THE 144,000 BONDSERVANTS  


 

The interpretation of the 144,000 bond servants of God has always been a serious challenge for Bible students. And of course, every one of these students think that their understanding is the correct one. And guess what? I am no different. I believe that through a balance between the literal and the symbolic, and comparing Scripture with Scripture, the presentation in the following treatise provides the right interpretation of John’s vision concerning this unique and mysterious group of God’s people. In addition to presenting my understanding of the 144,000 bond servants, this treatise will also present a brief chronology of end times events within the context of the PreWrath rapture of the church.

We first encounter the 144,000 Jews at Revelation 7:1-8.
In chapter five, we are shown a book (a scroll), that is bound by 7 seals. We learn later that the scroll contains the events of the DAY OF THE LORD (The trumpet judgments, Rev. 8:1-2; and the bowl judgments,
11:14-19; 15:1). The seals are wrapped around the SCROLL of God’s wrath and must be removed one at a time before God’s wrath can be READ, and poured out on the earth dwellers. The book and the seals are all symbols of events that will begin the final 7 years before Jesus sets up His earthly kingdom. There is no REAL BOOK and seals. When the time comes for fulfillment, the events portrayed by the seals and the book will occur, but there will be no seals to release and no book to read.

In chapter 6 we are shown 6 of those 7 seals, which outline events starting with the beginning of the 70th week of Daniel and ending with the return of Jesus. Shortly after the return of Jesus, the judgment of God will start to be executed on the earth dwellers (the unbelievers who are left behind). This is represented by the 7th seal, which is shown to us starting at Chapter 8:1.

OUTLINE OF THE SEALS
V. 1-2, First seal: a worldwide "political" conquest via a
powerful, charismatic world ruler. This establishes a religious PEACE on the earth based on verses 3-4, where we learn that THE PEACE is taken from the earth. this corresponds with Daniel 7:8, 20 and 8:23. It also corresponds with Daniel
9:27, “And he (the prince who is to come) will establish a covenant with the many (the people of Palestine) for one week (7 years).”

V. 3-4, Second seal: a disruption of THE political and religious peace by the same world ruler becoming oppressive. This is the beginning of the reign of the beast and the tribulation (Rev. 13:3-7). It corresponds with Daniel 9:27, “But in the middle of the week he (the prince who is to come) will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering.”

V. 5-6, Third seal: stringent economic controls via the mark
of the beast (Rev. 13:16-17). This is not famine.

V. 7-8, Fourth seal: worldwide death from several different causes as a result of the oppressive reign of the beast.

V. 9-11, Fifth seal: The martyrs killed via the oppressive reign of the beast. This corresponds with Daniel 7:21, Revelation 13:7 and 12:7.

V.12-17, Sixth seal: The Day of the Lord is announced and Jesus arrives, which interrupts the oppression of the beast which ends the great tribulation by cutting it short as per Matthew 24:22.
Joel 2:31; Mat. 24:29-31; Luke 21:25-27

V. 8:1, The 7th seal is broken and the wrath of God starts to fall upon
the earth via the 7 trumpet judgments.

The 6th seal arrival of Jesus occurs at an unknown day and hour after the midpoint of the 70th Week of Daniel (Mat. 24:36-44). That midpoint is when the beast begins his oppressive reign, which is known as the tribulation (Mat. 24:9-15; Dan. 9:27; 12:1, 6-7).
The tribulation will be CUT SHORT at an unknown day and hour by divine decree followed by the signs in the sun, moon and stars, which announce the arrival of Jesus (Mat. 24:21-22, 29, 36).
The signs in the sun, moon and stars, will cause an all encompassing darkness, that gets everyone’s attention (Mat. 24:29), and then the SIGN OF THE SON OF MAN will appear in the sky (Mat. 24:30a). Then there will be TWO types of response. (1) the believers will look up with expectation (Luke 21:28) and (2) the earth dwellers will mourn and panic (Mat. 24:30b). Then immediately, everyone will see the Lord arriving in the clouds (Mat. 24:30c; Luke 21:27).
At that moment two things will happen. (1) the believers will be taken out of the earth and gathered to the Lord in the sky (Mat. 24:31; 1 Thes. 4:14-17), and (2) the earth dwellers, still in panic, will try to hide (Rev. 6:15-17). It is significant that in the gospel accounts, the panic actually occurs as a result of the SIGN OF THE SON OF MAN rather than His presence (Luke 21:26-27; Mat. 24:30). At Revelation 6:12-17, we are not shown the SIGN of the Son of Man or the ARRIVAL, but we are shown the mourning and the panic-motivated attempt to hide that will happen after the SIGN and Christ’s arrival.
At Isaiah 2:12-18, we are shown prophecy of the judgment that will begin at the arrival of the Lord. And in verses 19-21, we are shown how the earth dwellers attempt to hide from the presence of the Lord when He arrives.

At Revelation 6:12-14, we see the signs in the sun, moon and stars.
Then at verse 15, we see the PANIC of the earth dwellers.
That means that we must place the ARRIVAL immediately after verse 14.
That also means that we must place the RAPTURE immediately after verse 14. Neither the ARRIVAL or the RAPTURE are mentioned in the vision.
What we see in verses 15-17 is the EFFECT of Christ’s arrival upon the earth dwellers.
We should then expect to see the RESULT of the rapture as well. We do. At chapter 7:1-8, we are shown the RESULT on the earth, after the ARRIVAL, and at chapter 7:9-17, we are shown the RESULT in heaven. Here John sees the raptured saints STANDING before the throne. He does not see them ARRIVING in heaven, but ALREADY there. The language is very clear and does not leave room for any guesswork.
At Revelation 4:6, John sees in heaven a SEA OF GLASS before the throne, but it is EMPTY. At verse 7:9, he sees the saints standing before the throne, which means they would be standing ON the sea of glass.
At Revelation 15:1-4, just before the FINAL wrath of God is to be poured out on the earth, we see the saints in heaven praising God. These saints are STANDING ON THE SEA OF GLASS holding harps. This is therefore, BEFORE THE THRONE and we are seeing AGAIN, the raptured saints in heaven. BUT this is not the rapture EVENT, It is symbolic of the heavenly abode where the raptured saints “reside” AFTER the rapture. The raptured saints will not ALWAYS be standing on the sea of glass. This is just where John sees them IN THE VISION as a SYMBOL of their heavenly abode. The heavenly abode of the raptured saints is taught by Jesus at John 14:1-3.
It is the EXACT same idea that is seen at chapter 7:9. In the same way that Rev. 15:2 is NOT the rapture, but the result of the rapture, so also Rev. 7:9 is NOT the rapture, but the result of the rapture.
In addition, the FOCUS is on the TIMING of the rapture, which will take place during the reign of the beast, for the emphasis is on those who have come off victorious against the beast and have come out of the great tribulation.

The RESULT ON THE EARTH after the arrival of Jesus and the rapture, is the impact on a large body of orthodox Jews probably scattered throughout the world AND in Israel. These are probably well studied Jews who could perhaps be equated to 144 thousand little “Sauls of Tarsus.” When they witness the arrival of Jesus AND witness the rapture of the Christians, they will be able to “put two and two together” and will be convicted of sin, righteousness and judgment by the Holy Spirit using the words of the gospel that has been communicated by the Christians and by the two witnesses. They will express faith in Christ as the Messiah-Savior and become children of God AND bondservants of God to serve Him during the remaining months that God will deal with the people on the earth.

THE SECOND COMING AGENDA

When Christ arrives in the clouds of the sky with power and great glory, there are TWO items on His agenda.
The first item is to rescue His saints, by removing them from the earth.
The second item is to bring wrath and judgment upon the unbelieving world.

ITEM ONE
The rescue of His saints is the focus of Christ’s teaching at Matthew 24:22.
“And unless those days (the tribulation) are shortened, no (believing) life would be delivered, but because of the elect ones, those days will be shortened.”

When it is therefore time for the arrival of Jesus according to the specific timing of the Father (1 Tim. 6:15; Romans 11:25) the tribulation will to be cut short by His decree. Then the SIGNS in the sun, moon and stars, will cover the earth in a world wide darkness. The SIGN of the Son of Man will then appear, piercing that darkness with its universal brightness. And then Jesus will arrive in the clouds of the sky, and every eye will see Him (Rev. 1:7).

The precise ORDER of the events at this time are recorded for us at Matthew 24:29-31.
“But immediately after the tribulation of those days (V. 29a)
THE SUN WILL BE DARKENED, AND THE MOON WILL NOT GIVE ITS LIGHT, AND THE STARS WILL FALL from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken, (V. 29b), and then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky (V. 30a), and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn (V. 30b), and they will see the SON OF MAN COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF THE SKY with power and great glory (V. 30c). And He will send forth His angels with A GREAT TRUMPET and THEY WILL GATHER TOGETHER His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other (V. 31).”

(1) Verse 29a, immediately after the tribulation: At the time that God has determined to CUT IT SHORT.
(2) Verse 29b, the signs in the sun, moon and stars, causing darkness.
(3) Verse 30a, The SIGN of the Son of Man appears in the sky.
(4) Verse 30b, The earth dwellers mourn and panic.
(5) Verse 30c, Then they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds.
(6), Verse 31, Then the gathering of the saints.
(7) From Rev. 6:15-17, Then, MANY of the earth dwellers will try to hide.

Concerning this rapture and resurrection of the believers, Paul writes at 1 Corinthians 15:51-52,
“Behold, I tell you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.”

At 2 Thessalonians 1:7, this is the promise of deliverance; relief and comfort, that Paul promises us will occur in direct connection with Christ’s return, for he writes, “and to give back relief to you who are in tribulation (being pressured) together with us at the appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire.”
This PERSONAL application to them simply indicates the POSSIBILITY that the persecution situation in the Roman world could escalate into the prophesied great tribulation of Matthew 24:9-29.

The priority of this FIRST item on Christ’s second coming agenda is also seen at 1 Thes. 4:16-17 where we read, “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of {the} archangel, and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first.
Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord.”

This priority is also seen in the next chapter, at 1 Thessalonians 5:2, “For you yourselves know accurately that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night.”
This IMAGE of the thief was first introduced to us by the words of Jesus at Matthew 24:42-44.
“Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the THIEF was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into.
“For this reason you be ready too; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think.”

This is taught in direct connection with the gathering of the saints, which is described as, “Then there shall be two men in the field; one will be taken (to the Lord), and one will be left (for judgment).
Two women {will be} grinding at the mill; one will be taken, and one will be left” (Matthew 24:40-41).

SECOND COMING AGENDA: ITEM TWO

The SECOND ITEM on Christ’s agenda is to pour out judgment on the earth dwellers; the unbelievers who remain behind after the rapture. It should be obvious that this judgment will not begin until after the believers have been removed. Paul tells us at 1 Thes. 1:10 that it is Jesus at His return “who delivers us from the wrath to come.”
At 1 Thessalonians 5:2-3, the coming of the Lord arrives like a thief and brings sudden destruction on the earth dwellers. At this arrival, BOTH the removal of believers AND the time of judgment will occur like a thief; suddenly and unexpected. However, the believer is in the LIGHT and for those who are watching and waiting, that day, the arrival of Jesus, will not come on them like a thief.

But wait, there is a delay in judgment; a delay to the pouring out of wrath. John’s vision in Revelation 7:2-3, continues, “And I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, having the seal of the living God; and he cried out with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea, saying, “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have sealed the bondservants of our God on their foreheads.”

The wrath of God is about to be poured out, and the people who remain on the earth after the rapture react in fear and mourning, and vain attempts to hide from Christ’s presence (Matthew 24:30; Luke 21:25-26; Isaiah 2:19-21).

But many will understand what has happened and respond in faith toward Jesus as the Messiah and Savior of the world. This is taught at Joel 2:30-32. After the signs in the sun, moon and stars, “it will come about that whoever calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.”
This is just as it has been BEFORE the second coming of Christ (Romans 10:13), and it will be the same after His return. Salvation is gained by personal trust in Jesus as the Messiah/Savior.
The first ones to do this will be the 144,000 Jews mentioned in Rev. 7:1-8 and 14:1-7.

I repeat for emphasis that it is important to understand that Jesus returns in connection with the 6th seal symbol of Rev. 6:12-17.
According to Mat. 24:29-31, after the signs in the sun, moon and stars occur, bringing universal darkness to the earth, the SIGN OF THE SON OF MAN will pierce the darkness announcing the arrival of Jesus. Jesus will then arrive in the clouds of the sky and send forth His angels to gather the elect (believers) up into the clouds to meet Jesus there. According to Joel 2:31, these signs in the sun, moon and stars portend the DAY OF THE LORD.
According to 1 Thes. 5:2-3, The DAY OF THE LORD will come unexpectedly, like a thief in the night just as Jesus taught at Mat. 24:42-44; Rev. 16:15; and Peter at 2 Peter 3:10.
This is the same unknown day and hour that the believers will be TAKEN out of the earth and the unbelievers will be LEFT BEHIND (Mat. 24:36-42). Thus, the SIGNS, the SIGN, the ARRIVAL and the RAPTURE all occur within the same few minutes.

It is now time for the DAY OF THE LORD to begin, when the wrath and judgment of God will be poured out on the earth. Those who remain behind will recognize that this judgment is about to come, for they will proclaim, “Hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of their wrath has arrived; and who is able to stand?” (Rev. 6:16-17).

The 6th seal symbol represents the arrival of THE DAY OF THE LORD, at which time the second coming of Christ and the rapture will occur. All the passages that deal with the second coming place the gathering of the saints immediately upon the arrival of Jesus in the clouds of the sky. There is no GAP or DELAY for the rapture.
The order is, (1) arrival, (2) rapture, (3) judgment.
According to this and the other pertinent passages it is, (1) SIGNS in the sun, moon and stars, (2) SIGN of the Son of Man, (3) MOURNING and panic, (4) ARRIVAL, (5) RAPTURE (6) more PANIC. Some have suggested that there is a GAP of time between the arrival of Jesus and the gathering, but all the passages teach that the gathering occurs immediately upon the arrival of Jesus in the clouds of the sky. Of special note is 1 Thessalonians 4:16.
“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of {the} archangel, and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first.”

This trumpet blast is seen in direct and immediate connection with the descent of the Lord. The TRUMPET is the same as the “great trumpet” at Matthew 24:31 and “the last trumpet” at 1 Cor. 15:51-52.
However, it is NOT the same as the 7th trumpet of Revelation 10:7 and 11:15. The “great trumpet” is the AUDIBLE announcement and call to assembly for the believers on the earth. The 7th trumpet is a SYMBOL of events seen by John in his vision. See Article: THE 7th TRUMPET

It is thus clear that WHEN the Lord descends from heaven on the clouds with power and great glory, at that very instant, the gathering of the saints occurs.


SALVATION OF THE BONDSERVANTS

After the arrival of Jesus at the 6th seal, we are shown two results that are recorded in Revelation chapter 7.
The first result is ON EARTH, and is recorded in verses 1-8. It is the conversion and sealing of 144,000 Jews who will trust in Christ shortly after He returns and gathers out (raptures) the believers.
The second result, recorded in verses 9-17, is IN HEAVEN, and is the PRESENCE of the raptured believers standing before God on the sea of glass.

Some teach that the 144,000 are saved prior to the rapture and sealed prior to the rapture, but stay behind because of their bondservant ministry that God has planned for them.
However, this view is untenable in view of several factors found in the Scriptures.
The 144 thousand are saved AFTER the ARRIVAL and after the RAPTURE.
It is at that time of salvation that they become bondservants.
If they were saved before the arrival, then they would be OF THE CHURCH and would be raptured along with all the other saints. However, they are viewed as FIRST FRUIT converts at Rev. 14:1-4, and that would have to mean first fruits of the day of the Lord. And that requires a conversion AFTER Jesus arrives in the clouds of the sky in power and great glory.

If one wants to view the SEAL as a mark of ownership BEFORE they are saved that occurs before the rapture, this is not consistent with the rest of Scripture. The seal is the Holy Spirit, whose presence in the soul of the believer marks that believer out as purchased and owned by God (2 Cor. 1:22; Eph. 1:13-14; 2 Tim. 2:19a; 1 Cor. 6:19-20).

Those who hold to the view that the 144k are sealed before the rapture, do so because of the ORDER given to us in Revelation 7. However, the order is NOT an order of OCCURRENCE, but an order of FOCUS.
At Revelation 7:9ff, we are not shown the EVENT of the rapture; we are shown the RESULT of the rapture. The language does not have John SEEING the multitude arrive, but seeing them ALREADY IN HEAVEN. The rapture occurs IN CONNECTION with Rev. 6:14-15. These unbelievers can not make the confession that is made in verses 16-17 UNLESS they have seen the Lord’s arrival, which is exactly what they see as recorded at Mat. 24:29-30. “And they will SEE The Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory.” And, as already established, the rapture occurs IMMEDIATELY upon the arrival of Jesus.

Some argue that since the two witnesses are not taken at the rapture, the same thing could apply to the 144 thousand. However, the fact that the two witnesses are not raptured is an entirely different situation. The two witnesses are Moses and Elijah who have been brought back for a prophetic ministry unique and special. The 144 thousand bondservants are the FIRST FRUIT converts of the day of the Lord and will function AS bond servants of God. Their ministry will be to proclaim the everlasting gospel with the result that by the end of the time period in view, there will be many Jew and Gentile believers to go alive into Messiah’s earthly kingdom after the battle of Armageddon.
There is just no indication that these people should be viewed differently than anyone else who is left behind after the rapture, other than the fact that they are the first ones to believe. Furthermore, as already established, the chronology of the passages involved show that the Lord returns and the rapture occurs BEFORE the conversion/sealing of the 144,000.


REVELATION 7:1-8
In the book of the Revelation, God uses angels to teach John things that will occur in the future. Not only are angels the teachers, but angels also occur in the vision as SYMBOLS of some of the things that will be done. When the historical reality of these events takes place, those angels will NOT be involved. God does sometimes use angels to administer His desires on the earth. In the “END TIMES” Scenario, it is possible that there will be some angels who will work “behind the scenes” of God’s plan to carry out His judgments on the earth, but there is no way to know for certain when that is the case. In the book of the Revelation, the safest course of interpretation is to view ALL the “event” angels as symbols and not ACTUAL participants. They are just being used IN THIS VISION to teach John what is going to happen. I don’t even think there will be TRUMPETS blown when the time comes for these judgments to be executed. You see, all of these things are shown to John and he describes them in a PAST TENSE format. These things are what he saw in the vision, but the actions and symbols are only REPRESENTATIVE of the events that will occur. The EVENTS will occur but the symbols will NOT OCCUR.

Verse 1
1. And I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth:
These are four angels used symbolically in the vision to portray divine control over the impending judgments. The four winds are symbols for the administration of that judgment. In actuality, there are no angels holding back the winds. God controls these things directly.

2. holding back the four winds of the earth: The specific administration of the DAY OF THE LORD judgments awaits His perfect timing, which here, is dependent on the conversion of the 144,000 bondservants. This symbol of the four winds is used 2 times in the Old Testament; Jer. 49:36; Dan. 7:2. And the term 4 spirits is used once at Zech. 6:5.

3. so that no wind should blow on the earth or on the sea or on any tree: it is time for the judgment of God; His wrath upon the unbelievers remaining on the earth; the beast and his kingdom.
The WINDS represent the administration of divine judgment that will be shown to John through the 6 trumpet symbols later in his vision.
But before these judgments can be executed, a certain group of men need to trust in Christ for salvation, and as a result of that be protected from the effects of those judgments.

Revelation 7:2-3
And I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, having the seal of the living God; and he cried out with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea, saying, “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have sealed the bondservants of our God on their foreheads.”

John is shown another angel who is given administrative control over the actions of the four judgment angels. This angel HAS the seal of God to place on the forehead of those who will trust in Christ as Savior. Again, this is symbolism. The angels do not stamp a literal seal on the foreheads of the ones who believe.
Whether this conversion/sealing of the 144,000 Jews will take a few hours or a few days, we do not know, but judgment is held back until all are saved AND SEALED with the mark of divine ownership. At 2 Timothy 2:19, we read, “the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, The Lord knows those who are His.”
This is not something that is VISIBLE, but something that is an acknowledgment and CLAIM by God upon those who have trusted in Christ.
Since 30 AD, when God sent the Holy Spirit to the church, the SEAL of salvation and divine ownership has been the indwelling presence of the Spirit (Eph. 1:13-14; 1 Cor. 6:19-20; 2 Cor. 1:22; 5:5). There is no reason for that to change with converts after the rapture for the Holy Spirit is still involved with the whole salvation process. Some believe that the Holy Spirit LEAVES the earth at the rapture but there is no scriptural basis for this speculation. The Holy Spirit is not the restrainer of 2 Thessalonians 2:6-7.
See Commentary for 2 Thessalonians 2

At Revelation 14:1, we learn that the 144 thousand have the name of the Lamb and the name of the Father written on their foreheads. At Revelation 9:4, we see that there are those who do NOT have the SEAL of God on their foreheads. This indicates that the SEAL is a claim of ownership that is represented in John’s vision by the NAME of God on the forehead. Again, this is not a VISIBLE seal, but a spiritual FACT that is known only in a “spiritual” context and not known or seen by humans on the earth.
God knows and the angels involved know and divine protection will not let the demon oppressors of the 5th trumpet judgment hurt anyone who has that divine seal.

To repeat, the seal is said to be THE NAME OF GOD ON THE FOREHEAD (Rev. 14:1). This is a symbol of divine possession (2 Tim. 2:19) which is actually the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit (2 Cor. 1:22; 1 Cor. 6:19-20). It is not something that is given to them by an angel. John is seeing a vision of symbols that portray events. The symbol, an angel sealing the believers, will not occur, but the EVENT ITSELF, THE SEALING, which is the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, will occur.

THE NEW EVANGELISTIC AGENT

God’s plan is to use chosen members of the human race to represent HIM and His viewpoint to others who live on the earth. The primary concern in this representation is to proclaim the message of salvation through the Messianic promise. God will never leave Himself without representation here on the earth.
From Adam to the Exodus (the deliverance of Israel from Egypt), God used INDIVIDUAL “family” priests as the evangelistic agent, to bring spiritual truth and the gospel to the rest of mankind. We can view this period of time as the AGE or ADMINISTRATION (dispensation) of the FAMILY PRIEST. Adam, Seth, Noah, Shem, Job, Melchizedek, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Jethro, and others.

Eventually, the time came for there to be a larger, more specialized evangelistic agent to minister to the world. In anticipation of this, God genetically manufactured a new race of people, who were called Hebrews. After establishing their numbers in Egypt, He CREATED them into a new nation and commissioned them with the job of evangelistic agent to bear His name and message of salvation to others (Ex. 19:5-6; Deut. 4:6; Psalm 60:4. The age of the family priest was discontinued and once the individual “priests” died off, ONLY
Israel was the OFFICIAL herald of truth. An appropriate designation for this is the age of the NATIONAL priesthood, or the age of Israel.

The nation of
Israel had times of success and failure in her role as evangelistic agent. However, after many years of consistent failure God temporarily removed them by giving them a disciplinary vacation in Babylon which was to last for 70 years. When the time neared for that 70-year vacation to come to an end, Daniel was told that the nation would be given ANOTHER CHANCE and be given 490 years to accomplish its purpose of representing the Messianic promise to the world.

In the famous prophecy of 70 weeks found at Daniel 9:24-27, God gave Israel 490 additional years to be a successful evangelistic agent. Prior to the Babylonian captivity, the Southern Kingdom of Judah had the responsibility to be the evangelistic agent of God. They failed time and time again, and finally God disciplined them by removing them from the land, destroying the temple in Jerusalem, and sending most of the population into captivity in Babylon. Beginning with the nation’s return from the Babylonian captivity via the decree of Cyrus, God once again established
Israel as His evangelistic agent.

Of course, in anticipation via God’s foreknowledge, He knew that Israel would fail again, and ultimately reject the Messiah whom God sent to them. So once AGAIN, God temporarily removed them from being the evangelistic agent and TEMPORARILY replaced them with a SPIRITUAL nation and priesthood; the church.
Matthew 21:33-43; 23:37-39. But this time, the discipline would last for an indefinite amount of time, “until the fulness of the Gentiles comes in,” (Romans 11:25).

Based on the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, God established a new evangelistic body, made up of ALL believers in Jesus. Since ALL believers are designated as priests and ambassadors, to carry the message of salvation to the rest of the world, this period of time can be designated as the age of the UNIVERSAL priesthood, or the age of the church.
Mat. 21:33-43; 1 Peter 2:9-10

He did this after 483 years had passed from the decree of Cyrus; 7 years SHORT of the promised 490 years. His plan of course was to use the church for an undesignated number of years until the time was right for Israel to ONCE AGAIN function as the evangelistic agent. There was a TRANSITION period for this CHANGE, which was 40 years in length, and ended when God judged the nation and destroyed the city of
Jerusalem and the temple in 70 AD.

In the future, God will return to Israel and give her the remaining promised 7 years and once again make the nation, the evangelistic agent to bring the gospel to the world.
However, there will be several months of transition for this NEW CHANGE to take place. During this time of transition, the church will continue to function as the evangelistic agent in order to PREPARE Israel to TAKE OVER when the church is removed.
Thus, at Matthew 24:14, “and this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed in the whole world for a witness to all the nations, and then the end shall come.”
The END, is the end of the church age, which occurs when Jesus returns in the clouds of the sky with power and great glory.
This occurs at some unknown day and hour after the midpoint of the 70th week (that final 7 years promised to Israel) and will result in the removal of the church from the earth.
God will then REESTABLISH Israel as the evangelistic agent for the remaining months before the battle of Armageddon, after which Jesus will establish His earthly kingdom and reign on the throne of David in Jerusalem.

The EVANGELISTIC AGENT of Israel will function via the 144,000 Jews who will be converted very shortly after Jesus returns and raptures the church. As the NEW EVANGELISTIC agent, these men will function as bondservants of God to take the message of salvation to the world, giving those who have not taken the mark of the beast one last chance to trust in Jesus as the Savior before the bowl judgments are completed.
God’s purpose for returning to Israel is to use them once again as the EVANGELISTIC agent until the Millennial kingdom begins.
This is THE PURPOSE for the 144,000 “first fruit” converts from among the Jews, and is why they are called, “bondservants of God.” This is the primary issue in service and the primary issue for all the unbelievers still alive on the earth who have not taken the mark of the beast.


THE 144,000 BONDSERVANTS

The term, BONDSERVANTS that is used at Revelation 7:3, indicates the SERVICE activity of these new believers. In the context of Messiah’s arrival, the ONLY issue in service will be evangelistic, as israel is once again appointed as the evangelistic agent. This will be the ministry of these 144,000 Jewish believers, who will function as the NEW EVANGELISTIC AGENT until the beginning of the millennial kingdom. It is clarified for us at Rev. 14:4-7, which will be studied later. But to anticipate, these bondservants FOLLOW the Lord wherever He goes, which indicates devotion and service (not literally following along behind Him). In addition, I believe that the everlasting gospel is proclaimed world wide by these new converts, and that it is symbolized by the angel who is seen at Rev. 14:6. I do not believe that the angel is soaring through the sky proclaiming the gospel. This is just another one of those SYMBOLS to portray an event. The symbol will not happen, but the EVENT that the symbol portrays will happen. The event - the gospel will be proclaimed worldwide by the new priestly agent. That is why this symbol follows the description of the 144,000 at verses 6-7.

Someone might question how these UNBELIEVING Jews can be qualified to function as evangelistic bondservants of God so quickly after their conversion.
It is just like what happened to Saul of Tarsus. Just like Saul, the converted Jews will have been taught about the Messiah from the Old Testament scriptures. In addition to that, there will be the testimony of the two witnesses of Revelation 11:3-6, and the testimony of the church. Thus, as soon as they accept Jesus as that Messiah, they will be able to “put it all together” with the help of the Holy Spirit - just like Saul did, who “immediately began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, He is the Son of God.” (Acts 9:20). This is portrayed for us with the VISION-SYMBOL of the angel “flying in midheaven, having an everlasting gospel” at Rev. 14:6-7. God provides these bondservants with the specific gospel information they need to be effective as evangelists in the time remaining between the rapture and the battle of Armageddon.
Imagine 144,000 “little Pauls” traversing the world proclaiming Jesus as the Messiah and exhorting people to accept the everlasting gospel!

Another view is that this group of 144,000 Jews is the same as “the woman” of Revelation 12:6, 13-16. This cannot be because “the woman” represents a group of Jews who flee into the wilderness AT the midpoint of the week and are protected through the duration of the great tribulation. They are not even saved at this time, for they are clearly distinguished from “those who hold to the testimony of Jesus,” at Rev. 12:17. Although some of them, if not all will probably trust in Jesus as the Messiah after the Day of the Lord begins. The 144,000 are a separate group of Jews who come into play AFTER the arrival of Jesus in the clouds of sky and AFTER He raptures the church out from the earth.
Now, as mentioned above, many if not all of those who are of “the woman” might become believers after the rapture, and it is quite possible that some of these would be numbered with the 144,000 FIRST FRUITS. But the group of 144,000 “as a whole” is an evangelistic body that has a ministry to conduct world wide, and cannot be effective bond servants of God if they are hiding in the wilderness.

There are also some who are unwilling to assign the function of evangelist to the 144,000. I hope that the information in this treatise will adequately exlain why they ARE, and in fact, why they NEED TO BE men with a speicialized ministry of evangelism during the time they are on the earth after the rapture of the church.

REVELATION 7:4-8

And I heard the number of those who were sealed, one hundred and forty-four thousand sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel:

The newly converted Jews will be comprised of a specific number of 12,000 from each of the 12 tribes mentioned in verses 5-8.
This is because God will now RETURN to Israel as the designated EVANGELISTIC AGENT to represent God to the world.
According to Rev. 14:4, these are the FIRST FRUITS to be redeemed from among men on the earth after the rapture. All subsequent converts will be sealed as well, for it is the FACT of their salvation via the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit that is the seal. THESE are signaled out here because AS THE FIRST FRUITS and AS JEWS, they will be the special evangelistic agent of God to take the everlasting gospel throughout the world.

There is no basis for viewing the mention of the 12 tribes of Israel as symbolic because there is nothing that the symbol can point to other than speculative and fanciful denials of the intent of the vision. It is perfectly consistent with both Old Testament and New Testament truth that LITERAL ISRAEL will once again function as the evangelistic agent of God on the earth.

The challenge to anyone trying to interpret The Book of Revelation is how to determine what is and what is not a symbol.
We have to be careful in arbitrarily CHOOSING what “we” personally THINK is or is not symbolic. There will, of course, be disagreements, however, what is usually a safe axiom is: Take everything at its normal, natural, and literal sense UNLESS there is something in the context that takes the meaning OUT OF THE ORDINARY. For example, the image of the LAMB that John sees throughout his vision. John is seeing a SYMBOL of Jesus. In the scenes of heaven, and when the future events that are symbolized actually occur, it WILL NOT BE A LAMB that is seen, but the actual person of Jesus.
Here, there is NOTHING “out of the ordinary” that can be assigned to the 144,000 Israelites. It should therefore be taken as literally referring to 144,000 Jews, 12,000 from each of the 12 tribes mentioned.

It mentions the 12 tribes because that is EXACTLY what is intended for it to mean. In argument against this, it is commonly taught that, today, no one is able to trace their family lineage back to any particular tribe. But the individuals don’t need to know - God knows.
The tribes that are listed are: Judah, Reuban, Gad, Asher, naphtali, Simeon, Levi, Issachar, Zebulan, Joseph, and Benjamin.

There are two of the REGULAR tribes that have been left off of this list and replaced respectively by Levi and Joseph.
Levi, which is not an independent tribe, but shares inheritance with all the others, replaces Dan PROBABLY for 4 reasons:

(1) Leviticus 24:10-16
A man from the tribe of Dan is the first recorded person to blaspheme the Name of Yahweh.
Lev. 24:10-11
Now the son of an Israelite woman, whose father was an Egyptian, went out among the sons of Israel; and the Israelite woman’s son and a man of Israel struggled with each other in the camp.
And the son of the Israelite woman blasphemed the Name and cursed. So they brought him to Moses. (Now his mother’s name was Shelomith, the daughter of Dibri, of the tribe of Dan.)

(2) Judges 18:30-31
The tribe of Dan is the only tribe guilty of slaughtering a city of innocent people.
Judg. 18:27-29, Then they took what Micah had made and the priest who had belonged to him, and came to Laish, to a people quiet and secure, and struck them with the edge of the sword; and they burned the city with fire. And there was no one to deliver {them,} because it was far from Sidon and they had no dealings with anyone, and it was in the valley which is near Beth-rehob. And they rebuilt the city and lived in it. And they called the name of the city Dan, after the name of Dan their father who was born in Israel; however, the name of the city formerly was Laish.


(3) Judges 18:30-31
The tribe of Dan is the first tribe to go into idolatry.
Judg. 18:30-31, And the sons of Dan set up for themselves the graven image; and Jonathan, the son of Gershom, the son of Manasseh, he and his sons were priests to the tribe of the Danites until the day of the captivity of the land. So they set up for themselves Micah’s graven image which he had made, all the time that the house of God was at
Shiloh.

(4) Genesis 49:16-17
The dictator of
Palestine during the tribulation; the one who forces beast worship on Israel will probably be from the tribe of Dan. There is no other historical event that can fulfill this passage.

“Dan shall judge his people, As one of the tribes of Israel.
Dan shall be a serpent in the way, A horned snake in the path, That bites the horse’s heels, So that his rider falls backward.”

Joseph, who is not even officially a TRIBE, but has two sons who are tribes (Ephraim and Manasseh), replaces Ephraim PROBABLY because Jeroboam, from the tribe of Ephraim, established idolatry in the Northern kingdom of Israel. 1 Kings
11:26; 12:28-31; 2 Chron. 11:14-15
God took half the kingdom from Solomon and gave it to Jeroboam, promising him great spiritual and social blessing (1 Kings 11:29-38). But Jeroboam rebelled against and rejected the law of Moses and proper worship of Yahweh.
1 Kings 12:28-31
So the king consulted, and made two golden calves, and he said to them, “It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem; behold your gods, O Israel, that brought you up from the land of Egypt.”
And he set one in
Bethel, and the other he put in Dan. Now this thing became a sin, for the people went {to worship} before the one as far as Dan. And he made houses on high places, and made priests from among all the people who were not of the sons of Levi.

This EXCLUSION of the tribes of Dan and Ephraim does not mean that no one from those tribes will trust in Jesus as the Messiah during this time. It just means that no one from among those tribes will be part of the FIRST FRUITS and evangelistic bondservants of God.
The next time we see the 144,000 is at Revelation 14:1-7.

REVELATION CHAPTER 14

To understand where this passage fits into the whole end-times scenario, we need to back up just a bit and review some of the chronology of the Book of The Revelation.

We have already seen that the first 6 seals take us from the beginning of the 70th week of Daniel, beyond the midpoint of the week and the start of the tribulation, to the return of Jesus in the clouds of the sky at the 6th seal.
After the conversion of the 144,000 Jewish bondservants of God, the wrath of God begins to be poured out through the 7 trumpets.
These are covered in chapters 8-10.

Chapter 11 BACKS UP to the midpoint of the 70th week when the tribulation officially begins via the oppressive reign of the beast. Verse one represents an evaluation AT the midpoint of the week of what has been going on from the beginning of the week. The temple is already there. The people are already falsely worshipping before the measuring begins. From the midpoint onward, there will be no more such worshipping there, for the beast will have placed his image in the
Holy Place as per Matthew 24:15 and 2 Thes. 2:4 and Daniel 9:27. From verse 2 forward, we see the 2nd half of the week portrayed with two points of focus. (1) the Gentile domination of the temple area in verse 2 through the reign of the beast. And (2) the ministry of the two witnesses, who prophesy for 1260 days; from the beginning of the tribulation until the end of the 70th week. Their ministry takes place before and after the arrival of Jesus in the clouds of the sky; both before and after the rapture of the church; and before and after the wrath of God is being poured out on the earth via the trumpet judgments. There is no mention of these events, just the chronological factor of 1260 days PLUS an additional 3 1/2 days.

Verses 1-6, their ministry will last 1260 days; the last 3 1/2 years
of the 7 year 70th week of Daniel.
Verse 7, When the 1260 days is over they will be killed by the beast
And then will begin the 30 days of God’s final wrath on the
world which will culminate in Armageddon and the cleansing
of the temple in Jerusalem (Dan. 12:11).
Verses 8-12, For the first 3 1/2 days of this 30 day period, the two
witnesses will lie in the street and then be raised and
ascend into heaven on the 4th day.
Verse 13, On the 4th day there will occur a massive earthquake which
will bring about the salvation of a large group in Jerusalem.
Verses 14-19, The 7th trumpet announces the third woe, which is the final wrath of God, and is portrayed by the 7 bowls that begin at verse 15:1.


Chapter 12 backs up again to the midpoint of the 70th week.
The focus is on the persecution of Israel and Christians by Satan. He uses the beast, but this is not portrayed to John until chapter 13. Israel is given protection in the wilderness for 1260 days and because Satan cannot reach them, he begins a massive attack on the Christians.
There is no mention of the arrival of Jesus, the rapture or the beginning of God’s wrath. The focus is on the GENERAL persecution activity of Satan with no chronological notations other than the time that the Jews are protected in the wilderness.

Chapter 13 backs up once again to the midpoint of the 70th week.
Here, the beginning of the beast’s oppressive reign is highlighted, including operation MARK of the beast which will be the great millstone around the neck of the world’s population.
The details do not focus on any chronological factors other than stating the official length of the beast’s reign as 42 months.
The chapter does not mention the SIGNS, the arrival of Christ, the rapture, or the wrath of God.

Chapter 14
There are several different interpretations assigned to this chapter which vary from one another considerably. My purpose here is to simply present my understanding and let the reader determine for himself the viability of what I suggest.

There are no chronological factors in the chapter so we have to try to find its chronological PLACEMENT through the context.
The chapter gives us a summary of the high points of the 2nd half of
the week. Since the first thing mentioned is the presence of the 144 thousand bondservants of God, I suggest that the chapter begins with the "sealing" of the 144,000 Jewish bondservants after the rapture and concludes with the gathering of the nations to Armageddon which is the 6th bowl judgment.
It does not begin AT the midpoint of the week, but later, after the tribulation has been cut short by the arrival of Jesus in the clouds of the sky as per Matthew 24:29-31, which is portrayed by the 6th seal. After the rapture, the 144,000 servants are saved and sealed, and begin their evangelistic function as representatives of the nation of Israel. However, this chapter concludes just beyond the end of the 70th week, at the end of the 30 day time of "final" wrath which immediately follows the end of the week; the battle of Armageddon (Verse 14:20).

However, for this article, we are only interested in the first 8 verses, for they are what reveal truths about the 144,000 Jewish bondservants.

The chapter begins with a vision of the 144,000 Jews whom we saw sealed at chapter 7:1-8. The chapter divisions are man-made and are not divinely inspired, and therefore do not represent any divinely intended division of events.
According to Revelation 9:12-21 and 11:14-19, the 7 years of the 70th week will come to an end at the death of the two witnesses and WHILE the military horde of the 6th trumpet (which is the 2nd woe) is devastating the earth, and, based on the time frame, is moving in the direction of Jerusalem and Megiddo.
There is still one woe to come, which will be announced at the 7th trumpet. It is the FINAL outpouring of God’s wrath through the 7 bowl judgments. Before the 3rd woe begins, we are shown the several flashback scenes of John’s vision.
(1) Chapter 12 backs up to focus on the persecution activity of Satan, and although it sees the 2nd half of the 70th week as a unit, it does not go any further than the FIFTH seal in its chronology. This is based on verse 17, where the focus is on the persecution of the church age saints prior to the rapture.
(2) Chapter 13 backs up to focus on the two MEN that Satan uses to carry out his persecution agenda; the beast and the false prophet. Once again, it sees the 2nd half of the week as a unit, but does not bring us to the end of that time period. Thus, the church would still be on the earth undergoing the persecution from the beast.
(3) Chapter 14 is a continuation of chapter 13 and picks up DURING the reign of the beast AFTER the rapture has occurred and the church has been removed from the earth. Now we have a situation very similar to what we saw at the 6th seal. The 6th seal portrays the return of Christ as it was prophesied at Matthew 24:29-31; a return that interrupts and cuts short the tribulation. Chapter 7 shows us the two immediate results of Christ’s return; (1) a scene on the earth, and (2), a scene in heaven. The scene on the earth is the conversion and sealing of the 144,000 Jewish bondservants. The scene in heaven is the raptured church standing on the sea of glass before the throne of God.
Here, at chapter 14, we are shown the 144,000 bondservants ON THE EARTH, at some time DURING the reign of the beast (chapter 13). But to see the 144,000 requires that the rapture has already occurred, and just like the 2nd coming of Jesus is not mentioned in this section, likewise the rapture is not mentioned.
Now what follows in chapter 14 are events that lead up to the final confrontation between Christ and the armies of the nations at Armageddon. This section is independently chronological, just as is every other section in the book.

(4) chapter 15, then returns to the PRIMARY chronological chain that was interrupted at verse 11:19, and prepares for the administration of the 3rd woe, the 7 bowl judgments.
 

VERSES 1-7

First of all, the idea that this group of 144,000 men is different from the 144,000 of chapter 7 is contrary to all interpretive logic. God is not playing games with us. There is absolutely no indication or even a hint that this is a different group. Any suggestion that it is, is entirely speculative and fanciful. Scripture interprets scripture, and unless there is CLEAR indication to the contrary, IDENTICAL terms should be considered as identical.

Verse 1
1. And I looked, and behold: “and I looked” occurs 8 times in the Book of Revelation. The last time was at verse 8:13.
Five times, it is followed by “and behold,” (V. 6:2, 5, 8; 14:1, 14). Two times it is followed by “and I heard,” (v. 5:11; 8;13). And one time with simply the vision that is seen (v. 6:12).
This FORMULA for seeing a vision is also used by Ezekiel at v. 37:8 and 44:4.

2. the Lamb was standing on Mount Zion:
This is in VISION-FORMAT. These are SYMBOLS. The symbols will NOT happen, but the events and people that the symbols represent will happen. The Lamb REPRESENTS Jesus. In actuality, Jesus will not come as a LAMB.
Mount Zion refers to an EARTHLY scene that portrays PHYSICAL ISRAEL. Some teach that this scene on MT ZION is in heaven and that the 144k are there with the Lord after their ministry on earth is completed. However, this scene in Rev. 14:1 is a symbolic VISION of what will happen after the rapture. They are shown to be with the Lord on an EARTHLY Mt. Zion, to indicate (1) they are Jews, (2) they have a ministry ON THE EARTH to represent God in an evangelistic capacity, and (3) they are totally devoted to the Lord, following Him “everywhere.” When the time actually comes, they will NOT appear on Mt. Zion with the Lord, but will minister throughout the earth as evangelistic bondservants of God. There is no basis for placing these Jews on a literal Mt. Zion at some time in the future.
We must remember that John is seeing SYMBOLS of events that will happen. The SYMBOLS will not happen; the events that the symbols portray will happen.
The main reason that
Mt. Zion should be interpreted as an EARTHLY scene, is because in verse 2, he also hears a voice FROM HEAVEN. This gives us a clear distinction between Mount Zion and heaven, and helps us to identify these 144,000 men as Jews.

The VOICE of verse 2 comes FROM heaven, which comes from the harpists who are in heaven, and are the church (Rev. 15:2; 7:9; 4:6).

At verse 5, the phrase, “before the throne,” which occurs in the King James Version, has no Greek manuscript evidence to support it as genuine. It does not even occur in the “majority text.” It was added later to a LATIN manuscript by an over zealous copyist who added his own interpretation, and it is not part of the word of God.
The translators of the KJV had only the Latin for the Book of the Revelation; they did not have a Greek manuscript of the book available.

3. and with Him, 144,000: These are clearly the same people introduced to us at verses 7:1-8.
There, we learned -
(1) that they are BONDSERVANTS of God.
(2) that they are saved and sealed AFTER the arrival of Jesus in the clouds of the sky.
(3) that they are sealed BEFORE God begins to pour out His wrath.
(4) that they are clearly men from the nation of Israel.

Here, we are given some additional information about these men.

4. having His name and the name of His Father written on their foreheads:
This amplifies the SEALING mentioned at Verse 7:3, which has already been explained. The point of equation is the phrase, “on their foreheads.”
But what John sees is a SYMBOL. In actuality, these 144,000 (and all believers, both before and after the rapture) do NOT have a visible STAMP of God’s name on the forehead. They have the ACTUAL seal IN THE HEART, which is the indwelling Holy Spirit.
This is not a VISIBLE seal, but a spiritual FACT that is known only in a “spiritual” context and not known or seen by humans on the earth.
God knows and the angels involved know and divine protection will not let the demon oppressors of the 5th trumpet judgment hurt anyone who has that divine seal.

The SEAL is a claim of ownership that is represented in John’s vision by the NAME of God on the forehead.

The seal is a claim of divine possession (2 Tim.
2:19) and ownership (1 Cor. 6:19-20). It is actually the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit (2 Cor. 1:22; 1 Cor. 6:19-20). It is not something that is given to them by an angel. John is seeing a vision of symbols that portray events. The symbol, an angel sealing the believers, will not occur, but the EVENT ITSELF, THE SEALING, which is the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, will occur.
Thus, here at Rev. 14:1, John sees the 144,00 AS HAVING THE SEAL. They are saved and BELONG to God. The VISIBLE seal that John sees is the SYMBOL within the vision of the INVISIBLE claim that God has on the soul of the believer. The symbol will not occur but the FACT of the believer having the seal does occur.

VERSE 2
1. And I heard a sound from heaven: the word is phonA, and means simply - A SOUND. This word occurs 4 times in this verse and should be rendered SOUND each time. The sound is FROM HEAVEN which clearly contrasts it with the scene on
Mt. Zion, which is on the earth.
We can debate among ourselves whether this is after the rapture or after the 70th week or after Armageddon, but there is no contextual basis for interpreting the 144,000 as being in heaven, when the contrast is clearly made by the “sound from heaven.”

2. The sound was LIKE many waters and loud thunder:
This is what John heard. There is nothing beyond it.
The sound that John heard was LOUD.
3. And the sound that I heard was like that of harpists playing on their harps:
John hears harpists in heaven playing on their harps. In order to identify these harpists we need more information.
Verse 3
Here we learn FOUR things about the harpists.
(1) They are BEFORE THE THRONE
(2) before the 4 living creatures
(3) before the 24 elders
(4) and they sang a new song.

At Rev. 15:2, we learn that these harpists are standing on the sea of glass. The sea of glass is located BEFORE THE THRONE.
At Rev. 4:6, the sea of glass was empty.
“and before the throne {there was,} as it were, a sea of glass like crystal; and in the center and around the throne, four living creatures full of eyes in front and behind.”
At Rev. 7:9, This AREA before the throne is filled with the raptured saints. If they are standing BEFORE THE THRONE, they are standing ON THE SEA OF GLASS.
“After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation and {all} tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches {were} in their hands.”
The harpists that John sees in his vision at Rev. 15:2-4 and at 14:2-3, represent the raptured body of Christ in heaven. And both passages tell us that they sang a song. At verses 15:2-3, they sang the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb. This refers to ONE song, not two. It is the song of praise reflecting the combination of both Old Testament saints and church age saints.
As at Revelation 7:9ff, the group viewed is restricted to those who were martyred under the persecution of the beast during the great tribulation. This does not exclude believers of all ages who were resurrected at the rapture, but here we have a specific FOCUS to emphasize the time frame for the rapture. The emphasis is on those who were delivered from the great tribulation as at 2 Thessalonians 1:6-7.

“For after all it is {only} just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and {to give} relief to you who are afflicted (in tribulation) and to us as well when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire.”

Paul’s language anticipates the POSSIBILITY that the affliction that they were going through at that time, could easily escalate into the tribulation that Jesus taught about at Matthew 24:9-29.

I believe that this is the same group of resurrected saints as the harpists that John HEARS in heaven at verses 14:2-3. They will be raptured at the 6th seal vision, and will remain in heaven after the rapture and during the events portrayed by the symbols in the rest of the book.

4. and no one could learn the song except the 144,000:
The NEW song is a song of praise reflecting God’s deliverance of His people, both spiritually (through redemption) and physically (through protection on the earth).
At the rapture of the church, the BATON of evangelistic service will be passed to the new priestly agent (bondservants of God). The “spiritual” priesthood of the church will be removed and God will RETURN to the previous NATIONAL priesthood of
Israel. This NEW evangelistic agent will be EQUIPPED with (1) protection, (2) specialized instruction, and (3) the gospel message itself.
The protection is from the judgments of God’s wrath that will be poured out on the unbelievers of the earth, as well as protection from the beast.
The specialized knowledge will be the MYSTERY truths based on the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ, as at 1 Cor. 2:6-9.
The gospel message which IN VISION FORMAT is symbolized by the angel who has the everlasting gospel at Rev. 14:6-7.


5. who had been purchased from the earth:
Purchased refers to REDEMPTION. Christ paid the penalty (payment) for sin demanded by God’s justice. Those who trust in Him will have that payment credited to their account, and be forgiven all sins as at Eph. 1:7.
The phrase, from the earth, refers to the earthly location of these who trust in Christ.
At verse 4, we find, “purchased from among men.”
The 144,000 are redeemed out from the human race. They are specifically OF Israel, which we designate today as Jews.
We are told that they are the FIRST FRUITS to God and the Lamb.
This indicates that they are the FIRST ONES to trust in Christ after the church age saints are removed from the earth at the rapture.
It does not mean that they are the ONLY ones - just the FIRST ones. There will be many more people out from both Jew and Gentile who trust in Christ as the days pass leading up to Armageddon. This is the whole focus of Joel
2:32, “And it will come about (after the Day of the Lord begins) that whoever calls upon the name of the LORD, will be saved.”

Verse 4
1. “These are ones who have not been defiled with women, for they are virgins.”
Some understand this to be symbolic of SPIRITUAL purity.
If “defiled” is taken as “spiritual” defilement, then it indicates no compromise with the religion of the beast or the other idol activities that will be taking place (Rev.9:20-21). The concept of virginity is often used to indicate spiritual purity as at 2 Cor. 11:2 and Eph. 5:27). Also the statement that they follow the Lamb would be indicative of their spiritual purity.

However, the PHYSICAL meaning is more likely what is in view. Any SYMBOLISM would be adequately expressed with just the phrase, “have not been defiled with women.” But the phrase, “for they are virgins,” AMPLIFIES and explains how it is that they have not been defiled. It is NOT because they are not married (which is certainly the case), but because they have NEVER had sexual relations. Thus, the emphasis is on the idea of undistracted devotion to the Lord.

Men who have had sexual intercourse with a woman were considered to be CEREMONIALLY unclean for that day. Leviticus 15:18
“If a man lies with a woman {so that} there is a seminal emission, they shall both bathe in water and be unclean until evening.”

Since they were to be considered UNCLEAN for the day, that means that they were to remain separate from others during that time.
Sexual intercourse, EVEN with one’s wife, indicated a division of devotion. And the believer’s devotion must ever be undivided in its expression toward God. However, this does not mean that a man could not be married and have sex with his wife. Marriage was designed by God, and it does not really put into doubt a believer’s devotion. It simply creates a situation where there is a necessary division of attention and devotion. This is taught in the New Testament at 1 Corinthians 7:32-35.

“But I want you to be free from concern. One who is unmarried is concerned about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how he may please his wife, and {his interests} are divided. And the woman who is unmarried, and the virgin, is concerned about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and spirit; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how she may please her husband.
And this I say for your own benefit; not to put a restraint upon you, but to promote what is seemly, and {to secure} undistracted devotion to the Lord.”

Of course, there is nothing WRONG or UNCLEAN about the marriage relationship which is to be held in honor among all, (Heb. 13:4)
And their is nothing WRONG or UNCLEAN about sex (1 Cor. 7:1-5), so the concept of ceremonial uncleanness in association with sex is simply SYMBOLIC of worldly distractions.

Thus, when God was about to give the MEN of Israel the ten commandments, part of their preparation for this “meeting” was that they were not to have sex on the day the meeting was to take place. Exodus 19:15.
And he said to the people, “Be ready for the third day; do not go near a woman.”

And when Ahimelech the priest offered David and his men the consecrated bread of the sanctuary, he stipulated the need for the men to have abstained from sexual activity with women. 1 Samuel 21:3-4
“Now therefore, what do you have on hand? Give me five loaves of bread, or whatever can be found.”
And the priest answered David and said, “There is no ordinary bread on hand, but there is consecrated bread; if only the young men have kept themselves from women.”

So, as I see it, the description of sexual purity is to be taken LITERALLY, and is used to INDICATE that these men have undistracted devotion to the Lord.


2. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes:
Again, the SYMBOL will not occur, but the image that the symbol communicates will occur. There is NO LAMB to follow behind.
The issue of following JESUS, is to be diligent in His service on a daily basis. It does not mean that they LITERALLY follow behind him “step by step,” but they follow His word and guidance in faithfulness to the evangelistic commission with which they have been entrusted.

3. These have been purchased from among men as first fruits to God and to the Lamb.
This has previously been explained as indicating that these were the FIRST ones to trust in Christ after the rapture.

SINLESS CONSISTENCY
Verse 5
1. and no lie was found in their mouth:
The emphasis here is on moral integrity and the truthfulness of their message. Their motivation is also in view, as they will make no attempts to deceive or mislead or deny concerning the truths of the Christian value system.

2. they are blameless: the adjective, amomos, refers to sinless consistency. That is, a testimonial impact that no one can impeach. So there will be an impact on those who hear; an impact from both the message proclaimed and the life that is lived. Such a testimony will have great impact in an environment where deceit and duplicity is the order of the day.
3. The phrase in the KJV that occurs at the end of this verse has already been explained, but I repeat it here.
This phrase has no Greek manuscript evidence to support it as genuine. It does not even occur in the “majority text.” It was added later to a LATIN manuscript by an over zealous copyist who added his own interpretation, and it is not part of the word of God.
The translators of the KJV had only the Latin for the Book of the Revelation; they did not have a Greek manuscript of the book available.

THE EVERLASTING GOSPEL

The gospel message that they will take to the world is described in verses 6-7.
John sees in His vision another angel who brings “the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth.” This is still a VISION showing John SYMBOLICALLY what will happen. The angel is seen to SYMBOLICALLY have the gospel. This is simply to show to John that the message of the 144 thousand will be the same gospel that has been proclaimed all throughout history. It is the ETERNAL gospel.
This is the message of the 144 thousand bondservants. It does not refer to an angel who proclaims the gospel. It does not say that the angel proclaims the gospel; it says that the angel HAS the gospel. It is the ones who follow the Lord who will be responsible for proclaiming the message.
The content of the message is described at verse 7, “fear God, and give him glory, because the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made the heaven and the earth and sea and springs of waters.”
Reverencing (fear) God is the attitude of humility that recognizes His authority. To give Him glory refers to accepting His plan of salvation. And worship is the expression of love and devotion shown to God in view of being saved.
Notice that this exhortation to respond to God is associated with the THREAT of judgment. This is as it is with all the gospel messages. That is in fact, what the idea of SAVED is all about; saved from judgment. John 3:16-18, 36.

As a result of
Israel fulfilling her evangelistic commission through the 144,000 bond servants, as well as the ministry of the two witnesses of Rev. 11:3-6, there will be many people who believe in Christ after the rapture of the church.

1. At Rev. 11:13, there is a large group of Jews in Jerusalem who respond to this gospel message and become believers in Jesus. “And the rest became reverent and gave glory to the God of heaven.” These are probably the ones seen in Zechariah 12:5-8 as being strong “through Yahweh of hosts, their God.”

2. The clans of
Judah who are also present in that Battle at Jerusalem, would have become believers sometime after the rapture.

3. When Armageddon is over and Messiah’s earthly kingdom is established, there will be many Gentile believers within the nations who will be part of that kingdom (Zech. 14:16; 2:11; Isaiah 2:2-4; 11:10; 56:6-8; 60:10-14; Micah 4:1-3). These will be among those evaluated to be believers through the “sheep and goat judgment” that takes place during the 45 days before the kingdom officially starts. Mat. 25:31-46 with Daniel 12:12.

4. During the kingdom, the New Jerusalem will be located ON or ABOVE the earth and the BELIEVING Gentile nations will walk by its light. To be present in the kingdom, they would have become believers between the rapture and Armageddon. Rev. 21:22-27.


To summarize:

1. At the midpoint of the week, the beast will begin his persecution directed against both the Jews (Rev. 12:13-16) and the Christians (Rev. 12:17 and 13:7). The attack against the Christians, the SAINTS, is mentioned at Daniel 7:21, “waging war with the saints and overpowering them.”

2. Many of those Jews will escape to the wilderness and will be protected by God because they are still His chosen people (Rev. 12:6, 13-16). After the rapture many, if not all of them will trust in Jesus as the Messiah. Later, He has a plan for them during the millennial kingdom. But prior to the rapture, they are to be distinguished from BELIEVERS. Rev. 12:17 shows us a DIFFERENT group who are characterized by the fact that they “hold to the testimony of Jesus.”

3. Many months into the beast’s reign, at an unknown day and hour, the Lord will come back in the clouds of the sky and take all the believers from the earth and gather them to Himself (Mat. 24:29-31, 40-42, 1 Thes. 4:13-17). The day and hour of this return is unknown, but not the SEASON (Mat. 24:32-33). The SEASON is clearly identified as the time after the man of lawlessness has taken his seat in the
temple of God as is taught at 2 Thes. 2:1-4.

4. At this time only unbelievers will be left on the earth. But out from among them (from among men, Rev. 14:4), the first ones to trust in Christ will be 144,000 Jews. Accordingly, they are seen to be “the first fruits to God and to the Lamb,” that is, the first ones to believe from among men after the rapture. At the moment of their salvation, they are sealed for protection from the wrath to come (Rev. 7:3). This SEAL is not identified in Rev. 7, but only the ACT of sealing is in view. It is at Rev. 14:1 where the seal is identified as “His name and the name of His Father.” This picture of God’s name present on the forehead is SYMBOLIC. It portrays divine ownership (2 Tim.
2:19) and entails the indwelling of the Holy Spirit just as it did prior to the rapture (2 Cor. 1:22; 1 Cor. 6:19-20).

At Rev. 7:3, these believers are described as “bondservants of our God.” This communicates a ministry of evangelism, for there is certainly no other work that would be pertinent and crucial during this time of judgment. Their evangelistic service is described at Rev. 14:4-7 as “ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes.” This does not refer to a LITERAL WALKING behind Him, for Jesus will not be ON THE EARTH at this time. It refers to their spiritual devotion to follow the teaching of Jesus and to take that teaching to the rest of the world. Their devotion is indicated also by their avoidance of all worldly distractions, which includes marriage. Their sinless consistency is mentioned by the words, “and no lie was found in their mouth; they are blameless,” Rev. 14:5).
 

 
 

Questions and comments are always welcome

Return to BIBLE FRAGRANCES index

 

 

©Ron Wallace, http://www.biblefragrances.com. Anyone is free to reproduce this material and distribute it,
but it may not be sold under any circumstances whatsoever without the author's consent.

 

Home | Recent Additions | Studies | Commentary

 

Prophecy | Articles | Topical | About Us