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Description: 144,000 Ultimate Followers of Jesus
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VOICEOVER: Welcome to End Times Today with Author, Speaker, and Bible teacher: John Claeys. This episode is entitled, 144,000 ultimate followers of Jesus
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We’ll take a look at the 144,000 ultimate followers of Jesus in just a moment, but first let’s see what’s happening in our the world right now. Here’s John Claeys
What in the World Is God Doing?
Viewer Screen: Iran launches first underground ballistic missiles in a drill
On Wednesday, July 29, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards launched underground ballistic missiles in a military drill in the Strait of Hormuz. Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the head of the IRGC’s aerospace division said this was the first underground launch of a ballistic missile.
Iran is getting bolder as it progresses toward developing nuclear weapons. Its stated purpose for the development of nuclear weapons is to prepare for global domination, beginning with the elimination of Israel, followed by the conquering of the Middle East, the domination of Europe, and, finally, by the conquering of the United States. The Iranian regime will not be swayed in its determined path; yet we know from the Bible that God will not allow the destruction of Israel. In addition, Bible prophecy tells us that God will provide for a Mid-East treaty with Israel, a treaty that Iran desperately seeks to stop. So, what will happen?
It seems clear that the Iranian regime will be taken down. It could be that God is, even now, using President Trump to prepare for that.
In an article entitled:
Viewer Screen: Trump Imposes New ‘Hard-Hitting’ Sanctions on Iran, Including Supreme Leader
President Trump said he signed an executive order imposing “hard-hitting” sanctions on Iran.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the sanctions would “lock up literally billions of dollars of assets.”
These sanctions will strike at an already hurting economy and could destabilize the Iranian regime. At the very least, these sanctions may serve to give further impetus to the underground green movement in Iran that seeks to overthrow the current government.
Suppose Israel responds to the calls from Middle East leaders, such as leaders from the UAE, Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, to strike Iran. And what if Israel coordinated that strike with leaders of the Iranian underground movement? Might the Green Movement utilize the resulting chaos of a strike on Iran to bring about a coup of the current regime? That scenario is not far-fetched. It is a scenario that could open the way to the 7-year treaty with Israel that starts the clock ticking on the coming Tribulation period.
This is: “What in the World Is God Doing?”
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VOICEOVER: Thanks John! It’s amazing to see what’s going on in the world right now. Now, we’d like to connect that to what in the Bible God is saying to us, as we take a look 144,000 Ultimate followers of Jesus, Here’s John to explain.
What in the Bible Is God Saying?
144,000 Ultimate Followers of Jesus
Viewer Screen: 144,000 Ultimate Followers of Jesus
A barber who believed in Jesus for eternal life was so excited about receiving eternal life that he decided he was going to try to share this good news with each of his customers. The next morning, when his first customer came in and crawled into his chair, he approached him with his sharpened straight razor and began his approach into the gospel with: “Are you ready to die?”
No doubt that barber had the rapt attention of his customer. In a similar vein, the two future prophets of God will have the fully absorbed attention of Jews in southern Israel—particularly 144,000 of them.
Previously, we were introduced to two prophets of God who will powerfully prophesy to Israel for the first half of the future tribulation period, 1,260 days. The very first fruit of their ministry will be 144,000 they lead to faith in Jesus Christ and teach them to faithfully follow Jesus for the rest of the Tribulation period.
An angel’s command in Revelation chapter 7 provides a clue as to when these 144,000 will believe in Jesus.
Viewer Screen: “Then I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God. And he cried with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea, saying, ‘Do not harm the earth, the sea, or the trees till we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.’ And I heard the number of those who were sealed: One hundred and forty-four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel weresealed” (Rev 7:2-4).
That particular angel directs four other angels not to harm the earth, sea, and trees until God has set his seal on the 144,000.
In our last broadcast, we saw that the plagues brought upon the earth by the two prophets are the trumpet judgments, described in Revelation chapters 8 and 9, and occur during the first half of the Tribulation period. These judgments will harm the earth, the sea, and the trees in significant ways.
Viewer Screen: The 144,000: Receiving Eternal Life at the Beginning of the Tribulation
The seal of God placed on their foreheads implies that the 144,000 are being specially protected by God, and it also indicates they belong to God as his servants. Of course, the 144,000 cannot become God’s servants until they enter into a relationship with him by faith in Jesus Christ. So, if they believe in Christ—and are sealed—prior to any harm done to the earth, they would need to receive eternal life at the onset of the first half of the tribulation period.
One other important clue from Revelation chapter 14 shows this same truth.
Viewer Screen: “These were redeemed from amongmen, beingfirstfruits to God and to the Lamb” (Rev 14:4).
Revelation 14:4 announces that they will be the “firstfruits to God and to the Lamb” of those “redeemed from among men.” The concept of “firstfruits” stems from the Old Testament, referring to the first of all the harvest. Thus, these 144,000 will be the first of many other Jews from Israel who will believe in Jesus for eternal life via the ministry of the two prophets of God. This means they will be converted at the very beginning of the day of the Lord.
Viewer Screen: “ ‘Do not harm the earth, the sea, or the trees till we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.’ And I heard the number of those who were sealed: One hundred and forty-four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel weresealed” (Rev 7:2-4).
Revelation 7:3 announces that the 144,000 will be servants of God. They will serve God as faithful followers of Christ.
In addition, they will be Jewish. In fact, Rev 7:4-8 reveals that the 144,000 will consist of 12,000 from each of the 12 tribes of Israel.
Clearly, the 144,000 will believe in Christ as a result of the ministry of God’s two prophets. After all, the two prophets will be the only two believers in Jesus at the very beginning of the tribulation period when the 144,000 receive eternal life.
Viewer Screen: The Rapture of the Church, Followed by the Tribulation Period
As we saw in past broadcasts, Jesus will take all believers off the face of the earth at the rapture of the Church, which will occur at the very moment the Tribulation period begins. In addition, the two prophets of God will believe in Jesus at the very moment the rapture takes place.
Viewer Screen: God has never left Himself without a witness.
It is important to realize that God has never left himself without a witness on the earth since the time of Adam onward. This will continue to be true as the two prophets receive eternal life at the moment all other believers are being removed from the planet.
It is likely these two Jewish individuals will be serious students of the Hebrew Scriptures in Jerusalem similarly to the apostle Paul who sat “at the feet of Gamaliel” (cf. Acts 22:3).
Then, suddenly, in God’s perfect timing, their eyes are opened to the fact that the Jewish Scriptures they had been diligently studying testify of Jesus, just as is proclaimed by Jesus Himself in John chapter 5, verses 39 and 46.
Viewer Screen: “ ‘You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. . . . For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me’ ” (Joh 5:39, 46).
The prophets will proclaim the good news of Jesus from Jerusalem. This indicates that the 144,000 are not only Jewish but they are from Israel. This makes sense since the Bible indicates that the salvation of Israel will occur in the land of Israel. This is why, according to Ezekiel 37, God has been drawing Jews to the land of Israel—to prepare for their salvation.
More critical information about the 144,000 is presented in Revelation 14:4-5:
Viewer Screen: “These are the ones who were not defiled with women, for they are virgins. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These were redeemed from among men, firstfruits to God and to the Lamb. And in their mouth was found no deceit, for they are without fault before the throne of God” (Rev 14:1).
We observe that they “are the ones who were not defiled with women, for they are virgins.” It is possible that this description is metaphorical in nature. For examples, note the following verses where the term “virgin” is used:
Viewer Screen: “Therefore thus says the Lord: ‘. . . The virgin of Israel has done a very horrible thing’ ” (Jer 18:13).
This verse refers to Israel as a whole. Then, in Amos 5:2, again referring to Israel as a whole:
Viewer Screen: “The virgin of Israel has fallen . . . . She lies forsaken on her land . . .” (Amos 5:2).
Finally, in 2 Cor 11:2, referring to the believers in the city of Corinth, we read:
Viewer Screen: “For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ” (2 Cor 11:2).
The word virgin in these sample verses is used in a spiritual sense. In these verses, the term portrays those in a relationship to the Lord who are expected to remain faithful to him. This is likely the sense in which the 144,000 are stated to be virgins.
Since the book of Revelation has more allusions to the OT than any other NT book, then we should look in the OT for help to understand terms in Revelation. It would make sense, then, that the meaning of virgins in Rev 14 would be the same as that used of Israel in the OT.
That is, they will be wholeheartedly faithful followers of the Lord Jesus Christ once they believe in him for eternal life.
Another key phrase describing the 144,000 in Revelation 14 is the phrase not defiled with women. This can be explained by the concept of fornication presented, for example, in Jer 3:6:
Viewer Screen: “The Lord said also to me in the days of Josiah the king: ‘Have you seen what backsliding Israel has done? She has gone up on every high mountain and under every green tree, and there played the harlot’ ” (Jer 3:6).
In this verse, the nation of Israel is pictured as playing the harlot in their relationship with God, referring of course to Israel’s spiritual unfaithfulness to God.
Notice, also, the description in Rev 17 of the city of Rome in the future tribulation period, and those who do business with her:
Viewer Screen: “ ‘The great harlot [Rome] . . . with whom the kings of the earth committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth were made drunk with the wine of her fornication’ ” (Rev 17:1–2).
This great city (see Rev 17:18) is pictured as a harlot, due to her great abominations against God, and all who take on her standards in order to do business with her are described as committing fornication with her.
This metaphoric depiction within the same book as the contrasting description of the 144,000 provides the same sense in which the 144,000 Jews will not be defiled with women. They will remain faithful to the Lord by resisting the seductions of the great harlot, Rome, with whom others will spiritually fornicate—by participating with her ungodly orientation.
These examples help us to better understand the description of Rev 14:4. The latter part of Rev 14:4 helps to clarify it, as well:
Viewer Screen: “These are the ones who were not defiled with women, for they are virgins. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever he goes” (Rev 14:4).
Clearly, then, the statement that the 144,000 are “not defiled with women, for they are virgins” means they are faithful disciples of the Lord Jesus and are thus free from spiritually adulterous relationships with the pagan world system.
In v 5 of Rev 14, we also learn this about the 144,000:
Viewer Screen “And in their mouth was found no deceit, for they are without fault before the throne of God” (Rev 14:5).
In other words, they will speak the truth. They will not compromise God’s word, including the gospel of Jesus Christ.
In Zep 3, God announces that through his judgments upon the nations in the tribulation period, He will provide a remnant of Jews in Israel who have believed in Christ for eternal life. Here is how he describes them in verses 12–13:
Viewer Screen: “I will leave in your midst a meek and humble people, and they shall trust in the name of the Lord. The remnant of Israel shall do no unrighteousness and speak no lies, nor shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth . . .” (Zep 3:12-13).
This description is similar to that of the 144,000 in Rev 14. Both passages describe a remnant of Jews in Israel during the Tribulation period who will be very faithful to the Lord, including the revelation they will not speak deceit.
Their faithfulness to Jesus and their willingness to only speak the truth show why they will be used by God in a very special way to reach others during the tribulation period. Immediately following the description of verses 1-5 of Rev 14 is this connection to the 144,000:
Viewer Screen: “. . . the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth—to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people” (Rev 14:6).
Rev 14:6 indicates how the 144,000 will be used as God’s instruments during that period of time—to reach the entire world with the gospel of Christ.
After describing the coming 7-year Tribulation period, Jesus reveals this:
Viewer Screen: “ ‘And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come’ ” (Mat 24:14).
This will be the role of the 144,000. Another indicator that the 144,000 will reach the world with their evangelistic efforts is this presentation from Rev 7:9-14, which immediately follows the description of the 144,000:
Viewer Screen: “After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, . . . . ‘These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb’ ” (Rev 7:9-14).
These verses describe Gentiles from all over the world who will believe in Christ for eternal life during the Tribulation period. According to Rev 7, the 144,000 will spread out globally to reach an innumerable multitude of Gentiles with the gospel of Christ.
The 144,000 will be special instruments to fulfill Jesus’ words in Mt 24:14:
Viewer Screen: “ ‘And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.’ ”
“The end” will come when the 144,000 finish their ministry of evangelism. That is when Jesus will return to end the present age and to begin a new one—the kingdom age.
Next time we learn how the 144,000 serve as incredible examples for us. If you are serious about your relationship with Christ, you don’t want to miss our next episode of End Times Today as we look at “Back from the Future: Incredible Examples of Living for Jesus.”
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VOICEOVER: Thank you John for helping understand these incredible characters of Bible Prophecy. Before we go let’s take a look at some questions from viewers just like you.
Questions / Answers
VOICEOVER: our question comes from Todd in Wisconsin. He Writes:
Day by day it appears that Israel is getting closer and closer to a military strike against Iran. Would you speculate at how long it would take Israel to sign a 7-year treaty with 10 nations and "peace and security" be declared. ---Todd, Appleton, WI
A: Good question. This could all occur very quickly. Following an Israeli military strike, the Iranian opposition movement (which is growing) would likely take advantage of the resulting chaos from that strike to overthrow the Iranian government. Once that occurs, the region will likely make dramatic changes—quickly, aligning toward a treaty with Israel and bringing apparent defeat to terrorism. This environment would not only allow the ten leaders of nations to begin negotiating seriously with Israel on a treaty, but would also provide the environment for leaders to proclaim “peace and security” as fulfillment of 1 Thessalonians 5:3.
I believe that once the Iranian regime is removed, all of this will transpire very quickly. In fact, I believe that from that point, until the confirmation of the end-times treaty with Israel, it could occur well within a year, possibly six months (but, of course, that is simply an educated guess).
Thanks John, Our next question comes from Alvin in Washington. He writes: I see in the context of Revelation 3:1-6 that "name" is mentioned in verses 1, 4, and 5 having to do with their works. I think that the name not being blotted out is their New Name but will be confessed before the Father and His angels if they overcome. Am I going astray in my thinking concerning names blotted out? ---Alvin, Pasco, WA
A: Before responding to this question, let’s look at the verse that spawns this question:
Viewer Screen: “ ‘He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels’ ” (Rev 3:5).
This is good thinking, but, Biblically, one’s name represents who he is, not one’s works. You have made a great observation about the contrast of having one’s name blotted out and the confession before Jesus as a great reward. This interplay is important to the context and suggests, I believe, a litotes.
A litotes is a literary device in which a milder, negative statement is used instead of a strong, positive affirmative statement. It is the opposite of hyperbole. It is an intentional understatement. Or we could say: It is a way of making a positive affirmation by negating the opposite. It is signaled by obvious understatement.
An example of litotes is: “If you do this, you won’t regret it.” The litotes, in this case, is communicating: You will be very glad you made that choice!
Scripture uses litotes over and over again. For example, we see it in Hebrews 6:10: “For God isnot unjust to forget your work . . .” Well, of course, He is not unjust, and, of course, He will not forget your work! The point is: God will not only remember your service for Him, He will highly reward you for it!
Some other examples of litotes in the Bible can be found in Psalm 34:17; Matthew 6:13; Acts 12:18; 14:28; 19:24; 21:39; 27:20; Romans 1:16; Hebrews 6:10; 10:38; 11:16; 13:17; Revelation 2:11; and 3:5, just to name a few.
The point of Revelation 3:5 is that not only will the Lord not blot out the name of an overcomer, He will highly honor his name (before God and the angels)! (Of course, God will never blot out the name of any Christian from the book of life, but this is how litotes is used. For example, Jesus uses litotes in Matthew 6:13 when He calls His followers to pray: “ ‘And do not lead us into temptation . . .’ ” Of course, God would never lead anyone (believer or unbeliever) into temptation, as James 1:13 so clearly shows us; but that is the use of litotes—in order to effectively make a point.
By the way, after preaching on Revelation 3:5, and pointing out that it contains litotes (and after defining litotes and giving several examples of its use), I received the following note in the mail a couple of days later: “John, that was no insignificant sermon you gave on Sunday!” Ha!
Once again, we received great questions from our viewers! Thank you for those. I look forward to the questions some of you will send for next time.
FULL STOP. WAIT FOR OUTRO VOICEOVER.
VOICEOVER: Thanks so much to John, for the eye-opening presentation in today’s episode.
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