Universal Salvation: The One Hundred and Forty Four Thousand
Now there is a subject for you. Who are the one hundred and forty four thousand? What is their mission? And can we still be one of the one hundred and forty four thousand in today's age?
Let us read it at Revelation 7:2-8: "2 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, 3 saying, 'Do not harm the earth, the sea, or the trees till we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.' 4 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 were sealed: 5 of the tribe of Judah twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Reuben twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Gad twelve thousand were sealed; 6 of the tribe of Asher twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Naphtali twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Manasseh twelve thousand were sealed; 7 of the tribe of Simeon twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Levi twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Issachar twelve thousand were sealed; 8 of the tribe of Zebulun twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Joseph twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Benjamin twelve thousand were sealed."
This is speaking of a spiritual Israel.
" Oh! But I thought it was speaking about the twelve tribes of Israel."
No. If you look carefully, you will see that the twelve tribes in Revelation are not the same twelve tribes as the twelve tribes of Israel. Levi and Joseph are included instead of Dan and Ephraim. So as not to make things complicated when in actual fact they are not, the inclusion of Levi shows that there is no special priestly tribe in spiritual Israel, but that the whole of the hundred and forty four thousand are priests of God.
These sealed ones are humans who are sealed with the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 1:13,14 says: "13 In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory."
And Ephesians 2:19-22 tells us this: "19 Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone, 21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit."
Look what Paul said at 1 Corinthians 3:9: "For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, you are God's building."
Also, 1 Corinthians 3:16,17 says: "16 Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 17 If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are."
Peter speaks of these ones as living stones at 1 Peter 2:5: "you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ." All of these 144,000 are being built up into a holy priesthood, His temple.
The 144,000 have a special role to fulfil. Even Paul recognised this. Look what he said at Philippians 3:14: "I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."
Now Paul an apostle of Jesus, had been evangelising for over twenty years when he wrote this; and still he was after a special prize. The prize was for the upward call of God.
"Yes, but what was the upward call of God?"
A higher calling. About the same time that Philippians was written, Hebrews 3:1 says this: "Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus".
The upward calling was a heavenly calling, open only to 144,000. These follow the Lamb wherever He goes.
Revelation 14:1-4 tells us: "1 Then I looked, and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion (heavenly), and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His Father's name written on their foreheads. 2 And I heard a voice from heaven, like the voice of many waters, and like the voice of loud thunder. And I heard the sound of harpists playing their harps. 3 They sang as it were a new song before the throne, before the four living creatures, and the elders; and no one could learn that song except the hundred and forty-four thousand who were redeemed from the earth. 4 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, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb. 5 And in their mouth was found no deceit, for they are without fault before the throne of God."
They are firstfruits to be offered to God in the first resurrection. Revelation 20:6 speaks of it this way: "Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years."
These are the king-priests who are going to rule with Jesus for a thousand years. They have attained to perfection, having been raised incorruptible. This is the next phase towards Universal Salvation.
"What you are saying, then, is that only the 144,000 go to heaven?"
Yes, and only for a short time; to be presented to God as firstfruits before they return to the earth to rule with Jesus.
Most people know what Jesus said at the last supper, at John 14:1-3: "1 Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also."
He was speaking to His temple which was being built at that time, some of the firstfruits; a principle which applies to all of the firstfruits.
Let us just analyse that for a moment: "2 In My Father's house are many mansions…". The Greek word there for "mansions" is monai, from mone, and it means "rooms" or "living quarters". Mone can mean a stay in any place, or a stay on a journey.
The related verb is meno, and it means "to stay". So what Jesus is saying is that in His Father's house there are many living quarters to rest up in, or to stay in: which is exactly what the 144,000 need before returning to the earth to rule with Jesus.
Before the one thousand-year rule of Jesus begins, God is going to elevate the few firstruits, His temple which are still left upon the earth, to be the highest religion on the earth. Look at what it says at Isaiah 2:1-3: "1 The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. 2 Now it shall come to pass in the latter days That the mountain of the LORD's house shall be established on the top of the mountains, And shall be exalted above the hills (By greater miracles than Jesus performed); And all nations shall flow to it. 3 Many people shall come and say, 'Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, To the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, And we shall walk in His paths.' For out of Zion shall go forth the law, And the word of the LORD (YHWH) from Jerusalem."
The New Jerusalem, spiritual Israel, His remnant of the temple, still left upon the earth. Most of the temple class are now dead, awaiting the firstfruit resurrection.
And when it is fully operative, look what happens: Revelation 7:9-15: "9 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, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, saying, 'Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!' 11 All the angels stood around the throne and the elders and the four living creatures, and fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying: 'Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom, Thanksgiving and honour and power and might, Be to our God forever and ever. Amen.' 13 Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, 'Who are these arrayed in white robes, and where did they come from?' 14 And I said to him, 'Sir, you know.' So he said to me, '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. 15 Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple. And He who sits on the throne will dwell among them.' "
Take note that the great multitude are not the temple, but are worshipping in the temple.
"So can we still be one of the 144,000 in today's age?"
The answer is yes, but it is highly unlikely. Remember, there are millions of supposed Christians, and only 144,000 places in the Government. Remember, too, that Satan is deceiving the whole earth with his false prophets.
Speaking of the last days before Jesus returns, Matthew 24:24 has this to say: "24 For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect."
Obviously, Satan has a limited power to do miracles. But the temple, rising above all others, will do miracles greater than Jesus did. And at that time, the temple will be put in charge of all God's belongings.
Matthew 24:45-47 says: "45 Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household [the temple], to give them food in due season? 46 Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing. 47 Assuredly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all his goods [the great multitude]."
It is a prize and a privilege to be one of the 144,000 - and you can still be one of them. The whole number has still not been sealed, as the angels are still being held back from harming the earth. There are obviously a few of the temple class still out there. But do not worry; God will make it evident to you. Look forward to the future: the end time will soon be upon us.
As for the rest of mankind, Psalm 37:29 says: "The righteous shall inherit the land, And dwell in it forever".
The Hebrew word for "land" in Psalm 37:39 is erets, meaning "the earth", and is translated as "earth" in Psalm 37:11. And the Hebrew word for "In it" is 'al, meaning "upon".
So that verse can be read: "The righteous shall inherit the earth, and dwell upon it forever." In line with what Jesus said at Matthew 5:5, when He said: "Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth".
Do not miss next month's article "Universal Salvation! The Wrath of God Part One".
Next article: The Wrath of God Part One