(Today’s post by Adam Cooper)
I am always amazed when I hear this Scripture misused as a way of stating that someone, or some group, are the chosen of God. Like there is a turnstile in the Kingdom of God and when that counter hits 144,000, the venue (Heaven) is full and no more will enter. Another way it is used is to say that only 144,000 will be allowed into the ‘inner circle’ of Christ when He reigns in the new Heaven and everyone else that has believed is relegated to watching the glory and greatness of God and Christ from the fences. Many have misused this particular verse in the past 2,000+ years to begin their own ‘religions’ that center on their group as being the ‘chosen few’ of God.
At this point in Revelation we are between the sixth and seventh seals and God’s angels have been sent to pause the onslaught of the wrath of God and to identify the chosen from the remnant of Israel. This remnant of Israel has been a constant theme within Scripture going all the way back to the beginning. One example that many will immediately recognize is the saving of Noah’s family as the world is destroyed by the great flood. Not to mention the many times Israel faithful were carried away into bondage to eventually become God’s chosen servants in an attempt to restart the nation of Israel. We constantly see God giving Israel another chance and this 144,000 is no different. In the last days being discussed in Revelation there will be a remnant of Israel of 144,000 that will be sealed for service during the great tribulation and in verses 5-8 we are given a list of the twelve tribes of Israel and told that 12,000 from each tribe will be sealed in this way: with the mark of God on their foreheads.
The remainder of Revelation 7, beginning with verse 9, discusses those who will profess faith in Christ during the great tribulation. These are gentiles. We know this because it specifies that this multitude is of, “all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues (v.9, NKJV).” We know that they profess their faith in Christ because the symbolism of the “white robe” is used to signify the propitiation of their sin made by Christ on the cross. God even makes the point of explaining who the people clothed in white are in verse 14.
The one thing both of these groups have in common is that they will both come out of the great tribulation as believers in Christ.
Throwing aside the debates and discussions about the great tribulation and the rapture and whether Christ comes before, during, or after the great tribulation; or whether the rapture occurs before, during, or after the great tribulation; or whether all of this was just some hunger induced vision that is not literal in the first place, it is important to note that these people come to belief in Christ during what will arguably be one of the most apocalyptic periods ever. Many of these people will die for their faith in Christ.
As believers today we should see Revelation 7 as being twofold: a warning and a promise. It warns us about the events of the tribulation while at the same time promising that there will be those who come to saving faith in Christ during that period. If you believe in the rapture does this promise negate your need to continually speak the good news of Christ into the lives of those you may come into contact with? Does this mean that we should sit on our hands with the mindset, “I am good I know I don’t have to worry about the tribulation. Those people will come to know Christ then so I am good! I’ll be ‘outta here’”? Or does this verse impress some urgency upon you knowing that those around you that are lost when all of this end-times stuff begins may be left to fend for themselves during the darkest time in history? To put this into perspective: would you take your brother, sister, mother, father, friend, co-worker, etc. and drop them into the middle of the most anti-Christian environment in the world and simply say, “Fend for yourself. I have tried and you haven’t listened so do it on your own now.”? Probably not. So why give up on them? Why give up on planting the seeds of the Gospel in their hearts and leave them to fend for themselves when the tribulation comes; or even worse they die before the tribulation a non-believer and are doomed to eternity in Hell.
We all have to wake up and remove the blinders from our eyes. We are in a constant struggle between good and evil, life and death, and we have to take action to make sure that those we love are with us in eternity. Pray for them. Love on them. Talk with them. Then trust in the Spirit of God to do a work in them and call them to Him.