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Two groups of Christians in the last days?

Query for the Month

of

January 2011

Next up-date: February 1st 2011 (God willing).

Previous "Queries" are available. Click here to access.

Some perpetual questions ....

Is there really an immortal soul?

Do you know the difference between the "love" that is of Christianity
and the "love" that is of the world?
Click here to find out!
 

Click on the link for a good book on the character of our God which you can download for free and share amongst your friends.   It's called "Light through Darkness" and is one of the best books on this subject that I have ever read! 

(when you get to the site just click "cancel" and it will let you in.  Then click "order" to obtain a copy. )

In the meantime, try this site.    And here's one where you can read it online.

 

Here's another great site on the character of God written in a way that's very easy to understand.


Some of the comments on this page are adapted from books in my library.  No recognition is given because they are not intended as authorities, but are used because they express my understanding clearly.

Query:

Revelation 7:

4 And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed a hundred and forty-four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel . . .

9 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 . . .

Some believe that both of these verses refer to one group who pass through the experience of the great tribulation of the seven last plagues in the last days.  Is this true?

Answer:   

 I have added the comments in the smaller brackets, [like this].

Let’s look at the context of the verses and see what God says.

Revelation 7:

1   And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding [limiting] the four winds of the earth [the winds of worldly strife], that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree [to extinction].

2 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, 3 saying, “Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees [don’t let go], till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads” [from the first death].

4 And I heard the number of them which were sealed [from the first death]: and there were sealed a hundred and forty-four thousand of ALL the tribes of the children of [spiritual] Israel . . .

[And they [the 144,000] sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts [the other redeemed], and the [twenty-four] elders: and NO MAN COULD LEARN THAT SONG BUT THE HUNDRED AND FORTY-FOUR THOUSAND [for it is the song of their experiences], which were redeemed from the earth [not the grave].   Revelation 14:3. 

After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, WHICH NO MAN COULD NUMBER [unlike the 144,000], 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; 10 and cried with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation to our God which sits upon the throne, and to the Lamb” [so they are saved people] . . .

13 And one of the [twenty-four] elders answered, saying to me, “What are these which are arrayed in white robes [of righteousness]? and whence came they?” 14 And I said to him, “Sir, you know”. 

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.

15 Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple: and He that sits on the throne shall dwell among them. 16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. 17 For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them to living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes”.   

John was told about the 12 x 12,000 that will make up the 144,000, and heard that they would be sealed (to live through the seven last plagues and serve God in His temple.  Revelation 7:4-8; Ephesians 4:30.)  Then, in contrast, he was shown an enormous number of other Christians clothed in the white garments of righteousness who would also serve God in His temple, who had also come through many trials and tribulations during their lifetimes.

So there are two groups, but they do not have to be alive at the same time, unless the 144,000 number is not literal!  But if this is so, why are the two groups referred to separately?

We know that there are some saints who live through the plagues, and there are many more who die beforehand and come up in the resurrection. Both have come through tribulation, and both will serve God in His temple. 

But these ARE distinguished by their number!   And their promises:

The 144,000:

“To him that overcomes will I grant to sit with Me in My throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with My Father in His throne.  He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches”. Revelation 3:21-22.

The multitude:

Jesus says to them, “Him that overcomes 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 [character] of My God, and the name [character] of the city of My God, which is new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God: and I will write upon him My new name [character].  He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches”.  Revelation 3:12-13.

One group is finite in number and easily identified for they are seen together, while the other is said to be uncountable (yet anyone with sufficient time and patience could do that in the new world).  But until the resurrection, these people cannot be counted, not even by angels, for they are scattered over “all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues”, and I might add, “over time”.

This is what makes them into two totally different groups, being at different times.

Yet both have shared in tribulation and now both serve in the temple of God.

How can we reconcile that?

What most Christians often forget is that there were two rooms in the earthly tabernacle/temple, the first of which every priest could go into; while the second was reserved for the high priest.

Hebrews 9:2-3

For there was a tabernacle made; the first [temple], wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the showbread; which is called the sanctuary. And after the second veil, the tabernacle [temple] which is called the Holiest of all . . .

In Moses’ time the tabernacles were joined together for convenience and easy understanding, but in the reality they are two different places.  However, to get to the second room in the wilderness sanctuary, the high priest had to pass through the first room, so it is written, “And there shall be no man in the tabernacle of the congregation [the first room] when he goes in to make an atonement in the holy place, until he come out, and have made an atonement for himself, and for his household, and for all the congregation of Israel”.  Leviticus 16:17.

Unlike the type, in the reality when one door is shut, the other is open.   

In words which were addressed the people of the 1844 movement, Jesus said, “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; ‘These things says He that is holy, He that is true, He that has the key of David, He that opens, and no man shuts; and shuts, and no man opens; I know your works: behold, I have set before you an open door, and no man can shut it: for you have a little strength, and have kept My word, and have not denied My name”.   Revelation 3:7-8.  The words of Jesus just quoted show that there is a way into the second room without going though the first door! 

I repeat, in the reality they are two different and separate areas.

In the Old Testament ceremonial system the high priest was the only one who could go into the second room, and he only did that on one day of the year, the Day of Atonement, which was the equivalent of the Day of Judgment.

Leviticus 16:

1 And the LORD spoke to Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron, when they offered before the LORD [in a disobedient way], and died; 2 and the LORD said to Moses, “Speak to Aaron your brother, that he come not at all times into the holy place [the second room] within the veil before the Mercy Seat, which is upon the ark; that he die not: for I will appear in the cloud upon the Mercy Seat”.   

The prohibition was needed because the Glory of God was in that room and anyone entering it required special protection to get that close to Him. To all intents and purposes, the second room did not exist for the majority of Israel, they knew about it only by faith.

The high priest represented the Son of God and He of course, can go in before His Father whenever He wants to, but in the ceremonials on earth that was restricted to one day in each year. Today, we can do it every day by faith in the word of God which tells us of that movement, but in the new world the 144,000 will do it literally, for they are those who “follow Him whithersoever He goes” so that means that they, when clothed with the special protection, can also go in to the presence of the Father with Him. Revelation 14:4.

It was this movement, which gives the ability to see God face-to-face without a veil in between, which sparked the whole controversy off.  For when Lucifer (“the covering cherub” who stood on the left hand of God), saw the other “covering cherub” (who stood on the right hand), go into the bright light which covered the presence of God, and tried to follow, he found he could not.  He then made the claim that God had a favourite!  This is not true – closeness to God depends on our ability and willingness to do it God’s way.  Lucifer wanted it his own way and on his terms and it couldn’t work, but he insisted that God had shut him out deliberately.  He then extended that by announcing that God was shutting out all the angels and that they should protest.  In ways we will not go into here, the controversy was eventually continued here on earth. 

The temple in the new world:

In a description of the THIRD advent, we are told, “Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when He fought in the day of battle.  And His feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south”.  Zechariah 14:3-4.  (At the SECOND advent He does not touch the earth, the saints are lifted up to Him.  1 Thessalonians 4:15-18.)

Then we are told,  “And there came to me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, ‘Come here, I will show you the bride, the Lamb's wife”.  And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God [on to the Mount of Olives], having the glory of God: and her light was like to a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal . . . And I saw no temple therein: for the LORD God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.  And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it”.   Revelation 21:9-24.

Here we are told that the city represents the first apartment of the sanctuary, and is made into a temple (the first room) by the presence of the Father and the Son on the throne.  (God’s throne is a movable one and is not restricted to the second room as shown in the type.  Ezekiel 1:26-28; and note 2.)  This is where the redeemed will gather on formal occasions and where the everyday work of running the universe takes place, for the city is a working house. 

In the new world, the SECOND apartment, which is God’s personal house on Mount Zion (not the Mount of Olives), will be separate from the city and entered only by the persons of the Godhead and the 144,000.  It is on the Mount Zion that they stand with Him.  “And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with Him a hundred and forty-four thousand, having His Father's name written in their foreheads”. Revelation 14:1.  They are the firstfruits, the evidence that the rest of the harvest is ready.  “These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb”. Verse 4.

Conclusion:

And they sing “a new song before the throne”, a song which “no man could learn . . . but the hundred and forty-four thousand”.  Revelation 14:3.  It is “the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb” – a song of deliverance.  Revelation 15:3.  None but the hundred and forty-four thousand can learn that song; for it is the song of their experience – an experience such as NO OTHER COMPANY have ever had. “These are they which were not defiled with women [false religions]; for they are virgins [pure in heart].  These are they which follow the Lamb wheresoever He goes”.  Revelation 14:4.

For comments from my library, click here: 

 


Who wants to add (or subtract!) from these thoughts? I won't argue as I have stated, but I will publish your Scriptures so that we may review all the words of God on the subject.

Next query. To be discussed from February 1st 2011,

Malachi 4:5-6

“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”.

The first Elijah was one man, John the Baptist was one man, so following that pattern is the Elijah that prepares us for Jesus’ return one man, and the 144,000 the 7000 “others” that haven’t bowed the knee to Baal?

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