THE RAPTURE OF THE 144,000
Chapter 14 takes the reader through the entire Tribulation one more time. We have stated repeatedly that Revelation was not written in chronological order. There are seven independent events listed in this chapter.
We leave the horrible events of chapter 13, which issue from the first and the second beast, the Antichrist and the False Prophet. That scene took place on earth. The opening events in chapter 14 take place in heaven. Jesus is seen standing in the heavenly Jerusalem on Mount Zion with His redeemed 144,000.
Tim LaHaye thinks this scene is on earth, and he takes several pages to prove that the 144,000 here are different than the ones sealed in chapter 7. He says that, of the millions who have followed Jesus in this dispensation, some were never married and would qualify as the 144,000. He says that these are certain “elite” believers of the church age who have earned this special status. In addition, he believes they follow Jesus during the Millennium. He argues that they are probably different because of the differences recorded about the two groups.
We disagree with Brother LaHaye and will give our reasons following the text.
“And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads. 2 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. 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.” (Revelation 14:1-5).
In chapter 7, a parenthetical chapter, the 144,000 are sealed prior to the opening of the first seal in chapter 6:1. It is obvious that they were sealed for ownership and protection. In 9:4 the demons are commanded to not harm the 144,000 who were sealed.
There is no reason to assume that God sealed them for protection and then allowed them to be martyred later in the Tribulation. It is also illogical that God would mention two sets of 144,000 that were sealed. The Book of Revelation is not about believers of the church dispensation; therefore, these in chapter 14 are not from the church, the body of Christ, but are the same ones sealed at the beginning of the Tribulation.
We are not told what the seal is. In chapter 14 it is the name of the Father. Whatever it means it implies their commitment to Him and His ownership of them.
They are called the “first fruits” unto God. That is, they were the first of the Jewish nation during the seven-year Tribulation to be redeemed by God and set aside for a particular ministry. We believe they will be witnesses to the rest of the nation.
John hears singing and harps playing in heaven, which sounded like the thundering of many waters. No doubt this was a beautiful and awe-inspiring sound. The 144,000 had the four beasts and twenty-four elders for their audience. The song is called “new” because it was never sung before, nor could anyone else sing it. Bible songs were an expression of some experience that had occurred in the life of the singers. Examples of this are seen in the song of Moses at the Red Sea in Exodus 15 and Deborah’s song in Judges 5.
“Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song unto the LORD, and spake, saying, I will sing unto the LORD, for he hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea. The LORD is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father’s God, and I will exalt him. The LORD is a man of war: the LORD is his name. Pharaoh’s chariots and his host hath he cast into the sea: his chosen captains also are drowned in the Red sea. The depths have covered them: they sank into the bottom as a stone. Thy right hand, O LORD, is become glorious in power: thy right hand, O LORD, hath dashed in pieces the enemy. And in the greatness of thine excellency thou hast overthrown them that rose up against thee: thou sentest forth thy wrath, which consumed them as stubble. And with the blast of thy nostrils the waters were gathered together, the floods stood upright as an heap, and the depths were congealed in the heart of the sea. The enemy said, I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil; my lust shall be satisfied upon them; I will draw my sword, my hand shall destroy them. Thou didst blow with thy wind, the sea covered them: they sank as lead in the mighty waters. Who is like unto thee, O LORD, among the gods? who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders? Thou stretchedst out thy right hand, the earth swallowed them. Thou in thy mercy hast led forth the people which thou hast redeemed: thou hast guided them in thy strength unto thy holy habitation. The people shall hear, and be afraid: sorrow shall take hold on the inhabitants of Palestina. Then the dukes of Edom shall be amazed; the mighty men of Moab, trembling shall take hold upon them; all the inhabitants of Canaan shall melt away. Fear and dread shall fall upon them; by the greatness of thine arm they shall be as still as a stone; till thy people pass over, O LORD, till the people pass over, which thou hast purchased. Thou shalt bring them in, and plant them in the mountain of thine inheritance, in the place, O LORD, which thou hast made for thee to dwell in, in the Sanctuary, O Lord, which thy hands have established. The LORD shall reign for ever and ever. For the horse of Pharaoh went in with his chariots and with his horsemen into the sea, and the LORD brought again the waters of the sea upon them; but the children of Israel went on dry land in the midst of the sea. And Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances. And Miriam answered them, Sing ye to the LORD, for he hath triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea.” (Exodus 15:1-21).
The redemption of these 144,000 is from among those on the earth and suggests a rapture. Throughout the Tribulation they have been on the earth. No doubt their purpose was to witness for God and Christ. They are now seen in the heavenly Jerusalem on Mount Zion. “But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,” (Hebrews 12:22). We believe they were caught up to that location.
They are called virgins. This may be a figure of speech illustrating their purity, by rejecting the religion of the false prophet and keeping themselves from the immorality of that religion. Homosexuality will be prevalent in the religion of the Beast and the False Prophet.
We believe, however, these are actual virgins. Jesus gave the parable of the ten virgins who waited on the Bride Groom. This special group was faithful in His absence and watched for His return. Because they were ready, they were called to “go out and meet” Him. This, no doubt, is the meaning concerning the 144,000. They are the fulfillment of the parable. (See Matthew 25:1-13.)