Revealing Revelation – The 144,000

19Feb11

Revelation 6:17 for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand

This question ends the section on the sixth seal. Who was going to be able to stand against this onslaught of judgmental tribulation? But before the days of chapters and verses, the answer is immediately give. The answer also provides more evidence that the seals are not actual actions, but rather warnings of the coming judgment, something akin to the sentence being handed down.

Rev. 7:13 After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth, that no wind might blow on earth or sea or against any tree. [2] Then I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, with the seal of the living God, and he called with a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm earth and sea, [3] saying, “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.

The automatic question when someone reads this passage from the point of view of the first century fulfillment is what is to happen with the “innocent” believing Jews and Christians living in Jerusalem at the time of the assault? Will they just be peripheral damage? The answer is given above, and as we will see, proven out in history.

Before the events in question begin God will send out His angels to seal those that are His on their foreheads. He gives His own a “mark.” More will be made of marking and sealing later in our discussions, but note hoe this is obviously a symbolic gesture, and nearly all agree on this, while later in Revelation many demand a literal, physical mark to be placed on those who follow the Beast.

Jerusalem has come under a judgment of destruction twice in it’s history. The first was at the hands of the Babylonians and the second was in the first century at the hands of the Romans. Please note how Ezekiel describes the protection of those that were a remnant for God in Israel at the time of the Babylonian invasion. Ezekiel is asking the same question John asks at the end of chapter six.

Eze 9:8 And while they were striking, and I was left alone, I fell upon my face, and cried, “Ah, Lord GOD! Will you destroy all the remnant of Israel in the outpouring of your wrath on Jerusalem?”

Ezekiel, too, wondered aloud about those who were faithful as the coming Babylonian invasion grew bloody and destructive. But note in the passage below how God dealt with those that were His, His remnant.

Eze 9:5 And to the others he said in my hearing, “Pass through the city after him, and strike. Your eye shall not spare, and you shall show no pity. 6 Kill old men outright, young men and maidens, little children and women, but touch no one on whom has the mark.

Note how God’s punishment of the wicked knew no age or gender, but only those that were His. This could lead to an interesting discussion on the so-called “age of accountability,” but that will be saved for another blog. The important thing to note is the God spared His faithful remnant by “marking” His own. The same is here in the passage in Revelation.

After the Lord has His angel mark those that are His we are given a more detailed description as to who they are. There number is 144,000 and they are called the servants of God. This is God’s “remnant.” The concept of the remnant is also not new as we find those that remain faithful to god throughout the Old Testament and even in Church history.

Elijah was told of 7,000 who had bowed their knee to Baal and God’s sealed or marked ones in Ezekiel are two obvious examples. The marked or sealed ones here in this passage would be those who were truly faithful and showed that by recognizing that Jesus Christ was their Messiah. There safety and escape will be detailed later.

But what of the number itself? Futurist argue this is some amazing evangelist group that will be made up of actual virgins and will be sent out to evangelize with great success without the aid of the Holy Spirit during the Tribulation time.

The number, though, best represents the full number of Jewish Christians who were faithful to God during the time leading up to the destruction of the city and Temple. They are members of the early Church in Jerusalem. The number represents a perfect multiplier of one thousand times twelve from each of the 12 tribes. This symbol notes how those that embraced Christ came from all different areas of the Jewish faith and represent the remnant from each of the original 12 tribes.

Rev. 7:4 And I heard the number of the sealed, 144,000, sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel

We also know from a passage later in Revelation that this group must be from the first century early Church in Jerusalem because of how they are identified.

Rev. 14:3-4 No one could learn that song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth. [4] … These have been redeemed from mankind as firstfruits for God and the Lamb,

These 144,000 are called the FIRSTFRUITS for God and the Lamb. If this is supposedly representing some group at the end of current age then they literally should be called the LAST FRUITS! But their identity as those who were among the first to embrace the truth of Jesus as Messiah demands an understanding of them related to the first century.

The entire church age is one long line of conversions and to state these were of the first of the fruits of the Lamb gives no other option. In fact, note how a similar term is used by James, who was the leader of the Church in Jerusalem, in his epistle.

James 1:1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,

To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion

He starts his letter by addressing it to the twelve tribes. But who are these that make up the twelve tribes. Later in the first chapter he explains who is audience is.

18 Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

Those twelve tribes in the dispersion are called the firstfruits. This is an identical parallel that simply should not be missed. And John doesn’t stop there, though, because he then shows us a picture of the Gospel expansion within the same context of the 144,000 Jews.

Rev 7:9 After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number,

The promised impact of the Gospel is beautifully pictured. This time we move from the 144,000 faithful remnant to the impact of the Gospel to every tribe, nation and people! But do not miss the point. It is only through God’s disowning, divorcing or no longer exclusively dealing with the Jews that allows for this great Gospel expansion.

Without this rejection of the apostate Israel the original promise to Abraham simply could not be fulfilled. What one people could not accomplish would be fulfilled by all the nations as the result of the finished work of Jesus Christ!

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