Monday, January 25, 2010

Revelation 14:2-5

Verse 2-3 "And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps: And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth."

John is viewing the scene on Mount Zion of Christ and the 144,000. He then hears coming from out of heaven a voice he has heard before. It again is compared to many waters or great thunder. It is obviously God's voice that John hears. Christ is on Mount Zion with the 144,000, so it is not Him. God's voice is the one who thunders as the sound of many waters. Then John hears other voices. The voices of harpers who along with their singing are harping. They are singing a brand new song before the throne of God, the four beasts, and the elders. This is a song that has been especially created for the 144,000 and they alone of all mankind are allowed to learn and sing it. Many commentators interpret this to be the 144,000 singing the song before the throne, and therefore say that they are dead and in the heavenly Zion. It does not specifically identify the 144,000 as the ones singing, so to say that is an assumption that may or may not be valid. It specifically says the harpers' voices are the ones being heard, and the 144,000 are the only humans allowed to learn the song. This does not have to mandate that it is them singing. The song may be being sung by a heavenly group of musicians, who are teaching the song to the 144,000. If dead it would not be hard for a group to sing an unknown song in unison, as heaven is capable of far different abilities than earth, however if this group is not dead they probably would have to learn it, as we learn any song, and it does say that they have to learn it. They are listening and learning it and will be singing it, but probably not in heaven at this moment, as will be seen.

Now we come to the third viewpoint (the first two being that the 144,000 were dead and in heaven, or resurrected and on Mount Zion) that the group is alive (not resurrected) and on the Temple Mount. Being redeemed does not have to indicate dead. I have been redeemed, and I am not yet dead. If they were to fall victim to Satan and be killed, then what was the point of having sealed them? They were sealed for the express purpose of being protected. Had they died without having accepted Christ (their sealing did not bestow salvation at the time of the sealing), they could not have been redeemed, therefore the whole idea behind sealing them was to protect them and keep them alive so that they would have time to accept Christ.

[After posting I ran across another verse that may refer to this event. Ob. 17 "But upon mount Zion there shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness; and the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions." This passage is in reference to the Day of the Lord (the time of God's wrath). A remnant of the house of Israel will be delivered on mount Zion. This group could be that remnant.]

The argument may be made that since it says they are redeemed from the earth, that they have been removed from the earth, however, the Greek word does not have to indicate separation. It also indicates origin. Just as I can say I am from Chicago (I am not, but if I were) and it does not imply that I am no longer living in Chicago, these 144,000 are from earth as that is where they live. It is a phrase that can actually emphasize that they are not from heaven or in heaven, but from and on earth. What is more important is the statement that they have been redeemed. These 144,000 have come to be redeemed in the time from when they were sealed to this moment. They were not originally Christians when they were sealed, otherwise they would have already had the seal of God on their foreheads. They have been redeemed not because they have died, but because they have accepted Christ. Referring back to Chapter 12 and a verse quoted there as to what Christ will be doing with Israel during this time - Hosea 2:14, 19-20, 23 “Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her. And I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies. I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness: and thou shalt know the Lord. And I will sow her unto me in the earth; and I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy; and I will say to them which were not my people, Thou art my people; and they shall say, Thou art my God.” Christ has been bringing His people to Him while they are hiding out in the wilderness. Therefore by the time the end of the 1260 days have been reached, this particular group has all come to know the Lord as their Savior. It would appear that the rest of Israel actually accepts Christ as their Savior when they see Him whom they have pierced (the Second Coming). Otherwise they would all be raptured, if saved before that, and there would be no Jews to go into the millennium at all.

Verse 4-5 "These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb. And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God."

When they were sealed, we were only told that these 144,000 were 12,000 from each of the twelve listed tribes. Now we find out more about them. They have not been defiled with women for they are virgins. Everyone seems to feel that this says that they are spiritual virgins. Going back to the rule that we take this literally, it says that they have not been defiled with women (note the plural, it is not just the spiritual whore that is being referred to here) and are virgins. This would seem to indicate that 1) they are male and 2) probably quite young as they have not yet married or had sex. To find an adult male virgin in this day and age is difficult. They are not abundant if I can judge by what I see going on in the world. To find 144,000? It's almost a necessity that they be young. All of this would indicate that these are male children from the twelve tribes of Israel. Being children, Christ would probably be inclined to want to protect them. Think of how Christ feels about people who even offend children. In Matt. 18:6, He decrees that it would be better for them that a millstone be hung around their neck and they be drowned in the sea. Does it not make sense that Christ would want to spare innocent children Satan's wrath, especially Jewish children, since it is God's plan to repopulate Israel and run His kingdom through that nation? It also says they are without guile and fault before God's throne. Because of King David saying (when his baby died) that he would go to meet his child in heaven, it has been accepted that there is a covering of sins over those who are under the age of accountability and have not been able to make the choice to follow Christ. Where that falls for each child would seem to be at a different age, as each child comes to understanding at a different time. However, if they cannot understand, it has been accepted that God has a special plan that is enacted on their behalf. Only a very young child can be innocent and without guile or fault before God. Young children are not aware, nor in some cases capable of breaking the ten commandments. This would seem to indicate young children. As the sealing of this group appears to happen around the time of the abomination of desolation, they would have several years to mature enough to be able to accept Christ, even if very young. Both I and my children accepted Christ as very young children (I clearly remember my conversion although I could have been no older than five at the very most and, in fact, I think I was younger), so it is possible for a young child to understand and accept Christ at a young age. That they would be spiritual virgins would be a given, if they are indeed very young children, as they would not have been old enough to decide to follow any "god" when sealed. After being sealed Christ will bring them into a relationship with Himself. (see Hosea reference above).

There is another reason for why Jewish male children would be chosen in this manner and become redeemed. Ex. 13:2 "Sanctify unto me all the firstborn, whatsoever openeth the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and of beast: it is mine." Ex. 22:29 'Thou shalt not delay to offer the first of thy ripe fruits, and of thy liquors: the firstborn of thy sons shalt thou give unto me." Num. 3:13 "Because all the firstborn are mine; for on the day that I smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt I hallowed unto me all the firstborn in Israel, both man and beast: mine shall they be: I am the Lord." Just as God demanded the firstfruits of the flocks and the crops, he asked that the firstborn sons be sanctified as firstfruits unto Him. Israel has not done this for quite some time. It may be that God, just as he gave the land seventy years of Sabbath rest that Israel neglected to give the land by sending them into captivity in Babylon for that length of time, is going to claim the firstfruits or firstborn sons of 144,000 families - 12,000 firstborn sons from 12,000 families of each tribe. Firstfruits can mean several things. When it says that they are the firstfruits, it does not have to mean that they are the first ones to accept Christ from the Jewish population. In fact they would not be, as there have been Messianic Jews since the time of Christ. Nor does it have to indicate that they are the first of the resurrected although they could be. What may be being referred to, when it says they are the firstfruits, is simply that they are the firstborn sons and therefore the firstfruits of the new Israel that is being established. All firstborn sons from this point on will be sanctified unto the Lord. They may be the first generation of firstborn sons that Israel will give to Christ. Just as Israel had to give the firstfruits to God when they first entered the land after the forty years in the wilderness, so Israel has to start giving their firstfruits to God and Christ as they enter Israel again for the millennium. It will start with their firstborn sons, whether that is this group or not. The fact that it is only males (and most likely children) that are chosen and no females would seem to favor this idea, as Christ is not supposed to be a respecter of persons when it comes to salvation (if that were the only reason for choosing the 144,000). There is no Greek or Jew, no male or female, etc. when it comes to salvation. The choosing of what appears to be 12,000 male children specifically from each of the twelve tribes would almost point to this requirement of God (offering the firstborn sons) as being the reason behind them being chosen.

Another purpose for the 144,000 being children could have to do with practical reasons. Christ needs young men who will follow Him to repopulate Israel during the millennium, so that it can be the reigning nation. The lineage of Jews originally was followed from father to son, but because of the conditions that Israel found itself in over the centuries, in order to verify that a child was in truth a Jew, it came to be that a child was Jewish if his mother was a Jew. They could not be sure if the father was, so this solved the problem. Things will go back to the original way of doing things again, so an adequate number of young Jewish men from every tribe is necessary to repopulate Israel, as the blessings and inheritances will pass from father to son, not mother to child. If anyone doubts that there will be a return to Judaism during the millennium and that the twelve tribes will again inhabit Israel, one only needs to read Ezekiel. Starting in chapter 40 there is a description of the temple which will exist during the millennium. This description is not of one of the previous two temples. This temple does not yet exist. In chapter 43 there is a description of God's glory returning to the temple. That never happened after God left, so we know this is still future. Ezek. 43:4, 7 "And the glory of the Lord came into the house by the way of the gate whose prospect is toward the east....And he said unto me, Son of man, the place of my throne, and the place of the soles of my feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel for ever, and my holy name shall the house of Israel no more defile, neither they, nor their kings, by their whoredom, nor by the carcases of their kings in their high places." That the temple and the laws will be re-instituted is further shown in verses 10-11 "Thou son of man, shew the house to the house of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their iniquities: and let them measure the pattern. And if they be ashamed of all that they have done, shew them the form of the house, and the fashion thereof, and the goings out thereof, and the comings in thereof, and all the forms thereof, and all the ordinances thereof, and all the forms thereof, and all the laws thereof: and write it in their sight, that they may keep the whole form thereof, and all the ordinances thereof, and do them." God gives Ezekiel the pattern for the temple and all its adornments, the sacrifices that are required, the ordinances of the priests, and the division of the land for the tribes of Israel so that they may do it all. This division of land clearly shows that there are males from every tribe going into the millennium, as the males are the ones who will inherit. In fact, the name of the city from that day on shall be "The Lord is there" (48:35), showing that this is when Christ will live on earth with his people. This is why a good number of Jewish males who have not been defiled with women are a must. These males must marry women who are at the very least Christian, if not Jewish. (Non-Jews can be accepted into a Jewish tribe if they accept God. Ezek. 47:22-23 "And it shall come to pass, that ye shall divide it by lot for an inheritance unto you, and to the strangers that sojourn among you, which shall beget children among you: and they shall be unto you as born in the country among the children of Israel; they shall have inheritance with you among the tribes of Israel. And it shall come to pass, that in what tribe the stranger sojourneth, there shall ye give him his inheritance, saith the Lord God.") Think of how the Israelites married the ungodly Canaanite women and all the problems that caused. If these young men had already had sex with or married a woman from the world, he would be disqualified as defiled for being able to start a spiritually and physically pure bloodline for the millennium. But what of the girls they marry? From where do they come? There are two possibilities. Anyone who makes it into the millennium will be a follower of Christ. As the men are young, the girls from which they would choose to marry would most likely also be young, not ones who are already married and sexually active. Therefore they would probably be physical and spiritual virgins also. As such they would be acceptable for marriage to one of these young men whether or not they themselves are Jewish. Ruth was not from Israel, yet she was King David's great-grandmother and in Christ's lineage. As the lineage will not pass through the mothers, any young virgin girl will be acceptable, as anyone will be able to join a tribe if they so desire. (See Ezek. 47:22-23 above) The second place from which they may come is if they were born in the millennial kingdom to those who have made it through. If these 144,000 are indeed young, there is time for girls to be born to survivors who will not be too young for them to marry when they are grown.

If one still doubts that having a remnant to repopulate Israel is necessary due to a restoration of Judaism and temple worship during the millennium, there is more Scriptural proof. A description (in Ezek.) of the waters that issue forth from under the temple threshold makes it impossible for it to be anything but the future. These waters run from the temple mount eastward. The waters gradually get deeper until it is a great river. On the sides of this river are many trees. These trees produce fruit "whose leaf shall not fade, neither shall the fruit thereof be consumed: it shall bring forth new fruit according to his months, because their waters they issued out of the sanctuary: and the fruit thereof shall be for meat, and the leaf thereof for medicine." (Ezek. 47:12) This passage is not speaking of the heavenly Jerusalem. It is speaking of the temple that the Israelites are told to build, from which Christ will reign. God does not need the Israelites to build Him a heavenly temple. That already exists. This is a new earthly temple that will be built by the Israelites.

The trees that grow alongside the river that flows from the temple will not only offer sustenance from its fruit, but the leaves will be used to heal people of their infirmities. That (along with the change in the earth as far as the canopy being restored) will allow people to again live to great ages as the antediluvian people did. Is.65:19-20 "And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying. There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed." The animal world will also revert to its ways of not fearing man nor being a danger to man. Is. 65:25 "The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock (vegetarian just like before the flood): and dust shall be the serpent's meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the Lord." This negates the idea of amillennialism, which says that there is no millennium. It would also negate the idea that there will be a Christian millennium such as Christianity is observed today. People will be going back to temple worship and Judaism (regardless of people's inability to accept that idea), only their Messiah will reign over them. This in no way undoes Christ's sacrifice on the cross. The inability of being able to understand how temple worship works and why it will return is simply due to a lack of knowledge of the Old Testament laws and their purpose. (This may be covered in another study after Revelation is finished.) This is why it is so important to study the Old Testament and not relegate it to being "over and unimportant in light of Christ's first coming" as many churches do. It is not just the past, it is also the future. All of this has been covered to show the necessity of having young male virgins from every tribe survive in order to repopulate the earth. It will be necessary if there is to be an Israel in the millennium and there will be.

Getting back to the verse in Revelation, this group follows the Lamb wherever He goes. Assuming they are alive and not resurrected (as this is the viewpoint that is currently being discussed), they will follow Him from where they have been hidden to Mount Zion, where they will stand with Him at the end. They will also follow Him in that their lives are now dedicated to their Lord, and they will follow His will, just as we should be doing. If these are young children and Christ is their only parental figure and protector, it would make sense that they follow him everywhere He goes, just as small children follow their parents around. This would be quite an entourage, but it would not be the first time children have followed Jesus. When He was here before, little children seemed to love to be near Him and follow Him around. He reprimanded the disciples when they tried to shoo them away. As these young men would grow to adulthood and go on to marry and repopulate the earth, their following of Christ would move to the sense that we follow Christ today. We do not literally follow His every step, but we (hopefully) follow His will.

Going back to the idea that Christ has been bringing this group into a knowledge of Himself and that He has led them from the wilderness to stand on Mount Zion in Jerusalem, there is a Scripture that may refer to this. The city of Petra has been mentioned before when speaking of the woman, Israel, who in chapter 12 runs to the mountains to hide. It has also been discussed that the majority of the 144,000 seemingly must come out of Gentile nations, as the ten tribes were assimilated millennia ago, which would create a problem for the 144,000 being that woman. There may be a way around that. When Israel split into two nations, Israel and Judah, the northern tribes became pagan. Just as there has always been a remnant for God through the ages, it is logical to believe that not every family of every tribe wanted to turn pagan. Some may have wanted to remain loyal to God and the temple worship and therefore moved to Jerusalem. As everyone in the southern kingdom came to be known by the name Judah, and this remnant from other tribes would have been too small to retain their tribal identity (even the tribes of Benjamin and Levi came to be known as Jews), they would have lost knowledge of that identity. God is able to protect identities, as shown by the fact that he pulls 12,000 young men out of every tribe (except Dan) to seal. It is quite possible that in Israel today all of the tribes are represented. It is also possible that when the woman of chapter 12 flees to the wilderness, she has as part of her group the 144,000. Or maybe they alone are the woman. This would make sense given the following passage in Isaiah.

In Isaiah 63:1-9, we find a passage that speaks of Christ going (assume it is walking) from Petra (Edom or Bozrah) at the day of vengeance (God's wrath) when redemption has come for His people. He is trampling the winepress and bloodying his garments as He goes. It speaks of his people, who are children and who will not lie (in whom there is no guile) and whom He redeems. This passage would seem to dovetail with this interpretation of chapter 14 in Revelation. "Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this that is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength? I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save. Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the winefat? I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me: for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment. For the day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come. And I looked, and there was none to help; and I wondered that there was none to uphold: therefore mine own arm brought salvation unto me; and my fury, it upheld me. And I will tread down the people in mine anger, and make them drunk in my fury, and I will bring down their strength to the earth. I will mention the lovingkindnesses of the Lord, and the praises of the Lord, according to all that the Lord hath bestowed on us, and the great goodness toward the house of Israel, which he hath bestowed on them according to his mercies, and according to the multitude of his lovingkindnesses. For he said, Surely they are my people, children that will not lie: [in whom there is no guile] so he was their Saviour. In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them....." It would appear that not only has Christ been busy redeeming this group, but that He marches from Edom to Jerusalem killing those who are in His way who would stop Him. Possibly He is leading this group to Mount Zion. This would explain later why when Christ rides the white horse down to Armageddon his white robe is already bloodied. He has already been down there trampling out the vineyards.
[After posting this I came across another Scripture about this. Is. 34:6b "for the Lord hath a sacrifice in Bozrah, and a great slaughter in the land of Idumea." Bozrah is in Edom (as is Petra). Here we see that there will be a great slaughter there, so this may also refer to the same event as this also occurs in the Day of the Lord.]

Over the years a certain picture of how we think the order of events are to occur has come about, and it is a little difficult to alter that vision. However, we must look to what Scripture says and be willing to change our ideas to fit what Scripture says rather than dogmatically cling to the teachings that have been developed and promoted by scholars over the years. For years it has been taught that a secret rapture will occur and that the first time Christ is seen is when he shows up at Armageddon with us all in tow. We have already seen that the rapture is not secret, nor does it occur before the seven years begin. Now we may see that Christ, while not appearing to the entire world until His Second Coming, may in fact appear to this special group of Jewish males and all the people He tramples before the rapture and Second Coming. It may also be that the resurrection and the rapture are separated by a ten day gap, aligning them with the holy days.

I cannot say for certain which of the latter two views is the better one, as both have sufficient reasons to support them. I cannot say for certain if any of the views is the answer, nor anything else that I have written for that matter, but I try to understand God's Word in its simplest most straightforward way using all of Scripture to define and support whatever I do write, and that is how I have also covered this.

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