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What the Bible says about The 144,000
(From Forerunner Commentary)

The 144,000 have very special qualities; Revelation 7 and 14 mention them as highly favored of God. They:

  • Are sealed by an angel of God
  • Are specially selected from the tribes of Israel
  • Stand on Mount Zion with "a Lamb"
  • Have the Father's name written on their foreheads
  • Sing a new song no one else can sing
  • Are redeemed from the earth
  • Are called "virgins"
  • Are not defiled with women (false churches)
  • Are considered the firstfruits of God's harvest
  • Are guileless and without fault

Staff
Who Are the 144,000?

Related Topics: The 144,000


 

The bride of Christ is also exactly 144,000. Revelation 21:2 describes the bride as "the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God." At this point, she has risen to meet Jesus Christ, married Him and is coming back to rule on the earth with Him (Revelation 5:10). She will always be with Him from this time on (I Thessalonians 4:17). This occurs at the last trumpet (I Corinthians 15:50-52), the time of the resurrection of the "dead in Christ" along with those who are "alive and remain." (I Thessalonians 4:16-17)

Revelation 21 goes on to describe the bride further, beginning in verse 9: "Then one of the seven angels . . . talked with me, saying, 'Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb's wife.'" The angel refers to her as "the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God" (verse 10).

He then describes her dimensions: Her wall is pierced by twelve gates—each a great pearl—having the names of the twelve tribes of Israel inscribed on them and twelve angels at them (verses 12, 21). Her twelve foundations, adorned with precious stones, are each named after the twelve apostles (verses 14, 19-20). New Jerusalem is 12,000 furlongs in length, breadth and height (verse 16). Her wall measures 144 cubits (verse 17).

Twelve tribes times 12,000 each is 144,000, just as John describes the sealed servants of God in Revelation 7! Twelve and the square of twelve is New Jerusalem's description! The bride is exactly 144,000, and the firstfruits are exactly 144,000 (Revelation 14:4).

Staff
Who Are the 144,000?

Revelation 5:9-10

The issue in the vision of Revelation 5 is finding One who is qualified to open a certain scroll that contains a listing of events that will occur beyond the present time, both before and after Christ's return. The issue is resolved because Christ, the Lamb, is qualified to open it because of what He has already accomplished. He is our Redeemer and thus qualified. His qualification sets an example for us to follow in our Christian lives.

Verse 10 concerns us most. It helps to know that the term “kings and priests” is better translated as “kingdom of priests,” as numerous modern translations render it. Christ has appointed the redeemed (verse 9) as a kingdom of priests to serve our God and to bear a measure of rulership (“we shall reign on the earth”). They are appointed to a responsibility by Christ because they, like Him, have been prepared to render these services in God's behalf.

Beyond the priestly functions, rulership is clearly in view for the redeemed. Christ will appoint only those already prepared for these positions. Both rulership and priestly functions contain shepherding responsibilities. A priest is an individual especially consecrated to the service of a deity as a mediator between the deity and his worshippers.

Note two passages of Scripture that confirm what we are being prepared for:

» You also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. . . . But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. (I Peter 2:5, 9)

» They sang as it were a new song before the throne, before the four living creatures, and the elders; and no one could learn that song except the hundred and forty-four thousand who were redeemed from the earth. These are the ones who were not defiled with women, for they are virgins. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These were redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb. (Revelation 14:3-4)

Both of these future positions help us focus on what we are to do within our calling now before the events of Revelation 5 and 14 occur. We must prepare to lead in the Kingdom of God. The world's approach to salvation focuses almost exclusively on being saved by confessing Jesus Christ as Savior. As important as that is, it pays little attention to any other purpose and responsibility attached to it.

However, this period prior to our ultimate admission into the Kingdom of God has a major purpose: to be prepared to continue serving God at a remarkably higher level of responsibility after Christ returns. We are being created into Jesus Christ's image, and leadership is what God is looking for in us. He does not need to see us leading vast numbers of people, but He wants to see leadership in spiritual growth as we overcome our carnal natures.

How? We are to be living sacrifices, deliberately choosing to allow ourselves to be transformed into the image of Jesus Christ through obediently following His way of life. If we lead others in this life, it is primarily by example, as we are not forcing God's way on others.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Leadership and Covenants (Part Four)

Revelation 7:3-8

Some contend that there are two groups of 144,000, one in Revelation 14, the other in chapter 7. Apparently, the idea is that the ones in chapter 7 are physical Israelites that are the seed of physical government for the Millennium, and the 144,000 in chapter 14 are the bride, the firstfruits, the elect of God.

First, we must ask why God would see a need for physical rulers when He has prepared 144,000 humans-turned-spirit beings to rule as kings and priests? Isaiah 30:21 shows that they will be visible and audible to humans.

We can ascertain the truth of the matter simply by defining the "sealing" of those in Revelation 7. We will see that sealing has to do with protecting and setting aside for special use.

In II Corinthians 1:22, Paul describes himself and the spiritual Israelites, the church, as being "sealed . . . and given . . . the spirit in our hearts as a deposit" (see also II Corinthians 5:5). In a real estate transaction, earnest or "sincerity and serious intent" money is put down ahead of time. If the buyer fails to finish the purchase, he loses the money. Spiritually, God gives us "earnest money" in the form of the Holy Spirit. He buys, redeems, or purchases us with Christ?s blood, which seals us or designates us as His. The Holy Spirit and the mind of Christ in us are the evidence of this, recognizable to Him and others. God completes the transaction when He returns and changes us into spirit as members of the God Family and co-heirs with Christ (John 3:6; I Corinthians 15:42-55).

Ephesians 1:13-14 combines sealing, as in Revelation 7, with redemption, a characteristic of the 144,000 of Revelation 14:

In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, which is the guarantee [earnest, KJV, NKJV margin] of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.

Here, "sealed," "earnest," "redemption," and "purchase" are all included in one passage, showing they are inseparable! There is only one group of 144,000!

Ephesians 4:30 makes the same connection, showing we are "sealed [protected, set aside or apart] for the day of redemption" by the Holy Spirit. Hebrews 9:11-15 shows the redemption from our sins is of Christ so that we can "receive the promise of eternal inheritance," which occurs at the return of Christ (Luke 21:27-28).

The time element of Revelation 7 is the sixth seal and the day of Christ?s wrath (Revelation 6:12-17). The angels are instructed to hold back opening the seventh seal and seven last plagues until the sealing of the 144,000 is complete (Revelation 7:1-3). The last two to be sealed, set aside, given the final stamp of approval may be the Two Witnesses, who die only three-and-a-half days before Christ returns. God resurrects them to meet Christ in the air with the 143,998 others who form the bride and government of Christ, the mother for the rest of humanity, who will then have the opportunity for salvation in their order.

The sealing is not just physical protection of 144,000 physical Israelites. The Bible clearly defines sealing as being of the Holy Spirit of promise toward inheritance of the promises. This includes the patriarchs and all true Christians right until Christ returns. Notice they are called "the servants of our God" (Revelation 7:3). God does not use this term lightly in the Bible. Could we legitimately classify 144,000 people who had just endured the Tribulation because of sin, barely surviving and not yet converted, "servants of our God?"

Those who survive into the Millennium will be humbled and ready to become converted, not already converted and ready to rule. That opportunity is reserved for those who have already proved themselves worthy to rule, servants of God, the firstfruits.

Why are they numbered by tribe? Because the apostles rule over the twelve tribes (Matthew 19:28), and as we see in Revelation 21, twelve is the governmental number of the bride. Whether we are physically of Judah, Gad, Asher, or whatever tribe is not important. Very likely, God places us spiritually in those tribes as He organizes His government.

We know this because the twelve apostles were not all physically from the tribes they will rule! They were apparently mostly of Judah, Levi, or Benjamin. Since there were several sets of brothers among the Twelve, it is impossible that all twelve tribes could physically be represented, so Christ will place them over whichever tribe He chooses. He will do the same with us.

Staff
Who Are the 144,000?

Revelation 7:9-17

Revelation 7:1-8 describes the 144,000, then verse 9 begins with "after these things." This is simply a time marker in John's vision, not in prophetic time. It means afterward, later, John saw an innumerable multitude. The Greek does not say that the events of Revelation 7:9-17 immediately follow or that they are part ofthe preceding information—only that John received this information after the previous information. Perhaps it could follow right after, but the Greek does not require it.

John says "no one could number" this multitude (verse 9). Why? Notice that this multitude is comprised "of all nations, tribes, peoples and tongues."That would seem to be a great many people! The context indicates a large number, not just an indeterminate one.

John sees these people "standing before the throne and before the Lamb"—not with Him on the throne ruling, but before the throne in judgment. Remember, judgment occurs over a period of time. The firstfruits have already been judged and have risen at Christ's return, so this multitude has to be people in a different group who are judged later.

Revelation 3:21, written directly to Laodicea, says God grants overcomers the reward of sitting with Him on His throne! Thus, they have qualified to be in the first resurrection, having been judged to be worthy now (I Peter 4:17). We have already seen that whether we die in Christ or are still alive, we are "changed—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet" (I Corinthians 15:51-52) as firstfruits. None of those in the first resurrection will stand "before the throne" for judgment when He returns, for we are currently under judgment, which God will complete and reward us at His Son's return (Revelation 11:18).

This multitude, then, cannot be in the first resurrection! In the process of judgment, they have donned white robes, a growth in spirituality that takes considerable time.

Staff
The Innumerable Multitude

Revelation 14:3-4

These are the "redeemed from the earth." The Bible uses the name "redeemed" to describe those whom Christ's blood delivers from sin, purchasing them from death (Hebrews 9:12-16). Since these are the only ones who can sing the new song, they are the only ones redeemed from the earth at that time. Any others who are saved must be saved later. They "follow Christ" everywhere, being the bride with her Husband, ruling on earth.

Staff
Who Are the 144,000?

Related Topics: 144,000 | Bride of Christ | The 144,000


 

Revelation 14:4

This verse states unequivocally that these 144,000 are "firstfruits to God and to the Lamb." Can God count? If these 144,000 are God?s firstfruits, then no one else is included. The firstfruits are exactly 144,000, not one person less or one more! These numbers are consistent with the "thousands" and "tens of thousands" added together from the Old and New Testaments (Deuteronomy 33:17; Song of Songs 5:10; Acts 21:20). As Christ says, "Many are called, but few chosen" (Matthew 20:16).

Staff
Who Are the 144,000?

Revelation 14:4

The 144,000 are called "virgins." Some have seriously thought these are people who never had sexual intercourse! II Corinthians 11:2, however, supplies a more satisfying answer. The Corinthians had come out of as sexually active and perverted a culture as any in history, but Paul says that his goal was to present them "as a chaste virgin to Christ." Ephesians 5:24-26 shows the people of the church, defiled by sin, becoming unspotted, unwrinkled, holy, and without blemish. Similarly, using Israel as a type, Ezekiel 16:9 shows Christ cleaning up His bride. Cleansed sinners comprise the 144,000, and they are designated as "virgin."

Staff
Who Are the 144,000?

Revelation 14:5

Verse 5 shows that the judgment of the 144,000 is complete; they have already "passed under the rod." Judgment is now on the house of spiritual Israel (I Peter 4:17). Christ comes back to reward the prophets and saints; their judgment will have been decided by the time He returns and changes them "in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye" (I Corinthians 15:52). He will sit in judgment only of those remaining alive (Revelation 11:18; 20:4-5).

Staff
Who Are the 144,000?


 




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