Revelation 14:1-5 And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps: And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth. These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb. And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God.
WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE? Will YOU be one of them? HOW can you tell? Is this ALL the people that will be saved in this age? Will there be MILLIONS or BILLIONS saved, or only a comparative handful?
Notice three things about the people in Revelation 14:1-5. They are all standing on Mount Zion. They are the “redeemed from men”. And they are “The firstfruits of God”. Remember those facts for later.
Jude 14-15 And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.
The Lord is coming back, to set the world straight, and to execute judgment on all… and He is coming with TEN thousands of His saints. Not Hundreds of thousands, or millions, but TEN thousands. Just as it says in Revelation that there will be 144,000. TEN thousands. And as we know, when He comes back is the time that the First Resurrection happens. The Second Resurrection happens a millennium later.
The people resurrected here are the Firstfruits. And remember, Revelation 14:4 says that the 144,000 are the FIRSTFRUITS. So there are 144,000 Firstfruits that will be saved, out of all those who have lived on this earth.
James 1:18 Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.
Hebrews 11:13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
So whoever is obedient to God and dies in faith, is one of the firstfruits – the 144,000.
WHY SO FEW?
But, you say, how can only 144,000, out of all of the tens of billions from creation, be all that is saved in this life? And the Bible counters with…
Matthew 7:14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
This life is little more than an audition, an entrance exam if you prefer, for a job in the future Kingdom. A very specific job. Read the following scriptures, to see the exact specifications for the job.
Revelation 5:10 And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.
Revelation 20:6 Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
Daniel 7:27 And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.
Luke 19:17 And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities.
From this we learn that the job entails
- Being a king and a priest
- Ruling on the earth
- Ruling 5, 10, or perhaps more cities
Think about this; if there really are going to be millions and billions in the first resurrection, all doing this same job, which is the only job mentioned for first resurrection people… how can they rule CITIES of second-resurrection people? The term “too many chiefs and not enough indians” comes to mind! If the ratio of first-resurrection to second-resurrection is 1 to 10, or 1 to 20, or even 1 to 1000, there is still no way for 1 man to rule 5 cities – there simply aren’t enough “indians”! And this is assuming that all of mankind is resurrected at once to be ruled. It just won’t fit.
Furthermore, think about the requirements for this job. I’ve said already that this life is like an entrance exam. If you pass the exam, you’ll get the job. There are certain requirements for this job that you absolutely must have if you are going to do the job. That is logical enough, isn’t it?
Let’s say a large advertising firm posted a notice that they were hiring secretaries, and paying a very generous wage. A lot of people would probably apply. They’d want that job, because they liked the reward! The personnel department would then examine their resume, and ask them if they could type, take dictation, set up appointments, etc. If they couldn’t do these things, the company wouldn’t want them for a secretary, now would they? Regardless of how nice they were, or how they might look, or how smart they might be, or even how great their attitude was, or how sincere they were… if the person couldn’t type, they would have little use for them as a secretary. Right?
The job you are currently applying for, the job that is the ENTIRE REASON YOU WERE BORN, is a job with unbelievable rewards, and also very exacting requirements. You must first, be honourable, righteous, a just person. To begin with, compare yourself with Psalms 15. You can consider that your application questionnaire.
Furthermore, you must be wise enough to resist deception, dedicated enough to be hardworking, determined enough not to fail regardless of the odds. And finally, and certainly not least, you must be able to lead other people in this way of life – after all, that IS what a king or a priest does – and you must be able to judge right and wrong. You will one day have to make life and death judgments about people, perhaps even angels.
And so here is a simple test, that you can do for yourself, to see if there really will be millions and billions in the first resurrection. A sweet 8 year-old girl, who dies in a tragic accident. Will she be in the first resurrection? It certainly isn’t our decision to make, but for our own curiousity, ask the simple question; can she rule a city? Or 10 cities? Has she the wisdom and experience to lead others, perhaps hundreds of thousands of others, to a right way of life?
That is the job description for the first resurrection. She cannot do that. Ergo, she cannot be in the first resurrection. Mind you, she isn’t “lost” forever. She will have a chance at life, eternal life, in the second resurrection, but she cannot be in the first. Just as a secretary who applies without the ability to type is rejected, if someone applies without the ability to lead, or resist deception, or any of the other requirements, they will be rejected.
So now look around you. Look first at your family, those you know best. Then at your friends, and finally at everyone you know. Ask yourself “Would I place this person in charge of 10 cities, immortal, with absolute power of life and death, and WOULD I WANT TO LIVE IN THAT CITY?”
If you ask the question honestly, based on how they’ve lived in this life – remember, “thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities.” (Luke 19:17) this is an entrance exam. How faithful a person is in this life, at ruling themselves, their family, their children, their subordinates at work, is how faithful a person will be in the Kingdom. And so if they rule well their family, and produce peace and happiness there, they will probably rule well in the Kingdom. And if they do NOT rule well in their family, they will NOT rule well in the Kingdom.
Luke 16:10 He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much. If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man’s, WHO SHALL GIVE YOU THAT WHICH IS YOUR OWN?
If you have squandered away what truth you were given, and betrayed every authority given to your trust, and COULD NOT TAKE CARE OF WHAT LITTLE YOU HAD IN THIS LIFE, what fool would put you in charge of 100,000 people?! For that matter, what fool would put you in charge of his KENNEL??
And ruling well doesn’t mean ruling with anger, or ruling out of pride or vanity, but ruling wisely. Ruling others means you are their servant, and the more people you rule, the more of a servant you are. Your job is to care for them, protect them, and when necessary correct them. But ultimately the purpose of being a ruler is to produce PEACE, and harmony in those you rule over.
2 Chronicles 9:5-8 And she said to the king, It was a true report which I heard in mine own land of thine acts, and of thy wisdom: Howbeit I believed not their words, until I came, and mine eyes had seen it: and, behold, the one half of the greatness of thy wisdom was not told me: for thou exceedest the fame that I heard. Happy are thy men, and happy are these thy servants, which stand continually before thee, and hear thy wisdom. Blessed be the LORD thy God, which delighted in thee to set thee on his throne, to be king for the LORD thy God: because thy God loved Israel, to establish them for ever, therefore made he thee king over them, to do judgment and justice.
Solomon’s servants were HAPPY. And by this, the Queen of Sheba could tell that Solomon was a good ruler. If you are a good ruler, those under you should be happy. Your family should be an outstanding example of a close, loving, obedient family. If it isn’t, it is doubtful you will have a seat ruling in the Kingdom of God. This principle is borne out in..
1Timothy 3:5 (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)
If, to be an elder in the physical Church of God today, you must rule well your own family, how much more must you do to be a KING, an IMMORTAL KING ruling a dozen cities in the world tomorrow!
WHAT ABOUT THE GREAT MULTITUDE?
Revelation 7:1-4 And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree. And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads. And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel.
… and he names each tribe (Dan is not mentioned, and Joseph is mentioned separate from Manasses). But most people who don’t feel comfortable with there only being 144,000 in the First Resurrection generally appeal to the next scripture…
Revelation 7:9 After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb. And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.
Generally it has been taught that these people are a sort of addition to the First Resurrection, the 144,000 are one group, and this is another group, all of equal, immortal beings resurrected at the return of Christ. Is it? Who are the people in this “Great multitude” which no man could number? It is crucial that you deal with this question honestly, without prejudice, because it will have a direct impact with how you understand the plan of God. The next verse begins to tell us the answer.
Verse 13-14 And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
Based on this scripture, they build a picture that 144,000 are the people throughout time that were obedient to God and died in faith, like the men in Hebrews 11… and this great multitude is somehow converted at the last minute, before this age ends and Christ returns. They usually base this theory on the phrase “these are they which came out of great tribulation”, claiming that this refers to THE great tribulation referred to in Matthew 24:21 and other places. But notice, first of all, that this doesn’t say THE great tribulation. It just says GREAT tribulation. It is the identical Greek word used in Acts 14:22 where it says “that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.”.
In fact, this Greek word is used 45 times in the Bible, and only a few of those refer to THE great tribulation. This is said only to show that they do not necessarily have to come from some as-yet-unimaginable group of millions of people who, through the acts of the end-time witness, all repent and are added to the first resurrection. The actual proof that they are not a part of the first resurrection follows…
Revelation 7:15-17 Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.
Wait a minute! What did that just say? It said that the lamb would LEAD THEM to living fountains of WATERS! Do you grasp what that means? It means we have POSITIVELY identified this group of people as separate and distinct from the First Resurrection entirely!
Not following me? Ok, let me back up a bit and explain. What is one of the PRIMARY rewards of being in the First Resurrection? No, besides Eternal life. The other thing. The thing that is, unbelievably, actually of more value. Stumped?
John 7:37-39 In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)
THIS is without a doubt the most incredible promise ever given to mankind! GOD, and GOD ALONE, has LIVING WATER coming out of His belly. (Jeremiah 2:13, 17:13, etc) That LIVING water, Christ says here, is symbolic of the holy spirit, and THAT SPIRIT was breathed into the nostrils of Adam AND CONVEYED LIFE TO ADAM!
God ALONE, in all the universe, can GIVE LIFE to a rock, and make it alive! Nothing else can! You can’t. The angels can’t. The devil can’t. Because GOD HAS NOT TRUSTED ANY BEING WHO EVER LIVED WITH THAT AWESOME GIFT! God, and God alone, has that power!
And yet here God says that He will give that ability, that power, to ANYONE WHO BELIEVES ON HIM! Right now the water of life, the SPIRIT OF GOD that upholds very fabric of the universe, is available ONLY THROUGH GOD HIMSELF – BUT He is going to GIVE That power, that spirit, to YOU, and not only that, but He is going to give YOU the ability to pass it on to anyone you choose!
Those beings in the First Resurrection have living water flowing from their OWN BELLIES! The spirit of God pours out of THEM! God has promised that it will be so! And yet in Revelation 7:17 God promises that the people in this Great Multitude shall be LED to fountains of living waters!
He doesn’t promise that they will have waters coming OUT of them, He promises to LEAD THEM TO THE FOUNTAINS! That means that they don’t already HAVE the holy spirit flowing OUT from them, but it must still flow IN to them! And THAT MEANS THAT THEY ARE NOT A PART OF THE FIRST RESURRECTION!
And THAT, in turn, means that they can ONLY be those people in the SECOND resurrection, who went through (“A”) GREAT TRIBULATION, saw their mistakes after being resurrected at the end of the Millennium, when Satan has been put away and there is no deception and the Spirit of God covers the earth as the waters cover the sea (Isaiah 11:9), and repented of their evil, and washed their robes in the Blood of Christ, and are given Eternal life!
So YES! It is one person, ONE RIGHTEOUS PERSON, among perhaps hundreds of thousands of people since creation who will be part of that “better resurrection”. And that person will be endowed with the greatest gift a God can give. The very gift, in fact, that Lucifer coveted and which led to his fall. They will have the ability to give life to others. The ability to continue the “family business”, that God is in, and which His children will continue and expand; they will be Creators.
You would not want to have a man placed in that position who couldn’t be trusted, would you? You wouldn’t want someone who didn’t have the prerequisite abilities, would you? Would you want your minister in that position? Would you want your boss in that position? Would you want your spouse in that position? Would you even want YOURSELF in that position?
Not only are there a great many stringent requirements for this job, it is a hard job. As I stated earlier, the more power you have, the more of a servant you are. Being a leader, especially such a leader as this, is a hard, lonely, and often thankless job. Not everyone would be happy in that job. Being a part of the first resurrection isn’t a status symbol; it just means that your application was accepted, and that your job has just begun. And anyone who has ever been a leader, particularly in a life-and-death situation, knows just how hard it is, in type, if not in degree.
So no, there won’t be many in that position. The stuff of which God makes Gods is rare, indeed. It may not be you. In fact, it may not be anyone you ever meet, or even see, in your lifetime. But pretending that there are going to be Millions in this position wouldn’t help you at all – knowing JUST HOW FAR YOU HAVE TO GO, and knowing JUST HOW HIGH THE STANDARDS ARE, and JUST HOW MUCH YOU WILL HAVE TO WORK TO GET THIS JOB, just might help you achieve it, and maybe because of that, YOU will be the one in thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, who wins this race!
I leave you with that thought, and the advice of Paul… a man who WAS that one in a million.
1 Corinthians 9:24 Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.