What people are included in the 144,000? from Compelling Truth
The 144,000 mentioned in the Bible are found in Revelation 7:2-4, which reads, “Then I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, with the seal of the living God, and he called with a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm earth and sea, saying, ‘Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.’ And I heard the number of the sealed, 144,000, sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel.” Who are these 144,000?
The following verses (Revelation 7:5-8) clearly note that these individuals include 12,000 people from each of the tribes of Israel. They are also mentioned as being servants of God, which indicates their role as believers. They are Jews who have received salvation in the Jewish Messiah, Jesus Christ. Further, they are sealed on their foreheads. Some see this as a visible sign, though it could alternatively be a symbolic seal referring to salvation. This would fit the idea of the “helmet of salvation” the apostle Paul mentions in Ephesians 6:17.
The time period during which these Jewish Christians will serve is specified. The angels are told, “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until…” The harm of the earth, sea, and trees takes place during the last three and a half years of the seven-year tribulation period. Therefore, the ministry of the 144,000 will begin during the first half of the tribulation period, though it may continue throughout the entire tribulation period. In fact, many interpreters see the 144,000 serving as part of the fulfillment of Matthew 24:14: “And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”
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The prediction of these 144,000 Jews who serve during the tribulation argues strongly for the enduring nature of the Jewish people and of Israel into the future. During the tribulation period, Israel will be under threat, yet many Jews will continue to live during this time, with large numbers turning to Jesus as the Messiah.