The 144,000, the Elect of the Sanctified Church
The true Spiritual Israelites, the New Jerusalem
The Apostle Paul told us that “when the fullness of the Gentiles has come in, all Israel will be saved” (Romans 11:25-26). This is also prophesied in Hosea 3:5, Joel 2:32, Zechariah 14:8, and Ezekiel 37:11-14, and seems to be the obvious meaning of the 144,000 described in this Chapter.
But, are the 144,000 described in this Chapter just the “blood born Israelites?” Or do the 144,000 represent the “commonwealth” of Israel (Ephesians 2:12)? Does this listing include the Gentiles who have been “grafted into the olive tree” of Israel (Romans 11:17)?
Is the listing of tribes in this Chapter, not just the “New Jerusalem” that is described in Ezekiel 48 by a listing of the twelve tribes of Israel?
The statement “do not harm the earth….until we have sealed the bond-servants of our God” (Revelation 7:3), clarifies the true identity of the 144,000. The bond-servants of God are not only blood-born Israelites. The Book of Revelation was written to all “the bond-servants our God” (Revelation 1:1). These are not just blood-born Israelites, they are the true “spiritual Israelites.” In Christ, there is neither Jew nor Greek (Galatians 3:28).
The two Groups of the Elect, presented in this Chapter, represent all of the Elect
Chapter 6, concluded with “the Great Day.” This is the last moment of man’s existence on the earth.
Before that, God is going to seal the last of the Sanctified Church, by His Holy Spirit, (Ephesians 1:13).
There are two groups of the “elect” that are presented in Revelation 7: the elect of the Sanctified Church, and the elect from the Great Tribulation. These two groups represent all of the elect.
To properly understand this, we need to understand Jesus’ meaning of the Great Tribulation. The Great tribulation began when the Sanctified Church was cast to the ground by the Antichrist, and the Spirit of truth was taken away. The saints lost the assurance of salvation, that came through receiving the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13-14; John 3:5); and Satan accused them day and night. (Of course, there was also a physical tribulation of saints by the Antichrist, which we discuss in Revelation 11.) The elect from the Great Tribulation, in verses 9-17, could not enter the Sanctified Church because it had been “cast to the ground” (Daniel 8:11) by the Antichrist. But, they “overcame by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony and did not love their lives until the death” (Revelation 12:11). Revelation 7:14 says: “they washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”
Some might question whether “all” the elect are only in the end time Sanctified Church, from the moment when it is reestablished. For Revelation Chapter 8 shows us that the end time believers will be gradually convicted of the truth, and then enter the Sanctified Church. But, this same phenomenon also existed in the Apostolic Church, to whom Paul wrote, “you are…in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you” (Romans 8:9). Clearly, Paul did not consider anyone to belong to Christ unless they had been baptized by the Spirit of God, into the Sanctified Church. We can also refer to Jesus’ words: “I have sheep which are not of this fold, I must bring them also” (John 10:16). Jesus identified His elect as those who would eventually enter His Church. The justice of God’s choosing is only explained by His statement: “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy” (Romans 9:15).
The end-time Sanctified Church described in Ezekiel and Revelation
The 144,000 are defined by the listing of the tribes of Israel in verses 5 to 8. This listing of tribes bears the meaning of “New Jerusalem” from the listing of tribes in Ezekiel 48. Ezekiel called New Jerusalem, “the LORD IS THERE,” in Ezekiel 48:35; this means the Spirit of God is there; this is the Sanctified Church.
The Sanctified Church of the end days is prophesied in Ezekiel 40-48. We will see reminders of this prophecy of Ezekiel throughout the Book of Revelation, as shown in the chart below. The message of both Ezekiel and Revelation is that the Sanctified Church is only for the true spiritual Israelites.
|Ezekiel 40 – 48||Revelation|
|The twelve tribes of Israel and their land in the New Jerusalem (Ezekiel 48).||The number of each of the twelve tribes of Israel (Revelation 7:4-8).|
|“This water flows toward the eastern region…when it reaches the sea, its waters are healed” (Ezekiel 47:8).||“A great mountain, burning with fire, was thrown into the sea” (Revelation 8:8).|
|The measurement of all the areas of the future temple are described in Ezekiel 40-44, but no measurements are made of the outer court of the Gentiles.||“do not measure the outer court for it has been given to the Gentiles” (Revelation 11:2)|
|“The glory of the God of Israel came by the way of the east, and its sound was like the sound of many waters” (Ezekiel 43:2).||“144,000 having His name, and the name of His Father written on their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven like the sound of many waters and … like the sound of harpists” (Revelation 14:2)
“then I heard the voice of something like a great multitude and like the sound of many waters” (Revelation 19:6).
The 144,000 is the Angel flying in the midst of heaven, and the Rider on the White Horse in Revelation 14
In Revelation 14, there seem to be “three groups” that bring the “hour of God’s judgment.” There is the 144,000 in verses 1 to 5; the Angel flying in the midst of heaven, that preaches the everlasting gospel in verses 6-7, and the Rider on the White Horse, that treads the wrath of the Almighty God in verse 20.
If these really are three different groups, then the 144,000, in Revelation 14:1-5, is presented without purpose in relation to the rest of the Chapter.
But in fact, the 144,000, in verses 1-5 is “the Angel” that appears in Revelation 14:6: “then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven having the everlasting gospel to to preach to all those who dwell on the earth.” This Angel is the Spirit of Christ, the Angel who Rides upon the White Horse. This is the Spirit of Christ which is manifest as “the Body of Christ,” God’s Church. Paul said, “for by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body,” (1 Corinthians 12:13). The Sanctified Church is Christ’s Body, the Messenger of God that brings God’s judgment, “the hour of His judgment has come” (Revelation 14:7).
Most can readily understand the Rider on the White Horse, in Revelation 19:15, as the end time Sanctified Church. In Revelation 14:20, the Rider on the White horse, and the armies of heaven seem to appear without any introduction to trample the wine-press of God’s wrath. But in fact, the Rider on the White Horse was introduced in verses 1 – 5, as the 144,000.
In both Revelation 19:6 and Revelation 14:2, the 144,000, and the Rider on the White Horse are described as having “the voice of many waters.”
The Rider on the White Horse is the end-time Sanctified Church. It is the “powerful agent” in Isaiah 28:2, that corrects “the drunkards of Ephraim” (Isaiah 28:1). Isaiah writes, “precept upon precept, line upon line” (Isaiah 28:13); “with stammering lips and another tongue, He will speak to this people” (Isaiah 28:11). This is the Church of God, that is filled with the Holy Spirit of God, the Spirit of truth, and corrects the Gentiles, or Nations, as described in Revelation 14.
four winds – the four Angels are symbolic. Each Angel holds back one of the four winds of the earth. These winds bring destruction, as in Jeremiah 49:36, “against Elam I will bring the four winds from the four quarters of heaven.”
Not to blow on the earth, on the sea, or any tree – throughout the Book of Revelation, the earth means the people of the world, the sea means man’s salvation, and trees refers to those of the kingdom of heaven (the righteous). The Angel’s hold back the last moment’s for man’s salvation, until all of the elect are sealed.
do not harm – he tells the Angels not to pour out flaming fire yet that will be poured out on this Day; as described in 2 Thessalonians 1:7-8.
sealed the bond-servants of our God – the last of the elect of the Sanctified Church, and the last Israel will be saved, they will be sealed by the Spirit (Eph 1:13-14). At this moment, the Spirit of God descends to sanctify them.
144,000 – being 12,000 of each tribe, resembling the listing of tribes and their land in Ezekiel 48, the “New Jerusalem.”
every tribe of the sons of Israel – the Book of Revelation is really the story of the battle between the elect, the true “the sons of Israel,” and the Gentiles. The Gentiles strayed from the message of salvation that came from the Jews. But they must learn that “salvation is from the Jews” (John 4:22). The Gentiles trample the Holy City in Revelation 11, “do not measure the outer court for it has been given to the Gentiles” (Revelation 11:2). The Gentiles or Nations are judged by the 144,000 in Revelation 14. In Revelation 19, the Rider on the White horse strikes down the false teachings of the “nations” or “Gentiles,” using the word of God. Throughout the Book of Revelation, “Nation” and “Gentile” are the same Greek word, representing those who are not a part of the chosen people.
The listing of tribes excludes Dan, who is in all the primary Old Testament listings. Many speculate why Dan was taken out. The strongest view is that Dan’s tribe set up an image and worshiped, after entering the promised land, see Judges 18:31. This signifies that those who worship the image of the beast will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Dan is replaced by Joseph and Manasseh, rather than the two sons of Joseph, Ephraim and Manasseh. Ephraim is representative of the corrupted Kingdom of Israel in Hosea 5 – 14, and the kingdom of the beast, called the “drunkards of Ephraim” in Isaiah 28:1.