By David J. Riggs
The number “144,000” is mentioned in two passages in the Scriptures, both in the book of Revelation (Rev. 7:4; 14:1-3). In Rev. 7:4, the 144,000 were the faithful who were sealed on earth as shown in verses 2 and 3. The “seal” signifies ownership and consequent protection (Ezek. 9:6; 2 Tim. 2:19; 2 Cor. 1:21-22; Eph. 1:13-14; 4:30).
In chapter six of Revelation we see the saints under the altar (9-11) and a terrible judgment coming upon the earth which was closed with the question, “Who shall be able to stand?” (12-17). In view of this one might ask, “Will the saints on earth be able to stand and what will happen to the souls under the altar?” John’s vision (an interlude of two parts between the six and seventh seals) answers these questions. The saints on earth are sealed and those martyred are before the throne of God. Thus, the first part of the interlude is to permit the sealing of the saints in order that they will be able to endure the afflictions set forth in chapter six. The judgments seem to be altered so that they will not hurt God’s children.
In chapter seven, the four angels standing at the four corners (used to designate the four directions) were holding the four winds of the earth (the four winds of judgment–conquest, war, famine, and death–as in 6:1-8 and as seen from the word “hurt” in 7:2-3). (Compare Jer. 49:36-38; 51:1-2). They were given to hurt the earth and the sea, but another angel ascending from the sunrising (from the direction of the morning light; suggests a message of cheer and encouragement), having the seal of the living God, said, “Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we shall have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.” (7:3). Hence, God’s people will not be affected by the forthcoming judgments as will the people of the world. (See Rev. 9:4).
After the vision of the 144,000, John sees a great multitude which no man could number out of every nation and from every tribe, people and tongue. (7:9-17). Jehovah’s Witnesses try to teach that these are the saved who inherit the earth and the 144,000 are those who receive heaven. However, the 144,000 are those on earth who are sealed and the great multitude are those souls with God who had come out of the great tribulation (6:9; 7:13-14). Furthermore, the expression, “before the throne” is used both of the great multitude (7:9) and later in the heavenly setting of the 144,000 (14:1-5). The white robes of the great multitude are symbolical of holiness, and justification (3:4-5; 6:11; 7:14), and the palms suggest a joyful, festive occasion (Lev. 23:40; John 12:13).
They cried with a loud voice saying “Salvation to our God, who sitteth on the throne and unto the Lamb” (an expression of praise and gratitude to both God and Christ for the salvation provided). They are followed by angels who fell before the throne on their faces and worshiped God with a sevenfold praise similar to that given to the Lamb in Rev. 5:12. The angels stood around the throne, as well as the elders, and the four living creatures (7:11), which again shows that this occurred in heaven and is not something that is to occur on earth.
One of the elders speaks asking John, “Who are these arrayed in white robes, and where did they come from?” John did not know, but he was certain that the elder knew. The elder answered, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation…” (7:14). The “great tribulation” here is the one that took place under the world wide persecution (not fully identified until the 13th chapter) in John’s day. It was “world wide” because this great multitude with the white robes were of “all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues” (7:9). They are the same ones with “white robes” who cry for the avenging of their blood (6:9-11). They had been put to death for their faith, had gained the victory, and are now before the throne. They had washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. By Christ’s blood the saint is washed from his sins (Rev. 1:5), redeemed (Rev. 5:9-10; 1 Pet. 1:18-19), given remission of sins (Matt. 26:28), has constant cleansing as he continually complies with the conditions (1 John 1:7-9), and is able to overcome (Rev. 12:11).
In chapter 14 of Revelation, the victorious Lamb stood on mount Zion and with Him were 144,000 who had the Father’s name written in their foreheads (14:1). These are those who were sealed earlier and are now also before the throne (14:5). The term “before the throne” is figurative of the place of comfort or paradise. Thus, the 144,000 represent the complete number of the martyred saints including the rest of those who were to come out of the great tribulation (6:9-11). They were the holy city that would be tread underfoot (11:2); the beast had made war with them and overcome them (14:3). They had obtained the victory over the beast (15:2) and their blood would soon be avenged (16:5-6; 17;6; 18:24; 19:2). They were the martyrs living and reigning with Christ (20:4).
Again, the number “144,000” must not be taken literal. It simply represents the complete number of the martyred saints. If one makes the number literal, he must also make their description literal. This would mean that only virgin men will go to heaven (14:4). On the contrary, these were the “firstfruits” to God and the Lamb (14:4) indicating others would follow. The Bible speaks of heaven for every faithful child of God (2 Cor. 5:1-2; Phil. 3:20-21; 1 Pet. 1:4-5). Those who limit heaven to only 144,000 have completely misunderstood the Bible, not to mention John’s teaching in Revelation. As we explained, the sealing of the 144,000 in chapter 7 was done to those living on earth and does not refer to those in heaven at all. We pray that all those who are presently striving to serve God, will someday be in heaven with all the redeemed of the ages
Julius Streeter [04/06/2015 6:55 PM]
Good exposition, most helpful,there is a blessing promiced for readers of the book of Revelation but a difficult process of rightly dividing the word of truth
Rick Wadholm Jr [04/06/2015 7:10 PM]
Their number is heard by John, including an enumeration of a unique listing of the Tribes of Israel, but when John looks he sees a great multitude dressed in white and gathered around the throne. Does that help?
Rick Wadholm Jr [04/06/2015 7:10 PM]
Julius Streeter [04/06/2015 7:13 PM]
There is significance in number,russian born mathematician Ivan Pannin wrote extensivly on biblicak numerics
Julius Streeter [04/06/2015 7:17 PM]
Biblical numerics, learned about it from an australian book “THE SEAL OF GOD” by F.C. Payne you can google it, also a brethren businessman Laidlaw wrote tract “THE REASON WHY” it is free copyright providd you usefull text, recommend both publications
John Kissinger [04/06/2015 7:21 PM]
Yes. clearly two different groups. The first one of 144,000 described as from the 12 tribes and the other one uncountable from every nation, tribe and tongue…
Rick Wadholm Jr [04/06/2015 7:33 PM]
Or one is heard the other seen. This is a regular feature of the Revelation and points to the same thing. Where John hears he sees something unexpected.
John Kissinger [11/27/2015 12:41 PM]
so who are the 144k? Ricky Grimsley John Conger
John Conger [11/27/2015 12:53 PM]
Think people make it too hard. 12000 preachers from each tribe. Protected through the first half while they preach. Taken up at the 7th trumpet as the man child of ch12 along with the rest of saints IMHO
John Kissinger [11/27/2015 12:55 PM]
SOUNDS LIKE ANOTHER PRE-TRIB ARGUMENT Here’s another argument for the air-tight pre-trib paradigm. Why would God only seal the 144,000 Jews during the tribulation and not seal the Church unless the Church was no longer on earth??
John Conger [11/27/2015 1:00 PM]
lol looks like . Because these are preachers specifically for this time. If open theism isn’t right why would God choose some to martyrdom and some to blessings?
John Kissinger [11/27/2015 1:07 PM]
The 144,000 / The Manchild symbolizes the 144,000 Jews who are the “firstfruits” to God from Israel, after the rapture of all Jews of the church and the Old Testament Saints. The reasons for this belief are as follows: 1. It has been conclusively proved that the woman represents Israel. Since this is true, it follows logically that Israel could not bring forth a company of Gentiles. She is sure to bring forth a company and this company naturally will be from those or her own nationality, the Jews. She could not bring forth an individual person. Only an individual could do that. Thus, the manchild could only represent a company of Jews out of Israel. The woman represents a company of Jews. The “remnant” is a company of Jews, so the manchild necessarily must represent a company of Jews in order to fulfill the plain statements of Rev. 12. This alone would exclude the theory that Christ is the manchild. There is no other company of Jews definitely mentioned in the fulfillment of Rev. 4-19 in Daniel’s Seventieth Week other than the 144,000. Then too, as the salvation and sealing of this company of Jews for protection through the trumpet judgments are the only ones described, it seems clear that these Jews are the ones to be caught up in the seventh trumpet as the manchild.
John Conger [11/28/2015 10:27 AM]
Yep. Agreed. I just believe these and the church are taken at the same time
John Kissinger [11/28/2015 1:48 PM]
Book of Revelation separates the events. When 144K get to heaven, the church is already there #IamALREADYthere
John Kissinger [11/28/2015 8:40 PM]
Book of Revelation separates the events. When 144K get to heaven, the church is already there #IamALREADYthere. We have also seen that the woman cannot be the spirit of Christendom, or the church, and that the manchild cannot be the church, overcomers out of the church, or any Gentile Christians. Thus, by a process of elimination, we have left only one group of people, the Jews, from which to draw the personnel of the manchild. Therefore, what other company could be represented but the 144,000 Jews of Rev. 7 and 14? The manchild must be limited to one of the four companies of redeemed heavenly saints who are saved in the scope of redemption from Adam to the first resurrection, as enumerated in Point II, 1, above, which see. These companies are saved, dispensationally, in the order in which we give them. When one company is complete then the gathering of the succeeding one begins.
Ricky Grimsley [11/28/2015 9:41 PM]
Guys the 144000 is the greatest prophecy ever. What great miracle can there be than 144000 virgins in one country.
John Conger [11/28/2015 10:56 PM]
Un what scripture says the church is already there?
John Conger [11/28/2015 10:58 PM]
John Kissinger [11/29/2015 3:53 AM]
They “were not defiled with women: for they are virgins” (Rev. 14:4). This has no reference to celibacy, but to the pollutions connected with the great religious system dominating the nations of Revised Rome during the first three and one-half years, until the Antichrist rises to absolute power over the ten kings who together destroy Mystery Babylon in the middle of the Week (Rev. 17:14-18). The 144,000 will not be a company of natural virgins, but having abstained from fornication of Mystery Babylon, will be recognized as pure virgins and chaste in the same sense as in 2 Cor. 11:2. They are not mentioned in connection with Antichrist or anything that he does in the last three and one-half years, which seems to indicate that they will be translated before the Antichrist makes war on the saints. This is true because Rev. 14:5 shows that the 144,000 have not been defiled with woman (indicating, if literal that the 144,000 were all men). On the other hand, Rev. 14:4 cannot be taken literally for this passage says the 144,000 are virgins (indicating, if literal, that they are women). Both meanings cannot be true. Hence, we take both passages to mean purity of life and conduct.