A Hollywood movie depicted the exploits of “The Three Hundred” – a group of blood thirsty Spartan soldiers who held off the armies of Persia. And of recent origin is the “Three Hundred, of British Commonwealth fame, who mingled their financial resources for reorganizing the World Empire of Britain .
A compilation of Hollywood and historical fiction, pulled together a novel cinematic drama called, “The Dirty Dozen” – a group of heroic WWII soldiers who outwitted the German Veer Mark, Gestapo, and Allied Intelligence, in a rascal’s exploit of chasing the pot of gold. A dozen has been the way of juries for hundreds of years, and there are twelve months in a year. But the Bible presents the number twelve as a perfect number of government, when ten is the government of man. It is no wonder that the Bible lauds a different number of souls – who are not so gallant by worldly measures, nor are they worldly rich, but spiritual in nature and chosen by God – the 144,000.
They appear in Chapters 7 and 14 of revelations, as a focal point of great interest, yet for some mysterious reason, no scholar of modern vintage, can ascertain exactly who they represent. The Roman Catholic Church interprets them as sanctified priests, since scripture states that this special group, “…did not defile themselves with women” – so they must be unmarried. Some Protestant commentators view this group as Jewish Billy Grahams – ready to evangelize the world, even though scripture says nothing about Billy Graham or the 144,000 evangelizing anyone. Some interpret them as the remnant Jews, others the Church, and others yet, both the church and the redeemed remnant of Jews. And others yet, say there is a difference between the 144,000 in chapter 7 and the 144,000 in chapter 14.
What do we know about the number twelve:
Twelve, it appears, is unlucky by one, for a dice player’s hopeful eleven. There are two dice with six sides each – that add to twelve sides total. Yet, the value of the individual marked six sides adds up to 21 for each dice, or 42 for both. If we divide 21 by 7 we receive the numeral 3 – a divine number – hence we get the rational, “seven come eleven” – a possibility of two wins.
I researched the etymology of the number twelve. I found that in the Hebrew, the letter ‘yod’ [ י] which translates to the letter ‘Y’ in English, equals the number one . God’s personal name begins with the letter ‘yod;’ while the letter ‘bet’ [ב] translates to the letter ‘B’ in English, and equals the number two . Oddly, ‘bet’ [ב] looks like the character of the number two!
Additionally, I found that the number twelve in English comes from the prehistoric German, ‘twa’ and ‘lif’ that commands the idea of; “two over ten.” The Greek and Hebrew follow the same pattern – ‘do deka’ and ‘shenem asar’ respectively, meaning, “two over ten” or “two and ten.” Apparently, when Yehovah, confused the languages, he did not confuse the basic logic of mathematical skill, and that of the “base ten.” Therefore, the consistent idea for counting remained, 1 to 10 and starts over again, by adding some integer over the initial ten.
“For men to count, I suppose,
Came from ten fingers, and ten toes.” [F.J.V. 2014]
All of this is quite interesting, but WORTHLESS in determining who the 144,000 are. Yet, I have gone through all this trouble to demonstrate that many hidden things in this world, and especially those of the Bible, are not always discernible by the human rigors of intellectualized mathematics, or pseudo-spirituality, commonly understood as “dividing” and “divining.” Life becomes strange when someone tries to delve the mathematical possibilities of what is hidden, or search out reason by the occult Kabbalah or I-Ching.
“The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law ” [Deut.29:29].
“He reveals the deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him” [Dan.2:22].
There are some facts that can be reasoned, even from this highly symbolic book, if we break it down sentence by sentence and apply proper hermeneutics to the passages, by way of Greek word analysis. We can walk away with a universal understanding forged by God’s wisdom – if we seek him with all our heart and mind.
What Do We Know Concerning the 144,000 that is not Under Debate?
We know that the New Jerusalem [Rev.21] is 12,000 strata wide, by 12,000 strata long, by 12,000 strata high, which may give us a hint. It also has 12 foundation stones and 12 gates. There are 12 patriarchs of Israel, and 12 disciples, and there are twenty four elders in Heaven [Rev.4:4]. It is also has a wall that is 144 cubits think. The city has 12 foundation stones and the children of God [Christians] are referred to as “living stones” that are being built into a spiritual house” [1Pe.2:5]. Paul states that we build with gold and precious stones, when we erect the spiritual House or Temple [literal Gk., ‘naos,’ – the sanctuary within the Temple; 1Cor.3:12, 17; Eph2:21-22]. Further, the New Jerusalem is called the “Bride of Christ” [Rev.21:2, 9]. It is adorned for her husband, which is the equivalent designation for the redeemed saints of the Lord [Is.62:5; 2Cor.11:2].
Additionally, Jesus promised the disciples that he went to prepare a place for them – saying, where he was, they would also be [Jn.14:3], which is an equivalent statement made of the 144,000 – for they went wherever the risen Savoir went [Rev.14:4]. And the 144,000 had the name of God written upon their foreheads [Rev14:1], as was promised to overcomers from the Philadelphian church [Rev.3:12].
And finally the 144,000 are called “first fruits” [Rev.14:4] – as is Israel [1Cor.11:16]; as is Epenetus, who was the first Christian convert, in the province of Asia [Rom.16:5]. The church as well is referred to as First Fruits [1Cor.15:20-23; Jas.1:18]. Additionally the 144,000 kept their robes clean, just as the Christians are admonished to keep their robes clean [Rev. 3:4, 18; 7:9]
In summary, the 144,000 are defined as the bride, the first fruits, precious stones, the temple of God, the city of God, with the name of God written on their foreheads, as are the redeemed children of God [Christians]. They also had clean robes as do Christians. The city has twelve gates and twelve foundation stones, and the redeemed Old Testament saints and Christians have twelve patriarchs and twelve apostles respectively.
Identification of the 144,000:
For the last 1,900 years, educated men tended to be over cautious when claiming an absolute – especially when there are so many differing scholarly opinions. From the Dark Ages through to the Reformation, any Christian who evinced a minority opinion could get one a quick trial and hanging. Since the late 1600’s, scholars have banded into schools of thought that parrot one another – believing that sheer numbers of adherents give them the edge on truth. Individual professional scholars do not want to be the first person to upset the apple cart of accepted knowledge. Fortunately, though well educated, but I have no erudite reputation to worry about – nor do I belong to any celebrated Ecclesia or Fraternal Order form which to break rank. I am able to speak confidently of the obvious interpretation. Duplicity and fear are not my concerns.
In simplicity: since Revelations is a symbolic book, which uses hidden meanings, and is abundant with metaphors, we can safely interpret that the 144,000 as a number of divine completion of redeemed saints, Old Testament and New. It is that simple!
Please note that their number designation [144,000] is juxtaposed against the number 666 in Rev.13:18. It is notable that the number 666 to be found in the Old Testament, is related to the gold talents given to Solomon every year as, tribute [1Kg.10:14]. Oddly the 666 talents equilibrate to 16 tons, which may account for the old Negro-spiritual song: “Sixteen Tons” – a musical malady that describes working and sweating for an overlord, yet receiving nothing.
The 666 is a designation for the full complement of peoples that make up the Beast [Rev.13:1-2; 17:2-3], which is also viewed as the system of men, to include those that refuse Christ, and aptly describes the system of commerce upon which the Whore of Babylon sits or regulates. A similar yet secular description of the Beast is to be found in “The Leviathan,” by Thomas Hobbs – an English philosopher. The Leviathan is demonstrated as a king, who looms over the earth with palladium and crosier in one hand and a sword in the other. Upon closer examination his gigantic body is made of thousands of individual persons of the kingdom.
Hence, as man has precious commodities, which are referred to as labor, gold and merchandize – from which to buy slave-souls among men. God also has the precious commodity of Christ. God the Father uses the sacrifice of his Son to purchase men’s souls. These souls have the value of gold, silver, and precious gems. Satan can only accommodate a total prize value of 666, while God’s prize value is a double portion, 12 x 12 or 12 tribes x 12000 members, or 12 tribes of the Patriarchs, together with 12 tribes of the Apostles.
Exegesis Problems Refuted:
There are only two problems that may cause some doubt as to my interpretation. The 144,000 are said to be from every tribe of Israel and that the 144,000 were virgins, since it states; “…and there were sealed 144,000 of the tribes of the children [Gk., ‘huios’ = sons, in general] of Israel” [Rev.7:4], and that “they did not defile [Gk., ‘moluno,’ = to smear with mud, used in a figurative sense of conscience] themselves with women [Gk., ‘gunaikarion’ = silly women], for they kept themselves pure [Gk., ‘parthenos’ = literally, one put aside; virgin; used ten times figuratively and three times literally]” [Rev.14:4].
These odd but specific attributes tend to make us hesitate, simply because we view these statements as attributes to be seen, when in fact the whole book is symbolic.
FIRSTLY, any evangelical, or student of the Bible, knows that the promise of inheritance was given to Abraham. Those Old Testament saints that died in Abraham are redeemed souls who Christ preached to, during his three days in the grave [1Pe.3:19; Eph.4:8-10]. As Christians we are heirs with them [Rom.4:13, 16-17; Gal.3:29] and have access to the promises of Abraham. It follows that we are the Children of Abraham, and by symbology and typology, are members of the twelve redeemed tribes. Israel always typifies the people of God – a nation taken out of all the earth – from among men. Christians are also the people of God, since we have been redeemed from mankind [Rom.8:22-23; Eph.1:7, 14; Col.1:13-14; Rev.5:9-10].
I am NOT advancing the doctrine that the Church replaced the Jews as the people of God, but only that we have been grafted in as, “wild branches” [Rom.11:17] – full heirs to the promises.
The phrase, “…tribes of the children of God,” uses ‘hurios’ in the Greek, for “children,” and is a general designator used metaphorically, not as a specific name category. If the phrase was meant to specifically describe Hebrews or Jewish peoples, via decadency, the Greek would have expressed the word, ‘teknon,’ or ‘padion,’ which is used in the natural, and gives prominence to a fact of literal birth, or earthly established relations. However they can be used metaphorically as well.
“Understand then that those who believe are the children of Abraham” [Gal.3:7]
SECONDLY, concerning the Rev.14:4 description that the 144,000, who never defiled themselves with women, needs to be address from Old Testament standards, and New Testament word analysis. Women and their faithful marriage or their unfaithfulness [whorings], have always typified the contextual characteristics of faithful Hebrews and Christians, or unfaithful Israel, or mankind. The Old Testament abounds with descriptions of Israel as a harlot. This Biblical theme is exegeted from Genesis 2, multiple prophesies and complaints by Yehovah, and Jesus Christ own teaching. The following theme is extracted: woman “came out” of man, not man from woman [Gen.2:22-23; 1Cor.11:8-10]. Jesus stated; everything that comes “out of man” is defiled, and defiles [Mt.15:11]. It was the woman who sinned first and led her husband astray [Gen.3:1-7; 1Tim.2:14].
These things have been repeated for their metaphoric value. I am not claiming that women are worse sinners then men, but God has determined, that the female of our species is more susceptible to deception than men. Hence, she defiles more effectively than most men.
As the woman in the Old Testament typified Israel, who was Yehovah’s bride or wife, and had become unfaithful, so too the church is either faithful or unfaithful [Rev3:1-4], and also carries the designation of the Bride of Christ [2Cor.11:2].
Revelation continues this same theme with the Whore of Babylon, which was previously mentioned in Is.47:1, 5, 8-10. The Old Testament “Whore” typified the Babylonian system of worship that involved a religious syncretism invested in idolatry, worldly mammon and pleasure. Nah.1:11-12; 3:4 is a good example.
To, “…come out of her my people…” [Rev.18:4], does not mean to come out of the Roman Church or the liberal Protestant sects, but to come out of the thinking that absorbs the recalcitrant people of the earth, who are slaves of Babylon. Come out of your desires of lust, for valuables, for pleasure, and adornments, and let God make an honest woman – a bride – a wife – of you. He will adore your with gifts, and love you completely.
I do not want to be misunderstood as a misogynist, but I must write, and point out, what God has said – how it was and should be construed – regardless of how some may read and interpret the gender characterizations. The fact is, women dress up, and use cosmetics, perfumes and bobbles for the purpose of alluring a mate – men do not! Although there are male prostitutes and gigolos, it is without challenge that women dominate the field of the “oldest profession.”
The Hebrews or Jerusalem and Christians are always called to be chaste virgins – brides for God [Is.62.5; Jer.18:13; Lam.1:15; 2Cor.11:2]. However, many times they become dissolute whores that should desire their husband (God), but do not [Jer.2:1-5; 3:6]. The faithful, both of the Old and New Testaments, have also been described as sons of God. This concept of unfaithfulness or whoredom is restated in farming terms as, stubborn heifers, sheep and goats that God renounces [Hos.4:16, Zech.11:7-11].
Rev.14:4 can now be exegeted [interpreted] with the reminder of “women,” “wife,” “spouse,” faithful and unfaithful, present in the meaning.
Rev 14:4 states that ‘these’, [Gk., ‘houtoi,’ = those or these], and DOES NOT SAY “men” or “Hebrews.” It is a general designator which means anyone whether Gentile of Jew – female or male – freeman or slave.
Of “these” they did not, in a metaphoric sense, pollute [Gk., ‘moluno’] or muddy themselves with women [Gk., ‘gunaikarion’] – literally, “silly or little women.” This word is a derogatory descriptor of these women, which infers a loose behavior spiritually, psychologically and physically, as used in 2Tim.3:6;
“…weak willed women [gunaikarion- silly women], who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth.”
Muddying themselves means: a man or woman with evil desires, being swayed into heretical or apostate doctrines, while constantly reeducating themselves, but never getting a firm grip on the important themes and commandments – these are considered “silly women” [‘gunaikarion’]. Therefore, the people designated in Rev.7: as keeping their purity, are simply the faithful followers of Jesus Christ, and of both genders, who have NOT soiled their righteous garments with mud [‘moluno’] – the pollution of worldly sin. To reiterate, they had NOT “defiled” themselves [‘moluno’ in the Greek].
And the reason they were not “muddied” by the “silly women” – specifically, “The Whore of Babylon,” is because it states in the NIV that they; “kept themselves pure.” The original Greek states, “for celibates they are” – a sort of, “Yoda of Star Wars” syntax. The KJV translates it as, “…for they are virgins” [Gk., ‘parthenos,’ = chaste, virgin, or one put to the side]. This word does not favor male or female – Greek or Jew – free or slave. The purpose here is meant spiritually, not physically.
The final idea is this: the 144,000 are individuals “placed themselves to the side as betrothed virgins.” By obedience they made themselves holy (separated), for Jesus Christ. They did not indulge themselves in the affairs of the World, the Flesh and the Devil. They came out of the Great tribulation free from the effects of Babylon. Instead of getting into every drug, every fad, every sexual behavior, every lust of the eye, every desire for wealth, every new spiritual inclination – they instead, opted for saving themselves for Jesus, by avoiding many of the entrapments of modern society – such as: exhibitionism, who’s who, voyeurism, recreational drugs, trash talk, avoiding sycophantism of the entertainment lords, divas, effeminates and commercial marketing hucksters.
I am sorry if this explanation of the 144,000 doesn’t fit with Roman Church doctrines of virgin priests; or Evangelical Protestant doctrines of Jewish Billy Grahams, but the reader can judge for himself. My explanation is true and meets the general interpretations and teachings from the Gospels and Epistles, proper Greek translation, and as well, Old and New Testament themes concerning the redeemed [faithful] of the Lord.
A perspicacious student will realize that once he understands this explanation of the “Twelve Dozen of Revelation,” it automatically changes his view on a great many other frivolous periphery explanations, concerning the modern Pre-Tribulation theology. One cannot escape the interpretation, that the 144,000, who are Christians, will be present during portions of the Great Tribulation.
It behooves every Bible student not to go off on fancy indulgences of interpretations that have little foundation in the word of God. What I have experienced is that God tells us His plan in different many ways – over and over again – so that if we do not understand his method from one teaching, we would understand it from another. I am a teacher by training and trade, and the two things any intelligent teacher does, is to: (1) find many ways of expressing the same theme; (2) reassert and repeat the information over and over. Learning is of first; repetition, followed by understanding, so that the student can be equipped to judge rightly, by wisdom – in any area of morality, or civil discourse.