The One Hundred and Forty Four Thousand: (Part One of Four)*
“This subject of Revelation 7 is doubtless the most frequently discussed Bible subject by Seventh-day Adventists and other Bible students, than any other Biblical truth. Many theories have been advanced by the denomination, but not one has stood the test without contradiction. Great men of both Biblical and secular knowledge have diligently searched the Bible and have proved nothing as to who this company is.
We read in Great Controversy, page 397: “The spirit of error will lead us from the truth, and the Spirit of God will lead us into truth. But, say you, a man may be in an error, and think he has the truth. What then? We answer, The Spirit and word agree. If a man judges himself by the word of God, and finds a perfect harmony through the whole word, then he must believe he has the truth; but if he finds the spirit by which he is led does not harmonize with the whole tenor of God’s law or book, then let him walk carefully, lest he be caught in the snare of the devil.”
Sister E.G. White was doubtless far more acquainted with this subject than any one living at this time, for she wrote much about them and had visions of them. There is no doubt that she, too, spent much time in searching both from the Bible and her own writings, but she has failed to point out the exact company by assembling the references together, and clear the mystery. The question is: Why have all these godly people who earnestly searched for the truth failed to produce any evidence as to who this wonderful company really is? The answer we give is: Because it was not present truth in their time.
Sister White could have given a theory of some kind far more fitting and correct than any other theory ever advanced. She used wisdom and good judgment in leaving out her own opinion. God will make these things known at the appointed time only. Men maybe made to believe a thing for a while, but except it be truth, it cannot last. Thus it would be unwise and a waste of time for one to try to tell who the 144,000 are, until the scroll has made a turn and one truth reveals another. If this study would unmask the mystery and harmonize with the Scriptures and the Spirit of Prophecy, then we must conclude that God’s appointed time for this subject has come.
Sister White had received inspiration on this subject, but, like Daniel, was not permitted to know who, how, and when made, until Gods appointed time. The following is a quotation made by her to Elder E. E. Andross: “I feel confident, Elder Andross, that the brethren in Southern California will find blessing in reviewing the teachings of Scripture concerning the 144,000 and bringing to bear upon these teachings whatever of light there may be in the published writings of the Spirit of Prophecy, and as prayerful consideration is given the matter in all its bearings, I believe that God will make the truth sufficiently clear to make possible the avoidance of needless and unprofitable questions not vital to the salvation of precious souls.”
Some day this subject must be understood, for Inspiration makes no useless statements, and it cannot be in the Bible for a trinket. It must be understood before the number (144,000) is made or it would be of no value. When understood, it will guide the feet of the 144,000 in the straight path just as the first, second, and third angel’s messages have led thousands of souls to Christ.
Matters Not, So Long As One Does Right?
It has been said by some that it matters not whether one under-stands the subject of the 144,000 or not, so long as he does right. This is certainly true if we DO RIGHT, but how do we know whether we do right or not, except we understand Bible doctrines? How can we know whether we keep the right Sabbath, or belong to the right church, unless we understand that doctrine? Why is it important to understand Daniel 7, the beast and his image, and many other Bible prophecies? If we do not understand the subject of the 144,000, we may not be sealed, for it would be worthless to understand it after the sealing, just as it would be of no value to understand the beast and his image after his work on earth is finished.
This angel’s message of Revelation 7—the angel ascending from the east—is as important as the first, second, and third angel’s messages of Rev. 14:6-11. It must be understood and given to the people at the right time, as also the mighty angel of Rev. 18:1. The loud cry must come at a given time. This angel of Revelation 7, can not be the third angel, for John’s explanation of them differ. The three angels of Revelation 14 are flying in the midst of heaven, or where the sun stands at noon, but the one of Revelation 7, is ascending from the east, or the rising of the sun. The message of this angel has never been understood at any time, nor proclaimed by this denomination or any other people, and only theories have been advanced. It is evident that this truth, as other truths, must come at the right time. . . .” — Shepherd’s Rod, Vol. 1, pp. 13-15
Who Are The 144,000?
“The subject is, “Who are the 144,000?” First mention of this number in the Bible is in Rev. 7:4: “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.” Verse 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.” Note that this angel is ascendingand not descending. In contrast to this, Rev. 18:1 says, “And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power, and the earth was lightened with his glory.” This mighty angel is not ascending, descending, nor coming, but “come.” If the angel made the trip from heaven to earth in less than 15 minutes in answer to prayer (Dan. 9:4-23), while it takes light millions of years to travel part of the distance, we can easily understand why the expression “but come” is used, mean-ing suddenly appearing without warning. This angel is the Loud Cry angel, an addition to the third angel and the message of the fall of Babylon as given by the second angel is repeated, as foretold in the 18th chapter of Revelation. The people of God are thus prepared to stand in the hour of temptation, which they are soon to meet.
Early Writings, page 277: “Then I saw another mighty angel commissioned to descend to the earth, to unite his voice with the third angel, and give power and force to his message. Great power and glory were imparted to the angel, and as he descended, the earth was lightened with his glory. The light which attended this angel penetrated everywhere, as he cried mightily, with a strong voice, ‘Babylon is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.’ The message of the fall of Babylon, as given by the second angel, is repeated, with the additional mention of the corruptions which have been entering the churches since 1844. The work of this angel, comes in at the right time to join in the last great work of the third angel’s message, as it swells to a loud cry. And the people of God are thus prepared to stand in the hour of temptation, which they are soon to meet. I saw a great light resting upon them, and they united to fearlessly proclaim the third angel’s message. . . This message seemed to be an addition to the third message, joining it as the midnight cry joined the second angel’s message in 1844.”
Of the three angels of Rev. 14:6-11, John writes: “And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, . . . and the third angel followed them.” These angels, following each other, were seen flying in the midst of heaven where the sun would be at mid-day, in its full strength. There is a difference between these angels and the ones in Revelation 7 and 18:1. These angels are neither “ascending” nor “come,” but continue to “fly in the midst of heaven.” The meaning is that these angels’ messages are not as powerful as the one of Rev.18:1, for John says he saw the angel “come,” that is, stand upon the earth. The angel mentioned here is near by, but the other three angels are at a distance. This symbol shows that they could not be as powerful as the one that is close by, but these three angels are flying and continue to fly. The meaning is that while they are not as powerful, they continue a long time until this other angel of Rev. 18:1 joins in with them, as it has been with the first, second, and third angel’s messages until now.
We go back to the angel of Revelation 7, the one in which we are most interested at the present time. This particular angel is ascending from the east. “Ascending” here could not mean depart-ing or flying away, but simply coming, or advancing. For example, in the morning while the sun is rising or ascending, the temperature gains in heat as it nears mid-day, just so with this angel that is to seal the 144,000. The angel was seen coming, but he is taking time. The sealing cannot begin until after he arrives, for the seal of the living God is in his possession. If we can locate the time when he arrives we may know the beginning of the sealing time of the 144,000. Did we know the time when the first second, and third angel’s messages began? Our answer is: Yes.
There is no reason for not knowing the definite time when this angel of Revelation 7 arrives. If we did not know the time, we would have no message, and if Satan can deceive us from present truth, he has won with his deceptive powers. John’s prophecy in Revelation 7, of this ascending angel was only a vision of something to come, and the fulfillment of this prophecy was realized when Sister White was given her first vision in 1844, which was a vision of the 144,000. Read Early Writings, pages 13-20. John prophesied of this movement and the scene of the angel ascending in the east (John’s vision) became a reality in 1844, but the angel is in the east, and we must await his arrival, for when he arrives, the sealing begins.” — Shepherd’s Rod Vol. 1, pp. 20-22
*(This is part one of a four part series of posts that will be given in the next four weeks to cover what inspiration has generously provided as the extra oil that is needed for the honest and since Seventh-day Adventist to strive to be one of this most important group of last day evangelists who will give the Loud Cry of the third angels message when it is repeated with the power and force under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. May God bless your search for Truth on this topic as for hidden treasure.)