As we investigate the third angel's message (Cosmic Conflict - Chapter 20), we naturally feel an interest to know if the prophecies anywhere intimate what the effect of this message will be; or what measure of success will attend it. We think we find this clearly indicated in the seventh chapter of Revelation. The angel ascending with the seal of the living God here brought to view is the same as the third angel of Rev 14. And as the result of this work, in Rev.7, it is declared that 144000 were sealed as the servants of God.
But says one, the 144000 cannot belong to the present generation, or be gathered in the gospel dispensation; for they were sealed out of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel. A sufficient answer to this is found in the testimony of James. He, writing in A.D. 60 to the Christians and for the benefit of Christians, and carrying us down even to the coming of Christ, addresses his epistle to the twelve tribes scattered abroad. It is evident, therefore, that Christians are counted as belonging to the twelve tribes.
In what sense are they so considered, for there are no genealogies of tribes preserved in this dispensation? Paul illustrates this by a beautiful figure in the eleventh chapter of Romans. He sets forth the people of God in the former dispensation, the literal Israel, under the figure of an olive tree with twelve branches. These branches represented the twelve tribes of the children of Israel. These branches were broken off, which signified that the Jews by rejecting Christ ceased to be God's people.
The Gentiles, who accepted Christ, were taken by the Lord as his people; and Paul represents this movement by branches of the wild olive tree grafted into the tame. Where the natural branches, the Jews, were broken off there the wild olive, the Gentiles were grafted in. Now, how did this affect the tree? There were at first, twelve branches, representing the twelve tribes of the children of Israel; and after they were broken off, and grafts were inserted from the Gentiles, or Christians, there are still twelve branches, or tribes, in the household of faith.
These are not the literal seed, but spiritual, because they are brought in by faith. So we hear Paul saying in Rom.2:28+29, "He is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter." Again Paul says, Rom.9:6-8, "They are not all Israel which are of Israel; neither, because they are of the seed of Abraham, are they all children; but in Isaac shall thy seed be called. That is, they which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted for the seed." And he adds in Gal. 4:28 that, "We, brethren (Christians), as Isaac was, are the children of promise." And he adds in the next verse, that he (Isaac) was born after the spirit. Nothing could be plainer than these testimonies that there is a spiritual seed, reckoned as the true Israel, perpetuated not in a literal, but in a spiritual sense. Because the twelve tribes, therefore, are mentioned in Revelation, where the 144000 are sealed, that is no evidence that they are not taken from the gospel dispensation or even from the closing portion of it. But we have still clearer evidence to present upon this point.
The New Jerusalem which John saw coming down from God out of heaven, in which there was the throne of the Lamb, as well as the throne of God, will not certainly be considered a Jewish city; for in the twelve foundations were the names of the twelve apostles. But on the twelve gates of that city, as described in Rev.21:12, there were names written, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel.
Now all the people of God, from Adam to the close of the gospel dispensation, will go into that city through those twelve gates; hence, all will be reckoned, both Jews and Christians, as belonging to the twelve tribes.
No genealogy is kept of those tribes here upon earth, as it is not necessary that men should now understand these distinctions. But Paul speaks of the church of the first born written in Heaven, giving us to understand that the record is kept there. The only object of preserving the tribes distinct in the former dispensation was that the prophecies concerning Christ, who was to spring from a particular tribe, might be fulfilled; and the Jews might thus be able to identify the Messiah. But since Christ has come, that necessity no longer exists; and hence the genealogy of the tribes has been irrevocably lost.
This company, the 144000, are again brought to view in Rev.14:1-5. And here we have indisputable evidence that they are gathered from the last generation of the living. John says, "A Lamb stood on Mount Zion, and with him a hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father's name written in their foreheads. This name is the same as the seal of God brought to view in Rev.7; hence this company is the same as the 144000 of chapter 7.
And of these it is said, that they were "redeemed from the earth" and "redeemed from among men." This can mean nothing else but translation from among the living. These first five verses of Rev.14 belong to chapter 13, and are a continuation of that prophecy. These 144000 are the ones who pass through the terrible conflict with the two horned beast power, described in Rev.13:11-17. But we have shown that this power is a symbol of our own government, and is now upon the stage of action, and is the last power which persecutes the church of God. Therefore the 144000 are the ones who are developed by the third angel's message, and who will be translated from among men at the second coming of Christ. The sealing work of Rev.7 results in sealing the number here specified; but as this is identical with the third angel's message, this sealing work has for many years already been going forward; and some whose whole religious experience has been connected with, and is owing to this work, have fallen asleep since the message commenced. Will they be reckoned with the 144000? If so, how can it be said that they are redeemed from among men, or translated from among the living?
We answer, before Christ comes there is a partial resurrection to take place, according to Dan.12:2 and Rev.1:7. Daniel says, "Many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt." This is not the general resurrection of either class; for at the general resurrection of the righteous there are no wicked ones to be raised, and at the general resurrection of the wicked there are no righteous ones included. But here is a mixed resurrection, taking some (a few) of both classes; and this occurrs in connection with the standing up of Michael, and the closing time of trouble. We therefore infer that at this time, probably when the voice of God is heard (Joel 3:16, Heb.12:27, and Rev.16:17), some of the pre-eminently wicked will come forth, and all those who have died in the third angel's message. Being then raised from the dead, and taking their place with those who have not died under this message, they are translated when the Lord appears; and hence, with the others, may also be said to be redeemed from among men.
Above chapter is taken from the book "Lectures on the Principal Doctrines" which is available not from the author of this web-site, but from ECHOES FROM THE PAST 890 Hitching Post Road, Grants Pass, OR. 97526, USA. According to the price list I have, this book costs $6.00. Please include $2.00 for shipping and handling. Topics dealt with in this book according to the index are:
Bible view of the Sabbath
Baptism - as related to true conversion
Christ in the Old Testament
Destiny of the Wicked
Gifts of the Spirit
Sabbath & Sunday - Secular History
The Second Advent
The Great Image of Daniel Chapter-2
The Vision of Daniel Chapter-7
Vision of Daniel Chapter-8
The 70 Weeks and 2300 Days
The Messages of Revelation Chapter-14
Sabbath Theory of Akers, Jennings, Mede and Fuller
The Seven Last Plagues
The One Hundred and Forty Four Thousand
The Seven Churches
The Seven Seals
The Seven Trumpets
The Ministration of Angels
The Saints' Inheritance
The first Day of the Week
The Bible Sabbath
Nature and Destiny of Man
Revelation 7 & 8
There is one more consideration concerning the 144000. This is the group of Saints which after the close of probation will have to live here on earth without having Jesus, our high priest, ministering in the sanctuary in heaven in their behalf before the Father, because Jesus will have stepped out from the sanctuary and will be getting ready to return to the skies of planet earth. By that time the 144000 will have perfected their characters and they will then be able to stand before God without an intercessor. In other words, they will then show to the onlooking universe that the devil is a liar, because he said that nobody of the human race can successfully keep the comandments without occasionally sinning. This is the devil's only hope for survival (so he thinks), to proof that the ten commandments cannot be kept. If he were successful, then planet earth with all its inhabitants would be his and evil would rule on earth until the human race would be worn out. But the 144000 will be victorious, they will then be like Jesus when he was here on earth nearly 2000 years ago. They will have to plead their cases directly with the Father, just as Jesus did. And they will live without sinning until they are received by Christ and taken up into heaven.
Do you think that you would be able, with the Father's help, to get your character perfected before probation closes? The 144000 are not all developed yet, because if the number were made up already, then the end would be in upon us by now. This is the only event that still needs to come to pass, namely that the number of the 144000 has to be complete. As soon as that condition has been fulfilled, probation will close, and the seven last plagues will be poured out.
[Principles & Doctrines - Index]