Who are the 144,000? Jewish evangelists, Christians sealed from Wrath, or the first fruits of the Jewish remnant who are saved?
Who are the 144,000?
I propose they are the first fruits of the Jewish remnant who are saved AND raptured along with the church. Ninety-nine percent of Prophecy teachers will scoff at this idea. It is “common knowledge” among most teachers that that unsaved Jewish remnant will repent at the physical Second Coming when Jesus comes to fight Armageddon and will not participate in the Rapture. And I agree that “most” of the Jewish remnant will repent at that point. But not all, however. Some will repent earlier.
Even though (as you will see in this article) there is evidence in Scripture that a portion of the Jewish remnant will participate in the rapture, this isn’t considered by most because that would be inconsistent with the pretribulation and post-tribulation rapture theories.
However, in our LAST ARTICLE “When Will The Jewish Remnant Repent?” we began to examine this question in detail and learned that the unsaved Jewish remnant will mourn :
- After the Great Tribulation
- After the Cosmic Signs of the Sixth Seal
- When Jesus comes on the clouds
- But before the Trumpet and Bowl Judgments, and
- At least 5 months prior to the physical second coming.
This doesn’t answer the question of when they will repent, however. Mourning and repentance unto faith are different things. Mourning is great sadness, grief, and regret. Mourning and regret may lead to repentance and faith, but it is a process and may not be immediate (if at all).
Will the Jewish Remnant be Raptured?
In order for any of the unsaved Jewish remnant to be raptured, however, they must come to faith in Jesus prior to the Rapture. Amos tells us that the unsaved Jews will enter the Wrath of the God and the Day of the Lord:
Alas, you who are longing for the day of the Lord, for what purpose will the day of the Lord be to you? It will be darkness and not light; as when a man flees from a lion and a bear meets him. (Rev. 5:18-19)
So certainly not all unsaved Jews will repent and be raptured. In fact there is only circumstantial evidence that any unsaved Jews will repent in time to be raptured. But there is some evidence that a few of them might be! Let’s look at that evidence together.
And I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, having the seal of the living God; and he cried out with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea, saying, “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees until we have sealed the bond-servants of our God on their foreheads.” And I heard the number of those who were sealed, one hundred and forty-four thousand sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel. (Rev. 7:2-4)
“Sealed” is usually a term which means saved (Eph. 1:13, Eph. 4:30, 2 Cor. 1:22). Why are these 144,000 (and only these 144,000) chosen for the seal and why are they called bondservants if they are apostate Jews? The answers may be that these are those who place their faith in Jesus when he appears in the sky prior to the Rapture.
Later in Revelation, we encounter the 144,000 again.
Then I looked, and behold, on Mount Zion stood the Lamb, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads . . . These have been redeemed from mankind as first fruits for God and the Lamb, (Rev. 14:1,4)
This time we are told the seal on the heads of 144,000 has Jesus’s name as well as the Father’s, they are saved at this point. We are also told they were redeemed as “first fruits.” The first fruits offerings that took place in ancient Israel were at once the giving to God of the first of the harvest and second were a “pledge” that the rest of the harvest would come in.
If we apply this meaning to the 144,000, they would be the first of the harvest that begins at the resurrection and the rapture. But what crop are we discussing? Since they are a distinctly Jewish group made up of the twelve tribes, it is a Jewish harvest. This leaves two possibilities. They are either the first 144,000 Jews ever saved who met the special criteria given in Rev. 14 (follow Jesus, not defiled, etc.) and are resurrected or they are the first living Jews saved upon the appearance of Jesus in the sky “when every eye shall see him.”
If it is the first meaning, the group would include Peter, Paul, John, etc. The problem with this first interpretation is why would the seal of God be applied to this group only after their resurrection? This makes no sense, they had the seal of God applied during their earthly life. So this strongly implies the second meaning.
If it is the second meaning , it is the first fruits of the harvest that begins when the fullness of the gentiles has come in; the moment after which the partial hardening is lifted. After the partial hardening is lifted, then they can come to faith.
Lest you be wise in your own sight, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written, “The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will banish ungodliness from Jacob” (Rom. 11:25-26)
The term “fullness of the gentiles has come in” is a harvest term, the “gathering in” of the crop. So the Jewish harvest begins after the full number of gentiles to be harvested have been saved. It would be at this point, that the “first fruits” of that Jewish harvest would apply; the first fruits of those who had been partially hardened, but now these will come to faith in Jesus. The use of the common term “Zion” in Rom. 11 and Rev. 14 makes me think this is the what John was referring to in Rev. 14:1.
So there is a first fruits and a main gathering of the harvest of the remnant.
Will the Jewish Remnant be Raptured?
All of Israel” is not saved when Jesus comes on the clouds (Rev. 6:16, Rev. 1:7, Matt. 24:30, Mark 13:26), but might the “first fruits” harvest of the 144,000 apostate Jews be saved at this point? Might they also be raptured?
The prophet Joel is rather specific about this. Prior to Jesus coming on the clouds, God will send his Spirit in the form of dreams and visions:
And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. (Joel 2:28)
Jesus is currently doing this among the Muslim people in a mighty move of the Spirit, but Joel is specific that this phenomenon will happen to all flesh including the apostate Jews as we clearly see it shall affect “your old men” and “your young men.” This move of the Spirit will prepare the apostate remnant for what comes next:
And I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. (Joel 2:30-31)
After the great move of the Spirit of grace depicted in Joel 2:28 and Zech. 12:10 comes the Celestial Earthly Distrubance, the sixth seal of Rev. 6:12-15 and Matt. 24:29.
Then Joel answers our question for us:
And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the Lord has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the Lord calls. (Joel 2:32)
Joel is specific that after the sixth seal, everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord Jesus shall be saved and ESCAPE. What shall they escape? Why the coming Day of the Lord (Wrath of God), of course!! That’s what’s listed just one verse earlier. And the only way of escape is through the rapture, so Joel is telling us that “there shall be those who escape” in Mount Zion (another reference to Rev. 14:1). I now believe these are the 144,000 who are sealed in Revelation 7:1-8.
The Testimony of Revelation
If we look at the events of Rev. 6:12 – Rev. 7:17, we clearly see this scenario played out in exact chronological order.
- The sixth seal is opened and sun darkening, moon to blood event (The Celestial Earthly Disturbance) takes place (Rev. 6:12-14, Matt. 24:29, Joel 2:30-31).
- Jesus is seen coming on the clouds of heaven and all the tribes of the earth mourn (Rev. 6:15-17, Matt. 24:29-30, Rev. 1:7). Rev. 1:7 is clear this is the event pictured in Zech. 12:10 because John quotes it.
- A select group, 144,000 apostate Jews, are sealed at this point, which we previously showed is linked to salvation, meaning that they repent at this point. (Rev. 7:1-8). They are the ones who call upon the Name of the Lord, Jesus, at this point. (Joel 2:32)
- This small group of first fruits of the Jewish remnant is then raptured into heaven with the saints of all the ages. (Rev. 7;9-17) They “escape” the Day of the Lord (Joel 2:32)
This then fulfills this ancient prophecy from Isaiah:
In that day the Lord will start his threshing from the flowing stream of the Euphrates to the brook of Egypt, and you will be gathered up one by one, O sons of Israel. It will come about also in that day that a great trumpet will be blown, and those who were perishing in the land of Assyria and who were scattered in the land of Egypt will come and worship the Lord in the holy mountain at Jerusalem. (Isa. 27:12-13)
This is the same gathering together that takes place in Matt. 24:31 and is mentioned in 2 Thess. 2:1 as well. Then the 144,000 are specifically depicted in heaven in Rev. 14:
And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders; and no one could learn the song except the one hundred and forty-four thousand who had been purchased from the earth. (Rev. 14:3)
This verse shows two things. First that the 144,000 are specifically in heaven with the living creatures. This cannot be an earthly scene. Then second, it shows them playing harps, an activity that requires bodies. They aren’t souls, they are in resurrection bodies. They have been raptured.
Neither the pretrib. nor post-trib. rapture positions expect this nor have an answer for why this group of first fruits is in heaven prior to Armageddon.
This understanding also makes another mysterious passage clear.
I say then, they did not stumble so as to fall, did they? May it never be! But by their transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make them jealous. (Rom. 11:11)
Are the Jews currently jealous of Christians? No, they aren’t. But Rom. 10 and Deut. 32 also mention this jealousy. When does it happen? Why at the rapture as well. The Rapture is a very visible event (contrary to pretrib. thinking). All the world will witness the Rapture of the saints to the side of Jesus in the air. It is at that moment that the Jews will become jealous of the physical salvation of Christians. It is only then that they could become jealous.
Now that it has been clearly established that the Rapture is prewrath, many other end time events come into clear focus. So who are the 144,000? They are the first fruits of the Jewish remnant who repent and are raptured along with the church.