There’s a lot of confusion, symbolism, and even chronology in the book of Revelation. If you’ve been in church very long, you probably haven’t heard a message on this book of the Bible. It’s a difficult subject that if not approached systematically can lead to more confusion than understanding.
Over the past couple months, I’ve been going through a series on the "End Times" called, Time Out! at Skyline Church. We’ve talked about the Signs of the end of the world which can be described as "birth pains" across the earth, contracting more frequently over time with wars, disease, and natural disasters. We’ve tackled the conversation of the Rapture, the instantaneous act of God when Christians will be "caught up" to heaven without dying. Following the Rapture is the a hellish time on earth known as the Tribulation.
We've done some deep diving on the Tribulation and looked at a man that will rise to power during the 7-year period of Hell on Earth, the Bible calls the Antichrist. We also talked about the mark he will force everyone to take in order to be able to buy and sell. It will be a universal mark to show you "care." It will be a mark on either the right hand or the forehead that shows you "check out" ok.
We talked about Armageddon, what it means, and where and when it will be. Then, last week we talked about the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Today, I want to focus in on a mysterious group of people who are also present after the Rapture, and make a tremendous impact for Christ during the Tribulation.
Let’s focus on this VERY important group of people. When you read the book of Revelation, you’ll come across this group (starting in Revelation 7). They will be "Billy Graham" types on evangelistic steroids! This group is called ... The 144,000. God is going to use them during the Tribulation to lead (as Revelation says) COUNTLESS people to Jesus Christ!
If you’ve heard about this group before, it was probably at your front door with a Jehovah’s Witness. They talk about The 144,000 ALL the time. However, they misuse the term. Their Bible actually looks like ours, but they have taken A LOT of scripture out of it; especially descriptions of this mysterious group!
This group will not be Jehovah’s Witnesses. Did you know, in 1935, Judge Rutherford (then president of The Watchtower Society, aka The Jehovah's Witness organization), announced that the full number of Jehovah’s Witnesses had reached 144,000 and that everyone else moving forward will NOT go to Heaven, BUT will have to live on earth for eternity? THIS is biblical interpretation AT ITS WORST!
So, who are these people? It’s also important to note that The 144,000 are not “the church.” Remember that the Rapture has already happened and Christians are already in Heaven. The 144,000 will be made up of 12,000 people from each of the 12 tribes of Israel. God still has a plan for Israel. He promised it in the Old Testament and reaffirmed it in the New Testament. It was predicted in the Bible that God would scatter the Jews, but then He would regather them. Since 1948, more and more Jews have been returning home to Jerusalem. Israel’s population is increasing exponentially! It’s another “sign” that the End of the World is approaching.
These 144,000 people will be Jewish Christian Evangelists that will come to Jesus Christ DURING the Tribulation. They'll come to believe in the sacrifice, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. You may be wondering, how will this group come to know Jesus if all the Christians have been raptured? I have a couple of theories on this that I believe may be pretty accurate ...
1. There will be a lot of Bibles left behind!
2. There's going to be a lot of videos, sermons, Christian books, and Christian music left behind.
3. Here's the BIG one! There's going to be a lot of unsaved pastors and church members that will be left behind who hadn't fully given their lives to Christ. And God is going to say. "I never knew you."
Imagine Pastors who have been preaching all this time and finally realize they've been living a lukewarm non-existent Christian life. Yet, many of their colleagues, friends, congregation, and family were raptured in a blink of an eye. Because of THAT realization, they will then truly believe in the sacrifice, death, burial, AND resurrection of Jesus Christ and they will be on fire for Him!
Back to our mysterious group ...
The 144,000 will be like 144,000 Apostle Paul's. CAN YOU IMAGINE? It's hard to fathom how terrible the Tribulation will be but these guys will be persistent and powerful preachers of the Gospel. The amount of saved lives due to this group will be too many to count! Revelation 7: 9 tells us,
"... there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands."
These 144,000 sealed servants will fullfill Matthew 24:14.
"And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come."
Their main goal is "... to seek and to save the lost.”
COVID is not the end of the world, but it is a sign of the end of the world. "The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance."
2 Peter 3:9
Why does The 144,000 matter to us today?
This group, is you now! As a follower of Christ Jesus, you have the same characteristics as this group. Christians are to tell their Oikos (relational network) about the Good News. Once you're found, you are to find others! That's why one of our core values is "Found People Find People!"
In the coming weeks we will be talking about the Millennium, Eternity, The Judgments, Hell, and Heaven. For more on this series, teaching and clarity on the book of Revelation, join me in our Time Out series in San Diego at Skyline Church or join our digital church community by watching the series online.