We continue our discussion on the historical identity of the Seventh-day Adventist church as found in the Revelation chapters 7, 10, 12, and 14 by looking more closely at the 144,000 servants of God. This a Part Two of a five part series, for part one in this series please click here.
The Servants of God in the Time of the Harvest
In Revelation 7:3, the 144,000 are called “The servants of our God.” If servants, then they must have duties to perform. They are again brought to view by the prophet Isaiah in connection with the purification of the church and the destruction of the wicked: “And I will set a sign among them, and I will send those that escape (the 144,000) of them into the nations. . . . And they shall bring all your brethren for an offering unto the Lord out of all nations, . . . in a clean vessel into the house of the Lord”—the church. (Isa. 66:19, 20.) “And the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel.” (Isa. 4:2.) Therefore, the 144,000 are called “servants.” (For further study of Isa. 66, see “The Shepherd’s Rod,” Vol. 1, pp. 165-172.)
It is also said of this wonderful company: “And in their mouth was found no guile.” (Rev. 14:5.) This Scripture makes it clear that the gospel they proclaim is altogether the true Word of God. Therefore, the message they present to the world cannot be questioned as to its purity. The prophet of Patmos after speaking of the sealing of the 144,000 says: “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 hand.” (Rev. 7:9.) Therefore, this great multitude is gathered from all nations, after the closing work for the church, and in the time of the great harvest. The palms in their hands signify victory over the beast and his image, death and the grave. One of the elders before the throne said of them: “These are they which came out of great tribulation” (the time of Jacob’s trouble). (Verse 14.) The servant of the Lord also bears witness in the following quotations: “’And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid them-selves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; and said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of Him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: for the great day of His wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?’ Rev. 6:14-17.
“ ‘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. . . . These are they which came out of great tribulation and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb’ . . . Rev. 7:9, 17.
“In these Scriptures two parties are brought to view. One party permitted themselves to be deceived, and took sides with those with whom the Lord has a controversy.”—“Testimonies for the Church,” Vol. 9, pp. 267, 268. As the Spirit of Prophecy points out these two companies (those who cried for the rocks, and those with the palms) both living in the time of the great tribulation and the wrath of God, it is evident that the great multitude with the palms in their hands are living saints won to the gospel in the time of the harvest by the work of the 144,000.
Are the 144,000 of Both Sexes?
The command to mark this company so that they fall not under the slaughter weapons by the figure of the five men, reads as follows: “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.” (Ezekiel 9:4.) Because the Word says: “Set a mark upon the foreheads of the men,” therefore some have held the position that the entire company is made up of men only. The second reason given for this erroneous idea is that they are to be kings and priests and there-fore they must be men. The idea carried by these passages can-not be sustained by other portions of Scripture. Thus we are compelled to study deeper into the subject.
While Ezekiel calls them “men,” John says they are “virgins.” (Rev. 14:4.) Now, if we should take the position that Ezekiel means men only, then we can as well say, John means women only. Can it be possible that one writer should contradict the other? No indeed. We conclude by the following Scriptures that the 144,000 are of both sexes: “The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the light, that all men through him might believe.” (John 1:7.) “All men,” must include both men and women, otherwise salvation would be for men only. “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” (John 12:32.) If the word all men in this text does not include both sexes, then the women are lost. “And the time of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent.” (The Acts 17:30.) Again, if “all men” include not both male and female, then women are not commanded to repent. It is evident that the noun, men, is a collective Biblical term of both men and women. The same is true by creation, for, God made the woman of the man. Therefore, she is a woman. Again in Gal. 3:28, we read: “There is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”
Since there is no difference between either sex in Christ, then we see that women as well as men can be kings and priests. The same thought can be carried out by the experience of the Jewish nation: “And Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, she judged Israel at that time. . . . And the children of Israel came up to her for judgment.” (Judges 4:4, 5.) This woman held a man’s position, being a judge of God’s people, which is equivalent to a king. Not only a king, but she was a prophetess as well. Again we read in Luke 2:36,37, “And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; and she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.” Also the wife of Shallum being a prophetess taught Israel and controlled the college. (See 2 Kings 22:14-16.) Phillip the evangelist had four daughters who also did prophesy. (See The Acts 21:8, 9.)
From Paul’s statement in 1 Timothy 2:12, “I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence,” you will note the meaning here is, that the woman is to be in subjection to the man as God had ordained, and not that she is forbidden to hold the office of a teacher. Again we quote, “Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law.” (1 Cor. 14:34.) Read the chapter and you will see that Paul wishes to establish order in the churches, for there was great confusion by speaking in unknown tongues. Therefore, to silence the confusion, he says: “Let your women keep silence in the churches.” He is not forbidding them to speak if they have a duty to perform. If this lesson was heeded in this age there would be a great change for the better in the house of God.
In the beginning God created both the man and the woman equal, as king and queen. “And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” (Gen. 1:28.) Note that the dominion was given to them both. However, after they sinned a change was made: “Unto the woman He said, . . . thy desire shall be to thy husband, and He shall rule over thee.” (Gen. 3:16.) So, after the woman sinned she fell under the government of man. But that which Eve lost by deception, shall be restored by redemption. Thus again the equality of both shall be established as kings and queens. Therefore, “There is neither male nor female in Christ Jesus.” Christ himself confirms the idea in the following expression: “For when they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels which are in heaven.” (Mark 12:25.)
Thus the noun “men” used by Ezekiel, and the noun “virgins” by John is a collective Biblical term comprehending both. Furthermore, the denomination numbers a little over 300,000 at present time. Only about a third of them are men. If every man was sealed and numbered as one of the 144,000, we still would be far short of reaching the total. Again we note at the time of the passover in Egypt the blood on the door-post was a type of the marking or sealing. (“The Shepherd’s Rod,” Vol. 1, pp. 96-98.)
In that night wherever the blood appeared on the door-post, the first born whether male or female, perished not, just so now, those who receive the seal, have applied the blood on the door-post (forehead), and as the first born of both classes, those who died and those who did not, were a type of the present priesthood (ministry), evidently, the type points forward to a ministry in the anti-type made up of both sexes—the first born who died represent the class that shall fall under the slaughter weapons of the five men; and the first born who escaped from death, represent the class that shall receive the mark of the man with the writer’s inkhorn and pass from death to life. Thus the first born who lived and passed through the red sea, are a type of the 144,000. The first fruits of the harvest, are the servants of God in the time of the “loud cry” of the Third Angel’s Message.
After the purification of the church and the sealing of the servants of God, then the message in the 18th chapter of Revelation shall culminate in a “loud cry:” “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.” (Verse 4.) As the saints hear the voice of the good Shepherd in the gospel message, they separate them-selves from the world and join the 144,000. While this sifting process in the fallen churches is in progress, the man with the writer’s inkhorn seals those who come out. When all the saints shall come out of Babylon into the church, then the work of the man with the writer’s inkhorn shall cease and probation will close. (See “Early Writings,” p. 279.) Therefore, the activity of the five men with the slaughter weapons shall continue and their work will cease when Christ comes to take His saints, for it is they who have charge of the city—church. (See Ezek. 9:1; “The Great Controversy,” p. 656.) Then the present world will come to an end and the millennium of desolation commence; during which time the saints shall judge the wicked.
The 144,000 are called Israel because their experience is a duplication of that of Ancient Israel going out of Egypt to possess the promised land. Ancient Egypt is a symbol of the world. The Egyptian bondage is a symbol of the bondage of sin. The exodus movement is a type of the church separating from sin and sinners. The destruction of the first born in Egypt and the drowning in the red sea, denotes the destruction of the wicked in the separation of the saints. The wilderness is a symbol of the church being apart from the world. The destruction of the disobedient in the wilderness, is an illustration of keeping the church clean after being purified. The possession of the promised land is a type of Israel (the saints) possessing the world. The war against the heathen in the promised land denotes the destruction of the wicked in the world. We are going over the same road once again, and in so doing, we must avoid the mistakes that were made in the former experience.” – Shepherd’s Rod, Vol. 2, pp. 166-170