144,000 Good Men
Using salt when instructions call for sugar dramatically changes a recipe. Sugar and salt are not the same, and no amount of symbolic interpretation can make them so. You must take the words literally, or your recipe will not come out as intended. Literal interpretation is important because words mean something.
Unfortunately, many people forsake literalism when reading the Bible, creating confusion and an improper understanding of the text. This is especially true with the book of Revelation. In Revelation 7:1–8 and 14:1–5, the apostle John described in detail a specific group of 144,000 people. Many Christians say this is merely a large company of believers. Others, such as Jehovah’s Witnesses, identify themselves as the group. But the words John used make it clear that not one of these options is valid. Here is why:
- These people are sealed, saved, and Jewish—coming out of “the children of Israel” (7:4).
- John specifically listed “twelve thousand” from “all the tribes” of Israel (v. 4; cf. vv. 5–8).
- They are men who were not “defiled with women, for they are virgins” (14:4).
- They are fiercely loyal to the Lord, described as “ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes” (v. 4).
- They possess integrity and impeccable character. “In their mouth was found no deceit, for they are without fault before the throne of God” (v. 5).
- They stand victorious at the end of Daniel’s 70th week (the seven-year Tribulation). They are safe in Jerusalem, singing a “new song” of praise and victory they alone can sing on Earth when the Lord Jesus returns at the Second Coming (vv. 1, 3).
- They are redeemed early, “being firstfruits,” in order to serve the Lord during Daniel’s 70th week (v. 4).
- They have been marked with a seal on their foreheads, insuring their protection (7:3).
- They preach with great chutzpah (gall, nerve, extreme self-confidence). They preach consistently and constantly, unafraid of the consequences during this extremely dangerous time. Their message is the gospel of salvation through Messiah Jesus, and they preach it to all people left on Earth after the Rapture of the church. It is a message for everyone, regardless of nationality or creed. The result: “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” (v. 9).
- They are a light to the nations, a “light to the Gentiles,” fulfilling a purpose God always had for His Chosen People (Isa. 42:6; 49:6).
Thus 144,000 Jewish men will be separated for service and used by God for His purpose during the Great Tribulation, the “time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer. 30:7), because that is exactly what the words of the Bible say. And that is exactly what they mean.