The 144,000


In Revelation 7 and 14 we learn much about the 144,000.

Here is a verse by verse breakdown of the most important information about them.

Who shall be able to stand?

The explanation of who the 144,000 are, starts with a simple question in Revelation 6, which is also the last verse of that chapter.

For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?
– Revelation 6:17

The answer is given in the next chapter, Revelation 7, and it is the 144,000.

The wrath of God refers to the seven plagues. Note that the wrath of God is different from the great tribulation we will all go through together. The wrath of God is mainly for the wicked, but the 144,000 are also still alive during that time.

The 144,000

And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree.
– Revelation 7:1

The first thing to note is that, through the angels, God is in control. Even satan is restricted as to what he is allowed to do.

The four corners of the earth refer to North, East, South, and West. Not literal in other words.

The winds of strife (or trouble), are being held back, waiting for something.

And I saw another angel ascending 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 given to hurt the earth and the sea, Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.
– Revelation 7:2-3

Here we learn that the 144,000 are servants of God. To serve God is to serve others (God uses man to get to man). God normally chooses laymen to serve Him. Some of the apostles were fishermen for example. The repentance of troubled sinful men, also make for better testimonies about what God has done in their lives. All the glory goes to God.

Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.
– Romans 8:33

The phrase “God’s elect” can also be translated as “those whom God has chosen”.

No matter what they’ve done, God will make them righteous.

When Jesus says “Follow Me” he means it.

And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men. And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him.
– Luke 5:10

The 144,000 will preach the Gospel one final time, and then the end will come.

And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.
– Matthew 24:14

God is clearly warning His people to come out of the Babylon churches (those that believe in a rapture, eternal Hell, and a Sabbath Sunday, etc).

And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.
– Revelation 18:4

Those that are His will come under one fold, and one shepherd.

And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.
– John 10:16

When it says “from the east”, it means “from God”.

I’m fairly certain that the sealing angel is Gabriel.

Seals

There are basically three kinds of seals:

1) The Seal of God

The Seal of God is better known as the Sabbath/fourth commandment.

A seal is comprised of three parts, e.g. name, title, and domain.

So for President Obama:
Name = Obama
Title = President
Domain = USA

So also for God (as taken from the Sabbath/fourth commandment):
Name = the Lord
Title = Creator
Domain = Heaven and Earth

The Sabbath (and the Mark also) is a sign of who you worship.

It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.
– Exodus 31:17

This will become important in the end times, when we have to choose between the Seal of God (keeping Sabbath), and the Mark of the Beast (Sunday Law).

2) Sealed with the Holy Spirit

When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.
– Ephesians 1:13-14 (NIV)

I believe this applies to all believers.

The Holy Spirit is a bit like a homing beacon, and shows us the way home. The Holy Spirit writes God’s Laws into our hearts, and minds.

This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them.
– Hebrews 10:16

3) Seal of protection

A great example of this type of seal is found in Ezekiel 9, which will be fulfilled literally in the end times.

Ezekiel 9

He cried also in mine ears with a loud voice, saying, Cause them that have charge over the city to draw near, even every man with his destroying weapon in his hand.
And, behold, six men came from the way of the higher gate, which lieth toward the north, and every man a slaughter weapon in his hand; and one man among them was clothed with linen, with a writer’s inkhorn by his side: and they went in, and stood beside the brasen altar.
And the glory of the God of Israel was gone up from the cherub, whereupon he was, to the threshold of the house. And he called to the man clothed with linen, which had the writer’s inkhorn by his side;
And the LORD said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof.
And to the others he said in mine hearing, Go ye after him through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity:
Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house.
And he said unto them, Defile the house, and fill the courts with the slain: go ye forth. And they went forth, and slew in the city.
And it came to pass, while they were slaying them, and I was left, that I fell upon my face, and cried, and said, Ah Lord GOD! wilt thou destroy all the residue of Israel in thy pouring out of thy fury upon Jerusalem?
Then said he unto me, The iniquity of the house of Israel and Judah is exceeding great, and the land is full of blood, and the city full of perverseness: for they say, The LORD hath forsaken the earth, and the LORD seeth not.
And as for me also, mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity, but I will recompense their way upon their head.
And, behold, the man clothed with linen, which had the inkhorn by his side, reported the matter, saying, I have done as thou hast commanded me.

– Ezekiel 9

A mark is very similar to a seal.

Those that “sigh and cry” (character qualification, compassion, empathy, righteousness, Christlike) will receive the mark, and will be safe from destruction.

The seal of God will be placed upon the foreheads of those only who sigh and cry [lament and weep] for the abominations done in the land.
– Ellen White, Christian Experience and Teachings, p. 187, 189

The 144,000 will be given a mark, and destruction will then begin at the sanctuary, or God’s people in other words. After that, destruction will come to the wicked.

For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?
– 1 Peter 4:17

The phrase “the man clothed in linen, which had the inkhorn by his side” (the sealing angel) is most likely Gabriel.

The mark is not a physical mark. It’s for the angels to see, not us.

Worth noting is that the Hebrew word for mark is “tau” (the last letter in the Hebrew alphabet), and looks very much like a cross. Thanks to Sam Hackenberger for pointing this out.

To me a cross symbolizes victory over death, just like the seal of protection.

Psalm 91

This is the instruction manual for the seal of protection.

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.
A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.
You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked.
If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,” and you make the Most High your dwelling,
no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent.
For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways;
they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.
With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”

– Psalm 91 (NIV)

God and His angels will protect the 144,000.

No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord.
– Isaiah 54:17

And again.

Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.
– Luke 10:19

Ellen White adds the following.

Just as soon as the people of God are sealed in their foreheads—it is not any seal or mark that can be seen, but a settling into the truth, both intellectually and spiritually, so they cannot be moved—just as soon as God’s people are sealed and prepared for the shaking, it will come. Indeed, it has begun already; the judgments of God are now upon the land, to give us warning, that we may know what is coming (Manuscript 173, 1902).
– Ellen White, SDA Bible Commentary, Vol. 4, p. 1161.6

The phrase “cannot be moved” is very similar to “be not moved” in the verse below.

If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister.
– Colossians 1:23

The 144,000 will be sealed (protective seal), and trained (both scripture and character).

The training is part of the sealing.

Tribes

And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel.
Of the tribe of Juda were sealed twelve thousand.
Of the tribe of Reuben were sealed twelve thousand.
Of the tribe of Gad were sealed twelve thousand.
Of the tribe of Aser were sealed twelve thousand.
Of the tribe of Nephthalim were sealed twelve thousand.
Of the tribe of Manasses were sealed twelve thousand.
Of the tribe of Simeon were sealed twelve thousand.
Of the tribe of Levi were sealed twelve thousand.
Of the tribe of Issachar were sealed twelve thousand.
Of the tribe of Zabulon were sealed twelve thousand.
Of the tribe of Joseph were sealed twelve thousand.
Of the tribe of Benjamin were sealed twelve thousand.

– Revelation 7:4-8

The reason John hears the number, is because at this stage the 144,000 are scattered all over the Earth. Later John sees them together on Mount Zion, etc.

Some people think that the 144,000 are literal Jews from today’s Israel, but this is not correct. Israel doesn’t have these kind of tribes anymore, and it would be virtually impossible to find 12,000 from each tribe of those scattered all over the world.

In the New Testament (especially in prophecy), the definition of Jew and Israel has changed.

But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.
– Romans 2:29

In other words, Gentiles can be Jews also.

And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
– Galatians 3:29

Israel today (or spiritual Israel if you will) means God’s chosen people. Christians in other words.

So according to that definition, the 144,000 are called from among all believers, and are scattered all over the world. The idea that the 144,000 come from literal tribes is very hard to defend.

Literal versus symbolic

Another hot debate is that of whether the 144,000 is a literal number, or a symbolic number.

Those who think it’s symbolic claim that John heard the number, and then saw the unnumbered multitude, implying that the number 144,000 is symbolic for the unnumbered multitude.

It’s the Bible that interprets the Bible, and there is no verse that explains that kind of concept (where a number is an unnumbered number).

But the Bible does explain the literal number concept.

Of every tribe a thousand, throughout all the tribes of Israel, shall ye send to the war. So there were delivered out of the thousands of Israel, a thousand of every tribe, twelve thousand armed for war.
– Numbers 31:4-5

So: twelve tribes, a thousand of every tribe, equals twelve thousand armed for war.

In the same way: twelve tribes, twelve thousand of every tribe, equals an hundred and forty and four thousand armed for war.

The Bible is clear, the number 144,000 is literal. God can count.

Additionally, the two groups are different in character.

144,000 Great multitude
Numbered Unnumbered
Firstfruits The remainder of the harvest
From the tribes of Israel From all nations
Sealed servants Saints
Translated Martyred
Pictured on Mount Zion Pictured before the throne
A song only they could learn

So again, no doubt at all, the number 144,000 is literal.

The number 144,000 itself is a little bit symbolic of course, because it can be explained as 12 * 12 * 1,000. The number 12 refers to completion or government, and the number 1,000 is an ancient military unit in the army of Israel.

Thanks to Rob Skiba for pointing out the Numbers verse.

Groups of twelve

Some say that the 144,000 are 12 * 12,000, but I prefer to see them as 12,000 groups of 12. They will walk just like the apostles did.

The 144,000 will be send out two by two.

And he called unto him the twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two; and gave them power over unclean spirits.
– Mark 6:7

Using the world’s population (7 billion), and dividing it by 144,000 we can see that there will be roughly 1 servant for every 50,000 people. For example, New Zealand has a population of 4 million people. So that’s 80 servants, or most likely 7 groups of twelve.

Only God knows where the servants are most needed of course.

Tribe names

Looking closely at the tribes, you can see that the tribes of Ephraim and Dan are missing, that Joseph and Levi are added, and that the order of the tribes is wrong.

Each tribe name has a Biblical meaning.

Judah means “I will praise the Lord”
Ruben means “He has looked on me”
Gad means “Given good fortune”
Asher means “Happy am I”
Naphtali means “My wrestling”
Manasseh means “Making me to forget”
Simeon means “God hears me”
Levi means “Joined to me”
Issachar means “Purchased me”
Zebulun means “Dwelling”
Joseph means “Will add to me”
Benjamin means “Son of the right hand”

If we string them altogether we get a coherent story.

I will praise the Lord [for] He has looked on me [and] given good fortune. Happy am I [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 the right hand.

Very interesting. Thanks to Doug Batchelor for coming up with that.

It’s hard to say, but perhaps the different tribes reflect certain personality types. Someone might be like Judah, Ruben, etc. Time will tell.

Revelation 7 (continued)

Verses 9-12 speak about the unnumbered multitude.

After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;
And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.
And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God,
Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.

– Revelation 7:9-12

Verses 13-17 speak about the 144,000 again.

We know this is about the 144,000 because of the phrase “and serve him day and night in his temple”, and because of the reference to the fourth plague (sun).

And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?
And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them.
They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat.
For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.

– Revelation 7:13-17

The comment about serving God in the temple day and night, is also mirrored in the letter to the church of Philadelphia.

Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.
– Revelation 3:12

We know the church of Philadelphia refers to the 144,000 because of the comment about the hour of temptation.

Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.
– Revelation 3:10

The phrase “I also will keep thee” is another reference to the seal of protection.

It is interesting that God uses people with “little strength” to become pillars in His Temple.

I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.
– Revelation 3:8

The fifth trumpet

There’s a brief reference to the seal of God in the fifth trumpet.

And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads.
– Revelation 9:4

This could be a reference to the 144,000. I just wanted to point it out. It’s also a very strong clue, that the fifth trumpet has yet to happen, which means that the trumpets are still in the future. It also confirms that the seal is a protective seal.

The 144,000 (Mount Zion)

This is not a second group by the way. Same 144,000 as in Revelation 7.

In Revelation 7 we only heard the number, but here the 144,000 are clearly seen together on Mount Sion. It’s the same group, but on a different location.

And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads.
– Revelation 14:1

The name of the Father is not literally written on their foreheads.

In prophecy “name” means “character”.

For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.
– Isaiah 57:15

The 144,000 will be a reflection of God’s character (Holy, Love, Ten Commandments, etc).

For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
– Romans 8:29-30

Having the Father’s name written in our foreheads, is very similar to being “sealed” with the Ten Commandments. (This will happen to all of us at some stage)

Think about it: no more sin, no more guile, and no more knowledge of evil. 🙂

And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps: And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth.
– Revelation 14:2-3

The voice described here is that of the 144,000 playing their harps.

And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God.
– Revelation 15:2

The harps are undoubtedly used to sing the song of the 144,000.

In prophecy “song” means “experience”.

The experience of the 144,000 is that of “deliverance”. Victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name. They will even be alive during God’s wrath on the wicked.

Only the 144,000 can sing this song, because it’s their unique experience (which no other company will have).

The 144,000 are redeemed from the living, and will have the seal of God’s protection. This guarantees that they will be alive at Jesus’ Second Coming. They will not taste death, but will be translated instead. You can only be translated if you’re without sin (think Enoch and Elijah).

By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.
– Hebrews 11:5

And during the Second Coming of Jesus.

For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
– 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17

To be “caught up” means to be translated.

These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb.
– Revelation 14:4

This does not mean that the 144,000 are literal virgins.

In prophecy “woman” means “church”.

The 144,000 have simply not defiled themselves with churches that have false doctrines such as “eternal Hell”, “Rapture”, “Sunday Sabbath”, etc. Their doctrines, coming from a love of the truth, are pure, and as such they are ‘virgins’.

When Jesus says “Follow Me”, the 144,000 will follow Jesus, no matter where He goes. It might also be part of their reward, e.g. becoming pillars in God’s Temple, visiting other worlds, etc.

And as we were about to enter the holy temple, Jesus raised His lovely voice and said, “Only the 144,000 enter this place,” and we shouted, “Alleluia.”
– Ellen White, Christian Experience and Teaching, p. 63.2

The gospel is all about redemption, and the 144,000 are redeemed from men.

The 144,000 are just another part of the body of Christ. They are firstfruits. Servants.

They are here for you.

I quite like this verse with regards to being redeemed.

But now thus saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.
– Isaiah 43:1-2

And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God.
– Revelation 14:5

The terms “without fault”, and “no guile” also refer to the character of Jesus.

For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth.
– 1 Peter 2:21-22

Note that it says “without fault before the throne“. That means the 144,000 will still be flawed, but that they will be “without fault” in the eyes of God.

Victory over the beast

The 144,000 will be alive during God’s wrath (the seven plagues).

And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvellous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God.
And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God.
And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints.
Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest.

– Revelation 15:1-4

In prophecy a “sea of glass” refers to the area before the throne.

In prophecy “throne” normally refers to judgment.

This scene takes place after the seven plagues. It shows that, in the context of the seven plagues, the 144,000 will be victorious.

The 144,000 will stand without an intercessor during God’s wrath. Mainly because God’s Spirit is withdrawn from this world at that stage. No more mercy at this point.

God will reveal the time of Jesus’ Second Coming to the 144,000 just before the beginning of the seven plagues.

Soon we heard the voice of God like many waters, which gave us the day and hour of Jesus’ coming. The living saints, 144,000 in number, knew and understood the voice, while the wicked thought it was thunder and an earthquake. When God spoke the time, He poured upon us the Holy Ghost, and our faces began to light up and shine with the glory of God, as Moses’ did when he came down from Mount Sinai.
– Ellen White, Early Writings, p.14.1

Miscellaneous

There are plenty of other references to the 144,000. I’ll just briefly mention them here, so you can study them further.

In the spirit and power of Elijah

It is the 144,000 that will come in the spirit and power of Elijah. All of them. Just like John the Baptist.

The phrase “in the spirit and power of Elijah” simply refers to the Holy Spirit, and to the type of miracles Elijah performed (see 1 Kings).

The 144,000 (being firstfruits, firstborns?) may even receive a double portion of Elijah’s spirit, just like Elisha did.

And so it was, when they had crossed over, that Elijah said to Elisha, “Ask! What may I do for you, before I am taken away from you?” Elisha said, “Please let a double portion of your spirit be upon me.”
– 2 Kings 2:9 (NKJV)

Who knows what a double portion of Elijah’s spirit can do?

Either way, Jesus Himself says:

Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.
– John 14:12-14 (NKJV)

Note that the promise of “Elijah” is the last prophecy in the Old Testament.

Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.
– Malachi 4:5-6

Some have suggested that the phrase “the great and dreadful day” can be split into two:
1) The great day = Jesus’ First Coming
2) The dreadful day = Jesus’ Second Coming

The 144,000 will prepare the way for the Second Coming of Jesus.


– Source unknown

Labourers in the vineyard

The 144,000 are the eleventh hour workers in the parable of the vineyard.

For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard.
And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard.
And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace,
And said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way.
Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise.
And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle?
They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive.

– Matthew 20:1-7

Every three hours a new group of labourers is introduced. Each group is a new church movement. Note that the 144,000 will not introduce a new church. They are just recruited to help out in the final hour. Additionally, every Christian will be called to labour in the vineyard as well.

Early in the morning Israel
Third hour Christians
Sixth hour Protestants
Ninth hour Adventists
Eleventh hour The 144,000
Twelfth hour God’s Kingdom

The eleventh-hour labourers are sometimes also called one-hour labourers, which refers back to “the hour of temptation” in Revelation 3.

Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.
– Revelation 3:10

The 144,000 are “kept” from the hour of temptation, because they have the seal of protection.

The 144,000 are last to join the labourers in the vineyard, but receive their reward first.

So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.
– Matthew 20:16

So they truly are the firstfruits.

Ellen White

You may not agree, but Ellen White has done many valuable studies on the 144,000. I found them insightful and true.

Just Google “Ellen White 144,000”, etc.

Alternatively, click here.

Job

The book of Job is really interesting too, because it teaches us to keep the faith when we’re caught in the middle of the battle between God and satan. We can’t always see clearly, but the book of Job teaches us to remain steadfast in our faith.

The 144,000 are to be like Job in that sense.

Gideon band

The 144,000 are sometimes also called the Gideon band (see Judges).

Low in number, but very effective (because of the Holy Spirit).

Know that this is God’s battle, and His victory.

Vindicate God

So what is this really about?

What’s the real purpose of the 144,000, besides encouraging people, and preaching the gospel?

Imagine the following conversation.

It is satan who says “God’s Laws are too hard, they cannot be kept”.
God says “My Son, Jesus, kept all of them perfectly”.
But then satan says “But He’s a heavenly being”.
God says “Very well, I will train 144,000 of the weakest generation, in the most difficult time, and they will keep My Laws”.

Or as Ellen White puts it.

In the opening of the great controversy, Satan had declared that the law of God could not be obeyed, that justice was inconsistent with mercy, and that, should the law be broken, it would be impossible for the sinner to be pardoned. Every sin must meet its punishment, urged Satan; and if God should remit the punishment of sin, He would not be a God of truth and justice. When men broke the law of God, and defied His will, Satan exulted. It was proved, he declared, that the law could not be obeyed; man could not be forgiven. Because he, after his rebellion, had been banished from heaven, Satan claimed that the human race must be forever shut out from God’s favor. God could not be just, he urged, and yet show mercy to the sinner.
– Ellen White, Desire of Ages, p. 761

God, using the 144,000, will prove to everybody (humans, angels, etc) that God’s Laws can be kept, no matter what the circumstances, and that satan is a liar.

Consider this. If satan tempts us into sin, who is responsible? Was it satan’s fault? Or was it us that committed the sin? It’s our responsibility. There’s no excuse.

Satan will do what he can to destroy the 144,000. He clearly can’t destroy the message, so he will certainly try and destroy the messengers. That’s why the 144,000 are given the seal of protection.

The message?

And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
– Matthew 3:2

When

When will all this happen?

I believe that all of this will happen during the latter rain (outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the last days).

Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain.
Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.

– James 5:7-8

The timing has to be just right.

The latter rain

Here’s a better idea of what the latter rain is.

And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:
And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:
And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke:
The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and notable day of the Lord come:
And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

– Acts 2:17-21

When the servants shall prophesy they will become “servants the prophets”.

The 144,000 will undoubtedly have their own version of Pentecost.

And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
– Acts 2:1

So, when is the latter rain?

It’s hard to say, but it will be at some point before the mark of the beast, which could be any day now…