“And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree. And 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 given to hurt the earth and the sea, Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads. And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel:
Of the tribe of Juda were sealed twelve thousand.
Of the tribe of Reuben were sealed twelve thousand.
Of the tribe of Gad were sealed twelve thousand.
Of the tribe of Aser were sealed twelve thousand.
Of the tribe of Nephthalim were sealed twelve thousand.
Of the tribe of Manasses were sealed twelve thousand.
Of the tribe of Simeon were sealed twelve thousand.
Of the tribe of Levi were sealed twelve thousand.
Of the tribe of Issachar were sealed twelve thousand.
Of the tribe of Zabulon were sealed twelve thousand.
Of the tribe of Joseph were sealed twelve thousand.
Of the tribe of Benjamin were sealed twelve thousand.” (Revelation 7:1-8, KJV)
You may notice, after reviewing the twelve tribes listed in Revelation 7:5-8, that the tribe of Dan is missing and the tribe of Ephraim is renamed. (The tribe of Joseph is another name for the tribe of Ephraim.) These nuances reflect certain developments that occurred during the history of ancient Israel.
Israel (also known as Jacob) and his family moved into Egypt because of the famine in Canaan (Genesis 46). He happily reunited with his “long lost son,” Joseph, and he adopted Joseph’s two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, as his own. (Genesis 48:5) This adoption elevated the two grandsons of Israel to a position that was equal with their eleven uncles. Eventually, Ephraim and Manasseh became leaders of tribes bearing their names. (Joshua 14:4; Numbers 1 and 26.) This development explains why, at the time of the Exodus, the actual number of tribes that departed Egypt totaled thirteen, but they were formally counted as twelve. (Exodus 24:4; Deuteronomy 33)
When Moses ascended Mount Sinai to meet with God for forty days, many Israelites fell into idolatry while Moses was gone by worshiping the golden calf which Aaron built. When Moses returned to the camp, he called for volunteers to kill the defiant idolaters. The Levites immediately stepped forward and they killed about 3,000 of their kinfolk. When the Lord saw the Levites were willing to kill their kindred to honor His covenant, He exalted the Levites above the other tribes by making them His priests. (Exodus 32:25-29; Deuteronomy 33:8-11) This may sound strange, but when God exalted the Levites as priests, He eliminated their inheritance. The Levites were not given a share of the promised land. Instead, God gave the Levites a portion of the bounty from the land – the tithes and offerings1 that would be forthcoming. (Numbers 18:20-24)
The inclusion of the tribe of Levi in Revelation 7 is significant for two reasons. First, this is the only place in the Bible where the Levites are numbered as one of the twelve tribes after the death of Moses. (Deuteronomy 33) Second, even though the tribe of Levi was exalted above the other tribes in ancient times, they are not exalted above the other tribes when it comes to the sealing of the 144,000. There will be as many Benjamites as Levites. The demotion of the Levites is explained by the apostle Paul in Hebrews 7 when he explains that God abolished the Levitical priesthood due to the implementation of a new covenant.
One final point in this section should be noticed. Revelation 7:5-8 indicates that when the sealing of the 144,000 occurs, each tribe is larger than 12,000 people. For example, the Bible says, “Of the tribe of Levi were sealed twelve thousand.” The existence of each tribe will prove to be interesting later in this study because, currently, no one knows the identity or whereabouts of the twelve tribes. Fire destroyed the genealogical records of Israel in A.D. 70 when the Roman general, Titus, destroyed Jerusalem. In light of the language used in Revelation 7, the absence of genealogical records is interesting because the identity of the twelve tribes is known only to God at the present time. Of course, the twelve tribes have to exist at the time of the end because 12,000 will be selected and sealed from each tribe.
Bible References to the 144,000
Because the book of Daniel has been unsealed, we have four valid rules of interpretation. Because we have the rules, the identity, mission and timing of the 144,000 can be determined. Since Rule Two of apocalyptic prophecy requires that all specifications be met in order to produce a fulfillment, please review the following specifications concerning the 144,000. A discussion about each specification will follow:
- John calls the 144,000, “servants,” “servants the prophets,” and “servants of God” in the book of Revelation. (Revelation 6:11, 7:3, 10:7, 19:2)
- The four angels do not hurt Earth until the 144,000 are sealed. (Revelation 7:3)
- The 144,000 will be the first to receive the seal of God. (Revelation 7:3) They will be presented to God as the firstfruits of the Great Tribulation. They will not be defiled with women and they will travel with Jesus wherever He goes. (Revelation 14:4)
- Unlike the numberless multitude who will come out of the Great Tribulation, the 144,000 will be numbered. (Revelation 7:5-8, 9, 14)
- The 144,000 will experience and endure the sufferings of Christ. They will be honored above the rest of the redeemed. No one else will be able to sing their song. (Revelation 14:1, 3)
- No lie or falsehood will be found in the mouths of the 144,000. (Revelation 14:5)
- The 144,000 will visibly wear the names of the Father and Son on their foreheads throughout eternity. (Revelation 14:1; Revelation 22:3, 4)
- The 144,000 will be Jews, descendants of Abraham. (Revelation 7:5-8)
Now that these eight specifications have been summarized, a few remarks about each one may prove to be helpful.
Are the 144,000 “Servants the Prophets?”
John calls the 144,000, “servants,” “servants the prophets,” and “servants of God” in the book of Revelation. (Revelation 6:11, 7:3, 10:7, 19:2) Observe John’s use of language in the following texts (For the sake of clarity, I have inserted a few words in these verses and enclosed them in brackets, but especially notice the words I have emphasized with bold print.):
- Fifth Seal: Revelation 6:11 “Then each of them [the martyrs] was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and brothers who were to be killed as they had been was completed.”
- The Delay: Revelation 7:3, 4 “Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God. Then I heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel.”
- The Seventh Trumpet: Revelation 10:7, 11:15, 18 “But in the days when the seventh angel is about to sound his trumpet, the mystery of God will be accomplished, just as he announced to his servants the prophets. . . . The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in Heaven, which said: ‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever. . . .’ The nations were angry; and your wrath has come. The time has come for judging [avenging the blood of] the dead [martyrs], and for rewarding your servants the prophets and your saints and those who reverence your name, both small and great – and for destroying those who destroy the Earth.”
- The Third Bowl: Revelation 16:4-6 “The third angel poured out his bowl on the rivers and springs of water, and they became blood. Then I heard the angel in charge of the waters say: ‘You are just in these judgments, you who are and who were, the Holy One, because you have so judged; for they have shed the blood of your saints and prophets [the martyrs], and you have given them blood to drink as they deserve.’ ”
John Distinguishes between Prophets and Saints
If we compare these four passages to one another, we find that John consistently distinguishes between God’s servants and God’s saints. For example, in the first text, Revelation 6:11, John distinguishes between “servants” and “brothers.” Since the fifth seal occurs during the latter part of the great tribulation we have to ask, “What ‘servants’ of God will be slain during the Great Tribulation? Could the “servants” in Revelation 6:11 be the 144,000 “servants” mentioned in Revelation 7:3? Yes! Here is why:
In the fourth text, Revelation 16:4-6, John distinguishes between “saints” and “prophets.” This particular text forces a distinctive wedge between a group of people called “saints” and a group of people called “prophets” because of timing. We know that the third bowl will be poured out in the final days of the Great Tribulation (during the seven last plagues). The Bible says the third bowl will be specifically directed to those who shed the blood of “saints” and “prophets.” The book of Revelation identifies the prophets who are killed by the people who receive the third plague. The 144,000 “servants” in Revelation 7:3 are the “prophets” slain in Revelation 16:4-6. Notice how this connection is made.
The third text says that just before the seventh trumpet sounds, “The mystery of God will be accomplished just as He announced to His servants the prophets.” What prophets will be informed about “the mystery of God” prior to the sounding of the seventh trumpet? Could the servants the prophets in Revelation 10:7 be the 144,000 servants mentioned in Revelation 7:3? The internal harmony within Revelation says, “Yes!” The 144,000 will be a distinct group of people who are separate and distinct from the numberless multitude who come out of the Great Tribulation.
Look again at the third text. When the seventh trumpet sounds in Revelation 11:18, loud voices in Heaven will urgently proclaim that the time has arrived for Jesus to avenge the killing of His “prophets” and “saints.” Once again John distinguishes between a group of people called prophets and a group of people called saints, and he indicates that people in both groups will suffer death during the Great Tribulation.
– When we consider John’s repetitive distinction between saints and prophets . . .
– When we consider the 144,000 will be called God’s “servants”. . .
– When we consider that many (if not all) of God’s prophets will die because of the Word of God and the testimony they maintain (martyrdom during the fifth seal) . . .
– When we consider that God’s mystery (announced to His servants the prophets) will be finished just before the seventh trumpet sounds . . .
– When we consider that God will avenge the death of His saints and prophets by giving blood thirsty murderers blood to drink during the time of the third bowl . . .
– When we combine these points, our understanding of 144,000 “servants” expands into 144,000 “servants the prophets.”
Before the Great Tribulation begins, God will select, empower, and seal 144,000 servants who will serve Him as prophets during the Great Tribulation. These people will speak for God. Because of religious arrogance and gross ignorance, most of these servants of God will suffer the fate of prophets in ages past. (Matthew 23:37)
I believe they are Christians and Jews. Galatians 3:29 says we are Abraham’s Seed
And if ye are Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, heirs according to promise.
Galatians 3:29 ASV
We took the place of the Jews that were broken off.
Christopher hello. “Tribes of Israel” seem to me blood relations.
Whereas A “Jew” can be grafted into the nation as a proselyte or as you quoted in the other scriptures.
So you can be a Jew without having any of the blood of the twelve boys and their offspring.
I used to believe in replacement theology that came into vogue prior to 1948 when the Jews’ dry bones became a nation.
I now know Jehovah isn’t finished with His wife, His nation and that His promises to Abraham will be kept by him. With Abraham’s natural descendants.
Now the 144,000 is a different matter altogether in my thinking.
The Bible is very clear on who they are and where they come from and the fact that they are the first fruits. (Rev 7:&14:)
I can’t go beyond those clear statements that these are virgin Jewishs’ or perhaps another way might be non-married.
Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Bible Students’ teachings from Russell is the only way I have ever heard of viewing the 144,000 as any different than what the Bible says.
Now the subject of Jewishness, in general, is a different subject.
Because he says from certain tribes, he makes sure you understand this. There are many tribes in Israel as we see from the fact we see Joseph’s sons mentioned. He didn’t say from the 12 sons of Jacob but from the tribes of Israel. Nor did he say a Jew but of “born in Tribe”. So Gentiles don’t belong to any tribe but can be a Jew.
Rev.7:4 4 And I heard the number of those who were sealed, one hundred forty-four thousand, sealed out of every tribe of the people of Israel:
Rev. 14 gives more info that they have the son and the Father’s name. Like a wife takes the name of the husband and thus his father’s name. (just trying to think on this, lol).
It is logical that if a bride they would be virgins and with heavenly bodies they are neither male nor female. (just thinking again).
They also have a relationship of being with the lamb wherever he goes. If they are his wife I can see them going where he goes.
14 Then I looked, and there was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion! And with him were one hundred forty-four thousand who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads. 2 And I heard a voice from heaven like the sound of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder; the voice I heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps, 3 and they sing a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and before the elders. No one could learn that song except the one hundred forty-four thousand who have been redeemed from the earth. 4 It is these who have not defiled themselves with women, for they are virgins; these follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They have been redeemed from humankind as firstfruits for God and the Lamb, 5 and in their mouth no lie was found; they are blameless.
Also, I wonder if the house that the Angel shows John in Rev 21:14 gives a clue that it is the 144,000 that is his bride and not all Christians. His Father took from His family a Bride for His Son.
Seems like a very Jewish thing to do as we see it in the Old Testament, a lot.
With a mind free to think now, this satisfies my questions on the 144,000.
Rev.14 9 Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” 10 And in the spirit[f] he carried me away to a great, high mountain and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God. 11 It has the glory of God and a radiance like a very rare jewel, like jasper, clear as crystal. 12 It has a great, high wall with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and on the gates are inscribed the names of the twelve tribes of the Israelites; 13 on the east three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates. 14 And the wall of the city has twelve foundations, and on them are the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
I fully understand what you’re saying. I’ve read many different views about it. But I just see the 144,000 as those grafted into the broken off branches of Israel. So therefore they would be considered the 12 tribes of Israel as well. Also I see the 144,000 embedded in the tabernacle arrangements and measurements. In the tabernacle supposed to represent us as well. I also see the church called the first fruits and these 144,000 also called the first fruits so I would assume that they were also the Saints as well. Also if you take the meaning of the names of the tribes in the order that they are given in the list in revelation seven it would give a description of the bride of Christ. That’s why I can say I am firmly convinced that it’s part of the bride
Christopher, I think only the 144,000 is the Bride, not the entire Church. This is just my little brain’s reasoning.
They are the First fruits taken from the entirety of Israel. They look like the Brides HOUSE of Rev 21:2 then start at verse 9 onward. This is still a Bride not a wife yet. Maybe the wedding feast has taken place but she is still a bride. A Jewish wedding feast takes place before the wedding and can last for a week or more, then He takes her home and they are married. But I don’t see her as a wife yet by Rev. 21
Then I saw her in Rev.14: 1-4 14 Then I looked, and there before me was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads.
I had my husband’s and his Father’s name because they both have the same name. Leading me to think this is the Bride the Jewish Father (Jehovah) picked for His Son a Jewish boy, from all of the Jewish tribes. I think this is Jesus his bride and her father-in-law.
I could be wrong, but my brain needs to think.
The Church was raised and the Christians living at the coming down of the Lord before Armageddon was changed and met him in the Clouds, in the air as He (Christ) was on his way down to earth. So the Church reigned with him for 1,000 years and the Apostles, I think would rule on thrones with him in the land of Israel on the throne of David.
I don’t see where Jesus has married this bride yet. He isn’t even married in Chapter 21. She is still in Brides clothing. Chuck Missler had expressed once that he didn’t think the entire Church was the Bride.
Of course, the Jews are followers of Christ also not secular Jews but He should have at least 144,000 since he left. To note they have to be at least 12,000 from each tribe.
Now that Israel is a nation since 1948 it is easier for me to understand.
I can be wrong on all of this but I have learned that literal first for Revelation.
BTW When Jesus comes down and stars are falling and the powers of the heavens are shaken, I take literally also. The stars aren’t falling to earth, earth is to tiny for one of them to hit it even. Also, we know that there is a 2nd heaven where Principalities preside and I imagine Jesus with a host of angels will kick up some dust!
What the sign of him that we will see, I can’t figure that one out yet.
Take Care and thanks for commenting.
PS: I might be down your way next weekend for a funeral. The girl that was attacked and murdered Tuesday night around 9:15 in your city is my Niece’s daughter.
This is an answer posted to the question as to whether the Seventh-Day Adventist, Jehovah Witnesses. Christadelphians, Charles Taze Russell, and other groups are correct in their assessment of who the 144,000 is.
My personal view after carefully considering what the Bible actually says is that the 144,000 are from the “Tribes of Israel” mentioned. Not the “Saints”
The majority of each group, in reality, believe their group has this number in it and others are either Christians or the Great Multitude or Crowd of Revelation.
Just another point of view, you be the judge and take away from this article what you want or discard it altogether,
Just trying to start the brain to thinking. Enjoy or dislike. (:)