Author Topic: Who are the 144,000 in Revelation 7 and 14?  (Read 601 times)

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Offline RB

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Who are the 144,000 in Revelation 7 and 14?
« on: Mon Sep 20, 2021 - 04:50:23 »
Who are the 144,000 in Revelations 7 and 14? Do they refer to Jewish evangelists who live during the seven years of Tribulation as many popular commentaries seem to think?

No, they do not refer to Jewish evangelists. In fact, we KNOW that there will not be seven years of Great Tribulation, or that the book of Revelation is entirely about future events, (from our perspective...but future to John who gave us the book of Revelation)) after the church is raptured outthough it does touch on some aspects of the future is a given.

I am convinced that the 144,000 refer to the true “Israel of God” (Galatians 6:16; cf. James 1:1), which comprises all the elect of Christ throughout the agesfrom Abel to the very last one called out of this world. My reasons, in brief, are as follows:

First, the number 144,000 or 12 times 12,000 is clearly a symbolic number. Notice how the twelve tribes listed (Revelation 7:5-8) exclude Dan, but include Levi and Joseph. This suggests that we are not to understand the twelve tribes as referring literally to the twelve tribes in Old Testament history, for in the Old Testament census, Dan is always counted (e.g. Numbers 1:38, 16:42), whereas Levi is usually excluded (see Numbers 1:47) or counted separately (see Numbers 16:51, 57ff); and Ephraim is never called the Joseph, though Manasseh is once named as Joseph (Numbers 13:11; Numbers 1:32 speaks of Joseph as comprising Ephraim and Manasseh, v. 34). Some say that Dan was excluded because of apostasy or because the antichrist is expected to arise from her but there is no biblical basis for such a view.

Secondly, the 144,000 are said to be “the servants of our God” (Revelation 7:3) and those “which were redeemed from the earth… which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth” (Revelation 14:3-4). Who are these but Christians “redeemed… to God by [the] blood [of the Lamb] out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation” (Revelation 5:9; cf. 1st Peter 1:18).

Thirdly, the 144,000 is quite clearly connected to the “great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, [standing] before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes…” (Revelation 7:9). John heard that 144,000 would be sealed (v. 4), but after he heard the listing of them, he beheld and saw the great multitude from every nation (v. 9). Those who object to this connection by saying that John heard about a group of people but saw another group, should realize this is not the first time in this book, that something is described to John in some terms, but when he sees it personally, he describes it differently. In particular, in chapter 5, one of the elders charges him to behold “the Lion of the tribe of Judah” (v. 5), but when he turned to look, he saw instead, “a Lamb as it had been slain” (v. 6).

I believe these three reasons are conclusive in identifying the 144,000 with the redeemed throughout the ages. But why 144,000? Well, whatever else may be said about the number, it is clear that it is derived from the number 12, which I believe points to the church as the covenant body of Christ. This is why the Scripture speaks about twelve tribes when there are really thirteen tribes in the Old Testament if we consider Ephraim and Manasseh as one tribe each (as done in Revelation 7:5-8). This is also why the New Testament speaks about 12 apostles (being seed members of the New Testament church) even though, there are really thirteen if we include Matthias and Paul (excluding Judas and Barnabas). This is why when the Holy Spirit would have John know that the “bride of the Lamb” (Revelation 21:9) comprises the church spanning the Old and New Testament, a symbolic reference is made to the twelve tribes of Israel and the twelve apostles (see Revelation 21:12 and 14).

In short, whatever else may be said about the 144,000, we can be sure that it speaks of the redeemed from “all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues” (v. 9) as being united in one body or one church~namely the universal invisible church of God/Christ.
« Last Edit: Mon Sep 20, 2021 - 04:56:57 by RB »

Offline 4WD

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Re: Who are the 144,000 in Revelation 7 and 14?
« Reply #1 on: Tue Sep 21, 2021 - 07:07:17 »
I agree that the number 144,000 is a symbolic number. It is composed of 12 X 12 X 1000.  The number 12 denotes completeness while 1000 denotes a very, very large number, although not a specified count.

I think that the 144,000 and the great multitude that no one could number in Revelation 7 are two different groups. The 144,000 are said to be sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel.  And while NT Christians make up the new and true Israel, they are never identified as being from the tribes of the sons of Israel.  Also the great multitude that no one could number are said to be from every nation; the designation of nation is almost exclusively reserved for non-Jews.  Therefore I contend that the 144,000 make up the entire number of OT saints; a completed set at the time of John's writing Revelation. I believe the great multitude that no one could number represents the NT saints, a very large number but not yet complete at the time of John's writing.

And for what it is worth, I don't believe the 144,000 of chapter 14 represent the same 144,000 of chapter 7.  In chapter 14, the 144,000 now represents the entire company of the saved, the "redeemed from mankind as firstfruits for God and the Lamb" (v.4). The chapter ends with the God's wrath, the great harvest of the unsaved, those not of the 144,000, at the second coming of Jesus.  Here again, the 144,000 is a symbolic number representing the complete of the saved, the whole of the redeemed including both the OT saints and the NT saints.

Offline RB

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Re: Who are the 144,000 in Revelation 7 and 14?
« Reply #2 on: Tue Sep 21, 2021 - 08:57:45 »
I agree that the number 144,000 is a symbolic number. It is composed of 12 X 12 X 1000.  The number 12 denotes completeness while 1000 denotes a very, very large number, although not a specified count.
Those who attempt to read Revelation as a literal narrative must say that this means that only literally 144,000 Jews are converted. But this number is used elsewhere, and is understood as symbolic in nature. The root numbers of 144,000 are quite obviously the numbers 10 and 12. The number 10 and it's multiples (100, 1000, etc) are as you said the numbers of fullness. As demonstrated in the 10 virgins, or the 100 sheep with one going astray, or the 1000 years being as one day. They all signify the fullness of whatever is in view. And the number 12 is illustrative of the Congregation of the Lord, as seen in the Old Covenant 12 tribes of Israel, or the New Covenant 12 Apostles. 1000 times 12 is 12,000. That is the fulness of those children of God who are sealed. And of course, 12,000 times each tribe is 144,000. The perfect measured fulness of the house of God from all tribes, as also illustrated in the perfect City of Jerusalem.
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Revelation 21:16~"And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs. The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal."
Moreover, there are peculiarities that should readily alert us to the fact that this 144,000 is not the tribes of earthly Israel. First of all, we've seen symbolism all throughout Revelation, and why would God suddenly have this chapter to be curiously understood as a literal narrative, in the midst of all this symbolism? It makes no sense whatsoever.

Secondly, those sealed are said to be made up all the tribes of Israel, and yet all the literal tribes of Israel are not listed. This is because this is Spiritual Israel, an Israel in Christ, not the nation in the middle east. When we examine the census carefully, we find there are significant differences from lists in other places in scripture.

Thirdly, the number 144,000 is 12000 times the 12 tribes, signifying the measured congregation of the Lord's Chosen. 12 is the number of the Church, both seen in the Old and New Covenant. And each tribe here has "exactly" 12,000 sealed, which is yet another indication of the spiritual signification, as also seen in the City of God.
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Revelation 21:12-17~"And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates. And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof. And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs. The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal. And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel."
The City of God is not 12,000 furlongs by coincidence anymore than each tribe has 12,000 sealed by coincidence. The wall is not 144,000 cubits by coincidence anymore than those sealed of Israel are 144,000. These numbers are God ordained to signify the full measure of the Israel of God. This liberal use of the number 12 in Revelation illustrates this. Whether the 12 Apostles, the 12 tribes, the tree of life which bare 12 manner of fruit, the 12 gates, the 12 pearls, the 12 foundations, etc., these are spiritual significations of the fullness, for, and of, the body of believers. Not a literal city Jerusalem in the middle east, but a Spiritual Jerusalem in the Israel which is Christ. Not a worldly Israel, but a heavenly habitation of God. This Israel is also illustrated in revelation chapter 14.
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Revelation 14:1-5~"And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father's name written in their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps: And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth. These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb. And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God."
Here God tells us clearly who these 144,000 represent. The body of Christ are those who stand on Mount Zion with this Lamb and all have the Father's name written in their foreheads. All part of a New Covenant with Israel, which is not an earthly nation, but spiritual agreement or promise, which is something far superior. As also seen in Hebrews chapter 12.
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Hebrews 12:22-24~"But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, And to Jesus the mediator of the New Covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel."
This is the heavenly Jerusalem, the City of God which is 12,000 furlongs and the wall of which is 144,000 cubits. Quite obviously a Spiritual City made up of all those in Christ. Hebrews tells us, "this" is the City which those who are sealed have come unto. "This" is the Mount Sion that the New Covenant signifies, it's not just literally 12,000 each, or 144,000, but an innumerable company of saints. We are the Children of God. Jew, Greek, or Roman, we are all "one" in Christ. He has broken down that middle wall of partition which separated Jew and Gentile, and has reconciled both as one unto God. There is no separate New Covenant with an Israel of Jews and a New Covenant with the Israel of Gentiles, there is only "one" New Covenant, and one mediator, which is Christ! Hebrews chapters 8 and 9 make that abundantly clear, if we will receive it. It is the whole congregation of God.

Revelation 14 speaks of this Chosen people, these Children of God, this Israel of God. They alone sing the new song, and none but these can learn it. It is none but the Chosen of God who are the ones Revelation says were redeemed from the earth. By the New Covenant Redeemer, who is Christ!