(Rev 7:4) And I heard the number of those who were sealed. One hundred and forty-four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel were sealed.
There have been many interpretations as to who the 144,000 are in the book of Revelation. It has been typical throughout church history for certain groups to claim that they are of this privileged number. Let’s study who this group are not and then who they most likely are:
- The Jehovah’s Witnesses claim that 144,000 is a limit to the number of people who will reign with Christ in heaven and spend eternity with God. Those who are not among the 144,000 will enjoy what they call the earthly hope—a paradise on earth ruled by Christ and the 144,000.
- In Islam, 144,000 is alleged to have been the number of Sahaba (or followers) of Muhammad during his day. The number is also given as the total number of prophets in Islam.
- The number 144,000 is also significant in various New Age religious movements. For instance, The Church Universal and Triumphant teaches that Sanat Kummara and the Lords of the Flame brought 144,000 souls with them from Venus.
- The Christian Skoptsy sect in Russia believed that the Messiah would come when the Skoptsy numbered 144,000, and all their efforts were directed to reaching this total.
- Some take the 144,000 to be symbolic and believe it represents all of God's people throughout history in the heavenly Church.
- Still others take the number literally. In other words, the 144,000 are 12,000 Jews from the twelve tribes of Israel and are not the church (Rev 7:4-8). This literal view seems to fit best.
The 144,000 will probably be won to Christ through the ministries of the two witnesses who will preach during the first three and one-half years of the Tribulation (Rev 11:1-12). These 144,000 will be sealed by God for special protection and will lead multitudes to the Lord (Rev 7:9-17). In Revelation 14 the 144,000 are seen as brought safely through the Tribulation. They are characterized as being the firstfruits, preceding many other Jews who at the Lord’s second coming will turn to Him (Zech 12:10; Rom 11:26).
Let’s make something clear: You and I will not be of this number. But we can be of that other number added to the Church by the Lord by being born again (John 3:3; Acts 2:47). Then when we all get to heaven the number will far exceed the 144,000 of the Tribulation (Rev 19:6). And that’s the number I want to be in! You see it all adds up. You can count on it!!