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The Lamb and the 144,000

12 Dec
144000 - 1

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The fourteenth chapter of the Apocalypse opens with the Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with him are the 144,000. The scene almost immediately goes on to include the fall of Babylon, which we have discovered in earlier studies means the fall of Jerusalem. The chapter then concludes with the harvest of the world. So, this part of the Apocalypse has all the marks of the Second Coming of Jesus, the resurrection, the judgment and all that pertains to those events. Moreover, the Apocalypse seems to say that these events transpire at the fall of Jerusalem, which fell in 70 AD! Is this really true? How should we understand these things?

According to Revelation 14:1, John says he saw the Lamb (Jesus), standing on Mount Zion, and with Jesus was the 144,000.[1] According to Paul:

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. (1Thessalonians 4:16-17)

In the context of Paul’s letter, the Thessalonians had written to him, sorrowing over loved ones who had died before the coming of the Lord.[2] Paul was responding to their grieving, in order to keep them from despairing of the fate of their dead relatives (cf. 1Thessalonians 4:13). At the very least, this puts the coming of the Lord in the first century AD, because the Thessalonians had expected they all would survive until the parousia or coming of Christ. Both the Thessalonians and Paul expected Jesus to return in their generation (cf. Matthew 16:27-28). So, Paul wrote that at the coming of the Lord the dead in Christ would rise first, and in the context of 1Thessalonians 4 this resurrection was to occur in the 1st century AD. No matter what else can be said of Paul’s claims, this fact, in as much as I can tell, cannot legitimately be denied.

The resurrection was to occur in the first century AD at the coming (parousia – G3952) of Christ (1Thessalonians 4:15). What is interesting about the Greek word, parousia, is that whenever a dignitary was to visit or come (parousia) to a city,[3] the city’s citizens watched for his coming (parousia), and when they saw him, they would all go out of the city to meet (G529 – apantesis) him and escort him back to their city.[4] In the context of 1Thessalonians 4:15-17 this shows the Lord’s coming (parousia) meant he would be with and remain with his people. In other words, the Tabernacle of God was with men (Revelation 21:3). We shall meet (G529) him in the air (aer – G109). Ephesians 2:2 implies that the air in this sense was the spiritual realm of evil, but at Christ’s return it became the heavenly realm of his saints. We are seated in heavenly places in Christ (Ephesians 2:6). The theme of 1Thessalonians 4 is the **near** coming (parousia) of Christ, whereby we who are alive meet him only to escort him to the earth in order that he would remain with us (Revelation 21:3).

John tells us that the 144,000 had the name of the Father written in their foreheads. In Revelation 13:16 the false prophet caused “small and great, rich and poor, free and bond” to receive a mark in their foreheads. As I pointed out in an earlier study, this mark was the false prophet’s doctrine, and believing him identified the people with him. That is, he made the word of God of no effect upon the people, due to his teaching (cf. Matthew 15:4-6; Mark 7:9, 13). In the context of Revelation 14:1 the name of the Father answers to the mark of the beast. It identifies us with him. This sealing (Revelation 7:1-3) or mark (Ezekiel 9:1-11) belongs to those who have overcome the false prophet and the beast (Revelation 3:12; 13:16-17). These are they who have confessed Jesus before men and have not denied him. They belong to God and have his name written in their foreheads (Luke 12:8).

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[1] See my earlier study, Sealing the Israel of God.

[2] The Greek of 2Thessalonians 2:2 actually shows that the Thessalonian believers thought or were told by false teachers that Jesus had already returned. According to reports coming from Jerusalem, there where several false Messiahs who had arisen, all of whom the Roman governors had in due time captured and / or slain. Apparently, some of the Thessalonians believed one of those false messiahs was Jesus, so they worried why their loved ones hadn’t risen.

[3] See the technical use of the term in the first century AD in Wikipedia.

[4] The Greek word apanthesis is a technical term used in the Hellenistic world for citizens of a city going out to meet a visiting dignitary and escorting him back to their city. That is, their city was the destination of the dignitary, and the apanthesis was the city’s official welcoming committee. The idea is present in scripture in that Revelation 21:1-3 shows the heavenly Jerusalem coming out of heaven to the earth with God, who from that time forward dwells with men. Furthermore, the same Greek word is found in Matthew 25:1 & 6 for the virgins going out to meet the bridegroom and escorting him back to the place of the wedding feast. Finally the same Greek word (apanthesis – G529) is used in Acts 28:15. There Paul is on his way to Rome, but when the brethren heard of his coming they went out to meet (apanthesis) him as far as the Apius Forum (43 miles from Rome) and The Three Taverns (53 miles from Rome) in order to accompany him back to Rome.

 
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Posted by on December 12, 2019 in Apocalypse, Book of Revelation

 

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