King James Version (KJV)
4And 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... There are still some misunderstanding surrounding this sealing. Shed some light.
144,000 AND THE GREAT MULTITUDE
BY TAYLOR BUNCH
THEIR TRIUMPHS AND REWARD
STUDIES IN THE BOOK OF REVELATION
TAYLOR G. BUNCH
In the vision of the four angels holding in check the symbolic winds of the earth till the sealing message has done its work, the prophet hears a voice giving the number sealed. "And I heard the number of them which were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel." Revelation 7:4. The following verses describe the sealing of twelve thousand out of each of the twelve tribes.
We must not forget that the sealing message is located between the breaking of the sixth and seventh seals, or just before the second advent of Christ. The prophecy under consideration, therefore, meets its fulfillment many generations after the dispersion of Israel, when the identity of the twelve tribes has long since become impossible. Even at the beginning of the Christian era, the tribes had so completely lost their identity that they were indistinguishable because of generations of intermarriage, captivity, and persecution.
The only conclusion possible is that our text applies to spiritual and not to literal Israel. While it is impossible for human beings to divide Christians into twelve divisions, according to their characteristics, Christ, the supreme Head of the church, knows where every member of His body belongs; and in the book of life, or family record, they are doubtless enrolled under the tribe or nation to which they belong.
The term "Israel" had its origin the night Jacob wrestled with the angel, when, because his character was changed, God changed his name from Jacob, the deceiver and supplanter, to Israel, a prince of God and overomer--one who prevails with God and man. (See Genesis 32:24-28.)
The terms "Israel" and "Christian" are therefore synonymous, for all true Israelites are Christians and all true Christians are Israelites, or sons of God. Of course, all who claim to be Christian are not Christians; likewise, all who claim to be Israelites are not princes of God, as Paul declared: "They are not all Israel, which are of Israel," and "he is not a Jew, which is outwardly:...but he is a Jew which is one inwardly." Romans 9:6; 2:28,29.
In Romans 11:17-26, the true Israel of all ages is represented as a tame and fruitful olive tree, and the Gentiles as a wild olive tree. Some of the natural branches, or the descendants of Abraham, were broken off because of unbelief, and branches from the wild olive tree were grafted into their place; these, partaking "of the root and fatness" of the Israel stock, yield the fruit of the tame olive, "contrary to nature." The conclusion of Paul's arguement is, "and so all Israel shall be saved."
THE TWELVE TRIBES
In his letter to the Galatian church, Paul declared: "If ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." Galations 3:29. He also stated that all who are now creatures in Christ Jesus are of "the Israel of God." Chapter 6:15,16.
That the church of Christ, even in its militant state, is divided in to twelve tribes, or nations, is evident from the opening statement of the epistle of James. "James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greetings." That the contents of this letter were intended for spiritual Israel and not for the Jews is evident even to the casual reader. The fifth chapter is essentially a last--day prophecy, and shows that the epistle was written for the special benefit of the church of the last generation, which would witness the return of Christ to establish His kingdom of glory.
The evidence is also conclusive that the church triumphant will retain this twelve-tribe division. In answer to Peter's question, "Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed Thee; what shall we have therefore?" Jesus answered; "Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of His glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel." Matthew 19:27,28.
The celestrial city, the New Jerusalem, through whose pearly gates will pass the redeemed of all ages (Revelation 22:14) regardless of their earthly nationality, rests upon twelve foundations on which are emblazoned the names of the twelve apostles who will reign as judges, or kings, over the twelve nations of overcomers in earth's warfare. (See Revelation 21,22.)
The saved of all ages are declared to be "so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the seashore innumerable." Hebrews 11:12. On the other hand, the final sealing message gathers and seals 144,000, divided into twelve companies of 12,000 each. Who are they? and what is their relation to the twelve apostles and the twelve tribes?
OCCUPY HIGH POSITIONS
This special company became qualified to stand next to Christ because of the trying experience through which they have passed in their warfare with the hosts of evil in the final desperate charge against the remnant of the church militant. (See Revelation 12:17) In ruling themselves and conquering sin, they have demonstrated their ability to rule. They have gotten the victory over every known sin, and are "without fault before the throne of God." But few saints in the world's history have ever reached such a high standard of perfection of character and knowledge of His truth. Their loyalty to the principles of God's government has been tested to the utmost, and is above question. They can now be entrusted with responsibility in the kingdom of Christ and of the twelve nations of Israel.
The Christian church began its history under the leadership of twelve men, who, during the ten days of prayer, study and confession of sin in the upper room, reached a standard of perfection in harmony with their perfection of faith. They had "the faith of Jesus." They were "of one accord" for the first time in their lives, and had gotten the victory over every know sin, so that they no longer grieved the Holy Spirit, who sealed them "unto the day of redemption." (See Ephesians 4:30) Since they were sealed for the kingdom, the Holy Spirit was given to them without measure, and Pentecost was the result. The early rain followed the upper-room experience that brought to them the seal of God's approval.
THE GREAT OUTPOURING
The early rain was but a local shower compared with the latter rain which is poured out on all flesh to ripen the gospel grain for the final harvest. The reaping message is to go to "every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people." (See Revelation 14:6-14) As twelve men were sealed for leadership by the Spirit in the beginning of the gospel proclamation under the early rain, twelve groups of men, of 12,000 each, will be sealed by the Spirit for Leadership in giving the Loud cry during the latter rain. As the 144,000 reach the standard of perfection of character corresponding to their perfection of faith, "the faith which was once delivered unto the saints," they are sealed for the kingdom, and go forth to give the loud cry that calls God's people out of spiritual Babylon and completes the gospel harvest. (Revelation 18:1-5.)
The 144,000 are declared to be "the first fruits unto God and to the Lamb." Revelation 14:4. In ancient Israel each farmer was required to bring the first sheaf of his crop to the sanctuary, and present it to the priest. This was called the "first fruits" of the harvest, and was dedicated to the sanctuary and the service of the priests, and was deposited "before the alter of the Lord." He was then privileged to put in the sickle for the final harvest. The "first fruits" was only a small part of the entire crop. (See Exodus 23:19; Leviticus 25:10; Deuteronomy 26:1-11.)
All the services of the Mosaic sanctuary were typical of the plan of salvation and the priestly service of Christ. The offering of the first fruits must have an antitype in the reaping of the final gospel harvest. "The harvest is the end of the world," declared Jesus. Just before the world-harvest is gathered and when it is "white already to harvest," a "first fruits" sheaf will be gathered and presented to the priest of the heavenly sanctuary to be dedicated to His service. The "first fruits" of the antitypical harvest are plainly declared to be the 144,000; this will be the first sheaf only of the entire gospel crop. In the type, the "first fruits" was not only the first in point of time but also in quality. The best of the harvest must be selected, or "the choice fruits." Thus the 144,000 are not only the first of the final harvest, but its choice fruits; for "they are without fault before the throne of God."
THE INNUMERABLE HOSTS
After describing the 144,000, the revelator continued; "After this I beheld, and lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; and cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb." Revelation 7:9,10.
Here is described the remainder of the final harvest. Their knowledge, experience, and tests of loyalty are far less than the standard reached by the 144,000, who are qualified for a special work as "kings and priests" unto God and the Lamb.
Just before the reaping of the vast harvest of the earth, the 144,000 or the "first fruits," are presented to Christ, the great High Priest of the heavenly sanctuary, and dedicated to a special service before the throne of God. "Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple: and He that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them." Revelation 7:15.
This in accord with the promise Christ makes to those who accept the Laodicean message, and are purified by it. "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me in My throne even as I also overcame, and am set down with My Father in His throne."
Surely the Lord holds out a glorious reward to those who accept the sealing message and reach the high standards required for enumeration in the special company who stand with the Lamb on Mount Zion, go with Him "whithersoever He goeth," and assist Him in the administration of the kingdom of glory. Is any sacrifice too great for such a priceless privilege?
Signs of the Times, May 3, 1927
Just got home from church Dimple. Man this is good stuff. Very, very, very good. The 144 thousand are considered the first fruits and they are apostles and descendants of the 12 tribes of Israel. We are a part of that great multitude that no one can number. Did I get it right?
who constitute the 144,000?
according to my research, these are the exact people sealed in the book of revelation 7 and an immediate answer to the question in revelation 6: the last verse. the 144,000 sealed are the first fruit, received the latter rain, pass through great tribulation, able to stand (7:1-8) witnesses of the earth in the last days... the great multitude carried the definition of 144,000, therefore, the great multitude has come out of the great tribulation.
summary of my statement:
144,000 is the immediate answer to revelation 6:17.
is being able to stand on the great day of wrath.
is sealed before the wind(tribulation) blow.
is God's end time church on earth.
is God's militant end time church.
is servants of our God.
Great Multitude is the great multitude are those who are able to stand and point to the same group.
is receives a more detailed description and is depicted as standing before God. The same
term "to stand" is used in 6:17 and 7:9.
is the " come out of the great tribulation".
is the end time church in heaven.
is God's triumphant end time church.
is the consummated end time church.
is "serves" God (7:15).
the remnant church in Revelation 12:17 and Revelation13:1-10
The central vision of Rev focuses in a special way on the church. Whereas Rev 12 starts
with the early church, stresses the church during the medieval period, and introduces the end
time remnant. The following two chapters focus specifically on the end time people of God
and their fate.
Rev 12:17 talks about the remnant. Rev 13:1-10 follows and mentions the saints which
are not involved in universal false worship. Rev 13:11-18, knows about a group not
mentioned by a specific name that does not accept the mark of the beast and does not worship
the beast or its image. In spite of the universal boycott and the death decree aimed at God's
faithful remnant, there is a group of survivors, who live with Jesus, the 144,000 of Rev 14.
Obviously the remnant, the saints, those who do not receive the mark of the beast and do not
worship the beast and its image, and the 144,000 are the very same group. The passages are
linked linguistically and structurally.
The phrase "to make war with/against" is found in Rev 12:17 and in 13:7. In 12:17 the
war is waged against the remnant. In 13:7 war is waged against the saints. Apparently, the
remnant of 12:17 and the saints of 13:7 describe the same group. Whereas the sea beast
reflects the beasts of Dan 7, the saints of Rev 13 remind us of the saints found in Dan 7.
Although the saints in Rev 13 seem to describe the end time remnant, nevertheless, they are
the continuation of the saints throughout Christian history as the remnant is the offspring and
continuation of the woman of Rev 12.
Rev 12:17, Rev 13:10, and Rev 14:12 are interwoven and describe the main
characteristics of the remnant appearing under different names.
Rev 12:17: Keep thecommandments, Testimony of Jesus
Rev 13:10: Patience, Faith,
Rev 14:12: Keep the commandments, Patience, Faith of Jesus
Summary of the characteristics of the 144,000
If it is true that the 144,000 and the remnant are the same group, then the characteristics
of the 144,000 mentioned in 14:1-5 are additional characteristics of the remnant, and the
characteristics of the remnant apply also to the 144,000.
1. Keeping the commandments (12:17; 14:12)
The remnant keeps the commandments of God and thus demonstrates their love and
loyalty toward their Lord. The most prominent of the commandments, next to the
commandment to love God and your neighbor, are the Ten Commandments. In the
introductory scene to the central vision of the Apocalypse (11:19) the Ark of the
Covenant already pointed indirectly to them. The observance of the commandments of
God includes the keeping of the biblical Sabbath anchored in the fourth
2. Testimony of Jesus (12:17)
The remnant has the testimony of Jesus. According to 19:10 this is the "spirit of
prophecy," the Holy Spirit that speaks through the gift of prophecy. In the parallel text
Rev 22:9 the word "prophets" replaces the phrase testimony of Jesus." The remnant
lift up God's Word and genuine manifestations of the gift of prophecy (1Cor 12:7-11;
Eph 4:11) including the book of Revelation that comes from Jesus and in which Jesus
testifies about Himself.
3. Patience (13:10; 14:12)
The remnant is characterized by patience or perseverance. In difficult times, they do
not give up, do not let go their relationship with God, and do not lose their hope in
Jesus' return that will take place soon.
4. Faith (13:10; 14:12)
Rev 13:10 talks about the faith of the saints. In Rev 14:12 the remnant are identified
by faith in/of Jesus. Of course, saints have faith in Jesus, and some interpreters
understand this expression in this way. Others suggest translating the phrase as
"the faith of Jesus" and understand it to reflect the Christian doctrine as contained in
the New Testament. In any case, the remnant holds on to Jesus and His doctrines
5. Property of God and Jesus (14:1, 3-4)
(a) Names of Jesus and the Father on the forehead (14:1)
(b) Purchased (14:3-4)
(c) First fruits (14:4)
6. No false worship (14:4)
(a) Not defiled with women (14:4)
(b) Virgins (14:4)
7. Followers of the lamb (14:4)
8. Truthfulness and blamelessness like sacrificial animals (14:5)
(a) Without a lie (14:5)
(b) Without a blemish (14:5)
9. Worldwide proclamation of the three angels' messages (14:6-12)
(a) Proclamation of the eternal gospel (14:6)
(b) Call to worship God by fearing and honoring Him (14:7)
( c) Announcement of the judgment (14:7)
(d) Worship of the Creator (14:7, 9-11)
(e) Appeal to separate from Babylon (14:8)
A Symbolic Number?
It is now quite clear that the 144,000 must be understood in a symbolic way rather than
in a literal way.
The immediate context is clearly symbolic (7:1-3) mentioning the four corners of the
world, the four winds of the earth, sea, earth, trees, and the seal of God. But also the extended
context, namely Rev 6 is largely symbolic, for instance, the apocalyptic riders and the martyrs
under the altar. The parallel passage in 14:1-5 must be understood symbolically. It tells us that
the 144,000 "have not defiled themselves with women." They are "virgins" and follow the
"Lamb." The group does not consist of unmarried men only. The term "woman" is a symbol
in Rev as is the term "Lamb." Therefore, symbolic language is also to be expected for 7:4-8.
The number is symbolic—12 times 12 times 1,000—and points to the fullness of the people
of God. The enumeration of tribes is very unusual. The tribe Dan is missing, whereas
Manasses should already be contained in Joseph. Ephraim is not mentioned, however, Levi is
counted. Judah is found in the first place and Benjamin in the last, forming a parenthesis
which encompasses the tribes of the Northern Kingdom. Such a list is not found
elsewhere in Scripture. Most of the twelve tribes no longer exist today. Therefore, it is hardly
possible to find 144,000 literal Israelites according to their tribes as listed in Rev 7 forming
God's end time people. However, the NT knows descendants of Abraham that are not literal
descendants (Rom 4:11-12) as well as a spiritual Israel (Rom 2:28-29; Gal 6:16).
Scripture portrays the 144,000 as God's special end time church. According to Rev 7
they are able "to stand" when Jesus returns. They are called "first fruits" which indicates that a
larger harvest will be gathered and that they are not the only ones to be saved. Since they have
followed the Lamb wherever it went and since they have not joined false worship they will be
with Jesus on Mt. Zion and before the throne of God in his heavenly sanctuary. We may not
be able to solve all the questions related to the 144,000 and probably this is not so important
either. More important is to live in such a way that we may be counted among them.
Clement welcome, who are your responding to.
Welcome Ahiezer, good to have you. Thanks for responding. This a really comprehensive research and will be read again and responded to accordingly.
Brian thanks and welcome to this forum. You are correct as Jesus said that He has other sheep that are not of the fold but He will bring them to the fold and there will be one fold and one shepherd. Praise the lord.
And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.
The 144.000 will have no rolle. They will be the last one's to get seal. They have stand faithull during the MARK OF THE BEAST. The large multitude is the those who have die from Adam to the last faithfull how have die in Jesus Christ, and those that have die onder the three angels mesage.
i disagree to you sir!
according to revelation 6 the last verse..is the question to be answered immediately and the the chapter 7 of the same book answered it. so therefore, the 144,000, the great multitude and the remnant church are all alive. they are the ones sealed before the winds blow.
it is only my thoughts!