In order to understand how events “play out” we need to go over Jewish eschatology. One of the problems we will have doing this is we will make statements we can’t prove right away, but they can be proven. For example, the war of Gog and Magog can be established as to when it happens. It will start on a Rosh Ha Shanah and end on a Yom Kippur at the end of the third year, going into the fourth year, of the Birth-pains. It has to do with the coming of the False Messiah and the Jews fleeing into the Jordanian wilderness six months later.
Because we will not be studying these certain events, we will be making statements related to these events but will not be taking the time to go into each detail exactly. What we want is for you to get the general overview of it and have it in the back of your mind. So what we want to do now is give a brief overview of Jewish eschatology and the seven years of the Birth-pains using Jewish sources and references.
What have we seen so far? We have seen that the “Day of the Lord” will begin on Rosh Ha Shanah, year 6001 from creation. All the righteous will be resurrected and caught up to heaven in the Natzal. These believers are called the “clouds of heaven.” The coronation of Messiah, and wedding of the Messiah and his Bride, will take place at that time, and Messiah and the Bride will enter the Wedding Chamber or “Chuppah” for the start of the Shavuah L’ Chuppah.
On earth, the average people (sinners or Chata’im”) and the wicked (Rashim) are left behind. The 144,000 are anointed witnesses that will be set aside at this time. They are seen in two passages from the book of Revelation alone, but they are also seen in passages in the Tanach. We are going to examine the 144,00 and we will begin to deal with that. From that point we will move forward into an overview of the Birth-pains.
Revelation 6 gives an overview of the entire contents of the “scroll” given to Yeshua at the coronation. Rev 7 begins to give detail. This can be compared to a house being viewed from the outside. After that, you go in and view the rooms one by one. This can be established by the first verses of Rev 6.1-4. Then look at Rev 7.1-3 and the 144,000.
Many believe the Book of Revelation is chronological but you can see right away it is not. In true “apocalyptic style” of the Jewish people shortly before and shortly after Yeshua, they will come in to give the “big picture” and then drop back and begin to examine the big picture piece by piece. That is not chronological. Notice that Rev 6.1-4 had death and war, but Rev 7.1-8 starts out by saying that before any harm can come to the earth, there is the sealing of the 144,00. So, Rev 7.1-8 must happen before Rev 6.1-4.
There are two passages that relate to the 144,000 in Revelation, Rev 7.1-8 and Rev 14.1-8. The 144,000 are the “first fruits” of the new age that has begun called the Atid Lavo (Rev 14.4) and they are the redeemed of the Lord after the resurrection of the righteous has occurred in the Natzal. This is established as they are called the “first fruits” (bikurim). They are redeemed from among men, being first fruits to God and to the Lamb. Also the “new song” (Messiah has come) is being sung by them. They sing, as it were, a new song before the throne. They have a message to the world, “having the everlasting basar (gospel) to preach to those who dwell on the earth, to every nation, tribe, tongue and people (Rev 14.6).” The destruction of Babylon is the next event and then we will have the rise of the False Messiah. Then we have those who worship him next after that.
Now, everything Yeshua and the first century talmidim taught could be established in the Tanak, so where can we establish the 144,000 from the Tanak? Let’s look for just a few of these. About a thousand years ago, Saadiah Gaon wrote 10 reasons for blowing the shofar on Rosh Ha Shanah. Reason 10 says, “To recall our faith in the future resurrection. As it is said, ‘All inhabitants of the world and dwellers on the earth:when he lifts up a standard on the mountains, you will see it; and when he blows the trumpet you will her it (Isa 18.3).'” In the peshat (literal) level by some commentators, this is talking about the Assyrians and judgment, but we are not going to look at that level right now because there is a deeper level (Sowd) in Isa 18.1-7, and we have just seen allusions to it in our passages in Revelation.
Notice that the phrase “all inhabitants of the world and dwellers (“on/in” is not in the original Hebrew but is implied) the earth” seems redundant. However, in Jewish thought, the inhabitants of the world is the living, and the dwellers in/on earth are the dead, and they are on the look out for the “banner” or “standard” that is to be lifted up and they will see it, a resurrection. The word “banner” is the word “nes” in Hebrew and it is a term used for the Messiah (Isa 5.26, 11.10, 11.12, 13.2). We also see that the “banner” was lifted on a mountain (Isa 13.2, 18.3).
Now, the “heavens” are called “shamayim” in Hebrew and it basically means “there is water.” In Greek there are two words, and one means “outer space” and the other means “the sky” with the clouds we see. This is the phrase that is used for the top of a mountain. When the banner (standard) is on a high mountain it will relate to the resurrection. In Isa 62.10 it says, “Go through, go through the gates (a Rosh Ha Shanah term)! Prepare the way for the people (like Elijah/Yochanon), build up, build up the highway, take out the stones (another reference to Elijah/Yochanon), lift up a banner (nes) for the peoples.” Jer 51.27 deals with the destruction of Babylon (USA), “Set up a banner (nes) in the land. Blow the trumpet among the nations! Prepare the nations against her, call the kingdoms together against her: Ararat, Minni and Ashkenaz. Appoint a general against her; cause the horses to come up like the bristling locusts.”
In these passages the destruction of Babylon is linked with the idea of a resurrection at the blowing of the shofar. Three passages (Isa 13.2, 18.3 and Jer 51.27) are in chapters that deal with the destruction of Babylon. Babylon is the USA in Bible prophecy and is destroyed withing the first 10 days of the Day of the Lord. So, the question remains, where are the 144,000 in the Tanak?
Isa 18.1-2 says, “Woe to the land shadowed with buzzing wings which is beyond the rivers of Ethiopia (Cush/Mesopotamia) which sends ambassadors (shaliachim/apostles/sent ones) by sea, even in vessels of reed on the waters saying, ‘Go, swift messengers (malkim/angels), to a nation tall and smooth, to a people terrible from their beginning onward, a nation powerful and treading down; whose land the rivers divide (Mesopotamia).'”
Now, Cush can mean Ethiopia but it can also mean Mesopotamia. The father of Nimrod was Cush (Gen 10.8-12), and founded Babylon. Ibn Ezra wrote a commentary on this chapter and he said Isa 18 is talking about the region of Babylon and Assyria. So, in Isa 18.3 we have all the inhabitants of the world and dwellers on the earth, and when the Lord lifts up a banner on the mountains, they will see it. When he blows a shofar they will hear it. Notice that at the resurrection of the dead righteous, and the gathering of the living righteous, a shofar is heard and the Natzal is seen.
Now, who else sees and hears this? The ambassadors (shaliachim) and the messengers of Isa 18.2. They are some of the inhabitants of the earth at the time. This is the sign that Elijah gave to Elisha in 2 Kings 2.9-14. If Elisha sees Elijah being taken, then he would have a double anointing. So, the sign is the same with the 144,000 as with Elisha, “If you see them when they go” they will get a double portion of the anointing. We will see this anointing in another 144,000 passage in Mic 5.7-9 later. What makes the 144,000 the first fruits of the Birth-pains and the Atid Lavo? Obviously, they know the Scriptures and follow the Torah and so they have a Scriptural base, but they are not yet believers when the Natzal (Rapture/gathering) happens. They are the first to be saved during the Birth-pains, so they are “first fruits.”
They will see the Natzal and the resurrection and hear the shofar and become believers. They will be anointed to carry the message of God (the Basar/gospel) to the world, and they will be anointed with a double anointing of Elijah, and that is one reason the story of Elijah and Elisha is given to us.
We will pick up here in Part 25.