(Part 1)

13:11 And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth, and he had two horns like a Lamb, and he spake as a dragon.

16 And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads;

14:1 And I looked, and lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Zion, and with him and hundred and forty and four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads.

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

6 And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, (Revelation 13:11 & 16; 14:1 & 5-6)

In the previous post on this topic, we looked at the typological corrolation between the 144,000 and the elect army of the children of Israel in the final battle before entering the promised land from the book of Numbers.

In this post we will look more specifically at the context of the passages which speak of the 144,0000.

The book of Revelation, being full of prophetic symbolism and types can be difficult to understand by way of chronology (the order of prophesied events). So before I get going we’ll start with a ‘where we are’ of the context:

The first eleven chapters of the book (or, more accurately: chapters 4-11) give the first telling of the events of the end of the age. The final event in chapter 11 is the last trumpet (1 Cor. 15:51-54), and the resurrection of the dead. The text makes clear that these signs are the utter end of the age, but to verify this, here are a couple of passages that reveal this:

In Revelation 10:6 & 7 the angel of the earth and sea swears an oath by God that when the seventh trumpet sounds: ‘there should be time no longer,’ by this angel’s oath the seventh trumpet signifies the end of time (v.6). The angel goes on to further affirm that at the seventh trumpet the fulness of the mystery of God as revealed in scripture thhrough the prophets will be finished (v.7).

Then in chapter 11, after the seventh trumpet is blown, it is declared by the hosts of heaven that the time to judge the living and the dead had come (v.18).

So then, the first full narrative to the end of the age contains a prophecy of the 144,000 in chapter seven. However, this passage from chapter 14 which gives greater specifics about these 144,000 is in the second narrative of the end of time. This makes it not a seperate prophecy, but contextually this passage fits into a seperate chronological retelling of the events of the end of the age. (I hope that makes sense to you.)

This second retelling of events begins in chapter 12, and goes through basically the rest of the book. This should be evident from the content of chapter 12, as it is about the birth of Christ, and Satan’s persecution of the Church. Chapter 13, then begins with the rise of the antichrist KINGDOM (the beast from the sea is not an individual, it has seven heads which are seven mountains and seven kings (Rev. 17:8-10); likewise its ten horns are describe as ten other kings (17:12)) and ends with the rise of the antichrist PERSON who is an individual, and the establishment of the Abomination of Desolation.

Here’s the interesting thing: the 144,000 appear in the chronology of this narrative immediately after the appearance of the Abomination of Desolation established by the antichrist. Not only is this the case, but John specifically contrasts the seal of the 144,000 with the mark of the antichrist:

13:16 And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads;

14:1 And I looked, and lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Zion, and with him and hundred and forty and four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads.

The fact of these being in context chronologically related is affirmed by John’s specific contrast of the seal of God with the mentioned mark of the beast. In fact, the corrolation goes even further than that, as you see that the antichrist person is compared to a lamb (…he had two horns like a lamb… (Rev. 13:11)), and Jesus Christ is called ‘a Lamb’ (14:1).

(The seal of God was already predicted of the 144,000 in the previous narrative in chapter 7 (v. 3). We went over what that seal is in the first part.)

Now the next interesting thing about the chronology of this narrative is that following the revealing of the 144,000, John sees an angel fly through heaven with the everlasting Gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth.

There is an immensely prevalent teaching these days (which began to be taught about 150 years ago, and is now so prevalent that most Evangelical Christians today have been taught it their whole lives) which states that the resurrection occurs before God’s judgment on the antichrist Kingdom and the whole church will be caught up or ‘raptured’ from the earth BEFORE the rise of antichrist. This teaching is not supportable biblically, and I call it heresy not to be contentious, but because it is a contradiction of plain statement scripture from the pen of Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-6 where Paul very adamantly affirms that the Curch will not be gathered together unto Christ until AFTER the falling away, and the rise of antichrist.

They teach that before the ‘final’ return of Christ there will be a ‘secret rapture,’ this is also heresy, i.e. a direct contradiction of the prophecies of scripture that ‘every eye will see him’ (Rev. 1:7); and that His coming will be as the lightning that lights he entire sky (Matt 24:27; Luke 17:24) – expressly NOT secret according to the bible.

Aside from the passage in Thessalionians there are others which the rapture teaching seems to stand in contrast to (if not directly opposing, as is the case with 2 Thess. 2).

If the church is caught up before the resurrection of the dead at the utter end (which is also precluded by 1 Thess. 5:16 which states that the DEAD in Christ rise FIRST – if the dead rise first, how is there a rapture of living saints prior to the resurrection at the last trumpet?)

Speculation has been made on the basis of the rapture doctrine that the way of salvation would be different after the rapture (but before the return of Christ at the resurrection) because it would be a seperate dispensation from the Church age in which we live now. This is not only a logical theological conclusion, but an accurate one as well; when Christ returns the dispensation will indeed be changed, we will no longer be waiting for the redemption of our bodies, it will be a manifest reality. Biblically the duration called the ‘thousand year reign’ will commense at the resurrection (Rev. 19:19-20:6).

So, if the way to salvation is different after the rapture, what form will it take? Generally the conclusion made by rapture proponents is that the Old Covenant returns. For this reason they will use the 144,000 as spoken of in Revelation 7 as a proof text that these are literal Jews (Rev. 7 calls out the twelve tribes of Israel – which we also discussed part 1 on this topic). If that is what you have been taught, please see also post: ‘The Rapture and the Return of the Old Covenant‘.

Here in Revelation, however, we are given a chronology of events, and AFTER the estabblishment of the Abomination of Desolation, the 144,000 appear. Why are there still Christians in the earth? Is not the end merely the hour of judgment for the world? No, actually, the hour of judgment is the return of Christ, itself at the last trumpet (Rev. 11:15-18).

But, again, why are they still in the earth? It is affirmed to us in the context and chronology that the Gospel still must be preached in all the world.

Rev 14:6
6 And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people,

This is also affirmed in the previous narrative of the book of Revelation; when the angel sware the oath that time would be no more and that the mystery of God found in scripture would be finisheed when the seventh trumpet sounded, yet it was even AFTER he swore this oath that he told John:

Thou must prophesy AGAIN before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings. (Rev. 10:11)

Likewise, in the previous narrative, the two prophets appear to preach the Gospel and their death and ascention are the final sign to the earth of the death, resurrection, and ascention of Jesus Christ before the final trumpet.

The people of the earth still have the opportunity to turn to Christ and be saved in the end of days.

If you are reading this, and have not put faith in Jesus Christ, it is by His righteousness that you may be saved. The whole world is at enmity with God; this is evidenced by all the wickedness that exists in this world – and yet we tend to blame God for that wickedness. It is the expressly the fault of man, and not of God. The bible says that by one MAN sin entered into the world (Romans 5:12), and death by sin for ALL have sinned. That is: WE created sin, corruption, wickedness, all the evil in the world and injustice, and we all are responsible because we all partake of sin. You can’t point at someone more wicked than youself and blame them, for you too have sinned

In our sin we make ourselves God’s enemies, and just as the vilest oppressor must be punished, we too have partaken in sin, and are worthy with the worst of death for we have enabled and participated in it before a Holy God in whom is no injustice.

But God came as a man and died in your place in order to take the punishment you deserve. Put faith in Jesus Christ, friend, and be no more an enemy of God.

The scriptures are being fulfilled, andd all that is written will come to pass. Give your life to Christ, follow the Lamb of God as the 144,000. Escape from the wrath to come.