12 And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges;
13 I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.
14 But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.
Hu? What does this passage have to do with the 144,000 of chapters 7 & 14? Well, I’ll tell you.
In the book of Numbers, the children of Israel were wandering through the wilderness on their way to the land of promise. Typologiically, this represents the waiting for the final redemtion of the church.
Israel has been delivered from Egypt via the celebration of Passover: applying the blood of the lamb to the doorways of their homes. This typifies salvation: our faith in the blood of Jesus Christ as the perfect sacrifice for sins, and our repentance (turning away from those sins) is applying the blood of Christ to the doorways of our heart. Likewise, the childen of Israel have passedd through the water of the red sea where the host of the Egyptian army was killed; this typifies water baptism – our laying our lives down, and committing ourselves in covenant to live in complete obedience to God through suūbmitting to the likeness of burial in water. They have also passed under the cloud of God’s presence, typologically representing the Baptism of the Holy Ghost. Likewise they partook of the supernatural provisions of God in the wilderness; all these things represent the work of God in our lives while we are in this world (1 Cor. 10:1-6)
Yet now in the book of Numbers, the children of Israel are about to collectively pass on from the wilderness (life in this world) into the land of promise (the inheritance of heaven).
The context and content of the book of Revelation is the fulfilment of precisely this phenomenon: the rising Church’s inheritance, and the events leading up to it. The Church in the wilderness of this world, preparing to be caught up with the Lord into glory at the resurrection of the dead. And isn’t it interesting that the Lord, in His diictated letters to the seven churches, regarding the end of days brings up these particular events from Israel’s history? The principles found here will be a prevalent concern for the chuch in the end of days; the doctrine of Balaam will be in operation – and members of the Church will be led astray by it.
So let’s first consider things that Christ points out about the error of Balaam, and then look some particulars of the story from Numbers, itself (we’ll find that the connection with the 144,000 is more specific than a mere mention from an obscure story in Isral’s history).
Where Christ brings it up, He describes the events in this way: ‘Balaam… taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to 1) eat things sacrifiiced to idols, and 2) to commit fornication.’ (Rev. 2:14)
Now if you recall the story, it might take a little thought to see how Balaam taught this to Balak. Balaam was a sorcerer who was hired by Balak to curse the children of Israel for him. However, the Lord would not allow Balaam to curse Israel, in fear for his life (not because he had a circumcised heart), Balaam blessed Israel as the Lord commanded him.
How then did he teach Balak to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel?
In Numbers 23:18-21 Balaam explains to Balak WHY God will not allow him to curse Israel:
He hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither hath he seen perverseness in Israel: the Lord his God is with him, and the shout of a king is among them.
According to Balaam, Israel could not be cursed for three reasons: 1) God could see no iniquity among them; 2) He could see no perverseness in them; 3) the Lord God, Himself was with them.
By this, Balak could deduce HOW to cause the children of Israel to be cursed: 1) stir up iniquity in Israel; 2) foment perversion among them; 3) bring in other gods among them.
To complete these three objectives, only two things needed to be done: enduce the children of Israel to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed to idols. This would bring in iniquity, perversion, and the spirits of false gods.
This is exactly what Balak did; he began to send seductive beauties – witches and priestesses of false gods – among the nation to cause them to fornicate. The appeal for the men, he knew, would be enough for them to tolerate idolatry from their Midianite lovers. This would later become the same processs by which Solomon, the king of Israel would be led into idolatry; because he ‘loved many strange women’ (1 Kings 11:1-4)
Here is also one specific parralell with our topic content Revelation 14:4 describes the 144,000 (in part) this way:
These are they who were not defiled with women; for they are virgins.
Let’s just stick a pin in that thought for the momment, and move on.
So what happened when Balak sent in free whores and seductresses to stir up iniquity, perversion and idolatry in Jacob?
1 And Israel abode in Shittim, and the people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab.
2 And they called the people unto the sacrifices of their gods: and the people did eat, and bowed down to their gods.
3 And Israel joined himself unto Baalpeor: and the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel.
4 And the Lord said unto Moses, Take all the heads of the people, and hang them up before the Lord against the sun, that the fierce anger of the Lord may be turned away from Israel.
5 And Moses said unto the judges of Israel, Slay ye every one his men that were joined unto Baalpeor.
Wow, that Balak was a smart guy; he realized that if he wanted Israel cursed, he had to get them to sin against God. That’s what he did, and sure enough, God’s wrath came upon them.
That is also what Jesus says of those who fall into this error and wickedness today:
Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and fight against them with the sword of my mouth. (Rev. 2:16)
I know there is a ‘once saved, always saved’ theology out there, but this paints things a little different for us. The reason that the children of Israel were blessed was because they were in right covenant with God. When they turned back to the lusts of the flesh (fornication) and idolatry (rejecction of the covenant they made with God), the blessing lifted, and the wrath of God returned. Fear God, depart from evil; or, again, as Christ says to the Church today:
Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and fight against them with the sword of my mouth. (Rev. 2:16)
Ok, so where are we in the narrative? Now iniquity is found in the children of Israel: FORNICATION. But do not fear, there is yet an elect of God among them; there are yet a people redeeed from among men who have not defiled their garments. Let’s continue the narrative from Numbers; pay attention to the role of Phineas the priest in these next verses because he is the typology of Christ in this story (and Moses the type of God the Father):
6 And, behold, one of the children of Israel came and brought unto his brethren a Midianitish woman in the sight of Moses, and in the sight of all the congregation of the children of Israel, who were weeping before the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.
7 And when Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose up from among the congregation, and took a javelin in his hand; [(compare: ‘…or else I will come and fight against them with the sword of my mouth.’ (Rev. 2:16))]
8 And he went after the man of Israel into the tent, and thrust both of them through, the man of Israel, and the woman through her belly. So the plague was stayed from the children of Israel.
9 And those that died in the plague were twenty and four thousand.
10 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,
11 Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, hath turned my wrath away from the children of Israel, while he was zealous for my sake among them, that I consumed not the children of Israel in my jealousy.
12 Wherefore say, Behold, I give unto him my covenant of peace:
13 And he shall have it, and his seed after him, even the covenant of an everlasting priesthood; because he was zealous for his God, and made an atonement for the children of Israel.
Ok, so we get the picture; Balaam (now a type of Satan) can’t curse Israel, so he teaches Balak (now a type of antichrist) to lead them into fornication and idolatry. God, who must punish sin now afflicts the children of Israel with punishment; Phineas (now a type of Christ) provides redemption through the gibbet (a type of the cross) putting the flesh and the lusts thereeof to death (King James modestly uses the ‘belly’ for the part pierced through, but the clear implication is the privy area). Moses therebby recives the Word of the Lord which clearly sets Phineas in the role (typologically) of Messiah.
Now, let’s jump ahead to the sequel portion of this story to when the Lord uses His elect from among the children of Israel to punish the Midianites for the evil conspiracy of Balak. This is found in Numbers chapter 31 (don’t worry, I won’t transcribe much of it, just draw a few things out of it).
1 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,
2 Avenge the children of Israel of the Midianites: afterward shalt thou be gathered unto thy people.
3 And Moses spake unto the people, saying, Arm some of yourselves unto the war, and let them go against the Midianites, and avenge the Lord of Midian.
4 Of every tribe a thousand, throughout all the tribes of Israel, shall ye send to the war.
5 So there were delivered out of the thousands of Israel, a thousand of every tribe, twelve thousand armed for war.
6 And Moses sent them to the war, a thousand of every tribe, them and Phineas the son of Eleazar the priest, to the war, with the holy instruments and the trummpets to blow in his hand.
Alright, remember how I said this phase for Israel typologically represents the end of the age up to the resurrection? Here the command of the Lord to Moses is the last order of business in his life until he will be ‘gathered together to his people;’ which language denotes the resurrection. Those who sought to hinder the elect of God from entering into glory must be abolished before the full redemption into the promised land can occur.
Now note the numbers; out of every tribe, 1,000 for a total of 12,000 of all the tribes of the children of Israel. Along with the 12,000 went Phineas, who was the type of Christ – the one who atoned for the children of Israel: the Lamb of God.
Then notice this interesting factor about the battle: according to Numbers 31:49, of the 12,000 from all the tribes of the children of Israel who went to war, not a single one of them died in the war:
And they said unto Moses, “Thy servants have taken the sum of the men of war which are under our charge, and there lacketh not one man of us. We have therefore brought an oblation for the Lord…” (Num 31:49 & 50a)
In the last battle of this age, before we all are caught up to be gathered together with our people there will be an elect of God. The Revelation describes them as 12,000 (the total number from the historic battle prophesying this age) multiplied by twelve, the number signifying the covenant of God with man: 144,000.
2 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,
3 Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.
4 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.
Twelve thousand from each tribe (v.5-8).
1 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.
2 And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps:
3 And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth.
4 These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb.
5 And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God.
Now there are few interesting things about how these passages define the 144,000. First, let’s look at a paralell or two with the correlating story from the book of Numbers.
Remember how Balaaam taught Balak to lead God’s children into sin?
He hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob [(And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God.)], neither hath he seen perverseness in Israel [(These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins)]: the Lord his God is with him [(And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand)] , and the shout of a king is among them. [(And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder)]
Phinneas represented Christ going forth in the midst of the elect.
Now the specifics about the 144,000 from the context of Revelation. Honestly the most telling statements about who they are is given by John in Rev. 14:4
…THESE ARE THEY WHICH FOLLOW THE LAMB WITHERSOEVER HE GOETH. THESE WERE REDEEMED FROM AMONG MEN, BEING THE FIRSTFRUITS UNTO GOD AND TO THE LAMB.
All of the statements made of the 144,000 can be found throughout the teachings of the New Testament, as merely describing the church. They are sealed with the seal of the Living God (Rev. 7:2 & 14:1).
Ephesians 1:13 & 14
13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,
14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.
YOU were sealed – if you have the Spirit of God, otherwise you are none of His.
How about the virgin, thing? Does this mean there are a literal 144,000, and they are literal virgins? No, the number is figurative of the elect; likewise the faultlessness of these elect. They are faultless through the blood of the Lamb, for should it mean they are literally virgins, literally without sin, there would be none for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, They are virgins in that they are not defiled by the fornication and compromise of the antichrist system; they are vvirgins in the sense that Paul spoke of in 2 Corinthians 11:
2 For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.
3 But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
4 For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.
Namely that they follow the Lamb (Jesus Christ) wherever He goes, and are not led away from the simplicity of faith in Him unto a strange doctrines (unlike Solomon led to strange women, and thereby strange doctrines).
Are you redeemed by the blood of the Lamb? Are you sealed with the Spirit of promise? Then you are without fault before the throne of God because you have been made the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21).
These were redeemed from the earth, being the fiirstfruits to God and the Lamb:
Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.
There will be an elect in the earth in the end of days. May you be among them; Beloved, Follow the Lamb withersoever He goeth.
(Sequel post: The 144,000 and the Rapture?)