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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Lamb and the 144,000

Revelation 14:1-5 NIV

The Lamb and the 144,000


1 Then I looked, and there before me was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion, and with Him 144,000 who had His Name and His Father’s Name written on their foreheads.

2 And I heard a sound from heaven like the roar of rushing waters and like a loud peal of thunder. The sound I heard was like that of harpists playing their harps.

3 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.

5 No lie was found in their mouths; they are blameless.


We need to read the passages in Revelation 7:1-8 side by side to understand more better who the 144,000 are.

144,000 Sealed

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.

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,

8from the tribe of Zebulun 12,000,

from the tribe of Joseph 12,000,

from the tribe of Benjamin 12,000.

 

Here, John refers to 144,000 Jews given divine protection from the trumpet judgments. Any doubt that John is referring to the same group could have been removed if John had used the article (the) of previous reference. The absence of the article has led some to conclude that two separate groups are intended.

However, given the description that follows in Revelation 14:1-5, all doubt is removed. The purpose of this short session is to demonstrate the faithfulness of God. Those sealed were protected. The sealing protection has eventuated into their salvation.

However, the 144,000 do not represent the entire congregation of believers (Jewish and Gentile). This group must be limited to Jews only because they are from all tribes of Israel (Jews).

Unlike the marked of the beast whom God will destroy, the marked of God will be delivered.

 

“Having His Name and the Name of His Father written on their foreheads” clearly refers back to Revelation 7:3-8. Prior to this, the specific nature of the seal of God was not defined.

However, we now know that the seal was in fact the Name of the Lamb and His Father. This, of course, lends itself to debate. The length required to write out both the Name of the Lord and His Father would make such a mark impossible.

Some have suggested an abbreviation of the Names be intended. Those who think in these terms forget that English is not God’s first language. If written in Hebrew, without vowels, both the Name of God the Father and His Son would fit on the foreheads of this select group.

Father’s Name :  ‘I Am Who I Am’ אֶֽהְיֶ֖ה אֲשֶׁ֣ר אֶֽהְיֶ֑ה  יְהֹוָה Yehova

Son’s Name : ‘God Saves’ יֵשׁוּעַ Yeshua

I believe the Names יְהֹוָה and יֵשׁוּעַ will be written on their foreheads.

The intent of the text seems to be to contrast the marked of God and the marked of the beast. God is able to protect His marked people, but the beast is unable to protect his.

 

The 144,000

These are the ones (men) who have not been defiled with women, for they have kept themselves chaste = is the first of four descriptive clauses that define who the 144,000 are. Μολύνω molunó (literally, to make dirty) is used in a figurative sense here to mean to defile or stain

John is clearly focusing on the ritual purity of this group. The implication here is that these men have never had sexual intercourse. John does not state why these men adopted celibacy as a lifestyle.

However, Jesus indicates in Matthew 19:12 that some men make “themselves eunuchs for the sake of the Kingdom of heaven.” Obviously, since these are men and not boys, the decision to be celibate must have been made before Daniel’s Seventieth Week began.

This explains why 144,000 are called bond-servants of God in Revelation 7:3. This is an excellent sign to watch for in Israel. Such a large group of men committing themselves to God in this way will be hard to miss.

Some have suggested that spiritual celibacy be intended here. That is, the 144,000 remained faithful to the Lord and did not commit spiritual immorality with the woman presented in Revelation 17-18. However, the text refers to ‘women’ and not ‘the woman’. For they have kept themselves chaste further defines this unique group. Literally, the Greeks says, For they are virgins (παρθένος parthenos). Parthenos usually refers to women exclusively. Here it refers to men only. These men have not engaged in sexual intercourse. They are Jewish celibates..


These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes  is the second description given the 144,000. They are Jewish celibates who, now saved, follow the Lamb wherever He leads them. Where the Lamb will lead this group is not explicitly stated.


These have been purchased from among men as first fruits to God and to the Lamb is the third defining strait given in this passage. God’s purpose for the 144,000 is clearly stated. They were purchased or saved “from among men as first fruits.” The term first fruits occurs nine times in the New Testament (Romans 8:23; 11:16; 16:5; 1 Corinthians 15:20, 23; 16:15; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; James 1:18; Revelation 14:4).

In Romans 16:5, 1 Corinthians 16:15, 2 Thessalonians 2:13, and James 1:18 first fruits clearly refers to the first initial group of converts to Christianity with more to come afterwards.


This is the most logical and reasonable sense here. Since there are only 12,000 Jews from each tribe of Israel and they are specially identified as “first fruits,” naturally the salvation of more Jews will follow their conversion. We are not told when the salvation of the 144,000 occurred.

However, we know it occurs between their sealing and their standing on Mount Zion with the Lamb. The salvation of the 144,000 guarantees the salvation of the nation of Israel, which must shortly follow this scene given the destruction of Jerusalem detailed in the seventh bowl (Revelation 16:19).


And no lie was found in their mouth; they are blameless is the fourth and final descriptive statement that identifies who the 144,000 are. The 144,000 are morally pure. Literally, the Greek says, “in their mouth is found no lie.”

A similar statement occurs in Zephaniah 3:13. Speaking of the remnant of Israel, Zephaniah states, “The remnant of Israel will do no wrong; they will speak no lies, nor will deceit be found in their mouths. They will eat and lie down and no one will make them afraid.”

These are certainly the first fruits of the remnant of Israel that survive the Day of the Lord. These are blameless is the final descriptive item attached to the 144,000. Blameless is used throughout the New Testament to describe a faithful follower of Jesus Christ who exhibits moral purity (Ephesians 1:4; 5:27; Colossians 1:22; Philippians 2:15).

 

 

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