This is my commentary on an excerpt from Chris Perver’s post “The Rapture of the Church. The post by Chris, in its entirety, can be found here.
There was one section in particular that challenged a position I had been espousing for several years, about the one hundred and forty-four thousand Jewish men who are marked with a seal for protection, it seems, merely from God’s wrath. To make a point, I presumptuously advanced the idea that at a minimum there would be 144.000 survivors that walk into the millennial reign. How perfect would that be, as they could immediately go into teaching mode during the 1000 years.
This position that I took was evoked by a “Christian teacher” who advocated that NO Jews enter into the millennial reign of Christ. I suppose that is just another way of telling a bunch of men that would come back at this “leader” with hostility, that he believes in replacement theology. Seeing as I can see that a relatively small number of Israelis leads to the idea of survivors. (At least 2/3’s of Israel get killed in my bible. Assuming that these numbers are correct and there are eight million people in Israel today, that would leave about 2.7 million survivors.) That information, and the fact that Paul said heaven and Earth would have to pass away for that to happen, make God’s elimination of His people an impossibility. I don’t want to go into detail on that here, but I strongly suggest that you read your Bible, and stop buying into the fairy tales religion feeds us.
My comments are in Times New Roman, the excerpts from Chris’s work are in quotes.
“Throughout John’s description of events on Earth during the Tribulation period, the Church is never mentioned. But Israel is frequently mentioned. In chapter 7, we read how God commands the angels to not hurt the Earth until He has sealed 144,000 Jews with His Holy Spirit. These 144,000 witnesses, 12,000 from each tribe of Israel, will go throughout the world in the last days and preach the gospel of the kingdom. If the Church remains on Earth during the Tribulation, then why is the Lord recruiting Jewish believers to do the work He commanded the Church to do in Mark 16:15? The Rapture must have occurred before the start of the Tribulation period for this reason. After the Rapture, the Church will no longer be able to witness for Christ on Earth. God can’t be without a witness to men, and we know that there will be an untold multitude saved during the Tribulation period (Revelation 7:9). So a remnant of the House of Israel is sealed with the Holy Spirit to be a witness to the world of impending judgment and the need to turn to God for salvation.”
144,000 killed during the tribulation period?
“Some say that the 144,000 Jews are the remnant of Israel that will survive the tribulation, and that the Church at this time will still be witnessing on Earth. This following information is something I just noticed recently in discussion with a good friend of mine, so correct me if I’m wrong. I believe that Israel, as a nation, will not be saved until they recognize their Messiah at the end of the tribulation period (Zechariah 12:10) when Christ comes. The 144,000 Jews are saved at the start of the tribulation period and are killed for their witness by the Antichrist (Revelation 13:7). In Revelation 14, the 144,000 are in heaven, which implies that they were all killed for their witness.”
Revelation 14:1-3 NET. Then I looked, and here was the Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with him were one hundred and forty-four thousand, who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads. (2) I also heard a sound coming out of heaven like the sound of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder. Now the sound I heard was like that made by harpists playing their harps, (3) and they were singing a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders. No one was able to learn the song except the one hundred and forty-four thousand who had been redeemed from the earth.
“The fact that these 144,000 are in heaven before Christ’s Second Coming, and the resurrection of Old Testament Saints, which happens after the tribulation period, is explained in verse four. The 144,000 Jews are called the “firstfruits unto God.” The Feast of firstfruits was when the Israelites offered the food they gathered at the beginning of the harvest for a thank-offering to God. Firstfruits also speaks of resurrection, and Jesus is described as being the “Firstfruits from among the dead,” or the first Man to be resurrected in a new body, never to die again. So the 144,000 are the Firstfruits of the salvation of Israel, and of the resurrection of Old Testament Saints.”
Revelation 14:4 NASB 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.
1 Corinthians 15:20 NASB (20) But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep.
“After the 144,000 are slain, God is still not left without a witness. In the following verses, several angels take up where the 144,000 left off and preach the gospel to the whole world.”
Here is where things took a turn for me, as I had been telling people, especially those that espouse that no Jews enter into the millennial kingdom, that the 144,000, at minimum, would enter the millennial reign.
This statement, “after the 144,000 are slain,” prompted me to look intently, once again, at the scriptures surrounding our introduction to these young men, and what appears to be their demise. We are introduced to the 144,000 in Revelation 7, where we are told what tribes they come from, and that they are sealed. This sealing, which we see in Revelation 7:3, tells us that they are sealed to protect them from the “hurt,” which is about to come upon the earth. This hurt is directed at the earth, the sea, and the trees. The problem is that we assume that this grants them immunity from harm and death throughout the time of wrath; as we will see, it does not.
I have a question, how does God create such havoc that He destroys the earth, sea, and trees, and not impact humanity, which is living here? The answer is, it does affect people. Just look at these two passages from Revelation 8.
Revelation 8:6-7 NASB And the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound them. (7) The first sounded, and there came hail and fire, mixed with blood, and they were thrown to the earth, and a third of the earth was burned up, and a third of the trees were burned up, and all the green grass was burned up.
The first thing we see is hail and fire mixed with blood coming from the skies; because of this, a third of the trees are burned up along with ALL the green grass. Whatever this event looks like, it is nothing we have ever seen before; and you can’t have an event of this magnitude without people dying, and yet, at this point, the 144,000 are protected. WHY? Because this is specifically a part of God’s wrath and it would seem that these men are protected from God’s wrath.
Now we have another problem to deal with and that is that God also uses people to bring about His wrath. It is difficult to NOT see the false prophet as a tool that uses to punish Israel, but there is always the possibility that this person is entirely committed to Satan’s team. I realize that is not an answer, but I cannot recall seeing a good explanation for these guys being killed by the false prophet. If it makes you feel any better, the two witnesses sent from are, after 42 months, allowed to be killed.
In Revelation 14, we see the 144,000 and their validation as virgins, but, as you read the entirety of Revelation 14:4, you can see that it is merely a description of these young men.
Revelation 14:4 NASB 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 firstfruits to God and to the Lamb.
Since there is very little in scripture that is not validated by some other passage, typically in the OT, I was curious to see if there was a correlation. Perhaps Revelation 3:4 is it.
Revelation 3:4 NASB ‘But you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their garments; and they will walk with Me in white, for they are worthy.
Revelation 3:4 suddenly takes on a potentially new meaning, as it talks about “a few” who have not soiled their garments, and how they will walk with me because they are worthy.
Something noteworthy. We, to the demise of comprehension, assume that some passages, like what we see in Revelation 3:4, speaks to the exclusion of Jews; it does not. Those of you who have been with me for a time, have already endured my commentary on the fact that this Bible we claim to study, is a Jewish book, and that every question should be addressed initially from that point of view.
John, in writing the Revelation does something peculiar when he says, to what we assume is a crowd of Gentiles, you are of the Synagogue of Satan. Revelation 2:9 and 3:9 both use the terminology the synagogue of Satan. Just about everyone assumes a little of something about Satan, but I can just about guarantee that NOT everyone knows what a synagogue is unless they are Jewish.
Now we talked about who these young men were, but we bypassed the distinct, ominous event that happens between Revelation 14:1-4.
Revelation 14:1-3 NASB 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.
In trying to grasp where the Lamb is standing, I did a little cross-referencing, which led me to Hebrews 12:22. It says “But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels” (NASB)
When did we come to Mount Zion?
When we became followers of Christ Jesus. I know, it doesn’t seem like you did, but your adoption, in God’s eyes, was complete, and WE are not excluded from anything – even if we don’t see it yet.
So, is it possible that the Lamb standing upon Mount Zion, is in this instance, in heaven?
The answer is yes, but why? The answer to that question is in the book of Hebrews, where the writer talks about earthly priests who are serving a copy and shadow of the things in heaven.
Hebrews 8:3-5 NASB For every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices; so it is necessary that this high priest also have something to offer. (4) Now if He was on earth, He would not be a priest at all, since there are those who offer the gifts according to the Law; (5) who serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things, just as Moses was warned by God when he was about to erect the tabernacle; for, “SEE,” He says, “THAT YOU MAKE all things ACCORDING TO THE PATTERN WHICH WAS SHOWN YOU ON THE MOUNTAIN.”
In my pursuit to understand what was happening here, I, too, made the assertion, the Zion event happens when Jesus comes back to earth and physically touches down. However, to make that scenario work, I have to have the 144,000, in unison, meeting Jesus there on the physical mount, and that only happens, in my narrative, at the end of the seven-years of wrath. This train of thought would make them survivors, and send them into the thousand years we call the millennial reign. Since I now get the picture that Zion originates in the heavenlies, then it is easy to perceive Christ in the heavenlies with these young Jewish men. (Why is this statement I just made important, because we, in Christiandom, loosely refer to Jesus coming back when we speak of the catching away of the Church – which is the rapture, and use the same terminology when we refer to when Jesus physically comes back to earth. In the process of catching the church away, we rise to meet Him in the air. At this point, He does not “touch down,” and there is a dramatic difference.)
The next thing that threw me for a loop was Revelation 14:2.
Revelation 14:2 NASB 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.
We have nothing that associates the 144,000 with harps aside from this scripture. Remember, words carry weight, and just the association with harpists created imagery of people playing harps, and that is not the case. The NASB’s usage of the word “voice” also inadvertently misdirects. A version such as the Complete Jewish Bible does a better job of translating.
Revelation 14:2 CJB I heard a sound from heaven like the sound of rushing waters and like the sound of pealing thunder; the sound I heard was also like that of harpists playing on their harps.
John tells us he heard a sound like:
- rushing waters;
- pealing thunder,
- and like that of harpists playing.
Having done some camping when I was younger, I found the sound of rushing water to be, at times, loud, but and relaxing; I suppose you could equate it to white noise, which drowns out all other sounds. Pealing thunder, depending upon how close you are to it, can be relaxing as well; however, up close, with the associated lightning strikes, it represents danger. Harpists, on the other hand, can fill your very being with emotion and beauty; and, Revelation 1:15 describes God’s voice as being like the roar of many waters. If I were to make an assumption as to what this magnificent noise was, I would say it was God’s voice.
Note that a portion of the next verse says.
Revelation 14:3a. NASB And they *sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders;
Almost as if a magician had misdirected us, one would assume the subject of the word “they” is the harpists; it is NOT, and we figured out why.
Now pay attention to the song that is being sung, and that brings us to the second half of Revelatio14:3.
Revelation 14:3b. NASB and no one could learn the song except the one hundred and forty-four thousand who had been purchased from the earth.
This is NOT harpists singing; it is the one hundred and forty-four thousand witnesses.
Now, if the witnesses are in heaven, how did they get here?
For the answer to that, we have to go back to Revelation 13:4-7.
(4) they worshiped the dragon because he gave his authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast, and who is able to wage war with him?” NASB
Who is the dragon? That one is easy, it’s Satan, but you want substance.
Revelation 20:1-2 NASB Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. (2) And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years;
Although unrelated to the dragon, in the Book of Ezekiel, we find God, referring back in time, to Pharaoh, and calling him that great monster that lies in the midst of his rivers.
Ezekiel 29:3 NASB “Speak and say, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold, I am against you, Pharaoh king of Egypt, The great monster that lies in the midst of his rivers, That has said, ‘My Nile is mine, and I myself have made it.’
Therefore references such as the dragon and the great monster are analogous symbols.
Who is being referred to when it says “they” here?
The assumption is that it is the global population of Gentiles, and that may be true. Still, since we know that the beast is primarily a middle East phenomenon and that he calls for peace, then we can logically assume that he is an influential Islamic leader, capable of pulling the Islamic world together for some form of order, for 42 months.
(5) There was given to him a mouth speaking arrogant words and blasphemies, and authority to act for forty-two months was given to him.
This is the false prophet that scripture speaks of, and he becomes the mouthpiece of the Antichrist. Anyone discerning wants to know who this guy is, and so did Daniel the prophet.
Daniel 7:24-25 NASB ‘As for the ten horns, out of this kingdom ten kings will arise; and another will arise after them, and he will be different from the previous ones and will subdue three kings. (25) ‘He will speak out against the Most High and wear down the saints of the Highest One, and he will intend to make alterations in times and in law; and they will be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time.
In Daniel 7:23, we see “a fourth kingdom on the earth, which will be different from all the other kingdoms and will devour the whole earth and tread it down and crush it.” (NASB)
So this character arises out of the fourth kingdom. (Traditional religious teaching tries to attribute the fourth kingdom to the Roman Empire, but that doesn’t work. If you have done a fair amount of studying Daniel’s writing, then you know that the first three kingdoms are clearly spelled out, with the first being the Babylonian empire. An interesting aspect of the Babylonian empire is that almost all of the northern kingdoms, such as the Persian empire are a part of the Babylonian empire. The fourth kingdom takes some discerning but is pieced out for us in Daniel. Consider the Grecian empire as they played a role in this through Alexander, but it isn’t simply Alexander, it is those who gained control after him. Now we are looking at the Seleucid and Ptolemaic empires – offshoots of the Alexandrian empire. These last two had all the intrigue of a soap opera on the television, as there was intermarrying for power, and every descendant of Noah represented. These two empires are the basis of who the world is dealing with today; and, in a sense, has never ceased to exist since. It seems most struggle to comprehend what is going on in Daniel 11, but in a nutshell, that is the story I have just told you. In brief, this is the beginning of the Persian empire, as well as the European royalty, and a few others.
Assuming, because of what I just told you about the Persian empire, that the fourth kingdom is Islamic in nature and ideology, then you might expect that this mouthpiece will also be Islamic, but Islamic prophecies indicate that the man is a Jew, of the lineage of Aaron, and therefore, by heritage, capable of operating as the high priest in the new temple. Such a man has already been appointed as the high priest for the new temple when it gets built, his name in Rabbi Baruch Kahane.
(6) And he opened his mouth in blasphemies against God, to blaspheme His name and His tabernacle, that is, those who dwell in heaven.
But I thought you said he was the high priest in the NEW temple that will be built. It doesn’t make sense that he would suddenly blaspheme against God?
No, it sure wouldn’t, unless Islam got to him and changed his heart toward God. But wait a minute, wasn’t this the problem with Israel from the day they walked out of Egypt? Stephen, in the book of Acts chapter seven, tells us that, when Moses did not return from the mountain, that they convinced Aaron to make them the god of their choice; in doing so, they turned their hearts back to Egypt.
Acts 7:39 NET. Our ancestors were unwilling to obey him, but pushed him aside and turned back to Egypt in their hearts,
The point of this is, Egypt had to be there, embedded in their hearts already for them to return to it.
And finally Revelation 13:7
(7) It was also given to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them, and authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation were given to him.
In verse 5 of Revelation 13, we saw that the Antichrist was given a spokesperson. That spokesperson, according to Islamic prophecies, becomes the enforcer of Sharia law on a global scale.
Jesus, in Matthew 24, said this.
Matthew 24:15-22 NET. “So when you see the abomination of desolation — spoken about by Daniel the prophet — standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), (16) then those in Judea must flee to the mountains. (17) The one on the roof must not come down to take anything out of his house, (18) and the one in the field must not turn back to get his cloak. (19) Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing their babies in those days! (20) Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a Sabbath. (21) For then, there will be great suffering, unlike anything that has happened from the beginning of the world until now, or ever will happen. (22) And if those days had not been cut short, no one would be saved. But for the sake of the elect, those days will be cut short.
The false prophet is given the power(?) to:
- Make war with the saints.
- To overcome them.
- And, he is given authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation.
Again, what is the point?
If I take Matthew 24:22 literally and assume that the world is dealing with Sharia law when this happens, then it is easy to imagine that these 144,000 Jewish young men will be killed for their testimony of Jesus, just as so many others will be.
Revelation 13:15 is apparent when it says
The second beast was empowered to give life to the image of the first beast so that it could speak, and could cause all those who did not worship the image of the beast to be killed. (NET)
Because we see them in heaven, on Mount Zion with Jesus, we know that they did not bow their knee to anyone but the Father.