Revelation is a hard book to understand if you don’t go into it with a humble heart. Don’t stick to preconceived notions or even try to defend what you think is right. Read the book to be guided to places you have never been and never even thought of. The best student of the bible is one who is open to the truths revealed, prays earnestly and reads with a humble heart that can easily be moulded. Because we can trust the bible. We can let it defend itself. And we can believe in what it says because it has been proven that all is for our ‘GOOD.’
This considered, I came across the 144,000 of the book of revelation and my mouth dropped. The very first time I read it, as a child, I was certain that only 144,000 people will be accepted into heaven. And, as a child, while I still believed there was some hope for me, I knew it would be a difficult task. I could already count many people in the bible who already had their seat in heaven. The Daniel’s, the Joseph’s, the David’s, great warriors of God, the prophets and even the many common people who truly believed. But I thought that this was right and that somehow, we were going to have to squeeze ourselves into heaven.
Thank God I was wrong.
How cruel would God have been to tell us the exact number and then keep the number so small.
No. The prophecy of the 144,000 is much more special than even I realised. Let me present to you all the text on this group and then I will give my opinion, humbly. I would love an opportunity to debate the ideas and hopefully help one another get more insight.
Revelation 7:1-8. The 144,000 And The Tribes
1And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree.
2And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea,
3Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.
4And 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 Isreal.
5Of the tribe of Juda were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Reuben were sealed twelve thousand. OF the tribe of Gad were sealed twelve thousand.
6Of the tribe of Aser were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Nepthalim were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Manasses were sealed twelve thousand.
7Of the tribe of Simeon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Levi were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Issachar were sealed twelve thousand.
8Of the tribe of Zabulon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Joseph were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Benjamin were sealed twelve thousand.
Revelation 14:1-5. The 144,000 And The Lamb
1And 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.
2And 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:
3And 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.
4These 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.
5And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God.
Now, the first thing that I noticed was the first verse of chapter 7. There were four angels about to do something but they were held back. Something else had to be accomplished first and this is the placing of the seal of God. The seal of God will be placed in their foreheads and also on their hands, but there is greater emphasis on the head in this case and even in chapter fourteen. Now, the seal of God is further emphasized in Chapter fourteen where it says ‘they were not defiled’ and they are ‘without fault’. Women, biblically, does not always mean an actual woman. And definitely, in the case of prophecy books like Revelation, the woman represents a church. The church of God is seen as a pure woman, consider Revelation 19:7-8, ‘Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.’ The church then is represented as a woman. And those who did not defile themselves with other women are those who did not follow the false beliefs of other churches, contrary to God. They are also without fault. Now, all these is quite impossible to do. We have to admit that from the moment of birth of a Christian, they are faced with many temptations and fall for many ruses. The bible also clarifies that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. So, how are they faultless? We are brought to the most important aspect of salvation. Jesus Christ! An elder in Revelation 7:14 points this out. ‘…These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.’ The seal of God must carry with it the truth of Christ. And this seal will be placed on the 144,000 of the tribes of Judah.
That was the second thing that I noticed. The tribes of Judah? Is the bible really saying that salvation is only for Israelites? Of course not, because the same bible says that salvation is for all peoples. This is further proven in the same book of Revelation just a few verses down when John gets to see another vision. A vision that finally puts the 144,000 and the tribes into perspective.
Revelation 7:9 The Multitude
9 After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands.
John says that he beheld and lo there was a great multitude which no man could number of all those who will go to heaven. They will come from all the earth and of all people. Reading this verse, I again asked myself what the point was for telling us about the 144,000. God must have had something he wanted to say and it has to do with the tribes of Israel. Confusing. And maybe the number is just spiritual or heavenly-action or promise-oriented and not something that man can understand. Then I noticed something weird. In verse 4 of chapter seven, he says that he heard the number , he didn’t see it. But then in verse 9, he clearly sees the multitude, having been brought forward in time. Which means he couldn’t see the 144,000 because they are not an actual physical number. Later on in chapter 14 he sees them now. But he sees something added as well. A lamb. And the 144000 with the name of God written in their heads. This means that he sees them with the seal of God already put on them. Now, I started turning between the chapters and the chapters within to understand what it means. I came to the conclusion that a certain amount of time had passed between these two visions. The seals were now set, the people were already judged across the earth and proof of that judgement could be seen in heaven already. So, are the 144,000 in heaven? No. Once again it is a spiritual or heavenly-action or promise-oriented number because verse 2 of chapter 14 clarifies that it is not physical again. Here he hears the voice of harpers and he also hears the voice from heaven. I started distinguishing places in the book of Revelation where John says he hears and he sees. Shockingly, the power of God was impressed on me. God was with the prophecy, following, guiding and speaking, from the very moment John was in vision. I also learned that it is significant, what he sees and what he hears. There are certain things even John could not see or understand, particularly God speaking, and there are actual times when it pointed to an understanding separate from the physical. So we end up back at my belief that the number is a spiritual or heavenly-action or promise-oriented number and not physical. The best proof of this is the fact that The Three Angel’s Messages, which I covered already, comes immediately after the verses mentioned in Chapter 14 proving that man is still on earth.
So, what is the significance of the tribes? The number clearly represents the sealed of God while still on earth, proving that a time will come when many will outrightly reject the gospel while others cling to it. Many call this time, ‘the end of probation.’ But I am not certain of that subject enough to speak on it. But, back to the tribes. Are they important? Yes. God is very loving and he puts information in the bible that will help us in our trusting of him. I choose to see the number in all the three ways presented. First, Spiritually; There is a mark that will be placed on all of us. And who is incharge of it? God. So that no one will doubt Him and which further proves that the judgement already took place. People are shocked with this idea, but I absolutely believe that the judgement has already taken place. All are already judged. Why else would Jesus say in Revelation 22:12, ‘And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.’ We are already judged and our gifts already set and, after Jesus comes, there will be no more judge and jury but simply an acceptance of the actions of your life. Jesus himself says that some will rise to life and others to death. Daniel 12:2, ‘And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.’ This means that a relationship with God is vital as pointed out in John 4:24, ‘God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in Spirit and in truth.’ The spiritual aspect of our salvation is crucial. We cannot say we are saved and continue in our old ways, exposing our spirit to the evil of the world. We must turn away from the world by avoiding the entertainment of the world, the practices of the world and the believes of the world that damage our spirit, our relationship with God. We must also build that relationship through prayer, bible study like crazy, and faith in Jesus. And who will help us? God, because he already knows the exact spiritual number of the sealed.
Second truth of the number is that it is heavenly-action based. There are things happening in heaven. The angels, the elders, the beasts, Jesus and God are not just sitting around waiting for the time to pass by. Jesus is involved in intercession and temple work as is evident in the very popular verse of Daniel 8:14, ‘And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days: then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.’ Counting the dates of the prophetic numbers leads you to the year 1844, which has long past. It is clear that nothing to otherworldly happened on that day, proving that the action was in heaven. On earth it allowed for the final establishment of God’s true word and the creation of God’s final church. Just like the disciples and the protestants before them, this church had truths awakened in it by God himself and was set aside for God’s purpose. That is why the Seventh Day Adventist church is the only one that can defend itself before God because it follows the bible. Other than that we couldn’t see the heavenly sanctuary and likewise the actions of the sealing are not in our view. The seal therefore will not be physical like a tattoo, barcode, inserted chip, anything we eat or drink, a country, a manner of dressing or even a skin colour. The seal is only visible to God and his angels, not us. The action of sealing likewise can only be done by the heavens and not mankind. Don’t go to anyone so that they can place the seal on you or believe that any man has the ability to guarantee heaven for you in any way. Pray to God alone.
The third truth which I absolutely love most of all is the Promise-oriented view. Abraham was given a promise and God made it a point to repeat the promise to him several times.
Genesis 12:2, 15:5, 17:4,7 Promises To Abraham
2And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing.
5And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be.
4As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations.
7And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to they seed after thee.
This is powerful stuff. Abraham was given a promise that he will be the father of many nations because he believed and had faith in God. God placed a covenant with Abraham that HE would be his God forever. And this covenant would be spread on to all the generations that come from Abraham. There are many other promises that God spoke that are so precious for us to think on. Did Abraham succeed? Yes! In many ways he might have lost faith but God is a God of Grace and Abraham passed when he was willing to sacrifice his only son for the love he had for God. Very few people can do that now and many people make fun of the great act by this great man when it must have taken great strength from Abraham. Was God truthful? Definitely! Isaac came along and then Jacob and then the twelve tribes and then a nation and then Mosses and then the conquering of their promised land and then the kings, the prophets and even to this day God was faithful to Abraham. But there is more to the promise of Abraham, otherwise we would say only the Jews can be saved. Many people are divided on racial lines when God never noticed race and even the people of old never noticed race. There is no superior race or inferior race, we are all the same in our heart and in our mind which are the things that God sees. The physical appearance has been a stumbling block for people and in it, like Solomon said, is all vanity. The truth is only with God and he does not respect any particular groups or people as these verses will prove. Galatians 3:28, ‘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. John 3:16, ‘For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.’ Therefore the promise of Abraham is as Paul describes it in Romans 4:16, ‘Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all,’ for everyone. Paul wasn’t speaking to Jews or Israelites but to Romans, proving that we all, who believe in Jesus, became part of the great covenant of God. Does God prove this? Yes! The seals are given according to the tribes that resulted from his great promise; the tribes that formed the great nation of God as we will form in heaven. God is faithful almost to a fault because the imagery he uses is absolutely beautiful. He numbers us among his great promise, in his great covenant, no one is outside of God’s love once saved; we all are part of the tribes of God from Abraham. How wonderful! We can rest assured in our position of favour in heaven.
God is very truthful, God is very loyal, God is very faithful and he emphasises this beautifully in the number 144,000. It is not an actual number since all those who enter heaven will be impossible to count, an entire multitude. And also, no one will enter heaven who isn’t sealed in the mind and hand. But it does represent God’s care for his truth and his name. He will spiritually place a seal on us and the sealed are represented by the 144,000. It also represents the actions in heaven of placing the seal proving that the seal is not an earthly, visible or physical thing but only achieved by God. And most beautifully, the seal of God makes us part of his great covenant to Abraham. As part of his great promise, he will always be our God because we are part of Abraham’s seed and the tribes of promise.
I pray that we will all come to experience the true love of this God. I know I am eternally grateful that he is with me as with the promise he gave Abraham. He is my God and he will keep me and us all for all eternity. Amen.
There is something else that I found interesting that I should point out now. When Jacob, Israel, was about to die, he gathered up all his children and pronounced blessings on them. They are very powerful blessings and characters of the tribes of Israel that I wanted to, also, help us understand the love of God in using the tribes. Of course it doesn’t mean that we must act or believe in specific blessings, follow only the truth of God which is love. But I feel there is a hidden scriptural and spiritual truth to these blessings that I haven’t yet known. Please feel free to weigh in.
Genesis 49:2-28 The Blessings To The Tribes
2Gather yourselves together, and hear, ye sons of Jacob: and hearken unto Israel You father.
3Reuben, thou art my firstborn, my might, and the beginning of my strength, the excellency of dignity, and the excellency of power:
4Unstable as water, thou shalt not excel: because thou wentest up to thy father’s bed: then defiledst thou it: he went up to my couch.
5Simeon and Levi are brethren; instruments of cruelty are in their habitations.
6O my soul, come not thou into their secret; unto their assembly, mine honour, be not thou united: for in their anger they slew a man, and in their selfwill they digged down a wall.
7Cursed be their anger, for it was fierce; and their wrath, for it was cruel: I will divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel.
8Judah, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise: thy hand shall be in the neck of thine enemies; thy father’s children shall bow down before thee.
9Judah is a lion’s whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up?
10The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.
11Binding his foal unto the vine, and his ass’s colt unto the choice vine; he washed his garments in wine, and his clothes in the blood of grapes:
12His eyes shall be red with wine, and his teeth white with milk.
13Zebulun shall dwell at the haven of the sea; and he shall be for an heaven of ships; and his border shall be unto Zidon.
14Issachar is a strong ass couching down between two burdens:
15And he saw that rest was good, and the land that it was pleasant; and bowed his shoulder to bear, and became a servant unto tribute.
16Dan shall judge his people, as one of the tribes of Israel.
17Dan shall be a serpent by the way, an adder in the path, that biteth the horse heels, so that his rider shall fall backward.
18I have waited for thy salvation, O LORD.
19Gad, a troop shall overcome him: but he shall overcome at the last.
20Out of Asher his bread shall be fat, and he shall yield royal dainties.
21Naphatali is a hind let loose: he giveth goodly words.
22Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall:
23The archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and hated him:
24But his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob: from thence is the shepherd, the stone of Israel:
25Even by the God of they father, who shall help thee; and by the Almighty, who shall bless thee with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lieth under, blessings of the breasts, and of the womb:
26The blessings of thy father have prevailed abobe the blessings of my progenitors unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills: they shall be on the head of Joseph, and on the brown of the head of him that was separate from his brethren.
27Benjamin shall ravin as a wolf: in the morning he shall devour the prey, and at night he shall divide the spoil.
28All these are the twelve tribes of Israel: and this is it that their father spake unto them, and blessed them: every one according to his blessing he blessed them.