There is a lot of confusion about the 144,000. There are some that teach that the 144,000 in Rev.7:1-8 are different from the ones in Rev.14:1-5. The Jehovah Witnesses teach that they are the same which is biblically accurate, but then turn around and teach they are the only ones who will go to Heaven while the rest of us are unqualified or disqualified and will inherit the Earth only. Some of those who teach they are one and the same from the household of Israel go on to say they are evangelists who will powerfully preach the gospel after the Church is gone in the Rapture and will win billions of souls who will then be all martyred during the Great Tribulation in other to enter Heaven, the so called “left behind” or “tribulation saints.” They regard the innumerable multitude in Rev.7:9-17 as the products of their efforts all of whom are martyred. How 144,000 Jews in the land of Israel will win innumerable multitude from all tribes, nations, and tongues all over the whole world to Christ in a short period of less than seven years, and the antiChrist and his acolytes will martyr all of them within the same period, they proffer no solution and the Scriptures are silent. Some of those who teach they are different groups go on to allegorize the ones in Rev.14:1-5 to be faithful saints like those in the Church Of Philadelphia(Rev.3:7-13) who will be raptured before the 70th week of Daniel or the Great Tribulation begins.
Two factors account for this confusion and multiplicity of interpretations. First is the lack of understanding concerning God’s plan of redemption and the distinction between Israel and the Church. There are three groups of peoples on Earth, the Jew, the Gentile, and the Church Of God. “Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God:”(1 Cor.10:32). The other factor is lack of understanding concerning the chronology of events of the end times. For one to properly understand and interpret biblical prophecy, one must of necesssity understand the chronology of events of the end times, the time and timing, and the sequence of events of the end times. The best and most biblically accurate sequence of events and chronology of the end times I know are the ones given by Marvin J. Rosenthal and Robert Van Kampen in their seminal works on eschatology, “The Pre-wrath Rapture Of The Church” and “The Sign” respectively. Alan E. kurschner follows the same sequence of events in his book, “AntiChrist Before The Day Of The Lord,” as does Paul Dogan in his narration of End Time Events. They are appear in the featured graphics in this article. I encourage everyone who is interested and seeks to understand eschatology to study and master the featured graphics.
If we follow the sequence of events of the end times, we see that the 144,000 in Rev.7:1-8 are sealed in the interlude between the end of the sixth seal in Rev.6:12-17 and the breaking of the seventh seal in Rev.8:1. Afterwards the Church is raptured in Rev.7:9-17. The innumerable multitude which no man could number are the raptured saints appearing in Heaven. The Church Age which began with the enactment of the new covenant and the inception of the Church at the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost in 32 AD ends with the Rapture in the interlude between the end of the sixth seal and the breaking of the seventh seal way into the second half of the 70th week of Daniel. The breaking of the sixth seal is associated with the cosmic and celestial disturbances, the darkening of the Sun, Moon, and Stars which is the sign of the End Of The Ages(Rev.6:12-14).
The Church is about to be taken away, apart from the two witnesses whose ministry are restricted to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, God would have no Witnesses on Earth after the Rapture of the saints. The ministry of the two witnesses will end on the last day of the 70th week of Daniel. They will minister for 42 months which is the length of the second half of the 70th week of Daniel which corresponds with the time allotted to the antiChrist to reign(Rev.11:2; 13:5). They are killed on that day or early on the first Day Of The 30-day Reclamation Period Of The Kingdom(Rev.11:7-10). They are not raised from the dead until the fourth day of the 30-day Reclamation Period Of The Kingdom(Rev.11.11-14). Without the 144,000 from the twelve tribes of Israel, there will be an interval of three and one-half days when God will have no witnesses on Earth. That would grant Satan the victory he desires and craves. But that will not be allowed to happen. Do you see how close Satan comes to victory and how slim the chance of God winning? This is to show God is the Sovereign Lord Of The Universe. He cannot lose. He must win.
When we look at the 144,000 in Rev.14:1-5, they appear with Christ on the earthly Mount Zion. What those who do not understand God’s plan of redemption and the chronology of events of the end times do not know is that they are the same Jews who were sealed in the Edomite and Judaean wildernesses before the Rapture of the Church. Christ appeared to them there and matched with them on foot to the summit of Mount Zion in Jerusalem from day 1 to day 3 of the 30-day Reclamation Of The Kingdom(Mic.2:12,13). Jesus came from the heavenly Mount Zion(Isa.59:20) to the earthly Mount Zion for the spiritual salvation of the remnants of Israel(Rom.11:26). Here all Israel that survived the 70th week up to this point without the mark of allegiance to the antiChrist are saved(Zech.12:10-14). Prior to this point the 144,000 from the household of Israel are the ones that are saved. When they arrive on the earthly Mount Zion, the redeemed(raptured) saints in Heaven are singing the song of redemption from the temple of God on the heavenly Mount Zion. No other group of people on Earth could understand it but the 144,000 on Mount Zion. Why? Because they are the only ones on Earth at this time who are washed in the blood of the Lamb, sealed with seal of God which is God’s name written on their foreheads. They are the only ones on Earth who are redeemed.
When we look at the 144,000, they are suddenly introduced in Rev.7, shortly before the Rapture of the Church and the beginning of the wrath of God in the Day Of The Lord. How they survived from the beginning of the 70th week to the end of the sixth seal, we are not told. They went through the first three and one-half years of the 70th week, the emergence of false Christ, wars and rumours of wars, commotions and threats of wars, famines, pestilences and earthquakes, and the Great Tribulation without caving in to the antiChrist(Matt.24:5-29; Rev.6:1-17). And they are not Christians, though they believe in the Messiah of Israel. They do not believe He is Jesus Of The Christians. How could they be preaching the gospel at this difficult time when they do not believe in Jesus? Just as in the present, there are many Jews who believe in the Messiah, but they do not believe that Jesus is the Messiah. Do orthodox Jews who believe in the Messiah preach about Jesus of Nazareth whom they regard as a curse? They most probably survived by hiding with other Jews in the Edomite and Judaean wildernesses when the antiChrist made his debut at the Rebuilt Third Jewish Temple On Mount Moriah in Jerusalem, the Temple Mount(Rev.12:13-17) and began his reign of terror(2 Thess.2:3-8). They are called God’s servants(Rev.7:3). Why were they sealed? Because they belong to God.
Though they belong to God, they are not yet saved until they have accepted Jesus as their personal Lord and Saviour when He appears to them in the Edomite wilderness which is several years after their sealing. This occurs after the Church is raptured. So, they are not part of the Church. They belong to the household of Israel. If they were born again before the Rapture, they would have been part of the body of Christ, and would have been raptured with the rest of the body of Christ at the sounding of the trumpet with the voice of the archangel(Matt.24:29-31; 1 Thess.4:14-18, 1 Cor.15:50,51). This is the reason why they are called firstfruits in Rev.14:4 because they are the first to be redeemed from the Earth after the Rapture. They belong to a new dispensation, the Millennium. They are the firstfruits of them that will enter the Millennium. They are in their “unglorified” natural physical and mortal bodies. The others are the Jews who survived the first six trumpet judgments who are reconciled to God On day 3 of the 30-day Reclamation Period Of The Kingdom, and the Gentile survivors of the Sheep and Goat judgments that occurs during the 45-day Restoration Period Of The Kingdom(Hos.6:1-3).
When God’s wrath is about to begin, they were given this mark. It is to protect them from the wrath of God. Seals are for protection, identity, authenticity, security, and ownership. At the sounding of the fifth trumpet(Rev.9:1-12), the demonic locusts from the bottomless pit were instructed to afflict anyone without the seal of God. These would include those who have the mark of the beast and those who do not have the mark of the beast, both Jews and Gentiles who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads. The Jews who have survived without the mark of the Beast right up to the darkening of the Sun, Moon, and Stars thought redemption has come to them, not knowing they are not exempt from the trumpet judgments.
“For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.”(1 Thess.5:3).
The prophet Amos chided them.
“Woe unto you that desire the day of the Lord! to what end is it for you? the day of the Lord is darkness, and not light. As if a man did flee from a lion, and a bear met him; or went into the house, and leaned his hand on the wall, and a serpent bit him. Shall not the day of the Lord be darkness, and not light? even very dark, and no brightness in it?”(Amos 5:18-20).
They think they are exempt from all the wrath of God. They desire the day of the Lord when under siege by the forces of the antiMessiah, not knowing that the day of the Lord is darkness and not light. Their passage through the first six trumpet judgments is to purify, purge and cleanse them from sin. They must get to the point where they accept Jesus as the Messiah of Israel. No one will be saved without being washed by the blood of the Lamb whoever he may be. This will happen when they see that their Messiah has nail pierced hands(Zech.12:10-14).
The Jews and Gentiles who do not have the mark of the Beast are not exempt from the first six trumpet judgments. The Jews who do not have the mark Of the beast are exempt from the Bowl judgments because they are reconciled to God before the outpouring of the Bowl judgments. The Bowl judgments target those with the mark of the beast only. The Gentiles who do not have the mark Of the beast are not specifically targeted, but they are not offered protection either and may suffer collateral damages. The 144,000 and the Jews who survived the trumpet judgments and are reconciled to the God of Israel on Day 3 of the 30-day Reclamation Period Of the Kingdom are hidden in Azal before the outpouring of the final wrath of God in the Bowl judgments(Zech.14:5). They as well as the 144,000 are in their mortal bodies. They must be protected from the final seven Bowl judgments which are the most severe(Rev.16-19).
Do we begin to see how odd it is to label the 144,000 in Rev.14:1-5 faithful and uncompromising Christians who will not go through the Great Tribulation? Do you begin to see how odd it is to say they are not Jews and are different from the ones in Rev.7:1-8? By the time they appeared on Mount Zion with Christ in Rev.14:1-5, there is not a single Christian on Earth. The Rapture had occurred several years previously. And do you begin to see why they are called firstfruits? If they were members of the church, they would not merit the label and status of firstfruits simply because they would not be the first to believe in Christ in the Church age. They are the first to believe in Christ in the Millennium. And God’s order of salvation is the Jew first and also the Gentile. Salvation is of the Jews(Jon.4:22). God’s order of judgment is also the Jew first and also the Gentile. “Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: For there is no respect of persons with God.”(Romans 2:9-11). The Gentiles who will enter the Millennium would be the sheep of the Sheep and Goat Judgment Of The Gentile survivors of the wrath of God(Matt.25:32-45).