(entire) Chapter 4
(1) Who are the 144,000?
Revelation chapter 7 takes place after the opening of the 6th Seal, but before the opening of the 7th Seal that starts the Great Tribulation (GT):
1 After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth to prevent any wind from blowing on the land or on the sea or on any tree.
2 Then I saw another angel coming up from the east, having the seal of the living God. He called out in a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm the land and the sea: 3 “Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.” 4 Then I heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel.
The four winds represent major natural disasters that will come upon the world during the GT. This also tells us that God will not allow any huge natural disasters until this point in time, because the winds are being held back. It means that when a tsunami hits the east coast, then it must be the 2nd Trumpet of Rev. 8. Rev. 7 continues:
5 From the tribe of Judah 12,000 were sealed, from the tribe of Reuben 12,000, from the tribe of Gad 12,000, 6 from the tribe of Asher 12,000, from the tribe of Naphtali 12,000, from the tribe of Manasseh 12,000, 7 from the tribe of Simeon 12,000, from the tribe of Levi 12,000, from the tribe of Issachar 12,000, 8 from the tribe of Zebulun 12,000, from the tribe of Joseph 12,000, from the tribe of Benjamin 12,000. (Rev. 7:1-8)
The first thing any student of Revelation should understand is that these 12 tribes are not Jews who will preach the Gospel during the GT or flee into the wilderness, which is the usual interpretation. That wrong interpretation results from taking this passage at 100% literal face value. Remember what we learned about taking statements 100% literally? It is especially true of prophecy, and even more so of Revelation. Very little of Revelation can be taken literally, 99% is not literal. It has a literal interpretation, but is not directly literal.
As we have seen, the lamb represents Christ, the white horse represents the Holy Spirit, are you getting the picture here? Only natural disasters should be taken as actually taking place, such as an earthquake because there is no way to discern a symbolic interpretation for an earthquake. And when it says that people are killed in the quake, then it is even more evidence that it should be taken literally.
Therefore, what would the 12 tribes represent, seen figuratively? Paul makes it clear that believing Gentiles have been given citizenship in Israel and are considered Abraham’s offspring, so Christians must be included in the 12 tribes, spiritually speaking. But the Church is never directly identified as Israel in the Old Testament or the New Testament, with good reason; there would be great confusion about who the passage was talking about, the physical descendants or the spiritual descendants. But here in Revelation, God is speaking symbolically, so it refers to the spiritual descendants.
In Revelation 2, Jesus said, “I know the slander of those who say they are Jews but are not, but are a synagogue of Satan” (Rev. 2:9). This refers to nonbelieving Jews. To be a true Jew, you must be a spiritual Jew, by being on the tree of promise. Paul said the Jews who refused to believe in Christ were cut off the tree of promise and the believing Gentiles were grafted on; the Jews “were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith” (Romans 11:20). All the branches on the tree of promise are God’s chosen people, not just the Jewish branches, and they all stand by faith. Being born Jews did not make them heirs to the promise; it has always been by faith, or rightness of heart. (Nevertheless, God is still fulfilling his promises to the physical descendants of Israel, which will be discussed shortly.)
The Gentiles that Paul addressed were Christians who were grafted onto the tree of promise, thus making them part of the elect. There is a passage that makes a clear distinction between all groups and calls the collective church of Jews and Gentiles the chosen people:
Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved … (Colossians 3:11-12)
Paul also said that Gentiles are “heirs together with Israel, members together of one body” (Ephesians 3:6). Paul does not say that the Gentiles have become literal Israelites, but merely that Gentiles now share in all the promises made to the believing Israelites; they are “together in the promise in Christ Jesus” (Ibid). Together, the Gentile Christians and Jewish Christians form one body of God’s elect. This is not replacement theology, physical Israel is not replaced by the Church. Paul said we are all the “chosen people,” therefore, we are.
Both the Old and New Testaments say that the true offspring of Abraham are those of the promise who are the spiritual offspring, because they believe and follow God. They are spiritual Israel. This is also seen in Rev.12, which describes a woman who gives birth to Christ, and represents believing Israel; later it says, “Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war with the rest of her offspring— those who obey God’s commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus” (v.17). So the Dragon makes war against Christians, both Jewish and Gentile Christians. If the woman was physical Israel, then the Dragon would only persecute Christian Jews, but that is not the case.
So the 12 tribes here in Revelation 7 represent God’s elect; in other words, all Christianity. Then who are the 144,000 chosen out of the entire body of Christ? The Firstfruits. We will soon learn who will be in the first Rapture.
(2) The Bride of Christ
The Bride of Christ is not a real woman who will marry Jesus, but symbolically refers to the Christians who will be in the two Raptures. In Revelation 21, the Bride of Christ is depicted symbolically as a physical city, the New Jerusalem. Contrary to popular doctrine, the Bride of Christ is not the Church, the whole body of believers; the Bride is chosen out of the Church.
9 One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” 10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. 11 It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. 12 It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates. On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel.
13 There were three gates on the east, three on the north, three on the south and three on the west.14 The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.15 The angel who talked with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city, its gates and its walls. 16 The city was laid out like a square, as long as it was wide. He measured the city with the rod and found it to be 12,000 stadia b in length, and as wide and high as it is long. 17 He measured its wall and it was 144 cubits thick, by human measurement, which the angel was using.
18 The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass. 19 The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, 20 the fifth onyx, the sixth ruby, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth turquoise, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. 21The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of gold, as pure as transparent glass. (Rev. 21:9-21)
There are several reasons why this cannot be a literal city. For example, the city is so tall that it would stick up through the stratosphere where there is no oxygen and the temperature is below freezing.
The city has 12 foundations with the names of the 12 apostles on them, but the gates have the names of the 12 tribes of Israel. The gates are built on the foundation. This tells us that you must first be a Christian before you enter the city; that is, to be part of the Bride of Christ (Eph. 2:20). And since you must pass through the gates to enter the city, it means you also become a spiritual Israelite.
Contrary to popular belief, just being a Christian does not qualify you to be in the Rapture; but only those who actually live according to the teachings of Christ. Christians with unrepented sin in their lives might go to heaven when they die, but they will not be in the Rapture.
This is seen clearly in the letters to the 7 churches in Revelation 2-3. Jesus told one church that unless they repent they will be cast into tribulation ten days, which could be a threat to miss the final Rapture, because the Days of Awe lasts for ten days (see chap. 1), and those who go in the final Rapture will miss the Days of Awe.
And Jesus promised deliverance from tribulation only to the church at Philadelphia because they kept his Word and did not deny him (3:8-10). All the seven churches of Revelation exist today throughout the world. How could anyone reading the condemnations of those churches believe that they would go in the Rapture? Nonsense! Some of them might go to heaven if they die, but going in the Rapture is something completely different.
Therefore, the 12 tribes here in Revelation 7 symbolically represent the whole body of believers, the Church. The 144,000 are all those who are spiritually ready to be in the first Rapture and be the first group that will be part of the Bride of Christ. There is a very important symbolic connection between this city and the 144,000 chosen from the 12 tribes in Rev. 7.
(3) Symbolic Number
Each literal tribe most certainly contains a different population; some will have a large population, some will have a smaller population. So a large tribe will have a larger number of righteous than a small tribe. Therefore, the number of those who will be chosen could not be exactly 12,000 from each literal tribe. This alone tells us that the 144,000 is a symbolic number which is confirmed in Revelation 21 in the description of the New Jerusalem that has walls that are 144 cubits thick and 12,000 stadia (furlongs) in length; so every 1,000 stadia of wall equals 144,000 (1,000 x 144) x 4 sides. But this will not allow you to figure up how many people will be in the Rapture, it is merely telling us that the number will be many millions.
The actual number of those who will be numbered among the 144,000 will likely be several hundred million, perhaps even a billion. There are more than 2 billion people who claim to be Christian today, but most are not spiritually ready for the Rapture. But the Rapture includes many of those who have lived and died during the past 6,000 years.
In Revelation 14, the 144,000 are called “firstfruits”:
And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders. No one could learn the song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth. 4 These are those who did not defile themselves with women, for they kept themselves pure. They follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They were purchased from among men and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb. (14:3-4)
In the Old Testament, the Firstfruits was an offering to God before the Spring harvest. The harvest could not begin until the Firstfruits offering was given. A small portion of the ripe grain was selected and presented by the priest as an offering. The Firstfruits was not the total harvest, but was to be the choicest portions. In 1 Cor. 15 Paul tells us that Jesus fulfilled the feast of First Fruits:
But now is Christ risen from the dead and become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. (15:20) (MEV)
Jesus fulfilled the Firstfruits offering by rising from the dead! Therefore, the Firstfruits here in Revelation represents those who will be in the first Rapture. The reference to the 144,000 being virgins is a figurative way to show that these are among the most righteous. They are not greedy for money like the Christians of Laodicea. Only those who keep God’s Word will be in the 144,000. Only this group will be in the first Rapture because only this group follows the Lamb wherever he goes.
Therefore, this passage in Revelation 7 means that just before the start of the GT, those whose spiritual condition is right with God will be counted and sealed, “Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God” (Rev. 7:3). The counting represents being chosen to be in the Firstfruits Rapture. The sealing represents divine protection from God’s judgments during the first part of the Great Tribulation. As we will see in another chapter, the Rapture will not take place until the 7th Trumpet is ready to sound.
The Greek for “servant” in Rev. 7:3 is doulos, and means “bond-servant,” or “bondman.” This indicates that the 144,000 are people who are dedicated to serving God. This means their primary concern in this life is doing the will of God. Many Christians are caught up in the things of the world, and they have let their relationship with Christ grow stale, as seen in the letters to the 7 churches. Sadly, many church-going Christians engage in lying, cheating, slander, gluttony, or perhaps they are greedy, or suffer from many other sins. So just being a Christian is not enough to make the Rapture. Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland have even bombed and murdered each other, so there is more to being a Christian than believing that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and attending church services.
The reason this appears before the start of the GT, is because many people will repent during the GT who would not otherwise repent. God will bring events upon the world designed to get people to repent before the world is burned with fire at the return of Christ at the end of the GT. The only Christians who will be in the first Rapture are those who will live right and are serious about God before things get really difficult.
Jesus spoke about the future state of the righteous when he said:
“those who are considered worthy of taking part in that age and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage, and they can no longer die. . .” (Luke 20:35-36)
This indicates that the Rapture will contain a limited number, “those who are considered worthy.” He did not say, those who will believe in me, but those who are worthy, this suggests a special group beyond the average believer. The selection and sealing of those who will be in the Rapture will take place before the start of the GT, which means that the Church will be judged at this time. Judgment begins with Christians (1 Peter 4:17).
The events of the GT will cause many people to fill churches, so there will be a great revival during the GT. The idea that 144,000 Jews are going to preach the Gospel around the world after all the Christians have been removed in a pre-tribulation Rapture is laughable. The Bible says no one can come to Christ unless the Holy Spirit draws them, and yet we are supposed to believe that millions of people will be saved during the GT after the Holy Spirit has been removed from the planet. You cannot be born-again by the Holy Spirit if the Holy Spirit is not here!
It is possible that at the start of the Great Tribulation, before any disaster hits, God will speak to each of the 144,000 and tell them where to go and what to do in order to be safe from the disasters of the Trumpet judgments. This is one way God will protect us from the judgments during the GT. God may say, “Pack up and move to such-and-such city.” Henry Gruver has reported that God said there are seven cities of refuge in the U.S. In these cities Christians will be safe from WW3. I am sure that there will be many more places where a family may live, but as far as a large number of Christians being safe, I cannot say that many places in the United States will be totally safe during the GT, because not only will there be the Trumpet events but also civil war, and after the first Rapture there will be nuclear missiles and World War 3 (see BK3).
After the description of the 144,000 in Rev. 7, the angel shows John another group of people, an uncountable multitude.
(5) The Last Great Awakening
This next group that John sees are clearly Christians, but they are not called servants. The 144,000 are the only ones that “follow the Lamb wherever he goes” (Rev. 14:4):
After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”
11 All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying: “Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!” 13 Then one of the elders asked me, “These in white robes–who are they, and where did they come from?” 14 I answered, “Sir, you know.” And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
15 Therefore, “they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them. 16 Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat. 17 For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” (Rev. 7:9-17)
Since this group is an uncountable number that will come out of the GT, then they are not the same group as the 144,000. Notice that they have “washed their robes and made them white.” This indicates that they are converts, and the wording suggests that they become Christians after the 144,000 are sealed, so they become Christians during the GT. This group includes many people who now claim to be Christians, but after the start of the GT they will get serious with God.
When things are going well and people are prosperous, most people feel no need for God, but when times get hard, they want to pray and get right with God. After the planes hit the World Trade Center buildings in New York in 2001, the churches were full of people. But they did not stay. This time the disaster will be bigger and people will genuinely turn to God. This is why there will be a great revival during the Great Tribulation. By the end of the GT there will be very few people who are lukewarm. God wants people to repent before he sends the Day of Judgment.
The GT will be the greatest hour for Christianity; more miracles and more converts will take place than in the past 2,000 years of Christian history. And yet, the pre-trib Rapture theory teaches that the entire Church will be removed before any of the GT.
The words “great tribulation” only appear in the Bible three times, once in Matthew 24, once in Rev. 2:22, and once here.
(6) Additional Evidence
This section contains additional evidence to support my claim that not all Christians will go in the two Raptures, but only the truly righteous. I added this section three months after this book was originally published because I did not previously realize that these other passages also support this idea. But the passages do not show two Raptures, but only one at the end of the GT, which is the largest one.
In Matthew 25 Jesus gives us a parable of ten virgins, which is familiar to most Christians. In the parable the cry goes out that the Bridegroom approaches, they all wake up and five foolish virgins discover that their lamps had gone out.
But notice that ALL of the virgins are asleep! I have often wondered why there are none who are awake. I believe the answer is there are, but this parable only shows us those who will miss the first Rapture.
The wise virgins, who have plenty of oil for their lamps, wake up and travel with the Bridegroom through the night to the home of the Bridegroom, which is the journey through the last part of the Great Tribulation. Then the wedding banquet takes place, which happens after the second Rapture at the end of the GT in Rev.19. The symbolism of traveling with the Bridegroom through the darkness indicates that Jesus will be present with this group in a powerful way, leading and guiding them and performing many miracles for them during the GT.
During the GT the five foolish virgins are able to get oil; which means they repent and get full of the Holy Spirit, and they also want to go in the Rapture at the end of the GT, but they will not be allowed to enter. They must remain outside, in the world, which means they will be the ones who must survive the Wrath of God and remain alive on this earth so that the human race will continue. They will be the righteous who inherit the earth and produce children after the return of Christ.
Even though this parable does not show those who are awake, this parable is just one piece of the end-time puzzle; so, if you are trying to look at the entire puzzle, we must consider how this piece fits in with the other pieces. In doing this we must consider those who will be in the first Rapture and will not have to travel through the darkness to the reach the home of the Bridegroom because they will be instantly Raptured there.
Therefore, fitting this parable into the bigger picture it can be assumed that those who go in the first Rapture then are not asleep at the start of the final years of the GT.
This parable means that we will all be judged before the start of the Trumpet events, and those who are judged to be asleep but yet are genuinely saved will go in the second Rapture, but those who claim to be Christians but need to repent will miss both Raptures.
The next passage is found in the letters to the seven churches. To the church at Sardis, Jesus said, “I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead” (Rev. 3:1). Jesus goes on to say that the majority of those at Sardis are not going in the Rapture. He did not say, if they repent, they will walk with him dressed in white, no. He said unless they repent, they will be killed in the Wrath of God:
But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you. (Rev. 3:3)
The symbolism of Christ coming as a thief refers directly to his coming to destroy the world in the Wrath of God that takes place shortly after the second Rapture. He appears to be saying that the people of Sardis have already been judged to miss the Rapture, and so they need to repent if they want to survive the Wrath of God. The next verse proves it:
Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. (Rev. 3:4)
Jesus here is saying that a few people at Sardis have been judged and found righteous, these righteous will walk with Christ dressed in white, which means they will go in the Rapture. So in this passage in Rev. 3, we have two groups of Christians: one group will be with Christ dressed in white, the second group needs to repent or they will be killed when Christ comes in judgment, but even if they repent they will not be in the Bride of Christ, they will merely survive the Wrath of God to continue the human race. This is exactly what I have been teaching in this chapter. There may also be other passages that also support this view.
If you want to be counted among the 144,000, you should seek after things that are heavenly, and live a moral life; feed the poor, clothe the naked, and cultivate a personal relationship with God by reading the Bible and praying every day.
We were told the 144,000 are sealed before the four “winds” can blow and harm Earth. The four winds are never actually mentioned again, but they are apparently natural disasters and therefore must be the first four Trumpets in Rev. 8, which are all natural disasters. And since the 144,000 are sealed before those events begin, it is safe to assume that the 144,000 are here on Earth during those events. And since they are the Firstfruits, then there is no pre-tribulation Rapture.
Those who are part of the great multitude who will come out of the GT suffered hunger, thirst, and heat. Therefore, we can safely conclude that the GT will include famine and drought, but the worst of it will be the final years. It is also safe to conclude that God will not perform great miracles to keep the great multitude from this suffering. Though I am sure that some miracles will happen for the great multitude, but they will not get as many miracles as the Firstfruits.
Regardless of your belief in the timing of the Rapture, this teaching that says the only people who will go in the Rapture are those who are judged righteous before the start of the GT, is a huge change from the teaching that all Christians will go in the Rapture. But I am not the only one who has ever taught this doctrine; my mother was taught it by her parents, so I don’t know where it originated.
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