CHAPTER 14



JESUS AND THE 144,000 ISRAELITES

We have already covered the main points I felt were lacking in other prophecy books on the following subjects:

1. The longitudinal aspect of Biblical prophecy as understood in the light of the Law of Double Reference.

2. New thoughts and concepts on the "two witnesses".

3. Clarification of the confusion about Daniel's "seventy weeks".

4. Giving a few clues on how to recognize some of Satan's delusions and handiwork within certain worldly empires and 'religions'; and how these relate to the 'kingdom' he is building.

Therefore, to keep this book reasonably-sized, from here on I shall present even larger blocks of Scripture, followed by less commentary on the main highlights of those passages. This in no way means the Scriptures yet to be discussed are of any lesser importance.

1 "And 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 And they sang a new song before the throne, before the 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 whereever He goes. These were redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb.

5 And in their mouth was found no guile, for they are without fault before the throne of God."

From Genesis to Revelation there are many stories which seem to traverse the following pattern: God makes a promise to fulfull a certain act, then Satan precedes and perverts the real thing God had originally purposed and prophetically revealed. Example: Abraham and Sarah had an idea on how to "help" God fulfill His promise of a son to them. Since Sarah was too old to conceive (they reckoned), Abraham could have sexual relations with their servant, Hagar. He did and Ishmael was born. (The reader will recall that Mohammad is a descendant of Ishmael. Isn't it amazing how one's sin will invariably find him out? Today, Israel continues to be threatened by the Arabic, descendant-nations of Ishmael.)

Initially, Abraham and Sarah looked to reason instead of believing God. But in spite of their first actions, God remained faithful. Sarah did have a son (Isaac) who became the line through which eventually would come God's Lamb, and Israel's Messiah, Jesus Christ.

In our present study of prophecy, we see man continues this particular sinful pattern. In chapter 13, John gave us a description of Satan's best effort to pervert what God will one day accomplish. That is, the anti-Christ and his lamb-like forerunner, the False Prophet, will make their attempt at being the messiah the world wants. Like the distorted, evil idea Satan planted in Abraham and Sarah's minds, it won't work. It will come. It will go. Afterwards, God's Kingdom will be set up.

Following the pattern, immediately after chapter 13 where we see Satan's best perversion of God's plan, next comes the appearance of God's true Lamb. Also with Him are the 144,000 --- a unique group chosen for a special mission. There is much speculation among Bible students as to the exact identity and purpose of these people. I don't see any reason to guess about it. In chapter 7 we saw that 12,000 individuals from each tribe of Israel (which totals 144,000) were set aside for some eventual function. We have now reached the chapter which describes their destiny.

THE 144,000 BORN-AGAIN JEWS

Since chapter 7 so explicitly pointed out that there would be 12,000 people from each of twelve tribes of Israel, there's no reason not to accept this at face value; i.e., they will be 144,000 Israelites. It is very important to realize that the population in national Israel today does not necessarily represent all the tribes of Israel. I think the majority of modern Israel came from the tribe of Judah. I also believe the twelve tribes of ancient Israel are scattered all over the world and I doubt whether most of them have any idea that they are ancestorally-rooted in one of the twelve tribes of Israel! However, God knows who and where they are and I think these 'Israelites' are being set aside this very day. Also, the number is probably almost complete. Presently, each one becoming a member of this particular group is most likely coming into God's Kingdom just like any other Christian --- hearing the Gospel with a believing heart. But one of these days, I believe an anointing will come upon these Christian-Israelites (born-again, blood-line Jews) larger in scope than anything yet seen in all Christian history.

THE LAST HALF OF THE "70TH WEEK"

Earlier I left you with the idea that 486 1/2 years of the 490-year Covenant Jesus confirmed, had transpired at Jesus' ascension. The counting stopped at that point, leaving 3 1/2 years to be completed at some future time. I believe God put this particular prophetic time-clock 'on hold' for the duration of the Christian Dispensation. Although brief, the 3 1/2 years remaining to be completed is a very important time period. I believe this particular 3 1/2 years is the last half of the final seven year countdown of this age. Now, it will be during this last half of what is commonly called the "Tribulation" that these 144,000 set-aside Israelites will become Jesus' co-workers for the final harvesting of souls. The Church will have just been raptured when this group 'takes over'.



[Now let me again summarize how I see the final seven year period. The first half can accurately be called Tribulation. (Tribulation being defined as "trouble in the world resulting from man's gross sinfulness and rebellion toward God"). The last half (i.e., the final 3 1/2 years) is more correctly called THE GREAT TRIBULATION, Scripturally referred to as the "time of Jacob's trouble". This latter half will be far more intense than the first half in terms of living conditions and manifested-hatred towards God and Godly people. Up until now the Holy Spirit has always restrained wickedness but will then have removed His restraints on satanic activities, thus allowing evil to rise to its full capacity. It is during this latter half that the 144,000 will be performing the work they were called to do.

So, the Tribulation should actually be broken into two distinctly different time segments. In the first half of the anti-Christ's build-up, the Holy Spirit will still be "restraining" evil; while in the second half (after the Church has been removed), the Holy Spirit adopts sort of a "hands off" policy concerning evil and the anti-Christ system. However, He will obviously still be here in order to seal the Great Tribulation believers.] (See 2 Thes. 2:1-12).

"ELIJAH'S" TASK OVER --- "ELISHA'S" TASK BEGINS

As I pointed out in Revelation 11, I'm not at all convinced Elijah will be one of the "two witnesses"; one like him perhaps, similar to John the Baptist, but not Elijah personally. But, there is one aspect to this reasoning which interests me. According to those who believe Elijah is one of the two witnesses, when Elijah was caught up (see 2 Kings, chapter 2), the incident was a glance into the distant future, believed to be prophetic of the rapture of the Church. (Insofar as the timing of the Church's rapture, you can see that the Futurists and I actually disagree only by a factor of 3 1/2 years. But oh, what an important 3 1/2 years!)

O.K., let's assume Elijah's rapture was a picture of the time when Christ calls His Church to be with Him. One day while pondering this issue (at the same time studying this chapter, Rev. 14), a question suddenly came to my mind: "If Elijah represented the Church, why stop spiritualizing there? Could Elijah's replacement, Elisha, likewise have been an Old Testament foreshadowing of yet another distant-future event?" I'll leave it to you to read 2 Kings chapter 2 in depth but the story goes something like this: Elijah knew that he would soon be "taken away" and he had already placed his "prophet's mantle" on Elisha's back (see 1 Kings 19:19&20). That act sealed Elisha as the one who would take up the former prophet's role, somewhat like the transfer of the baton in a relay race.

But prior to departure, Elijah asked Elisha if there was anything he might do for him before he left. Elisha said, "let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me". Elijah told him if he saw him leave, then the request would be granted. Elisha did see the event as Elijah was swept away in a "chariot". Soon thereafter, it seems Elisha wanted to check whether his "double portion" had been given. He walked over to the river Jordan and struck the waters with his mantle (as he'd seen Elijah do) and cried out, "...where is the Lord God of Elijah?" And the waters parted in response to God's new prophet in the Land of Israel. (Later, Elisha saw his new power demonstrated again when he "cursed" --- in the name of the Lord --- 42 mocking children. Two "she-bears" came out of the woods and killed the youth. Lesson: don't mess around with God's anointed.)

From then on, the Scriptures reveal that Elisha did indeed receive the "double portion" of the "spirit" that was upon Elijah. Here's what I want you to get: if Elijah pictured the alive "saints" who would be raptured at the end of the Church age, what future role might Elisha forecast?

I believe Elisha foreshadowed the 144,000 as described in Revelation 7 and here in Revelation 14. Carrying this logic to its natural conclusion, just as Elisha received a "double portion" of the "spirit" that was upon Elijah, so also shall be the case with the 144,000 called-out Israelites after the Church is removed. (The "spirit" which was referred to by Elijah and Elisha is, of course, Holy Spirit empowerment.)

Why must the anointing upon the 144,000 need to be double-portioned? We must remember that the 144,000 will be working during the GREAT TRIBULATION, the last half of the final seven year countdown period. This will be concurrent with the reign of the anti-Christ --- a period we know that will be extremely tough for believers. Therefore, it doesn't stretch the imagination to realize it will require "double portions" in order to provide endurance for the 144,000 prophets of Israel to minister during the "time of Jacob's trouble".

Thus, when the anti-Christ is functioning under his full 'anointing' from the devil, the 144,000 will also need a fuller measure of power to continue and not faint. It is noteworthy to observe that Elisha was not all that fearless prior to his "double portion". In fact, when first called through Elijah to be the next prophet, his natural flesh resisted tremendously. He wanted to remain on the farm and work. But, after the anointing, he became a different person altogether. The same will be true when the 144,000 receive their anointing as soon as the Church is raptured. They will "strike the river Jordan", so to speak, with their "mantles", it will part and multitudes of people will come to believe in the Messiah they will proclaim, Jesus Christ.

INTERESTING IMPLICATIONS

Earlier I suggested that everyone does not necessarily know whether they are in the lineage of one of the twelve tribes of Israel. Marriages within national Israel haven't remained purely within the framework of their own; some have married 'Gentiles'. Consequently, I'm sure many have lost track of their own racial background. There are likely thousands (perhaps millions) of people of Israel background without the slightest awareness of it.

Remember also, Assyria took the ten northern tribes of Israel about one hundred years before the Babylonian captivity of the Southern Kingdom. (The Southern Kingdom consisted mainly of the tribes of Judah, Benjamin and a few Levites). The far greater number of tribes (10) were in the Northern Kingdom. There is no Biblical account as to what happened to those ten northern tribes. My conviction is that those people were then dispersed throughout Europe and now are scattered all over the world, most unaware of their link to national Israel.

But God knows who and where the Israelites are. And when the last trumpet sounds, calling the Church to meet Christ in the air, certain Christ-believing Israelites will suddenly be anointed with a "double portion" of God's Holy Spirit and a new work will begin. The 'mantle' will have passed from "Elijah" to "Elisha".

I'm persuaded that those 144,000 are being saved today. They are coming into the kingdom just like everyone else: hearing the Gospel with a believing heart. If you have read between-the-lines here, you can see that some Christians will not leave when the Church does! That'll shock some readers. But, someone has got to stay behind and finish the work God has purposed during the final wrap-up --- the 144,000.

Some can't accept the implications as I see them here. But I ask you to consider the logic of this presentation. If, as most Futurists would say, all Christians were to be raptured at the end of this age, there wouldn't be even one remaining believer in the world! Now, even the Futurists believe there will be multitudes saved during the tribulation. QUESTION: Who is going to be leading this multitude to salvation?

There will be a multitude of Christians right up to the end of the Christian age (mid-point of the Tribulation). There will also be a sizeable number (144,000 to be exact) to take over the mantle at that point. I'm convinced the "Elijah-task" is about over now and that the "Elisha-task" is about to begin. All signs point to it. If you, dear reader, happen to be here at that time and come to realize that you are in fact one of the 144,000, take courage my 'Israelite' friend and, good harvesting!

PREACHING ANGELS?

6 "And I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth---to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people---

7 saying with a loud voice, "Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water."

If this is to be interpreted literally-only, this is an amazing prediction; an angel gets to preach the Gospel! How does he do it? Perhaps the same way the Holy Spirit prompts our minds today. But maybe it has a symbolic meaning. The angel was seen in the "midst of heaven" proclaiming the Gospel to those on earth. Perhaps the inference is to the gospel coming down to earth via satellite transmission.

"BABYLON" FALLS

8 "And another angel followed, saying, "Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication."

Ancient Babylon epitomized man-centeredness: materialism, ungodliness and paganism. Paradoxically, the greatest apocalyptic Scriptures of the Old Testament were revealed to the prophet Daniel during that time. The apostle John also speaks of a "Babylon". However, the "Babylon" referred to in verse 8 above is a "spiritual Babylon" rather than a particular place. I think the instruction here to us Christians is that the spiritual nature of the sins practiced in the original Babylon are now dispersed throughout the world. We will see this "Babylon" discussed later in much greater detail.

SOWING AND REAPING

9 "And 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,

10 "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. And he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb.

11 "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."

This passage describes what happens to those people who submit to the anti-Christ's rule and authority. I call your attention to a very important point here: Note that his followers will (future tense) receive the Wrath of God. I emphasize this because, as you recall, the Futuristic viewpoint is that the Seals and Trumpets are a part of God's Wrath. But we saw the first mention of God's Wrath in Revelation 11:18 and John now speaks of it again here, doubly assuring us that God's Wrath still hasn't come, and we are now well past all the Seals and Trumpets! The Wrath of God will be spelled out in chapters 15, 16 and 17.

Notice that GOD'S WRATH will be dispensed "without mixture". I take this to mean God will not temper or soften His final judgment. By then, God's righteous indignation will have reached the point of climax. Man will have rejected God as far as He will allow. You see, God is a loving God. He is longsuffering and merciful. He has always held back His wrath against man, knowing that he is such a weak vessel. And God wants to win mankind to Himself, giving him all kinds of chances to wake up and repent of his evil deeds and rebellion towards God. But even God has His limitations. When we get to the time described above, God will have gone as far as He will go and those who have "sown" badly will "reap" badly. As the apostle says in verse 11, "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."

ATTENTION UNREPENTANT SINNERS!!!

This is a good place to talk to non-Christians. If you are unsaved, I invite you to receive the gift of eternal life right now. There is a day coming, and I think not too distant future, when God will pour out His Wrath on those who have refused His offer of eternal life to be spent with Him in His Kingdom. It's not something which might occur (as though an accident), dependent upon how good you may have been in this life. God does not judge on the merit system. We don't win 'brownie-points'. Nor does He gauge you relative to me and then pick the better of the two.

Self-righteous thoughts won't get us to heaven. God sent His Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross for our sins. He is the "bridge" between us and Almighty God. There are no other substitutes. All the religions and philosophies in the world will not provide you the gift. The gift is A GIFT. It's there for the receiving. You and I receive it by faith.....faith in the already-accomplished work of One Person --- Jesus. Faith must be exercised in order for salvation to commence. This involves believing with your mind and your heart that what Jesus did was for you.

The Bible teaches that we need to confess our sins before God with the mouth. Tell God you are sorry for your sins and that you want to be forgiven and cleansed. Tell Him you've heard that the shed blood of Jesus paid the price for all your sins and that you understand this is the only acceptable sacrifice to Him to remove your sins. And tell Him you believe this to the best of your ability. Then, ask Jesus to come into your heart, mind and soul to become your Lord and Savior. When you do this, the Holy Spirit will seal you as God's purchased possession and give you guidance and help you to turn away from your old sinful ways and habits.

God bless you, fellow sinner, as you purpose to do what I just shared with you. And if you did it sincerely, welcome into the Kingdom of God. You've received The Gift. You and I are now fellow Christians. We're going into eternity together. Don't let anyone, or anything, cause you to stumble or turn away from your new conviction. I say this because you still have a mental storehouse of knowledge of your former ways. Your "old-man", who gets kicked out when you receive Jesus (authority-wise, he dies), may try to tell you, "Nothing happened. You're not saved. You're going to hell," blah, blah, blah... These thoughts are stirred up by Satan, the one hell was designed for. Once saved, Satan knows he's lost in the battle for your spirit; now he's trying to destroy your witness for Christ. He knows you won't tell others about The Gift if he can get you to doubting whether you received it.

One final word to you as a new believer --- read your Bible every day. Begin with the New Testament. Read in this order: John, Romans, Acts, then go back to Matthew and read the whole thing, straight through. Pray every day. Get together with other like-believers, in a Bible-believing, joy-filled, local church. You have received what the Bible calls the BREAD of life. Jesus IS that BREAD. He is the gift. So, enjoy Him to the fullest, my friend!

BLESSED ARE THOSE "IN THE LORD"

12 Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.

13 And I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, "Write: 'Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.'" "Yes," says the Spirit, "that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them."

This passage makes clear that right in the middle of the worst times of recorded history, there will be faithful saints of God around. Note that patience is emphasized. Why so? Because it will be very trying and tempting to face the reality of not being able to buy or sell anything unless one has the "mark of the beast" on him which identifies one's eligibility to operate within the anti-Christ system. Thus, extreme patience will obviously be required of believers in those days.

But, verse 13 reveals a great promise to those who are willing to resist the 'mark'. "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on," the Scripture says. Why does he say, "from now on"? Again, it must be an implication of just how difficult it will be to become a believer then. (This further substantiates the need for the "double portion" being given to the 144,000 Israelites). But, although difficult times are predicted here, never forget that God sustains those who trust Him; and the measure of the power He gives them to maintain will be proportional to the intensity of the trouble they are in. It's always been that way, as typified in the case of Meshach, Shadrach and Abednego in the furnace. (See Daniel 3.)

REAPING THE EARTH'S HARVEST

14 "And I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and on the cloud sat One like the Son of Man, having on His head a golden crown, and in His hand a sharp sickle.

15 And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to Him who sat on the cloud, "Thrust in Your sickle and reap, for the time has come for You to reap, for the harvest of the earth is ripe."

16 And He who sat on the cloud thrust in His sickle on the earth, and the earth was reaped."

These verses summarize the actual evangelization which will be going on during the last half of the Tribulation, better called the GREAT TRIBULATION. One like the "Son of Man" directs this great in-gathering of souls. Jesus often used the title "Son of Man" in reference to Himself. Since John says like the Son of Man, he intimates perhaps a special representative sent in Jesus' behalf. Note that John saw Him "on the cloud". So, whoever it is, it appears he won't actually have touched the earth at that time.

Exactly how the transition of the rapture of the Church and the re-establishment of God's Covenant with national Israel occurs is not clear. But this we can be sure of: Jesus will become especially involved with the 144,000, just as He has been with the Church during the Christian era.

Remember, God's 490-year Covenant was specifically with Israel's twelve tribes. That covenant was "confirmed" and lived out for 3 1/2 years between Jesus and the "many" who received Him during His first advent. It will, I believe, be finalized between Him and the 144,000 during the remaining 3 1/2 years of the 490 year covenant --- the GREAT TRIBULATION.

Admittedly, there is a bit of a mystery here. But then, we don't have to understand God's design of everything in order to know it will work out perfectly.

REAPING THE GRAPES OF WRATH

17 "And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle.

18 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."

19 And 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.

20 And the winepress was trampled outside the city, and blood came out of the winepress, up to the horses' bridles, for one thousand six hundred furlongs."

God is very patient and long-suffering. We see the evidence of this truth historically. We also see it currently. It will be even more manifest during the GREAT TRIBULATION. We saw in verses 14 - 16 above that as wickedness increases, God increases His standards against it. Simultaneously God gives more and more of His blessings, protection and Holy Spirit anointing to the needs of those who love Him. But, there always comes a time when God says, "No more!" to the wicked. That's the above picture.

Earlier I spoke of the pattern of how Satan often comes first, pretending to fulfill God's promises through perversion and deceit. However, in the concluding text of this chapter we see that God has the last word. For those last ones on earth who refuse to receive "The Gift", there awaits for them a measure of wrath never-before witnessed by any man.







SUMMARY

In this chapter we have seen Jesus re-confirming the remaining 3 1/2 years of the 490-year Covenant which God made with Israel with the 144,000 born-again Israelites. We saw that many souls will be saved during the GREAT TRIBULATION as a result of the witnessing done by these double-portioned sons of Jacob. And just as the seemingly-untouchable, ancient Babylon fell, so also the 'Babylon' of our day will fall. And finally, we saw that, while Satan will have his heyday, God's justice will be served when God's wrath is poured upon all those who resist Him --- those who choose instead to follow Satan's counterfeit system.