The 144,000 who were sealed: Israelites, or
the congregation of the Last Days? / Reply, Marcus Franz 00, 2000-07-11
Table - The Great Tribulation – classified by events.
The 144,000 who were sealed: symbolic
understanding or not? / Reply, Marcus Franz 01, 2000-07-25
Will the Rapture take place before the Great Tribulation? -
I must confess that you are right: I can justify my interpretation only
indirectly, without the support of exact biblical passages. Let me first say once more that I do
not want to dispute Israel’s rights in the least. Quite to the contrary: I am very well
disposed to Israel, and have been privileged to visit the country twice. About my
interpretation: I think that the congregation at the time of the seventh trumpet will be
translated, so until that point it must still be living on earth (you will find the detailed
justification of this on my website). When the judgment of the fifth trumpet occurs, it is
stated that it falls only on those who do NOT have the seal of God on their foreheads (Rev 9,4),
at a time, then, when the congregation must still be living on earth.
If the sealing is to be literally understood (limited to Israelites in the literal sense), one would arrive at a conclusion which I find quite inconceivable - namely, that God will protect Israel in this close of the age while at the same time delivering over his congregation, which has already been most sorely afflicted, without any form of protection to the torments of a demonic host. Consequently I believe a symbolic interpretation of the sealing is preferable. An indication of this might be found in the passage in Romans 11, 17-24, where we are told that the converted Gentiles have in a spiritual sense been grafted onto the olive tree (Israel). This of course should not lead to any mingling of Israel and the congregation - see in this connection the part of my website relating to Israel
(Marcus Franz, XXXXmarcus1973@t-online.de / https://www.marcus1973.privat.t-online.de/endzeit.html).
(See also Discourse 08: "The gathering of Israel:
already since 1948, or not to happen until the Last Days?")
The question who is to be subsumed under these 144,000 is one that can be traced
through all the various denominations. While for Protestants and the free churches it is the "congregation",
the Jehovah’s Witnesses have restricted the membership of this group to their "elect brethren".
The catholic-apostolic church also sees it as a selection of the "spiritual" Israel, while the
Adventists and the Catholic church, naturally enough, see it as a reference to their own believers.
Here now is the text - just to remind ourselves for a moment of what is stated there:
One hundred and forty-four thousand sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel.
Rev 7,1 After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of
the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth, so that no wind would blow on the earth or on
the sea or on any tree. 7,2 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, 7,3 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."
7,4 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:
7,5 From the tribe of Judah, twelve thousand were sealed, from the tribe of Reuben twelve thousand, from the tribe of Gad twelve thousand, 7,6 from the tribe of Asher twelve thousand, from the tribe of Naphtali twelve thousand, from the tribe of Manasseh twelve thousand, 7,7 from the tribe of Simeon twelve thousand, from the tribe of Levi twelve thousand, from the tribe of Issachar twelve thousand, 7,8 from the tribe of Zebulun twelve thousand, from the tribe of Joseph twelve thousand, from the tribe of Benjamin, twelve thousand were sealed. Rev 7, 1- 8;
(See also Chapter 06: "The return of the Lord."
/ The marriage feast of the Lamb / The 144,000 first fruits to God and the Lamb.)
So although what we have here is a meticulously exact listing of the twelve tribes
of Israel, from whom these "first fruits to God and the Lamb" are taken, attempts are repeatedly
made to see in this a symbol of the congregation - and more than that, of the "congregation of
all time". The circumstance that these bond-servants of God are of Israel is reinterpreted, in the
supposed sense that in early Christian times the congregation of Jews and Gentiles together was
given the honorary appellation "Israel".
The fact that we have to do here only with 144,000 bond-servants of God, whereas in
the "entire congregation of Christ" one would probably need to accommodate millions, is again
interpreted as a "great number" and an "unmutilated wholeness" with reference to the
congregation, so that what it symbolically expresses is that "God forgets none of his congregation".
This interpretation of the 144,000 as the "congregation of all time", however,
can be refuted with the utmost ease, seeing that these 144,000 are again referred to - indirectly
- in Rev 9,3-4, in the description of the plagues of the fifth trumpet.
They were told to hurt only the men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads.
Rev 9.3 Then out of the smoke came locusts upon the earth, and power
was given them, as the scorpions of the earth have power. 9.4 They were told not to hurt
the grass of the earth, nor any green thing, nor any tree, but only the men who do not have the seal
of God on their foreheads. Rev 9, 3- 4;
Here then only those people are affected who do not have this seal of
God. We must therefore conclude in reverse that all those with the seal - namely,
the 144,000 of whom we are speaking - must still be living on earth, and these therefore cannot
include - either symbolically or otherwise - the "congregation of all time".
As for the interpretation of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and all those denominations who see here an "elect multitude" of their own members, we need not discuss it here, seeing that this point of view condemns itself automatically.
This leaves the interpretation which sees in these 144,000 the members of the congregation of the Last Days. And here the argument given above, coming from Marcus Franz, cannot be dismissed out of hand. If we are to take the text literally, so as to see these "first fruits to God and the Lamb" as actually being only Israelites of the twelve tribes, would it be conceivable " that God will protect Israel in this close of the age while at the same time delivering over his congregation, which has already been most sorely afflicted, without any form of protection to the torments of a demonic host"? That is to say, if these 144,000 are only Israelites, there are only two possibilities for the faithful of the congregation of the Last Days: either they have been already translated before this point, or they will have to undergo these "torments".
I.e. if these 144,000 sealed are only Israelites, then that leaves just two alternatives for the faithful of the congregation of the Last Days: either they have already been raptured before, or they will have to undergo these “torments” on the Day of God’s Wrath.
But in contrast with the earlier interpretation, on the basis of the latest findings here at Immanuel.at the Second Coming of the Lord and the Rapture of the end-time congregation are understood as occurring at the 6th seal. And this now also confirms the first alternative mentioned above: the congregation is here, at the time of the sealing of the 144,000, already in heaven, before the throne of God.
(See also discourse 05: "The
parallel course of events of Mt 24 and Rev 6 and 7.")
|The tribulation of those days - Seal #1: The man of lawlessness / 2, 3, 4, 5: The begining of the birth pangs / 6: The Rapture||The day of the
|< 1st seal >
White horse: rider has a bow. A crown is given to him, he goes out conquering and to conquer.
|< 2nd seal >
Red horse: takes peace from the earth. A great sword is given to him, men slay one another
|< 3rd seal >
Black horse: a pair of scales in his hand, wheat and barley expensive but oil and wine not damaged.
|< 4th seal >
Ashen horse: Death, and Hades follow. Authority over 1/4 of the earth, wild beasts, famine, pestilence
|< 5th seal >
Underneath of the altar: martyrs call for judgment. They wear a white robe, rest until their brethren are killed too
Great earthquake: sun is black, moon is like blood, stars fall, sky is rolled up, mountains, islands moved
|< 7th> seal >
Silence in heaven 1/2 hour Incense on the altar 7 angels with 7 trumpets thunder, sounds, lightning
|The two witnesses of God
prophesy for twelve hundred and sixty days clothed in sackcloth (?)
|< 1st trumpet >
Hail, fire, mixed with blood 1/3 of the earth burned up 1/3 of the trees burned up all green grass burned up
|< 2nd trumpet >
Mountain burning falls into sea, 1/3 of the sea blood 1/3 of sea-creatures died 1/3 of ships destroyed
|< 3rd trumpet >
Torch-star from heaven 1/3 of rivers wormwood 1/3 of springs worm- wood, many men died.
|< 4th trumpet >
Sun, moon, stars: 1/3 of them darkened for 1/3 of the day and 1/3 of the night
|< 5th trumpet / 1 woe
Star with the key of the pit: smoke darkens the sun, locusts hurt only the men without the seal for 5 months.
|< 6th trumpet / 2 woe
Angels from Euphrates: fire smoke and brimstone killed 1/3 of mankind, the rest of mankind did not repent.
|< 7th trumpet / 3 woe
World's kingdom is God's. God's wrath has come. Time for judging the dead. Thunder, sounds, lightning
|The day of the wrath of God - The
dominion of the demonic Antichrist / Death of the 2 witnesses / The nations tread
Jerusalem under foot
|< 1st bowl >
Poured out on the earth: a loathsome, malignant sore on people who had the mark of the beast.
|< 2nd bowl >
Poured out into the sea: becomes blood like that of a dead man, every living thing in the sea died.
|< 3rd bowl >
Into rivers and springs: the waters became blood. They poured out blood of saints: they now have blood to drink
|< 4th bowl >
Poured out upon the sun: men scorched with heath they blasphemed the name of God and did not repent.
|< 5th bowl >
On the throne of the beast: kingdom became darkened, men have pain blasphemed God and did not repent.
|< 6th bowl >
On the river Euphrates: its water was dried up so the way is prepared for the kings from the east.
|< 7th bowl >
Lightning, sounds, thunder great earthquake as never before, no islands, no mountains
|The returned Antichrist: death of the two
after 6th seal
No harm to earth, sea trees, until the 144'000 are sealed. Those out of the Great Tribulation before the throne. The Lamb will guide them to springs of water of live God will wipe every tear from their eyes
after 6th trumpet
(Rev 10:1-11; 11:1-14;) A mighty angel in a cloud. At the sound of the 7th trumpet the mystery of God is finished. There will be delay no longer. The two witnesses will be killed by the beast Earthquake in Jerusalem
after 7th trumpet
(Rev 12:1-17; 13:1-18; 14:1-20; 15:1-8;)
The woman and the dragon, the fall of Satan and his angels. The beast out of the sea overcomes the saints. Antichrist and false prophet: the dominion of the two beasts. The Lamb and the 144'000 standing on Mount Zion. Three angels: gospel, judgment has come, Babylon is fallen. Blessed who die Beginning of the judgment, the Son of Man reaps the earth. Those who had been victorious over the beast and its image sing Moses' song The 7 angels with the 7 bowls of the wrath of God. No one was able to enter the temple until the 7 plagues were finished.
after 6th bowl
Satan, Antichrist and false prophet send spirits of demons performing signs to the kings of the whole world to gather them together for the war on the great Day of God to the place which is called Armageddon.
after 7th bowl
(Rev 17:1-18; 18:1-24;)
The fall of Babylon
(Rev 19:1-21; 20:1-15;)
Battle Armageddon Antichrist
false prophet in lake of fire
Judgment, 1st Resurrection
Last fight, Last Judgment
(Rev 21:1-27; 22:1-21;)
The New Creation
These statements are also confirmed, in a particularly striking
way, in two biblical passages that follow one another directly. On the one hand
we have the scriptural statement in Rev 9,1-8 about the sealing of the 144,000
Israelites, quoted earlier, and on the other, immediately following this and
hence at the same time, in Rev 9,9-17, we have the congregation in heaven,
already raptured up at the Second Coming of the Lord, at the 6th seal, before
the throne of God:
The ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
Rev 7,9 After these things I looked, and
behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all
tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb,
clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands; 7,10 and
they cry out with a loud voice, saying, "Salvation to our God who sits on the
throne, and to the Lamb." 7,11 And all the angels were standing around the
throne and around the elders and the four living creatures; and they fell on
their faces before the throne and worshiped God,7,12 saying, "Amen, blessing and
glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might, be to our God
forever and ever. Amen."
7,13 Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, "These who are clothed in the white robes, who are they, and where have they come from?" 7,14 I said to him, "My lord, you know." And he said to me, "These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 7,15 "For this reason, they are before the throne of God; and they serve Him day and night in His temple; and He who sits on the throne will spread His tabernacle over them. 7,16 "They will hunger no longer, nor thirst anymore; nor will the sun beat down on them, nor any heat; 7,17 for the Lamb in the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and will guide them to springs of the water of life; and God will wipe every tear from their eyes." Rev 7,9-17;
The above fears of Marcus Franz: "that God will protect Israel
in this close of the age while at the same time delivering over his
congregation, which has already been most sorely afflicted, without any form of
protection to the torments of a demonic host" are therefore completely
unfounded. As Paul promises in 1The 5,9, God has not appointed us to wrath.
For God has not destined us for wrath.
1The 5,9 For God has not destined us for wrath,
but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1The 5,9;
And also this promise of Paul confirms the new interpretation of
the Second Coming of the Lord and the Rapture at the 6th seal. The Day of the
Lord is this day of the wrath of God. And it begins after the Rapture, with the
first trumpet judgment and ends with the last, the seventh bowl judgment (Rev
And although I am now – in contrast to Markus Franz not an outspoken friend of Israel, because Israel will joyfully welcome the Antichrist as their "Messiah" in the Last Days and thus expose the world to the wrath of God, I will therefore not falsify the statements of the Bible.
Therefore, in order to be able to prove the identity of these 144,000 sealed as Israelites even better, let us look at the second text in Revelation, which explicitly speaks of this group of people.
These have been purchased from among men as first fruits to God and to the Lamb.
Rev 14;1 Then I looked, and behold, the Lamb was standing on Mount
Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His name and the name of His
Father written on their foreheads. 14,2 And I heard a voice from heaven, like the sound of many
waters and like the sound of loud thunder, and the voice which I heard was like the sound of
harpists playing on their harps. 14,3 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. 14,4 These are the ones who have
not been defiled with women, for they have kept themselves chaste. These are the ones who follow the
Lamb wherever He goes. These have been purchased from among men as first fruits to God and to the
Lamb. 14,5 And no lie was found in their mouth; they are blameless. Rev 14,1-5;
These then are the "first fruits to God and the Lamb", who have "not been
defiled with women", who are "chaste" and follow the Lamb. They have been purchased from among
men for God and the Lamb, and no lie has been found in their mouth, they are blameless.
Now that is a catalogue of superlative qualities in respect of faith and character, and it can hardly be believed that we actually have to do here with human beings in the flesh. Still more when we reflect that we find ourselves here in a time of the affliction of the faithful. But we can learn still more from this passage. Whereas earlier on, in Rev 7,3, we are told in connection with the sealing that these bond-servants of God have been sealed "on their foreheads", here in Rev 14,1 it is more precisely stated that those who are sealed bear the name of the Son and the name of the Father.
And here we now meet with the next clue. In the epistle to the angel of the congregation in Philadelphia, in Rev 3,10-13, this distinction is also promised to those who have overcome, whom the Lord will make a column (pillar) in the temple of his God.
And I will write on him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, and My new name.
Rev 3,10 ‘Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also
will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to
test those who dwell on the earth. 3,11 ‘I am coming quickly; hold fast what you have, so that no
one will take your crown. 10,12 ‘He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My
God, and he will not go out from it anymore; and I will write on him the name of My God, and the
name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God, and My
new name. 10,13 ‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’ Rev
Who then are these ones who overcome, of the congregation in Philadelphia, and what
is the congregation in Philadelphia? Let us examine the rest of the epistle:
He who is holy, who is true, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens, says this.
Rev 3,7 And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write:
He who is
holy, who is true, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no
one opens, says this: 3,8 ‘I know your deeds. Behold, I have put before you an open door which
no one can shut, because you have a little power, and have kept My word, and have not denied My
name. 3,9 ‘Behold, I will cause those of the synagogue of Satan, who say that they are
Jews and are not, but lie - I will make them come and bow down at your feet, and make
them know that I have loved you. .Rev 3, 7- 9;
In the introduction to each of the individual epistles the Lord presents himself to
the congregation in question with a quite special property, a hallmark which has special application
for this specific congregation. Here, with the congregation in Philadelphia, the Lord presents
himself as "he who is holy, who is true, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut,
and who shuts and no one opens". Now what is this meant to convey? We know this saying from the
Old Testament, Isa 22,20-22:
(See also Excursus 02: "The seven Letters to the
Then I will set the key of the house of David on his shoulder.
Isa 22,20 Then it will come about in that day, That I will summon My
servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, 22,21 And I will clothe him with your tunic And tie your sash
securely about him. I will entrust him with your authority, And he will become a father to the
inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the house of Judah.
22,22 Then I will set the key of the house of David on his shoulder, When he opens no one will shut, When he shuts no one will open. Isa 22,20-22;
This is a statement made by the God of Israel, in which he declares the replacement
of Shebna, the corrupt overseer and deputy of the king of Israel, by the righteous Eliakim the son
of Hilkiah. The exact details are not of significance here: what is significant is the fact that
this statement made by the God of Israel is at the same time a prophecy concerning Jesus Christ, who
will likewise replace corrupt rulers and establish a righteous dominion over Israel and the whole
world in the Millennium.
As can now easily be recognized, this hallmark of the "key of David" is only meaningful to Jews or Jewish Christians (messianic Jews) who understand what is behind it and as a result know who is here speaking to them. This view receives added support from an earlier passage in this epistle. In Rev 3,9 the Lord says that he will send certain persons from the synagogue of Satan. The synagogue too is of course a typically Jewish expression, and would have no significance for Gentile Christians.
But then we are told in Rev 3,9 above, of those persons from the synagogue of Satan, whom the Lord will send to them, that "they say that they are Jews, and are not, but lie". Here we are quite close to the theme that concerns us. One could apply this passage in the first place to the "secularized" and unbelieving Jews who wear the yarmulka on their heads at every opportunity offered but are just as corrupt outside the synagogue - whether in business or in politics - as their forefather Shebna.
We must however ask, for the sake of objectivity, whether this judgment might not apply to other groups as well who pretend to see themselves as "Jews" in order to lay claim to the promises God has made to this people. There are also some Christian groups, incidentally, who claim that they themselves are this congregation of Philadelphia.
Now the features that the 144,000 of the twelve tribes of Israel who were sealed and the Jewish Christian congregation in Philadelphia have in common are twofold: the seal on their foreheads bearing the name of God and the Lord Jesus, and the exceptionally close relationship to the Lord which both enjoy. Of the congregation in Philadelphia the Lord says expressly that he loves them (Rev 3,9), and of those who were sealed we are not just told that they are the "first fruits to God and the Lamb" from the earth and purchased from among men: they are also the only ones permitted to sing the new song (Rev 14,3) and the only ones who stand with the Lord on Mount Zion (Rev 14,1).
Let us then state in conclusion that these 144,000 are not just “Israel” in general, but a select group of Israelites of the Last Days who believe in Christ/the Messiah, distinguished by their exceptional faith and personal qualities, who (perhaps even at the time of their birth?) were picked out by God and the Lord Jesus to be their first fruits (the very first!) of humanity.
(See also Discourse 15: "Who is the 'bride of the
As I have said before - it is a very difficult passage. Your arguments have
something to be said for them, and it is of course quite possible that you may be right and that
the sealing is really reserved to believers who are of Israel and represents a special
protection for these individuals. On the other hand, I continue to think that a symbolic
understanding of these passages is not out of the question. In the end the future will reveal
which understanding is the correct one.
(Marcus Franz, XXXXmarcus1973@t-online.de / https://www.marcus1973.privat.t-online.de/endzeit.html).
Quite right! – But I must add, on a final note, that for me
these 144,000 Israelites – 12,000 from each of the 12 tribes of Israel – are not
only chosen “believers from Israel”, but I think that they are the “Bride of the
Lamb” as well. A Christian position, which since the beginning has always and
exclusively been attributed to the “congregation”.
Of course I have met with bitter opposition on this account from Christian circles, as you can read in the discourse on this subject.
(See also Discourse 15: "Who is the ‘bride of the Lamb’?")
The bride of the Lamb.
The Christian church is the "corps of Christ":