Israel in the End Times: The 144,000 Witnesses (Part 3)

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TEXT: Revelation 14:1-5

1 And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads.

2 And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps:

3 And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth.

4 These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb.

5 And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God.

Israel in the End Times: The 144,000 Witnesses (Part 3)

In Revelation 7, the 144,000 are seen at the beginning of the Great Tribulation. In Revelation 14, it shows them in triumph at the end of the Great Tribulation.

One thing that has been made clear from our study of Scripture regarding Israel in the end times is that just as God had a plan for Israel in the past as shown in the Old Testament, God also has plans for Israel in the future. One phase of that future plan which we have already looked at extensively is the prophecy that many Jews will accept Jesus Christ as their Savior and Messiah during the Tribulation period. Another phase of that future plan which we are looking at now is the fact that God will call 144,000 Jews — 12,000 from each tribe — to preach the Gospel to the nations during the Tribulation period. In Revelation 7, we saw how God places His seal in the foreheads of these Jewish evangelists, marking them as His own. We also saw the amazing results of their evangelistic efforts in the end times. Even as many will be bowing down to the antichrist and coming under the influence of Satan, there will still be “a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues” who will receive and believe the Gospel. Many of them will be persecuted and killed for their faith, but the celebration in Heaven makes the pain experienced on earth worth it for these believers.

While on last week we focused on those who were won to Christ by the Jewish evangelists, our passage this week shows us what becomes of the evangelists themselves. Verse 1 reads, “a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads.” In John’s vision, we see all of the Jewish evangelists gathered with the Lamb Jesus Christ who is standing on “Mount Zion.” Once again, John mentions the mark — the heavenly Father’s name written in their foreheads — which distinguishes them from those who received the mark of the beast and who worship the beast.

Charles Spurgeon said, “And who were these people, ‘having his Father’s name written in their foreheads?’ Not Bs for ‘Baptists,’ not Ws for ‘Wesleyans’ not Es for ‘Established Church.’ They had their Father’s name and nobody else’s. What a deal of fuss is made on earth about our distinctions! We think such a deal about belonging to this denomination, and the other. Why, if you were to go to heaven’s gates, and ask if they had any Baptists there, the angel would only look at you, and not answer you, if you were to ask if they had any Wesleyans, or members of the Established Church, he would say, ‘Nothing of the sort;’ but if you were to ask him whether they had any Christians there, ‘Ay,’ he would say, ‘an abundance of them: they are all one now – all called by one name; the old brand has been obliterated, and now they have not the name of this man or the other, they have the name of God, even their Father, stamped on their brow.’”

In Revelation 12 and 13, the two chapters immediately prior to this one, we have John’s vision of the “woman” representing the nation of Israel who gives birth to Jesus Christ as well as his vision of the “dragon” representing Satan who is cast out of Heaven and begins persecuting the Jews in an effort to destroy Christ. In these chapters, we also see the formation of the Satanic trinity — the beast, the antichrist, and the false prophet — who seemingly take control of the world and seek to stamp out all those who refuse to acknowledge their authority. With that background, John seems to be contrasting the evil that the devil is carrying out during the Tribulation with the good that God is carrying out through the Lamb and those who believe in Him. These chapters show the first beast, Satan, being thrown down from Heaven, and the second beast, the antichrist, rising from the sea. However, we see the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, “standing” on Mount Zion. Yes, the Lamb who was once slain is now standing — and His faithful Tribulation-age servants are standing with Him.

What is the significance of the place where they are standing? Warren Wiersbe writes, “This is the heavenly Mount Zion, and [this] scene anticipates Christ’s coronation and the establishment of His kingdom when He returns to earth. Christ today is enthroned in the heavenly Zion, and we are enthroned with Him. The scene in Revelation 14 is the assurance to God’s people that He cares for His own and finally will take them to glory.” It is believed that this scene takes place very close to the end of the seven-year Tribulation, just before Jesus Christ returns with His army to defeat the antichrist once and for all. The 144,000, probably having all died or been killed on earth, are now in Heaven standing with the Lamb preparing to return in victory.

Not only are they standing, but they are also singing. Verse 3 tells us, “And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth.” The Jewish evangelists sing a glorious song of redemption as they surround the Lamb who had shed His blood that they might be saved.

Charles Spurgeon said, “To be rapt in praise to God is the highest state of the soul. To receive the mercy for which we praise God for is something; but to be wholly clothed with praise to God for the mercy received is far more. Why, praise is heaven, and heaven is praise! To pray is heaven below, but praise is the essence of heaven above. When you bow in adoration, you are at your very highest.”

He also said, “Heaven is not the place to learn that song; it must be learned on the earth. You must learn here the notes of free grace and dying love; and when you have mastered their melody, you will be able to offer to the Lord the tribute of a grateful heart, even in heaven, and blend it with the harmonies eternal.”

A third thing we notice about these evangelists is that they are separated — they have some distinguishing marks of character. Verses 4 and 5 tell us, “These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb. And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God.”

1. They did not engage in sexual activity; they were virgins. This is likely due to the condition of the times they will be living in. With the world in constant upheaval during the seven-year Tribulation, it would not be feasible to try to marry and raise a family. On top of that, these evangelists will be dedicated to their goal of preaching the Gospel during the darkest days on earth. Without the demands of taking care of a spouse and children, they will be able to focus on that.

David Guzik said, “Many take the virginity of the 144,000 as simply a symbol of their general purity. Nevertheless, Paul recommended celibacy in distressing times, and Jesus spoke of woes upon those with children and families in that day. It isn’t hard to see that God would call these 144,000 to a literal celibacy for the kingdom’s sake during the great tribulation. Commonly the term virgins is applied to women, not men. So does the use of virgins here mean that all the 144,000 are women? Not at all, according to the great Greek scholar A.T. Roberston: “Parthenos can be applied to men as well as women.” If the term virgins is a picture of purity in general, it reinforces the connection of the 144,000 with Israel. “Israel is referred to frequently in the Bible as ‘the virgin the daughter of Zion’, as ‘the virgin daughter of Zion’, and as ‘the virgin of Israel’.

Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown spiritualize this. They say that these are virgins spiritually. “In contrast to the apostate Church, Babylon spiritually ‘a harlot’. Their not being defiled with women means they were not led astray from Christian faithfulness by the tempters who jointly constitute the spiritual ‘harlot.'”

This passage could not refer to men being involved in a normal God-blessed marriage relationship with a woman. Uncleanness would refer to women who were prostitutes, whores, or who were committing adultery and fornication.

2. They follow the Lamb completely. These believers do not question the call of God on their lives. Wherever He leads, they follow; wherever He tells them to go, they go.

3. Like every Christian, these evangelists are in the world, but not of the world. “They are redeemed from among men.” The phrase, “being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb,” indicates that they are set apart, they are special, they are uniquely called and appointed by God to fulfill the mission that He has given them.

4. They are truth-tellers. There is no guile, no lying, no deception in their words. Of course, they will live in a day and age when millions will believe the lies of Satan as he advances his agenda. These evangelists will risk their lives to speak the truth of God’s Word. Many people will not want to hear the truth and will hate these evangelists because of their preaching. But speaking God’s truth in a world gone mad will be one of the primary roles of the Jewish witnesses.

5. They are without fault in God’s eyes. Of course this does not mean that they are sinless, but that, because they are washed in the blood of the Lamb, they are made perfect in Him. No doubt, however, they will try to live sinless lives by the power of the Holy Spirit. Their upright lives will be a great testimony during the end times.

In closing, today, these distinguishing character traits of the Jewish witnesses ought to be shown in our lives as well. We ought to be willing to sacrifice a “normal” life in order to serve the cause of Christ. We ought to be dedicated to following the Lamb of God completely — going where He tells us to go and doing what He commands us to do. We ought to be in the world, but dedicated to God — not afraid to speak His truth and striving to live righteously before Him. Most importantly, we ought to be about the business of sharing the Gospel with those around us so that, one day, we can stand with the Lamb on Mount Zion, singing and shouting the victory for what He has done in us, for us, and through us.

_________________

If you are with us today, and you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, allow me to share with you how you can trust Him for salvation so that you can be ready for His return.

First, accept the fact that you are a sinner, and that you have broken God’s law. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”

Second, accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”

Third, accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Also, the Bible states in Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”

Now that is bad news, but here’s the good news. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can live eternally with Him. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will.

Romans 10:9 & 13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved… For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. I am sorry for my sins, and today I choose to turn from my sins. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. I trust Jesus Christ as my Savior and I choose to follow Him as Lord from this day forward. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.

If you just trusted Jesus Christ as your Saviour, and you prayed that prayer and meant it from your heart, I declare to you that based upon the Word of God, you are now saved from Hell and you are on your way to Heaven. Welcome to the family of God! Congratulations on doing the most important thing in life and that is receiving Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light Society.com and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door.” Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”

God loves you. We love you. And may God bless you.

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