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Daniel and Revelation
Chapter 7
The 144,000 Are Firstfruits of Fulfilled Israel

The 144,000 will get spiritual bodies and will see Jesus Christ face to face.
They are both Jew and Gentile, and are few who will be ready for Christ to return.
The rest of the Church will still be sinning.

Modern-day Jews are just from the tribes of Judah, Benjamin, and some Levi.  That’s because the Jews who returned from Babylon were originally from the southern kingdom of Judah.  The northern kingdom of Israel (or Ephraim) had already been conquered and scattered to Assyria.  They never returned.  Their bloodlines are today scattered around the world, with their Hebrew culture long lost.  Think about James 1:1 and 1 Peter 1:1.

James 1:1 NIV  James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations: Greetings.

James 1:1 ESV  James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion: Greetings.

1 Peter 1:1 NIV  Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To God's elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia,

1 Peter 1:1 ESV  Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who are elect exiles of the dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,

These letters from James and Peter were to the churches.  Yet James addresses his letter to the twelve tribes.  The twelve tribes were dispersed.  I think James sees the twelve tribes as being the Church, which is Israel.  We are grafted into the twelve tribes of Israel.

The idea of the Dispersion comes from the fact that Israel was scattered among the nations.  God has promised he will gather Israel back from the Dispersion.  Yes, the gathering of the Jews in the land of Israel today is the start of that gathering.  But the final gathering, when Christ returns, will include all of Israel, both Jew and Gentile.  The same Greek word for Dispersion is also used by John.  These three verses are the only uses of this Greek word the New Testament.

John 7:35 ESV  The Jews said to one another, "Where does this man [Jesus] intend to go that we will not find him? Does he intend to go to the Dispersion among the Greeks and teach the Greeks?

John 7:35 NIV  The Jews said to one another, "Where does this man [Jesus] intend to go that we cannot find him? Will he go where our people live scattered among the Greeks, and teach the Greeks?

Peter addresses the Church as "those who are elect" and "exiles of the Dispersion."  The twelve tribes of Israel were scattered among the nations.  Israel was considered God's chosen people.  In other words, they were the "elect."  Here, Peter is addressing Greek Christians in exactly the same way you would address the people of Israel who were not gathered back to Jerusalem.  In other words, we are the twelve tribes of Israel, scattered among the nations.  We are the "elect exiles of the Dispersion."  We are grafted into the twelve tribes of Israel.  Therefore, the 144,000, which are 12,000 from each of twelve tribes, would be people from all of Israel, both Jewish and Gentile.

The 144,000 have Christ's name and the Father's name written on their foreheads (Revelation 14:1, quoted below).  They are sealed.  And they are seen standing on Mount Zion with Jesus Christ.  They are seeing Christ face to face.  Standing on Mount Zion can mean they will be standing in the land of Israel.  It can also mean they will be standing in the New Jerusalem.  Most likely it means they are on the Temple Mount in Old Jerusalem.  The important point is they will be seeing Jesus face to face.

1 Corinthians 13:12  For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I will know fully, even as I was also fully known.

Thus, these 144,000 of Israel, both Jew and Gentile, are gathered back to Israel from the Dispersion.  And they will see Christ face to face.  Christ is the King of Israel.  And Israel itself is the promise to Abraham.  Abraham was given a promise (covenant) of land and descendants.  Land plus descendants equals a nation - an elect and holy nation.  In Old Testament times, Israel existed as a kingdom.  But the real King of that kingdom had not yet come.  Therefore, Old Testament Israel was simply a shadow of that which is to come. 

Today, we have a partial fulfillment of that same promise in our hearts.  But we don't as yet have a literal earthly kingdom where Christ is the literally the head of the government.  When we have Jesus Christ as King of Israel, gathered from the Dispersion with 144,000 of his people, for the first time, we have the start of the complete fulfillment of the promise of Abraham.  Israel has always been an unfulfilled promise.  The 144,000 are the start of the fulfilled Israel, both Jew and Gentile.  But the final fulfillment of that promise is not until after the seven year "week" of the covenant, when Christ defeats both the antichrists (beast and false prophet) and sets up the earthly kingdom.

OK, so when are the 144,000 sealed?  When will they see Jesus face to face?

Revelation 7:3-4 ESV  "Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads."  (4)  And I heard the number of the sealed, 144,000, sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel:

The 144,000 are sealed, according to this verse, before harm to the land, sea, or trees.  This would be a reference to the first two trumpet-plagues.  The trumpet-plagues will be during the first half of the seven-year "week" of the covenant.  Strictly speaking, the second half of that week is the great tribulation.  But the first half will also be a build-up of persecution and tribulation as the global antichrist and the false-prophet antichrist gain power. 

The 144,000 are firstfruits to God and to the Lamb:

Revelation 14:1-5 ESV  Then I looked, and behold, on Mount Zion stood the Lamb, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father's name written on their foreheads (2)  And I heard a voice from heaven like the roar of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder. The voice I heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps,  (3)  and they were singing a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and before the elders. No one could learn that song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth(4)  It is these who have not defiled themselves with women, for they are [male] virgins. It is these who follow the Lamb wherever he goes. These have been redeemed from mankind as firstfruits for God and the Lamb (5)  and in their mouth no lie was found, for they are blameless.

Notice all the emphasis on holiness?  The 144,000 are ready for Christ to return prior to the seven-year "week" of the covenant.  They are "redeemed from the earth."  At this point in time, they will have been (past tense) redeemed from the earth.  "They are [male] virgins."  This means they are holy.  They are pure like virgins.  They "have not defiled themselves with women."  This means they are not addicted to sexual habits that are sinful.  Their thought-life is pure.

What does it mean to be “firstfruits”?  Why are they firstfruits to God and to the Lamb?  If firstfruits simply means believers, then it would not work.  Why is it just 144,000?  Many more than that are believers today.  The same is true about them being sealed.  There will be many believers when the 144,000 are sealed.  Revelation is a book that’s packed with symbolism.  We must interpret the symbolism based on prior uses of the same symbol:

1 Corinthians 15:20-23 ESV  But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.  (21)  For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead.  (22)  For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.  (23)  But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.

The resurrection of Christ was the firstfruits.  His actual resurrection (on the third day) was on the Feast of Firstfruits, during the Passover week.  Therefore, what is the firstfruits to God and to the Lamb?  When we follow the symbolism of both the firstfruits and being sealed, the 144,000 are first, after the Lamb, to receive a spiritual body.  They are first to see Christ face-to-face.  They are first to be gathered to Israel from the Dispersion in the final sense of having the true King of Israel.  In other words, they have made themselves ready for Christ to return, through holiness and Christian perfection, prior to the seven year "week" of the covenant. 

Today, most of the Church is not ready for Christ to return.  Today, most people of the Church still have sinful habits.  Today, most of the Church is not ready for martyrdom.  They have their hope set on a pre-tribulation rapture.  Or they don't think about the possibility of a coming great tribulation.  Or they simply don't believe the great tribulation is coming in this generation.  They are not ready.  But toward the end of the great tribulation, the rest of the Bride of Christ makes herself ready.

Revelation 19:7 ESV  Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready;

The 144,000 are the few who will have overcome all their sinful habits before Christ appears.  They will have become "perfect as the heavenly Father is perfect" (Matthew 5:48).  They will be ready for martyrdom, but they will not be martyred.  They will be ready to go through the great tribulation.  But they will not have to endure the great tribulation because they will have spiritual bodies and will be able to enter the New Jerusalem.

Revelation 3:10-13  Because you kept my command to endure, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, which is to come on the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth(11)  I am coming quickly! Hold firmly that which you have, so that no one takes your crown.  (12)  He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God, and he will go out from there no more. I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from my God, and my own new name (13)  He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the assemblies.

Notice that Jesus writes the name of the Father on those who overcome sin.  He also writes his own name on those who overcome sin.  What does it say about the 144,000?

Revelation 14:1 ESV  Then I looked, and behold, on Mount Zion stood the Lamb, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father's name written on their foreheads.

The rest of the Bride will make herself ready as a result of going through the great tribulation.  Many will be martyred.  So eventually, all the Bride of Christ will have Christ's name, and his Father's name, written on their foreheads.  But the 144,000 are the few who will be ready when Christ appears.

The following verse also indicates that not all will go through the tribulation:

Luke 21:34-36  "So be careful, or your hearts will be loaded down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that day will come on you suddenly.  (35)   For it will come like a snare on all those who dwell on the surface of all the earth.  (36)  Therefore be watchful all the time, praying that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will happen, and to stand before the Son of Man."

We are saved by the blood of Jesus.  That is a free gift.  No effort or work on our part is required.  But those who are saved are asked by Jesus to “seek first the kingdom and his righteousness.”  Salvation is a free gift.  But to seek the kingdom requires lots of work.  Only those who seek the kingdom can inherit the kingdom.  This is central to the New Wine System.

There are two different kinds of Christians.  There is the “foolish” group that does not overcome sin.  Then there is the “wise” group who overcomes sin.  Revelation is not about salvation.  Revelation is about overcoming sin and inheriting the kingdom.  Each of the seven letters ends with a reward for those who overcome sin.  And some of the letters explicitly mention works as being sufficient or insufficient.  Salvation is not about works.  But inheriting the kingdom is very much about works.  As we do the works of the Father, we overcome sin.

In my opinion, the two witnesses are part of the 144,000 who will get spiritual bodies and see Christ face-to-face at the start of the seven year "week" of the covenant.  The two witnesses will be spokesmen who talk to the news media and the world.  I think the rest of the 144,000 will also appear to the rest of the Church.  The resurrected Christ physically appeared to the first generation.  At one point, he appeared to over five hundred brothers at once. 

1 Corinthians 15:3-8  For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,  (4)  that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures(5)  and that he appeared to Cephas , then to the twelve(6)  Then he appeared to over five hundred brothers at once, most of whom remain until now, but some have also fallen asleep.  (7)   Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, (8) and last of all, as to the child born at the wrong time, he appeared to me also.

I think the 144,000 will likewise appear to brothers in the churches all over the world after the New Jerusalem appears in the sky.  Just as Christ had a spiritual body, the 144,000 will have spiritual bodies.  They will be able to appear in the middle of locked rooms.  Salvation will be given to them in order to make the rest of Israel envious (Romans 10:19, 11:11).  And the Gentile believers are grafted into Israel (Romans 11:17-14).

Do the 144,000 meet Christ face to face, and get their spiritual bodies, immediately after the New Jerusalem appears?  Actually, I think this happens about six months after the New Jerusalem appears.  Remember that the New Jerusalem appears and stops many of the Islamic middle-east nations from attacking and destroying Israel.  This fulfills Ezekiel 38.  But the fulfillment of Ezekiel 39 is not until Armageddon, which is after the end of the seven year "week" of the covenant.  Ezekiel 38 is before the start of that seven-year period.  It corresponds to the sixth seal of Revelation.  It also corresponds to Luke 21:25-26.

Ezekiel 38:18-20  It shall happen in that day, when Gog shall come against the land of Israel, says the Lord Yahweh, that my wrath shall come up into my nostrils.  (19)   For in my jealousy and in the fire of my wrath have I spoken, Surely in that day there shall be a great shaking in the land of Israel(20)  so that the fish of the sea, and the birds of the sky, and the animals of the field, and all creeping things who creep on the earth, and all the men who are on the surface of the earth, shall shake at my presence, and the mountains shall be thrown down, and the steep places shall fall, and every wall shall fall to the ground.

Revelation 6:12-17  I saw when he opened the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake. The sun became black as sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon became as blood.  (13)  The stars of the sky fell to the earth, like a fig tree dropping its unripe figs when it is shaken by a great wind.  (14)  The sky was removed like a scroll when it is rolled up. Every mountain and island were moved out of their places (15)  The kings of the earth, the princes, the commanding officers, the rich, the strong, and every slave and free person , hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains.  (16)  They told the mountains and the rocks, "Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne , and from the wrath of the Lamb(17)   for the great day of his wrath has come; and who is able to stand?"

Luke 21:25-26  There will be signs in the sun, moon, and stars; and on the earth anxiety of nations, in perplexity for the roaring of the sea and the waves;  (26)   men fainting for fear, and for expectation of the things which are coming on the world: for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.

So what happens next?  What is after the sixth seal?  It's the seventh seal.

Revelation 8:1-2  When he opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour(2)  I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them.

The New Jerusalem appears and stops the Islamic nations from destroying Israel.  This terrifies the world.  After that, there is silence from heaven.  This builds up the terror even more.  I think this silence from heaven for half an hour corresponds to about six months.  After that, the two witnesses begin 1260 days of prophecy.

Revelation 11:3-6  I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy one thousand two hundred sixty days, clothed in sackcloth."  (4)   These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands, standing before the Lord of the earth.  (5)  If anyone desires to harm them, fire proceeds out of their mouth and devours their enemies . If anyone desires to harm them, he must be killed in this way.  (6)  These have the power to shut up the sky, that it may not rain during the days of their prophecy. They have power over the waters, to turn them into blood, and to strike the earth with every plague, as often as they desire.

The power to turn water into blood, and to strike the earth with every plague, corresponds with the seven trumpets.  And as we have seen in verses 8:1-2, the seven trumpets are right after the silence in heaven.  So again, when are the 144,000 sealed?  They are sealed soon after the sixth seal and before the two witnesses begin to prophesy 1260 days.

The harm to the land, sea, and trees is the first two trumpets.  This does not happen until after the 144,000 are sealed.  And as I've said, I believe the two witnesses are part of the 144,000.  The New Jerusalem appears and stops the Islamic nations from destroying Israel.  The appointed time of the end is the end of the seventy weeks of Daniel 9.  It's the end of the time that was allocated for Israel to overcome sin.  It's the time when the Messiah comes.  It’s the time when the New Jerusalem appears. 

Daniel 9:24  Seventy weeks are decreed on your people and on your holy city, to finish disobedience, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most holy.

Then, the week of the covenant, which extends the New Covenant for seven more years, probably starts after the six months of silence.  That would be the start of the millennium.  In other words, the 144,000 are probably sealed at the start of the millennium, which is the start of the thousand-year Day of the Lord.

For more information about Christian Perfection, please read my booklet titled, Christian Perfection by Grace and Works.  It's available online, on my website.  Or it can be purchased from Amazon.

Philip Brown