Revelation 7: The Sealing of the 144,000 and the Great Multitude
Over the years there has been much confusion within the Seventh-day Adventist church as to how many saints are going to be saved alive (i.e. translated) when Jesus comes in the clouds of glory. Is it only going to be 144,000 or is there a great multitude as well? From when and where do these two groups come? Answers to these perplexing questions are provided in the summary below which was first published in 1935 and continues to sound its clarion call for us to return to sound Bible based answers regarding this final harvest of souls in the end of this world.
“There have come to us a number of questions concerning the 144,000 the great multitude, and the slaughter of Ezekiel Nine, which we shall endeavor to answer in this for all.
Those who are desirous to know the truth on this subject, if they restudy “The Shepherd’s Rod” volumes one and two and the five tracts they will find therein their questions answered. However, for convenience’ sake we shall briefly call attention to some facts in answer to these questions.
As far as Ezekiel Nine meeting its fulfillment before the close of probation and the great multitude being a part of the living saints is concerned, even though “The Shepherd’s Rod” may be wrong as to the time of the slaughter, it is far better to place God’s visitation before the close of probation and prepare to meet the Lord now instead of putting it off until after the close of probation, for if we make ready now to meet the Lord in peace we shall also be ready then. Neither would we sin before God if we set our goal for a “great multitude” of saints instead of for 144,000 only. The doctrine of a pure church also is in God’s plan, but of a defiled one is in the plan of Satan. The sower of the evil seed is the only one who through his agencies by deed and by doctrine is determined to reduce the number of saints and to keep the church defiled by multiplying the “tares” among the “wheat.”
Permit us to call attention to a view of which, perhaps, most of the opponents of “The Shepherd’s Rod” have never thought of. If there are only 144,000 living saints to be translated at Christ’s coming, as claimed, then most, if not all, of the S.D.A. church member do not stand one chance in a thousand. Allow us to give account of this overwhelming statement.
We are told that our denomination is now numbering over 400,000, and though the Third Angel’s Message has entered many countries, in comparison with the parts of the world that it is yet to enter, it has but hardly touched the great harvest field. While thousands have heard its fearful warnings, there are millions after millions that have never heard even as much as the name “Seventh-day Adventist.”
If the present rate of growth should continue until the Third Angel’s Message shall be preached in all the world, can the reader comprehend the size of the S.D.A. denomination when Christ comes? As there is no fear of decreasing but rather increasing the present percentage of growth as we are told from the pulpit from Sabbath to Sabbath, it is certain that the denomination at the second coming of Christ will have reached into millions. Here is the point. If there are only 144,000 to be translated without tasting death, then the millions of living S.D.A.’s at the close of probation will have to die either by the seven last plagues or by the brightness of His coming if not translated. Consequently ask yourselves, What chance do you stand?
Moreover, what is the use of bringing a multitude into the church, making them believe that they are saved when in reality they are lost? As it is contrary to God’s desire to bring into the church those who are not saved (tares) the brethren’s position of only 144,000 living saints is nothing short than of a thought which conveys the idea that the denominational rapid growth, as told by sweeping statements from the pulpits, is not God’s doing, but the doing of the sower of the evil seed whose chief business is to choke out the wheat by a full field of “tares.” Is not such a program a most terrible deception rather than salvation?
Doubtless our brethren are honest in their conclusions of the statement in “Early Writings,” p. 15, as they see it, for it conveys the idea that the 144,000 are the only living saints who are to be translated. We would have come to the same conclusion had we not gone further than that particular page of “Early Writings.” Let us call attention to several passages of inspired revelations on this vital subject which to our understanding refutes the brethren’s position of Ezekiel Nine, of the 144,000 and of the great multitude.
If they can make the following fit their interpretations of the great multitude, the 144,000, and of the slaughter, we shall be pleased to have them set us right, but if they cannot do so then we hope they would be humble enough to admit that their idea on the subject is unreliable as they would expect us to do had we been in their position. We know that all the contradictions brought to bear against “The Shepherd’s Rod” thus far, have served to confirm many in its message, for no other idea have we ever found that could harmonize every Bible and Spirit of Prophecy statement in connection with the Third Angel’s Message than the one presented by “The Shepherd’s Rod.”
The apparent discrepancies between the Rod and the Spirit of Prophecy are fabricated by men whose minds are filled with private interpretations, opinions of uninspired men, self-exaltation, etc., to such an extent that their vision of the Scriptures and the writing of Sr. White has so greatly shrunk that they cannot see both ends of one subject at the same time, and when they are brought face to face with the truth they prefer to change their former position rather than to acknowledge the truth! We can prove this statement in black and white through the official organs of the denomination, i.e., “The Review and Herald,” and “The Signs of the Times,” etc.
For the sake of brevity we are calling attention to one instance only. Any one can either procure or find access to “The Signs of the Times,” of May 3, 1927 in which appears an article entitled, “The 144,000, Their Triumph and Reward.” There you will find that before “The Shepherd’s Rod” came the denomination was then teaching the subject of the 144,000 and of the great multitude exactly as “The Shepherd’s Rod” has it; that is, the 144,000 are to be sealed first, being the firstfruits, and then by their ministry they are to bring the second fruits, “the great multitude,” and that both companies are living saints!
By changing their former position in an attempt to refute the message of the hour they declare that their teaching, regarding these two fruits, in 1927 was erroneous, and may we not ask them now, What assurance have they given us that their latest interpretation is correct?
Here follow questions for the opponents of “The Shepherd’s Rod” to consider.
In “Testimonies for the Church,” Vol. 9, pp. 267, 268, we find that Sr. White quotes Revelation 6:12-17 and 7:9-17 where it tells of the “great multitude” and how the wicked are to be frightened when Christ manifests His power prior to the commencement of the millennium. Then she adds: “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. They misinterpreted the messages sent them, and clothed themselves in robes of self-righteousness.”
If the great multitude are the righteous dead of all ages how could they be living together with the wicked just before Christ’s coming, and how could they while dead accept the messages? Would not John have seen them arise if they were the resurrected ones? If the Bible does not say they are the dead then what right have “those who have betrayed their trust”? As our brethren have a perfect right to demand that “The Shepherd’s Rod” should prove its doctrines by Inspiration, we ask, Are not their doctrines subject to the same test? If there is only one close of probation, no purification of the church, and the slaughter of Ezekiel meets its fulfillment only after the close of the final probation, then how do they explain the following statements which are applicable at the time when the warning of Ezekiel Nine is proclaimed to the church. Says the Spirit of Prophecy:
“Here we see that the church — the Lord’s sanctuary — was the first to feel the stroke of the wrath of God. The ancient men, those to whom God has given great light, and who had stood as guardians of the spiritual interests of the people, had betrayed their trust. They had taken the position that we need not look for miracles and the marked manifestation of God’s power as in former days. Times have changed. These words strengthen their unbelief, and they say, The Lord will not do good, neither will He do evil. He is too merciful to visit His people in judgment. Thus peace and safety is the cry from men who will never again lift up their voice like a trumpet to show God’s people their transgressions and the house of Jacob their sins. These dumb dogs, that would not bark, are the ones who feel the just vengeance of an offended God. Men, maidens, and little children, all perish together.” (Testimonies for the Church,” Vol. 5, p. 211.)
Note that the slaughter took place in the church, and that because the ministry had betrayed their trust. They rejected the warning and contended against the fulfillment of Ezekiel Nine as a miracle. They said, “The Lord will not manifest His power as in former days” and Inspiration places the blame on them for the sins among God’s people.
If the slaughter comes after the close of probation, how could God finish His work with wicked ministers who have betrayed their trust? If the slaughter falls after the close of probation, and if they believed in its fulfillment, how could they say, “The Lord will not manifest His power as in former days….He is too merciful to visit His people in judgment”? For the ministry unanimously agrees that God will manifest His power after the close of probation. Therefore, the prophetic Word of God in the above reveals the fact that the ministers will reject the fearful warning as foretold by the prophet Ezekiel.
They have made the term “general destruction” of “The Testimonies for the Church,” Vol. 3, p. 267 to mean the destruction of the wicked in the church and in the world all at the same time. But let us allow Sr. White to interpret her own meaning of the word “general destruction.” It will be noticed in “The Great Controversy,” p. 26, while speaking of the destruction of ancient Jerusalem, says those who did not desert the city were “involved in the general destruction of the wicked.” Therefore, if the words “general destruction of the wicked” at the time Jerusalem was destroyed did not mean all the wicked; both in the church and in the world, why should the same words mean now the destruction of the wicked in the church and in the world?
If the present corrupt ministry is to remain in the church until after the close of probation, then what about the following quotation which comes from the pen of inspiration and was published in “The Review and Herald,” of Nov. 19, 1908? “Only those who have withstood and overcome temptation in the strength of the Mighty One will be permitted to act a part in proclaiming this message when it shall have swelled into the Loud Cry.”
The above quotation clearly states that no impure ministers will have a part in the work of the Loud Cry of the Third Angel’s Message! If the church is to remain in her present condition till the close of probation, how could the above quotation be correct which is just as authoritative as “Early Writings,” p. 15, and how could it be said of the church:
“Clad in the armor of Christ’s righteousness, the church is to enter upon her final conflict. ‘Fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners,’ she is to go forth into all the world, conquering and to conquer” (“Prophets and Kings,” 725), if the church is to be defiled and demoralized until her work is finished and probation closed?
If the purification of the church is to take place after the close of probation and if the present church leadership is to complete the work, then how can our brethren explain the following quotation which is found in “The Testimonies for the Church,” Vol. 5, p. 80, from which we quote?
“But the days of purification of the church are hastening on apace. God will have a people pure and true….Those who have trusted to intellect, genius, or talent, will not then stand at the head of rank and file….They are self-sufficient, independent of God, and He can not use them…The Lord has faithful servants, who in the shaking, testing time will be disclosed to view….But, it may be under a rough and uninviting exterior the pure brightness of a genuine Christian character will be revealed.”
If the purification takes place after the gospel work is finished, then why should He disclose another set of servants, and why say, After the purification He cannot use those who are self-sufficient and independent of God?
If the living saints are only 144,000, why are they called the “firstfruits”? If there are no second fruits (the great multitude) how could the 144,000 be called the “firstfruits,” seeing that where there is no second there can be no first? Grant that their interpretation of the “firstfruits” is correct and that “firstfruits” means the best and not first in time, it, too, calls for second fruits; that is, even though the 144,000 be the best instead of the first, there still must be second fruits in quality if not in time, which does not only mean another company of living saints, but also greater in number, than 144,000, as nature reveals by the fact that seconds always in quantity exceed the firsts.
If there is no slaughter before the close of probation, then how do our brethren explain Isaiah 66:16, 19, 20 where it says those who escape from the slain of the Lord were sent “unto the nations” to declare God’s “glory among the Gentiles” and that those who escape from the slaughter “shall bring all your brethren…unto the Lord out of all nations “?
If those who escape from the slaughter were sent to all nations and brought all the brethren are not the 144,000 in the time when the message shall go to all the world then who are they? If they escape from a slaughter after the close of probation, why should they declare God’s “glory among the Gentiles” if He cannot save them at that time? Moreover, if the “general destruction” takes all the Gentiles (the wicked) there would be none left to whom the escaped ones could declare God’s glory.
If the brethren can harmonize the above quotations with their interpretation of the 144,000 and of the great multitude, we will be glad to know it, and if not we hope that they will take their stand on the side of present truth.
We are sorry that some of our brethren strain at a gnat and swallow a camel by stressing the statement in “Early Writings,” p. 15, and by ignoring hundreds of pages from the same author. Their question, Why “Early Writings,” p. 15, speaks of the 144,000 only and says nothing of the great multitude, may also be asked of Daniel for he, in like manner, foretold only of the rise of the papacy and said nothing of its deadly wound. Hence, as they contend with “The Shepherd’s Rod” by taking a position which compels them to go no further than Sr. White’s first vision and first publication, then they might as well take issue with John the Revelator who adds the deadly wound to Daniel’s vision!” — Vol. 1 Symbolic Code No. 18, pp. 7-10