Now we are going to talk a little bit about the 144,000. This concept is referred to in Rev 7.4-8 and Rev 14.1-5. They will have a seal put upon them and they will be the first fruits of those saved during the birth-pains. Remember, there are no concepts in the Gospels and Epistles that cannot be found in the Tanach. In Gen 10.6-9 we find that Cush has a son named Nimrod, the founder of Babylon. He was a mighty hunter before the Lord, which means “instead” of the Lord for people to worship. Shinar is the Babylon/Assyria area. When your Bible says “Cush” it can mean Ethiopia and that is the way it is intended in Ezek 38.5, but it can also mean the Mesopotamia area. The Cushites founded Babylon and Ninevah and lived in Mesopotamia (Isa 18). The Cushites also settled in Africa.
In Isa 18.1 we have Cush being referred to, and this is Babylon/Assyria area. In Isa 18.2 we have “envoys” and “messengers” being sent and this is alluding to the 144,000. They bring a gift of homage to the Lord (Isa 18.7). In Zeph 3.10 we see that “my worshippers who are “from beyond Cush” who will bring offerings and this is an allusion to the 144,000. They will leave Babylon and come to Zion. In Jer 50.4-7, we have the eschatological term “In those days” which refers to a specific time period in the Day of the Lord. In Jer 50.8, we have a command to “flee” Babylon because Babylon is going to be destroyed. They are told to flee again in Jer 51.6-10 because Babylon cannot be healed.
In Micah 4.10 it says that there will be birth-pains (in 70 AD) and they will go out of the city (Jerusalem), dwell in the field (world), but then go to Babylon (USA). It will be there that the deliverance will come and be redeemed, and then they will back to Israel before the destruction of Babylon (USA) happens (Jer 50.4-5, 8-10,,28; 51.10). Jer 51.45 refers to the 144,000 eschatologically.
So, lets go back to Isa 18.1-3 again. Cush is Babylon (USA) and it sends messengers, which is the 144,000 fleeing the land before the destruction comes. The Natzal is referred to in 18.3 where it says that the “inhabitants of the world and the dwellers in the earth (the dead) will see the “standard that is lifted” which is the Messiah and “as soon as the shofar is blown, you will hear it.” This is the Natzal, the “catching away” on Rosh ha Shannah, year 6001 from creation. The message of the 144,000 will be the redemption of Jacob/Israel as they come out of Babylon (Isa 48.20).
In Isa 18.2-4 it is clearly talking about “my people” of Israel, based on all the other verses we have seen. Micah 4.1-4 says that in the “acharit yamin” or the last days (an eschatological term), Messiah will come and all the people will go to Zion to learn from the Lord. Then each man will sit under his vine and under his fig tree. This is an idiom for the4 Messianic Kingdom.
Now, we are going to look at some misunderstood verses as far as biblical eschatology is concerned. This taken by the faith movement to mean people can believe something, say it, and it will happen, but this is not the meaning. Yeshua has just cursed the fig tree because the people are teaching false doctrines, preventing people from seeing who he really was and from entering the Kingdom of God. The fig tree represents the false teachings coming from the Sanhedrin and others, who sit on the Temple Mount in the Lishkat ha Gazit, the Chamber of Hewn Stone. Now for some backround. At Mount Sinai, Israel was at the foot of the mountain. The word used there is “tachat” and it means “under” the mountain (Exo 19.7), but not literally. If the people had faith in God (love, commandments and knowledge) then the mountain was “removed” from over their heads and they would not be “crushed” due to unbelief. If they did not have faith, then it would crush them. In the first century, this was the concept. Also, the “mountain” here is the Temple Mount. If you had faith, then the false teachings that were coming from that mountain would not hurt you and you could say “be removed” and it would move and not be a hindrance to you. The Temple was going to be destroyed in 70 AD (the fig tree symbolized this) because of a lack of faith. In Mark 11.23 it says that this mountain would be cast into the “sea” which is the nations (Isa 57.20; Rev 17.15). Israel would be cast into the nations. He is also alluding to the fact that with faith in God (action) the falsehoods of all the teachings can be overcome and they can enter the Kingdom of God. There is an idiom for a “sharp mind in Torah” and they are called an “up-rooter of mountains.” But, agony like a woman in childbirth came upon the nation (Micah 4.9) and this is the birth-pains in the first century. Then it goes on to say what will happen in the next 2000 years in Micah 4.10.
There are some other verses related to this that we want to explain briefly as it relates to biblical eschatology. Matt 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21 have parallel teachings, but you need to read all three chapters to get all the answers to the questions in Matt 24.1-3. The questions are” “When will all these things be”; “What will be the sign of your coming”; “and the end of the age (the Olam ha Zeh).” Matt 24 talks about the last days (acharit yamin) and the “time of Jacob’s trouble” or the birth-pains; Mark 13 talks about the last days (acharit yamin) and the “time of Jacobs trouble” or the birth-pains; Luke 21 talks about the same series of events but it is referring to events in the first century. What happened in the first century will happen again (Ecc 1.8-9, 3.15; Rom 15.4).
There is no easy way to bible study, but if you do it right it is a joy to do. When you read Luke 21.1-20 you will see that this is a first century fulfillment. He is talking about the soon coming of the Romans to destroy Jerusalem and the Temple in 40 years. The key verse is Luke 21.24 where it says, “and they will fall by the edge of the sword, and they will be led captive into all the nations; and Jerusalem will be trodden underfoot by the Gentiles (nations) until the times of Gentiles be fulfilled.” In other words, the Romans are coming and will kill them, leading many to be dispersed into all the world the last 2000 years. That will not happen in the Day of the Lord. Jerusalem will be under the control of the nations until all Israel has returned to the land at the coming of the Messiah.
In Mark 13.14-20 we have another clue as to when these things will happen. We read about the “abomination of desolation” but has there been an “abomination of desolation” after Yeshua? No, not yet, because this has not been fulfilled yet. Has Mark 13.19-20 been fulfilled yet? No, but they will be. Matt 24.15-22 says the same thing as Mark 13 basically. Luke 21.20 is similar but different than Matt 24 and Mark 13. Luke 21.24 dates this for us as being a first century fulfillment. Luke 21 basically answers the question “when will these things be” in Matt 24.3. The Temple, which they just got done remarking about, will be destroyed when they a foreign army surround the city (Luke 21.20. Luke 19.43-44 basically says the same thing. This brings us back to our passage in Micah 4.10 again; “Writhe and labor to give birth, daughter of Zion, like a woman in childbirth (the birth-pains in the first century). For now you will go out of the city (Rome took them captive, scattered them and killed them in 70 AD). Dwell in the field (the world) and go to Babylon (the majority of the Jewish people today live in the USA). There you will be rescued (Hebrew “natzeli” and has the root for “natzal” which means “delivered”). There the Lord will redeem you from the hand of your enemies (the 144,000 will see the catching away, believe in Yeshua and return to Israel before Babylon (USA) falls about a week later).” They will be the “first fruits” of those saved in the birth-pains (Rev 14.4).
This teaching was written to show you how to study the Scriptures, especially in the area of biblical eschatology. Micah 5 was used as an example because there are so many concepts in that chapter and it was a good one to use. When you come across words, names, time periods and associated concepts, we need to go back to the Jewish sources already named to define what is being discussed.
SOURCES USED IN THIS STUDY INCLUDE:
NASB/KJV 1611 Edition
Mesorah Publications edition of Ezekiel
Targum Ben Uzziel
Encyclopedia Judaica article on “Leviathan”
Hatikva Ministries video on “Eschatology”