The Gospel Coalition

And I heard the number of the sealed, 144,000, sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel. (Rev. 7:4)


Many sincere Bible-believing Christians would understand the 144,000 like this: The church is raptured prior to the great tribulation. During the time when the church is gone, a remnant of 144,000 ethnic Jews is converted (12,000 from each tribe). These Jewish converts, in turn, evangelize the Gentiles who make up the great multitude in white robes in v. 9. That's one understanding of Revelation 7.  A lot of godly people hold that understanding. Let me explain why I understand the 144,000 differently.

The 144,000 are not an ethnic Jewish remnant, and certainly not an Anointed Class of saints who became Jehovah's Witnesses before 1935. The 144,000 represent the entire community of the redeemed. Let me give you several reasons for making this claim.

First, in chapter 13 we read that Satan seals all of his followers, so it makes sense that God would seal all of his people, not just the Jewish ones.

Second, the image of sealing comes from Ezekiel 9 where the seal on the forehead marks out two groups of people: idolaters and non-idolaters. It would seem that the sealing of the 144,000 makes a similar distinction based on who worships God not who among the Jewish remnant worships God.

Third, the 144,000 are called the servants of our God (Rev. 7:3). There is no reason to make the 144,000 any more restricted than that. If you are a servant of the living God, you are one of the 144,000 mentioned here. In Revelation, the phrase "servants of God" always refers to all of God's redeemed people, not just an ethnic Jewish remnant (see 1:1; 2:20; 19:2; 19:5; 22:3).

Fourth, the 144,000 mentioned later in chapter 14 are those who have been "redeemed from the earth" and those who were "purchased from among men." This is generic everybody kind of language. The 144,000 is a symbolic number of redeemed drawn from all peoples, not simply the Jews. Besides, if the number is not symbolic then what do we do with Revelation 14:4 which describes the 144,000 as those "who have not defiled themselves with women"? Are we to think that the 144,000 refers to a chosen group of celibate Jewish men? It makes more sense to realize that 144,000 is a symbolic number that is described as celibate men to highlight the group's moral purity and set-apartness for spiritual battle.

Fifth, the last reason for thinking that the 144,000 is the entire community of the redeemed is because of the highly stylized list of tribes in verses 5-8. The number itself is stylized. It's not to be taken literally. It's 12 x 12 x 1000---12 being the number of completion for God's people (representing the 12 tribes of Israel and the 12 apostles of the Lamb) and 1000 being a generic number suggesting a great multitude. So 144,000 is a way of saying all of God's people under the old and new covenant.

And then look at the list of the tribes. There are over a dozen different arrangements of the twelve tribes in the Bible. This one is unique among all of those. Judah is listed first because Jesus was from there as a lion of the tribe of Judah. All twelve of Jacob's sons are listed---including Levi who usually wasn't because he didn't inherit any land-except for one. Manasseh, Joseph's son (Jacob's grandson), is listed in place of Dan. So why not Dan? Dan was left out in order to point to the purity of the redeemed church. From early in Israel's history, Dan was the center of idolatry for the kingdom (Judges 18:30-31). During the days of the divided kingdom, Dan was one of two centers for idolatry (1 Kings 12:28-30). And there is recorded in some non-Biblical Jewish writings that the Jews thought the anti-Christ would come out of Dan based on Genesis 49:17. The bottom line is that the number and the list and the order of the tribes are all stylized to depict the totality of God's pure and perfectly redeemed servants from all time over all the earth. That's what Revelation means by the 144,000.


Comments:

[...] DeYoung looks at the 144,000 in Revelation. Matthew Montonini looks at Jesus’ emotion in Mark 3:5. Preston Sprinkle gives us a [...]

R.C.

October 29, 2012 at 08:05 PM

The 144000 are orginal tribe decendants that mixed with gentiles througout the years since jesus,and are scattered throughout the world by the will of God.They were chosen for the task by God to deliver the final warning to all on earth.It is not man giving the warning ,but theLord God(marked in their foreheads),as in the day of pentecost.When God speaks through them ,most knees will bend and will be saved.This happens mid -trib after the abomination of desolation committed by the antichrist.

Ezekiel Lamb

November 3, 2013 at 03:23 PM

i submit they {144,000} are the little flock of Luke 12v32, little in terms of world population and truly separated from the world. I do not believe many Christians today could sell all they possess and gives alms to the poor.for both reasons of Faith and ethics {they have families to support etc}.This separation must therefore occur over time,guided by the Holy Spirit and be possibly be not known by the recipient at least until the end.

John

November 11, 2013 at 02:01 AM

144,000 are the one's who repopulate the Earth after the Wrath of God in Rev. 16. They are the one's that meet the Lord in the air to come back down, the Church calls it the Rapture but its more like a transfiguration. There can only be one firstfruit of a kind so they are not the firstfruit of the died, Christ is that, so they must be from the living.
First the Killed Saints will resurrect, Isaiah 26: 21, Rev 20:1-6, to rule with Christ until 1000yr over. These will full fill the 5th seal and give us the great multitude in white robes, as well as fit Rev. 20:5, 1 Cor. 15 and 1 Thess. 4:13-17
The 144,000 will live and die in the Millennial Kingdom and be resurrected at the end of 1000yr at the white throne judgement Rev. 20:11-15 or Matt. 25:31-46. This will complete Old Testament prophets to Israel in Ezekiel 40-48 and Zechariah 14.
The killed saints are the little one's or the lest one with Christ at the Judgement, Matt. 25:31-46, Matt. 10:17-39 teach us who are the in Christ believers. Matt.10: 39 Whoever finds life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
At the end of Millennial Kingdom all people will be resurrected Christian and none Christian to end death and to enter the New Heaven and New Earth or the lake of fire, Job 14:12 so man lies down and does not rise; till the heavens are no more, men will not awake or be roused from their sleep. 13 If only you would hide me in the grave and conceal me till your anger has passed! If only you would set me a time and then remember me!
When is Heaven and Earth destroyed? Rev. 20:11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them.
Rev. 21:1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new Earth for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. Job 12:11 As water disappears from the sea or a riverbed becomes parched and dry,
Also Matt 5:17-20 is also complete because death is cast in the Lake of fire and there is no need for Law.

James Freda

November 10, 2013 at 10:27 AM

If the person who wrote this article were correct in their belief, this would mean *any* person who has ever been married and had children, therefore someone who is not a virgin, will go to hell. This is simply false teaching. The beginning of what the article states is the truth though it is denied. It is Jewish saints as far as the 144,000. There will be *way* more than 144,000 in Heaven above but the 144,000 will be the holiest of the holy for what they must and will endure without taking the mark of the beast.

RC

May 28, 2012 at 03:55 AM

Dr. Christopher Cone has written a very good point-by-point refutation to this article here:

http://www.drcone.com/2012/01/18/challenging-interpretive-methodology-of-the-young-restless-and-reformed-a-response-to-who-are-the-144000-in-revelation-74/

Rob

May 27, 2012 at 06:18 PM

If I had to read the Bible in the way Kevin suggests -- a way that takes the plain meaning of words and sentences, and reinterprets them dramatically beyond their plain meaning, then I may as well be honest and give up the Bible as a divine book and return to my former atheism.

Richard Dawkins can write books in which he says what he means in language that is understandable. And yes, he uses allegory and metaphors and so on. Is God unable to do the same? Is the communication and Word of God so confusing that we have to jump thru allegorical or other hoops to understand it?

To be quite honest, as I have encountered more and more of this allegorizing of the Bible, I have become less and less interested in reading it. Why? Because whatever I read in the Bible now requires another interpretative layer in order to understand it. I just cannot take what it says at face value.

Mary A LaClair

March 30, 2013 at 08:29 PM

For fresh insight on the identity of Revelation's 144,000 visit: www.TheProverbs120Column.com

Don't wait to repent for the appearance of perfect Jewish men to appear on the world scene. The 144,000 have come and gone. They are already with the Lamb in heaven.

[...] God knows the names of the metaphorical 144,000 who stand before his throne. [...]

michael keever

March 13, 2014 at 01:09 PM

And he forces everyone, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark, in their right hand, or in their foreheads!

Robert

June 4, 2012 at 12:48 PM

I think Kevin is spot on with this interpretation although I have come across some interesting insight into why they tribes are listed as they are. Bill Salus, a dispensationalist outlines it this way:

A standard starting point of exploration is to discern the meaning of the names to see if they are message-formatted. This method finds application in the case of the 144,000 witnesses.

The Meaning of the Names:

Judah: "Praise God";
Reuben: "behold a son";
Gad: "good fortune";
Asher: "happiness";
Naphtali: "my wrestling or struggle";
Manasseh: "God has caused me to forget";
Simeon: "hearing";
Levi: "joining or grafting in";
Issachar: "God hath given me my hire, or has reinstated me";
Zebulun: "elevated or elevated position";
Joseph: "adding or increasing";
Benjamin: "son of the right hand".

The Message of the Names:

Praise God! Behold a Son of good fortune and happiness. My struggle, God has caused me to forget. Hearing of our grafting in, God has reinstated me into an elevated position, increased by the Son of the right hand.

The Mission Statement:

Inherent in these oddly ordered names, appears to be the ministerial message of the 144,000 witnesses. Their “Mission Statement” could perhaps read as follows:

Praise God for the gospel of Christ, a Son of good fortune and happiness. My struggle with sin and the Mosaic Law, God has caused me to forget. Hearing of the mystery of our grafting in with the Gentiles, God has reinstated me into an elevated position of ministry once again, and is increasing those being saved through Christ, the Son of the right hand.

please read VIP

June 23, 2013 at 12:34 AM

The true outpouring of the Holy Spirit of truth happens before the 5th shofar and 5th vial is poured. Revelation 7:3-4,13-14 Revelation 9:4! Joel 2:28-29-this happens in the homes of God's people and their family members (read Isaiah 26:20-21)! the people of God flee all man made churches, anything of the identical jesus christ movement. then Joel 2:30 which shows the aftermath of the sixth and fifth shofar sounds and fifth and sixth vial poured. then Joel 2:31-32 happens...


must watch and hear video on youtube titled, "Christ testimony of the churches -around the world." there are two identical Jesus Christ revelation 17:8. most of revelation is happening in the spirit world. that's why Jesus said it would be like the days of Noah and Lot. the abomination of desolation is happening in the spirit realm inside all these man made buildings set up for worship. the Christians and catholics, etc are not aware of what's happening to them and around them in these places, (churches -any four wall building representing God to gather believers of Christ). these churches around the world are all connected to "The Great City" Revelation 11, which is spiritually called Sodom and Egypt and Mystery of iniquity. Church leaders around the world are searching of the earthly signs. this will not happen until the very last day and hour. God will not allow man to destroy the earth with nuclear bombs. read matthew 3:12 and Revelation 20:9. God sends his son to the earth with the fire behind him consuming all his enemies which are left from the resurrection of the dead and those that are alive. the body of Christ is gathered as the son of man appears at last sound of shofar, he is coming while the wheat are gathered and the tares are left as the chaff and earth is consumed by the fire of God.

Adam

January 31, 2014 at 03:39 PM

If the 144,000 are not Jewish, then why does it say that they were 12,000 from each of the 12 different tribes. Rev. 7:4-8

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,

8 from the tribe of Zebulun 12,000,

from the tribe of Joseph 12,000,

from the tribe of Benjamin 12,000.

Aaron

January 24, 2012 at 03:14 PM

Brother, I appreciate your work to teach God’s word. But I have to differ with you here. Your first three proofs are theological arguments, which can be valid, but they’re not as strong as textual arguments from the context. Your first argument is a non-sequitor. Just because Satan seals his own, doesn’t mean that the other group sealed in Revelation is therefore a group of all believers. It may make sense, but it’s not a proof here. Just because A follows B...

From the context:
The timing is at a point when 4 angels are holding back the 4 winds from evidently doing some major damage to the earth. These 144,000 are sealed as these angels are restraining it. Why would all of God’s elect through all ages, especially the dead one, need to be sealed? They would need no protection if they’re already with God. I suppose you would have to generalize “the great tribulation” to mean all of the trials believers have faced throughout time.
Second, why go through the trouble of specifically delineating not just 144,000, but breaking that number down as 12,000 from each of the twelve tribes he mentions? The 144k are specifically labeled as being “from the sons of Israel” and then the countless multitude is specifically from “every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages.” Why is John making a point in the context to differentiate these groups when you are trying to equate them?
Additionally, Jesus and John both make points to talk about a great tribulation, one that excels any other period in human history. These 144k are labeled those as “the ones coming out of the great tribulation.
I would also question your interpretation as to how the 24 elders differ from this 144k, as many people today would view the elders as 12 representing Israel and 12 representing the church, so how do the 144k differ from the 24 elders if both represent the people of God throughout all time? Yes, I realize there are many different takes on who the 24 elders are, but I don’t know your take. At that, why would it be 12x12x1000 rather than 12x2x1000, thus 24,000 rather than 144,000?
I don’t think you adequately explain how Rev 14:4 describes these 144k as virgins (“parthenoi”) a term that nowhere else refers to married but morally pure people. Although 2 Cor 11:2 uses the term figuratively to refer to a church without blemish, it seems more natural to see this as referring to actual Jewish virgins in this great period of the Great Tribulation because it speaks of being defiled with women, not being defiled with this world or sin.
I have to admit, in trying to answer your post, I’m seeing a lot of cross-references that make me more understanding of your covenant-theology perspective on Revelation. But I don’t think it answers the text as well as seeing a literal Israel distinguished from the Church.
Sam Hatting is asking some fair questions about the text.

[...] Who Are the 144,000 in Revelation? (Kevin DeYoung) – DeYoung offers his own perspective (meaning, the less popular view) of the [...]

Ken Garrett

January 22, 2012 at 11:25 PM

OF COURSE you don't interpret the 144,000 as believing, Tribulation Jews! You're not a dispensationalist! You've made a perfectly reasonable, though not (to me) compelling argument based on a more extensive allegorical interpretation that I would personally choose.
Haven't we all been over this ground enough to simply concede that neither side presents an argument that is compelling to the other, by means alone of reason and fair-minded discussion? All sides of the argument are made up of "sincere, godly, Bible-believing people." Was there ever a question or suspicion that theologians and preachers who held to a Pre-trib theology were not sincere, or godly? Time to move on.

What do you think of this? - Christian Forums

January 22, 2012 at 09:39 PM

[...] [...]

Johnny

January 21, 2012 at 07:15 AM

Symbolism and Allegory was good enough for Paul (Gal 4:24).

For example in the O.T. there was a law where if your Ox was working while you tread out the grain you did not muzzle it to allow it to eat while working - so you have a literal Ox eating literal grain but Paul "spiritualizes" that law and applies it to mean "pay your pastor and those in ministry" (1 Cor 9:8ff; 1 Tim 5:18). to spiritualize is not to call God a liar or call into question his promises. What we have to realise is God did not stop with the O.T. he inspired a N.T. to be written which is to be our hermeneutical framework for the O.T. the N.T. spiritualizes all the time:

- In the O.T. there were literal sacrifices of worship for sin. Paul spiritualises this and says our bodies are to be "living" sacrifices (Rom 12:1)

- There was a literal temple where God dwelled. Jesus himself spoke of himself as the temple (John 2:19ff). Now we are the temple indwelled by his spirit (1 Cor 3:16)

- in Deut 30:12-14 Moses tells the people we don't need to go up to bring God's law down or need to go down to bring God's law up. Paul quotes that which spoke about the law and applies it to Christ himself (Rom 10:6-8).

The N.T. in many instances takes literal things and spiritualises them. This does not call into question God's character - he clearly says his word is truth and he does not lie rather it affirms the O.T.and the law "prophesied" (Matt 11:13) i.e. Pointed to Christ and the Gospel (Rom 1:4). In this way the O.T. promises etc served as a shadow of things to come but the substrance is Christ (Col 2:17).

If the centre of our reading the Bible is Israel and literal promises instead of Christ and his gospel and how that re-orientates how we read the O.T. then we will run into difficulty.

Holly

January 20, 2012 at 01:56 PM

Yikes, man. I'd be worried about saying that the bible isn't really saying what it's really saying. Do you have some kind of problem with Jews? You might want to step back and ask God of you are turning too much of the Bible into allegory and symbolism. I'm no expert, but this sounds a little too much. When God told the people of Isreal that they would return to "The Land" in seventy years, they did- in exactly 70 years. Just because 144,000 Jewish men who haven't defiled themselves with women seems unlikely, doesn't mean God can't bring it to pass to serve his own purposes. You keep on like this, others will want to turn even more things into allegory and symbolism that really are not- like the bodily ressurection of Jesus, among other things.

Around the Interweb | Unoriginal Observations

January 19, 2012 at 11:54 AM

[...] We are the 144,000 – Not as catchy as “we are the 99″ I know, but it is the way that Pastor and Author Kevin Deyoung interprets the 144,000 in Revelation. I’m glad someone smarter than me has written such a Bible centered, easily readable explanation. [...]

Johnny

January 19, 2012 at 11:09 AM

Should have clarrified myself more William...Thanks for correcting! When Jesus used the word "church" the disciples would have had an understanding from the idea of the "community" of Israel in the O.T. I did put replace in brackets and say how Paul redefined what a Jew was but I see where I left confusion!

Grace and Peace

William

January 19, 2012 at 10:34 AM

Johnny,

I'm Reformed as well, but I'd like to say that the Church hasn't replaced Israel because as Reformed people we don't there ever was the idea (or reality) of two entities to begin with. God has always had one people and always will. The Church can't replace Israel because the Church is Israel and vice-versa through the Abrahamic Covenant.

Dispensationalists like to get us on this so I think it's an important distinction. We are grafted into Israel, not a replacement of or in addition to.

Johnny

January 19, 2012 at 07:32 AM

I totally agree here with Kevin and come from a reformed A-Mill perspective. I do believe the church has "replaced" Israel for a number of reasons. Let me give a few:

1) in Isaiah 42, 49, 52:12-53:12 we have "servant songs" where a "son" of God is described. This is clearly Messianic. the context of the songs is that Israel is a "disobedient son". Thus Jesus Christ is the true obedient son. In other words Jesus is the true Israel. This is confirmed in places like Matt 2:15 where Matthew quotes from Hosea 11:1 which speaks of Israel and applies it to Jesus himself. Because of this all the promises of God find their "yes" (fulfillment) in him (2 Cor 1:20). Thus we need to read O.T. prophecy not "literally" but rather Christologically

2) Paul redefines what a Jew is - not outward circumcision but inward circumcision of the heart (Rom 2:29 c.f. Gal 3:14, 29 where the blessings of Abraham have come to those who are in Christ)

3) Peter takes up language used in Exodus 19 which were spoken to Israel and applies it to the church (1 Peter 2:9-10).

4) Paul in Galatians calls the church the "Israel of God" (Gal 6:16)

5) The writer to the Hebrews in 11:8-16 says in effect that the promise of the land was to point to a greater heavenly one (c.f. 12:22; Gal 4:21ff)

6) Paul in 2 Cor 6:16-18 quotes a few O.T. texts which were promises to Israel and then at the beginning of chapter 7 concludes "since WE HAVE THESE PROMISES" Corinth was a Gentile church. Paul takes promises to Israel and applies them to the church...or if you like he "spiritualizes" them.

I think the N.T. has a consistent hermeneutic. The point of Israel was to bring about the Messiah and through his work of the Gospel he is bringing in people of all nations (Eph 3:6).

Scott C

January 18, 2012 at 12:37 PM

Calm and caution should rule the day when it comes to interpreting the book of Revelation no matter what perspective you come from. I am a dispensationalist and quite convinced that Revelation yields an interpretation that is consistently dispensational. I have taught thru the book twice and am going thru it presently a 3rd time. Each time I have modified my understanding precisely because its mixture of figurative and literal language is extremely difficult to untangle. All interpretive approaches to the book have to recognize both uses of language and sometimes the language is so ambiguous that one can go either way. When something is clearly figurative and no absolute clues shift the weight in a particular direction speculation is largely driven by the presuppositions of one's eschatalogical viewpoint.

For example consider chapter 12. Virtually every interpreter would recognize figurative and literal language mixed together here. The woman clothed with the sun, moon under foot and crown on her head with 12 stars is obviously figurative. Yet when it says she gives birth to a son who will rule the nations with a rod of iron everybody suddenly knows this is a literal reference to the Christ child. The point is, there is no uniform principles by which to distinguish literal and figurative language in many cases. I believe they are often inter-tangled in the same context as here. If we did not have clear clues in the context that indicate Christ is the son born to the woman there would be no end as to how the child was to be interpreted. Honesty on all sides of the debate should humbly acknowledge this IMHO.

Matt

January 18, 2012 at 12:37 AM

Nothing like a good amillennial reading of revelation to bring out the Dispensational vultures. Apparently, the 'together for the gospel' works fine....until we come to Revelation, when it suddenly changes to 'together for the future of ethic Israel after the church has been raptured on outta here!' Never mind that Kevin's view is the one that actually teaches *the gospel* in the book of Revelation!

Scott C

January 18, 2012 at 12:25 PM

Calm should rule the day when it comes to interpreting the book of Revelation no matter what perspective you come from. I am a dispensationalist and quite convinced that Revelation yields an interpretation that is consistently dispensational. I have taught thru the book twice and am going thru it presently a 3rd time. Each time I have modified my understanding precisely because its mixture of figurative and literal language is extremely difficult to untangle. All interpretive approaches to the book have to recognize both uses of language and sometimes the language is so ambiguous that one can go either way. When something is clearly figurative and no absolute clues shift the weight in a particular direction speculation is largely driven by the presuppositions of one's eschatalogical

donsands

January 18, 2012 at 10:39 AM

I was reading on in Rev. and my how deep and difficult is the depth of this truth from God. I have listened to many, and have read it myself, and yet have great confusion.

For instance: " Then from the smoke came locusts on the earth, and they were given power like the power of scorpions of the earth. They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any green plant or any tree, but only those people who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads. 5 They were allowed to torment them for five months, but not to kill them, and their torment was like the torment of a scorpion when it stings someone. And in those days people will seek death and will not find it. They will long to die, but death will flee from them."

And John tells us what these Locusts look like, and it's beyond incredible.

My bottom line is that there is coming a day of God's wrath, and it will be like nothing before. And yet, for all who repent and trust in Jesus, they will have every tear wiped away.

[...] Excerpted Recommended HEALTHY CHURCH Article FROM http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/2012/01/17/who-are-the-144000-in-revelation/ [...]

[...] attention was directed recently to an article by Kevin DeYoung, entitled “Who Are the 144,000 in Revelation?” DeYoung pastors a Reformed church in Michigan and identifies himself with the “young, restless, [...]

Jessica Kent

January 18, 2012 at 06:26 AM

First, a good reading of the text, certainly! But a few things strike me:
One, in Revelation 7:9 John says, "After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb," which seems to suggest another group. He sees the 144,000, AND he sees this great multitude. The multitude is also distinguished from the 144,000 from the tribes of Israel by being "from the nations" which, Biblically, means from the Gentiles. So it seems that there ARE two groups, specially distinguished by John in the text.
Two, I think all interpretation of this needs to stop there, and bow the knee to mystery. We CANNOT know for certain what God has in mind with this, and I think to say definitively that this is what the 144,00 means, period, is like saying "This is who the four living creatures are," or "This is what the One seated on the throne looks like," or "This is the accurate time period for all of this." We just can't know - we're not supposed to know.
Why did you decide to write on this, Kevin?

Bernard

January 18, 2012 at 05:52 AM

Thank you so much Kevin for this very clear correction of a biblical misunderstanding. Like all bad theology, the wrong view of the 144,000 has damaging real-world consequences. In this case it provides Jewish 'anti-missionaries' (i.e. opponents of Jews for Jesus etc) to claim that the gospel is anti-Semitic because only 144,000 Jewish people will be saved. It also slows up Jewish outreach by causing some Christians not to get involved with it because they figure they can wait till the time of the Tribulation when it will all be done for them. Thanks again for a characteristically clear and helpful post.

Linkathon 1/18, part 1 | Phoenix Preacher

January 18, 2012 at 02:28 AM

[...] Kevin DeYoung explains his view of who the 144,000 in Revelation really are. [...]

Chris Roberts

January 17, 2012 at 12:42 PM

Sam,

"Also, please give us a list of verses in the Bible that feature numbers and tell us when we are to take those verses at face value."

There is a reason genre matters. Historical material is to be taken historically. Poetic material is to be taken poetically. Symbolic material is to be taken symbolically.

What gets me in a book like Revelation is how some, mostly dispensationalists, will criticize others, mostly amill types, for taking a symbolic approach, yet will admit that some parts must be symbolic. For example, while I continue to be surprised that dispensationalists believe there will literally be two fire breathing men witnessing in Jerusalem in chapter 11, I have yet to find a dispensationalist who believes there will literally be the seven headed dragon from chapter 12. It is the dispensationalist who picks and chooses which parts to accept as literal and which parts are symbolic, while the amill is typically more consistent in his approach to Revelation.

SoSpricht

January 17, 2012 at 12:37 PM

Sam Hatting,

As you arrogantly mock a position you clearly don't understand, I wonder:

Do you take the 70 weeks in Daniel as 490 24hr days?

Are you familiar with numbers and how they were used in the ancient world? Because it is irrelevant what seems like the most straightforward interpretation to us. What matters is what John meant, not what Sam or anyone else would have it to mean.

If dispensationalism is the plain reading of Scripture then why are there so many dispensational interpretations? How many plain readings are there?

SoSpricht

January 17, 2012 at 12:25 PM

Richard,

Please entertain a few of my questions to make a point...

Do you believe the moon is going to turn to blood? Is it subjective to say "no"?

What is an ethnic Jew? 100% Jewish? 90%? 75%?

How does the OT define Israel/the people of God? In my Bible it defines Israel by those who believe in YHWH and those who are in covenant with him. Haven't you read Isaiah? Or how about in Ez 47, where it states:

"So you shall divide this land among you according to the tribes of Israel. 22 You shall allot it as an inheritance for yourselves and for the sojourners who reside among you and have had children among you. They shall be to you as native-born children of Israel. With you they shall be allotted an inheritance among the tribes of Israel. 23 In whatever tribe the sojourner resides, there you shall assign him his inheritance, declares the Lord GOD."

And wasn't the plan of God through Abraham to bless all families of the earth?

Do you know the main factor that led to my leaving dispensationalism (along with many others)?

When I read the OT closely for the first time. Having grown up in it, I've found that dispensationalists aren't very familiar with the OT. What they do is put their trust in their favorite authors, read the passages they quote, and develop a complex of "Well I just take God at his Word unlike SOME people..." Show a little humility.

Another side note, any dispensationalist that throws out the "allegory" or "spiritual" card against Cov. Theologians reveals their own ignorance. Classical dispensationalists (like Scofield and Chafer) were KINGS at spiritualizing the OT... Just read Scofield's footnotes or Chafer's Systematic Theology or his book Satan.

Honestly, would learning about the other guy really hurt you that much? How about understanding a position before you bash it?

Heather E. Carrillo

January 17, 2012 at 12:03 PM

Thank you, Kevin! I've had a few unsaved friends ask me about this and I've only said, "I don't really know." It's good to have an answer!

Sonja

January 17, 2012 at 11:56 PM

Huh, this post and the comments are so providential in sorting out in my head who are the martyrs in Rev. 6:11 and the number of their fullfilment to trigger the second half of the Trib. The Trib saints, unsaved until the 144,000 evangelized. Maybe.

So thanks!

Truth Unites... and Divides

January 17, 2012 at 11:39 AM

Why is a married Jewish male who's had intercourse with his wife considered "defiled"?

John

January 17, 2012 at 10:55 AM

Sam, I think you should consider the philosophical presuppositions of your position. Understanding the text in literal terms presumes what can constitute truth (epistemology). You have, in effect, limited truth to empirical-rational categories. This is the major premise of your position. The minor premise is that God's word is always true. The syllogism is that as a result, God's word must be literal. Epistemologically, this is backward. We can't approach God's word having already decided what constitutes truth.

Lance

January 17, 2012 at 10:28 AM

Bound to drive some major traffic with this post! Yikes. Well done overall.

Sam, recognizing figurative or symbolic language in Revelation is exactly what the genre calls for. It could be argued that to not do so would be unfaithful to the Bible... which is, you know, what you are accusing Kevin of being. Surely you see symbolism and figurative language in some places. Right?

Is Jesus actually a lamb? Is Satan a dragon? Is he really bound by an actual chain? Must be. If we take it at face value. That's what the Bible says.

You see what I'm saying? There are a myriad of interpretations regarding these things but it does no good to pretend that seeing symbolism or figurative language is tantamount to not believing the Word of God. The standard for when to interpret language figuratively is when the language is, you know, figurative. It's really that easy. ;)

Larry Wilson

January 17, 2012 at 09:59 AM

Revelation 1:1 says at the upshot that this book contains a lot of symbolism -- "he sent *and signified* it by his angel unto his servant John."

Accordingly, it seems to me that another clue for the identity 144,000 is found in a recurring pattern in Revelation -- what John hears described, and what he sees when he then looks to see what he has just heard about. For example:

What he hears -- Rev. 5:5 -- "And one of the elders said to me, 'Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.'" What he sees -- Rev 5:6 -- "And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth." He heard about a Lion; when he looked, he saw a slain Lamb.

That same pattern recurs in Rev 7. What he hears -- Rev 7:4-8 -- "And I heard the number of the sealed, 144,000, sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel: ..." What he sees -- Rev 7:9-10 -- "After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, 'Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!'" He hears about a perfect number from all the tribes of Israel; when he looks, he sees a vast multitude that no one can number from all the peoples of the earth.

donsands

January 17, 2012 at 09:53 AM

"Let us not get haughty and assume that we have replace the Jews."

Kevin didn't sound "haughty" to me. But I can see how any of us can be "haughty" in different ways.

Richard

January 17, 2012 at 09:53 AM

Sam Hatting, you are right on the mark! Of course the biggest problem with making such clear-cut Scriptural numbers symbolic is that it's very much a subjective exercise wherein one can make the Bible say anything he wishes. That's a very dangerous way of handling God's Word.

Greg Smith

January 17, 2012 at 09:51 AM

I think you are spot-on here. Let me add an observation. In Rev 1:10-11 John hears a voice speaking. Then in v 12, he turns to see the source of that voice. What he sees is the same as what he hears. In 5:5-6 he hears the elders speaking of the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. Then he sees this Lion as a Lamb slain. These are not two different things. The Lion is the Lamb. John hears, then he sees.

In 7:4, John hears the number that were sealed. We get the description of the 144,000. Then in v 9 he looks and sees what he first heard. It is a multitude greater than anyone could number. John hears about the 144,000 then sees them. The number is symbolic as you suggest, not a figure to be interpreted literally.

Sam Hatting

January 17, 2012 at 09:07 AM

Yes, we do believe that the 144,000 are sexually pure Jewish males from the 12 tribes listed. Why? Because that's what the Bible says. These evangelists are very effective at fulfilling Romans 11, where Paul says all Israel will be saved after the time of the Gentiles is complete. You believe this group includes women when it cleary says these evangelists will be men. How do you reconcile that?

Why do you insist on saying that Israel doesbt actually mean Israel but actually the church? John goes so far as to list the Jewish tribes and yet you still say he doesn't refer to Jews.

Believing that the 144,000 are Jews doesn't mean God doesn't seal the gentile believers. Revelation shows later in the book that He does. Why can't there be 144,000 Jewish evangelists?

Also, please give us a list of verses in the Bible that feature numbers and tell us when we are to take those verses at face value. I get that you think 144,000 doesn't mean 144,000 and therefore 12,000 doesn't mean 12,000. Does 3 days in the tomb mean 3 days? I guess 1,000 years, mentioned 6 times as the length of the millennium, doesn't mean 1,000. The 2 witnesses probably doesn't mean 2. Jesus sent out the 70, but how many did he actually send out? Jesus was in the wilderness for 40 days, but how many was it in reality? The flood rains lasted 40 days and nights, but how many days did it actually rain?

I'm guessing the answer is that any verse dealing with prophecy that has a number in it should be considered a figurative number? Is that the standard? It is no coincidence that those who refuse to apply a consistent hermeneutic to Revelation oftentimes also apply a figurative meaning to Genesis 1-3. How sad! The promises of God are eternal. He promised things to the Jews and lovingly grafted Gentiles into His salvation plan. Let us not get haughty and assume that we have replace the Jews. Paul specifically warns against this in Romans yet that is what you are doing.

Mike

January 17, 2012 at 08:55 AM

Hey Kevin, I like your conclusion of the 144. Not sure what your entire eschatology view is, but where would you place the timing of the 144?

donsands

January 17, 2012 at 08:51 AM

Jesus has two folds, and one flock.

I agree with your teaching. But, I leave it open for other brothers who disagree. Revelation is quite a difficult book to understand.

Charles

January 17, 2012 at 08:51 AM

This is a good presentation as far as it goes. But you really need to address 7:9 in which the specifically numbered and countable group specifically defined as "Israel" in vv, 1-8 morphs into an innumerable uncountable group from "Every nation, tribe, people, and language. Also, you note that the listing of the twelve tribes in Revelation 7 is unique. But you do realize that there are other "unique" arrangements" of the tribes in the Bible. In fact, if I recall correctly there are around 24 such listings in Scripture and if I recall correctly all of them are slightly different, or in other words unique. So, how much hermeneutical weight can a different arrangement actually bear. Furthermore, in every other case, interpreters generally identify the listings as actually Israel. So Revelation 7 would be perhaps the only exception in Scripture among two dozen or so that a listing of tribes is taken to be something other than Israel. There of course could be interpretive exceptions but this needs to be acknowledged.

Trevor

January 17, 2012 at 07:52 AM

I agree. It is also clear and biblically accurate to capture the flowing context of the 144,000 transferring to a multitude from every tribe standing before the throne. I was really blessed to listen to this brother below teach on Revelation. I highly recommend you listen to this sermon and the whole series. http://www.pacifichope.com/index.php?view=sermon&id=10191%3Aan-evening-of-eschatology&option=com_sermonspeaker&Itemid=21

Andrew Wilson

January 17, 2012 at 07:37 AM

Yikes, Kevin, you have such a gift for conveying huge amounts of information and insight in a short piece. Something to aspire to! Thanks for this.

[...] Who Are the 144,000 in Revelation? – Kevin DeYoung [...]

sue

January 17, 2012 at 07:33 PM

I find your first argument very distressing - that if Satan did something, God would do it too. Is that really what you meant?

Joseph Mc.

January 17, 2012 at 07:26 PM

I am reevaluating some of these positions and need to hear this kind of insight from both Covenant and Disp. viewpoints.
Thank you to Kevin D. and a good response from Sam H.


Let us remember a few good guidelines that were recently published:
Remember that your opponent is created in the Image of God.
Remember that your opponent is your fellow brother or sister.
Don't say anything you wouldn't be comfortable saying to their face.

(http://www.theblazingcenter.com/2012/01/how-to-disagree-online-without-being-a-total-jerk.html)

Ahmed

January 17, 2012 at 07:25 PM

And so now you only need to do a post on Romans 11 regarding the "remnant"... :)

Wes Pastor

January 17, 2012 at 05:22 PM

Kevin, thanks for the clarity. You're a great blessing to the church of Jesus Christ. Wes

Samantha

January 17, 2012 at 05:03 PM

Thanks for this! It sure does make more sense than the 144,000 just being Jewish people.

[...] Kevin DeYoung: [...]

Sam Hatting

January 17, 2012 at 01:38 PM

SoSpricht - "As you arrogantly mock a position you clearly don’t understand, I wonder: Do you take the 70 weeks in Daniel as 490 24hr days?"

Daniel 9:24 does say seventy weeks, but the Hebrew word used that is translated weeks means "seven" (shebha). So, it actually says "seventy sevens." It could mean seven years or days. Look at Leviticus 25:8 and the year of Jubilee and you'll see how it is used to mean year. So yes I believe in Daniel's prophecied 70 periods of 7 years.

What do you think it means? So far, you've only said what you don't think it means.

Remember, this is not primarily a debate about views on the end times. It is a hermeneutics debate.

donsands

January 17, 2012 at 01:38 PM

"I’m sorry if I came across as arrogant or personally mean towards Kevin. That certainly wasn’t my intention"-Sam

Good words brother. I need to say these kinds of words a lot.

It's good to argue the truth with our hearts always humbled by His great love and sovereign goodness.

Sam Hatting

January 17, 2012 at 01:30 PM

Chris - "For example, while I continue to be surprised that dispensationalists believe there will literally be two fire breathing men witnessing in Jerusalem in chapter 11, I have yet to find a dispensationalist who believes there will literally be the seven headed dragon from chapter 12."


See my previous post. I believe the dragon isn't a literal dragon b/c John says specifically that it isn't. He calls it a "sign." I'm not picking a choosing what is and what isn't literal. John is.


He does not say that the 2 witnesses are figurative. He describes them as two guys and describes what they do in pretty clear language. Why do you believe the text allows for anything else? Does the text demand that the 2 witnesses aren't real men who have the supernateral ability to breathe fire?

Sam Hatting

January 17, 2012 at 01:27 PM

I'm sorry if I came across as arrogant or personally mean towards Kevin. That certainly wasn't my intention. I should have put the disclaimer in my post that I don't have anything personal against anyone here, including the author. This is a spirited debate on hermeneutics, not a debate on someone's character. I could write a book on the ways that Kevin’s blog and sermons have enriched and blessed my life, to the glory of God. But he wants to talk end times, and I think he wants honest discussion.


My main argument is that Kevin, and others, are basing their interpretation of Revelation on a pre-conceived conclusion that the church is Israel and the promises to Israel aren’t literal and Romans 11 doesn’t actually mean that when the time of the gentiles is complete that all Israel will be saved. This is why the 144K can’t actually be male Jews in their worldview, so they have to make them into an uncountable number of male and female Jews and Gentiles (even though the text does not require or warrant such a change). Don’t come to Revelation with a pre-conceived conclusion. Apply a consistent hermeneutic to Revelation, just as you to do the rest of the Bible (even Genesis 1-3!).


Greg Smith - “In 7:4, John hears the number that were sealed. We get the description of the 144,000. Then in v 9 he looks and sees what he first heard. It is a multitude greater than anyone could number. John hears about the 144,000 then sees them. The number is symbolic as you suggest, not a figure to be interpreted literally."


I am baffled by this. John takes the time to not only number the 144K, but list which tribes they come from and how many from each tribe. These 144K can be counted. Then he sees a great multitude that can't be counted FROM EVERY NATION (Rev7:9). He specifically says “that no one could number,” right after he numbers the 144K.


The multitude clearly isn't the 144K, but all of the believers at that time (whenever you believe that time is; we can argue about timing later). There is a clear distinction. One group can be counted, the other can't. One group is Jews, the other is from every nation. Why assume those are the same group when John takes the time to make at least two clear distinctions?


Also, John says the 144K are male evangelists (not defiled sexually includes married men; I've had sex with my wife (and only my wife) and I'm not defiled sexually). But the other view says they are also women. I don't get it. If 144K doesn't actually mean 144K, perhaps "men" doesn't mean "men?"


Lance - "Is Jesus actually a lamb? Is Satan a dragon? Is he really bound by an actual chain? Must be. If we take it at face value. That’s what the Bible says."


Of course I agree that we can't be wooden literalists. No serious person thinks that. Jesus isn't a real lamb; he is the Lamb of God and we all know what that means. In my ESV, Lamb is capitalized b/c it is a name for Jesus. My point is that the Bible is usually clear when it is being figurative and when it isn't, even in Revelation. I'm arguing for a consistent hermeneutic.


John, in writing Revelation, takes the time to help us see what things are literal and what things aren’t. Chapter 12 starts out “And a great sign appeared in heaven…” then he describes the woman giving birth and her crown of 12 stars. This isn’t a literal woman; it is a sign, just like John says. Then verse 3: “Then another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great red dragon…” That is Satan. John clearly says this was a sign. So I’m not arguing that Satan is actually a dragon (we know he isn’t). John also doesn’t say that. He says it was a sign. He clearly shows us that he saw something figurative, and that is how we should read the text. Chapter 20 calls Satan “the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil…” and we understand that John isn’t saying Satan is actually a snake. The Pharisees aren’t actually a “brood of vipers,” they are humans. Those are clearly descriptive terms for real people (and for a real devil). I’m arguing that the Bible is clear on this stuff. When God speaks through signs, He tells us. Don’t make things into figurative signs when the text doesn’t allow for it (or mandate it).


My point is that interpreting the 144K male Jewish evangelists from each tribe as an uncountable number of male and female Jews and Gentiles does not flow naturally from Revelation. The text certainly doesn’t demand that interpretation (does it?) and I would say it doesn’t even allow for it. John goes to great lengths to distinguish who these men are, as opposed to the uncountable multitude.


I would like to know if yall think the 2 witnesses of Revelation 11 are actually 2? Or 3? Or 17?


Read Revelation just like you would the rest of the Bible, and the rest of prophecy. When it is being literal, take it literally. When it is being figurative, take it figuratively. Nobody would argue that the churches listed in the first 3 chapters of Revelation are not real churches, right? So why then do yall believe that the first few chapters of Revelation are literal and the rest of it is fuzzy and allegorical? You are making it harder than it is b/c you have already decided that it can’t mean what it says (and the OT prophecies about the future of Israel can’t mean what they say also), and I think that is a mistake.


I don’t wish to sound arrogant and I hope nobody thinks that is the spirit with which I am writing.

[...] Bible REALLY says when it crosses his theological preferences.  This is proven by an awful “interpretation” of the 144,000 Israelites in Revelation 7.  Not even the accompanying picture [...]

Philip Lazar

February 1, 2012 at 03:44 AM

Why this fight. Kevin is clear to say "why I understand the 144,000 differently". it was his personal understanding why to take it personally against ones own personal hermaneutics??? stay away from such nuance.

Philip Lazar, Pastor
India.

[...] DeYoung looks at the 144,000 in Revelation. Matthew Montonini looks at Jesus’ emotion in Mark 3:5. Preston Sprinkle gives us a [...]

Endtimesteacher

August 15, 2012 at 05:08 PM

I tried to comb through all these comments to make sure nobody had pointed something out that you all have seemed to miss. The 144,000 are not all Jews. In case you have forgotten, 10 of those tribes we assimilated into Gentiles nations after the Assyrian captivity. Only the tribe of Judah and Benjamin (which a few Levites thrown in as they were in both Israel and Judah) are Jews. Judah - Jews. The vast majority of this group are of Israelite heritage but may not even realize they are at this point and they will be coming out of the nations. This group is sealed for the purpose of making it through the Trumpet judgment #5, Rev. 9:4 "And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads." They will be on earth.

The other multitude on the other hand is in heaven on the sea of glass being the Christian martyrs that come out of the Tribulation. They are the martyrs whom the martyrs under the altar in the 5th seal were told to expect to join them. Totally different groups with different purposes. And nothing indicates that they are evangelists, no matter what people teach. That is adding to God's Word.

As for taking Revelation literally or spiritually, when it comes to prophecy we have been instructed in 2 Peter 1:20 "Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation." The only way to avoid private interpretation is to keep to the literal whenever possible. Now about those visions that seem so unreal. I have discovered that God has from Genesis on, explained terms or objects that He wants us to understand in a spiritual way so that by the time you get to Revelation He expected you should understand the symbolism when it wasn't explained, and in the other places where it was new, He explained it. And if neither, no matter how unreal it may seem, it may be very literal. I have studied Revelation for decades in great depth, and keeping to a literal interpretation in practically all cases, when you have all the information needed to understand it by having studied the Laws and Prophets, it is not that hard to understand and in fact very orderly and logical. People think all that stuff in there is symbolic. Trust me it is not. Those horrible creatures described in Rev. 9 are quite real. They are demons or fallen angels. Both are quite real. The beast is more of a real beast that you realize for he is a demonic spirit which comes out of the abyss to inhabit and possess a person called the antichrist. He has also inhabited the other seven "heads" that he has. God tells us that these heads are seven mountains (which in the O.T. you learn stands symbolically for a kingdom) and that they also stand for seven kings (verifying the kingdom interpretation) - the seven heads of state that he has possessed through the ages. See God explains his symbolism? Remember the statue Nebuchadnezzar saw? Those were some of the heads. (Again where God explained His symbolism) The spiritual world is very real and very horrific on the Satanic side of things. Take a good look at how the cherubim around God's throne or in Ezekiel are described. And these are the good guys. Not really pretty by our standards, so this beast may actually look like this, as he is an evil spirit. It may not be as symbolic as you think.

Clyde Smith

August 13, 2012 at 11:15 PM

Wrong, so wrong.Keep digging.

Emmanuel Amey Azameti

August 13, 2012 at 04:50 PM

It is interestingly sad the way some people try to impose their thoughts on God by trying to reinstate the plain words of scripture. The subject of the 144000 has received too much bashing from those into whose mouth God has put no words. In their zeal they end up discouraging more people from relying on the Holy Bible.

Dennis

April 9, 2013 at 10:24 AM

Mary, we all need to develop a little thicker skin when it comes to the word of God. We need to understand His word. My question to you concerning your original comment is "what Bible are you reading" and how did you come to that conclusion- "Don’t wait to repent for the appearance of perfect Jewish men to appear on the world scene. The 144,000 have come and gone. They are already with the Lamb in heaven." I do not see that in my Bible. 1) only 1/12 of the 144,000 will be (Jews) from the tribe of Judah. The other 11 tribes excluding the tribe of Benjamin which was part of the southern kingdom are the 10 northern tribes that God divorced, but he also made a promise to. Please take the time to search this out for yourself, be like a berean. I will help in any way I can but do not take my word for it - search the scriptures and see if what you have been told or taught is correct.

Mary A LaClair

April 8, 2013 at 11:35 PM

Wow, Dennis, your comment is just dripping with Christian love... not! Glad I'm not in your circle of friends, or church for that matter.

Dennis

April 5, 2013 at 07:06 PM

Mary A LaClair what kind of Bible are you reading? Tednewell -Metaphoriacal? RC - Mid-Trib???. Endtimesteacher - I agree with you. MR Deyoung - If you paid for your education please ask for a reimbursement, look in your heart there may be something written there that can be understood with guidence of Gods spirit, its called His Law.

David Cutler

April 12, 2014 at 05:57 PM

Hi all, me again. Hey, I am feeling a need to help those who God is identifying as Israelite to learn what all that means. If you have the Spirit tugging on your heart that you have something to do with Israel, give me a shout at dmcutler55@gmail.com. Time is getting short.

David Cutler

April 12, 2014 at 05:44 PM

Hi all, after reading the latest comments on this blog, I have to wonder if anyone knows the truth. I am still open to different theories but I do know that most (not all) don't have any ideal who Israel is. It's not surprising since most of us rely on a teacher or Pastor to tell us what to believe instead of being led by the Spirit in our studies. Who is Israel is the key. After all, We serve the God of Israel, don't we? OK, If you want to know the plan of God you have to know who the players are. Let me put it this way; To fully understand a football game you have to know what the goal of the game is, what the rules are and who the players are and what they can and can not do.

God is the God of Israel; the God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob (Israel). The Bible is a book about God and the plan He has for the descendants of Abraham. That's the short of it. Now we are to discover our history (yes I said our history) and understand our future through bible prophecy.

Here's the problem, many have know idea of bible history so it becomes impossible to understand prophecy. The key, as I said, is who is Israel.

Israel (Jacob) had 12 sons; these are the 12 tribes. Then the kingdom of Israel (12 tribes) divided. Judah, Benjamin, are the southern kingdom known as Judah, House of Judah and later as Jews.(Jews are not all twelve tribes)The other tribes are the northern kingdom known as the House of Israel or Ephraim. Every body else on the planet are referred to as the nations.

Are you with me so far? So there are two houses; the house of Judah and the house of Israel. They have two different purposes. Judah's job is to keep the law of God from passing away and Israel's Job is to take the seed of Abraham into every nation. This was accomplished by God when he scattered the 10 tribes of the northern kingdom into every nation. When this happened they lost their identity and became part of the nations; Israel not knowing who they are.

Fast forward 700 years to the time of Christ. Judah; the Jews, have set up their own style of keeping the Law with the order of the Pharisee's. The house of Israel were lost in the nation without a covenant and separated from God. The southern kingdom of Judah; the Jews needed reform in the form of a Messiah and the northern kingdom of Israel, who only God could identify needed a new covenant. (can you see where this is going?)

Jesus came as the Messiah and with a New Covenant. The Jews didn't need a new covenant because the messiah's reform is part of the original covenant, only the lost tribes needed a new covenant as a way back to God. The Israelite that accepted this new covenant (death, burial and resurrection of Jesus and the forgiveness of sin) became Christians; us,you. Christians are Israelite , physical descendants of Abraham.

In conclusion; to answer the question who are the 144000, what have we learned?

The 144000 are 12000 from 12 tribes. The Jews are 2 tribes and the Christians are 10 tribes. So the prophecies of the regathering and the reuniting of the 12 tribes of Israel being fulfilled will result in a select group of Israelite sealed for God's purpose; 24000 Jews and 120000 Christians.

Simple, right? not so much.