The 144,000 of Revelation

The 144,000 of Revelation

©Rhonda Pethoud 11/30/2014

I had another WOW moment this week.  I came upon an entry about the 144,000 while I was researching for this post.  It came from  – for those of you who do not know this website, it’s an international Christian ministry focused on spreading the Gospel message.  Its President is Pastor Doug Batchelor from Sacramento Central Church in California.  I’m posting the deep link to the page below this post because there’s a LOT of content on the Amazing Facts website and it would be easy to become distracted by all the other interesting  subjects.  

This page on the Amazing Facts website contains an explantion of the 12 tribes, the use of the number 12 in Revelation and in the Bible generally, and includes multiple layers of God’s handiwork that is nothing short of, well, amazing!  (Did I ever mention how much I love smart people? There must be a lot of them who write the content for Amazing Facts.)  If you know any mathletes or people who just love a great math riddle, be sure to show it to them as well.

Here’s a snippet from this site, a message that God is sending to all of us that does not appear directly in Revelation 7, but is revealed through His amazing use of Biblical language:

“I will praise the Lord for he has looked on me and granted good fortune. I am happy because my wrestling, God is making me to forget. God hears me and is joined to me. He has purchased me a dwelling and will add to me, the Son of His right hand.” 

Read the article here  to find out how God sends us this amazing and uplifting message.  To learn that I am privy to one of God’s secret messages to His people is something that makes me smile all day.  This is why your study of the Bible cannot be limited to reading a few paragraphs or pages of scripture every day.  We must dig deeper and find what God meant for us to see.

As I was listening to Dr. David Jeremiah preach recently about ” Agents of the Apocalypse” (one his sermon titles and the name of his newest book), he told about the 144,000 referred to in Revelation 7 and 14. These 144,000 always puzzled me a bit because I didn’t understand who they were – I knew they couldn’t be the total of people God allowed into heaven as some “religions” believe,  but it was difficult to understand who they are and their role in the Tribulation.   Dr. Jeremiah explained:

These 144,00 would probably be Jews;
They would come from the 12 Tribes of Israel, 12,000 from each tribe;
they will be single men who are on fire for the Lord;
they will be remnants after the rapture (those who accept Christ after the rest of the believers are caught away and taken to Heaven before the Tribulation)
and they will be responsible for bringing multitudes of souls to Christ.

Revelation 7:1–4:“After these things I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, on the sea, or on any tree. Then I saw another angel asending from the east, having the seal of the living God. And he cried 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, the sea, or the trees till we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.’ 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” (NKJV)

Revelation 14:1–5: “Then I looked, and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His Father’s name written on their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven, like the voice of many waters, and like the voice of loud thunder. And I heard the sound of harpists playing their harps. They sang as it were a new song before the throne, before the four living creatures, and the elders; and no one could learn that song except the hundred and forty-four thousand who were redeemed from the earth. These are the ones who were not defiled with women, for they are virgins. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These were redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb. And in their mouth was found no deceit, for they are without fault before the throne of God.”

But a closer reading quickly reveals that from the time of Jesus, most of the prophecies speaking of Israel are focused on the children of faith—or spiritual Israel regardless of whether they were Jew or Gentile by blood.  Here is a small sample of the many texts that establish this truth. “For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit” (Romans 2:28,29). “And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:29). The Lord told the ancient Israelites, “And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Exodus 19:6). Notice in the New Testament, Peter applies that title to spiritual Israel or the church: “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people” (1 Peter 2:9).James gives one of the most convincing Scriptures that proves that the Apostles viewed the tribes in a spiritual sense. “James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the 12 tribes which are scattered abroad, greetings” (James 1:1). The content of James’ letter is clearly addressed to Christians, and yet he plainly refers to them as spiritual Jews from 12 spiritual tribes.

Here are the names of the tribes listed for the 144,000, in the order in which Revelation 7 lists them, and their corresponding Hebrew meanings as found in Scripture: 

1. Judah means “I will praise the Lord”
2. Ruben means “He has looked on me”
3. Gad means “Given good fortune”
4. Asher means “Happy am I”
5. Naphtali means “My wrestling”
6. Manasseh means “Making me to forget”
7. Simeon means “God hears me”
8. Levi means “Joined to me”
9. Issachar means “Purchased Me”
10. Zebulun means “Dwelling”
11. Joseph means “Will add to me”
12. Benjamin means “Son of His right hand”

Now here is the amazing part. Notice what happens when you line up these meanings of the names according to the way they appear as listed in Revelation. It forms a very remarkable statement declaring how God saves the church as His bride! –   

“I will praise the Lord for he has looked on me and granted good fortune. I am happy because my wrestling, God is making me to forget. God hears me and is joined to me. He has purchased me a dwelling and will add to me, the Son of His right hand.” (As in Scripture, the words in italics are supplied for flow of thought.) 

The Number 12

In fact, the secret key to unlocking the mystery behind the 144,000 might be in the number itself. You mathematicians are going to love this section! Twelve is a perfect number for building, because it is one of the most versatile numbers. It can be evenly divided by 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, and of course 12.

An Amazing Fact

The reason there are 12 inches in the standard foot measurement is because the foot used to be based on the length of the English king’s physical foot, and that measurement constantly changed through various kings. This is also why a 12-inch measuring stick was called a “ruler.”

In Revelation 12:1, we read, “Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars.” God’s church pictured here has 12 stars above the head; these stars are a symbol of the inspired leadership of the church (1 Corinthians 11:10). 


The number 12 in the Bible almost always represents leadership of the church. There were 12 patriarchs from Shem to Jacob. In addition, 12 spies led the way to the Promised Land, and there are 12 judges from Joshua to Samuel. In Scripture, the number 12 is also often associated with God’s church, which is typically symbolized by a woman. 

There is also an interesting story in the Gospels concerning the number 12. In just one hour, Jesus healed two females with miracles associated with the number 12. First, He healed a woman who had been bleeding 12 years. From that event, He went directly to resurrect a 12-year-old girl. The first woman represented the Old Testament church with a continual flow of sacrificial blood. The young girl symbolized the New Testament church that came to life after a resurrection. They both touched Jesus that day and were made whole (Mark 5:25-42). 

In Revelation 12:1, we read, “Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars.” God’s church pictured here has 12 stars above the head; these stars are a symbol of the inspired leadership of the church (1 Corinthians 11:10). 

Another interesting clue related to the 144,000 is found in 1 Chronicles 27:1-15. Here we read that David’s army was comprised of 12 sets of 24,000, totaling 288,000. That’s two teams of 144,000. 

First Chronicles 25 tells of a literal group of “24 times 12” Levities that were to lead in praise music of the temple—that’s two times 144, which equals 288. And of course, you have two times 12, or 24 elders on thrones around the throne of God in Revelation 4:4. This represents the 12 patriarchs in the Old Testament and 12 apostles in the New Testament! 

In Matthew 19:28, Jesus says to the Apostles, “You who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” He then makes a promise to those who will come out of the last age of the church known as Laodicea, which means “judging the people.” “To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne” (Revelation 3:21). This is because the 144,000 live during the last age of the church and share the experiences of the apostles. 

In heaven, it seems that at times there will be an expanding square formation around God’s throne. First, the Lord Himself sits on His throne. Outside His throne sit the four creatures, then the 24 elders in a square around them (six to each side), and then finally the 144,000 in a perfect square (36,000 to each side). The great multitudes of saved are the last group that surrounds the 144,000. The perfect and symmetrical math of this assembly is far beyond the fisherman who wrote Revelation. 

As a final point of interest for our math majors, did you also know that in addition to the 144,000 being calculated as 12 times 12,000, it can also be achieved this way: 12 x 12 x 103 (or 10 cubed). In this way, you have God’s kingdom number (12), God’s number of completeness or wholeness (10, as in commandments), and God’s number (3 as in Godhead). I think this might be another fascinating example of God’s perfect design.

These 144,00 will be able to sing a worship song to God that no one else will be able to sing, not angels or seraphim; they alone will sing this worship song because they were faithful to God in desperate times.  Add this message to what we learn from the Amazing Facts website and we have a more complete picture of the 144,000 and the promise that God has prepared a place for us, to welcome us into His eternal Kingdom.

Isn’t it amazing that God even made provisions for those who denied Him until the bitter end – those who stubbornly refused to believe in Him until the Tribulation when events of the day left no room for doubt. Those who denied Him and have to suffer through the Tribulation will still have the opportunity to repent and ask Him for forgiveness and blessing.

Thank you God, for loving us enough to provide a way for us even when we refused to believe in you. Thank you for preparing the 144,000 to preach Your Word to those who will so badly need to hear the truth in the coming end of the age. Amen.


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