Revelation 7:1-4 states: "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. 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 four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads. 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."
Then the Scripture lists 12,000 from each of the following 12 tribes: Judah, Reuben, Gad, Asher, Naphtali, Manasseh, Simeon, Levi, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph, and Benjamin.
Now the main question is whether or not the 144,000 are actually 12,000 literal Israelites from each of these respective tribes. Twelve tribes came from the 12 sons of Jacob, but because Joseph was sold into slavery by his older brothers, he was separated from his family for many years. After Joseph finally reunited with his father, Jacob promised to compensate by adopting Joseph's two sons as his own, to be numbered with his sons in place of Joseph.
"Now thy two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, which were born unto thee in the land of Egypt before I came unto thee into Egypt, are mine; as Reuben and Simeon, they shall be mine." Genesis 48:5. Hence, Joseph would be numbered twice through his sons. So its not the literal 12 tribes, but the clue to it being a spiritual meaning to the 144,000 was the way in which the tribes are listed in Revelation 7:5-8. This is the only time in Scripture that the names of the tribes appear in this order. Reuben, the firstborn of Jacob, is listed as second while Judah, fourth in birth order, is listed as first. Joseph and Levi are included, while Ephraim and Dan are left out. Why?
Because "Dan shall be a serpent by the way, an adder [viper] in the path, that biteth the horse heels, so that his rider shall fall backward" (Genesis 49:17), and "Ephraim is joined to idols: let him alone" (Hosea 4:17).
I agree, the tribes are spiritual, just like the last Church is spiritual Israel, however the people are literal, the 144,000 is a literal amount of people, and the main ones to give the Loud Cry and gather the great multitude during the outpouring of the Latter rain.
Hello, Reasoning I agree with all you said except for the 144000 is a literal number. Looking at that list to me would tell me that the number is as spiritual as the list is.
Thank you brother Ian, I will post the study from Doug B. in regards to this particular subject, it's from Amazing facts, the book is called 'who will sing the song? Understanding the 144,000"
Doug B wrote: "Exactly How Many?
Now we can address the next big question: Is the figure 144,000 a literal number?
Perhaps I should answer that question with another question: Are the other numbers in Revelation literal or just spiritual?
For instance, will there be 12 gates and 12 foundations? Are there really 12 different kinds of fruit on the tree of life? Yes, of course! There are many prophetic time periods given in Revelation, but the numbers are not just nebulas numerical symbols—they are precise measures of time. The numbers would be useless for reckoning if they were merely symbolic. All of our understandings about the dimensions of the New Jerusalem are based on the assumption that these numbers have real literal value.
However, please keep in mind that though the number of the 144,000 might be exact, most people in the world might never know who they are or take a census. When Jesus walked the earth in Israel, it was no problem to count 12 literal apostles following the Messiah in the Holy Land. But the 144,000 in the last days are spiritual Jews—scattered across the circle of the earth leading in a magnificent revival. But they will not each be wearing a marathon running number.
Now you might be thinking, “How can you say that the names are symbolic and the number is literal?” Simple, Jesus did. It doesn’t seem to matter to the Lord what tribes the 12 Apostles sprang from, but it did matter that there were 12 of them. Also remember that while most of the numbers in Revelation depict a real value, all the proper names in Revelation are symbols (e.g., The Lamb, The Dragon, the Lion, Balaam, Jezebel, etc.).
The Number 12
In fact, the secret key to unlocking the mystery behind the 144,000 might be in the number itself. You mathematicians are going to love this section! Twelve is a perfect number for building, because it is one of the most versatile numbers. It can be evenly divided by 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, and of course 12.
An Amazing Fact
The reason there are 12 inches in the standard foot measurement is because the foot used to be based on the length of the English king’s physical foot, and that measurement constantly changed through various kings. This is also why a 12-inch measuring stick was called a “ruler.”
The number 12 in the Bible almost always represents leadership of the church. There were 12 patriarchs from Shem to Jacob. In addition, 12 spies led the way to the Promised Land, and there are 12 judges from Joshua to Samuel. In Scripture, the number 12 is also often associated with God’s church, which is typically symbolized by a woman.
There is also an interesting story in the Gospels concerning the number 12. In just one hour, Jesus healed two females with miracles associated with the number 12. First, He healed a woman who had been bleeding 12 years. From that event, He went directly to resurrect a 12-year-old girl. The first woman represented the Old Testament church with a continual flow of sacrificial blood. The young girl symbolized the New Testament church that came to life after a resurrection. They both touched Jesus that day and were made whole (Mark 5:25-42).
In Revelation 12:1, we read, “Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars.” God’s church pictured here has 12 stars above the head; these stars are a symbol of the inspired leadership of the church (1 Corinthians 11:10).
Another interesting clue related to the 144,000 is found in 1 Chronicles 27:1-15. Here we read that David’s army was comprised of 12 sets of 24,000, totaling 288,000. That’s two teams of 144,000.
First Chronicles 25 tells of a literal group of “24 times 12” Levities that were to lead in praise music of the temple—that’s two times 144, which equals 288. And of course, you have two times 12, or 24 elders on thrones around the throne of God in Revelation 4:4. This represents the 12 patriarchs in the Old Testament and 12 apostles in the New Testament!
In Matthew 19:28, Jesus says to the Apostles, “You who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” He then makes a promise to those who will come out of the last age of the church known as Laodicea, which means “judging the people.” “To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne” (Revelation 3:21). This is because the 144,000 live during the last age of the church and share the experiences of the apostles.
In heaven, it seems that at times there will be an expanding square formation around God’s throne. First, the Lord Himself sits on His throne. Outside His throne sit the four creatures, then the 24 elders in a square around them (six to each side), and then finally the 144,000 in a perfect square (36,000 to each side). The great multitudes of saved are the last group that surrounds the 144,000. The perfect and symmetrical math of this assembly is far beyond the fisherman who wrote Revelation.
As a final point of interest for our math majors, did you also know that in addition to the 144,000 being calculated as 12 times 12,000, it can also be achieved this way: 12 x 12 x 103 (or 10 cubed). In this way, you have God's kingdom number (12), God's number of completeness or wholeness (10, as in commandments), and God's number (3 as in Godhead). I think this might be another fascinating example of God’s perfect design.
Another reason for the number 12 is found in the breastplate worn by the High Priest bearing the 12 different precious stones. This reminds us that God’s church is made up of many different personalities all near to the heart of our High Priest. The Bible reveals the diverse temperaments that make up the 12 patriarchs and apostles. God chooses leaders of every type, that He might use them to reach all kinds.
Exodus 39:14 says, “There were twelve stones according to the names of the sons of Israel: according to their names, engraved like a signet, each one with its own name according to the twelve tribes.” These stones also appear identical to the foundation stones of the New Jerusalem, as described in Revelation 21:12,14: “Also she had a great and high wall with twelve gates, and twelve angels at the gates, and names written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: Now the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.”
For these reasons and others, I believe the number 144,000 is a precise figure. Just as there were 12 literal tribes in the Old Testament and exactly 12 apostles in the New Testament, and as the walls are truly 144 cubits thick, and as there will be exactly 144 different kinds of fruit on the tree of life each year (12 different fruits each month), there will be 12 times 12,000 apostles in the last days.
So let’s assemble the clues we have uncovered. In Scripture, the numbers 12 and 144,000 are associated with Judges, David’s army, praising priests, and precious stones. In the same way, the 144,000 are an army of judges and priests that Jesus values as precious stones." Doug B. Of Amazing facts
I agree with pastor Doug B. on this subject. How about you brother Ian? If you don't agree, why?
Thanks for your reply Reasoning considering what Pr. Bachelor said here I must consider the 144'000 as a literal number of a large crowd. I did try to find the article on AF site but I could not find it would you be kind to show the link, please.
Ian wrote: "Thanks for your reply Reasoning considering what Pr. Bachelor said here I must consider the 144'000 as a literal number of a large crowd. I did try to find the article on AF site but I could not find it would you be kind to show the link, please. "
Sure, no problem my brother...
However, there is another teaching in the SDA a Church as well, it teaches the 144,000 is only symbolic rather literal.
BRI wrote: "VI. 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.1 Judah is found in the first place and Benjamin in the last, forming a parenthesis which encompasses the tribes of the Northern Kingdom.1 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). Ekkehardt Mueller
So pastor Doug B. teaches the 144,000 are symbolic & literal, and pastor Ekkehardt Mueller teaches its just symbolic. I believe Doug B . teaches the same thing as EGW/SOP in that the 144,000 are definitely literal in far as being an exact amount of people.
Doug B. wrote: "Now you might be thinking, “How can you say that the names are symbolic and the number is literal?” Simple, Jesus did. It doesn’t seem to matter to the Lord what tribes the 12 Apostles sprang from, but it did matter that there were 12 of them. Also remember that while most of the numbers in Revelation depict a real value, all the proper names in Revelation are symbols (e.g., The Lamb, The Dragon, the Lion, Balaam, Jezebel, etc.)."
Thanks for your reply Reasoning. Yes, it is interesting how BRI can say a different thing to others. Its just as well it is not a salvific issue because if it was we would be in big trouble.
Thanks for posting that link.
I was following Pr Doug Batchelor until he threw in this:
"As a final point of interest for our math majors, did you also know that in addition to the 144,000 being calculated as 12 times 12,000, it can also be achieved this way: 12 x 12 x 103 (or 10 cubed). In this way, you have God's kingdom number (12), God's number of completeness or wholeness (10, as in commandments), and God's number (3 as in Godhead). I think this might be another fascinating example of God’s perfect design."
I know he's a trinity believer, and that's where he loses me, because the trinity doctrine is unbiblical, neither is it a synonym for Godhead. He seems to imply those two words mean the same things. Perhaps he can consider the speculative mathematical calculations but keep out the trinity falsehood, if it helps his argument.
Yes Dan the problem with the 3 persons in the Godhead, do you think the KJV is wrong when it says Godhead?
Rom 1:20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
Col 2:9 For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.
Act 17:29 Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's device.
please brothers, let's try to keep focused on the subject.
Brother Dan, I will repost what I wrote on another thread, because you didn't answer my questions in regards to the GODHEAD.
I think it gives a number otherwise we would think only 8 people would be saved as in the days of Noah.
Matthew 24:37-38 King James Version (KJV)
37 But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark,
The Bible does not teach that the 144,000 are to be the only ones saved in the last days.
Immediately after listing the tribes of the 144,000, the prophet sees that "a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands."
Now look at what is said:
Revelation 7:14-17 King James Version (KJV)
14 And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
15 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.
16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat.
17 For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.
One of the 24 elders gives the answer: "These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." and notice "and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.":
Hi brother Richard, I understand your concern, but it won't just be 144,000 living saints to be transformed in a twinkling of an eye, the great multitude of GOD'S people to be gathered from the fallen churches and the world will get caught up in the air as well.
Doug B. From amazing facts explains it good,
Doug B. wrote: "Only 144,000 Saved?
But then the natural thought is, “If this number is not just a symbol, will the 144,000 be the only ones saved in the last days—and if only 144,000 will be saved, what are my chances?” Lets do some simple figuring. If there are 6 billion people in the world when Jesus comes (roughly today’s global population), that would mean that 1 in 41,666 would be saved. It is still much better than the odds offered by most state lotteries, but it still offers a pretty slim hope of salvation!
But praise God! Though the 144,000 might be an exact number, the Bible does not teach they are to be the only ones saved in the last days. If we read on in Revelation 7:9, immediately after the listing of the tribes and the 144,000, the prophet sees “a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands.”
Then in verse 13, one of the 24 elders asks John, “Who are these arrayed in white robes, and where did they come from?” In verse 14, he answers his own question: “These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”
Now the Bible speaks of two great tribulations in prophecy. One was during the Papal persecution of the Dark Ages when millions of Christians were slain. But the pri- mary “great tribulation” must refer to the time just before Christ’s second coming as referred to in Daniel 12:1, 2. “And there shall be a time of trouble, Such as never was since there was a nation, Even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, Every one who is found written in the book. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, Some to everlasting life, Some to shame and everlasting contempt.”
Evidently, this great multitude who come out of great tribulation are converted under the preaching and influence of the 144,000. Shortly after Pentecost, the 12 apostles reached a great multitude, then there followed a great persecution (Acts 8:1). Shortly after the Holy Spirit is poured out on the 144,000, a great multitude will be converted and then comes the great tribulation. "
Doug B. from amazing facts, book called 'who will sing the song' Understanding the 144,000'
Reasoning; you can't have it both ways. Either is spiritual/symbolic or literal. To believe it is literal is a bit of stretch.