“I heard the number of them that were sealed; and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel.” (Rev. 7:4)
Our Lord Jesus, before He came into the world, was the Son of God on the Heavenly plane, the Only Begotten of the Father Jehovah’s only direct creation. (Col. 1:15; Rev. 3:14) When in the flesh, He was still God’s well-beloved Son. This is the One who when on earth as a man gave Himself in consecration to do the Father’s will, even at the cost of His own life, that He might purchase back from death the fallen human race. For this, the Father highly rewarded Him, by raising Him from the dead a Divine Being. Our Lord has had three natures, being now a partaker of the nature of Jehovah the Divine. “Him hath God supremely exalted, and given Him a name above every name. Phil. 2:9-11
This perfect obedience on the part of our Lord Jesus was the basis, then, on which Jehovah God raised Him to His present high position. God might have let Him take at once His power as King of kings and Lord of lords, and begin His great work of blessing mankind. But God’s plan was different. In His Purpose the Father not only foreknew the Lord Jesus for this work, but foreknew also that certain ones chosen from the human family would gladly become fellow-sufferers with Jesus that they might be fellow-sharers in His glory to follow. How could God arrange this? The Answer–is that they may have a part in this arrangement by marriage, by becoming united to Christ Jesus as His Bride, His Body, which is to be composed of 144,000 members.
HOW THESE ARE OF THE TRIBES OF ISRAEL
St. John the Revelator tells about this 144,000 12,000 from each tribe of Israel. How does the Church, the Body of Christ, come to be of the twelve tribes of Israel? In this way: God laid out the entire program of the Gospel Age on the Jewish basis. Provision was made for choosing the total number of the Bride class out of Natural Israel 12,000 out of each of the twelve tribes. God foreknew, however, that fleshly Israel as a nation would not receive Jesus as Messiah, and that those who would receive Him would be only a small remnant from all the tribes. But the elect Church was to number 144,000 12,000 from each tribe.
Of those of Fleshly Israel who came into the Gospel Church we do not know the proportion from each of the tribes. All twelve tribes were represented in Palestine when our Lord Jesus came, though chiefly Judah and Benjamin. During the Jewish Harvest there were approximately 25,000 gathered to the Lord from Palestine and adjacent countries an average of a little over 2000 from each tribe. So there was not nearly the required number.
Therefore, after the close of the 70 symbolic weeks of favor (Dan. 9:24) promised to the Jews, God turned to the Gentiles, to fill up the number lacking from the various tribes. (Acts 13:46) When we were received into Christ, the question was, Where would we be put? We do not know, however, where the Lord has put us; some will be in one tribe, and some in another, as God wills. But His decision will satisfy us.
ANOTHER COMPANY–A GREAT MULTITUDE
After we are told about these 144,000 from the twelve tribes who are to be of the Very Elect, who are to stand with Christ on Mount Zion (Rev. 7:1-8; 14:1-5), and who only will be able to sing the song of Moses and the Lamb, mention is made of a much larger company. This Great Company say that they will never deny God’s name or His cause. But they have not been living in harmony with their vows. Therefore they will not receive the reward coming to those who are ready to meet their Lord at any moment, those whose lamps are trimmed and burning.
This unfaithful class are the ones mentioned by the Revelator as having soiled their garments those who have failed to keep “unspotted from the world.” He says, “I looked, and behold, a great multitude, whose number no man knows, of all nations and kindreds and people and tongues; and they stood before the Throne and before the Lamb.” (Rev. 7:9-14) These are the Spiritual Israelites who are not of the priestly family. As in Natural Israel the Levites were far more numerous than the priests, so in Spiritual Israel. The Angel said to St. John, “Who are these, and whence came they?” He replied, “Sir, thou knowest.” So the angel said, “These are they who have come up out of the great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” Nothing but the blood of Jesus will ever take away these sins. They must all be cleansed in “a Time of Trouble such as was not since there was a nation.” This class will have their portion with the hypocrites,” because they have failed to live up to their covenant with God. They hesitate to step forward boldly and say, “I am striving to be a footstep follower of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
But here is our opportunity to take a stand before the world and to lift up the banner of the Lord. Let the people know where you stand! If you say, “Of course I am religious, but I do not wish to be extreme,” then your worldly acquaintances will say, “That is right. Don’t be extreme; come in and have a game of cards!” Such Christians get themselves into trouble at once.
Some of this class become so besmirched that they plunge into willful deliberate sin. This course would merit the Second Death,
so far as we understand the Word of God. But others say, “I will
never go deliberately into sin. I am no saint, I know; but I will
never deny the Lord; I will never deny the principles of righteousness.” There is considerable good character manifested
here, even though that person is not living up to the covenant
made with God. Such are still loyal at heart. Some of them have
been weak through fear of loss of worldly favor, or have been
hindered by the cares of this life. This is the class that will be in
the second company, the Great Company.
HOW THEY LOST THEIR CROWNS
You ask, “How do they get into such a condition?” We answer, There are various ways. The following illustrates one of these: Suppose you as a child of God should get angry, should speak a bitter word. Afterwards you felt that this was something against you. You hastened to the Throne of Grace and said, “O Lord, forgive! Cleanse me from my iniquity, and I will never do this again!” Perhaps a day or two afterward you made the same mistake; and you felt, oh, so abashed. It was more difficult to go to the Mercy-Seat the second time; but you went and said, “Lord, I am so ashamed, so sorry! I will try not to do this again!” But perhaps in a week, or perhaps in an hour or two, you had repeated the transgression. You were almost discouraged. You feared to go to the Lord. When you were preparing to retire at night, and the time had come for reviewing the events of the day, you said to yourself, “I cannot go to the Lord tonight, and own that I have failed again!”
You succeed in putting the matter off, but you are anxious. You try to get it out of your mind. The next morning you go about your duties, but you have not made the matter right with God. During the day something happens that causes you again to transgress. In distress you say, “I will not think about it. Everybody commits sins. There may be some who can overcome, but I cannot. There is no use to try.” So it goes on, the trespasses accumulating. From time to time you offer prayer; but it is largely a formality. If this condition of things is not rectified by the proper steps, you will certainly lose your Crown and go into great tribulation.
All down the Gospel Age there have been some of this class; but the Revelator pictures those now living. “Judgment must begin at the House of God” (1 Pet. 4:17); and these slothful ones must Answer–for their unfaithfulness. But after their sore chastisement in the coming great trouble, they will realize that it has worked good to them, and will say, “Let us be glad and rejoice. Let us glorify God that we were finally delivered. We have not been faithful; we have allowed things to hold us back. But now the Marriage of the Lamb has taken place. Our robes have been cleansed; and we are invited to the Marriage Supper, even though we have missed being of the Bride class. What a pity that we did not yield ourselves up wholly to the Lord;” See Rev. 19:6-9.
NOT MANY WEALTHY, GREAT OR WISE CALLED
God’s faithful ones love to meet together and encourage one another in the good way. The association of the Lord’s true
people is like a bed of coals. One coal will not keep warm alone;
but when many coals are brought together, each warms the
others. Therefore the Apostle exhorts, “Forsake not the
assembling of yourselves together,… and so much the more as ye
see the Day approaching.” Heb. 10:25
It is not money that draws us together. There is not a millionaire
amongst the saints, so far as we know. Whoever wishes to get
into a club of millionaires will not find it in the Church of
Christ.. The true Church are not as a rule wealthy, nor are they as
a class the most learned, the most talented, the most refined, to
be found. If these things are what you are seeking in the Church
of Christ, then you are looking in the wrong place. On the other
hand, whoever is ashamed of the brethren of Christ is accounted
as ashamed of Him.
We are not to be ashamed of the brethren of Christ or of His
Truth. Our Lord says, “Whosoever shall be ashamed of Me and
of My Word, of him shall the Son of Man be ashamed, when He
shall come in His own glory and His Father’s.” (Luke 9:26) In
other words, I will not have him in the Bride class. That Great
Company is represented as eventually getting the palms of
victory and as serving God in His Temple. But so far as you and
I are concerned, I trust that we are looking for something better
the Crown of Glory immortality. The class that will receive this
great exaltation with Christ is the class that “follow the Lamb
whithersoever He goeth.”
HE COMETH NOW TO REIGN
In Psa. 45:3, 4, the Psalmist tells us of the majesty of our Lord
Jesus when He comes to reign on earth. “Gird Thy Sword upon
Thy thigh, O most Mighty.” Our Lord here girds on His Sword,
that with it He should smite the nations. During all these
eighteen hundred years He has not until now girded on this
Sword. But now the time has arrived. The present great war is
the beginning of the work of disintegration. In this war we see a
general spirit of partisanship, even amongst professed Christian
people. We who are members of the Bride of Christ are to forget
that we are British or German or French, etc. We are to be rid of
all bias and false expectation, and thus be better able to see
God’s view of the whole matter.
The Lord wishes to have a judicial class. We are preparing to be
the judges of the world. “Know ye not that the saints are to judge
the world?” (1 Cor. 6:2) But we are not to attempt to be judges
now. We must not make that mistake. We see enough of this war
to know that, like all other wars, it is not of God, but of the Devil. We see that selfishness is at the bottom.
This war has been brewing for the past forty years. Each nation
has determined to have, if possible, what each considers its rights
upon the sea. Each nation has determined that rival nations shall
not have the supremacy. Jealousy and selfishness were rampant.
When the expense of naval and military armament became too
great to be longer borne, and there was imminent danger that the
people would revolt, the rulers said, “There must be war” not
expecting so much of it.
God is permitting the nations to take charge of the situation, but
He is overruling all to the accomplishment of His own glorious
purposes. In this war He will permit the world to try their power
and to come to the full end of their resources. God is saying, in
substance, “I have every thing ready. By the time that these
nations have used each other up, My Kingdom, that I have so
long promised, will take control. These nations can never bless
the world. I will let all the peoples of the earth see how foolish
their plans have been. Hitherto I have held back the winds of
strife; but now I am letting them loose; for I am ready to bring in
the blessings of My Kingdom.” Dan. 2:44
CITIZENS OF THE HEAVENLY KINGDOM
It would be very improper for us as Christians to have any prejudice one way or the other. We are to love all mankind. God’s true people are waiting to bless all the world. We do not wish to see any one injured; we are sorry that they do not know better than to injure and destroy one another as they are doing.
This spirit of selfishness which has prompted the war is spreading all over the world this antagonism, this striving for me and mine. What has the Spirit of the Lord to do with such selfishness? We are to remember that we belong to the Lord and to His Kingdom. If the whole world could get the spirit of our Master, what a changed world it would be! If all the churches in Europe had been teaching the principles of the Word of God, there would be no war. If all were Christians, there would be no soldiers and nobody killed. Over there in Europe the people claim to be practically all Christians. The Germans claim to be ninety-five per cent Christians; the British make the same claim. Italy is in the lead. It counts in all its people as Christians. These Christian-Italians have been studying the matter of going into this war, have been estimating how many would be killed and how much material advantage could be obtained by entering the war or by remaining out. For months they balanced it up and down. There they were, willing to barter the lives of millions of their own people and of others in order to get a little larger strip of territory under their king. How pitiable are such conditions!
“What manner of persons ought we (true Christians) to be!” We
should be the peacemakers of the world. Humanity are all deluded by their wrong doctrines. If they could see things properly, they would speedily bring this war to a conclusion. The Lutheran Church has been teaching the Germans and the Swedes, and the Church of England has been teaching the British, each in its place, that their kingdom is the Kingdom of God. Now they are in God’s holy war. (?) We are sorry. This is all that we can say. The war is a shameful spectacle. We whose eyes of understanding are opened know that all these earthly governments will meet with disaster, with ruin.
Let us, then, as true disciples of Christ, help each other. Let us
all be peacemakers and point others to the Kingdom of God’s
dear Son, which is soon to be inaugurated upon the ruins of the
present evil order, and which will prove to be “the desire of all
nations.” Then wars and all other calamities will be made to
cease forever; for nothing will be permitted to hurt or destroy in
all God’s holy Kingdom. Isa. 11:9