144000

Exploring Prophetic Mysteries

 With Daniel Speck 7.19.10

 

The 144,000

 

One of the most enigmatic and controversial subjects of the book of Revelation is the identity and purpose of the 144,000

 

After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth, so that no wind would blow on the earth or on the sea or on any tree. And I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, having the seal of the living God, and he cried out with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and sea, saying, “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees until we have sealed the bondservants of our God on their foreheads.” And I heard the number of those who were sealed, one hundred and forty-four thousand from every tribe of the sons of Israel. Revelation 7:1-4

 

The 144,000 appear again in the Apocalypse in chapter 14:

 

Then I looked, and behold, the Lamb was standing on Mount Zion, and with Him the one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His name and the name of His Father written on their foreheads. Revelation 14:1

 

These 144,000 are specified as 12,000 from each of the twelve tribes of Israel. A detailed description of them also marks them as a very special group of people:

 

These are the ones who have not been defiled with women, for they have kept themselves chaste. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. They have been purchased among men as first fruits to God and to the Lamb. And no lie was found in their mouth, they are blameless. Revelation 14:4-5.

 

Interpretations of the 144,000 has varied widely from the Church, to a special class of perfected Christians, to being symbolic of Israel, as well as other theories, some plausible and some ridiculous. Cults and Sects are fond of proclaiming themselves as the true 144,000, in the blind self-aggrandizement that false teachers and false prophets always fall into.  

 

 

The 144,000 are Jewish Christians

 

It is clear that the 144,000 are all Jewish. They are not a metaphor for the Church, but certainly, as Jewish believers in Christ, are a part of the Church. But they are a part of national Israel as well, and amazingly, because they have the full numbers of a full legal population of the all twelve tribes of Israel , they have the full authority and right to legally represent the entire nation of Israel. Hence, they can enter into a contract to fulfill it on behalf of all Israel, specifically concerning Eretz Yisrael, the Land of Israel. The 144,000 have the legal right to satisfy all of God’s requirements for the redemption of the nation of Israel and for settling the Jews in Eretz Yisrael permanently.

 

 

The 144,000’s part in the redemption of the Kingdom of the World

 

We see that the Seven Seal Scroll can be opened by the Lord Jesus because He has redeemed with His blood, people out of every tribe and tongue and peoples and nations. This multitude of people represents every nation on earth and so can give the Lord Jesus authority to be their legal representative, the right to break the seals, officially transferring ownership of the Kingdom of the World, which was lost in the garden of Eden, back to God and His people (Revelation 11:15). But all tribes and nations must be represented, which means that all the tribes of the nation of Israel must also be fully represented as well. The 144,000 fulfill the requirement to not only legally possess the Kingdom of the World, but also the Land of Israel.

 

Satan thus loses all claim on the Kingdom of the World he has had since the garden of Eden, and no longer has the legal right to walk around on the earth and into heaven as the book of Job shows him doing. At that time he becomes, “The house of him whose sandal is removed.” (Deuteronomy 25:10).

 

There is nothing left but to kick him and his billions of wicked trespassers out permanently.

 

 

The Church will produce the 144,000 during the Tribulation

 

The Great Multitude is the Gentile Church that has come out of the Great Tribulation. The fifth seal tells us that the Tribulation will be a time of martyrdom for the Church (Revelation 12:1, 20:4). “And God will wipe every tear from their eye,” tells us that they have suffered during the Tribulation and so complete the number of those who were to be slain for the word of God. The refining process of the Great Tribulation will produce two distinct groups of godly saints, the Great Multitude and the Jewish 144,000.  

 

 

The 144,000 are most likely young Jewish boys

 

The fact that the 144,000 are virgins, have never lied, and are blameless tells us that they are most likely young boys, not yet subjected to all of the temptations of the world. We also know that children can make a decision for Christ from a very young age. These Jewish males from every tribe of Israel may be the contribution that the persecuted Church makes to the redemption of Israel during the Tribulation. Rebecca, gave birth to Benjamin with her last breath, but in Jeremiah, God tells Rebecca to keep from weeping because her work will be rewarded and her children will return to their own land (Jeremiah 13:15-17). This prophecy may speak of the persecuted Church in the Tribulation, the Gentile Bride who gives birth to the first fruits and the foundation of the Kingdom of Israel, the 144,000.

 

 

The 12,000 furlong foundation of the New Jerusalem

 

The size of each side of the New Jerusalem identifies 12,000 number as being an important foundational number for the Kingdom of Israel. This gives us a hint at the purpose of the 144,000 (12 x 12,000). As fist fruits fully representing every tribe of Israel, they are the legal foundation of redeemed Israel and so can lay permanent claim to the Land on behalf of all Israel according to God’s requirements in the Law. This means that Satan and the Antichrist no longer pose any kind of claim on Eretz Yisrael and can be permanently evicted by the Lord Jesus when He returns.

 

 

Young Benjamin as a prophetic type of the 144,000

 

Benjamin was a boy, a virgin. The 144,000 are virgins, never knowing women

Benjamin was obedient to his father, Jacob and his brother, Joseph. The 144,000 follow the Lamb wherever he goes

Benjamin has no sin listed against him. The 144,000 are blameless

Unlike his 10 brothers, Benjamin is never shown to lie. The 144,000 will never have a lie on their lips

Benjamin was the brother most like Joseph. The 144,000 will be the believers the most like Jesus

Benjamin was a young man. The 144,000 will likely be young men

Benjamin was a Jew, one of the sons of Jacob. The 144,000 will all be Jews, sons of Jacob

Joseph would not reveal himself to his brothers until Benjamin was present. Christ will not reveal Himself to Israel and the Rapture will not take place until the 144,000 are present

Benjamin was the brother closest to and most loved by Joseph and Jacob. The 144,000 have an especially close relationship with God and the Lamb

The life of Jacob was bound up in the life of Benjamin. The life of Israel will be bound up in the life of the 144,000

Jacob was concerned for the safety of Benjamin and so was reluctant to send him. Concern for the safety of the 144,000 is assured by the seal of God on their foreheads

The cup of Joseph was found in Benjamin’s sack. The 144,000 will uniquely demonstrate a unique character and anointing from Christ Himself

Benjamin was to be made a slave of Joseph after the cup was found. The 144,000 are bond-servants of God

Benjamin was the offspring of Rachel, the bride whom Jacob loved. The 144,000 will be the offspring of the Church, the Gentile Bride whom Christ loves

Benjamin was the last offspring of Rachel and Jacob, the best and the last. The 144,000 will be the last offspring of Christ and the Church, the best and the last

Benjamin was the son of Rachel’s sorrow, a birth that she gave up her life for. The 144,000 are the sons of the Church’s sorrow, through the martyrs of the Great Multitude

The Lord tells Rachel not to cry because her work will be rewarded. The Church’s work for the conversion of the 144,000 will be rewarded and the Lord Himself will wipe the tears from their (the Great Multitudes’) eyes

Benjamin was the first good fruit among his 10 brothers. The 144,000 are first fruits of Israel to God and the Lamb

Only Benjamin received a special blessing from Joseph. Only the 144,000 may learn the new song

Benjamin came to Egypt later during the famine. The 144,000 will make their appearance lduring the later years of the Tribulation

Jacob and the rest of his household come to Joseph after Benjamin goes to Egypt. The nation of Israel will come to Christ only after the 144,000 come to Christ first

Benjamin came to live with Joseph permanently. The 144,000 are last seen on Mt Zion with the Lord

 

 

The 144,000 are sealed so they will survive the Tribulation until the Rapture

 

Revelation reveals that the seal of God on the 1444,000 protects them from the plagues of the Great Tribulation (Revelation 9:4) and evidently consists of the name of the Lamb and His Father (14:1). We then see them in chapter 14 with Jesus on Mt Zion (the heavenly one) singing a new song before the throne which only they are allowed to sing. This tells us that the Appearance and Rapture has taken place and the judgment is about to be executed on Babylon and the worshippers of the Beast (Revelation 14:6-12) as the 144,000 first fruits stand safely in heaven.

 

 

A revised list of the 12 Tribes of Israel

 

Ephraim and Dan are missing from the list of the twelve tribes that make up the 144,000, with Joseph and Levi substituted. It is not clear why this tribal makeup has been changed from that given in the Hebrew Scriptures, but some have suggested that since Ephraim and Dan led Israel into idolatry and idolaters are prohibited from being a part of the congregation, they were excluded. For now that seems like a good explanation.

 

 

144,000 “Evangelists”?

 

“Evangelists” is a common label many of the most popular prophecy teachers affix to the 144,000. The problem with this characterization is that nowhere in the text are they called evangelists or anything similar, neither are they ever described as doing evangelism. Even though many believers seem to be absolutely convinced about this assumption, this must be categorized as pure speculation. It is another of those teachings by pre-tribulation advocates which cannot be found anywhere in Scripture. The Church being raptured before the Tribulation leaves pre-tribulationists with a problem: Who is left to evangelize the Great Gentile Multitude of Gentile Christians who come out of the Tribulation? Well, apparently you can just call the 144,000 “evangelists” and that will solve the problem, but who evangelizes the 144,000?  Also according to most pre-tribulation advocates, the Holy Spirit is the Restrainer who will be “taken out of the way” when the Church is raptured. But how can evangelism and conversion occur without the Holy Spirit? It cannot.

 

 

Are the 144,000 alive today?

 

They probably are, but they must be evangelized by the Church before the Rapture takes place at the end of the seven years of the Tribulation. How exactly 144,000 young Jewish boys, 12,000 from each tribe of Israel will come to Christ is a mystery. The tribes of Judah, Benjamin and Levi are well represented and known today so that doesn’t look like an insurmountable problem. But identifying the other ten tribes of Israel doesn’t seem like something that is humanly possible at this time. As the Gospel goes out into the world, surely the other tribes of Israel are being evangelized unaware. Some sects have proposed that Britain and America are the lost ten tribes but neither the historical nor genetic evidence supports this at all. Some believe that the lost ten tribes came back to into Israel at some point (Luke mentions Anna of the tribe of Asher) and were mixed into the Jewish race so that today’s Jews represent all the tribes, but that theory contradicts the prophecies in the Hebrew Prophets which state that Judah and Israel will be reunited in the Last Days (Ezekiel 27:19-22). Certainly God will fulfill his plans perfectly so it will be fascinating to see how He accomplishes this.  

 

 

Summary

 

The 144,000 are Jewish Christians, most likely young boys, who will be led to Christ during the Tribulation by the Great Multitude. Just as Benjamin was the key to Israel’s redemption in the story of Joseph, the 144,000 will be the key to Israel’s redemption in the Tribulation. They are also a full and legal representation of the nation of Israel and so can provide the legal foundation for the redemption of Israel and the permanent possession of Eretz Yisrael by the Jewish people. They will be sealed with the Seal of God to protect them from the plagues of the Tribulation until they are raptured with the rest of the Church which will remain until the appearance of Christ on the clouds at the Seventh Trumpet.  

 

 

 © Daniel Speck 7.19.10

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