The 144000 Of Israel
The 144,000 of Israel is seen in two portions of scripture: 1-- Sealed from the plagues (Rev.7:1-8).
2-- Standing on Mt. Zion with a Lamb (Rev.14:1-5). Revelation chapter 7:1-8 we see a special protective covering of the 144,000 Israelites. They are super naturally sealed by God to protect them from the horrible plagues of God's wrath about to be unleashed by the Lamb. They are alive on earth during this time. These are 144,000 of Israel saved out of the12 tribes just as the tribulation period is over-- the first 3 ½ years (the 1st 6 seals).
First we will look at Rev.7:1-8-- The 144,000 sealed from the plagues of God
Revelation 7:1 "And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of
the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth,
nor on the sea, nor on any tree."
"Afer these things"
This phrase shows that after John saw the events of the Great Tribulation, he saw these things. The Great Tribulation was 42 months, or 1260 days, or 3 ½ years. Rev.6:1-17;13:5,7,15;12:6,14 -- 1+2+½ = 3 ½.
Now John says, "I saw 4 angels standing on the 4 corners of the earth."
And therefore the whole earth is involved in what is about to happen. Now the 4 corners of the earth speak of the 4 directions of the earth and so it's speaking about a universal something that's going to effect everyone on the earth. And it says that these 4 angels were holding the 4 winds of the earth.
And he says that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree. Now this is probably literal because we find that the subsequent plagues that are poured out involve the earth and they're most likely literal.
And so there is an awesome silence in the natural realm, as if the earth itself and the heavens and the winds were standing in silent reverence in submission to the one who is about to pour out His awesome judgments on the earth. It's almost as though they're personified. There's an awesome silence at the righteous judgment of God that's about to come.
"..That the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree."
This shows that the wrath of God is about to be poured out upon the world and now we find that the first 4 of these 7 trumpets of the 7th Seal involve the earth and the sea and the heavens. They affect them directly with physical manifestations.
Since these first 4 affect the earth itself, therefore, we see these 4 angels standing on the 4 corners of the earth. And these 4 angels are the angels of the first 4 trumpets, who pour out these judgments upon the earth.
Trumpets numbers 5,6 & 7 are more directly coming against the people of this system. The first 4 deal more with the physical earth, although it affects the people as well. And so the 4 angels standing at the corners of the earth are the 4 angels of the first 4 trumpets. Chapter 8:1-12 (Read), you'll see these 4 and how the things they do affect the earth.
Revelation 7:2 "And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the 4 angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea."
So he cried with a loud voice to these 4 that we just saw saying, "hurt not the earth, nor the sea, nor the trees,.... till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads."
Now he's ascending from the east. The east, of course, is the sun rising, and this angel arises from the presence of Jesus who is that sun of righteousness. He's arising from the east, that is, from the presence of Jesus. That's what the east is typo logical of. And he may very well have come from the east on earth, but still the spiritual truth would remain.
Mal.4:1,2 (Read). Now that has more than one fulfillment. One fulfillment of that verse is the very events we're going to see happening here. There's the day of the Lord coming that's going to burn up the ungodly as stubble in these plagues, but you that fear my name won't be hurt. And at this time the 144,000, the servants of God, are the only ones on the earth, who know God. This is a stamp of ownership.
And the sun of Righteousness arises with healing in his wings and seals them and protects them from the plagues. Now that verse also has spiritual truths in it that apply to us at this time, but you can also apply it to the 144,000 in that day.
So the purpose of this angel arising from the east with the seal of God is to save and to heal, and that's exactly what we find.
Revelation 7:3 "Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads."
And they're sealed to be protected from the plagues. God puts a seal on them and it protects them from the things that are going to come to pass.
And so we find this angel arising from the east bringing them healing and protection. Now he has the seal of the living God-- verse 2. And so this is God's authority-- the seal of a king was the king's authority; if you stamp that seal, it was as if the king himself had decided and had put that law into practice. With that stamp on it, it was his authority.
So this angel has this seal of the authority of God. In this case, it's a seal given to the 144,000 to be immune to these plagues.
It's given to protect His chosen ones, and they are stamped with the authority of God to be exempt from the judgments that are about to come. And he cried with a loud voice to these 4 angels in v. 2 saying (Read v.2)
"The servants of our God"
These are the 144,000, because John says in verse 4, "And I heard the number of them which were sealed and there were sealed: an 144,000." So they are called the servants of our God. They are the servants of God upon the earth at that time. They are Israelites, and they are Israelites who know Jesus and we'll see that in a parallel passage. They are born again. They know him and love him and it says they follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They're in an intimate place with him.
Now the Tribulation saints have all been killed and therefore these are the only servants of God upon the earth. (this is after the first 6 seals, which is the first 3 ½ years of Tribulation where all the saints have been killed, then you have the second 3 ½ years, which is when the 7th seal is opened that brings the 7 trumpets or plagues or vials, the last 3 being woes-- approximately 7 years). So the 144,000 are the only people of God left on earth during the 3 ½ years of plagues. Now they're sealed in their foreheads. Now this may show forth the fact that they have come into the knowledge of God that sets them apart. They've come into the knowledge in their mind and therefore they're sealed with the authority of God. He's put His stamp of approval and ownership upon them.
Revelation 7:4 "And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel."
Now I'll begin to explain to you who these 144,000 are, and what they're all about
They're called the firstfruits of Israel. Rom.11:16; Rev.14:4. Here in Rev.7:4, we see them sealed upon the earth. And so we know that they are upon the earth during these judgments that follow, otherwise they wouldn't need to be sealed upon the earth.
But later in Rev.14:1-5, we see them caught up into the presence of the Lamb. (Read v.1) Read verses 2,3. So these 144,000 are on Mt. Zion, that is, the heavenly Zion, Read Hebrews 12:22,23; Galatians 4:26. And we know that because they have harps and they sung a new song before the throne, and before the 4 beasts, and the elders. And that is in heaven.
And no man could learn that song but the 144,000, which were redeemed from the earth. So they've been redeemed from the earth. They're no longer on the earth; they've been bought back from the earth.
Verse 4, For they are virgins-- spiritually. They're pure; they're not defiled with the harlot system that's on the earth at that time.
These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. Verse 5, and in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God. That's a marvelous thing-- without fault.
Now they're called the first fruits unto God and to the Lamb. And we know that this does not mean that they were the first who were caught up into the presence of the Lamb, because we see the living creatures, and the 24 elders are already there when the 144,000 sing this new song. And we know that the Rapture of the manchild was before the Tribulation began, and that at the end of the 3 ½ year Tribulation, the Tribulation saints were caught up. (see the study on the two witnesses)
And therefore when it says here that the 144,000 are the first fruits unto the Lamb, this means that they are the first fruits of the nation of Israel. As you know, the nation of Israel at this time has not come back to Yahweh, their savior. And during this time of the plagues, Israel is still not saved as a nation. They don't become God's people again until they shall look upon him whom they have pierced; and they mourn for him when He comes back and His feet stand upon the Mt. of Olives. (Zec.12:10; 14:4). And so these are the first fruits of the nation of Israel.
God says in Ezekiel, "They shall be my people from that day and forward." So they are not yet His people, but the 144,000 we find come to Jesus before the Second Coming, and therefore, they are the firstfruits of Israel unto God.
Now these 144,000 are the first fruits of a national, of an official, of a national repentance and coming to Christ. Being of Israel, they are the first fruits of the nation of Israel returning unto God. The nation is beginning to be brought back to the Lord through Jesus Christ, and they're the first fruits of the national repentance. Because, you see, the covenant that God made with Israel was a national covenant. It involves national blessings. It involves an earthly kingdom and it involves a covenant where Israel would rule over the whole earth, and God would rule over the earth through Israel. And Israel being humble and submissive before God would be exalted over the earth, and so this is an earthly covenant involving an earthly kingdom. And that's why they are the first fruits of Israel; because they are the first fruits of this national repentance that will come about when Jesus comes and his kingdom is brought in on earth, and Jerusalem becomes the capital of the earth.
We see scripture that help explain this first fruits of Israel (Rom.11:25-27)
Verse 25, "In your own conceits"-- He's talking to Gentiles who say, "Wow, Israel's been cut off, and we've been grafted in. Boy, we're really special." He says, "No don't be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in."
Verse 26 (Read) And so all Israel shall be saved. They are not, but they shall be. And we're reading about the time when they begin to be saved.
Go on in v. 26. So there's still ungodliness in Jacob but the deliverer comes; Jesus Christ at the second coming, and he turns away ungodliness from Jacob.
Verse 27 (Read) Now that's future, so their sins are not yet taken away. And so God says here... All Israel shall be saved, that is, those who are left. Read vs. 26,27 again. So this involves the time when their sins are going to be taken away, and the nation of Israel comes back into covenant with God. Read (Eze.39:22-29 Isa. 43:6; Jer. 16:15 Zec.12:9-13:2; 14:3,4). So we see that this happens after the Battle of Armageddon, at the Second Coming of Christ.
Now the last part of Romans 11:25 says, that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so we find the fulness of the Gentiles have come in now at this time of the 144,000; the time of the Gentiles is complete. The Gentiles have been brought into the kingdom of God; the Raptured saints, the Tribulation saints. And now it is a time when God moves to fulfill His covenant with Israel. And they finally become willing to accept His salvation plan through Jesus Christ. So God is still dealing and moving to bring in and fulfill this covenant with natural Israel, which had been broken off when they rejected Christ. And the 144,000 are the first fruits of this process.
Now we see in Revelation 7:5-8 that it mentions all the names of the tribes. 12,000 were sealed from each tribe. A few interesting things to note is:
Dan is not mentioned among the 12. Ephraim is not called Ephraim; it's called Joseph. You remember Joseph had 2 sons: Manasseh and Ephraim, and each of these inherited a portion with Israel. So Joseph was as the first born; he obtained a double blessing.
Now all Israel is represented by 12,000 from each of the 12 tribes. Dan is excluded possibly because Dan went first into idolatry under Jeroboam, and even before that Dan was involved in idolatry. And perhaps Dan became so scattered and lost among the heathens when they went into captivity in idolatry, that they never came back; that perhaps none of them came back. In Ezekiel 48:1,2, they will be in the Millennium with their inheritance. The reason why they are not mentioned here with the 144,000 is not given. It possibly involves them going into idolatry. Now as I said Joseph is the same as Ephraim. Ephraim is Joseph's son. Levi previously had only the priest's portion in the land, but here they are listed equally among the tribes.
So you have 144,000; 12,000 being from each tribe. Now this could mean 12,000 individuals totally or it could mean 12,000 family names or family representatives or heads of households from each of the 12 tribes. And if it be family names, that would total a 144,000 families or family names. We see that principle when Israel was numbered when they came out of Egypt, and again before they went into the promised land (Num.1:45,46). They were numbered as 600,000 and a bit more, but it is stated there that it's speaking about men who were able to go to war-- men of war. And so there were many more than 600,000 Israelites because their families and children were involved too. The case is possibly the same here.
Now what is involved in the sealing of this 144,000? What are we talking about? We are going to have to speak where the scripture speaks and be silent where the scripture is silent. Be careful to distinguish between facts and possibilities and probabilities, lest we be found painting a picture that God's Word doesn't paint.
First, we see that they are sealed in their foreheads, Rev.7:3 (Read). Now this word foreheads "metopon" literally means between the eyes-- sealed between the eyes. But I believe that's an idiom and the meaning you would derive from it would be forehead. It's used 8 times in the N.T.-- all 8 times this word is in the book of Revelation and all 8 times it's translated forehead. So they're sealed in their forehead. Now a parallel passage is in Eze. 9:4-6 and here Ezekiel had a vision of the abominations that were being done in Jerusalem. But there were those in that city who sighed and cried unto God because of these abominations, and they obtained a seal in their forehead and were protected and it says, (Read) through verse 9. So we see a parallel instance. I wouldn't call it the same instance but the principle is the same.
Now this is probably not a literal mark upon the heads of these 144,000 people or family heads. Angels don't need to see a literal mark to know what people to protect. They're dealing in a spiritual realm and spiritual relationships and the position that people are in. They don't need to see a literal mark. And a mark on the forehead would not really protect people anyway against trees and grass being on fire and being on a ship in an ocean that was turned to blood and bitter waters and these types of things. Now God could give a mark and then protect the same people who had the mark. But what I'm saying is that a literal mark is not necessitated by the facts in the case here.
The mark is probably symbolic of God marking them out spiritually because of the relationship they stand in with Him. So it's a mark that is symbolic of God setting them apart according to the spiritual position that they're standing in because of their life for Jesus Christ and their surrender to God. Now it may refer somewhat to the fact that their knowledge, their intimate knowledge of God becomes their basis for protection. Their relationship with Him and being the servants of God upon the earth at that time singles them out for God's protection. Revelation 14:4 shows they are in an intimate place with God.
Now it's important to realize that this marking of the 144,000, this sealing of them, is not their salvation experience. It's not the instant that they get saved. This is not an arbitrary choosing of some to be saved and some to be lost. Notice in Rev.7:3 that they are already the servants of God when they are commanded to be sealed and therefore, they are sealed on that basis. They don't become the servants of God because they're sealed. It says in verse 3 (Read). So they're already the servants of God and therefore they become sealed. They have already come to know Him previously, probably through the witness of the tribulation martyrs who had just died previously; their witness as well as their resurrection being a sign to these people that brings them into a relationship with God. And remember now that part of these tribulation saints are Jewish Christians. These 144,000 come into covenant with God sometime during the tribulation period or possibly after the resurrection of the tribulation martyrs.
One thing is clear and one thing we can say dogmatically is that their sealing involves protecting them against the Plagues that are to follow. Rev.7:1-3 the angels that are to pour the Plagues out upon the earth are told to hold back, until the servants of God have been sealed in their foreheads. And in chapter 9:3,4, we see that they're sealed and protected against what is likely to be a demonic Plague.
Now another big question that you may have thought of: Where are they? The 144,000. Are they in Israel? Are they in Europe? Are they all over the earth?
Well we can make some deductions, then see what we come up with. You can't quite work the whole problem through, at least with what we know right now. But we can come up with some strong possibilities.
1.) We see that their protected from the Plagues that are to be poured out on the nations. And that would seem to indicate that they are scattered over the earth, that they are in different nations of the earth. Revelation 7:1 (Read).. on the 4 corners of the earth.. so it's something that is going to involve the whole earth... holding the 4 winds of the earth, that the wind shouldn't blow on the earth (the whole earth) nor on the sea, nor on any tree. Verses 2,3 (Read).
It's possible here that it means they are scattered all over the earth, because these people are in different parts of the earth. Therefore don't hurt the earth, until we have sealed them. Also there are indications in scripture that at this time the land of Israel remains essentially untouched by the Plagues. Of course, that is except for the Battle of Armageddon which is part of one of the Plagues. But aside from that, Israel remains essentially unharmed by the Plagues.
In Ezekiel 38:1-8, we find that Gog, the leader of Magog (probably Russia), and others come against Israel at the time of Armageddon, and the land is said to be prosperous and worthy of taking a spoil. So at this time, they're dwelling safely. Ezekiel 38:10-13 (Read).
Now this is the time of Armageddon, and they're said to be dwelling at rest and safely and with cattle and goods and this is after the Plagues have been poured out upon the earth-- the rest of the earth. Now this shows Israel's still prosperous and dwelling safely when the nations come against her at Armageddon. Verse 13 to take a great spoil.
Joel 2:3 talks again about these nations coming against Israel at Armageddon and it says (Read). So when they come against the land, it's as the garden of Eden before them. It's not all torn up by Plagues of fire and wormwood and blood. It's said to be as a garden of Eden. So that would point to a possibility that at least during part of these Plagues, the 144,000 would be among the nations. Otherwise, they wouldn't need to be sealed if they were in Israel.
2.) Now you can't dismiss another possibility and that is: They could be in Israel and be sealed and therefore the nation of Israel is exempted and is blessed because of them. We see that happening now as we find that the flood of ungodliness is held back upon the world at this time that we're living in, because he who now letteth or restraineth-- the manchild is still here. And so the others around them obtain a reprieve, because of those that are blessed of God; you can't shut that possibility out either. But, the language of scripture seems to point to the fact that they are sealed because they are among the nations. But you can't be too dogmatic.
Now we do know that there probably has to be some connection between the 144,000 and the nation of Israel. There has to be some connection there, because in Rev.14:4, they are called the firstfruits and we saw that this has to mean the firstfruits of Israel, nationally. Because there have been many Jewish Christians before this time and yet they are not the firstfruits of Israel. They were still in the Gentile age. After the resurrection of the 2 witnesses, God starts dealing with the nation of Israel through the 144,000. And then after the Second Coming of Christ, He bring the nation in for the 1,000 year reign of Christ. So Jewish Christians before this time were not connected directly with the nation of Israel, but these 144,000 are. And they are 12,000 from each tribe of Israel.
There were already Jewish Christians and many of them killed in the tribulation just before, but they were not called the firstfruits of the nation. The 144,000 are and therefore these 144,000 must be something more than just Jewish converts among the nations. They have to be something more than converted Jews, because there have been converted Jews before them and more than 144,000, quite probably considering looking through out the whole church age and this period of time and the great tribulation there have been many more Jewish Christians.
They're not just converted Jews, but they are the first fruits of the nation. We know one thing very clearly that there will be a great national revival of Israel when Christ returns and they mourn and repent for having rejected him.
Israel is going to be revived as a nation. We see that in Zec.12:10-14 (Read) which speaks about how that at the 2nd Coming of Christ his feet shall be upon the Mt. of Olives and they shall look upon him whom they pierced. That is, the Jews will and they'll mourn for him as for their only son. And then in Zec.13:1,2 (Read), it says that then a fountain will be opened for cleansing for the inhabitants of Israel. So there's a spiritual revival that happens when they look upon him whom they have pierced, and the 144,000 are the firstfruits of that great national revival of Israel. It would seem that they were not in good spiritual shape at the time of the Rapture, or they would have gone in the Rapture. So they're most likely saved during the period sometime after the Rapture. Possibly not until right after the resurrection of the tribulation martyrs. Possibly in the tribulation period, we're not sure.
But we do know that they are saved before the plagues are poured out upon the earth. And somehow they are probably spared from taking the mark of the beast. Somehow they are probably exempted from that.
Rev.14:4 (Read) now this is when they are already in heaven. But, it says they were not defiled with women. Now that doesn't mean that they never got married because that is not defilement. It's speaking of the fact that they are not defiled with the harlot women. The false religious systems of the earth. This is talking about a spiritual defilement. They're spiritually pure and not defiled with the harlot system.
One qualification I would like to bring is the scripture does say that everyone who takes the mark of the beast shall be damned, but it doesn't say everyone whoever took it can never repent. It just says that if you take the mark of the beast, that is if you submit yourself willingly to that system, the end result is going to be damnation. Now that means that you are talking about entering a course. You're walking, you've taken a certain road and the end of that road is damnation. The scripture doesn't say that taking the mark of the beast is the unpardonable sin or that it could never be forgiven. And there's a possibility that some who took that mark would later repent having taken it unwillingly and think better of it.
Now it seems that the land of Israel during this time of the tribulation period and the Plague period will enjoy some exemption from this false religious system, and it seems that they will be allowed to carry on their temple worship. It's possible that Jews will be granted some kind of special privileges during this time.
Another possibility is that these 144,000 come from all over the earth to Israel and thus, God's protection of them by bringing them out of the nations and into the land of Israel becomes a witness unto Israel; that's another possibility.
Or it's possible that they are in the nation the whole time and it becomes apparent, very clear, somehow that they are the reason why the nation is being protected from the Plagues. The conclusion is: Speak where the scripture speaks, be silent where the scripture is silent and pray for more light.
Now we will look at the 144,000 in Revelation 14:1-5, standing on Mt. Sion with a Lamb
Revelation 14:1 "And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father's name written in their foreheads."
"I looked" so John is still seeing royal visions here. This whole book of Revelation is unfolding before him in vision form.
"A Lamb stood on the Mt. Sion" and it's the one and only Lamb of God that he sees. Revelation 5:6 Jesus Christ.
Now the question is: Is this Mt. Zion the earthly Mt. Zion or is it the heavenly Mt. Zion? Are we seeing the 144,000 with Christ in Jerusalem at His 2nd Coming or are we seeing them in heaven?
The way I look at it is that we're talking about the heavenly Zion rather than that they are standing on the earthly Mt. Zion at Christ's Second Coming. And here are my reasons:
1.) Verses 2,3 say that they sing a new song before the throne. So they're before the throne. At least they're before the throne in the context here. Also we see them worshipping with the 4 living creatures and they are clearly in heaven. And the throne is in heaven, Revelation 4:5,6,10; Psa.11:4.
2.) The second reason is that verse 3 says that they were redeemed from the earth. They're singing a new song: and no man could learn that song but the 144,000, which were redeemed from the earth. So they're no longer on the earth. They're redeemed from the earth. From is the Greek preposition apo = away from.
3.) Again in verse 5, it says they are before the throne of God.
4.) The fourth reason is that they are standing with the Lamb on Mt. Zion, not the Mt. of Olives. It doesn't say the Mt. of Olives. It says Mt. Zion, but the 2nd Coming comes on the Mt. of Olives (Zec.14:4) and it is before Jerusalem to the east. Mt. Zion is a general name for the high plateau on which Jerusalem sits. The Mt. of Olives is east of Jerusalem. Now you could say on the other side, well, Zion is used to speak of Jerusalem in many, many scriptures, and therefore, in a general sense you could say the 2nd Coming is to Zion because the 2nd Coming is in Jerusalem. But I think that's stretching it a little bit. You could say that, but notice that the language of Rev.14:1 is very specific: It says, "and lo, a Lamb stood on the Mt. Zion" it's the Mt. Zion that he's standing on with the 144,000, not just in the general area. That is, Mt. of Olives or something. But it says the Mt. Zion.
5.) Now my 5th reason is that scripture speaks of a heavenly Zion, and so that gives us the room to interpret it here as a heavenly thing. Heb.12:22 (read).
So he's contrasting the old covenant with the new. And he says in the new covenant you've come to Mt. Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. And we're seated in heavenly places with Christ. And here the Lamb is with his 144,000 on the Mt. Zion. I believe it's the heavenly Mt. Zion.
Also Gal.4:26 says that Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all. So I think that the best interpretation is to say that in Rev. 14 we see the 144,000 caught up. And therefore they are standing with their Messiah on the Mt. Zion; the heavenly Mt. Zion of which the earthly Mt. Zion is just a dim picture.
That is, they're on the Mt. Zion, not the earthly copy but the real thing. They're in heaven. And the Greek word in verse 3 for earth is definitely "Ge." They were redeemed from the literal, physical earth.
So we see they've finished their course, and they're singing a victory song before God; they've arrived in heaven. So the 144,000 are caught up later after they're sealed.
Now these 144,000 we saw in Rev.7:1-8 are the sealed remnant of Israel. They are the first fruits of the nation of Israel. God will always have His people. Even during a period of gross darkness upon the earth, God will have His testimony. God had His Raptured saints before the Great Tribulation period, and He had His people ( the tribulation martyrs) during the Great Tribulation period, and He will have the 144,000 as His testimony during the time of the plagues. It's quite possible that these 144,000 are spirit filled Christians at this time. So after they finish their testimony, Christ comes. He sets up his Millennial kingdom, and Israel submits to him.
So we're seeing them here in Revelation 14 caught up. They've finished their testimony. Now they're with Jesus in heaven.
Now the most important thing about this is that it says that the Lamb stood and they are with him. That is the most wonderful thing that is said about them in all the wonderful things said about them. They are with him. They have overcome and they are in the presence of the Lord Jesus who they have followed with all of their hearts. So they are with him. They have followed the Lamb's way, and therefore they are where he is.
And by the end of their testimony when they are caught up, they are worshipping God with the 4 living creatures, etc. (Revelation 14:3).
Now the Greek for the second half of verse 1 is "having, His name and His Father's name written in their foreheads." Not just his Father's name, but having his name and his Father's name written in their foreheads. And the best Greek texts all have that.
The point about this is that it's not two names. It's his name and his Father's name, because the verb form for written is singular. It's his name and his Father's name, singular written. And so they are both the same. You see his name is his Father's name. His Father gave him His name, even as he said in the gospel of John: "Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me." The Greek for "those whom" is "which"-- "which thou hast given me." The Father gave him His name and he said, "I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world." References: John 17:11,6,26; Heb.1:4; Phil.2:9.
Zec.14:9 says that in that day there shall be one Yahweh, one Lord, and His name one. And this is the very day we're talking about. So we see the 144,000 are now shown to be caught up, and they are one with Christ, and the Father-- they are now having fellowship with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ, experientially. ( 1 John 1:3).
Now it says the name is written in their foreheads. We saw in Rev.7:2 & 4 that they had the seal of the living God in their foreheads. And now that seal of the living God is completed or brought to the full in that they have His name in their foreheads. They've now entered into, because they were sealed and they walked in that relationship with God, a completed and intimate place. Now they are with Him where they have an eternal relationship with Him in the heavenly realm. They belong to Him totally. They know His nature, they know His heart. They love Him fully and He possesses them; His name is upon them for all eternity.
Now they are probably sealed after the resurrection of the martyrs, the two witnesses. And so at the time they are sealed; they become the only people in covenant with God on the whole earth. Rev.9:4 is the last time they are seen on earth, and that's at the 5th trumpet.
Revelation 14:2 "And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as
the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps."
Now the King James here sounds like there are two voices because it says, "I heard the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps."
But actually all of verse 2 is describing one voice. You could read the last half of the verse instead of "and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps"; you could read it, "and the voice which I heard was as of harpers harping with their harps."
So John's hearing one voice but it's a voice made up of individual voices. It's like a mighty waterfall's roar. It's one great roar. But, it's made up of many individual splashes or cascades of water. And that's what he's hearing.
The same thing that is the voice of many waters is said of the voice of all the servants of God together in Rev.19:6. In Rev.1:15 Jesus' voice is said to be as the sound of many waters. And you can compare that with Eze.1:24 where the living creatures are said to have a voice as of great waters, as the voice of the Almighty. So the 4 living creatures who are a picture of the people of God unified on earth in the last days; the latter rain revival and the manchild and the unified perfected body of Christ are said to speak with the voice of the Almighty. So Jesus has a voice of great waters. His people have a voice of great waters. So the people of God speak with His voice. It's one voice; it's the voice of Jesus speaking through them.
And not only in heaven will the saints speak and sing with one mighty voice, but God is saying in Ezekiel that He will have a unified submitted people on earth before the Rapture, who speak with His voice. The voice of Jesus ministering and drawing the souls of man will be heard again on earth calling to the souls. But, this time it will be through His body-- His saints. And that's why He's allowing people to be tested and purged; He's going to see who will be humble, who will be united, who will submit, who will trust, who will hold onto the Word of God, because He has to have a people who have one voice. It's imperative to the heart of God that His people be unified.
A reference that ties in with that is Romans 15:5,6 (Read). It's important that we become likeminded according to Christ Jesus-- have his mind.
And this voice in Rev.14:2 is said to be the voice of harpers harping with their harps. And these are the 144,000 that we're talking about. And they are having harps to sing and rejoice concerning their victory, and they are singing a song of victory with one voice before God, before His throne.
Revelation 14:3 "And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the
four beasts, and the elders; and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty
and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth."
This is a picture of the fact that they are in their own unique position before God. They are not in the same position as the living creatures in and around the throne. They are not seated on thrones and wearing crowns as the 24 elders. But, each saint before God has his own unique reward. And each saint in each position is doing as much as he can with the light that he has had, etc. And all of these factors entering in becomes a unique facet in the jewel that God is building in His people.
And so they have a unique place in the heart of God. And they are a unique facet of His plan. And, therefore, they have a unique song that nobody else can learn throughout all eternity, only the 144,000 could learn it. They are celebrating a unique victory. It's all their own. They have their own unique position in Him.
Israel could not sing a new song when they were captive in Babylon, (Psa. 137:1-4). Now they do, Isaiah 35:10. This applies to us also, Revelation 5:9; Psa. 40:1-3.
And these are a special company of people. God's dealing with them shows that He will be faithful to His covenant with Abraham. After the testimony of the 144,000 is finished, Christ returns and the nation of Israel is reconciled to God. And so they are the first fruits of that national repentance and national reconciliation with their God.
When the tribulation saints were killed, God had finished His work in the Gentile church. The time of the Gentiles was complete; He was done in His spiritual work to seek a bride with the Gentiles and those that would follow. Now He moves to complete His plan with Israel. A parallel passage is Romans 11:24-27 speaking to Gentiles, Paul says, (Read). And the 144,000 are some of those Olive branches being grafted into their own Olive tree through faith. And once the tribulation period is over (the first 3 ½ years), the fulness of the Gentiles has come in. That doesn't mean that their couldn't be others that could possibly repent. But in the sense of the plan of God and the dispensations and the way He's dealing with men, the fulness of the Gentiles has come in.
And so all Israel shall be saved: As it is written, "There shall come out of Zion the deliver, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob. For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins."
So we also see that the 144,000 are redeemed from the earth in verse 3. No man could learn the song but the 144,000, which were redeemed from the earth. So this shows that they were taken from the earth. They were bought from the earth. God purchased them with the blood of His own son, and as they walked with Him, they came to the place where they were ready for Him to take them. And He did. These are the only ones redeemed from the earth at this time. They are the only ones left in covenant with God. No Christians will be left after the 6th seal, except the 144,000. And, therefore, the 144,000 are the only ones that are redeemed from the earth after the resurrection of the tribulation martyrs. Now that's speaking in a general sense. Not saying that there couldn't be another one absolutely, but I'm talking about categories of people.
Now they are seen here caught up to the throne of God. The question you might ask in your mind is when were they caught up? We know that it has to be very close to the Second Coming of Christ. Why is this? I'll give you some reasons
1.) First of all, they were sealed just before the 7th seal was opened. The 3 ½ year tribulation ended at the 6th seal, and you can tie in Rev.6:12-17 with that. And now in chapter 7:1-8 we see the 144,000 sealed. In chapter 8:1 the 7th seal, that is, the time of the Plagues commences and they are sealed against these Plagues.
2.) They must remain on earth during the Plagues. Otherwise they wouldn't be sealed against the Plagues, right? So they have to be remaining on earth during these Plagues. Chapter 7:2,3 says that they were sealed concerning those Plagues (Read). They are sealed for protection.
3.) Thirdly is that the 144,000 are the first fruits of the nation of Israel. They are in covenant with God. They are converted, Jesus- loving Jews. And that's why they are protected. They are protected as part of God's covenant with them. Those who are in covenant with God, He protects.
4.) We see in Revelation 9:4, they are protected against the 5th trumpet, so they are still on earth during this time. The 6th trumpet or plague is the battle of Armageddon, and it's unlikely that they would be here during the battle of Armageddon. So they are probably Raptured sometime after the 5th trumpet is completed; we know that for sure. And we see them in heaven; they are redeemed from the earth. So this is probably before the Second Coming of Christ, because after Christ comes, no one is redeemed from the earth; His kingdom is on earth at that time. And they are probably among the saints that come with Christ-- Jude 14; Zec. 14:5, all the saints with thee.
5.) Now you have the great tribulation period of 3 ½ years, and there you have seals 1-6 and between 5 & 6 is the resurrection and ascension of the martyred tribulation saints. And you have seals 1-6 occurring in the great tribulation. Then you find between that period and the next period, it says the 144,000 are sealed on earth. And then there's another period of time when the Plagues of the wrath of God are poured out upon the earth, and this is approximately 3 ½ years. Now the 7th seal has within itself 7 trumpets or vials #1-7. Numbers 5,6 & 7 are also called "woes." There are 3 woes, and theses woes answer to the trumpets 5-7. Now somewhere towards the end of this period the 144,000 ascend to heaven. And trumpet number 7 answers to the 2nd Coming of Christ to stop the Battle of Armageddon and usher in the Millennium. So we do know that they are Raptured sometime after the 5th trumpet is completed, and sometime before the 7th trumpet, which is the 2nd Coming of Christ with all his saints with him.
Now you might ask why do they live? Why are they protected when the tribulation saints were killed?
1.) First of all, because of their heart. Because of the condition of their heart. Once they received the light of Jesus and the knowledge that He was their Messiah, they surrendered completely to that knowledge. They walked in it. They appropriated it. They said if this is true, we're going to live it to the full. Now they may not have time to grow into the same depth as the bride, but in all that they know and all the time that they have, they walk fully committed to Jesus. No lukewarmness; they are completely in covenant with Him. And so that's one reason why they are protected from being martyred.
2.) Now, another reason is that it's God's will for them to be a testimony to Israel and to be the first fruits of Israel's returned to God. They are the first fruits of the reconciliation of Israel with God. And so He protects them on earth that they might fulfill that position.
Revelation 14:4 "These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins.
These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb."
This verse goes on to describe the 144,000. It's really a beautiful description. It says, "These are they which were not defiled with women."
This refers to symbolic women, spiritual women. It's talking about the fact that they were not defiled with the women of the various harlot churches and the great harlot church that were there during the Antichrist's reign. They have kept themselves pure from spiritual fornication.
Rev.17:3-7 and 16 talk about the woman, the false church, the harlot system. And, of course, if they are walking in a close covenant with God, you know they are free from fornication and adultery as well. You might even tie that in. But it's not saying that they weren't married, because married men aren't defiled with women. That's totally a false concept to try to bring in. (Hebrews 13:4). They are staying pure from the false doctrines of the harlot system.
Rev.13:15 talks about the second beast that rose up out of the earth. And it says in many Manuscripts "it was given to her to give spirit or life unto the image of the beast." It was given to her. And so these 144,000 are not defiled with her. They are keeping separate from her. They are keeping in covenant with God.
"For they are virgins" This refers to their spiritual purity and undefiled state before God in a time when the whole world is becoming defiled and is full of corruption. And the whole system of the world becomes one big lie and one big corrupt unholy mess.
They are undefiled and they are virgins and that's a marvelous place to be in. That shows something about their commitment.
Now there's no need to think that they are celibate, because there is no righteousness in celibacy. There's no merit in that. And also there are undoubtedly women among the company of the 144,000, and so marriage has to exist among them. Either there are women in the numbers of the 144,000 or the 144,000 are speaking of family names. If we're speaking of family names, then we're speaking of the men as the head of the family, and the women would be included among that. In that case, you would have many more than 144,000. You would have the wives and children among them.
Jeremiah 31:4 God says, "Oh, virgin of Israel." He calls Israel a virgin. Yet they were not all virgins in the natural sense. But He spoke of them spiritually, as a virgin.
"These are they which follow the lamb withersoever he goeth."
Wherever he goes, they just follow him. They have a willing heart to follow and go where he goes. And there's a blessed word picture behind the word goeth. They follow the lamb withersoever he goeth. The word goeth "hupago" means "to go under". Vines defines it: to go away or to go slowly away; to depart; to withdraw oneself. Often with the idea of going without noise or notice. This is a beautiful meaning.
A few scriptures that use this word
Matt.4:10, Jesus said, "Get thee hence Satan." Depart, go away under.
Matt.26:24, Jesus said, "The son of man goeth." That is, he departs as it is written of him. The son of man goeth as it is written of him.
John 3:8 (Read) Jesus is talking about those born of the Spirit. You can't tell where they're going because they know God. They know where they're going, but those who don't know God are not privy to that knowledge.
John 13:3,36 (Read).
And finally, a negative sense, Rev.17:8,11 (Read). It shows that departing. Everybody is in process of going away and departing because this world is temporary. And that's why God has such a heart that we reach out to the souls of men, because everyone is going to depart in one direction or another direction. Nobody is going to stay here. People are making decisions, they are traveling in certain directions. And some are going away into separation from God, and some are going away from the world. Some are going away from the flesh and departing into the spiritual realm with God. To some people the world is getting strange and foreign, and someday as they keep walking along that path, they'll slip off into the heavenly realm. Their going away will become complete. Vines says that it often has the idea of going without notice or noise. We'll hear noise, that trumpet sound, but the world won't hear that noise. And it's the same with the 144,000. They're in a beautiful place of submission and yieldedness to God. Even while people are worshipping the beast all over the earth, they are quietly going their way and following the Lamb.
They are possibly being gathered in Israel, and the world system is collapsing all around them; yet they're walking faithfully in their covenant with God. And they're taken; they depart from this world unto God.
It was the same with Jesus. The whole Roman world with all of its pomp and glory and majesty, and the trumpets sound and the emperor comes up and sits on his golden throne. They have their drunken orgies, shouting, and reveling, circuses, entertainment, assemblies, plays, drama, and Olympic games and the whole thing. The world is just going its mad course all around, and just quietly God is causing His Messiah to be born. He lives out his life, and he's quietly growing in favor with God and man, until the day he is announced. He ministers, he fulfills his purpose and he goes his way, and the world doesn't even know what's happening.
And so are they that are born of the Spirit; you cannot tell where they came from or where they're going. But they know God and He takes them to be with Him. So that's the kind of position the 144,000 are in. Even though we're not the 144,000, (we will be gone before they become the 144,000), God tells us these things to give us a picture of that close position He wants His people to be in. I believe the Raptured bride is going to be in an even closer position with Him; a more mature and full relationship with God. So we see that the 144,000 are completely yielded to Him, and they become eternally close to Him.
These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb
They are not the only redeemed from among men. We know that. They are not even the first men to be redeemed. But it says here that they were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God. Putting those facts together, we see that they have to be the firstfruits of Israel. They are the firstfruits of Israel coming into covenant with God. It's 144,000 of the 12 tribes of Israel, as it says in chapter 7.
So of that harvest of Israel that God has been waiting to have, they are the firstfruits. And the firstfruits of your harvest are waved up before the Lord. And so they were waved up; they didn't come back down. They were waved up. The firstfruits of that reconciliation with Israel. Exodus 23:19 (Read), All the harvest belongs to God, but these are the first fruits of Israel, as an offering to God. Then the heat (possibly the Battle of Armageddon) ripens the rest of the nation of Israel, and they come to God when Christ comes to set up his kingdom to reign for a 1,000 years.
Only the first fruits could go into the temple, just as the 144,000 go to heaven, the dwelling place of God. The rest of Israel will be left to ripen on earth. They all come from the same seed, except the 144,000 ripen earlier. The rest will have to stay through the time of Jacob's trouble.
Of course, we know that there are others who were Raptured before them. #1 the Raptured saints in Rev.12:5, the spiritual firstfruits of the Gentile church. They were the first fruits of the Gentile church, and the others were left to ripen through the hot tribulation period. #2 the tribulation saints were also caught up earlier, (Rev. 12:17 and Rev. 11:12), because they had ripened during the hot tribulation period. Then the 144,000 are Raptured sometime just before the 2nd Coming of Christ.
Revelation 14:5 "And in their mouth was found no guile; for they are without fault before
the throne of God."
Guile here means deceit. It means falsehood. It means a lie, simply a lie. In their mouth was found no lie. And that again is a remarkable statement of commitment to God, because the whole world has become a lie. The whole world is worshipping a lie and loving it. They are trusting in a lie. They are speaking a lie, and yet it is said of the 144,000 in their mouth was found no lie.
They are without fault before the throne of God. Now the best Manuscripts delete "before the throne of God." They simply say, "without blemish they are." It's just a simple marvelous statement of being right with God. In His eyes, "without blemish they are." So God has been working to deal with them and perfect them; these who are of Israel. In whatever time they have to learn about their Lord and His will; they follow Him in those things fully. And through love, they come to a place where it says that they are without blemish.
Now whether or not you could get into a theological argument, well, were they experientially sinless?
Were they perfect on earth?
I believe you would be missing the point if you did. I think that what God wants us to see is that they loved Him fully. They followed Him fully, and so their hearts were perfect. Their hearts were completely right with God. There was no unwillingness. There was nothing held back, and through love, they were in a position where it says simply "without blemish they are."
And we'll also be without blemish before God. Probably in a more fully matured sense. Eph.5:27 Jesus is going to present His church to Himself a glorious church, without spot, or blemish, or any such thing.