The 144,000 of Revelation
Who is this group of people called the hundred and forty four thousand in the book of Revelation? Many people today believe these 144,000 are literal Jews, and the reason they give is that Revelation chapter 7 calls them 'the tribes of the children of Israel'. Let's take a look at the Bible verse in question ...
Revelation 7:4...'And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel.'
Those who believe these are literal Jews, also tend to believe that literal Israel is still the special chosen nation of God. But they have missed the clear Bible truth on this. We are given plenty of evidence in the Bible that tells us probation has closed on the nation of Israel. Not the individual people themselves, but rather the nation of Israel as the special chosen nation of God. Probation has closed on the nation as God's chosen.
Please see our page about ISRAEL IN THE END TIMES to learn the truth. Remember, Jesus Himself told the Jews that the kingdom of God would be taken from them and given to another (Matthew 21:43)
Not only have the Jews lost their position as God's chosen people, but the fact also stands today that a genealogist would be hard pressed to find even one vaguely pure descendant from the tribe of Gad, Asher, Naphtali, Manasseh, or Simeon - let alone 12,000! In fact, because these tribes were so thoroughly scattered around the world and assimilated by their host nations (Ezekiel 12:15), it is very possible even you have traces of Abraham in your bloodline.
So who are the hundred and forty four thousand, if they are not Jews? Well, the New Testament clearly tells us that 'there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for YE ARE ALL ONE in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.' (Galatians 3:28-29). Do you see this clear truth? ANYONE who has accepted Jesus Christ as the Son of God and have decided to follow Him are now God's chosen people. So are we who believe in Jesus, all part of the 144,000? No. Revelation gives us more information regarding the 144,000 ...
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'
Standing on Mount Zion with Jesus - Now many will look at this and say 'see, these are Jews, because they are standing on Mount Zion which is Jerusalem in Israel.' ... And here they make the same mistake that the Jews and the Apostles to some extent made in New Testament times. They are focusing on the literal, rather than the spiritual application. What did Jesus say to the woman at the well in John 4, when she said we should worship in Jerusalem? He told her in so many words not to focus on literal Jerusalem, because the Father seeks those who worship in spirit and truth. Jesus also told the Pharisees who were focusing on the literal, that 'the kingdom of God cometh NOT with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.' (Luke 17:20-21).
Jesus taught the people that the kingdom of God at this time is a spiritual one - until the second coming, when it would become a literal kingdom. So what is 'Mount Sion' in Revelation 14?
Hebrews 12:22 ...'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.'
John doesn't see the 144,000 standing on the mount in Jerusalem, Israel. He sees in vision, the 144,000 standing with Jesus in the HEAVENLY JERUSALEM. So this is a special group of Christians who have gotten the victory over sin through Christ and are 'symbolically' seen by John standing in heaven. And that is the special attribute of this group as we will see. They have been perfected by Jesus in this life. They are no longer sinning, because they have CLAIMED THE POWER OF CHRIST AND HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS, and are living sin free lives. This is the symbol of them standing on Mount Zion with Jesus. They have claimed a victory like no other people have.
Revelation 15:2-3 ...'And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God. And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints.'
The Father's name written in their foreheads - This group of Christians in the last days are the one's reflecting the image of God. They are full of the light and glory of the Holy Father in heaven. The name of God is IN their foreheads. Meaning their minds have been transformed into the likeness and character of God. To have the name of God upon us and in our foreheads, we must separate ourselves from all iniquity. We must forsake every evil way, and then we must trust our cases in the hands of Christ, who is our righteousness. While we are working out our own salvation with fear and trembling, God will work in us to will and to do of his own good pleasure. Yes, we must do our part, but it is God who must aid us, and sanctify us.
They sung a new song that no other man could learn - This group of people really do stand apart from the rest of the human race. And the fact that they sing a new song that no other man could learn, shows that fact.
"They sing 'a new song' before the throne, a song which no man can learn save the hundred and forty and four thousand. It is the song of Moses and the Lamb--a song of deliverance. None but the hundred and forty-four thousand can learn that song, for it is the song of their experience--an experience such as no other company have ever had. 'These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth.' These, having been translated from the earth, from among the living, are counted as 'the first fruits unto God and to the Lamb' (Rev. 15:2, 3; 14:1-5.) 'These are they which came out of great tribulation'; they have passed through the time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation; they have endured the anguish of the time of Jacob's trouble; they have stood without an intercessor through the final outpouring of God's judgments." (Last Day Events, p.268-269)
They are not defiled with women and are without fault - What does it mean to not be defiled with women? Well, a woman in the Bible represents God's professed people ... 2 Corinthians 11:2 ...'For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.' ... See also Isaiah 62:5 and Ezekiel 16:26-32.
So if a woman represents God's professed people. Then to defile ourselves with women, means to be defiled with apostate churches. And the 144,000 are the one's who are not defiled with any apostate church. How? Because as the verse also confirms, they 'follow the Lamb wheresoever He goeth'. This is a group of people who do not just follow the church leaders. They follow Jesus and Jesus alone, because He is their leader and they put their trust and confidence in Him alone!
'And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God.'
As mentioned above, this group of people have a special attribute that no other man has. In them there is found no guile and they are without fault before God's throne. Meaning they have been perfected by Jesus dwelling in them through His Spirit.
"All who follow the Lamb in heaven will first have followed Him on earth, in trustful, loving, willing obedience; followed Him not fretfully and capriciously, but confidently, truthfully, as the flock follows the shepherd." (Manuscript Releases, 14, p.93)
"A transformation has taken place, and you are a different man. You are not the same passionate man that you used to be. You are not the same worldly man that you were. You are not the man that was giving way to lust and evil passions, evil surmisings and evil speakings. You are not this man at all, because a transformation has taken place. What is it? The image of Christ reflected in you. Then you are bearing in view that there is a company to stand by and by on Mount Zion, and you want to be one of that company, and you are determined that you will form a part of that company. Let me read: [Rev. 14:1-3, quoted.] Why were they [the 144,000] so specially singled out? Because they had to stand with a wonderful truth right before the whole world, and receive their opposition, and while receiving this opposition they were to remember that they were sons and daughters of God, that they must have Christ formed within them the hope of glory. They were ever keeping in view the great and blessed hope that is before them. What is it? It is an eternal weight of glory. Nothing could surpass it." (Sermons and Talks, Volume 1, p.72)
The end time saints are not the ones who just 'believe' in Jesus, they are the ones who are living the faith OF Jesus ... Revelation 14:12 ...'Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.'
What Job does the 144,000 Do?
"Why were they [the 144,000] so specially singled out? Because they had to stand with a wonderful truth right before the whole world, and receive their opposition, and while receiving this opposition they were to remember that they were sons and daughters of God, that they must have Christ formed within them the hope of glory." (Sermons and Talks, Volume 1, p.72)
The 144,000 stand before the whole world proclaiming the truth that is in Jesus Christ. The 'everlasting gospel' message. The truth about THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF CHRIST. The truth about THE SABBATH DAY. The truth about the MARK OF THE BEAST. The truth about THE FALSE TRINITY DOCTRINE. The truth about SOUL SLEEP.
These, and many other precious truths are the hundred and forty four thousand to stand before the world and proclaim. But for these truths, they will receive great opposition from the world and the fallen churches, because the world and fallen churches have worshipped false gods that are not supported by the Bible. No, these saints proclaim the One true God and Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour ...
John 17:3 ...'And this is eternal life, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.'
"But the Lord will use in the accomplishment of His work means that we do not now see. He will raise up from among the common people, men and women to do His work, even as of old He called fishermen to be his disciples. There will soon be an awakening that will surprise many. Those who do not realize the necessity of what is to be done, will be passed by, and the heavenly messengers will work with those who are called the common people, fitting them to carry the truth to many places." (The Paulson Collection of E. White Letters, pp. 319)
The only Living Saints when Jesus returns?
Revelation 14 shows us that the hundred and forty four thousand are those who have been perfected in Jesus Christ. They are the ones who are able to pass through the time of trouble. They are the ones who will be able to stand without an intercessor through the final outpouring of God's judgments upon the world. And they are the ones, who inspiration tells us will be translated when Jesus returns, being the 'firstfruits unto God'...
"Soon we heard the voice of God like many waters, which gave us the day and hour of Jesus' coming. The living saints, 144,000 in number, knew and understood the voice, while the wicked thought it was thunder and an earthquake." (Early Writings, p.14-15)
"The 144,000 shouted, 'Alleluia!' as they recognized their friends who had been torn from them by death, and in the same moment we were changed and caught up together with them to meet the Lord in the air." (Early Writings, p.15-16)
"These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth.' These, having been translated from the earth, from among the living, are counted as 'the first fruits unto God and to the Lamb' (Rev. 15:2, 3; 14:1-5.) 'These are they which came out of great tribulation'; they have passed through the time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation; they have endured the anguish of the time of Jacob's trouble; they have stood without an intercessor through the final outpouring of God's judgments." (Last Day Events, p.268-269)
So does this mean that only 144,000 will be saved in the last days? No. There will be many more people who are saved in the last days. But the 144,000 are the only saints who are living at the second coming. You see, there is a time coming, when probation has ended, when Jesus will leave the heavenly temple to return to earth. During this time, those who are living will be living without an intercessor before God. Therefore, only those who have been perfected and are living without any sin will be able to stand through that time of trouble without an intercessor. This will be the 144,000, who are without fault before the throne of God.
There will be others who are saved in the last days before the end of probation, because one of the final messages to be given to the world, found in Revelation 18:4 is a call to God's people to COME OUT OF BABYLON. So there will be a coming out of the fallen churches of Babylon in the last days, and these people who come out and heed God's call will be saved. But Revelation 14:13 confirms ... "blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth.". And Revelation 13:15 confirms that those who do not worship the image of the beast or take the mark, should be killed. So those who have faithfully followed the Lord according to the light they had, but did not reach the perfection of the 144,000 - they would not be able to stand through the time of trouble, and the Lord will lay them to rest. For some, dying for the truth and for Jesus in the last days will be their purifying act.
So what will happen to the 144,000 when the beast kingdom seeks to kill them? ..."The 144,000 were all sealed and perfectly united. On their foreheads was written, God, New Jerusalem, and a glorious star containing Jesus' new name. At our happy, holy state the wicked were enraged, and would rush violently up to lay hands on us to thrust us into prison, when we would stretch forth the hand in the name of the Lord, and they would fall helpless to the ground. Then it was that the synagogue of Satan knew that God had loved us who could wash one another's feet and salute the brethren with a holy kiss, and they worshiped at our feet." (Early Writings, p.15-16)
Because the hundred and forty four thousand have been made perfect, God will protect them and they will see no death before Jesus returns. Hence the symbol of them standing with Jesus on the heavenly mount Zion. They had gotten the victory over sin through Christ, and the fallen churches will see this and be brought to their knees before them.
Is the 144,000 a Literal Number?
Even though Revelation is full of symbols and prophetic signs, when numbers in Revelation are given in a literal format, they tend to be literal numbers. Like the 7 churches and the 24 elders. Whereas the 1260 days/years is given in symbolic language, for example, Revelation 12 says 'time, times and half a time'. And Revelation 13 says 'forty and two months'. So two different formats for the same time. Yet the 144,000 is given in a literal format and are exactly the same in both Revelation 7 and 14. Plus we have inspiration to help us.
"The living saints, 144,000 in number, knew and understood the voice, while the wicked thought it was thunder and an earthquake." (Early Writings, p.14)
"John saw a Lamb on Mount Zion, and with him 144,000, having his Father's name written in their foreheads." (Review and Herald, March 19, 1889, Par.6)
Important Point: Even though we believe the 144,000 to be a literal number, this is not the important point to focus on. The important point to focus on is their attributes. Because whether there are 144 thousand or 144 million, the qualifications to be part of that number remains the same. And that is perfection in Jesus Christ.
We all should be striving to be one of the 144,000 and bring glory to God. Unfortunately, the majority would rather follow the crowd, or follow their church leader rather than follow Jesus. The first commandment tells us to give all our heart, soul, mind and strength in service to God. If we truly did this, and relied upon the power of Christ's transforming Spirit in us, then we could be counted in that number. Are you willing to surrender all to Jesus?