The Resurrection of 144,000 People

My thoughts about the future of life on earth change over time, as I learn more and find deeper meaning in scripture. I also consider the changing political, geographical, and astronomical events upon and surrounding our world as I connect the pieces of the puzzle. But in this turbulent current time, it is important to distribute information to everyone right now, and that is the reason for this article.

The following discourse is but a simple understanding of how I perceive God’s plan to save the righteous of humanity through a resurrection of the dead. Please realize that in order to best understand God’s end-time plan, we need much more knowledge than presented here. We must study and consider prophecies and the spiritual direction from God throughout the whole Bible, both the old and new testaments. Yet for this study, at the very least, a reading of the Book of Revelation should be considered, especially chapters 4 through 22.

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“Who are the 144,000 called out in the last book of the Bible?” This has always been a popular question, but now more so, since many Christians are now figuratively waking up to a new reality. What was considered a normal life just a few short years ago — before the pandemic — will never return. Today people look around and realize that the world is rapidly changing for the worse and they think, “Hey, maybe I really am living in the end times mentioned in the Bible! Maybe I should learn more about what the Bible says about the last days of this age.”

Given the many differences of opinion about this group of God’s selected 144,000 people, it is hard to condense a single generic overview of what our Lord has planned. This study will highlight a few popular thoughts concerning these differences. Hopefully you will be able to form a preliminary conclusion as to which thoughts make the most sense to you. At the very least, this discussion may help in piecing thoughts together as you learn more information about the end of the age.

Once faithful people take a position of belief and put in some serious study, they are likely to eventually arrive at the truth. So have faith and ask our Lord for guidance in your study; depend upon him to point you in the right direction. Believe our Lord, not some preacher that may have an agenda different from saving your life; saving your life is what the Bible is all about.

I have no other agenda; I neither sell anything, nor do I accept any advertising to make a profit. I only tell the truth as I see it. I don’t beg anyone to believe me, for I encourage my readers to pray to God for guidance and make their own choices. And I suggest people check out what I say, not accept it unconditionally.

Now, getting back to the forthcoming resurrection — which some call the ‘rapture’ — who are the people that make up this group? Some scholars and theologians believe that the figure of 144,000 is an exact number composed only of ethnic male Jews. Others think this number is only symbolic and suggest they are those who come from the modern Christian Church, which will be composed of faithful male and female believers. But there are other theories lying between these two extremes, so if you have your own different theory, there are surely some people who would agree with you.

Jehovah’s Witnesses, for example, believe exactly 144,000 people of both sexes will be resurrected to a heavenly life to rule with Jesus and any remaining righteous people will then live on earth under their rule.1 And the Mormons believe the number is related to the ordained high priests that administer the gospel to unbelievers and bring them into the church.2 But whomever the 144,000 are, and wherever they come from, they will be protected from the wrath of the Antichrist during the coming tribulation period and live as spiritually pure beings who rule with Jesus.

Some preachers suggest this groups’ bodies will be changed in physical structure, so as to live in a spiritual realm, whereas others teach they will remain as spiritually pure human beings throughout the millennial reign of Christ. But, either way, I think existing as a spiritually pure entity should not suggest that they will become angels.

While many people are questioning the 144,000, they forget about another large number of people that Revelation speaks about; this is the Great Multitude from every nation (see Revelation 7:9-17). These are believers who have survived through the great tribulation and will inhabit the earth. So, combined, a majority of human beings, who have accepted Jesus as their personal savior from sin and death, will be alive after the Great Tribulation and live during a coming renewal of earth.

I believe those who think all Christians are going to live in heaven will find out they are wrong, for that is not what the Bible indicates. However, I think their disappointment will be short lived, for their lives will still be better than they could ever have imagined. And they will one day, indeed, be reunited with their loved ones that previously died.

I should add a disclaimer here, because it all depends upon us continuing our faith in Jesus and living as our Lord demands. Otherwise, we may not make it to that wonderful new world. God’s overall plan is to completely eliminate sin and evil, not overlook it or allow it to return.

So, God (Yahweh, Jehovah) selects a special smaller group of 144,000 to rule with his son, Jesus (Yeshua), over the renewed earth. Those elected for this job will not continue as mere humans, but spiritually pure creatures partnering with our Lord’s reign. If they died after Christ’s time on earth, but before the end of this age, they will be resurrected into their new body. For any that are still alive at the end, they will be translated or transformed into their promised body.

These future spiritual governing assistants will number 144,000, as mentioned. That may seem like a lot of people, but it is a tiny number compared to the more than eight billion people presently living on this planet.3 If they rule a similar world population, then the elected rulers with Christ would be less than two people per 10,000 citizens.4 And we are not even considering all those arriving in the second resurrection. What? Yes! There are two resurrections (see Revelation 20:1-15), and we will examine that shortly.


Revelation Chapters 7 & 14

There are only three places in the entire Bible that mention this specific number of 144,000 people — once in Revelation 7 and twice in Revelation 14.

(1) “And I heard the number of those who were sealed, one hundred forty-four thousand, sealed out of every tribe of the people of Israel,” (Revelation 7:4, NRSV).5
(2) “Then I looked, and there was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion! And with him were one hundred forty-four thousand who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads,” (Revelation 14:1).
(3) “No one could learn that song except the one hundred forty-four thousand who have been redeemed from the earth,” (Revelation 14:3).

The first reference to the 144,000, appearing in Revelation 7, occurs after opening of the sixth seal, but before the seventh seal.6 Verses 1 through 3 tell about a great storm about to burst upon the world, but four angels are commanded to hold back those winds until the servants of God have been sealed.7

This is all before the Prince of Darkness — “that ancient serpent, who is the Devil and Satan” — is put into temporary restraint for one thousand years (see Revelation 20:2-5). This first resurrection is when the martyrs alone will be raised and they will reign with Christ on earth before Satan is released again for a limited time.8

Religious scholars have varying interpretations about this large number. Some are unwilling to accept this 144,000 literally, but only as an indication of a large unknown amount. I figure it is plausibly accurate, because our Lord would know exactly how many were needed. And some say those sealed are God’s servants from physical Israel (the ethnic Israelites of the Bible), while others say it is implying spiritual Israel (those that are Jews, Israelites, or gentiles, but who became believers in Jesus as the Messiah and, thus, became Christians).9

Either way, the sealing (approval, selection, election, protection, securing) of people from specific tribes of Israel is mentioned as quite literal: twelve thousand people from each of twelve tribes (12,000 x 12 = 144,000). These twelve tribes (Revelation 7:5-8) are somewhat different from biblical listings elsewhere. Why?

Well, the names recorded omit the tribes of Dan and Ephraim, but include Joseph and Levi as substitutions. To understand the reasoning for this, we must go back to the Book of Deuteronomy10 where we read that the person, or family, or tribe, that introduces idolatry into the nation of Israel, will have their name ‘blotted out’ from under heaven, and be separated out of the Tribes of Israel.11

This actually happened in the Old Testament when the tribes of Dan and Ephraim permitted King Jeroboam to set up Golden Calves to be worshiped. Being deleted from this list may be that they will only have an earthly preservation. Or maybe, while others will receive a heavenly reward before the Great Tribulation, members of Dan and Ephraim will need to suffer the tribulation event first.12 These, of course, are educated guesses, at best.

And because of this, some think the coming Antichrist will come from the tribe of Dan.13 In Genesis, the Bible states, “Dan shall be a snake by the roadside, a viper along the path, that bites the horse’s heels so that its rider falls backward,” (Genesis 49:17). Poetically, one commentator remarks that out of Dan will come the anti-Christ, just as Judas emerged from among our Lord’s twelve disciples.14

But didn’t many of those tribes become historically lost? If lost, how could the descendants be singled out today? How would anyone know which tribe their ancestors belonged to? As some suggest, “the sealing of the 144,000 from all the Tribes of Israel will not be dependent upon them being able to recognize their tribal affiliation or prove their ancestry. Instead, the Seal of God will be placed on their foreheads by angels who will identify members of the group.”15

Through clues in the Bible, we can identify the general locations of the descendants of modern day Israel, but I’m not speaking about that small piece of land on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea founded as an independent country after World War II in 1948. In the Bible when speaking about God’s nation of Israel, it is about the people and not this newer geographic territory created by a greedy political group of Zionists to seize land.16

Two thousand years before Christ, God promised the first Hebrew patriarch, Abraham, the earth would one day be filled with his offspring and he kept that promise, as you will see. Abraham’s promised seed actually led to Jesus Christ, and also to the blessing of a whole world of peoples. This is what God said in the very first book of the Bible.

“I will indeed bless you, and I will make your offspring as numerous as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of their enemies, and by your offspring shall all the nations of the earth gain blessing for themselves, because you have obeyed my voice,” (Genesis 22:17-18).

The Tribes of Israel were named after sons or grandsons of Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel (see Genesis 49). Over time, most Israelite tribes were assimilated into various other societies and this dispersal of those Israelites became known as the Lost Tribes of Israel. But Jesus knew where they were located (Matthew 10:5-7).

Anyway, through the millennia of history, they spread throughout the world, and you and I are most likely physical descendants of the Tribes of Israel; we are the offspring “numerous as the stars of heaven and the sand on the seashore.” And as Christians, we are also spiritual Israelites. For more on this subject, see the article titled “Jesus Knew Where to Find the Lost Tribes of Israel” listed in References & Notes.17

The 144,000 are referenced twice in Revelation 14 (in verses 1 and 3). Verse 3 also mentions a new song that only they learn; this song is probably one of praise for God and the Lamb and for their own redemption.18 It could concern victory after conflict with the dragon, beast, and false prophet and was never sung before, because such a conflict had never been fought before.19 And, like mentioned in Revelation chapter 7, the Father’s name is written on the foreheads of his righteous followers, indicating allegiance to our Lord, just as those aligned with evil have received the beast’s mark of ‘666’ (see Revelation 13:11-18).

This 144,000 are seen on Mount Zion with Christ Jesus. Mount Zion is in Jerusalem, the City of David and those in this group are considered the ‘first fruits’, a reference to what was served up as an acknowledgment to God for his gracious provision at harvest time (see Exodus 23:16, 19). “It communicated thankfulness and a sense of dependency from the person making the offering. It also signified that the entire harvest belonged to Yahweh.” So, these 144,000 are presented in a like manner.20


The Second Resurrection

Besides those in the first resurrection event, there will also be another group called a “great multitude,” as already mentioned above. These righteous Christians will have survived through the tribulation period. One thing many others believe is that this group would not include anyone who died prior to Jesus’ first coming. If that is true, will those most ancient loose God’s eternal blessing?

Probably not, for there will also be a second resurrection at a later time. Jesus, in his own words, said “the hour is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and will come out — those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation,” (John 5:28-29).

Our Lord was speaking about all those bodies sleeping in death — still lying in graves — will then hear his voice. In other words, in the second resurrection all the dead of ancient history will be raised as two separate classes — both those who have done good and those who have done evil.21 And this prophecy is much older than the time when Christ walked the earth.

That reference is to the Old Testament Book of Daniel and is considered to be the clearest ancient reference to the resurrection of the faithful.22 It says, “Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt,” (Daniel 12:2).

There is another popular belief, concerning the two resurrections. This uncomplicated suggestion is stated quite well by a modern group. They say the first resurrection is for Christians, those accepting Jesus. The second resurrection is only for the judgement of unbelievers. Therefore the difference between the groups is based upon one’s relationship with God through Jesus Christ.23



Interpretations of these various groups — first resurrection, great multitude, second resurrection — differ greatly. But, the timing is reasonable. The first raising from death and the great multitude will be at the beginning of the thousand-year reign of Christ. And the second rising, along with a reappearance of Satan for a short time, will occur after the earth has been brought back to its original condition. Then, after evil is eliminated, there will finally be eternal peace on earth.

As I see it, there have been some misconceptions about how God’s resurrection unfolds. And I agree with others that nowhere in scripture are we taught there is only one resurrection. While it is evident that all the dead will be raised and judged, the moment, location, and judgements are not the same.24 Please share your own thoughts about this biblical teaching. I would like your ideas.

The song selected for this study concerns not only the coming resurrections, but the promise given to Abraham in Genesis 22:17-18. It is a lyric video with the singing voice of Gospel baritone Todd Suttles, a member of the Gaither Vocal Band. The audio and lyrics are set to scenes provided by the YouTube channel Kantahan Ta Si Hesus TV. Selected lyrics are below and a video link is listed in References & Notes.25

We are the stars, we are the sand,
We are the promise that You made to Abraham,
We are the seed, the white-robed throng,
We are the children You had promised for so long,
We are the sands, we are the stars.

Copyright © 2024, Dr. Ray Hermann

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References & Notes

  1. “144,000″, (Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, Jehovah’s Witnesses, retrieved 4 May 2024),
  2. “144,000″, (Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 26 April 2024),,000
  3. Earth’s current human population is about 8.1 billion.
    “World Population”, (Worldometer, retrieved 2 May 2024),
  4. 144,000 ÷ 8 billion = 0.0018% (or 1.8 governors/priests per 10,000 citizens)
    “Percentage Calculator”, (, retrieved 2 May 2024),
  5. All scripture is quoted from The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1989). Used by permission.
  6. The seven seals and seven trumpets in the Bible are part of a series of catastrophic events that signal huge changes for the earth.
    Bolinger, Hope, “What Are the Seven Seals and Seven Trumpets in Revelation?” (Christianity, 18 April 2024),
  7. MacDonald, W., in Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments, (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1995), p. 2364.
  8. Mays, James Luther, (Ed.), Harper’s Bible Commentary, (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1988), p. 1317.
  9. Vincent, M. R., Word studies in the New Testament, New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1887), pp. 501-502.
  10. Specifically, Deuteronomy 29:18–21. This was when God’s covenant was renewed in Moab, after the Israelites left the land of Egypt.
  11. Larkin, C., The Book of Revelation: A Study of the Last Prophetic Book of Holy Scripture, (Philadelphia, PA: Rev. Clarence Larkin Estate, 1919), p. 66.
  12. Ibid.
  13. MacDonald, W., in Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments (see above).
  14. Jamieson, R.; Fausset, A. R.; and Brown, D., Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, 1997), vol. 2, p. 569.
  15. “Who Are the 144,000 from All the Tribes of Israel?” (Revelation Study Guide, retrieved 10 May 2024),
  16. Hermann, Ray, “Jews, Hebrews, Israel, & Zion: What is the difference – why the war?” (The Outlaw Bible Student, OBS, 19 January 2024),
  17. Hermann, Ray, “Jesus Knew Where to Find the Lost Tribes of Israel”, (The Outlaw Bible Student, OBS, 11 May 2022),
  18. Barry, John D., et al., Faithlife Study Bible, (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2012, 2016), [Rev 14:3].
  19. Jamieson, Robert, et al., Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible, (see above), vol. 2, p. 585.
  20. Barry, John D., et al., Faithlife Study Bible, (see above), [Rev. 14:4].
  21. Farstad, A., (Ed.), Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments, (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1995), p. 1494.
  22. Miller, S. R., in Apologetics Study Bible, (Ed.), T. Cabal, (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2017), p. 1062.
  23. “What is the difference between the first resurrection and the second resurrection?” (Compelling Truth, retrieved 17 May 2024),
  24. “The First and Second Resurrection”, (Biblical Christianity, 25 October 2021),
  25. “We are the Sands, We are the Stars” Artists: Todd Suttles and Gaither Vocal Band; Album: We Have This Moment; (uploaded to YouTube 18 August 2021 by Kantahan Ta Si Hesus TV; audio © 2017 Hanna Street Music (BMI) / Songs of Rambo McGuire (SESAC)). Used under ‘fair use copyright’ for teaching under Section 107 of United States Copyright Act of 1976 – MUSIC VIDEO:
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