Our Bible is replete with numbers, adding numerical precision to God’s counsel. Incidentally, we can tend to focus on parts of the Bible that do not have specific numbers and ignore those other parts that have precise numbers given to us for a reason. Unless otherwise specified–as in the seventy weeks of Daniel– we should always take biblical numbers literally.
So, what are we to make of God’s description of the 144,000 men from Israel in Revelation? Keeping with the context, in Revelation 7:1-8, they will be 12,000 Jewish men from the 12 tribes of Israel. They will not be Jehovah’s Witnesses or any other group of men. There is no reason to believe that they are spiritual Israel either.
Some have argued that tribal identity is no longer identifiable since–to the exception of the Levites who carry their tribal identity in their names like Cohen or Levy– all records kept inside the Temple in Jerusalem were destroyed when that very Temple was destroyed in A.D. 70. So, today, the vast majority of the Jewish people do not know their tribal origins and will not be able to discover it by any other means. While this identity is lost to men, it was never lost to our omniscient God, and since He will personally hand-select the 144,000 men to become world evangelists during the Tribulation, we ought not to worry about who they are.
On the other hand, we ought to rejoice and be very grateful that even during such a time of turmoil on planet Earth during the Tribulation, God will provide a way out of eternal damnation through the powerful evangelistic ministry of these 144,000 preachers of the Word. The future of some of our loved ones left behind will depend on the witness of these evangelists.
In Revelation 14:1-5, we read again about the 144,000, this time towards the end of the Great Tribulation.
1 Then I looked, and behold, the Lamb was standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His name and the name of His Father 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, and the voice which I heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps. 3 And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders; and no one could learn the song except the one hundred and forty-four thousand who had been purchased from the earth. 4 These are the ones who have not been defiled with women, for they have kept themselves chaste. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These have been purchased from among men as first fruits to God and to the Lamb. 5 And no lie was found in their mouth; they are blameless.
We can learn several things about these men from the two passages:
• Revelation 14:1 tells us that they will receive the special seal from the Lamb and the Father on their forehead as they will be set apart for a very special ministry. That seal will also protect them from harm during the Great Tribulation, also known as the “Time of Jacob’s Trouble,” since it will focus primarily, but not exclusively, on the Jewish people.
Revelation 14:1, “having His name and the name of His Father written on their foreheads.”
• Revelation 14:3 explains to us that they have been purchased. Yeshua paid the price for these men with His own blood, so they belong to Him.
Revelation 14:3, “the one hundred and forty-four thousand who had been purchased from the earth.”
• Revelation 14:4 adds that these 144,000 Jewish men will be pure as not having defiled themselves with women. There is no reason to look at this part allegorically. This speaks of virgin men set aside for celibacy and service to God.
Revelation 14:4 “These are the ones who have not been defiled with women, for they have kept themselves chaste.”
• Revelation 14:4 also tells us that these men will be obedient to the call that they have received from the Lamb. They will be persistent and consistent against all odds.
Revelation 14:4 “These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes.”
These men will turn out to be the greatest evangelists the world has ever known. Incidentally, since the Jewish people have been scattered by God into the Diaspora, we can find Jewish people all over the globe, and they usually speak at least two languages and often more. What a great asset to their evangelistic endeavor during the Tribulation. They will be unstoppable and through their ministry, many people will come to a saving knowledge of Yeshua the Messiah.
These men will be Jewish men left behind as unbelievers after the pre-tribulational, pre-millennial Rapture of the Church. They will become believers after the Rapture and then start their evangelistic ministry. Now, the one thing we cannot do as believers is to set a date for the Rapture. Yeshua Himself warned us. Nobody knows the day or the hour and we shouldn’t try to figure it out.
Matthew 24:36 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.
Acts 1:7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority;
Yet, there is something that we should do and be very excited about doing. When we look around us, no matter what country we live in, most people get the impression that we truly are in the last hour of the end-days. It is surprising to see that Yeshua hasn’t already returned to snatch the Saints and allow for the Tribulation to start. But God doesn’t wish for anyone to perish.
2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.
While many will never accept Yeshua as the Son of God, Savior of the world and Messiah of Israel, He is longsuffering and is giving the world more time to come to Him. Considering the times we live in, it might not be an exaggeration to believe that some of the Jewish males we encounter and share the Gospel with will become part of the 144,000. This is supposed to be an encouragement to all believers. Today, whenever we share the Gospel with a Jewish man, you could be planting a Gospel seed in the heart of one of the future 144,000. We would be investing in future kingdom work way beyond the Rapture. Along those lines, we also ought to start praying for the 144,000 and their ministry.
So, aside from seeking to bless the Jewish people and in return, be blessed by the God of Israel according to the promise given in Genesis 12:3, we truly have 144,000 reasons to share the Gospel with Jewish people today. We truly live in exciting times!