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Bible verses about 144,000
(From Forerunner Commentary)

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 7:9-17

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 of the 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?

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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