There is one more feature of the Church that you may not know. It has to do with our number, our address, and our appointment. In Part Two we learned that we overcome death as our Lord did when we are perfected at the rapture. That’s when we receive our glorified, immortal bodies. We receive our inheritance as joint-heirs, and are seated with Him to reign over the earth.
We are sealed by the Holy Spirit for that Day when we are united with our Bridegroom and become One New Man (Acts 17:31). In the overview of the end-time events in chapters 4-9 in Revelation, we see the raptured Church in chapter 7, right after the final sign before Christ’s return of total darkness over the earth. It is a unique picture of 144 thousands. The 144 thousands only appear here and then again in Revelation 14. They are numbered in this way in both chapters so we know they are the same group of people.
In the original Greek language of the New Testament, the word translated as thousand (singular) in most Bible versions is actually the plural form of chiliades (thousands). The plural form is often used when we want to describe an innumerable group of people, as when we say there were thousands at the parade. Using the plural form (thousands) with a specific number (144) totally breaks the rule. But since it’s God doing this, we’ll cut Him some slack.
Actually, He did this on purpose, as if to use a yellow highlighter to draw our attention to the wording. God wanted us to see two things: (1) He wanted to show an indefinite number, an amount too large to number; and (2) He wanted to connect this innumerable company with a specific, symbolic number. The passage lists 12 groups of 12. Twelve times twelve equal 144. In Scripture, the number 12 is considered a perfect number. It symbolizes God’s power and authority, particularly His perfect government. It also represents completeness. When it is used twice like this, in terms of multiplication, it’s like putting an exclamation point on it. It’s the double witness.
In case you’re wondering, the 12 tribes listed are not the normal listing of the 12 tribes of Israel named after the 12 sons of Jacob. This alerts us that we are to look at the “tribes” in a different way—in light of the New Covenant. The Apostle Paul taught that the true Israel of God is not based on biological heritage, but on faith in Christ.
The innumerable company of the 144 thousands are clothed in white robes, having been cleansed by the blood of the Lamb. They are the called out ones, who have overcome death by the blood of the Lamb and their testimony of Christ the Savior. This promise to sit with Christ at the throne, at the Father’s right hand, is a promise made exclusively to the Church (Rev. 3:21).
This same symbolic numbering of 12 x 12 =144 is seen at the end of Revelation as well. It is the heavenly City, the New Jerusalem, which descends to the new earth after Christ’s millennial reign is complete.
If you are a believer, then you are part of this innumerable company of the 144 thousands who forever live with Christ in the Father’s House. It is your prepared place. We reign over the earth with Him for the thousand years of the 7th Day. Then when He presents the kingdom to the Father, and God creates the new heavens and new earth, we descend with Christ as the City, the New Jerusalem (Rev. 3:12). There we spend eternity with Him. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow us all the days of our life and we shall dwell in the House of the Lord forever (Psalm 23:6)!