This is a companion article to Friday’s article. I have made mistakes before with my understanding of Scripture I’m sure. I will likely make more. But mistakes are not deliberate. What Jesus spoke of in Matt.24:5, was about deception. Deception occurs when there is no scripture to support what you are teaching. Why do mistakes happen? The word is actually living, because it is being taught us by the Holy Spirit, and is representative of an alive Jesus; we are constantly learning new things. If we are open.. “The word was made flesh and dwelt among us”.
So, when I read Revelation Chapter 14 recently, I saw something that I had not before noticed.
Here is the verse speaking of the 144,000 sealed from every tribe of Israel.
Revelation 14:4 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. (KJV) emphasis mine
Firstfruits speaks of harvest, and would represent a first picking, or gleaning at the time of harvest; and here these have been presented to God as firstfruits. This entire chapter is about the harvest of souls, which is impossible without the preaching of the gospel, which we also see here in this passage. In the past, I had thought these from Israel to represent the whole of the saved church. They are called the bond servants, just like us. If so, then they would represent all the saved, of this one new man of scripture. But if these are first fruits this places a different perspective on these.
First we need to understand that this presents a big problem for Dispensational theology. why? — Because, if these represent just Israel’s saved as dispensationalism teaches them to be Jewish evangelists. Then if they are firstfruits; certainly the bride must come either with or after them in resurrection. Because first fruits will always be first in the harvest, thus this would preclude the church from being resurrected before them. We then of necessity would be presented after they are presented. We could not be in a resurrection prior to theirs.
Consider: they are those who go through the time of Jacob’s trouble, and their salvation then comes after the salvation of the last Gentile. This is how Paul teaches it in Romans 11.
But if you are paying attention you must ask — why does the preaching of the gospel come after these firstfruits are presented unto God in the sequence of this passage? Listen:
Revelation 14:6 And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, (KJV)
Why would the Gospel be preached to the whole of the earth, when it is these 144000 who would be saved last after the Gentiles are complete? Read Rom. 11)
So what is the answer to this dilemma? As I stated in my book, with several supporting examples — the Revelation is not a sequential book. It like other teachings on prophecy and truth for doctrine is given us in pieces hear a little there a little. This was an Old Testament formula for study. It’s somewhat like a puzzle. With a puzzle we have all the pieces spread out before us and we place them in the picture where they fit. Just because they are laying side by side does not mean that they will fit together in the overall picture. Take Matthew 24, following a given verse there can be great time separation. For example the wars verse, if we look at the major wars of our time, most of us never even experienced them. And yes there are other wars coming. The scripture speaks of them. The wars are not all together, neither are the earthquakes, or the famines.
So, the gospel is preached by the angel during the Tribulation, and the angel represents (I must conclude based on Revelation’s own teachings) the unified church (the church without spot or wrinkle). A church that does not exist yet today in completeness. But one that is called to this unified position by Jesus. “Let him who has ears hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.”
Today we remain individual parts of the separated 7 churches, who Jesus says will see and learn from Great Tribulation.
Revelation 2:22 Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds. 23 And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works. (KJV)
As we look at the messages to the 7 churches we see separation, yet, each message is addressed to the one angel of each of the individual churches. But the Tribulation is the teaching and calling of the church body as a whole to be one. And it is the church body who is charged with spreading the gospel to the whole world. Tribulation is a uniting force, as to doctrine and as to messaging of the gospel. This fact seems clear, as we see only one angel responsible for spreading the gospel.
Dispensationalism has seen the 144,000 as representing evangelists going out with this gospel; but based on this first fruits designation, I believe that these must be seen representing the remnant of Israel who will be born out of Tribulation (the time of Jacob’s Trouble); who are to be saved at the end of this time of trouble (see Isa. 63:1-8; Hos. 5:15; and Luke 13:36; Rom.11).
The issue of “firstfruits” makes Israel’s final saved remnant the most likely candidate for this designation, and although they are the last to be saved, they are the first presented unto God. “The first shall be Last, and the last first”.
What I believe we must understand is that insofar as the resurrection of these bond servants spoken of in several places in the Revelation is concerned, would be that there is still only one first resurrection. Jesus references “the” resurrection. And it is effectively of all of the bond servants listed in the Revelation to whom and for whom the book is written. That would include you and me. The one new man of scripture. All of God’s people who have read the revelation understand that it is for the reader referred to as (bond servants — Rev. 1) — to whom it is written. And we are called bond servants. The unity of the church is pointed out not only in the inclusion of Israel and the Gentiles who are in this one church, but it is pointed out in these bond servants, and in the New Jerusalem; as well as in the one new man of Ephesians, and in the olive tree, and the bride herself.
How so the bride? Scripture makes clear in Isa. Chapter 53 and 54, that a widowed Israel is seen as widowed, because her Messiah did die in chapter 53, but she is later to be married to her redeemer in Chapter 54. Jesus is her redeemer revealed there. Just as He is revealed elsewhere as our redeemer.
After the call of Abram, there is never a separation of saved Jew or saved Gentile in the whole of scripture. All saved Gentiles, who died in the Old Testament were placed in the center of the earth in paradise, and were made a part of Abraham (the Gentile, called to be Israel). Consider: Beginning with Abraham; then Caleb; then Elijah the Tishbite; then Ruth; Rahab; and the foreigners all who believed, etc. And so it also is in the New Testament. We are grafted into Israel’s olive tree. And we are all in Christ, her Messiah. The root of that tree He is. No one in that tree will ever die spiritually. The only way out of that tree is unbelief, and therein is the reason revealed for the concern from Our Lord in Friday’s post. It is deception that Jesus warned us of in Matt. 24. Any understanding not based upon God’s word is deception.
“Study to show thyself approved….”