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Revelation 7 and 14 refer to the doctrine of the remnant since they refer to 144,000 Jews who will trust in Jesus Christ as their Savior during the tribulation portion of Daniel’s seventieth week.
The Scriptures teach that during the seventieth week 144,000 Jews from each of the twelve tribes of Israel will trust in Jesus Christ as Savior and as a result will be regenerated.
Revelation 7 teaches that 144,000 Jews, 12,000 from each of the twelve tribes of Israel will delivered from the wrath of God during the last three and a half years of the seventieth week.
All of them will be saved through faith in Jesus Christ.
Revelation 7:1 After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth so no wind could blow on the earth, on the sea, or on any tree.
7:2 Then I saw another angel ascending from the east, who had the seal of the living God.
He shouted out with a loud voice to the four angels who had been given permission to damage the earth and the sea: 7:3 “Do not damage the earth or the sea or the trees until we have put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.”
7:4 Now I heard the number of those who were marked with the seal, one hundred and forty-four thousand, sealed from all the tribes of the people of Israel: 7:5 From the tribe of Judah, twelve thousand were sealed, from the tribe of Reuben, twelve thousand, from the tribe of Gad, twelve thousand, 7:6 from the tribe of Asher, twelve thousand, from the tribe of Naphtali, twelve thousand, from the tribe of Manasseh, twelve thousand, 7:7 from the tribe of Simeon, twelve thousand, from the tribe of Levi, twelve thousand, from the tribe of Issachar, twelve thousand, 7:8 from the tribe of Zebulun, twelve thousand, from the tribe of Joseph, twelve thousand, from the tribe of Benjamin, twelve thousand were sealed.
7:9 After these things I looked, and here was an enormous crowd that no one could count, made up of persons from every nation, tribe, people, and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb dressed in long white robes, and with palm branches in their hands.
7:10 They were shouting out in a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God, to the one seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!” 7:11 And all the angels stood there in a circle around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they threw themselves down with their faces to the ground before the throne and worshiped God, 7:12 saying, “Amen!
Praise and glory, and wisdom and thanksgiving, and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever.
Amen!” 7:13 Then one of the elders asked me, “These dressed in long white robes—who are they and where have they come from?” 7:14 So I said to him, “My lord, you know the answer.”
Then he said to me, “These are the ones who have come out of the great tribulation.
They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb! 7:15 For this reason they are before the throne of God, and they serve him day and night in his temple, and the one seated on the throne will shelter them.
7:16 They will never go hungry or be thirsty again, and the sun will not beat down on them, nor any burning heat, 7:17 because the Lamb in the middle of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
Revelation 14:1 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.
14:2 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, 14:3 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.
14:4 These are the ones who have not defiled themselves with women, for they are virgins.
These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever he goes.
These were redeemed from humanity as firstfruits to God and to the Lamb, 14:5 and no lie was found on their lips; they are blameless.
Who are the 144,000?
Some interpreters assert that these could not be literal Jews, while others assert that the numbers are not literal, but are merely symbolical of God’s preservation of His people.
However, the language, if language means anything, must be understood in its normal usage.
If we do not take it in its literal sense, then there is no check on one’s imagination nor guide for the real meaning of the passage.
Take for example, some teach that these are the 144,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses, or they are Mormon elders, or they are symbolical for the church.
The 144,000 are Jews.
The passage says they are from the 12 tribes of Israel, repeating the fact that 12,000 come from each of the 12 tribes making a total of 144,000.
That these are Jews further fits with the entire scheme of Bible prophecy, with the fact this is the seventieth week of Daniel, and with the nature of the Tribulation as the time of Jacob’s distress (Dan.
9:27; Jer.
The Tribulation is a time when God is concluding His dealings with Israel to establish and fulfill His promises to the nation (Dan.
9: 24f).
Therefore, there is absolutely no problem identifying the 144,000 if we take the language used in Revelation 7 and 14 in the normal, plain meaning of the text.
There are three problems in the list as it is found in this text.
First, is the inclusion of Levi among the twelve tribes.
Normally Levi, being the priestly tribe, was considered to have no inheritance among the twelve tribes.
Perhaps he is included here because the priestly functions ceased with the coming of Christ.
The second is the mention of Joseph instead of Ephraim.
Normally Manasseh and Ephraim are both mentioned since they both received an equal portion of territory along with the rest of the tribes.
Of course, a double number is counted in this list, but under the names of Joseph and Manasseh rather than Ephraim and Manasseh.
The third problem concerns the omission of Dan from this list, something that was necessary if Levi were to be included.
The usual reason given for this omission is that Dan was guilty of idolatry on many occasions (Lev.
24:11; Judges 18:1-2, 30-31; 1 Kings 12:28).
The same reason is often given for the omission of Ephraim.
It has been suggested further that the antichrist may come from this tribe and that this accounts for its omission from this list (cf.
Gen. 49:17; Jer.
Whatever the reason for Dan’s omission from the tribes from which 144,000 elect will come, this is not the end of God’s dealings with that tribe.
The Danites will receive a portion of the land during the millennial kingdom.
Indeed, in Ezekiel 48:1 Dan heads the list of the tribes as the inheritance is divided to them (cf.
also v. 32).
Therefore, the exclusion of Dan from this list in Revelation is not permanent, for the gifts and calling of God with regard to his people, including Dan are without repentance.
John Walvoord writes “Attempts have been made to identify the 12 tribes here with the church, mostly to avoid the implication that this is literally Israel.
The fact that specific tribes were mentioned and specific numbers from each tribe were indicated would seem to remove this from the symbolic and to justify literal interpretation.
If God intended these verses to represent Israel literally, He would have used this means.
Nowhere else in the Bible do a dozen references to the 12 tribes mean the church.
Obviously Israel will be in the Tribulation, and though men do not know the identification of each tribe today, certainly God knows.
Much speculation has arisen about why the tribe of Dan is omitted.
Joseph and one of his two sons, Manasseh, are listed, but Ephraim, Joseph’s other son, is omitted.
Thus if Dan were included, there would have been 13 tribes.
According to J.B. Smith, Scripture contains 29 lists of the tribes of Israel in the Old and New Testaments and in no case are more than 12 tribes mentioned (A Revelation of Jesus Christ, p. 130).
The tribe omitted was usually Levi, from which the priesthood came.
Inasmuch as it is normal to have only 12 and not 13 tribes, the omission of Dan is not significant.
Perhaps Dan was omitted here because it was one of the first tribes to go into idolatry (Jud.
18:30; cf. 1 Kings 12:28–29).
However, Dan is mentioned in Ezekiel 48:2 in the millennial land distribution.
The most important fact taught here is that God continues to watch over Israel even in the time of Israel’s great distress.
There is no justification whatever for spiritualizing either the number or the names of the tribes in this passage, to make them represent the church.”[1]
[1] Walvoord, J. F. (1985).
In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.),
The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol.
2, p. 949).
Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
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