666man.net Main Menu
Revelation 7 and the 144,000
7 and the 144,000
The identity of the 144,000 who are
presented in Revelation 7 has been a source of speculation by many over
the years. There are those who contend that the number 144,000 is a literal
number of people. And there are those who believe that the number 144,000
is a symbolic number that represents a much larger group of people. Either
position may be supported from the Bible, so evidence for both positions
will be presented on this web page. It may well turn out that they are in
fact a literal 144,000 people. If you wish to compare more views on this,
here for a web site that is well done which presents evidence that
the 144,000 number is a literal number of people.
Just for the reader's information, the
author is of the personal opinion that the 144,000 are more likely representative
of the great multitude. This opinion is based on the evidence presented
in the Bible, but there also is evidence that can support the idea that
the 144,000 are a literal number of people. So, the author's opinion is
not stuck in concrete about this.
are the 144,000 in existence on earth?
If you have just come from the Five
Angels of Revelation 14 page, this section is virtually identical to the
same section in that web page, so click
here to skip to the next section.
There is reason to believe that the 144,000 are a group of
people living for God at the time of the second coming of Jesus. This assertion
is based on clear evidence presented at the end of Revelation 6. The evidence
for this is as follows. The first mention of the 144,000 in Revelation is
the sealing of the 144,000 in Revelation 7. This sealing of the 144,000
occurs during the time of the 6th seal, which begins with end-time events.
Here is what the opened 6th seal says:
Rev 6:12 And I beheld
when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake;
and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as
Rev 6:13 And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree
casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind.
Rev 6:14 And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together;
and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.
Rev 6:15 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 themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains;
Rev 6:16 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
Rev 6:17 For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able
In these verses, you can see that these people will be terrified at the
sight of Jesus' coming! And no wonder. It is a terrible sight that they
will see for they know that this is the end of the world - and their personal
end as well. At this terrifying sight, they express the question: WHO
SHALL BE ABLE TO STAND?
As if in answer to this very question, Revelation 7 turns attention to
the 144,000 who are sealed by God, and who are described as blameless in
Revelation 14. In Revelation 7 the instruction is given that the final troubles
to hit this world are to be held back by the angels of God until the 144,000
are sealed. Now, this sealing is sandwiched between the part of the vision
that is explaining the events of the 6th seal, and the opening of the 7th
seal. It is there to explain who will be able to stand, to answer the question
asked by the people who are terrified at the coming of Jesus - logically,
the answer is that only those who are sealed with the seal of God will be
able to stand. After the sealing is complete, the winds shall blow upon
the earth. Winds in prophetic literature are symbolic of strife among people
and nations (see Daniel 7 and think of the wars that allowed these empires
to be built). The winds in Revelation 7 correspond to the time of the 7
last plagues of Revelation 16 since they blow AFTER the 144,000 are sealed
(and refer also to the time of trouble such as has never been as written
in Daniel 12:1). Thus, things are presented a little out of order between
Revelation 6, 7, and 8, because the last thing in Revelation 6 is the second
coming of Jesus, but in 7, it backs up some in time in order to present
the answer to the question of "who shall be
able to stand"?
The opening of the 7th seal appears obscure, for all that happens is silence
in heaven for about half an hour after it is opened. The likely answer to
what is actually happening during the 7th seal can be found by considering
what happens with the preceding seal. During the 6th seal, the last thing
recorded that the wicked say is "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 6:16). Notice
that those who say these words see: (1) the face of Him who sits upon the
throne, and (2) the Lamb. The lamb is a symbol of Jesus in Revelation (see
Revelation 5 and John 1:36), while He who sits on the throne probably is
another reference to Jesus, but could logically be God the Father (see Revelation
4 and 5). Either way, the wicked are terrified and realize they are doomed.
The story context makes it clear that this event must be at the second coming
of Jesus because that will be the first time that Jesus appears to all the
inhabitants of earth since His return to heaven just after His crucifixion.
He must appear to them, or they would not say the things John heard them
say. And that is where the 6th seal ends - with the second coming of Jesus
and the wicked terrified of what is to happen to them.
Thus, to explain the 7th seal event, we need to understand that this "silence
in heaven" follows the 6th seal's completion. It seems to make sense
that the opening of the 7th seal must refer to the time when Jesus and all
the angels of heaven are returning from earth, because the 6th seal explains
the invasion of earth by Jesus along with all the angels of God and stops
there. The 7th seal would logically refer to the time spent returning to
heaven once the invasion is successfully completed, and, as a result, there
is silence in heaven, for there is no activity in heaven during
this time as before. In prophetic time, half an hour would be about 7-1/2
days of literal time (assuming a day for a year).
To reiterate, the identity of the 144,000 is: The
144,000 are those who have chosen to serve God and who are alive at the
second coming of Jesus. This must be so because only such a group could
answer the question of who
shall be able to stand?
the Number 144,000 Symbolic or Literal?
But the next logical question is this:
are the 144,000 a literal number of people, or is this number symbolic of
a much larger group of people? To answer this, one must realize that John
was shown a large multitude after he heard the description of the sealing
of the 144,000. Thus, it can be surmised that the large multitude is the
group that the 144,000 is symbolic of. In light of this, consider
the following table of characteristics of the two groups:
Revelation 14 - 144,000
Revelation 7 - Great
|Come out of the final tribulation
||Come out of the same final tribulation (are mentioned
between the 6th and 7th seals so must be the same tribulation)
|The sealing is described as being in the forehead and
12,000 for each tribe listed are sealed.
||Immediately follows the description of the sealing of
the 144,000 but no sealing is actually mentioned for this group. Yet
it must have happened or they would not be in heaven.
|Have the Father's name on their forehead (are sealed on
their foreheads with God's seal - from Revelation 7)
||The Father's name is in the foreheads of the great multitude,
as is true of all who are in heaven redeemed from earth (Revelation
|Are virgins - symbolic of being spiritually pure. God
calls His church a virgin - 2 Corinthians 11:2.
||Have washed their robes in the lamb's blood so are spiritually
|No deceit is found in their mouths.
||Because they are spiritually pure, they will have no deceit
in their mouths.
|Since these follow the lamb everywhere and the lamb lives
around the throne, it makes sense that He that is on the throne will
live among them. This is an indirect deduction as it does not directly
||He that is on the throne will live among them
|It says they are without fault before the throne of God.
They also follow the lamb everywhere, so it seems logical that they
also serve God day and night in His temple, but again this is an indirect
deduction as it does not directly say this.
||Serve God day and night in His temple
|Follow the lamb wherever He leads them
||Are always before the throne of God, serve God day and
night, and the lamb will lead them to fountains of living waters - so
it appears from this description that they follow the lamb wherever
He leads them
|Since these follow the lamb wherever He goes, it makes
sense that He would lead them in the same manner as He would the great
multitude - to fountains of living water. But this is an indirect deduction
and is not directly stated.
||The lamb feeds them and leads them to fountains of living
Revelation 14 - 144,000
Revelation 7 - Great
Are redeemed among men, Are firstfruits to God and
No corresponding characteristic mentioned
Sing their song before the throne, which nobody but
they can learn.
No corresponding characteristic mentioned
Evidence in favor
of the 144,000 being
symbolic of a much larger multitude
- If the number 144,000 is symbolic of a much larger
group, then there should be an explanation nearby of who these people
are. This is like the "many waters" of Revelation 17, for which
it explains later in the same chapter that "...The
waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes,
and nations, and tongues",
thereby placing the explanation of the "many waters" close by
the symbol itself. The explanation of the
symbols in Revelation is often nearby, though not always. As it happens,
right after John is told about the sealing of the 144,000, he is shown
a large multitude of people. There is no explanation of who these people
are except that they have come out of tribulation and have washed
their robes and made them white (the white robes is likely a symbol of
these people being spiritually pure and clean - see Revelation 19:8 about
this). But is this not true of the 144,000 also because they are alive
at the second coming of Jesus and therefore MUST have gone through the
same tribulation that occurs just before Jesus comes, and they too are
described as being spiritually pure? God always had a reason for showing
John something, and there appears no reason to show him these people other
than to explain who the 144,000 are. Their common experience with the
tribulation is not proof that the 144,000 are synonymous with the great
multitude, but logically, these are the people the 144,000 represent because
of the proximity of their presence in Revelation 7 - one explains the
other by their proximity - and their common experience of coming out of
- The 144,000 are shown on earth before their sealing
in Revelation 7, whereas in Revelation 14, their future is being shown
(which must be true because they are all about the throne). In Revelation
7, the great multitude appears in heaven right after John is shown the
144,000 on earth, so it is logical to conclude that when he is shown the
great multitude, he is being shown their future - about the throne of
- The characteristics of both groups are not identical
in all respects, but the crucial ones are. The crucial ones are the fact
that both groups are alive at the second coming, both groups come out
of the final tribulation, both groups are shown about the throne of God,
and the description of one follows the other. These are strongly suggestive
of the fact that both groups are one and the same.
- There are things that are literal in Revelation
and other things are used as symbols in Revelation, so why cannot numbers
be symbolic as well? Are all numbers literal in Revelation?
- If the 144,000 is literal, then we would not have much of a chance to
be among them, would we? Consider that in 2004, world population stands
at about 6.3 billion. That means that any one individual would have only
a 1 in 25,000 chance to be among this group. Not good odds!
- The tribes listed as being sealed are not in the same order or listing
the same tribes of Israel that are usually listed in the Old Testament.
The tribes of Dan and Ephraim are missing (they probably are omitted because
these two tribes are known in history to have apostatized more deeply
than the othre tribes whenever the Israelites turned away from the worship
of God.), and Joseph is listed instead of his two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh.
There really was no tribe of Joseph in ancient Israel because his sons
names were given to their descendants as tribes. But, this omission suggests
that each tribal name is symbolic of those who are pure in heart and not
backsliders against God. Thus, this argues against a literal representation.
- The tribes all had widely varying populations but in the list in Revelation
7, twelve thousand are sealed from each tribe. The number 12 is a significant
number in Revelation, being used to help represent the 12 tribes of Israel
before the birth of Christ and also to help represent the 12 apostles
after the birth of Christ (think of the 12 stars in the crown of the woman
of Revelation 12, and the 24 elders around the throne in Revelation 4
- remember that 2 x 12 = 24). With widely varying populations for each
tribe, if this number is meant to be literal, then it would suggest
(but NOT prove) that there should be different numbers sealed from each
tribe. And yet there are 12,000 from each tribe - an identical number
from each tribe. This would suggest that these numbers are symbolic and
are not literal.
a Literal Number of 144,000
- The number 12 is a significant number in Revelation, being used to help
represent the 12 tribes of Israel before the birth of Christ and also
to help represent the 12 apostles after the birth of Christ (think of
the 12 stars in the crown of the woman of Revelation 12, and the 24 elders
around the throne in Revelation 4). Thus, since the number 12 appears
to be used several places in Revelation to represent 12 literal people,
some conclude that the 144,000, which is also a multiple of 12, must also
be a number that is literal.
- The 144,000 sing a song before the throne that nobody but they can learn.
This is NOT mentioned for the great multitude.
- The 144,000 are said to be firstfruits to God. This is NOT mentioned
for the great multitude.
- All other numbers in Revelation appear to be literal and definite, so
this would suggest that the 144,000 number is also literal and definite.
The argument goes that if all other numbers are literal and definite,
then why should the number 144,000 be different?
- There is no statement saying that the 144,000 are the great multitude.
But this is probably a minor consideration because one could argue that
this is also true of the leopard beast of Revelation 13 and the talking
horn of Daniel 7, for which comparisons of their characteristics reveals
that they are one and the same powers being represented by different symbols.
Thus, this does not hold much weight.
- Not having much of a chance to be among the 144,000 should not concern
us too much for there is still the great multitude that one can be a part
of. Thus, the argument could go that we have no need to worry that the
number is literal or symbolic - which is true, but the question of whether
they are literal or symbolic is still of interest to many.
Summary About the 144,000
- Literal or Symbolic?
We cannot be certain that the number 144,000 is literal or symbolic based
on what the Bible reveals as far as the author is able to ascertain. The
author is of the opinion that the number 144,000 is symbolic of a much larger
multitude, but based on the Bible alone, we cannot be absolutely certain
of this. We can be reasonably certain that when God is ready, He will reveal
who the 144,000 are and whether they are a literal 144,000 or not. Until
then, it probably is best to hold to the actual facts known about this group
and avoid speculation beyond the facts. For this reason, while it is true
that the author has an opinion that the 144,000 may be the great multitude,
his opinion is not set in concrete. Further evidence may become available
and the author may find it necessary to change his opinion.
The reader can form his own opinion about this as well. When the time comes
and God makes it plain who and how many these people actually are, then
all speculation can stop for the facts will be before us, hopefully in plain
The Sealing of the 144,000
- What is it?
The sealing of the 144,000 is often misunderstood. To explain
it better and to allow this information to be shared between other web pages,
the author has prepared another web page on this site that explains the
Here to go to that page.
Top of Page