In the book of Revelation’s seventh chapter, an angel ascending from the east, signifying the exalted primitive faith once delivered to the saints, bears the mighty work of intercession to hold back the winds of judgement, sealing the servants of God on the foreheads. This message of the sealing is a message which is “ascending” until the number of the servants of God are fully sealed. “Bind up the testimony, seal the law among My disciples… Behold, I and the children whom the LORD hath given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel from the LORD of hosts, which dwelleth in mount Zion.” (Isaiah 8:16,18)
The verse of Isaiah speaks to the work of sealing that occurs among the disciples of Christ. The sealing angel seals the number of the children of Israel, 144,000 living saints, 12,000 of every tribe, and these 12,000 of every tribe are the disciples of Christ. How many disciples did Christ have? He had twelve disciples; yet here at the end of the age, He has a thousandfold more. We want to examine the verse in Isaiah 8, and unpack some of the details in relation to the 144,000 being the disciples of Christ. When was the testimony of the Spirit of the Lord’s covenant sealed upon the twelve disciples? On the day of Pentecost, which was the former rain (Joel 2:23); yet these disciples are sealed in the latter rain at the time of the harvest. Who speaks when it declares to behold “I and the children whom the LORD hath given Me for signs and wonders”? Paul the apostle declares that this is the Son of God speaking in Hebrews 2:12-13. Why do they dwell upon Mt. Zion? Because this is symbolic of the heavenly church (See Hebrews 12:22-23). Upon the earthly Zion, the Sanctuary of the Lord was established. In the Zion of heaven, the heavenly Sanctuary is the awesome dwelling place upon the “holy mountain of God”. It is upon this mountain that the 144,000 are seen standing on Mount Zion with the Lamb. “And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads.” (Revelation 14:1)
What do we know about those who stand with Christ upon Mt. Zion? They are called “firstfruits”, which in the context declares that they are set apart as the portion belonging to God. In every feast, Unleavened Bread, Pentecost, and the Harvest/Tabernacles festival, each had special harvests wherein the firstfruits of their harvests were set apart for the Lord. In the context of Revelation’s fourteenth chapter, there are two types of harvest taking place. One belonging to the Son of Man, who has “on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle.” He reaps the firstfruits of the earth in time for the feast. This first, therefore, belongs to the Lord when the harvest of the earth is ripe. These are the firstfruits of the earth. The second belongs to destruction, which is the remaining portion of the harvest, that belongs to the land owner, which in this case, would be Satan, the “god of this world” to whom they have sold themselves. He is the angel under the altar, which has power over fire; he demands the death of the altar, which is the death which fell upon the lamb slain for sin, which is the second death. Thus we are told that “Pharoah”, that great dragon of Egypt (See Ezek. 29:2-3), “shall see them, and shall be comforted over all his multitude, even Pharaoh and all his army slain by the sword, saith the Lord GOD.” (Ezek. 32:31)
Furthermore, returning to these firstfruits belonging unto the Lord, they are “undefiled with women”, which in Bible prophecy means they are pure from the corrupting influence and teachings of churches and nations. Unlike the harlot woman of Revelation, they are called “virgins” (See 1 Cor. 11:2-4). They follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth, even unto death. And these have a pure tongue, in their mouths are no deception. They are neither deceived, nor are deceiving others.
A Figurative or a Literal Number?
There has been many arguments on deducing whether the 144,000 is a literal or a figuratively symbolic number. A careful examination of Revelation and the rest of the relevant Bible counsels will answer this question for us. If we take the literal flesh and blood tribes of Israel as here being sealed, we may also conclude that this is a literal number. However, flesh and blood does not inherit the kingdom of God; and while flesh and blood Israelites are doubtless included among these numbers, the requisite spiritual birth from above would be necessary to be among this number. Moreover, it is far more profitable to understand the significance of how to be among that number, rather than to make endless debates as to the enumeration of the class of individuals they should seek to be partakers of.
Nevertheless, the Bible does tell us something, and it is worthy of taking notice of. Regarding the New Jerusalem which the Lord builds, and not man, we are told of it’s length and breadth: “And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs.” What this means is that the city is a perfect square; twelve thousand furlongs times twelve thousand furlongs. If we multiply the length and the breadth of the city together to measure it, it totals 144,000,000 furlongs. This would be approximately 264000000 football fields side-by-side! Moreover, the walls of the city also hold a similar number. “And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel.” (Rev. 21:17)
The wall is “an hundred and forty and four cubits”. What is the significance of 144? It is the measure of a man, even of the angel. Why would a wall measure the height of a man or an angel? It means the full measure of the angel of the Lord, that is Jesus. In fact, Jesus is the full spiritual measure of what a man is to be: “Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:13) This experience of “a perfect man”, “the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” is the measure of “the angel”, even of “an hundred and forty and four”. Therefore the 144,000 represent those who have come unto the perfection of Christ’s fulness. It is a symbolic number to signify those redeemed from the earth who have the perfected character of Christ reproduced in them, who “followeth the Lamb whithersoever He goeth.” The full gift of the Lamb is given unto these; the full Son of God is made manifest; these have sacrificed fully and have received His sacrifice entirely. Sin is wholly renounced, and righteousness is wholly formed within. Why is the measure of the wall this measure? It is because we are to represent the wall of the heavenly Jerusalem, as it is written, “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house,” (1 Pet. 2:5) and Christ is the chief cornerstone. The 144,000 are fit stones, suitable and hewn out perfectly for the place in the Master’s house.
144000 & The Great Multitude
There are many who separate the great multitude and the 144,000 as two distinct classes of individuals. Some think that the 144,000 are super soldiers who will give the last message of mercy to the world. However, is this what the Scriptures teach? After the finished work of the sealing of the 144,000, the great multitude is seen. “After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;” (Revelation 7:9)
If we compare the great multitude’s experience with the 144,000 and the description Revelation gives of them, without seeking to prove any opinion but only what the Scripture tells us, we will see that the great multitude and the 144,000 are the same class of people.
For example, when seeing the 144,000’s voice described in the fourteenth chapter of Revelation, it says “I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder.” (Rev. 14:2) And if we compare the voice of the Great Multitude, it says “And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, even as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings.” (Revelation 19:6)
Bear in mind, that the 144,000 are the firstfruits who have been made ready by the first, second, and third angel’s message to be ready for the harvest of the Son of Man. They have feared Him and given Him glory in the hour of the great judgment, and their sentence is everlasting righteousness and holiness.
These are further described with their harps. “I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps: and they sung a new song before the throne.” We remember that the great multitude were “before the throne” also, but these are described as having harps and singing a new song before that throne. This also refers to the Great multitude. “And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God. And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints.” (Revelation 15:2-3) This song is the same confession as the first angel’s message declared by the great multitude in heaven: “And after these things I heard a great voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God: For true and righteous are his judgments: for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand.” (Revelation 19:1-2)
We may furnish further evidence outside of the book of Revelation from the book of 2 Esdras of the great multitude standing on Mount Zion with the Son of God, or how the Spirit of Prophecy refers to the 144,000 as quoting the great multitudes verse, of this class having palms in their hands and clothed with white robes. Yet this is not the overall intent of this article.
The Secret Message to the 144,000
Lastly, it is evident that the 144,000 “had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name”. This experience, married to the experiencing of perfecting a Christian character, answers perfectly to this people. Yet Revelation has a special message for the 144,000 and their experience, in hope of the reward to come for persevering against the most fearful time ever witnessed upon the earth. This message is an important one, but it is kept hidden in the Scriptures from plain sight. When you look at the names of the 144,000, and the order in which the tribes are sealed, anyone who carefully studies their Bibles will notice a few discrepancies. The first and most apparent thing is that the list is not in genealogical order. Judah was not the firstborn, Reuben was, but Gad was not the third born, nor Asher the fourth. The list is in an entirely different order!
The next conclusion we could be left to assume is that this is the order that they are listed in must be the order that they are sealed. However, the book of Malachi in chapters 2-4 tells us that “the messenger of the Lord”, to “prepare the way” before Him, is called Levi, and is called “Elijah the prophet”, and these prepare Judah to be sealed for the return of Christ. It’s clear that the prophetic tribe of Levi must be sealed first, and the prophetic tribe of Judah after.
So what is the reason for the order of the names? In the Kingdom of God, names always carry a meaning behind them. In the Hebrew language, and in the Scriptures at the birth of each of the children of Israel, the meaning of the names of these children, and their tribe, has been preserved. When we examine the meaning of each name in the Hebrew language, a message is given especially detailing the victorious experience of the 144,000. First, we will examine the meaning of the names, and then, look at the message itself.
Judah- “Praise/Give Thanks”
Reuben- “Behold, a son”
Gad- “A troop/army”
Asher- “Blessed in the straight way”
Manassah- “Causing to Forget”
Zebulon- “An Exalted Dwelling Place”
Benjamin- “Son of the Right Hand”
The message regarding the 144,000’s experience is as follows: “Give thanks! Behold a son, like an army, who is blessed in straight paths, whose wrestlings have been forgotten, for he has been heard. He is joined to his reward in the exalted dwelling place, being increased to the Son of the right hand.”
In Scripture, there are several instances where the body is referred to in a singular manner. Israel, when being delivered out of Egypt is called “My Son, even My firstborn.” (Exodus 4:21-22) Yet they were a great multitude of hosts. The 144,000 stand upon Mt. Zion which is called “the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven”; and what is a firstborn according to Scripture? It is the heir, and receives a double portion of the Father’s blessing (See Deut. 21:15-17). “He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.” (Revelation 21:7) Christ is the true Firstborn Son, but in the blessing of the Son of God, we become “joint-heirs”, and He shares the substance of His inheritance with us. Yet this promise comes upon only those who are in the covenant of blessing by obedience, and have chosen the narrow way that leads to life (See Deut. 28, 29) that they might live.
Like the giving of the name of Israel to Jacob in his wrestlings with the Angel, these leave their old names, and are given the singular name of the Son of God, which is Israel, the prince of God. The great wrestlings of this sacred number are known by Christ in Gethsemane, where the great exchange takes place. It was there that Christ began to bore the name of transgression, that they might bear the name of righteousness; yet it is only through wrestling that this shall be accomplished for them. Like Jacob, the time just before the return of Christ is called “the time of trouble such as never was” (Dan. 12:1), and again, “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer. 30:7), it will require no less wrestling, but when the deliverance of Christ is wrought at His return, “the former troubles will be forgotten” (Isa. 65:16). And we should all strive to be among that number whose wrestlings have been forgotten, for He has heard us and delivered us. May we rejoice in the victory which the Lamb has wrought on our behalf, and be accounted worthy to stand with Him upon the Holy Mountain of Zion.