The 144,000 Jewish Witnesses
Chapter 14: 1-5
“Then 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. 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. They sang as it were a new song before the throne, before the four 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.
“These are the ones who were not defiled with women, for they are virgins. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These were redeemed from among men, being first fruits to God and to the Lamb. And in their mouth was found no deceit, for they are without fault before the throne of God.”
In our last article we talked a bit about robotics and the growth and speed at which they have developed. There were examples of ‘learning’ robots that could, during a conversation, learn things about the person they were speaking with. Others still, just in the area of gaming, had the power to beat men and actually create moves on their own simply using the power in them to process information. I did not put these things in the article to scare anyone. Rather, these things are there to inform us and prepare us.
All of life is coming to a head, as they say. The ways of the world system and the ways of the heaven system are running to the same ‘end’ so to speak but with diametrically opposed results. One hopes to create a ruling class of humans that subjugate the whole world; see movies like the Mocking Jay series and the like. Even if you go back as far as Demolition Man and others, you will see the ruling elite versus the common man, the enlightened versus the ignorant buffoons. In almost all cases, the ruling elites, the enlightened never believe in God. They treat Christians as buffoons; who in their right mind would believe in God?
Christians need to stop feeling the need to fit in; we cannot and we will not. No matter how educated or sophisticated that you think you are, as long as you truly believe that Jesus is God, that Jesus came in the flesh, that Jesus is the ONLY way to be saved and that Jesus is coming back again, and soon, you will be an outcast.
I am not talking about fitting in with things like dress and haircuts. Jesus looked like all the men of His day; we know this because Judas had to identify Him with a kiss. Had he been radically different in dress or physical look, then there would have been no need to identify him in the crowd. By the way, just as an aside, Jesus is not some 6ft tall white surfer dude; he is a Jew. He looked just like all the other Jews of his day – bearded, dark skinned, he had rough hands like a carpenter, and he wore the exact same clothes that they did. What separated Jesus was what He did, said and believed.
This too is what will make us stand out – what we do, say and believe. If we do, say and believe the ways of the world, then one of two things are true; we are not saved or we are saved and choosing to live like we are not. Sadly, the latter is far too prevalent in the Lord’s churches. We have people who know Jesus as Savior yet vote for abortion, vote for socialism and vote for those that are pushing the gender issues and agenda. They sit in churches each Sunday, sing about Jesus, and then vote with the devil.
Something is wrong. I am not talking about politics; I am talking about right and wrong. This has nothing to do with politics. There is coming a time when the Lord’s people will have to make a stand one way or the other. Elijah called out Israel, Joshua called out Israel, and the same call will come to the New Testament church – choose whom you will serve.
Let’s get into Revelation.
Jesus and the 144,000, verse 1
Here we see the 144,000 that we first saw in Revelation 7:1-8. These 144,000 men are sealed by God and are commissioned to go and call the Jews from the four corners of the world to repentance. They do a very good job, and there are multitudes that repent and begin to worship Jesus as the Messiah. Further, when we meet them here, their number has not diminished at all. There are still 144,000 of them. God had sealed them with His name as we see here in verse 1. This seal served as protection for them against the anti-Christ and his minions. This also meant that they did not have to operate in secret; the seal of God served as a protection no matter where they were and no matter whom they were with.
Notice that, in the last chapter, the anti-Christ has a seal or a mark as well that was on the forehead and/or right hand of the people on earth. If you wanted to buy or sell anything, then you had to have this mark. This mark was a mark of death; if you chose this mark, you had sealed your doom as far as eternity was concerned. This was a choice to reject Jesus and go to Hell. Satan is always trying to counterfeit God – God has a mark of life, so he has a mark; his of course is of death.
These 144,000 also had their own song (see verse 3). Only they could sing this song. It was a new song that they sang before the throne and the 24 elders and the 4 creatures that lived in front of the throne of God. We are not told the contents of this song, only that it was theirs and theirs alone. In an article a while back, I had mentioned that we should all have a song that we sing to Jesus.
Today as we were driving to work, my wife and I recalled all that God has brought us through over the past year. A year ago, we were preparing to drive to Florida so that my older daughter could board a flight to Kenya as a missionary helper. She would be gone for 3 months; she had never flown before and had never been away from us for an extended time like that before. Over the past year, we have gone through illness, financial strains, family strains, a lot of tears, a lot of praying and change. The one thing that we could say that stayed the same was the Lord. He was faithful to us and provided above all we could ask or think.
What would your song say? How would your song talk about God’s presence and place in your life?
The 144,000 and Celibacy, verse 4
Many of us have grown up with the idea of celibate priests. They were not allowed to marry, in many cases, as they were married to the church. Likewise, the nuns were married to God and, as such, remained celibate. Sadly, we have come to understand that there was a lot of sexual misconduct under the guise of religion in the Catholic church for decades, if not centuries.
The call to celibacy, either for a short time or as a part of our call to the Lord, is important to explore. Like any other teaching, it is easy to distort if not handled correctly. I am married; my wife and I have 3 children. Most preachers and pastors that I know are married and have children. Inside of the marriage union, there can only be celibacy for a short period of time and for as many times as both parties agree.
In 1 Corinthians 7:3-5, we see this instruction:
“Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise, the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
A husband and wife can agree to be celibate for a period of time so as to commit themselves to prayer and fasting, but not too long so that temptation is not given a place to root. They are to resume normal marital relations as soon as possible. It is clear that both must agree, and then they can do this as often as they like. This is not a command; it is simply an observation and suggestion from the Apostle Paul. In the same chapter Paul goes on to say this:
“Now concerning virgins: I have no commandment from the Lord; yet I give judgment as one whom the Lord in His mercy has made trustworthy. I suppose therefore that this is good because of the present distress—that it is good for a man to remain as he is: Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be loosed. Are you loosed from a wife? Do not seek a wife. But even if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. Nevertheless, such will have trouble in the flesh, but I would spare you.”
In verse 25, Paul tells us that if a man is unmarried that maybe he should stay as he is. But this is not a command; look at the very first words in this verse. And, if one does marry, he has not sinned (see verse 28). There is NO universal call for the elders, pastors, or any of the men to be celibate. It may be recommended but it is not commanded. Paul does tell us that those who marry will have trouble in the flesh (end of verse 28). Marriage can bring out the worst and best in you, depending on your relationship with God. As well, when God calls you to do something, it is hard if you have to fight with a spouse and children to fulfill that command.
It would appear, if we look at the context, that verse 7 is telling us that Paul was celibate for the cause of the Gospel: “For I wish that all men were even as I myself.” We know that some of the other apostles had wives that traveled with them (1 Corinthians 9:5), so celibacy was not a prerequisite for being an apostle. In 1 Timothy 3, elders (pastors) were to be the husband of ‘one wife at a time.’ They did not have to be married; but if they were, it had to be to one wife.
In this particular case of the 144,000, God called them to be virgins and completely celibate while they were doing their work for Him in the Tribulation. They had not been with women and most likely never would be. They were then able to focus solely on pleasing God, not having to divide their attention between God and a wife. These men do a great job of evangelizing the Jews left in the world after the Rapture; they find Jews in every tribe, nation and tongue to tell them about Jesus.
The 144,000, the First Fruits of Israel, verse 4
Jesus is the first fruit of the resurrection, we are told in 1 Corinthians 15:23. Jesus, at the time of His resurrection, actually fulfilled the Feast of First Fruits as it was being observed by the Jews. He was the first to be resurrected and was the First Fruit of the resurrection. The primary fruit that would come from this resurrection were Gentiles. The first men and women to be redeemed were Jews; but by the time we come to the middle and then end of the book of Acts, we are seeing that the Jews are often rejecting the truth and the Gentiles begin to embrace it more and more.
It is to 7 Gentile churches, representing the 7 kinds of churches that exist in the church age, that the book of Revelation is written to at first. But, with the Rapture, the church age comes to a very abrupt end, and there is a transition back to God focusing on the Jews as a nation. He, God, marks these 144,000 men from the tribes of Israel, and they go about calling millions of Jews to the Messiah.
To those of us who study prophecy, read the paper and try to keep up on current world events; it is clear that beginning with May 14, 1948, God has been transitioning His focus back to Israel. Just over 70 years have passed, and we now have Jerusalem as the capital city, now recognized by the USA and others, and we hear that there are renewed interests and growth in Biblical Hebrew, that there are men being trained in the Levitical priesthood, and more importantly that there is constant migration back to Israel by Jews and their families.
Who in their right minds moves back to an area that is the target of everyone around them? There are frequent reports that missiles are being lobbed into Israel on a regular basis. Why move back there? There seems to be an ingrown desire to move back, and many simply cannot resist it.
On October 8th, 2018, an Iranian general threatened to ‘destroy Israel in a furious attack’ as reported in the Express News. In December 10th, 2017, the Turkish president called Israel a ‘terrorist state.’ On March 16th, 2018, a report on CBN News mentioned a MEMRI report which exposed an article from a Turkish newspaper that called for some 57 Muslim nations to unite to fight Israel.
The book of Ezekiel tells us that such a war will happen, and this will begin some of the troubles that Israel will face as the Gentile age comes to an end and a new age begins – one where Israel is the focus. The Bible is more current on the news than most of the news out there. They just tell us what God already told us. Even as we read, things are falling into place under the careful management of God. Trust the Lord; He has it all under control.
I leave you with Psalm 46:6-11:
“The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah. Come, behold the works of the Lord, what desolations he hath made in the earth. He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire. Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.”