Tag: The Significance of the 144000

The 144,000 in Revelation 7

The 144,000 in Revelation 7

In the study of end times prophecy, there are several key players whose identities are critical to understanding what’s happening. God highlights these players and provides important information about them.

One set of key actors in the end times is a mysterious group of 144,000 people who faithfully serve the Lord. They are listed in Revelation 7:1-8 and discussed again in Revelation 14:1-5.

The 144,000 have been the subject of considerable speculation. Who is this congregation of God’s people?

Identity of the 144,000

The most common view is that the 144,000 in the book of Revelation represent the church of Jesus Christ, which is understood as the true, spiritual Israel. The problem with this view is that the word Israel is never used for the church in the New Testament.

Also, it is interesting that Jews and Gentiles are clearly distinguished from one another in Revelation 7. The 144,00 Jews are listed in Revelation 7:1-8 while Revelation 7:9-17 presents an innumerable host of “every nation and tribe and people and language. Merging these two groups does not do justice to the distinction that Revelation 7 makes.

Who, then, are these 144,000 servants of God?

The Identity of the 144,000 in Revelation

If the Scriptures are interpreted literally, then the 144,000 are a literal group of 144,000 Jewish men – 12,000 from each of the twelve tribes of Israel – raised up by God during the Tribulation to serve Him.

They are not spiritual Israel (the church), but actual Israel. As John F. Walvoord says, “Israel’s tribes are still in existence, and God certainly knows who they are.”

Characteristics of the 144,000

Revelation 7:1-8 and Revelation 14:1-5 highlight six main characteristics that provide insight into the identity and ministry of these 144,000 servants of God.

1. Purchased

The 144,000 “had been purchased from the earth” (Revelation 14:3, NASB). The word purchased means to “redeem or pay the price for something.” The precious blood of Christ redeemed or purchased these servants of God. They have been bought at a price and they belong to the Lord as His special possession.

2. Prepared

The 144,000 are prepared for God’s service by being given His seal (Revelation 7:3-4).

During the Tribulation, the followers of the Beast will bear his mark on their right hand or forehead (Revelation 13:16). During this same time, the Lord will identify His people by placing a seal of ownership on their foreheads (Revelation 14:1).

It is important to note that Revelation 7 and 13 use two different Greek words distinguishing these marks from each other. In Revelation 7, God seals the 144,000 on their foreheads. The word used there, sphragizo, symbolizes the spiritual sealing mentioned throughout the New Testament (John 3:33; 6:27; 2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13; 4:30).

But in Revelation 13 where followers of the Antichrist are given a mark, the word charagma is used, which refers to a literal brand, tattoo, or etching.

The seal of the 144,000 sets them apart and prepares them for God’s service.

3. Protected

God’s seal not only prepares the 144,000 for service, but it also protects them. The seal is God’s pledge of security. God seals the 144,000 before allowing the four angels to bring their judgment on the earth (Revelation 7:1-3). The 144,000 will be protected from the wrath of God and Satan during the Tribulation (Revelation 9:4).

In Revelation 14:1-5, John sees the 144,000 at the end of the Tribulation standing triumphantly on Mount Zion – the city of Jerusalem. Notice he doesn’t see 143,999. Rather, all 144,000 have been divinely preserved by the Lord. Not one has been overlooked.

God will preserve and protect His sealed servants for seven years through the horror of the Tribulation. His pledge of security will be fulfilled.


4. Pure

The 144,000 are pure virgins who have not defiled themselves with women (Revelation 14:4). Many interpret this figuratively – meaning they are spiritually undefiled and pure, separated from the corruption and pollution of false religion.

However, Scripture’s explicit statement that they are not defiled with women suggests that they are male, celibate servants of God. In light of the pressures of the Tribulation period, they are called by God to abstain from normal married life and devote themselves totally to the Lord’s service (1 Corinthians 7:29-35).

5. Persistent

The 144,000 persevere in their service for the Lord even under the direst circumstances.

During the terrible days of the Tribulation they constantly “follow the Lamb wherever He goes” (Revelation 14:4). Jesus is the Lamb, but He is also the Shepherd. He knows the way, and the 144,000 follow Him wherever He leads.

6. Preachers

These Jewish servants fearlessly proclaim the gospel of Christ during the Tribulation period. There appears to be a cause-and-effect relationship in Revelation 7 between the 144,000 in verses 1-8 and the innumerable crowd of Gentile believers in verses 9-17.

The ministry of the 144,000 brings about salvation for millions of people. They will be the greatest evangelists the world has ever seen. These sealed servants of God will fulfill Matthew 24:14. Revelation 7 provides a panorama of God’s saving work during the Tribulation.

The 144,000 reveal God’s passion to save people even in the middle of the unspeakable judgment of the Tribulation. To the very end, the Savior will graciously continue “to seek and save those who are lost” (Luke 19:10).

Why are the 144,000 Important?

The 144,000 are important for three reasons.

First, they reveal God’s faithfulness to His promises. God seals them in Revelation 7 and keeps them to the end of the Tribulation. They make it all the way through under God’s protecting hand. God keeps His promises.

Second, we learn that even in judgment, God is merciful. God will use the 144,000 as messengers of mercy during the Tribulation. Every judgment of God beginning with Noah all the way to the Tribulation, including the judgment of God’s own Son on the cross, reveals God’s mercy.

Third, these Jewish witnesses will help fulfill the prophecy Jesus gave in Matthew 24:14. The 144,000 will spread the good news all over the globe during the Tribulation, and the end won’t come until they’re finished.


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Reference Material: The End, A Complete Overview of Bible Prophecy and the End of Days by Dr. Mark Hitchcock

The End by Mark HitchcockThe end times have seen a great amount of interest within the last two decades, but there hasn’t been a comprehensive overview of biblical prophecy and eschatology for more than five decades. Mark Hitchcock’s book is a comprehensive resource for the twenty-first century.

The End will do for eschatology what Randy Alcorn’s Heaven did for people’s understanding of heaven. It will provide a solid biblical foundation for Christians to explore the essential truths around this topic―the end of the world.