Burning Questions answered
by Rev Colin Le Noury.
Q2. Who Are The 144,000 mentioned in the Book of Revelation?
The people mentioned in the question will most certainly be Jehovah's Witnesses in the truest sense of the words. But let me emphasise that they bear no relation whatsoever to the followers of the Watchtower Tract Society who meet in Kingdom Halls. The J.W.s or Millennial Dawnists, as they are sometimes called, are a spurious and heretical cult who deny many of the foundational truths of scripture.
By contrast, the 144,000 will be true men of God who will give faithful witness to Jehovah Himself.
To understand who these people are and exactly what there function will be we need to consider three things.
Firstly, we must look at their chronological appearance; secondly, their genealogical background; and thirdly their eschatological role. All of this can be gleaned from the two short passages in which they are mentioned - Revelation 7 v. 1-8 and 14 v. 1-5.
Their Chronological Appearance
As to their chronological appearance, it is clear that these men will come to the fore during the Tribulation period after the Rapture of the church. They do not belong to the church age.
Most prophetic students will see the chronological sequence in the book of Revelation whereby the church is not seen on the earth after chapter three and is next seen in chapter 19 returning with Christ at the end of the Tribulation. Most of the intervening chapters relate to the Tribulation period on earth. The appearance of the 144,000 in chapter 7 seems to suggest that they will come upon the scene at an early stage in this period. The phrase: "Being the firstfruits of God and unto the Lamb" in 14 v. 4 adds weight to this and indicates that they will be the early converts of the Tribulation period. Their conversion being the miraculous work of the Spirit of God through whom they are sealed unto God (7 v. 3-4).
Their Genealogical Background
As to the genealogical background of the 144,000 there can be no misunderstanding, since Rev. 7 tell us clearly that they will be totally Jewish in origin. The scripture tells us plainly that there will be 12,000 from each of the 12 tribes of Israel - Ephraim and Dan excluded, but Levi and Joseph are substituted in their place. The reason for this substitution is open to some conjecture, but nevertheless it does not alter the fact that the full number will be of pure Jewish stock, reminding us that in the absence of the church the Jews are still God's representatives on earth.
Their Eschatological Role
This brings us to their eschatological role, which as previously suggested is to be Jehovah's witnesses. Theirs is the function of preaching the gospel of the coming Kingdom throughout the world as suggested in Matthew 24 v. 14.
In order to fulfill their calling these "sealed ones" will be sanctified unto the Lord and Rev. 14 gives us an indication of their spiritual purity.
It is conceivable that they will incur all the wrath of antichrist as they seek to preach the gospel in extenuating circumstances. That they will triumph and be preserved by the hand of Jehovah is clear since Rev. 14 v. 3 has them singing a new song around the throne - the song of victory and of God's keeping power during an epoch of unparalleled evil in the history of the world.