JUST WHO ARE THE 144,000? Part 11
“And I looked, and lo a Lamb stood on Mount Zion and with Him an hundred and forty and four thousand having His Father’s name written in their foreheads,” Rev. 14:1-5.
Now we have come to the core of our study, which is the 144,000 that are standing with the Lamb. So who are they? Are they only 144,000 or the number is figurative?
A LOOK AT THE THOUSAND FIGURES IN SCRIPTURES
Let me first state here that in APOCALYPTIC LITERATURE, and the Book of Revelation being one of them, the thousand represents ideas and not arithmetical values.
Take for instance when the relations of Rebecca prayed for her as they were sending her away with Abraham’s servant to Isaac in marriage, they said unto her,
“…Thou art our sister, be thou the mother of thousands of millions, and let thy seed possess the gate of those which hate them,” Gen. 24:60.
What can we understand by this? “Thousands of millions” is certainly not a literal number, but something that is infinite and that is directly connected to the prosperity of the Kingdom, which has no end in terms of arithmetical calculation.
Even as Rebecca was a type of the Church and a wife to Isaac, who was a figure of Christ. So the idea behind it is that which is incalculable because, “…the increase of His government, there shall be no end” (Isa. 9:7).
At the slaughter of Goliath by David, the women came out of all the cities dancing and singing at the return of David from the slaughter when Abner presented him to Saul. We are told,
“The women answered one another as they played and said Saul hath slain his thousands and David his ten thousands,” 1Sam. 18:7.
But how many people did David really kill? David simply killed one man – Goliath. The comparison here is that while Saul has been fighting the Philistines with occasional defeats, the greatest problem Israel had was Goliath who had so cowed the army of Israel as to making them to hide in holes.
So this one man was more or less the whole of the Philistines put together, for he was their backbone. So destroying Goliath is equal to destroying the entire army of the Philistines. Therefore, we can see that the value of the ten thousands of David’s slaughter here as compared to that of Saul is the strength and might of Goliath, not a literal number. I pray God will help us to understand.
Again, in Ps. 50 God was talking about those who brought abundance of sacrifices to Him instead of thanksgiving and prayer which he demands. In verse 10 we read;
“For every beast of the forest is mine and the CATTLE UPON A THOUSAND HILLS” (KJV); or
“Since all the forest animals are already mine, and the cattle on my mountains in their thousands…” (JB).
The idea behind this verse is that God owns everything and there is nothing you are presenting to God that is not His own in the first place. Meaning you are only a custodian of God’s possessions; therefore, you do not need to pride yourself as if you are giving Him anything.
For the earth and the fullness thereof belongs to God” (v. 12). So to talk of the “cattle upon a thousand hills” does not mean that other cattle that are not on these thousand hills do not belong to Him. Therefore, the cattle is not a numerical value neither are the hills.
In Ps. 68:17-18 we read, “God’s Chariots being in twenty thousand, even thousands of angels, the Lord is among them as in Sinai, in the holy place.” What number is twenty thousand, even thousands as compared to those who were with Him in Mt. Sinai?
At the base of Mt. Sinai we are told,
“He came with ten thousand of Saints; from His right hand went a fiery Law for them,” Dt. 33:2.
Compare Jude 14. The picture here is that of the children of Israel who came out of Egypt’s bondage. Now were there only ten thousand or more? About two million people came out of Egypt. Is that ten thousand?
However we do realize that the ten thousands refer to the children of Israel as they came out of Egypt. In the same vein, you can see that “the twenty thousand, even thousand of angels” is here referring to the Saints of the New Testament as we are led out of the captivity of sin.
Psalm 68:18 makes that plain,
“Thou hast ascended on high, thou has led captivity captive; thou has received gifts for men, yea, for the rebellious also, that the – LORD GOD might dwell among them.”
This is clearly what Paul wrote about when he talked of the death, resurrection and the ascension of Christ and the eventual release of the Holy Spirit upon men and the giving of the five fold Ministry of Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor and Teacher to the Church – the world (Eph. 4:8-11).
So if we can agree that the “twenty thousand, even thousand of angels” speaks of the Saints of the NT, what literal number constitute the fullness of the New Testament Church?
Once again, this number speaks of that which is infinite. For the word
“chariot” used here in the Hebrew is rekeb – which means a vehicle, by implication a team, by extension Calvary, by analogy a rider, MULTITUDE – a great number; numerousness; a crowd; an assemblage” Are you seeing it?
So the figure is that of a great multitude of Saints that are with the Lord. The Lord’s ascension in the above passage speaks of His enthronement as a King. Compare Ps. 24:7-10; 68:17-18.
And those around the throne constitute the “twenty thousand, even thousands of angels.” This is what Daniel wrote about as constituting the Court of God in the heavens.
“A fiery stream issued and came forth from before Him; thousand thousands ministered unto Him; and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him; the judgement was set, and the books were opened,” Dan. 7:10.
Please compare 1 Kgs. 22:19, where this number is simply called “the host of heaven” wherein a court was in session to judge wicked King Ahab.
So who do you think this host of heaven is? They are simply the saints of God. Even as the word of God says, “Do ye not know that the Saints shall judge the world? … Know ye not that we shall judge angels?” 1Cor. 6:2-3. “For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgement unto the Son” (Jn. 5:22).
And the Son is in His body the Church. Even as “He is the head of the body, the Church,” Col. 1:18.
Again, you can see that the “thousand thousands … and ten thousand” who stood before God that Daniel wrote about could never be in literal arithmetical calculation. It is figurative of the host of, or multitude of people.
Paul employed this figurative application of the use of thousands when writing to the Corinthians. In his words, “For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ; ye have not many fathers…” (1Cor. 4:15). Now Paul did not mean they had a literal ten thousand men coming to preach and teach the Corinthians outside of him.
Rather, there were many people coming into this church he established with the sound doctrine of Christ and teaching other things, and yet the Corinthians because of their spiritual immaturity irrespective of the abundance of the gift of the Holy Ghost were just swallowing everything.
In other words, many people were coming to them as supposed ministers of the Gospel. Even in 1Cor. 14:19, he used the same language when he said, “…in the Church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue.”
Paul was not going to count the words he speaks in the Church such that when he gets to the number five, he would stop. Rather the five here do not only speak of fewness but that which carried with it an amount of Grace to the edifying of the hearers, even as five is the number of Grace.
In other words, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with GRACE in your heart to the Lord,” Col. 3:16.
Speaking multitudes of words (ten thousands) in an unknown tongue is of no benefit to a congregational worship,
“For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God; for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the Spirit he speaketh mysteries …He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the Church,” 1Cor. 14:2, 4.
In light of the above therefore when we read, “In my vision, I heard the sound of an immense number of angels gathered round the throne… there were ten thousand times ten thousand of them and thousands upon thousands shouting, the Lamb that was crucified is worthy to be given power, riches, wisdom, strength, honour, glory and blessing,” Rev. 5:11,JB.
What do you think we are talking about? Who are these “thousands and thousands and thousands.” They are simply all those who make up the Church of Christ universally both Celestial and Terrestrial who have attained to the resurrection life of the Lord by reason of His redemptive blood.
Here we all are declaring the glory due him because of His Sacrifice on our behalf. So we can see that the ten thousands as a number is only symbolic of that which is numerous and not just a literal figure.
Next will be “THE 144,000 – GOD’S SPIRITUAL ISRAEL.”
To be continued…