(k) The 144,000: Are They Evangelists?
The 144,000 are Jews, 12,000 chosen from each of the twelve tribes of Israel. The Scripture is clearly explicit on that. They are suddenly introduced in Rev.7 in the interlude between the sixth and the seventh seals prior to the outpouring of the wrath of God in the Day Of The Lord which begins in Rev.8:1. They are called the servants of God(3). They are sealed with the seal of God in their foreheads(3). In Rev.14:1, we are told the seal is the name of God written on their foreheads. We are not told what that name is. It may be the Hebrew Tetragrammaton YHWH. That is the name of the God of the Hebrews revealed to Moses, “the I AM WHAT I AM hath sent me unto you.”(Exod.3:14). It was inscribed on the mitre worn by the High Priest, indicating he belonged to the and was the servant of Yahweh of Israel, and represented Him amongst His people of Israel and vice verse. They are sealed prior to the rapture of the saints(Rev.7:9-17). They passed through the Great Tribulation just as did the raptured saints. Rather than being raptured after the amputation of the Great Tribulation with terrestrial and celestial disturbances, they were sealed for protection from the wrath of God. They would pass through the wrath of God but with divine protection unlike their fellow Israelites who would pass through the first six trumpet judgments without divine protection in order to purge, purify, and cleanse them from the defilement of sin. Why? They rejected the mark of the Beast, but are not born again like the saints who are raptured. In other words, they were not washed by the blood of the Lamb. No man will enter heaven without purification by the blood of the Lamb. And no man will be purified with the blood of Jesus by the Holy Spirit without acknowledging Jesus as Lord and Saviour(Rom.10:8-13). They will finally accept Jesus as their Messiah when He rescues them from Petra in the Edomite wilderness. They will see that their Messiah has nail-pierced hands(Zech.12:10).
These Jews believe in the Messiah of Israel. They do not believe that He is Jesus. They also rejected the claim of the antiChrist to be the Messiah of Israel(Jon.5:43). So, they were not Beast-marked. How they survived the Great Tribulation is a wonder inasmuch as they were sealed after the Great Tribulation. They survived by hiding I presume. The Scriptures do not say they were evangelists. What they did during the first three and one-half years and the Great Tribulation, the Scriptures are silent. It is therefore presumptuous and preposterous to assume they were evangelists. In all probability, they were observant Jews. How then could they be preaching the message of salvation in Christ Jesus if they do not believe that Jesus is the Messiah? If at all they preached to anyone, the content of their message would not be the apostolic kerugma. They could have warned their fellow Jews and anyone else not to believe in the antiChrist as the Messiah and to reject his mark even under the pain of death. There are some unbelieving Gentiles, free thinkers and nonconformists that will do the same. They could also have warned that the wrath of God would come on anyone who gave allegiance to the Beast by accepting his mark. They could have urged their fellow countrymen and women, and anyone else within their immediate audience to only worship Yahweh of Judah, the Lord God of Israel. That the false humanistic religion of the antiChrist, spearheaded by the false prophet, and epitomized in Babylon would be committed to the flames together with their adherents(Rev.14:6-11). The true believers in Jesus Christ will also be saying the same thing but with a caveat that Jesus is the only true Messiah of Israel. “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and have the faith of Jesus Christ.”(Rev.14:12).
They are the only ones offered protection from the first six trumpet judgments. The unbelieving Jews who do not have the mark of the Beast shall go through the first six trumpet judgments unprotected, so also the unbelieving Gentiles who do not have the mark of the Beast. The 144,000 are called virgins, a very strange term indeed to describe men. Obviously they are celibates. The Scripture also says they are not defiled with women. This may mean either that they never had sexual intercourse with women, or and also they never participated in the mass idolatry characteristic of the worship of the Beast-antiChrist and the Dragon(Rev.13:4,14:9). Religionists like these are usually reclusive. They lived like hermits like the Qumran community. They followed the Lamb wherever He went. They are His human entourage in all His earthly journeys from the moment Christ rescued them from the Edomite wilderness(Amos 3:15). They matched with Him on foot from Petra in the Edomite wilderness to the summit of Mount Zion in Jerusalem joined along the way by the remnant of Israel from the Judaean wilderness, Jerusalem and its environs, and the survivors from the remote areas of Assyria and Egypt(Mic.2:13; Rev.14:1). We must also bear in mind that Jesus is never alone. God the Father is always with Him. He is also always surrounded by an innumerable company of angels(Heb.12:22-24). But they are invisible to the unaided human eye. So, the 144,000 are the ones with Him that men would see. They would not see the Father, nor the Holy Spirit, nor the innumerable company of angels.
Whilst with Christ on the earthly Mount Zion, the redeemed of humanity in heaven, on the heavenly Mount Zion sing a song. The song is heard on Earth, but no one on Earth could learn that song but the 144,000. Why? Because it is the song of the redeemed; they are redeemed also. If they were not redeemed, they could not be sealed. They were sealed because they were reconciled to God shortly before the rapture of the saints. On the same earthly Mount Zion, the Jewish remnants who survived the first six trumpet judgments were reconciled to God to finish the mystery of God and to complete His spiritual kingdom(Zech.12:10-13). This was before the sounding of the seventh trumpet. “But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets.”(Rev.10:7).
But they are not part of the Church, the bride of Christ. They are the firstfruits unto God and the Lamb(Rev.14:4). This term firstfruits is also used of the initial disciples of Jesus or the first to receive Jesus in a city in any evangelistic mission, and of those who were the first to be filled with the Holy Spirit ; and of Christ as the first to rise from the dead(Rom.8:23, 16:5; Jam.1:18; 1 Cor.15:20,23, 16:15). This designation clearly indicates they belong to a new dispensation; the New Millennium. They are not part of the Church. They will not be translated. They will not receive glorified eternal immortal resurrection bodies like the saints in the Millennium. They will live here on Earth in their mortal bodies, still prone to sin, sickness and disease and physical death. They will be the firstfruits of those that will repopulate the Earth in the New Millennium alongside the redeemed Jews and Gentiles that survive the wrath of God(cp. Matt.25:31-46). Whether they will marry like some others in the Millennium, or remain celibates throughout the Millennium, the scriptures are silent.
After the rapture of the saints, apart from the two witnesses whose ministry would last throughout the entire length of the second half of the 70th week, the God of Israel would have no witnesses on Earth. God will not leave Himself without witnesses. It is like the handing over of a baton in relay race. They will represent the God of Israel on Earth while the believers are in heaven, in the interim between the rapture and Armageddon. If the 144,000 were not reconciled to the God, the God of Israel would have not witnesses on Earth after the demise of the two witnesses on the last day of the 70th week. There is a 3-day interval between the death of the two witnesses and the salvation of the remnant of Israel on day 3 of the 30-day Reclamation Period. If at any time there are no witnesses of the God of Israel on Earth, Satan has prevailed. But this must not be allowed to happen. That is why the 144,000 are so important. They are God’s sole witnesses on Earth in this 3-day interval between the death of the two witnesses and the conciliation of the remnant of Israel on day-3 of the 30-day Reclamation Period.
(l) Will There Be A Worldwide Christian Revival In The 70th Week?
Pretribs teach that the rapture will occur prior to the commencement of the 70th week of Daniel. To account for the huge number of believers that will be here during the Great Tribulation, they propound an unbiblically supported theory that there will be a worldwide revival during the 70th week that will make other revivals this Earth has ever witnessed pale in comparison. That there would be more massive conversions to the Faith than at any other time in the annals of Church history and evangelism. They also hold the unbiblical view that these so called “Tribulation Saints” shall gain heaven by being martyred, all of them, by the antiChrist and his acolytes(Rev.6: 9-11, 7:9-17, 20:4). This phenomenal success in missions and evangelism will occur when all the good pastors, teachers, and Christians have been taken to heaven prior to the beginning of the 70th week. Incredulous!
Who will conduct these revival meetings that will see innumerable multitude come to the Faith in so short a period of time, at a time when there is a preponderance of false christs, false prophets, and false teachers, all vying for the believers attention and faith, and Christianity is proscribed, and there is no formal worship; the so called “Tribulation Saints” are in hiding and have little or no food to eat, and are being hounded and ferreted out to be killed by the antiChrist and his gang?
In the contest between Elijah and the prophets of Baal, the prophets of Baal failed to conjure fire from heaven to consume their sacrifice(1 King.18:20-40). But the false prophet and his gang will excel where the prophets of Baal failed. They will command fire to come down from heaven in the sight of men, and make the image of the Beast to speak, and to cause as many as would not worship the image of the Beast to be killed(Rev.13:15). Elijah ordered the massacre of the prophets of Baal after their failure to conjure fire from heaven. During the 70th week, the reverse will be the case. The servants of God shall be massacred by the prophets of Baal. Satan will get his revenge: like Shylock, he will demand a pound of flesh. The coming of the antiChrist is with signs and wonders. “For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.”(2 Thess.2:7-10).
The antiChrist will be empowered by Satan to perform outstanding miracles, signs and wonders which will be very difficult to refute in order to authenticate his claim to be the Messiah just as Jesus did. But it will all be false, intended only to deceive if it were possible the very elect. Certainly, there will be revival in the 70th week of Daniel, but it will be satanic in nature with all manner of signs and lying wonders, to deceive, if it were possible, the very elect. “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before.”(Matt.24:24-25). Why would Jesus warn His disciples if they would not be here? There will be role reversal here. The antiChrist and his gang will perform outstanding and notable miracles, signs, and wonders, but the saints will not. On Mount Carmel, the God of Israel was present but Baal was absent. This time around the opposite will happen. It would be as through the God of Israel were absent and Baal present. Why? Because it is the hour of darkness.
These miracles, signs and wonders will be intended to lure the believers out of hiding in order to coax and coerce them to receive the mark of the Beast or to be killed outright or taken captive ant tortured on refusal to accept the mark of allegiance to the Beast. The antiChrist will make war with the saints and overcome them(Rev.13:7). So, in all probability, the number of the saints will depreciate and dwindle very rapidly due to mass executions of believers who refuse to bow to the image of the Beast during this period of the reign of terror by the antiChrist. That the world marveled at the Beast does indicates that the so called evangelists of the Faith do not command their attention(Rev.17:8). Rather than a revival of Christianity, there will be a mass exodus of false believers to worship the Beast. There will be mass conversion to Baalism. This will be the apostasy or falling away from the faith spoken of by our brother, Apostle Paul, one of the two signs that will precede His coming and our gathering together unto Him or the rapture(2 Thess2:3,4). When the antiChrist signs the 7-year peace treaty with Israel, these ignorant believers will conclude the rapture has taken place, that they have been left behind: and that the next thing will be a worldwide revival of sort of the Christian faith, the rapture having taken place secretly and silently as it were. But what do they get? A huge number of false christs, false prophets, and false teachers performing outstanding and notables miracles to authenticate their claims. They will tell them, “The Messiah has come: we know where He is: in the secret chambers and in the deserts.”(Matt.24:23-28). If the rapture had taken place earlier prior to the commencement of the 70th week, why would the so called Tribulation Saints be deceived by the false prophets and teachers, that the Messiah has come, and is in the secret chambers or in the desert? Is this how His Second coming at Armageddon will be? Thusly the unsuspecting believers are lured into a trap where they are either coaxed or coerced, and hoodwinked into receiving the mark of allegiance to the Beast or be taken into captivity and tortured or be killed outright on refusal to accept the mark of allegiance to the anitMessiah.
This is the Apostasy which will take place after the unveiling of the Man Of Sin in the rebuilt Third Jewish Temple on Mount Moriah in Jerusalem at the midpoint of the 70th week(2 Thess.2:3,4). But the Pretribs have cancelled it out saying that “apostasia” means physical departure, thus denoting rapture. What a theological legerdemain! There is not a single instance in koine Greek where apostasia was used to denote physical departure. That usage was only apparent almost 500 years later. When we read Shakespeare or Geoffrey Chaucer, we do not interpret them based on the present meaning of the words. We seek to understand them based on the meaning and usages of the words in their times.
The Scriptures do not tell us there would be worldwide revival at this time. Obviously, the two witnesses will perform outstanding miracles, and command fire from heaven to consume those who would hurt them(Rev.11:5,6). Their ministry covers the second half of the 70th week, but is essentially restricted to the land of Israel, especially the Holy City, Jerusalem and the Temple Mount. Will their ministry be duplicated in other parts of the world? There is no biblical evidence there are any others like them in other parts of the world. Admittedly, some faithful and uncompromising believers will damn the consequences and go about persuading others not to take the make of the Beast, but they will pay with their heads. Cephalizomai; they will be decapitated(Rev.20:4). Assuming the pretrib rapture view is correct, believers who miss the rapture, who have been taught there will be a worldwide revival during the 70th week will be easy prey to the antiMessiah, the false prophet, and their army of charlatans and mountebanks. The Pretrib doctrine is designed by its originators to sell the saints short to the antiChrist, to render them unprepared to face the horrors of the Great Tribulation. Unfortunately sincere believers and biblical scholars and theologians are ignorantly proclaiming it.
(m) The 70th Week: The Period Of God’s Judgment
Dr Thomas Ice believes and teaches that the 70th week is a period of God’s Judgment, and I concur. Who decides when the 70th week begins? God. Who has the seven-sealed Scroll, the Title Deed Of The Earth, and breaks the seven seals that determine the unfolding of the end time events? Jesus the Son Of God. Who announce and supervise the breaking of the seals? The cherubim, the angels of God. Who casts down Satan to the Earth from the heavenlies? Archangel Michael, the warrior angel of God. Who removes the restrainer in order that Satan’s wrath may be executed(Dan.12:1)? God. Satan can do nothing without permission from God. He could not tempt Job without divine permission(Job 1:6-12, 2:1-6). He could not tempt Peter to sift him as wheat until Christ permitted him(Luk.22:31,32). The 70th week is indeed a period of God’s Judgment. But God is not responsible for the activities of wicked men. God permits evil, but does not sanction it. God does not approve of man’s inhumanity to man. God used Assyria, “the rod of my anger” to judge the Northern Kingdom of Israel(Isa.10:5). Assyria was an evil nation notorious for its cruel treatment of war captives. The prophet Habakkuk was perplexed that God could use Babylon, a nation more wicked than the Southern Kingdon of Judah to punish Judah(Hab.1:6-13). God’s ways are past finding(Rom.11:33). The people of the world have to be tested and fail in an ultimate sense before they can face the wrath of God. In like manner also, even the saints must be tested and pass ultimately in order to be counted worthy to escape the wrath of God. There is an on-going Judgment Of God. When we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord that we may not be condemned with the unrighteous wicked. “For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.”(1 Corinthians 11:31-32).
The first four seals of the Scroll Of Revelation are a test for saints and sinners alike to determine eligibility for exemption from the wrath of God. But Dr. Thomas Ice has equated the Judgment of God which is a much broader term, more encompassing, with the wrath of God which is more narrower, and involves the outpouring of His indignation on the unrighteous and impenitent wicked at the End Of The Ages. I demure. If we judge ourselves we will not be judged. When a believer is judged of God, the ultimate goal is exemption from condemnation with the wicked. When God judges us, and He does, is He pouring out His wrath upon us because we are irreversibly and irredeemably impenitent? No. His judgment is corrective. But His Final eschatological Wrath is damnation. When a juvenile breaks the law, he is sent to the penitentiary, unlike an adult who commits a capital offense receives capital punishment. There is no correction in a death sentence except as a warning and deterrent to would-be offenders. The aim is to protect the living and damn the murderer. The final eschatological wrath of God, the bowl judgments are not corrective at all. Their targets are the Beast marked wicked earth-dwellers who are unwilling to repent even in the face of God’s severe punishment for their evils(Rev.9:20,21, 16:9,11). Their goal is first physical destruction, and finally eternal damnation of the unrighteous wicked in the Lake Of Fire And Sulphur.