The 144,000 of Revelation 7 Commentary – Professor Ranko Stefanovic (3ABN Bible Study) A video bible study on the 144,000 in Revelation Chapter 7 by Professor Ranko Stefanovic of Seventh day Adventist Theological School at Andrews University in United States. Ranko Stefanovic is author of the book, Revelation of Jesus Christ, a verse-by-verse commentary offering a text-focused and Christ-centered approach to the book of Revelation.
The number 144,000 occurs only twice in Scripture—both times in the book of Revelation, and in significant contexts. We find it first between the sixth and the seventh seals, prior to the Second Coming envisaged as the day of wrath, which is the demise of those who have opposed God (Rev. 7:4). The second occurrence in Revelation 14 is prior to the message of the three angels and the second coming of Christ. Consequently, it does make sense to suppose that the number designates an end-time entity—God’s people during the last phase of world history.

The issue is this: Are the 144,000 a special subgroup of God’s people, or is this number a symbolic representation of the totality of God’s people? Lurking beneath these questions are the concepts of the accessibility of sealing and salvation after the number 144,000 is reached, and the deeper issue of the arbitrariness of God’s decrees or even the moral nature of His character.

Interpreters who consider the number to be a literal one—especially in the Evangelical world—usually assert that it refers to Jews who accept the gospel and will contribute to the sharing of the gospel with other Jews. They suggest that the agricultural rhythm of the firstfruits—well known in ancient Israel—supports this view.

However, there are several indications that it is a symbolic number not meant to be interpreted literally. The nature of the number itself hints at its symbolism: 144,000 is 12 x 12 x 1,000. But to grasp its meaning, we must explore the network of words, themes, and motifs associated with it in context.

1. The 144,000 are associated with the idea of standing.
The first occurrence of the number 144,000 is a response to one of four questions found in the series of seals. Terrified people are crying to the mountains and rocks: “Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?” (Rev. 6:16, 17).*

But there are more questions to answer. First, who is worthy? (Rev. 5:2); until when? (Rev. 6:10); and finally, who are these, and where do they come from? (Rev. 7:13).

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