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The 144,000 – Parts 1-3

Begin Text:

 

I am always torn in these presentations between telling you what the Bible says and showing you how the Bible produces the conclusions that I share. Some people might prefer that I just tell them what the Bible says…. And this is the difference between preaching and teaching. Preaching is a form of persuasion, leading people to believe…. But teaching is a form of education…. Showing people the way to understanding. Of course, both styles of work have their place in God’s work.

 

This series on Revelation is an attempt to show you how the Bible produces the results that I share. Once you understand how the rules work, you can determine for yourself what the Bible says. And, once you understand, you are enabled to share the good news of Christ’s imminent return with others!

 

Let’s begin with Revelation 7:1.

Revelation 7:1   After this (that is, after watching the sixth seal take place) I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth to prevent any wind from blowing on the land or on the sea or on any tree.

 

Revelation 7:2   Then I saw another angel coming up from the east, having the seal of the living God. He called out in a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm the land and the sea:

 

Revelation 7:3   “Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.”

 

Revelation 7:4   Then I heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel.

 

Three Important Matters:

 

A. Text alignment

B. The timing of Revelation 7

C. The purposes for this passage 

 

Text Alignment

 

Here’s a statement that puts any discussion on Apocalyptic Prophecy in a framework for truth as opposed to opinion: Until one understands the architecture of apocalyptic prophecy and uses valid rules of interpretation, one cannot correctly reach nor understand the intended meaning of Daniel and Revelation. I have received hundreds of emails from people telling me that my views on Daniel and Revelation are in error. My response is simple. “Yes,” I could be in error, so send me your rules of interpretation, not your opinions, so I can see where my error is.”

The architecture of apocalyptic prophecy is the big secret that God sealed up in the book of Daniel until the time of the end! Notice how clever God is.

 

The books of Daniel and Revelation were written thousands of years ago. Mankind has been able to read and understand these books with a limited amount of understanding for centuries! Yet, we know the book of Daniel was sealed up! How could Daniel be “sealed up” if we can read and understand the words?

 

Even more, how can Daniel be unsealed at “the time of the end” and the words in the book of Daniel remain unchanged? What was sealed up? God hid the four rules of apocalyptic prophecy in the book of Daniel until the time of the end.

 

Notice how this works:

 

The book of Daniel contains five apocalyptic prophecies. Four of these prophecies span a period of time greater than 2,000 years! Near “the end of time” and only at the end of time is there sufficient fulfillment of these four prophecies for us to determine the architecture of apocalyptic prophecy.

 

Today, the architecture of apocalyptic prophecy can be examined and certain consistent behaviors (which are called rules) are now visible. I have stated these consistent behaviors in my words. You can state them however you want as long as your declaration is unambiguous. Rule one says: “Each apocalyptic prophecy has a beginning point and an ending point in time and the events within the prophecy occur in the order given.”

 

              Prophetic Order

 

Start                 Time-              Stop

   -----------------------------------     

   1         2          3          4          (Numbered elements like seven bowls)

or

   a         b           c          d          (Unnumbered elements like Revelation 7)

 

1.   Who has the authority to declare prophetic order and the intended prophetic meaning of prophecy if God did not impose order on the prophecies?

 

2.   If there is no chronological order in apocalyptic prophecy, then prophecy is reduced to hundreds of bits and places that expositors manipulate according to bias and cherished ideas. In other words, there can be no absolute meaning when there chronology is subject to whim.

 

Let me be perfectly clear: There is no such thing as multiple meanings or multiple fulfillments of apocalyptic prophecy. How many times can the breaking of the sixth seal occur (which is the Second Coming)? How many times can the 144,000 be sealed? How many times can the fifth trumpet occur? (Remember, the fifth trumpet has to occur after the fourth trumpet and the fifth trumpet lasts for five months.)

Well-intentioned people diminish the power, simplicity and clarity of apocalyptic prophecy when they don’t understand its architecture!

 

When people use invalid rules or external authority (church traditionalists interpret Bible prophecy, that interpretation is a private interpretation. The phrase ‘private interpretation” is used because the interpretation is based on concepts that are not subject to open investigation and unbiased approval. Private interpretation make prophecy wishy-washy… feeble…. changeable and subject to distortion and foolishness.

 

KJV 2 Peter 1:19   “We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:

 

2 Peter 1:20   Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of private interpretation.

 

2 peter 1:21   For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” 

 

When the textual alignment of Daniel and Revelation is correctly assembled according to valid rules of interpretation, the intended meaning appears. We discover prophetic truth and this is how apocalyptic prophecy becomes the “more sure word of prophecy.”

 

Prophetic mystery is behind us. I believe the book of Daniel has been unsealed and truth has blossomed. The more sure word of prophecy has become our possession because we are the last generation and God wants us to know His plans. Let’s go back to the topic of text alignment according to Rule 1. Look at these verses with chronological order in mind:

 

Revelation 6:16  They called to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!

 

Revelation 6:17   For the great day of their wrath had come, and who can stand?”

 

Revelation 7:1   After this (that is, after watching the sixth seal take place) I saw four angles standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth to prevent any wind from blowing on the land or on the sea or on any tree.

 

Revelation 7:2   Then I saw another angel coming up from the east, having the seal of the living God. He called out in a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm the land and the sea:

 

Revelation 7:3   “Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.”

 

Revelation 7:4   Then I heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel.

 

Do you suppose the 144,000 are sealed before the Second Coming? Of course! The sealing of the 144,000 and the destruction that waits their sealing occurs before the Second Coming. The point here is that when chronological order is broken, a new prophecy begins. Since, Revelation 7:1 does not chronologically follow Revelation 6:17, Revelation 7:1 is the first verse of a new prophecy.

 

Demonstrate textual alignment. (Scissors and Bible verses / cut and tape)

 

For fun, make some copies of Daniel and Revelation and see if you can parse all the prophecies of Daniel and Revelation according to Rule 1. See if you can actually find the start and stop points of each apocalyptic prophecy.

 

When you can accurately do this, you will be able to demonstrate textual alignment and the chronological order will produce a matrix showing incredible harmony!

 

The timing of Revelation 7

Here’s a very provoking question: “What is the date (or timing) when the four angels in Revelation 7 are told to wait?” Look at these two verses:

 

Revelation 7:2   Then I saw another angel coming up from the east, having the seal of the living God. He called out in a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm the land and the sea:

 

Revelation 7:3   “Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.”

 

Again, what is the date of this event? This is an important question because it is the beginning point in time for the prophecy (7:1-8:1). I believe the Bible indicates that the date for Revelation 7:1 is 1994. Let’s look at three important indicators:

 

1.   The Bible, in its entirety, speaks of approximately 7,000 years.

 

When I add up the genealogical records of the Old Testament (From Adam and Eve to the Flood (1,646 inclusive years) and then to the Exodus (931 inclusive years)….

 

When I add up the years since the Exodus from Egypt in 1437 B.C. (3,443 inclusive years),

 

When I add up the 18 prophetic time-periods found in Daniel and Revelation (including the 1,000 years of Revelation 20),  

 

I find a total of 7,020 years thus far. I assume that Adam and Eve lived in the Garden of Eden for 30 or 40 years before sinning. If this is the case, the Bible only speaks of 7,000 years for the duration of sin.

 

Since the saints will spend the last 1,000 years with the Lord, this puts the Second Coming at the end of the 6,000th year of sin. If my calculations are correct, we have a maximum of ten years to go until the 6,000th year for sin is reached. If my calculations are true, this would put 1994 near the time of the Second Coming which occurs at the close of the 6,000th year. Why is 1994 important?

 

2.   The second indicator pointing to 1994 as the date when the angels were given the seven trumpets and told to wait until the 144,000 are sealed is the termination of the Jubilee Calendar.

 

If you closely followed my presentation on the Jubilee Calendar in our study on Daniel (March, April, May, June, 2004), you should remember three things:

 

a.   God’s patience with the nation of Israel – as trustees of His gospel – lasted exactly 30 Jubilee cycles. (From the Exodus in 1437 B.C. to the close of the 70th week in A.D. 33, equals 1,470 years.)

 

b.   God’s patience with the Gentiles as trustees of His gospel (the times of the Gentiles) amounted to 40 Jubilee cycles (1,960 years.)

 

Thus, God’s patience with Jews and Gentiles as trustees of His gospel amounts to 70 Jubilee cycles. Seven “Great Days” of 70 weeks each ended in 1994. Does the fullness of 70 indicate anything important?

 

c.   Yes, I think so. Do you remember why the exile to Babylon lasted 70 years? When Israel violated 70 Sabbath years, God sent Israel into captivity for 70 years to atone for their sin.  Do you remember how the nation of Israel was given a second chance that lasted 70 weeks? Do you remember that 7,000 years is 70 centuries? I believe the Bible indicates the number 70 reflects the limits of God’s forbearance. The number 70 is 7 x 10. When these two numbers are brought together, we find God’s limits. For example, we find the beast in Revelation with 7 heads and 10 horns. This beast represents the limits of rebellion against God. We also find the Day of Atonement to be on the 10th day of the 7th month. This represents the limit of forbearance.

 

3.   The third indicator in the Bible that makes 1994 important is the necessity of terminating the Jubilee Calendar and its day/year translation of time according to the weekly template. In other words, the Jubilee Calendar did not end at the Cross as many pastors claim. If the Jubilee Calendar had ended at the cross, the prophecy of Daniel 9 would have amounted to 69 weeks instead of a full 70 weeks. Furthermore, the 2,300 day prophecy of Daniel 8 continues from 457 B.C. (the beginning of the 70 weeks) without interruption until 1844! But, we can’t close the Jubilee Calendar with 1844 because “The Great Day of Sabbath” doesn’t end until 1994.

Therefore, I conclude that at the end of the 70 cycles of the Jubilee Calendar, the limits of divine forbearance with mankind, God’s patience ended in April 1994. The termination of the Jubilee Calendar in 1994 means that all prophetic time-periods in Daniel and Revelation that occur after 1994 must be measured in literal time…. That is, there is no day/year translation anymore.

 

When Rule 4 is applied (Rule 4 concerns the absence or presence of the Jubilee Calendar) all of the elements in apocalyptic prophecy perfectly align and the result if total harmony from the sum of all the parts!

 

So, it appears to me that 1994, the seven angels were given the seven trumpets and as the first four angels went of Heaven’s temple to inflict harm on an unsuspecting earth, the seas and the trees, they were told to wait until the 144,000 were sealed.

 

You may disagree with me on the timing of 1994 for Revelation 7, but Rule 1 demands that you provide an answer – a beginning point in time: When did the four angels begin holding back the four winds?

 

If 1994 is the correct answer, a couple of interesting questions surface:

 

Question #1: Why do we even need to know about this delay? What is God’s purpose in telling us about this delay?

 

Question #2: Will the sealing of the 144,000 be determined by character or by timing? In other words, is Jesus waiting for 144,000 people to become totally sanctified and “pure in heart” before He will seal them or is Jesus waiting for the appointed time to arrive to select 144,000 people and seal them?

 

Question #1 Examined

The delay in Revelation 7 is foretold because the final generation needs to know that God’s wrath is long overdue before it is released. Later on, this delay in God’s wrath will help us understand the special service tat take place at the Altar of Incense recorded in Revelation 8:3-5. In essence, God’s patience with sin and sinners expired in 1994. Earth’s cup of iniquity reached full that year, and His seven angels were empowered to hurt the Earth. As they prepared to hurt the land, sea and the trees (the first items to be hurt), they were told to wait until Jesus seals the 144,000. The phrase, “Holding back the four winds of Earth” is a powerful word-picture of DELAYED global destruction and upheaval.  

 

Remember the powerful winds of hurricane Katrina and Rita along the Gulf coast in August and September 2005? The release of the four winds in Revelation 7 (simultaneously blowing from the north, east, west and south) implies deadly and unforeseen forces that will chaotically scatter and sweep away everything built by man. At this very moment, these four angels are waiting to act…. Held back by divine decree…. Soon to impose destruction which is long overdue. If only our world could “Wake Up!” 

 

Again, the point here is that God wants the last generation to know that His wrath is overdue before it is released because this knowledge should motivate those who are preparing for the return of Jesus “to make spiritual preparation.” Jesus wants us to know that He has put global destruction on hold until the time comes for His 144,000 servants to be sealed.

 

Years ago, I heard evangelist Billy Graham make a comment that went something like this, “If God doesn’t do something soon about the decadence and degenerate behavior of the United States, He will owe Sodom and Gomorrah an apology.” Dr. Graham was right. The only reason that Jesus has not done something about Earth’s degeneracy at this time is timing. Jesus imposed a short delay in Revelation 7:3 and the inhabitant of Earth have been living on borrowed time since 1994. It’s time to “Wake Up!”

 

Question #2 Examined

Will the sealing of the 144,000 be determined by character or by timing? In other words, has Jesus been waiting for 144,000 people to become sinless so that they can be sealed, or is Jesus waiting for the appointed time to arrive to select and seal 144,000 people? The correct answer is that Jesus has been waiting for the appointed hour.

 

Jesus has been waiting for the appointed time to arrive before selecting and sealing 12,000 from each of the twelve tribes. How does the Bible indicate the delay is due to timing? Look at this verse:

 

Revelation 9:15   And the four angels who had been kept ready for this very hour and day and month and year were released to kill a third of mankind.

 

Contrary to what some denominations teach, Jesus is not waiting for 144,000 people to become sinless so that they can be sealed. If Jesus was waiting for the 144,000 people to become sinless, one could argue the Great Tribulation will never start because a sinner cannot become sinless. Yes, a sinner may go for a period of time without deliberately or accidentally sinning, but this doesn’t make him sinless! Once a sinner, forever a sinner! This is precisely why Adam and Eve had to be cast out of the Garden of Eden.

 

Because we have carnal natures, we are sinful from within. We can’t remove our carnal natures. At best, we can subdue our carnal natures through the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 7-8), and millions of people experienced victory over besetting sins for centuries. Fact is, Jesus could have sealed 1444,000 people centuries ago if He wanted, because at any given time there are enough people on earth who love the Lord with all their hearts, mind and soul, to accomplish all the Lord wants to do.

 

Remember how Elijah thought that he alone had been faithful to the Lord during Israel’s apostasy and the Lord informed the beleaguered prophet that He had seven thousand (70 x 100) in Israel that had not worshiped Baal? (1 Kings 19:18)

 

When the sealing of the 144,000 occurs, the Bible indicates that each tribe of Israel is larger than 12,000 people. In other words when the time comes for the sealing, Jesus will have more than 12,000 people in each tribe to choose from! Jesus only takes 12,000 from each tribe. Look at this verse: 

 

Revelation 7:6   from the tribe of Asher 12,000, from the tribe of Naphtali 12,000 from the tribe of Manasseh 12,000, 

 

The size of each tribe affirms that Jesus is not waiting on 144,000 people to become sinless. At the appointed time, He will choose the best from each tribe (as first fruits) to be His servants and they will answer His call and endure the trials and tribulations of being His prophets. Bottom line: Jesus is  waiting for the appointed time of the end to arrive (Daniel 8:19), the time set by the Father. (Acts 1:7)

 

When we get close to the day that is 1,335 days from the end of the sixth millennium of sin, the 144,000 will be selected and sealed and the delay imposed in Revelation 7:3 will end right on time.

 

The judgments of God will begin on time. Jesus is waiting in His “Grandfather’s” clock to chime and when it does, He will declare the delay to be over (Revelation 10:6) and the four winds of His wrath will be released.

 

Revelation 10:5 Then the angel [Michael] I had seen standing on the sea and on the land raised his right hand to heaven. 

 

Revelation 10:6   And he swore by him who lives forever and ever, who created the heavens and all that is in them, the earth and all that is in it, and the sea and all that is in it, and said, There will be no more delay!”

 

Revelation 10:7   but in the days when the seventh angel is about to sound his trumpet, the mystery of God will be accomplished, just as he announced to his [144,000] servants the prophets.”

 

Before we leave Question #2 which questioned whether the delay in Revelation 7 was based on character or timing, please consider the following points:

 

According to Rule One, each apocalyptic prophecy has a beginning point and an ending point in time and the sealing of the 144,000 in Revelation 7:1-8:1 is no exception. For centuries, Bible students have asked, when does Revelation 7:1-4 occur? Please examine these two texts and notice that in each case, four angels are involved:

 

Revelation 7:1   “After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the Earth, holding back the four winds of the earth to prevent any wind from blowing on the land or on the sea or on any tree.”

 

Revelation 9:14,15   “It (the voice from the Altar of Incense) said to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, ‘Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.’ And the four angels who had been kept ready for this very hour and day and month and year were released to kill a third of mankind.”

 

These two texts identify two groups of four angels. The first text (Revelation 7) describes four angles sent from God’s throne to harm Earth. The second text (Revelation 9) describes four angels (actually four fallen angels, e.g., demons) who will be let out of the abyss during the fifth trumpet.

 

During the sixth trumpet, four demons in the second text will be released at a specific hour to kill a third of mankind. Since the four demons in Revelation 9 are held back until the very hour, day, month and year arrives, do you think it is possible that the four angels in Revelation 7 are waiting for the exact hour, day, month and year to do their work? Yes! With God, timing is everything.

 

Also, consider this: God’s four angels and Lucifer’s four angels will be allowed to kill the same number of people during the Great Tribulation!

 

Look at the math: Twenty-five percent of Earth’s population will die when the fourth seal is broken. In round numbers, Earth’s population is about seven billion people at this present time. Twenty-five percent of Earth’s population would be 1.75 billion people. So, Earth’s population will be reduced to 5.25 billion people by the destruction of the first four trumpets.

 

When the sixth trumpet sounds (1,040 days later), one- third of mankind will be killed by Lucifer’s four angels. One third of 5.25 billion people is another 1.75 billion people!  The net result is that both groups of angels will kill the same number of people. The population will be reduced by 50%--- not including death from natural causes.

 

Do you think this 1.75/1.75 balance is a mere coincidence? No, God has deliberately and purposefully determined the properties of the Great Tribulation. God had predetermined that the battle for the hearts and souls of mankind will be a “fair fight.” If the devil was given complete control of Earth, he would destroy the whole world in a single day. Therefore, the devil will be restrained at each step of the way because God insists that the survivors must remain free to exercise their power of choice.

 

The Great Tribulation will be a powerful vortex that will force the living into choosing whom they will honor and obey. This is how worship will ultimately surface as the all-important issue during the Great Tribulation.

 

When the people of Earth behold the overwhelming death and destruction caused by God’s wrath, the topic of appeasement and worship will become highly important because worship will be viewed as the prerequisite means to appeasing God so that His anger will cease. Desperate circumstances will force the survivors into making some tough decisions.

 

Whom will they obey? The consequences, regardless of choice, will be most difficult. The vortex explains why the Great Tribulation is called, “a time of wrath.” (Daniel 8:19; 11:36; Revelation 15:1)  

 

It is interesting to discover that during the Great Tribulation, Whatever Jesus is allowed to do, the devil will be allowed to do. Jesus will have 144,000 servants speaking for Him and the devil will have thousands of religious and political authorities speaking for him. Evil cannot conquer good, nor can good destroy evil until Jesus arrives.

 

Jesus wants the people of earth to make an informed and intelligent decision as to whom they will obey. (Matthew 24:14) This is why He seals 144,000 prophets before the Great Tribulation begins. The world must hear the testimony of Jesus through the mouths of His servants the prophets. Then, the end will come.

 

End Text:  

 

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