This article will show what we know about the 144,000 Jews of the book of Revelation and how they fit into the end of this age and in the Millennium.
First, who are the 144,000?
We know that they are 12,000 Jews from each of 12 tribes of Israel listed in Revelation 7:4-8:
Revelation 7:4-8 And I heard the number of those who were sealed. One hundred and forty-four thousand (144,000) of all the tribes of the children of Israel were sealed: of the tribe of Judah twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Reuben twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Gad twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Asher twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Naphtali twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Manasseh twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Simeon twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Levi twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Issachar twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Zebulun twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Joseph twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Benjamin twelve thousand were sealed.
They will be here on earth for the last 3 ½ years and need the protection of the Lord, to keep the devil and his cohorts from destroying them, and also from the judgment and wrath of the Lord that will be coming upon mankind and the earth. Before the first trumpet sounds, or the first bowl is poured, the Lord will seal them for their protection.
Revelation 7:1-3 After these things I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, on the sea, or on any tree. Then I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God. And he cried with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea, saying, "Do not harm the earth, the sea, or the trees till we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads."
In these verses we can see that “harm” will be coming to the earth, sea and trees but must be held back until these 144,000 are sealed. By seeing what the first 4 trumpets do, we can see that they are most likely to be the 4 angels commanded to wait until the sealing process is completed.
The 4 other possible ones, might be the first 4 angels of the bowls of God's wrath, or some combination of the angels of the trumpets or bowls. No matter which 4 angels are held back, God’s judgment and wrath will be coming upon the earth and its inhabitants for the last 3 ½ years, and these 144,000 remnant Jews must be protected for the duration.
The verse below may reveal a warning for them.
Revelation 18:4 And I heard another voice from heaven saying, "Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues.”
The following Scripture confirms the 144,000 Jews are still here for the 5th trumpet and being protected for the last 3 ½ years.
Revelation 9:3-4 Then out of the smoke locusts came upon the earth. And to them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power. They were commanded not to harm the grass of the earth, or any green thing, or any tree, but only those men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads.
We can also see that the term of their protection and care to be 3 ½ years as shown in these verses.
Revelation 12:6 Then the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there one thousand two hundred and sixty days.
The “woman” is Israel and represented by the sealed 144,000 Jews. While the devil and Antichrist really hate Israel, the Antichrist will pretend to be pro-Israel and deceive many. But his deception will only be temporary. The Antichrist will overtake the temple in Jerusalem for his own purposes. The daily sacrifices will be stopped, and the false prophet will have the beast's image set-up there. At the same time, the Antichrist will be seeking to rise to utter supremacy, his real hatred of the Jews will come out and the eyes of the 144,000 Jews will be opened.
It seems that because the 144,000 will keep themselves pure in keeping clean hearts and making sacrifices before God, that they will be spared God's wrath which follows the rapture. I believe they will realize the real Messiah (Jesus Christ) at the rapture, but it will be too late to be included; thus, causing the need for them to be sealed for their protection.
When they refuse to bow to “the man” that they will have mistaken as their Messiah, he will turn on them and they will have to flee for their lives. Not only will the “pressure” be upon these Jews, but it will be upon Christians who will refuse also.
Consider this next section of verses in Luke. Some of this is a double prophecy that was fulfilled first in 70 AD, and some will also happen again.
Luke 21:20-24 "But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near. 21Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those who are in the midst of her depart, and let not those who are in the country enter her. 22 For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. 23 But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! For there will be great distress in the land and wrath upon this people. 24 And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.”
Some people consider the preceding verses in Luke 21 the same as the following verses in Matthew 24 and Mark 13 but there is a difference. Please read the verses below from Matthew and Mark and more will be explained.
Matthew 24:15-22 "Therefore when you see the 'abomination of desolation,' spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place" (whoever reads, let him understand), 16"then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.17 Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house. 18 And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes. 19 But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! 20 And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath. 21 For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. 22 And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect's sake those days will be shortened.”
Mark 13:14-20 "So when you see the 'abomination of desolation,' spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not" (let the reader understand), "then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.15 Let him who is on the housetop not go down into the house, nor enter to take anything out of his house. 16 And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes. 17 But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! 18 And pray that your flight may not be in winter. 19 For in those days there will be tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the creation which God created until this time, nor ever shall be. 20 And unless the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect's sake, whom He chose, He shortened the days.”
The verses in Luke 21 foretold of fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD, the Jews being forcefully taken away captive to other countries and also that the time of the Gentiles must happen. But notice the verses in Matthew 24 and Mark 13, warn specifically of “the abomination of desolation” - “standing in the holy place where it ought not,” as spoken of by the prophet Daniel (Daniel 11:31) and later prophesied of, in the book of Revelation by the apostle John (Revelation 13:12-17). What all three have in common, is the warning for those of Judea to flee for their lives because of horrible tribulation.
So the 144,000 and any other Jews who will not bow to the evil one, will need to flee for their lives. Christians will have to flee also. The Lord will rapture up all surviving Christians, but until He does, there will be tremendous pressure to kill all who will not bow to the evil one. This will be a tremendous tribulation. Though these verses were posted previously, if you will notice, it is after the abomination of desolation is set-up, when the tribulation will come that “has not been since the beginning of the world, nor ever shall be.”
What is the seal of the 144,000?
Revelation 14:1 Then I looked, and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His Father's name written on their foreheads.
The Father's name is written on their foreheads which also correlates with Revelation 7:3b saying, “... till we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads." Most other versions of the Bible, say that both “the names of the Son and the Father,” will be on their foreheads.
We know they are redeemed.
Revelation 14:3-4 They sang as it were a new song before the throne, before the four living creatures, and the elders; and no one could learn that song except the hundred and forty-four thousand who were redeemed from the earth. These are the ones who were not defiled with women, for they are virgins. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These were redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb.
So what happens to the 144,000 at the end of the 7 years?
The Bible never says these 144,000 ever leave the earth. The Battle of Armageddon and the Second Coming conclude the last 7 years of this age (with the Antichrist and false-prophet being cast into the lake of fire burning with brimstone as shown in Revelation 19:20), followed by what is called the Millennium. Some try to say it has been the Millennium since Jesus came, but in fact, it has been almost “two millennium” and in these (nearly) 2000 years, Jesus has not done yet what He will actually do in this specific Millennium. Jesus will be physically here on earth ruling and reigning.
Revelation 20:4 And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.
At the conclusion of the Battle of Armageddon, God will have the devil bound and put away for this special 1000 year period of time.
Revelation 20:1-3 Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished. But after these things he must be released for a little while.
This section of verses also show that people who believe these events (preterists) to be fulfilled already are mistaken. The devil is running to and fro about this earth right now.
We believe these 144,000 “will birth the new Israel” for this last 1000 years.
During the last 7 years of this age, these were virgins who did not defile themselves with women; who were not deceitful and who kept themselves right before God.
Consider these verses once more:
Revelation 14:1-5 Then I looked, and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His Father's name written on their foreheads. 2 And I heard a voice from heaven, like the voice of many waters, and like the voice of loud thunder. And I heard the sound of harpists playing their harps. 3 They sang as it were a new song before the throne, before the four living creatures, and the elders; and no one could learn that song except the hundred and forty-four thousand who were redeemed from the earth. 4 These are the ones who were not defiled with women, for they are virgins. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These were redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb. 5 And in their mouth was found no deceit, for they are without fault before the throne of God.
We see Jesus on Mt. Zion on earth with these 144,000 with Him. We can rest assured it is the Mt. Zion of earth because a voice from heaven is then heard in verse 2. This shows it to be the Millennium.
We can also see that they are firstfruits to God and to the Lamb.
Firstfruits literally means: “the first, in place, time, order or rank, the beginning”—Strong's Dictionary. To put it simply, in order for anything to be firstfruits, means there is more coming.
Consider the example of Jesus as a firstfruits.
1 Corinthians 15:20 But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
Jesus is the firstfruits, followed by all who die in Him and will rise in Him.
Consider the verses once again:
Revelation 14:5, These are the ones who were not defiled with women, for they are virgins. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These were redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb.
If we consider again that firstfruits means the beginning of something, then what are the 144,000 male Jews the firstfruits of?
These men could be the firstfruits of the redeemed Israel that will come into fruition during the Millennium. They are called “virgins” but like many of us, we were virgins until we married. Who would they marry? That is a great question. Personally, I believe only the males are listed. I believe the women are not counted here for whatever the reason. God never intended for man to be alone. Somehow, some way, these consecrated gentlemen will birth the New Israel.
Who would the people of the Millennium be? Who would Jesus and the saints rule and reign over?
All Christians will be transformed at the rapture and the Bible says that Christians will no longer marry or die (Luke 20:34-36). But this group of Hebrew firstfruits were sealed by God and not given transformed bodies. This means they will still be able to procreate.
In another train of thought, they could be the first part of the redeemed of the Millennium.
Some of us really believe Jesus that when He said, He is the only way to the Father; that what He said is 100% true. Some believe that God would judge some based upon their works that never had the chance to hear the Gospel. Others believe, those who never had the chance to really hear the Gospel are simply eternally doomed. But what really will happen for the people who would have chosen Jesus Christ but never heard the Gospel? And what will happen to the people who were not born in their right minds or died young? Could it be that there are aborted babies along with these others and whoever else the Lord deems should be there, to have their chance to accept or reject the Jesus in the Millennium? If so, the 144,000 might be considered the firstfruits of the redeemed in a new way. The day of salvation as we currently know it, will be over at the rapture. But could it be that the Millennium is the time set aside for wrapping it all up? For giving those that need a fair chance to accept or reject the Gospel? We do know the devil is loosed briefly after the conclusion of the Millennium. Which would stand to reason in that a time of testing is necessary for everyone.
There are some people who believe that God will replenish mankind for the Millennium by using "survivors" of the Battle of Armageddon and the pressing of the grapes of wrath in God's wine press.
This thought does not seem biblical. At the conclusion of the Battle of Armageddon, God will eradicate out the rest of mankind. We know this according to the Bible. Here are the verses that show it.
Revelation 19:19-21 And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army. Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone.And *the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse. And all the birds were filled with their flesh.
* “The rest” are those who will have joined in making war against the Lord. Does it say "the rest" - except for those the Lord spares? There are not any survivors left after the trumpets and bowls of God's judgment and wrath and Armageddon. These people will have to be the ones who will have taken the mark of the beast and sided with the devil against God. They are also “the grapes” those that will be crushed in God's wrath. The first harvest (Revelation 14:14-16) is the rapture and the second harvest is the harvest of the wicked, and is believed by many to happen at the conclusion of the Battle of Armageddon and the conclusion of the end of the age.
Revelation 14:18-19 And another angel came out from the altar, who had power over fire, and he cried with a loud cry to him who had the sharp sickle, saying, "Thrust in your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth, for her grapes are fully ripe." So the angel thrust his sickle into the earth and gathered the vine of the earth, and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God.
For those that say that any survivors would be left after the Battle of Armageddon and the crushing of the grapes of wrath, beyond “the sealed ones of God” seems ridiculous and unscriptural. Anyone who worships the beast and his image and receives the mark of the beast, is doomed forever and not eligible to live in any Millennium as shown in the following verses.
Revelation 14:9-11 Then a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, "If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.
The very thought that God would pick and choose from “any wicked survivors,” as some suggest, to be part of "the re-start of mankind" for His new Millennium seems impossible.
In this case of seeking understanding, and in all cases when something is not explained, it is one thing. But when things are stated or explained, then it is whatever it is.
Here are some of the facts about the 144,000 we can know from Scripture:
They are called “the servants of our God” here. (Revelation 7:3)
They are sealed for their protection. (Revelation 7:1-3)
Their seal is the seal of God, which is the Father's Name written on their foreheads. (Revelation 7:3,14:1)
They are taken care of by God for a time, and times and half a time. (Revelation 12:14)
The dragon hates them and will seek to destroy them. (Revelation 12:15)
They are virgins not defiled with women. (Revelation 14:4a)
They are not deceitful and are right before God. (Revelation 14:5)
They will be redeemed from among men. (Revelation 14:4)
They will be firstfruits to God and to the Lamb. (Revelation 14:4)
Not only are they Jewish but also true followers of Jesus Christ. (Revelation 7:4,14:4b)
They are humans of earth, not sent from heaven or anywhere else.(Revelation 7:2-3,14:4b)
We are only allowed to know so much. We can state what we know and consider some of the possibilities. In time, everything will come into being, just as the Lord has said and it will all make sense then. In the meantime, we must “trust in the Lord with all our hearts, and not lean on our own understanding; and in all our ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct our paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6, singular present tense).
But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. 1 Thessalonians 5:4-6
While we do believe in a mid tribulation rapture, we are not saying we know the day or the hour. The Lord makes it very clear that no one but the Father knows that. While we do believe it is at or near the middle of the last 7 years of this age, the Lord says that He has to cut the time short for the elect's sake in Matthew 24:22 and who knows the amount of time that will be?