Revelation 7 is where one finds an introduction to the famous number 144,000. As I mentioned in Apocalypse Now, I have always believed the number 144,000 a metaphor for positive change in humanity facilitated by a critical mass of people; the study of chapter seven strengthened my view. However, as always, interpretations vary and perhaps the meaning of 144,000 it is one of those things that we are not yet meant to fully understand.
Let me start at the beginning of the chapter and work my way into some of the interpretations of 144,000.
After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth to prevent any wind from blowing on the land or on the sea or on any tree. Then I saw another angel coming up from the east, having the seal of the living God. He called out in a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm the land and the sea: “Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.” Then I heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel. (Revelation 7:1-4)
I believe the four angels holding back the four winds imagery is symbolic of the Creator’s power over earth, specifically dangerous weather patterns that bring on natural disasters. What I find significant in Revelation is how often earth is tied to humanity suggesting our behavior energetically impacts the planet. This is a prevalent theme in metaphysical circles.
The angel with the seal of the living God means the angel is anointed or marked by God for protection. In my opinion, the symbolism of the word seal is two-fold. In addition to being an identification mark on the foreheads of the servants of our God, it is also a metaphor for sealing (or locking) in the Holy Spirit which by definition means God is within.
Next John tells us that there are 144,000 Israelites (12,000 from each of the twelve tribes) sealed . If this is to be taken literally, than it would follow that Christians with gentile ancestry would be in trouble. Of course no one in class brought this interpretation to the table.
My truth is that everyone is sealed with the Holy Spirit. Some may not recognize the gift and others may use different vocabulary to describe it, but what’s important is that the Holy Spirit in me recognizes the Holy Spirit in others. There may be a tiny flicker of light in one person and a raging passion in the next. Either way, in my opinion, there should be no judgment. When I shared this view during our small group breakout session, there was obvious discomfort displayed. I’ll come back to this.
Next we read about the great multitude in white robes.
After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. (Revelation 7:9)
“These in white robes—who are they, and where did they come from?” Revelation 7:13
“These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Revelation 7:15
To simplify, let me say that the robes (symbolic identifier of God’s people) being washed (purified or cleansed of sin) in the blood of the lamb (redeemed by the crucifixion) is standard biblical imagery and my interpretation of tribulation is the experience of overcoming the downside of human nature and life’s challenges; the journey to spiritual ascension.
What sparked a lively exchange in our group was the definition of God’s people, or the multitude. Unfortunately but predictably, our group discussion around this subject was shut down. That always happens when things get interesting. Here’s the hot homework question that got us going: Whom do you know that are not yet a part of this multitude? What do you think God wants you to do about it?
I am annoyed by questions like this and was thrilled when someone else voiced the same sentiment. For once it wasn’t me pointing out how leading and judgmental it was. She refused to answer it, bravo! What follows is my response.
It is not up to me to judge the spirituality of another and determine whether or not, based on that judgment, they are part of this multitude. One’s relationship with God is personal. I think God wants me to continually work on my own spirituality and not to evangelize. It is better to inspire others through example than to dictate a belief system.
There were people who disagreed with me on this completely by embracing a more us and them, or reward and punishment, kind of scenario. Their belief was supported by the lecturer when she said that if you don’t belong to Jesus, you belong to satan. This sort of statement just seems ridiculous to me. My understanding is that most Christian doctrines believe Jesus is God, so doesn’t it follow that believing in Jesus, God, and/or the Holy Spirit is the same thing. To believe in God is to believe in God, the path to God is personal. Her statement implies that non-Christians are damned and I want to state for the record, “I don’t align with that.”
Although their viewpoint does not follow my spiritual logic or understanding, I honor their freedom to choose what resonates with them; just like me, everyone in class is searching for truth. I can’t help but think that at some point in the future, though, we will look back and refer to these times as the dark ages of conflicting monotheism. Religious communities agree there is one God but can’t seem to agree on the same God. This is precisely why I choose not to follow any specific man-made doctrine.
The first time I remember seeing the number 144,000 was while perusing a book entitled 11:11 Inside the Doorway by Solara. The book was about how in 1992, Solara facilitated a global event around the 1987 Harmonic Convergence (otherwise known as 11:11) in which 144,000 people worldwide participated in a planetary activation. At that time I had no knowledge that there was a biblical connection.
In addition to 144,000 being used to describe a number of people, I’ve seen it used to reference the number of years it will take for humanity to ascend and that we are two thirds the way through.
Some people go deeply into the numerology surrounding 144,000 or twelve times twelve thousand because 12 is reduced to 3 (1+2) which is a number suggesting change.
For fun, I calculated there are 144,000 seconds in a forty hour work week. Do you think I could use this to establish a church making it a sin to work overtime? Have you seen the documentary American Jesus? Crazier things have happened.
This chapter of Revelation, like the six before it, did not leave me with the same message of judgment found in the notes or the lecture. Does that make me a bad person? I think not, just different.
Fear not folks. Since verse nine literally says the multitudes come from every nation, tribe, people and language, if the doom and gloom translations about judgment are the accurate ones, love your neighbor and we’re all still good.
Happy New Year!