Elder Ted Wilson, the president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, has made many appeals to leaders and laity alike to bring about a revival and reformation into our lives as one of the most urgent needs of the church. Therein he shared one principle concern about the church losing its identity in prophecy and history as he put it in his own words.
First, it is very important to realize that the Seventh-day Adventist Church is much more than just another denomination. According to Revelation 10, it was born of God out of the disappointment of 1844, just as the New Testament church was born out of the disappointment of the cross in A.D. 31. In both instances, the followers of Christ misunderstood prophecy and were bitterly disappointed about those disappointing situations. But out of those disappointments, God providentially raised up a divine movement of destiny to impact the world. According to Revelation 12:17, God’s last-day people would be characterized by, first of all, keeping God’s commandments; and secondly, having the testimony of Jesus, which the angel identifies in Revelation 19:10 as the gift of prophecy.
According to Revelation 14:6-12, God’s end-time church would: a) proclaim the message of the everlasting gospel in the context of the three angels and the second coming of Christ; and b) would be calling “every nation, kindred, tongue, and people” to worship their Creator by keeping His Sabbath. There is no other religious movement in the world that fits this pattern. There is no other church or denomination that meets the criteria of Revelation 10, Revelation 12, and Revelation 14.
We could not agree more and would thus like to share the divine remedy for this loss of identity by introducing the advanced light that has been abundantly provided by inspiration to fit the very needs of our beloved church at this most critical time in earth’s history. Thus, let us begin a five part series were we will see what God’s Word has to say about the subjects found in Revelation Chapters 7, 12, and 14 as a remedy to our Laodicean malady. Please come and hear clear and direct answers to some of the many questions that brethren have been asking for years about our identity in prophecy coming straight from the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy.
The One Hundred and Forty and Four Thousand: Revelation Seven and Fourteen
“The ground of this most vital subject has been extensively covered in “The Shepherd’s Rod,” Vol. 1. Therefore, we intend to bring out only that phase which does not appear in the first volume. The following questions will be answered in this chapter:
- At the time the Lord commands the angel to seal them (the 144,000) are they found by that message in the world or in the church?
- At what time are they sealed?
- Why are they “virgins”?
- Why is there “no guile” in their mouth?
- Are they men only or of both sexes?
- Why are they called “servants of God”?
- Why are they Israel?
We quote from the writings of the “Spirit of Prophecy”: “This was the time of Jacob’s trouble. Then all the saints cried out with anguish of spirit, and were delivered by the voice of God. The one hundred and forty-four thousand triumphed. Their faces were lighted up with the glory of God.”—“Life Sketches,” page 117. Note that the 144,000 in number, were present in “the time of Jacob’s trouble.” According to the following quotation, that time of trouble commences immediately after the close of probation: “When Christ shall cease His work as mediator in man’s behalf, then this time of trouble will begin.”—“Patriarchs and Prophets,” page 201. That time of trouble is before any of the sleeping saints are resurrected, therefore the 144,000 are not resurrected, but are living saints who have never tasted death and are to be translated at the second coming of Christ.
The 144,000 Sealed While in the Church
To make this clear we must comment on the typical day of atonement. That notable day in the ceremonial system was a day of cleansing, judgment, and covering. The command was given that in the seventh month and on the tenth day of the month (day of atonement), every Israelite was to afflict his soul, confess his sin, and bring a sacrifice. He who failed to respond to the divine call was cut off (perished) from among God’s people. Therefore, it was a day of judgment and purification of the camp of Israel. While the sinner perished, the godly were preserved. This living example was set forth for our benefit at this present time, upon whom the anti-typical day of atonement is come. This picture in the earthly tabernacle is intended to point out the work in the heavenly.
When the judgment opened in 1844, as previously explained, the investigation began with the dead, and when that part of the work is finished, then commences the judgment of the living. While the investigation for the congregation of the dead is in progress, there can be no separation among the congregation of the living. But when our High Priest shall begin the atonement for the living, there must be a message of present truth—sounding of the trumpet—urging every one to lay hold on the Lamb of God (Christ) by which only, can he in figure, come to the sanctuary, confess his sin and secure his life. Unless the close of the judgment for the dead and the commencement for the living be made known to us, we would have no present truth while the judgment for the living is in session. Neither would such judgment be legal or just. He who fails to respond to the heavenly summons, will be left without the seal or covering of God, and therefore must be cut off from among His people, as prefigured by the services in the typical day of atonement.
Says the apostle: “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God.” (1 Peter 4:17.) The fact that to the “Seventh-day Adventist” church alone has come just such a message as the one mentioned, presented to them in “The Shepherd’s Rod,” Vol. 1, is an additional proof that this particular church is the house of God. This time of judgment is also called the “time of harvest.” “Let both grow together until the harvest,” said Christ, “and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.” (Matt. 13:30.) The words of our Master are in perfect harmony with the typical day of atonement, foretelling that it is a day of separating the tares from the wheat, or cutting off of the un-repentant sinners from among God’s people (purification of the church). Therefore, the harvest commences with the closing work for the church. Said Christ: “Let both grow together until the harvest.” In Revelation 14:4, speaking of the 144,000 we read, “They are the first fruits unto God and to the Lamb.” There-fore, it is evident that in the purification or separation of the tares from the wheat in the church of God, there shall be 144,000 who have confessed their sins; and are thus made white and clean by the precious blood of Christ, for they are “the first fruits.” This is also proven by the “Spirit of Prophecy,” for we read: “This sealing of the servants of God is the same that was shown to Ezekiel in vision.”—“Testimonies to Ministers,” page 445. We quote from “Testimonies for the Church,” Vol. 3, p. 266: “The true people of God, who have the spirit of the work of the Lord, and the salvation of souls at heart, will ever view sin in its real, sinful character. They will always be on the side of faithful and plain dealing with sins which easily beset the people of God. Especially in the closing work for the church, in the sealing time of the 144,000.”
Again on page 267: “Mark this point with care: Those who receive the pure mark of truth, wrought in them by the power of the Holy Ghost, represented by a mark by the man in linen, are those ‘that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done’ in the church. . . . Read the ninth chapter of Ezekiel. But the general slaughter of all those who do not thus see the wide contrast between sin and righteousness, and do not feel as those do who stand in the counsel of God and receive the mark, is described in the order to the five men with the slaughter weapons: ‘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.’ ”
The definition of “general” is: “extensive but not universal.” Therefore it does not mean the destruction of the world at the appearance of the Lord; but it has reference to the wicked in the church. This slaughter is literal, it is to separate and release God’s people from sin and sinners, otherwise the marking would be of no value. The same subject is again brought to view in “Testimonies for the Church,” Vol. 5, page 211: “Here we see that the church—the Lord’s sanctuary—was the first to feel the stroke of the wrath of God.” The wrath of God cannot, and never has been spiritual. We are again reminded that the 144,000 are the remnant: “Now indeed are the remnant ‘men wondered at’ . . . ‘In that day shall the branch of the Lord be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel. And it shall come to pass, That he that is left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, even every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem.’ ”—Id., page 476. Thus the 144,000 are those who are sealed in the judgment for the church, and with them the judgment for the living commenced. Therefore, they are the first fruits.
When this number is sealed, probation will close for the church, and the judgment for those who are in the world will commence. As the “tares” perish at the time when probation is closing for the church, just so at the close of the judgment for the world the sinners shall come to their end; the one is a figure of the other. It is said of the 144,000: “These are they which are not defiled with women for they are virgins.” (Rev. 14:4.) The “women” mentioned in this Scripture are symbols of impure churches. These “women” are brought to view in Revelation 17, under the figure of the woman sitting on the scarlet colored beast. We quote verse 5: “And upon her forehead was a name written, mystery, Babylon the great, the mother of harlots and abomination of the earth.” This mother and her daughters are the “women” with whom the 144,000 are not defiled, for the message of the sealing found them in the church. Thus being in the church of God when sealed, they are “virgins”—“not defiled with women” (with fallen churches).” — Shepherd’s Rod, Vol. 2, pp. 163-166