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04/01/2004 - The Book of Revelation - Part 18



The Book of Revelation

Part 18

Date: 04/01/2004

Issue No. 187

With this issue we begin a new chapter in Revelation. Revelation 13 covered a large portion of history. The first beast covered 42 prophetic months (1,260 years), primarily from 529-1789 A.D. Then the second beast began to overthrow the first beast, and yet also worked alongside it in a shaky alliance. While the first beast is primarily the religious beast of Rome, the second beast is the secular beast primarily led by Freemasonry and its allies.

This second beast infiltrated the Roman Catholic Church and finally succeeded in bringing about the election of the Freemason, Pope John VI (1963-1978). In 1983 Pope John Paul II made it legal under Roman Catholic canon law for Catholics to be members of the Masonic lodges. This really completed the take-over.

Revelation 13, therefore, takes us to the present time and to the manifestation of the overcomers. It is this event that will destroy the Babylonian world system. The overcomers will bring a world-wide teaching that will spark a tremendous move of the Holy Spirit among the nations. It will be a grass-roots movement and will begin from the bottom, working its way up. It will not begin as a conversion of world leaders, where those leaders then force Christ upon those under their authority.

Rev. 14:1 begins with a vision of the overcomers:

1 And I looked, and behold, the Lamb was standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His name and the name of His Father written on their foreheads.

These are the overcomers, not the Church in general. As for which tribe of Israel each person is, there is no way today that anyone can tell by natural means. Rev. 7 tells us that there are 12,000 from each tribe. It is often assumed that the only way to be a member of a tribe of Israel is to be a genealogical descendant of one of the 12 patriarchs of Israel. However, we showed in Part 3 last year that this is not the case.

People of other nations were always allowed to come and follow the God of Israel and join with one of the tribes of Israel. For example, there were many Egyptians and the so-called “mixed multitude” that left Egypt with Israel (Ex. 12:38). On at least one occasion many of them stirred up trouble for Moses (Num. 11:4), but they were treated with equal justice in Israel, for the Israelites became a problem to Moses as well. None of that generation was able to enter the Promised Land. But their descendants did.

The fact that they were a “multitude” shows that they were not just a few people. They simply chose a tribe of Israel and joined with them, receiving an inheritance in the land of Canaan along with the others.

We conclude, then, that the 144,000 overcomers are not necessarily genealogical Israelites, but include people of every nation that qualify as overcomers. It is certainly NOT the case that these are 144,000 people whom men today call “Jews.” The idea that “gentiles” will be raptured out of the earth, while 144,000 Jewish evangelists preach the Gospel to those who cannot be converted because the Holy Spirit has been removed from the earth is absurd. But that study is for another time.

His Name on Their Foreheads

We have done many studies on the place where God has put His name. Tracing it in history, we see His name first on the tabernacle at the Ephraimite town of Shiloh (Josh. 18:1) Later, because of corruption, God removed His name from that place and moved it to Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem (Psalm 78:60-68).

A few centuries later, God removed His name from Jerusalem, like He had done earlier with Shiloh (Jer. 7:12-15; 26:6; Ezekiel 10, 11). When the second temple was built in the days of Ezra and Zerubbabel, the glory did not fill that temple, for God did not place His name there. He was waiting for a better temple made of living stones. He filled this new temple on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2.

From that time on, His name was written on our foreheads, not upon any external temple made of wood and stone. Rev. 3:12 says,

12 He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it any more; and I will write upon him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God, and My new name.

God no longer writes His name upon houses made of wood and stone. He has upgraded to His dream house—the overcomers—for He has always longed to indwell human flesh and to glorify Himself in us. Rev. 22:4 also says,

4 and they shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads.

This is not a temporary situation. This will not end with the building of a third temple in Jerusalem. Christ does not intend to vacate His dream house and go back to a mundane building at the place that was defiled in the days of Jeremiah. In fact, He said that He would forsake that place like He did Shiloh. He never returned to Shiloh. Neither will He return to a temple in Jerusalem. Men may even build a structure there, but no one can force God to live there. He will do as He has said in His word.

The 144,000 Harpers

Rev. 14:2, 3 says,

2 And I heard a voice from heaven, like the sound of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder, and the voice which I heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps. 3 And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders; and no one could learn the song except the one hundred and forty-four thousand who had been purchased from the earth.

This description is quite different from the one back in Revelation 7, which describes the overcomers in military terms. There the 144,000 are “sealed” in their foreheads. In ancient times a general would review the troops after a battle and place a mark on the forehead of each one who came through the battle unscathed. It signified that this one was divinely protected.

But now in Revelation 14 we see a different picture of the overcomers. They are pictured as musicians playing harps and singing “a new song.” Are these the same overcomers as the ones in Revelation 7? Yes, but. . .

The best way to understand the New Testament is to understand the Old Testament. They confirm each other and explain each other. In most cases, the Old Testament has dark sayings that are written as types and shadows, and they need a New Testament understanding. But sometimes the New Testament is unclear without knowing the types and shadows of the Old Testament.

In this case, the book of Revelation is portraying aspects of the emerging Kingdom of God in the earth. In the Old Testament this is pictured in the kingdom of David, especially as we contrast it with the Kingdom of Saul. In David’s kingdom we find that he had both an army and a choir, and these were types and shadows of the overcomers pictured in Revelation 7 and 14. In 1 Chronicles 27:1 we read,

1 Now this is the enumeration of the sons of Israel, the heads of fathers’ households, the commanders of thousands and of hundreds, and their officers who served the king in all the affairs of the divisions which came in and went out month by month throughout all the months of the year, each division numbering 24,000.

The rest of the chapter explains how each tribe was responsible for one month out of the year to supply 24,000 men for military service. The troops rotated every month for 12 months. This means that David had an army of 288,000 men (24,000 x 12 = 288,000).

Strangely enough, this is double 144,000. But this coincidence is still more striking when we read about David’s choir in 1 Chron. 25:7,

7 And their number who were trained in singing to the Lord, with their relatives, all who were skillful, was 288.

So David had a choir of 288, and a military of 288,000. Can this be just a coincidence? Why is the number doubled from 144 or 144,000? I believe that it indicates two groups of overcomers, each with 144,000 in them. I realize that the number may simply be purely symbolic, rather than literal. But since these are the numbers given to us, we will speak as though these are literal numbers of people.

The Meaning of the Number 288

The number 288 is associated in the Bible with the overcomers in various ways. In Lev. 19:20, the Hebrew word charaph (“betrothed”) has a numeric value of 288.

In Genesis 1:2 the Spirit of God “moved” (rachaph) upon the face of the waters. Rachaph has a numeric value of 288. This word is of interest because it has to do with the action of the Holy Spirit over creation. The same word is used in Deut. 32:11, where God is pictured as an eagle. “As an eagle stirreth up [rachaph] her nest. . .”

In the New Testament, we have these examples:

1. 2 Tim. 1:9, “a holy calling” = 288.

2. Matt. 25:21, “the joy of the Lord” = 2880.

3. Rev. 21:9, “the Bride, the Lamb’s wife” = 2880.

In addition to these, Gen. 24:22 speaks of the two bracelets that Eleazar gave to Rachel when he went to find a bride for Isaac. The Hebrew word for “bracelet” is tsamid, which has a numeric value of 144. He gave her TWO bracelets, which pictures the number 288.

Rachel is a type and shadow of “the Bride, the Lamb’s wife,” even as Isaac, who was placed on the altar of sacrifice on Mount Moriah, represents Christ. Eleazar means “God helps,” and speaks of the Holy Spirit, who is our Helper, the Advocate, or “Comforter” (John 14:16).

In fact, Eleazar is the Hebrew form of the name Lazarus (John 11). Lazarus itself has a numeric value of 144.

There are many interesting things that can be seen in biblical mathematics, which help us to understand the meaning of the text itself. The number 288 is associated with the action of the Holy Spirit that prepares the Bride for her holy calling as the Lamb’s wife.

But also, the prominence of the number 288 in David’s kingdom as well as in biblical mathematics shows us that there are two groups of 144,000 for a total of 288,000. If the number is purely symbolic, then we should understand that there are two manifestations of overcomers.

The Male and Female Theme

As we noted earlier, the first group of 144,000 were associated with the military and with the seal of God on their foreheads. In those days women did not enter military service, and so this was a “male” theme. Yet when we look closely at Revelation 14, we see that it is written in terms that portray a “female” theme. Verse 4 says (KJV),

4 These are they which were not defiled with [meta, “among, or amidst”] women, for they are virgins….

Take note that this verse does NOT tell us that these are men who have not been defiled BY women. Women are not defiling. God sanctified marriage at the beginning, and there is nothing wrong with having sexual relations within the bonds of marriage. Over the centuries, a number of people have taught against marriage, even telling their followers that to be an overcomer one must be a virgin. Their teaching has often been based upon Rev. 14:4 and a misunderstanding of the Greek word, meta.

Such teaching is simply wrong. Meta does not mean “with” in the sense of “by,” as if women cause defilement. Rather “with” is in the sense of “among or amidst.”

For example, Matt. 1:23 says, “God with us,” that is, among us or in our midst—or even IN us. It does not mean God BY us in any causal sense.

In Matt. 2:3, Herod “was troubled, and all Jerusalem with [meta] him.” It does not mean to say Jerusalem was troubled BY Herod, but along with Him. If we remove the words added to the text in the translation, a more literal rendering of Rev. 14:3, 4 is:

3 . . . no one was able to learn the song except the 144,000—those having been bought from the earth, those among women not defiled; for they are virgins.

I obtained this data from Wilson’s The Emphatic Diaglott, which is a good literal translation of the New Testament. So if I may paraphrase this, it says that these are the ones redeemed, or bought from the earth among women who have not been defiled, for they are virgins. In the Bible, the term “virgin” is never applied to men. It is the virgin women who are not defiled in this verse.

It is unfortunate that men have translated this verse to make it look like women are defiling. In fact, if anything, it would say that these women were not defiled by men! But we won’t push that issue on a physical level, because the verse speaks spiritually, not physically.

The overcomers are portrayed here as virgin women. The rest of verse 4 says,

4 . . . These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These have been purchased from among men as first fruits to God and to the Lamb.

The idea of “following the Lamb” indicates a female theme as well, since in those days it was customary for the women to follow behind their husband as they walked. In this case, we are all part of the Bride of Christ, whether we are men or women in the natural. And as overcomers, we “follow the Lamb wherever He goes.”

It seems to me that if the number 144,000 were to be taken as a literal number, then this indicates that there will be 144,000 men and 144,000 women who are overcomers, for a total of 288,000.

If the number is not literal, then at the very least it shows that both men and women are overcomers, and that we all have both spiritual roles to play in different ways. That is, whether we are men or women, we are all part of the Bride of Christ in that we are called to bring the Manchild to birth. Yet we are also called to rule with Christ in His throne as part of His Body. In that role, we are all male, whether we are men or women physically.

Hence, relative to Christ (the Head), we are female. But relative to the rest of creation, we are male. In the spirit, Paul says in Gal. 3:28, we are neither male nor female, because actually, we are both.

These overcomers are also said to be “first fruits to God and to the Lamb.” The law of first fruits says that the harvest cannot begin until the first fruits have been given to God (Lev. 23:14). Likewise, the first fruits sanctify the harvest, “for if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy” (Rom. 11:16). We will see shortly that after the overcomers are manifested, the angels go forth with the gospel to all the nations.

3 And no lie was found in their mouth; they are blameless.

An overcomer is honest. It does not mean that he or she now believes only correct doctrine—except, no doubt, after the glorification of the body has taken place. But an overcomer is contrasted to “all liars” (Rev. 21:8) who will be judged in the “lake of fire.”

In Rev. 22:15 we read that outside the New Jerusalem is “everyone who loves and practices lying.” Such lying is deliberate to the point where it is done unconsciously, and the person has come to believe his own lie.

An Angel

Rev. 14:6, 7 says,

6 And I saw another angel flying in midheaven, having an eternal gospel to preach to those who live on the earth, and to every nation and tribe and tongue and people; 7 and he said with a loud voice, Fear God and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made the heaven and the earth and sea and springs of waters.

The word gospel means “good news.” To some, it may seem strange that this angel would proclaim the good news of divine judgment, because most people associate God’s judgment with eternal torment. But this passage provides us with no such picture. It is consistent with Isaiah 26:9,

9 for when the earth experiences Thy judgments, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.

This angels’ message is primarily from Psalm 67, which is a Tabernacles psalm. The psalmist longs for the transfiguration, as pictured by Moses when his face shined forth in light (Ex. 34:30-35). Psalm 67 says,

1 God be gracious unto us and bless us, and cause His face to shine upon us—Selah— 2 That Thy way may be known on the earth, Thy salvation among all nations. 3 Let the peoples praise Thee, O God; let all the peoples praise Thee. 4 Let the nations be glad and sing for joy; for Thou wilt judge the peoples with uprightness, and guide the nations on the earth.

The psalmist prophesies here that God’s judgments in the earth will make the nations sing for joy. The day will come when the earth’s tyrants will no longer be able to rule with injustice and unrighteousness. The rule of Jesus Christ (with the overcomers) in the manifestation of His Kingdom will make the nations glad.

This is the gospel, the “good news” of the Kingdom that this angel preaches (through the overcomers). And this is the reason why all men ought to worship Him. They should worship Him out of love, not because they are forced to do so by threats of death or torture.

A Second Angel

Rev. 14:8 says,

8 And another angel, a second one, followed, saying, Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, she who has made all the nations drink of the wine of the passion of her immorality.

This is the first time the book of Revelation mentions Babylon by name. It is in the context of her fall, not of her rise to power in 1914. John is quoting from Isaiah 21:9,

9 . . . and one answered and said, Fallen, fallen is Babylon; and all the images of her gods are shattered on the ground.

The judgments of God are directed against the false gods and the oppressive governments, legal and economic systems of the earth. Babylon will fall through the gospel that the manifested overcomers will preach to the world.