Article of the Month

May 2012

 

144,000

 

This number appears OPENLY only twice in the Bible — once in Revelation 7, the other time in Revelation 14.  However, it is HIDDEN and found only by careful CALCULATION as early as Genesis 15 and as late as Revelation 22.

Much has been misunderstood about this number. It has been woefully maligned and misinterpreted by those less well informed of God’s plans and purposes.

 

THE BODY OF CHRIST

 

The true meaning of the number becomes manifest by understanding just who “Messiah” is.  Messiah is a Hebrew word. Its Greek equivalent is “Christ.” Its English equivalent is “Anointed.”  Its meaning in God’s plan is this:  From ancient times God determined that He would raise up someone to SAVE mankind from the death sentence imposed for the disobedience in Eden (Genesis 2:17; 3:19.  That “Savior” would be God’s “anointed” choice to do the work of restoring mankind to all that was lost.  (Acts 3:20, 21)  Christianity recognizes Jesus as the one who is that Savior, Christ, Messiah, and Anointed. But Scripture is careful to point out that Jesus is only a PART of that promised blesser.

In I Corinthians 12:12-27, the Apostle Paul carefully delineates that Christ is NOT ONE, but a GROUP — a “body” of people. Unfortunately, Christianity has corrupted this concept to teach that UNLESS a person is part of that “body”, he is LOST! The teaching is absurd to the extreme!  The whole point of the Christ is to SAVE EVERYBODY — not to make everybody a part of the Savior!

The Old Testament hinted at the plurality of this “Savior.”  Obadiah 21 says “Saviors  will appear on Mount Zion. . .”  This is the Old Testament equivalent of Revelation 14:1 which says “. . . the Lamb was standing on Mount Zion, and with him one hundred and forty-four thousand.”  Thus the Bible SPECIFIES the number of people who will constitute the “body of Christ.”

 

SMALL, BUT NOT SO SMALL!

 

“Wait  a minute!”  some will exclaim.  Are you telling me that only 144,000 individuals are going to heaven?  NO!  More on that in a moment.  But what we ARE saying is that the “body of Christ” (the Messiah, the Anointed) is ONLY a hundred and forty-four thousand. Jesus called them “a little flock”. (Luke 12:32)  He points out that only a “few” find and successfully traverse that “narrow way” that will lead now to life (in advance of the world) — the rest of mankind still walking that “broad” way that keeps them in the way of “destruction” until the new “highway” will be opened for them.  (Matthew 7:13, 14; Isaiah 35:8-10)

The body of Christ — that singular group of disciples which will administer Christ’s Kingdom on earth — is very select.  They, and only they, will receive life within themselves (the true meaning of the word “immortality”. See the April, 2011 Article of the month.) It is only right that they shall have been carefully tested and that their number will be small.  Nevertheless since about 2,000 years has been set aside to select this group, the AVERAGE number of those successfully being accepted as part of “The Christ” is 72 per year. That is six people per month over a 2,000 year period — small, but not so small!

 

DO ONLY 144,000 GO TO HEAVEN?

 

The answer is no. There is a great multitude (Revelation 7:9) of individuals who have set out with hope of being part of “the Christ” who have not been successful in the rigorous standards of overcoming. They have not been unfaithful, but they have also not met the high standards.  Because they have contractually given up their humanity to follow Christ, they, too, will receive a resurrection in heaven rather than on earth.  How many are they?  We don’t know.  The Revelator says that no man can number them.  (Revelation 7:9)  But we do know one thing:  they do not “receive a FULL REWARD”.  (II John 8)  They will not be a part of “the anointed.”  And, their number will be far smaller than those who enjoy the beauties of a resurrection on a perfected earth.  The “great multitude” is of necessity comprised of very sincere Christians; and Christianity (not to mention its hordes of insincere “believers” which Jesus calls “tares” in Matthew 13) has never been a majority religion. (See the Article of the month for August, 2008 regarding the Great Multitude.)

 

JEWS?

 

The second plainly stated use of the number 144,000 is in Revelation 7. It is the forepart of the text which discusses the “great multitude.” Some have concluded from this context that the 144,000 mentioned here are not the body of Christ, but a select company of converted Jews. This is incorrect for several reasons:

(1).       Revelation 14:1 along with Obadiah 21 fairly clearly shows that Mount Zion (representative of the new government of the Millennial Age) is Jesus with his faithful body — the SAVIORS of mankind numbering 144,000.

 

(2).       Revelation, being a book of symbols, cannot simply be read as literal statements. It becomes a quagmire of contradictions and absurdities if read that way. “Jews” in Revelation represent Christians.

 

(3).       With that in mind, it is important to note that the twelve tribes listed in Revelation 7 are not the twelve tribes of Israel listed elsewhere. This is because these twelve are representative of characteristics to be found in the “body of Christ.” The two “missing tribes” (Dan and Ephriam) represent two groups who will not be found in the “body of Christ.” Dan represents the “Second Death” Class — those who have lost faith and who have denied the Lord. Ephraim (which means multi-fruitful) is not really missing! It is missing from the “body,” but it represents the “great multitude” of fruitful Christians of verses 9-17 who have been fruitful, but only fruitful enough to receive a partial reward.  (II John 8)

 

THE FOUR RESULTS OF RESURRECTION

 

In Psalm 45, the Lord has provided an inspired list of the four groups of humanity who will ultimately receive life through the resurrection process. Two of these groups will be in heaven; two will be on earth.

(1).       Psalm 45:13, 14. “The King’s daughter” is the “bride of Christ” — the Anointed, the 144,000.

 

(2).       Psalm 45:14, 15.  “The Virgins, her companions” are the “great multitude” class of Revelation 7:9.

 

(3).       Psalm 45:16. “Princes in all the earth” is that large company of Old Testament faithful ones mentioned in Hebrews 11. According to Hebrews 11:35, 39, and 40, these have a resurrection BETTER than the world in general, but not so great as that of the Christ. Thus, men like John the Baptist are not part of a heavenly reward.  (Matthew 11:11)

 

(4).       Psalm 45:17. The “all generations” here mentioned constitute the remainder of the human race — by far the largest group represented in this resurrection scenario.

The doctrinal import and beauty of the body of Christ’s being limited to 144,000 very faithful individuals is rational, Scriptural, and very comforting. Rather than being a concept that challenges our ideas of justice or of the future, it is a doctrine that represents the character of God in its full beauty.

 

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