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Who Are the 144,000 - The Book of Revelation
Week 24, 2017
Anyone who believes in the atonement of the cross of Jesus is redeemed and will have eternal life. However, there is far more to our calling than just securing salvation. The Great Commission is to make disciples, not just converts. When we study the Lord’s teachings about the characteristics of His disciples, we may wonder if we know any. Being a disciple of Christ is not an easy life, but it is the path to the most fulfilling life we can live. This is a life of “growing up in all things into Him” (see Ephesians 4:15).
A disciple will discern the calling of the bondservant. Faithful servants can be elevated to being friends of God. Faithful friends can be elevated to being sons (and daughters) of God, eternal members of His household.
The sealing of His bondservants in Revelation 7 implies that there are so many that the Lord must hold back the winds of the earth until they are all sealed. This indicates that many are maturing and on the path to becoming the sons of God that Paul wrote about to the Romans—the whole world groans and travails for their manifestation. This makes the verses in
Revelation 7:4-8: understandable
And I heard the number of those who were sealed, one hundred and forty-four thousand sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel:
from the tribe of Judah, twelve thousand were sealed, from the tribe of Reuben twelve thousand, from the tribe of Gad twelve thousand,
from the tribe of Asher twelve thousand, from the tribe of Naphtali twelve thousand, from the tribe of Manasseh twelve thousand,
from the tribe of Simeon twelve thousand, from the tribe of Levi twelve thousand, from the tribe of Issachar twelve thousand,
from the tribe of Zebulun twelve thousand, from the tribe of Joseph twelve thousand, from the tribe of Benjamin, twelve thousand were sealed.
There are many theories about who the 144,000 are, and just about every school of eschatology has a different opinion. They are not likely to be literal Jews because all but two tribes disappeared, and there is hardly a Jew that knows what tribe they are from. Of course, God knows so we can’t totally rule this out, but it is more likely that the biblical tribes were prophetic models of these ones.
Before digging down into the meaning of this, we need to briefly address two somewhat popular doctrines that are stumbling blocks to understanding this group. The first is Replacement Theology. This teaching has the church replacing and assuming all of the promises made to the nation of Israel. The second doctrine seems to have risen to counter Replacement Theology. I call it “Replacement, Replacement Theology.” This doctrine asserts that the re-born nation of Israel will replace the church and assume the promises made to the church. Both teachings are erroneous and divert us from the ultimate revelation foretold in the New Testament.
The time between Abraham and Christ was about two thousand years. God dealt almost exclusively with the Jewish people during this time. From the time of Christ until now, almost two thousand years, we have had “the times of the Gentiles,” in which God has dealt almost exclusively through the Gentiles. At the end of the time of the Gentiles, we will not enter another time of the Jews, but rather the revelation of “the one new man”—the Jews and Gentiles united, as foretold in Ephesians 2:15.
What does this have to do with the 144,000? Could it be that these are not Jews or Gentiles but the “one new man?” If so, how does this fit with the narrative in Revelation 7? We will examine later in this study.
Some groups, such as Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that they are the 144,000 in Revelation Seven. That doesn’t make much sense because there are millions of Jehovah’s Witnesses. I discussed this with a number of Jehovah’s Witnesses and did not find any that believed that they were a part of this company in Revelation Seven. What they claimed to believe was that they expected were that these were the saints who arose at the end of the age who would walk in the power and authority that The Lord did when He walked the earth because they would so fully abide in Him. The Jehovah’s Witnesses that I discussed this with thought that their job as Jehovah’s Witnesses were to prepare the way for this great company.
Now Baptists can have many different opinions about such things among themselves, as can Catholics, or any other group, so I do not take the Jehovah’s Witnesses that I talked to as a reflection of what they all believe about this, but it was noteworthy to me that there were as many as I did find. When I told them about the miracles I had personally witnessed, and the growing number of people who now have signs and wonders following them, the Jehovah’s Witnesses I talked to got very excited, thinking that they great company was about to become manifest.
I also found similar beliefs among some Mormons I talked to. Like the Jehovah’s Witnesses, I have no idea what percentage of Mormons hold to this belief, but it seemed that it could be many. This confirmed in me what I had been shown as a young believer. I was told that as the Samaritans, who had errors in their beliefs, but were the most responsive to the Lord when He came, and to His gospel when preached to them as Philip did, that the groups like the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons that today have a mixture are going to experience great revival and salvation at the end of the age.
Even so, because there are so many different opinions about this 144,000 we will take another week to establish the roots of the biblical symbolism that can establish more clearly who this group is because of their great importance.
next week 25