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CHAPTER 16: THE 144,000

After our study of the beast, the devilish nature of the beast, and the meaning behind his number,  the next subject we need to investigate is the 144,000 (144K).  Who are the 144K?  What has been written about them?  What is their role in God's salvation plan?  Are the people who compose the 144K all dead?  Is their ministry yet to come or did their ministry start in ancient times? Is their ministry going on today?  Are people today being added to the ranks of the 144K?  Much has been written by various denominations and false cults concerning the 144K.  Let's look at some common beliefs.                              

The 144K are first mentioned in Revelation 7: 4-8 and a second time in Revelation 14: 1-5.  Some claim that the 144K is a symbolic number that represents the entire body of believers both Jew and Gentile.  If this is the case then why are the various Old Testament tribes (minus Dan) mentioned?                        

Others claim that the 144K are only the "first fruits to God and to the Lamb", meaning that they are the "top lieutenants" in Christ's army over the past 2000 years.  They are the ones who have led revivals and started missionary movements.  People like John Huss, Martin Luther, and Billy Graham could be in their ranks.  The question still remains: why mention the Israelite tribes?                

We need to know what the Bible has to say about the 144K.  We first read about them in Revelation 7:4:                

"And I heard the number of those who were sealed,   144K, of all the tribes of the children of Israel   were sealed."                       

Just after the Second Coming of Christ (Rev. 6:12-17 and Rev. 19: 11-16) and just before various plagues are unleashed, a total of 144K JEWISH believers in Christ will be sealed by God's spirit.  What will this seal look like?  In Revelation 14:1 John says that God, spiritually speaking, will write His name on their foreheads indicating that all of those people are His.                             

In Revelation 7: 5-8 the patriarchal tribes are mentioned.  Not only will these people be professing Jews, but they will also be ethnic Jews.  That is to say that any one of them, at least theoretically, would be able to trace their family history back to one of those tribes.  Only the tribe of Dan is leftout.  The half-tribe of Manasseh is presented as one tribe and the half-tribe of Ephraim is given the name Joseph.  Twelve thousand ethnic Jewish males from each of these twelve tribes equals 144K.                                   

What does the Bible tell us about this sanctified class that we call the 144K?                    

*  They will be ethnic Jews who are decendants of      Jacob.                        

*  They will be in a right relationship with Jesus.               

*  They will be males.                     

*  They will be virgins. (Note for a moment that the      word "virgin" most likely isn't being used the way     we use the term.  "Virgin" here could mean that      they were men who were born-again.  They found      salvation in Jesus and their sins were washed      away.  They are virgins in the spiritual not necessarialy  the physical sense.)                  

*  They are called the "first fruits" to God and to the Lamb.                       

How are we to understand all of what the Bible says about the 144K?  Specifically what is meant by "first fruits"?  Much has been written about Revelation 14:4.  Some might conclude that the 144K are the number of the first 144K Christians to convert - exactly 12K from each tribe.  This doesn't work because many of the first Christians were Gentiles.  We are told that Simon was a Canaanite (Mark 3:18).                                

Personally I believe that this group of believing ethnic male Jews were set aside and given a special anointing for a special task that goes beyond them just becoming "born-again".  Consider for a moment some of the extraordinary lives of faithful Jews found in the Bible.  Moses was a deliverer, Samuel was a prophet, David was a king, Daniel was a prophet in a king's court, Gideon was a general, Jeremiah was the "weeping prophet", Mordecai helped Esther save her people from Haman, Paul was an evangelist (Paul uses the term "first fruit" in Romans 11:16).                                    

Indeed the Bible mentions the tribal origins of each of those men.  Moses was of the tribe of Levi.  Samuel was from the half-tribe of Ephraim.  David, Daniel, and Daniel's three friends from the tribe of Judah.  Gideon was from the half-tribe of Manasseh.  Jeremiah, Mordecai, and Paul were all from the tribe of Benjamin.                             

Yes we can conclude that the composition of the 144K is made up of Jewish men from different centuries.  Has God finished sealing all the members of the 144K?  Considering the present day ministries of groups like Choosen People Ministries and Jews for Jesus, is it possible that God is still adding Jewish Christians to this group?  Could it be that when the last Jewish male is sealed that shortly thereafter the end will come?  Only God can answer those questions.                                

One last thing needs to be said about the 144K.  One day I had a conversation with a Jehovah's Witness concerning the 144K.  She was taught that certain Witnesses will somehow "know" that they have become part of the 144K.  And that they will rule from Heaven over all the other Witnesses, the great crowd, who weren't good enough to become 144K members.  Note also that these 144K Witnesses aren't necessarily ethnic Jews or male.                          

Here's the truth.  No one, save God, knows who is in or who is not in.  We can only speculate.  Secondly once all of us get into Heaven, it won't matter who was in and who wasn't. We will be too busy worshipping and serving our Lord to worry about a question like that.                  

After the presentation of the 144K, we read in Revelation 7: 9 and 10:                      

"After these things I looked and behold a great   multitude which no one could number of all nations,  tribes, peoples, and tongues standing before the    throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes  with palm branches in their hands and crying out   with a loud voice saying, "Salvation belongs to our  God who sits on the throne and to the Lamb."                 

Wow!  What a vision!  There will be born-again believers, Jew and Gentile, from the 1st Century, the 10th Century, and the 21st Century.  They will come from all parts of the globe including the Americas, the towns and cities of Europe, the deep dark jungles of the Amazon and the Congo, along with the cities and towns of the Middle East, the Far East, and the Pacific Islands.                 

There will be prominant people and common people. There will be white and blue collar people along with home-makers.  There will be people who served Jesus faithfully over several years and there will be town drunks, prostitutes, and drug addicts who received Jesus in the closing moments of their wretched lives.                             

Every true believer, save those God choose to be a part of the 144K, will be a part of that great multitude regardless of race, education, wealth, time and place of birth or social status.                      

On that glorious day will be the ultimate family reunion.  I don't want anyone to miss it!

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