, I read Rev. 7 & 14 probably 10 times over and over again in preparation for this sermon to see if I could find any other possibilities.
- So basically the view is that the 144,000 are OT Believers from each of the Literal 12 Tribes of Israel, male virgins from those tribes, who were faithful to God.
- … At that time, it actually would have been not that hard to find.
- & the 144,000 are sent to earth to preach the Gospel w/ the 2 witnesses, so that the earth will not be left without a witness of Jesus Christ, since the church has been raptured.
But there’s more than that …
Let me prove to you from the Bible that the 144,000 are OT Saints, THROUGH THE TIMELINE OF THE EVENTS SURROUNDING REVELATION.
THE BIBLE SAYS THAT THERE WILL BE FIRST “a falling away” …
… followed by the revealing of the Anti-Christ – which is depicted in the opening of the 1ST SEAL of Revelation.
We’ve gone over the timeline in past sermons …
But this is followed by the FOUR HORSEMAN in seals 2-4, the VOICE OF THE MARTYRS in SEAL 5 …
A GREAT EARTHQUAKE, ANNOUNCEMENT OF GOD’S COMING WRATH, & THE RAPTURE OF THE SAINTS in the 6th SEAL.
The 7th SEAL reveals the 7 trumpet & vial judgments of God, which begin God’s wrath.
Now, I remember, REVELATION 9 shows us that THE 144,000 ARE ON EARTH DURING GOD’S WRATH.
Now keep this timeline in mind and we’ll juxtapose it with WHEN the 144,000 APPEAR.
AND BY DOING THAT …. This will definitively show that the 144,000 ARE ALREADY IN HEAVEN with JESUS CHRIST BEFORE the TRIBULATION, BEFORE the RAPTURE …
& THAT THEY ARE THEN SENT HERE FROM HEAVEN to EARTH, at the start of God’s Wrath …
because the TIMELINE doesn’t leave room for any other possibility.
GO AHEAD & turn back to REVELATION 14.
The mistake that people make is in thinking that Rev. 14 describes the events following Rev. 7 …
They see it as 7 happens first and then 14 describes what happens after, because that would follow a natural chronology.
But Revelation is chronological from chs. 1-11 & then repeats the same general events from a different perspective in Rev. 12-24.
So chapter 14 is just another glimpse into the 144,000 described in ch. 7. It’s a parallel chapter.
Many of you understand this already, but let’s take a look at it.
- 1 – Wee see the 144,000 in heaven with Christ.
In v. 4 – the Bible says they are redeemed from “among men”, being the “FIRSTFRUITS” unto God and the Lamb.
Look at verses 5-7 (READ):
- This lines up w/ Rev. 6, BEFORE GOD’S WRATH when:
kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?
Rev. 14:9 (READ)
THAT’S talking about the Anti-Christ & the MARK of the BEAST during the TRIBULATION, BEFORE GOD’S WRATH.
READ Rev. 14 – 19 – RAPTURE FOLLOWED BY WRATH
THIS SHOWS … THAT THE 144,000 ARE PICTURED IN HEAVEN, PRIOR to the events of the tribulation, the revealing of Anti-Christ, the rapture …
There’s simply no other explanation in the Bible …
- The 144,000 MUST BE OLD TESTAMENT SAINTS … FROM THE 12 TRIBES OF ISRAEL …
AND THE REASON THAT WE CAN’T GET OUR MINDS AROUND THIS …
… because we have been told all our Christian lives by ZIONIST theologeans that ALL ISRAEL WILL BE SAVED…
& that 144,000 JEWS WILL BE SEALED ON THE EARTH IN THE END TIMES …
But it’s simply not true. It’s not supported by Scripture.