This subject of Revelation 7 is doubtless the most frequently discussed Bible subject by Seventh-day Adventists and other Bible students, than any other Biblical truth. Many theories have been advanced by the denomination, but not one has stood the test without contradiction. Great men of both Biblical and secular knowledge have diligently searched the Bible and have proved nothing as to who this company is.
We read in Great Controversy, page 397: "The spirit of error will lead us from the truth, and the Spirit of God will lead us into truth. But, say you, a man may be in an error, and think he has the truth. What then? We answer, The Spirit and word agree. If a man judges himself by the word of God, and finds a perfect harmony through the whole word, then he must believe he has the truth; but if he finds the spirit by which he is led does not harmonize with the whole tenor of God's law or book, then let him walk carefully, lest he be caught in the snare of the devil."
Sister E.G. White was doubtless far more acquainted with this subject than any one living at this time, for she wrote much about them and had visions of them. There is no doubt that she, too, spent much time in searching both from the Bible and her own writings, but she has failed to point out the exact company by assembling the references together, and clear the mystery. The question is: Why have all these godly people who earnestly searched for the truth failed to produce any evidence as to who this wonderful company really is? The answer we give is: Because it was not present truth in their time.
Sister White could have given a theory of some kind far more fitting and correct than any other theory ever advanced. She used wisdom and good judgment in leaving out her own opinion. God will make these things known at the appointed time only. Men may
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be made to believe a thing for a while, but except it be truth, it cannot last. Thus it would be unwise and a waste of time for one to try to tell who the 144,000 are, until the scroll has made a turn and one truth reveals another. If this study would unmask the mystery and harmonize with the Scriptures and the Spirit of Prophecy, then we must conclude that God's appointed time for this subject has come.
Sister White had received inspiration on this subject, but, like Daniel, was not permitted to know who, how, and when made, until Gods appointed time. The following is a quotation made by her to Elder E.E. Andross: "I feel confident, Elder Andross, that the brethren in Southern California will find blessing in reviewing the teachings of Scripture concerning the 144,000 and bringing to bear upon these teachings whatever of light there may be in the published writings of the Spirit of Prophecy, and as prayerful consideration is given the matter in all its bearings, I believe that God will make the truth sufficiently clear to make possible the avoidance of needless and unprofitable questions not vital to the salvation of precious souls."
Some day this subject must
be understood, for Inspiration makes no useless statements, and it cannot
be in the Bible for a trinket. It must be understood before the number
(144,000) is made or it would be of no value. When understood, it
will guide the feet of the 144,000 in the straight path just as the first,
second, and third angel's messages have led thousands of souls to Christ.
It has been said by some that it matters not whether one understands the subject of the 144,000 or not, so long as he does right. This is certainly true if we DO RIGHT, but how do we know whether we do right or not, except we understand Bible doctrines? How can we know whether we keep the right Sabbath, or belong to the right church, unless we understand that doctrine? Why is it important to understand Daniel 7, the beast and his image, and many other Bible prophecies? If we do not understand the subject of the 144,000, we may not be sealed, for it would be worthless to understand
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it after the sealing, just as it would be of no value to understand the beast and his image after his work on earth is finished.
The angel's message of Revelation 7--the angel ascending from the east--is as important as the first, second, and third angel's messages of Rev. 14:6-11. It must be understood and given to the people at the right time, as also the mighty angel of Rev. 18:1. The loud cry must come at a given time. This angel of Revelation 7, can not be the third angel, for John's explanation of them differ. The three angels of Revelation 14 are flying in the midst of heaven, or where the sun stands at noon, but the one of Revelation 7, is ascending from the east, or the rising of the sun. The message of this angel has never been understood at any time, nor proclaimed by this denomination or any other people, and only theories have been advanced. It is evident that this truth, as other truths, must come at the right time.
When the perplexing subject is made clear, then we must believe that the time is here, but this as all Bible truth, is found only one way, and in one place; namely, the storehouse (the Bible). Bear in mind that as Joseph of ancient days controlled the storehouse, even so Christ controls the Scriptures and the times. Many godly men in the past went to Christ (Joseph) and got all the present truth (corn) for that particular time that they could assimilate. While He (Christ) is liberal, He is also careful, and therefore has nothing to waste. When Joseph gathered the corn in Egypt and stored it in the storehouses, he did it not for wealth, but to sustain life in the next seven years of famine. The corn was a symbol of Christ's Word as we shall endeavor to prove.
Reasons for believing that the seven years of plenty and the seven years of famine in the days of Joseph in ancient Egypt represent the world's history in two sections of time are as follows:
In Volume 3, page 369, we read, "Isaac was a figure of the Son of God, who was offered a sacrifice for the sins of the world." Again
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we read in Desire of Ages, page 112, "And in the ram divinely provided in the place of Isaac, Abraham saw a symbol of Him who was to die for the sins of men." Thus Isaac and the ram are symbols of Christ's submission, death, and sacrifice.
Of Jonah, we read in Desire of Ages, page 406, "As Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale, Christ was to be the same time 'in the heart of the earth.' And as the preaching of Jonah was a sign to the Ninevites, so Christ's preaching was a sign to His generation." See also Prophets and Kings, page 274.
Elisha was a symbol of Christ. Prophets and Kings, page 240: "Like the Saviour of mankind, of whom he was a type, Elisha in his ministry among men combined the work of healing with that of teaching." These are the reasons why Isaac, Jonah, and Elisha are types of Christ, representing the different phases and imports of the work of Christ.
Of Joseph we read in Patriarchs and Prophets, page 369: "Joseph was a representative of Christ. In their benefactor to whom all Egypt turned with gratitude and praise, that heathen people were to behold the love of their Creator and Redeemer." Egypt was an idolatrous nation, and is a symbol of the world in sin. Joseph was a type of Christ, the sovereign of the world. As Joseph was sent into Egypt to preserve life; just so Christ was sent into the world (Egypt) to preserve life. Quoting from Patriarchs and Prophets, page 231, we read: "And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance." Thus it is written that these deliverances were an object lesson of spiritual blessing. But how did Joseph bless the ancient world? Was it not by the corn he preserved in the seven years of plenty? Had it not been for the immense storehouses full of life-giving energy, what blessing could Joseph have been to the ancient world were it not for his God-given wisdom to gather the corn with which to feed the world in the time of its great need? The corn which Joseph preserved is the blessing as it is written, the corn represents spiritual blessing (the Word of God). God's Word is spiritual bread and men have lived on it.
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"Moreover he said unto me, Son of man, eat that thou findest; eat this roll, and go speak unto the house of Israel." Ezek. 3:1. "Thy words were found, and I did eat them and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: For I am called by thy name, O Lord God of hosts." Jer. 15:16. "And had rained down manna upon them to eat, and had given them of the corn of heaven." Ps. 78:24. "Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread [corn] from heaven to eat. Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but My Father giveth you the true bread from heaven." John 6:31, 32. "To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna." Rev. 2:17. "And I took the little book out of the angel's hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey: And as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter." Rev. 10:10.
The latter prophecy has been applied to William Miller after he had studied the book of Daniel and accepted its teaching. Symbolically speaking, he ate the little book, which became a part of him and his co-workers. Had this not been true, he would not have proclaimed the message with such enthusiasm as he did. As the expected event failed to transpire in 1844, to them it was a bitter experience, thus fulfilling the Scriptures that men have eaten the Word of God.
If the corn does not represent the Word as in the Bible, then the question may be asked, Of what is Joseph a type? Isaac, Jonah, and Elisha each represent a certain phase of Christ's work, and if Joseph represents Christ; the food gathered,--the Word; the storehouse,--the Bible, then the seven years of plenty, during which time the food was gathered must be a symbol, otherwise the picture could not be perfect; and if the years of plenty are a type, then the years of famine must be taken into consideration. Each of these two sections of time bear the number "seven," meaning "perfect", fullness of time (entire, or all of the time).
The symbol can represent only one thing, and that is the world's history in two great divisions of time; namely B.C. and A.D. with
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the cross (Christ), the dividing line. "For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John." It is for this reason Jesus made the statement for we have no other thus far. The years of plenty is B.C. in which time God gave plenty to supply the world's need for the years of famine (New Testament time, A.D.). As Joseph gathered the corn into storehouses by his servants,--the Egyptians, just so Christ gathered the Word of God (spiritual food) in the Bible (the storehouse) by His servants, the prophets. "God who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son, whom He hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also He made the worlds." Heb. 1:1, 2. Had it not been for this purpose then we ask, what could it have been for? God who was responsible for the event did it not to bring hardships to His subjects, or to starve the world, as the famine was not in Egypt only, for we read, "And the famine was over all the face of the earth." Gen. 41:56. Had this not been the symbol, why would God have brought the famine over all the earth? Some people may have difficulty in being convinced, and others can never be convinced, but the harmony of the lesson can hardly be questioned.
If the seven years of plenty and the seven years of famine are not a type of the world's history; Joseph's immense storehouses not a type of the Bible; the corn gathered in the seven years of plenty not a type of the Word in the Bible; the feeding of the world not a type of the New Testament time consuming the Scriptures gathered in the Old Testament time; then we ask, Where are the types for all these events? Has not God given the gospel in types as well as in prophecy? "Christ was the foundation of the Jewish economy. The whole system of types and symbols was compacted prophecy of the gospel, a presentation in which were bound up the promises of redemption.'' Acts of the Apostles, page 14. If the seven years of plenty and the seven years of famine did not represent the world's history, the coincidents as well shall endeavor to bring forth could hardly have been possible by an accident. Jesus said, "Gather up the crumbs
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that there be no waste." It was His Word that multiplied the loaves and fishes; these crumbs represent the very words He spoke.
We read the following in Volume 2, page 606: "I am authorized from God to tell you that not another ray of light through the Testimonies will shine upon your pathway, until you make a practical use of the light already given." But now we must have corn or else we shall die. As a people we have much boasted that we have all the truth, but such a statement can not be found between the pages of the Spirit of Prophecy. "Not another ray of light will shine upon your pathway until you make a practical use of the light already given." These words suggest that there is more light to shine, and light is truth. Again, quoting from Testimonies to Ministers, page 107: "No one should claim that he has all the light there is for God's people. The Lord will not tolerate this. He has said, 'I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it.' Even if all our leading men should refuse light and truth, that door will still remain open. The Lord will raise up men who will give the people the message for this time."
The seven years of plenty and seven years of famine in the days of Joseph in ancient Egypt represent the world's history in two sections of time as previously explained; namely B.C. and A.D. Each one of these sections bears the Biblical number seven" (meaning complete). The seven years of plenty is B.C. Though one may doubt the application made here, the lesson we receive from it is true. In the Old Testament time, God gave plenty through His prophets, and Christ (Joseph) stored it in the storehouse (Bible), but as we have no record that there was any of the corn left when the seven years of famine had passed, neither was there any shortage. Therefore it is plain, that all the Scriptures are to be understood (used up) before the second coming of Christ.
Pharaoh's dream recorded in Gen. 41:17-20, reads as follows: "In my dream, behold, I stood upon the bank of the river: And, behold,
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there came up out of the river seven kine, fat-fleshed and well favored; and they fed in a meadow: And, behold, seven other kine came up after them, Poor and very ill favored and lean-fleshed, such as I never saw in all the land of Egypt for badness: And the lean and the ill favored kine did eat up the first seven fat kine." Note that the seven lean and ill favored kine did eat the fat-fleshed kine. By reading Gen. 41:21, we find the seven lean kine did not put on flesh after consuming the seven fat kine, which indicates that there will be no scriptures in reserve, but that all will be brought to light. The thought is that the seven years (A.D.) will consume all the corn (Word) in the seven years (B.C.) as represented also by the ears of corn in Gen. 41:22-24. Is this not clear that all the writings in the Old Testament will be fulfilled and understood before the end of A.D. (the second coming of Christ)? But is it not true that the biggest part or portion is not yet understood? How can one say that he has all the truth and does not and cannot explain a large portion of the Bible? Shall we pray to God to open our eyes that we may see and arise from this Laodicean lethargy into which we have fallen?
The subject is, "Who are the 144,000?" First mention of this number in the Bible is in Rev. 7:4: "And I heard the number of them which were sealed: And there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel." Rev. 7:2. "And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: And he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea." Note that this angel is ascending and not descending. In contrast to this, Rev. 18:1 says, "And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power, and the earth was lightened with his glory." This mighty angel is not ascending, descending, nor coming, but "come." If the angel made the trip from heaven to earth in less than 15 minutes in answer to prayer (Dan. 9:4-23), while it takes light millions of years to travel part of the distance, we
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can easily understand why the expression "but come" is used, meaning suddenly appearing without warning. This angel is the Loud Cry angel, an addition to the third angel and the message of the fall of Babylon as given by the second angel is repeated, as foretold in the 18th chapter of Revelation. The people of God are thus prepared to stand in the hour of temptation, which they are soon to meet.
Early Writings, page 277: "Then I saw another mighty angel commissioned to descend to the earth, to unite his voice with the third angel, and give power and force to his message. Great power and glory were imparted to the angel, and as he descended, the earth was lightened with his glory. The light which attended this angel penetrated everywhere, as he cried mightily, with a strong voice, 'Babylon is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.' The message of the fall of Babylon, as given by the second angel, is repeated, with the additional mention of the corruptions which have been entering the churches since 1844. The work of this angel, comes in at the right time to join in the last great work of the third angel's message, as it swells to a loud cry. And the people of God are thus prepared to stand in the hour of temptation, which they are soon to meet. I saw a great light resting upon them, and they united to fearlessly proclaim the third angel's message...This message seemed to be an addition to the third message, joining it as the midnight cry joined the second angel's message in 1844."
Of the three angels of Rev. 14:6-11, John writes: "And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven,...and the third angel followed them." These angels, following each other, were seen flying in the midst of heaven where the sun would be at mid-day, in its full strength. There is a difference between these angels and the ones in Revelation 7 and 18:1. These angels are neither "ascending" nor "come," but continue to "fly in the midst of heaven." The meaning is that these angels' messages are not as powerful as the one of Rev. 18:1, for John says he saw the angel "come," that is, stand upon the earth. The angel mentioned here is near by, but the other three
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angels are at a distance. This symbol shows that they could not be as powerful as the one that is close by, but these three angels are flying and continue to fly. The meaning is that while they are not as powerful, they continue a long time until this other angel of Rev. 18:1 joins in with them, as it has been with the first, second, and third angel's messages until now.
We go back to the angel of Revelation 7, the one in which we are most interested at the present time. This particular angel is ascending from the east. "Ascending" here could not mean departing or flying away, but simply coming, or advancing. For example, in the morning while the sun is rising or ascending, the temperature gains in heat as it nears mid-day, just so with this angel that is to seal the 144,000. The angel was seen coming, but he is taking time. The sealing cannot begin until after he arrives, for the seal of the living God is in his possession. If we can locate the time when he arrives we may know the beginning of the sealing time of the 144,000. Did we know the time when the first second, and third angel's messages began? Our answer is: Yes.
There is no reason for not knowing the definite time when this angel of Revelation 7 arrives. If we did not know the time, we would have no message, and if Satan can deceive us from present truth, he has won with his deceptive powers. John's prophecy in Revelation 7, of this ascending angel was only a vision of something to come, and the fulfillment of this prophecy was realized when Sister White was given her first vision in 1844, which was a vision of the 144,000. Read Early Writings, pages 13-20. John prophesied of this movement and the scene of the angel ascending in the east (John's vision) became a reality in 1844, but the angel is in the east, and we must await his arrival, for when he arrives, the sealing begins.
"The living saints, 144,000 in number;" we must not conclude that only a part of the whole can constitute the number and yet be true, for the statement made by Inspiration cannot be contradicted for
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it reads "144,000 in number." When mention is made of this company, it is at the same time when God makes known the day and hour of Jesus coming. If we can locate at what time of the world's history God speaks the day and hour of Jesus' coming, then we may know more about this company. Quoting Early Writings, page 285: "But there was one clear place of settled glory, whence came the voice of God like many waters, shaking the heavens and the earth. There was a mighty earthquake. The graves were opened, and those who had died in faith under the third angel's message, keeping the Sabbath, came forth....And as God spoke the day and the hour of Jesus' coming, and delivered the everlasting covenant to His people."
One may here suppose that the risen and the living make the number, but we do not believe the Spirit of Prophecy would call both companies (the living and the resurrected) living saints. The 144,000 are living saints; the others, resurrected Sabbath keepers. To make it positive, another reference is given, found in Great Controversy, page 637: "Great hailstones, every one 'about the weight of a talent,' are doing their work of destruction. The proudest cities of the earth are laid low....Graves are opened, and "many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth...awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt." All who have died in the faith of the third angel's message come forth from the tomb glorified, to hear God's covenant of peace with those who have kept His law." This makes it positive that the resurrected Sabbath keepers come forth in the special resurrection of Daniel 12. This is the time when the great hailstones are doing their destructive work (7th plague). "And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air;...And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, every stone about the weight of a talent: And men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof was exceeding great." Rev. 16:17, 21. The resurrected Sabbath keepers did not live during the time of the plagues, for they were resurrected at the time of the seventh plague, so that they hear the announcement of the day and the hour of Jesus' coming.
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If evidence can be brought to view that the 144,000 (in number) lived before the seventh plague, then we have positive proof that the 144,000 never died. Great Controversy, page 649: "And they sing 'a new song' before the throne, a song which no man can learn save the 144,000. It is the song of Moses and the Lamb,--a song of deliverance. None but the 144,000 can learn that song; for it is the song of their experience,--an experience such as no other company have ever had....They have seen the earth wasted with famine and pestilence, the sun having power to scorch men with great heat, and they themselves have endured suffering, hunger, and thirst." Here is a positive statement that the 144,000 lived in the time of the fourth plague, the sun having power to scorch men with great heat. "And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun; and power was given unto him to scorch men with fire." Rev. 16:8. This is the fourth plague. How could they (144,000) go through the fourth plague if the special resurrection of the Sabbath keepers (those who died under the third angel's message) did not take place until about the end of the seventh plague? If "they have seen the earth wasted with famine and pestilence and they themselves have suffered hunger and thirst", they must have lived through all the plagues.
Again, "They sing a new song"....which no man can learn save the 144,000....for it is the song of their experience,--an experience such as no other company have ever had." How can it be possible for all to sing the same song if it is a song of their experience except they all have the same experience? Those who had been in the grave would have the experience of death, grave, resurrection, and receiving a new body. But those who never died have seen the fulfillment of Ezekiel 9; Isaiah 63; Isaiah 60; the closing of the third angel's message, (the loud cry, close of probation), all of the seven last plagues, and they sing this song (of their experience and deliverance) "which no man can learn save the 144,000."
Sister White was taken in vision to one of the planets which had
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seven moons, where she met good old
Enoch. This place was so beautiful and her desire for it so keen,
she begged the angel to let her stay. "Then the angel said, 'You
must go back, and if you are faithful, you, with the 144,000 shall have
the privilege of visiting all the worlds and viewing the handiwork of God'."
See Early Writings, page 40. There is no contradiction in this statement,
for the angel told her that she, with the 144,000, meaning she is one with
them but not one of them. She will doubtless be with them for she
may be termed as the mother of them (being the messenger and founder of
this movement), nor can we suppose they will sing the song of Moses and
he (Moses) not be there. Because they are the 144,000, a special
company with a special experience, is no reason why others could not travel
with them, for undoubtedly Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob will be with them,
being the fathers in type. What objection could be made if
others would journey with them? We may suppose that Jesus would give to
all the redeemed at least one trip to the other worlds.
"And as we were about to enter the holy temple, Jesus raised His lovely voice and said, 'Only the 144,000 enter this place', and we shouted, 'Alleluia.' This temple was supported by seven pillars all of transparent gold, set with pearls most glorious. The wonderful things I there saw, I cannot describe....I saw there tables of stone in which the names of the 144,000 were engraved in letters of gold. After we beheld the glory of the temple, we went out." Early Writings, page 19. It is clear that no others were to enter the holy temple except the 144,000, and again it is clear that she went in, for she says, "The wonderful things I there saw, I cannot describe," and "after we beheld the glory of the temple, we went out." She could not see the things inside the temple unless she had gone in, and she could not have come out if she had never entered in.
Some may think that Sister White is one of the 144,000 because she entered this temple, and now that she is dead that part of the
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144,000 will be resurrected. There is no cause for confusion here. She could have entered the temple before, or after, or she could have gone right along with them, and still it would not change the thought. We must remember this is only a vision and not the real 144,000. They were not made up at that time, neither was she bodily there. This vision was given for her to make a report and reveal a certain truth. In other words, she was a reporter. What kind of a report could have been given if she had not entered the temple? The command, "only the 144,000 enter here, had no reference to her whether she should stay out or enter. She is one with them, but not one of them.
Reference is made in Testimonies to Ministers, page 445. The subject is about the sealing of Revelation 7, the 144,000. We quote: "This sealing of the servants of God is the same that was shown to Ezekiel in vision." Now if the sealing of the 144,000 of Revelation 7, is the same as Ezekiel 9, in order to find the kind of sealing it is, and the time of its beginning, we must study Ezekiel 9:1-9: "He cried also in mine ears with a loud voice, saying, Cause them that have charge over the city to draw near, even every man with his destroying weapon in his hand. And, behold, six men came from the way of the higher gate, which lieth toward the north, and every man a slaughter weapon in his hand; and one man among them was clothed with linen, with a writer's inkhorn by his side: and they went in, and stood beside the brazen altar. And the glory of the God of Israel was gone up from the cherub, whereupon He was, to the threshold of the house. And He called to the man clothed with linen which had the writer's inkhorn by his side; And the Lord said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof. And to the others He said in mine hearing, Go ye after him through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity: Slay utterly old
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and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house. And He said unto them, Defile the house, and fill the courts with the slain: go ye forth. And they went forth, and slew in the city. And it came to pass, while they were slaying them, and I was left, that I fell upon my face, and cried, and said, Ah Lord God! wilt thou destroy all the residue of Israel in thy pouring out of thy fury upon Jerusalem? Then said He unto me, The iniquity of the house of Israel and Judah is exceeding great." It is positive that the sealing of the 144,000 is Ezekiel 9,--the separation (sifting in the church--the godly from the ungodly). Volume 1, page 181: "I asked the meaning of the shaking I had seen, and was shown that it would be caused by the straight testimony called forth by the counsel of the True Witness to the Laodiceans." Read the entire page. Note the shaking begins after the straight testimony of the "True Witness" is come.
Is the Sabbath the seal of the 144,000? First of all it will be noticed that the definition of "seal" is: An instrument which is used to seal, fasten up, or enclose securely; to establish or settle beyond question; to point out and determine; designate. An effort will be made to bring forth enough Bible evidence to satisfy anyone believing in the Scriptures that all who were saved in the ages past as well as those who are to be saved now must have the seal of God. Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians said that they were to be sealed. "And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption." Eph. 4:30. The grace of sanctification wrought in the soul by the Holy Ghost is the seal and assurance of one's redemption to come, of a joyful resurrection. The use and end of this sealing is the sacredness and safety of the thing sealed from the eyes of curiosity and hands of violence, which otherwise would be abused by strangers and enemies; thus the children of God are past the censure
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of the wicked world. They are preserved as precious things for God's own use, to be with Him in heaven. Quoting 2 Tim. 2:19, written to the Corinthians: "Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are His." "Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts." 2 Cor. 1:22.
We read in Revelation 8 and 9, of the seven angels with the seven trumpets. These seven trumpets indicate the principal political and warlike events which were to transpire during the time of the gospel church. The sealing of the 144,000 belongs to the time of the sixth trumpet. Beginning with Rev. 9:1, we read about the angel with the fifth trumpet. Verse 4 of this chapter we quote: "And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads." Here we see that many years before the third angel's message ever began to be preached, the saints of God were sealed with the seal of God, just the same as the ones under the third angel's message are to be sealed. According to these scriptures which are plainly stated, we must conclude that the saints of God are sealed with present truth in all ages, and whatever that present truth is, that is the seal. Present truth under the third' angel's message is Sabbath truth, therefore, the Sabbath is a seal which seals the people who are obedient to it. Quoting Great Controversy, page 452: "The seal of God's law is found in the fourth commandment....When the Sabbath was changed by the papal power, the seal was taken from the law." Early Writings, page 58: "The sealing time is very short, and will soon be over."
Those who died under the third angel's message, keeping the Sabbath, are sealed with the Sabbath truth, but the 144,000 never die. While they must keep Sabbath and have that seal, they must sigh and cry for the abominations that are in the church, for otherwise they can not receive the mark by the angel with the writer's inkhorn of Ezekiel 9, which is the seal according to Testimonies to Ministers, page 445; Volume 5, pages 210-16; Volume 3, pages
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266-7. The sealing of the 144,000 is the separation of the faithful from the disloyal ones; the purification of the church. Those who do not keep the truth, and indulge in the sins and abominations, who try to throw a cloak over the existing evils, will fall under the figure of the five men with the slaughter weapons of Ezekiel 9.
The Sabbath has been present truth since 1845, and being the seal of the law of God has been sealing the law among the people of God ever since that year. Isa. 8:16 "Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples." This has been the work of the third angel, and for this reason the third angel has no seal, for the seal is in the law, but the angel of Revelation 7, has a seal in his hand. Ezekiel calls him the man with the writer's inkhorn who is to set a mark upon the men who sigh and cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof (the church). This is the seal of the 144,000, but all the saved under the third angel are sealed with the Sabbath seal. The 144,000 having this seal are also marked (sealed) by the angel of Revelation 7, which is the same as the one of Ezekiel 9. In other words, it may be termed a double seal.
This sealing of the 144,000 is not a Sabbath seal. However, those who are sealed must be Sabbath keepers. It is a seal, or mark, that separates the two classes in the church, and those who are sealed, or marked are not marked because they keep Sabbath only, but because they sigh and cry for all the abominations that are done in the church. So both the sealing and the slaughter are in God's church, and not in Babylon, or in the world. It is only in Jerusalem, and Judah, the house of Israel (the church). "Judah" in Ezek. 9:9 refers to those in office, for Judah occupied the office of the Levites after the tribe of Levi was carried away. There is not a thought about the world or the ungodly. When the marking (sealing) is finished, the five men with the slaughter weapons begin with the ancient men which were before the house, meaning the guardians of the spiritual
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interest of the people. See Volume 3, pages 266, 267, and Volume 5, pages 210-212.
We quote Volume 5, page 211: "The ancient men, those to whom God had given great light, and who had stood as guardians of the spiritual interests of the people, had betrayed their trust. They had taken the position that we need not look for miracles and the marked manifestation of God's power as in former days. Times have changed. These words strengthen their unbelief, and they say The Lord will not do good, neither will He do evil. He is too merciful to visit His people in judgment." Volume 3, page 265: "But if the sins of the people are passed over by those in responsible positions, His frown will be upon them, and the people of God, as a body, will be held responsible for those sins.'
Those who are sealed (marked) and escape the ruin are the ones who will constitute the number which prophecy declares to be 144,000. Our denomination numbers about 300,000. This means the denomination will be divided in half and suggests the ten virgins, five of whom were wise and five were foolish. In other words, half and half. May God help His people, and give us a vision of what sin is that we may put away the existing disastrous iniquity in the church (the house of God). Such a vision would cause us to sigh and cry for the abominations that are done in the midst thereof. He who understands the curse of sin would throw no cloak over the existing evil to obtain the favor of any. May God lift us from the low spiritual level into which we have fallen, and save us from this Laodicean, lukewarm condition. May we, as wise Ninevah of old, defeat the prophecy, that heaven may rejoice.
It is evident that if both the sealing and the slaughter are in the house of God, the church (His people), and if more than one-half of the people must perish for their sins except they repent, and if less than one-half of the present membership would number 144,000, it certainly could not have begun many years ago; and much less with
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the beginning of the third angel's message, for there was no church then but merely a handful of people. It could not have begun when the church was in a good, spiritual condition. It must have begun when the church is at her lowest level, and polluted with sin. Those who are to receive the seal and escape the slaughter must sigh and cry for all the abomination that is done in the midst thereof. Volume 8, page 250, says, "Unless the church, which is now being leavened with her own backsliding, shall repent and be converted, she will eat of the fruit of her own doing, until she shall abhor herself."
Speaking of the 144,000, Volume 5, pages 210-11, says, "These sighing, crying ones had been holding forth the words of life; [a message] they had reproved, counseled, and entreated. Some who had been dishonoring God, repented and humbled their hearts before Him. But the glory of the Lord had departed from Israel; although many still continued the forms of religion, His power and presence were lacking. In the time when His wrath shall go forth in judgments, these humble, devoted followers of Christ will be distinguished from the rest of the world by their soul-anguish, which is expressed in lamentation and weeping, reproofs and warnings. While others try to throw a cloak over the existing evil, and excuse the great wickedness everywhere prevalent, those who have a real zeal for God's honor and a love for souls, will not hold their peace to obtain favor of any....They lament and afflict their souls because pride, avarice, selfishness, and deception of almost every kind are in the church....The class who do not feel grieved over their own spiritual declension, nor mourn over the sins of others, will be left without the seal of God....Here we see that the church--the Lord's sanctuary--was the first to feel the stroke of the wrath of God. The ancient men, those to whom God had given great light, and who had stood as guardians of the spiritual interests of the people, had betrayed their trust."
Volume 5, page 82: "The call to this great and solemn work was presented to men of learning and position; had these been little in their own eyes, and trusted fully in the Lord, He would have honored
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them with bearing His standard in triumph to the victory. But they separated from God, yielded to the influence of the world, and the Lord rejected them."
Volume 5, pages 211-12: "They had taken the position that we need not look for miracles and the marked manifestation of God's power as in former days. Times have changed. These words strengthen their unbelief, and they say, The Lord will not do good, neither will He do evil. He is too merciful to visit His people in judgment. Thus peace and safety is the cry from men who will never again lift up their voice like a trumpet to show God's people their transgressions and the house of Jacob their sins. These dumb dogs that would not bark are the ones who feel the just vengeance of an offended God. Men, maidens, and little children all perish together. The abominations for which the faithful ones were sighing and crying were all that could be discerned by finite eyes, but by far the worst sins, those which provoked the jealousy of the pure and holy God, were unrevealed....Our own course of action will determine whether we shall receive the seal of the living God, or be cut down by the destroying weapons." If we were to mark out the exact time of the beginning of this sealing, we would say it began sometime during 1929. Space will not Permit us here to give our reasons for believing thus, but in another study this will be taken up.
To get the proper understanding of the third angel's message we shall divide it into three periods: (1) Beginning of the proclamation of the true Sabbath, Rev. 14:6-11; (2) Reformation, and sealing of the 144,000, Rev. 7:1-8; (3) The Loud Cry, Rev. 18:1. The truth of the sealing (144,000) being made known, it is evident that we are in the second period. If we had not known the commencement of the third angel's message in its beginning, we would have had no message. Therefore, we must know the time of the last two periods when they came, being of no lesser importance.
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Volume 5, pages 210, 211: "In the time when his wrath shall go forth in judgments, these humble, devoted followers of Christ will be distinguished from the rest of the world by their soul-anguish, which is expressed in lamentation and weeping reproofs and warnings. While others try to throw a cloak over the existing evil, and excuse the great wickedness everywhere prevalent, those who have a zeal for God's honor and a love for souls, will not hold their peace to obtain favor of any. Their righteous souls are vexed day by day with the unholy works and conversation of the unrighteous. They are powerless to stop the rushing torrent of iniquity, and hence they are filled with grief and alarm. They mourn before God to see religion despised in the very homes of those who have had great light. They lament and afflict their souls because pride, avarice, selfishness, and deception of almost every kind are in the church. The Spirit of God, which prompts to reproof, is trampled under foot, while the servants of Satan triumph. God is dishonored, the truth made of none effect....The abominations for which the faithful ones were sighing and crying were all that could be discerned by finite eyes, but by far the worst sins, those which provoked the jealousy of the pure and holy God, were unrevealed."
Volume 1, pages 471, 472: "A great mistake has been made by some who profess present truth, by introducing merchandise in the course of a series of meetings, and by their traffic diverting minds from the object of the meetings...."It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer, but ye have made it a den of thieves." These traffickers might have pleaded as an excuse that the articles they held for sale were for sacrificial offerings. But their object was to get gain, to obtain means, to accumulate....Ministers have stood in the desk and preached a most solemn discourse, and then by introducing merchandise, and acting the part of a salesman, even in the house of God, they have diverted the minds of their hearers from the impressions received, and destroyed the fruit of their labor....Their
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time and strength should be held in reserve, that their efforts may be thorough in a series of meetings. Their time and strength should not be drawn upon to sell our books when they can be properly brought before the public by those who have not the burden of preaching the word."
Volume 8, page 250: "Who can truthfully say, 'Our gold is tried in the fire; our garments are unspotted by the world'? I saw our Instructor pointing to the garments of so-called righteousness. Stripping them off, He laid bare the defilement beneath. Then He said to me: "Can you not see how they have pretentiously covered up their defilement and rottenness of character? 'How is the faithful city become an harlot?' My Father's house is made a house of merchandise, a place whence the divine presence and glory have departed! For this cause there is weakness, and strength is lacking." Thus the time and the condition of the church at the beginning of the sealing of the 144,000 is well portrayed by both the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy. It is an admitted fact among Seventh-day Adventists that the church has been on the decline for some years, but never has it been in such a low spiritual condition as it is now. There is scarcely any difference now between the church and the world.
2. Following the fashions of the world: Isa. 3:16; Volume 1, pages 269, 270; Volume 4, page 632; Volume 3, page 379; Volume 5, page 78; Volume 1, pages 189-191; Volume 1, pages 135, 136; Volume 4, page 631.
3. Spending money for that which is not bread (health reform): Isa. 55:2; Volume 5, page 197; Isa. 56:12. (Many references can be given from the testimonies on this subject, but space will not permit them here.)
4. Use of tithe--school teachers (those who teach the Scriptures)
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are not paid by the tithe as they should have been: Volume 6, page 215.
5. The house of God is made into a house of merchandise by buying and selling denominational publications of all sorts: Isa. 58:3; Isa. 56:7; Volume 1, pages 471, 472; Volume 8, page 250.
6. High prices in our institutions while they should be below current expenses: Volume 8, page 142; Isa. 56:12; Isa. 58.
7. Disbelief in the Spirit of Prophecy: If not acknowledged by words, it is admitted by works.
8. Failed to inform church members of Elijah's message: Mal. 4:5; Testimonies to Ministers, page 475; Volume 4, pages 402, 403.
9. Abraham obeyed God in all that He commanded, and was very careful even to the smallest particulars; thus it was counted to him for righteousness, but we have not done so. See Gen. 26:5; Gen. 15:6.
10. The promise of the land (heavenly Canaan) is to Abraham's seed. Jesus said, "If ye were Abraham's children, ye would do the works of Abraham. [If ye are not the children of Abraham] Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do." See John 8:39-44. (By doing the works of Abraham), "Then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." Gal. 3:29
11. Insisting that we have all the truth and have need of nothing.
12. Turning down Scriptural claims without investigation as to its light. Volume 5 page 211: "The abominations for which the faithful ones were sighing and crying were all that could be discerned by finite eyes, but by far the worst sins, those which provoked the jealousy of the pure and holy God, were unrevealed."
The sealing of the 144,000 can not extend to the close of probation, for they must be sealed long before that time, and it must close before the loud cry of the third angels' message. Early Writings, page 277 says: "I saw angels hurrying to and fro in heaven,
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descending to the earth, and again ascending to heaven, preparing for the fulfillment of some important event. Then I saw another mighty angel commissioned to descend to the earth, to unite his voice with the third angel, and give power and force to his message. Great power and glory were imparted to the angel, and as he descended, the earth was lightened with his glory....This message seemed to be an addition to the third message." It seems in the expression, "the angels hurrying to and fro," the author has reference to the fulfillment of Ezekiel 9; and then follows the mighty angel of the loud cry of Rev. 18:1.
Ezekiel 9, can not meet its fulfillment at the time Christ comes in the clouds, for the slaughter is in the church. The church of Christ must be pure and clean, free from every stain long before Jesus comes. If we are not in this pure condition, we can not hope to stand in the time of trouble, nor can we escape the effects of the plagues. The church could not stand without an intercessor after probation nor before, if there is one unclean thing in the camp of Israel. "For thus saith the Lord God of Israel, there is an accursed thing in the midst of thee, O Israel: Thou canst not stand before thine enemies, until ye take away the accursed thing from among you." Joshua 7:13.
As an illustration and comparison of the faithfulness and unity of the people at the time of trouble during the plagues, we quote Early Writings, pages 282-3: I saw the saints leaving the cities and villages, and associating together in companies, and living in the most solitary places. Angels provided them food and water, while the wicked were suffering from hunger and thirst. Then I saw the leading men of the earth consulting together, and Satan and his angels busy around them. I saw a writing, copies of which were scattered in different parts of the land, giving orders that unless the saints should yield their peculiar faith, give up the Sabbath, and observe the first day of the week, the people were at liberty after a certain time, to put them to death....but angels in the form of men of war fought for them. Satan wished to have the privilege of destroying the saints of the
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Most High; but Jesus bade His angels watch over them....Next came the multitude of the angry wicked, and next a mass of evil angels, hurrying on the wicked to slay the saints. But before they could approach God s people, the wicked must first pass this company of mighty, holy angels. This was impossible. The angels of God were causing them to recede, and also causing the evil angels who were pressing around them to fall back." It is evident here that God's people are apart by themselves, with no wicked ones among them. Holy angels would not protect unholy people from the wicked multitude. Here we see God's people separated from all wickedness. Therefore this shows they are in perfect unity at the time they leave the villages.
When then was this purification of the church? Ezekiel 8, tells us of the abominations done in the midst of Jerusalem (church); Ezekiel 9, reveals the consequences to those who do not sigh and cry for all the abominations. "One sinner may diffuse darkness that will exclude the light of God from the entire congregation." Volume 3, page 265.
The men with the slaughter weapons must immediately follow the one with the writer's inkhorn. God must separate His people if the marking is to be of any value and except the separation takes place, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit can not fall in its fullness upon the people of God. "I asked the meaning of the shaking I had seen and was shown that it would be caused by the straight testimony called forth by the counsel of the True Witness to the Laodiceans. This will have its effect upon the heart of the receiver, and will lead him to exalt the standard and pour forth the straight truth. Some will not bear this straight testimony. They will rise up against it, and this is what will cause a shaking among God's people....I asked what had made this great change. An angel answered, 'It is the latter rain, the refreshing from the presence of the Lord, the loud cry of the third angel'." Early Writings, pages 270, 271. It
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is clear that the shaking must take place before the "Loud Cry." The men with the slaughter weapons were already slaying before the man with the writer's inkhorn returned to report the matter that he had done as he was commanded. See Ezekiel 9:8, 11.
Referring to Israel (after the flesh) which is a type of the true Israel; namely, the 144,000, God said, "Israel is My first-born." The priesthood in ancient Israel was supposed to be made up of the first-born of every family, therefore the priesthood is termed the first-born. Had Israel obeyed God in all His precepts, this plan would have been carried out, but when they reached Mt. Sinai they made the golden calf and worshipped it.
When Moses came down from the mountain, he took a record of all who had worshipped the calf. "Standing in the gate of the camp, Moses called to the people, 'Who is on the Lord's side? Let him come unto Me.' Those who had not joined in the apostasy were to take their position at the right of Moses; those who were guilty but repentant, at the left. The command was obeyed. It was found that the tribe of Levi had taken no part in the idolatrous worship." Patriarchs and Prophets, page 324. For this reason God honored the tribe of Levi. We read on page 277: "After the institution of the tabernacle service, the Lord chose unto Himself the tribe of Levi for the work of the sanctuary, instead of the first-born of the people."
But God said, "Israel is My first-born",--the true Israel--the 144,000. That promise, then, would find its fulfillment here. Of them we read "being the first fruits unto God and the Lamb." If such is the case, then the 144,000 would be priests and Levites. Isaiah 61, could have no reference to another class than Israel by the promise the 144,000, and of the Gentiles who shall come to the Lord by their labors. We read in Isa. 66:19, 20, "And I will set a sign among them, and I will send those that escape of them unto the nations....And they shall bring all your brethren for an offering unto the Lord out of all nations." These (144,000) who escape the ruin
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of Ezekiel 9, and Isaiah 63, to which Isa. 66:16, 17, refers, will be sent on a great missionary work during the time of the loud cry.
We read in Isa. 61:5, 6, "And strangers [Gentiles, or those who are not of the 144,000] shall stand and feed your flocks, and the sons of the alien shall be your plowmen and your vinedressers. But ye shall be named the Priests of the Lord: men shall call you the Ministers of our God: Ye shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory shall ye boast yourselves." Others than themselves (144,000) shall feed their flocks and dress their vines (do their farming) in the same manner as it was with the tribe of Levi, for they had no land. Though the Levites had no inheritance of the land, they received about 25% of the increase in tithes and offerings, thus others than themselves did their work. So with the 144,000, who will be priests in the new earth. The idea here is not that tithe and offerings from the people would be their support in the earth made new. These scriptures are merely given to illustrate the position which they occupy.
Isa. 61:7 says: "For your shame ye shall have double; and for confusion they shall rejoice in their portion: Therefore in their land they shall possess the double: Everlasting joy shall be unto them." Having two pronouns, "ye" and "they," the pronoun "ye" receives double for their shame, but the pronoun "they" shall possess the land. "Ye" is the pronoun of the second person to whom God is speaking, and in this case refers to Israel (which is the 144,000), but the pronoun "they" refers to the Gentiles who were not numbered among the twelve tribes and therefore are not included in the 144,000, but are saved for "they" rejoice in their portion.
In Volume 5, pages 475-6, speaking of the 144,000, we read: "They are to be as kings and priests unto God....'These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth'." Therefore, the 144,000 are priests, and Christ the High Priest, (and King). It may be said that when probation closes Christ takes off His priestly garments, and is Priest no longer, but there need be no confusion in this, for we read in Isa. 66:22, 23: "For as the new heavens and the
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new earth, which I will make, shall remain before Me, saith the Lord, so shall your seed and your name remain. And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one Sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before Me saith the Lord." Thus we see that there is to be a system of worship in the new heaven and earth which will require Priests and Levites.