Who are the 144,000? Well, they are the 12,000 from each of the twelve tribes of Israel. The real question is, who is Israel?
The Lord calls Israel His firstborn and His witness to His greatness and righteousness. Now, the Lord says that by two witnesses a matter shall be established (see also Matt 18:16). We have to remember that the word of the Lord is everlasting, and not even He will alter the word that has proceeded from His mouth. What if He wants to establish the fact to the world that He is Creator, that He alone is God, and that there is no other god beside Him? Then He will need two witnesses to establish that fact. The kingdom of Israel, founded by David, was divided into two kingdoms; the Lord even said that the division of the kingdom was His doing. Thus Israel was divided into two houses, to which the Lord refers time and again throughout the prophets: the house of Judah, and the house of Israel, or Ephraim (Is 8:14; Jer 3:18; Jer 31:31; Jer 33:23-26; Ez 35:10; Ez 37:22).
These are the two witnesses, Ephraim and Judah, which we learned about before. Of course, the Jews are from Judah and Benjamin, the house of Judah, but where is the house of Ephraim, the Ten Lost Tribes? Who is the house of Ephraim? They were carried away captive to Assyria and have not yet returned to the Promised Land. But Jacob prophesied over Ephraim that he would become a “fullness of Gentiles”. From Assyria the Ten Tribes became dispersed throughout the world, and Jacob’s prophecy concerning Ephraim was fulfilled.
But the Lord says that Ephraim will once again be gathered to Himself and to the Land which he was promised. The Lord also said that the houses of Judah and Ephraim will be made into one house in His hand. A fullness of Gentiles have been testifying to the Lord God, Creator of heaven and earth: the Christians in every nation do so. Today in the earth there are two witnesses to YHVH the Lord: the Christians and Jews. The Jews are of the house of Judah. Are the Christians of the house of Ephraim? Christians start out as Gentiles, but we must remember, when we are grafted into the root of the olive tree of Israel the Lord considers us Gentiles no longer (Num 9:14; Is 56:1-8; Eph 2:11-22).
If this is true, just think of the magnificence of the Lord’s plan: He dispersed Judah and Ephraim into all the nations to be a witness to Him, and in these last days, He is gathering who He has dispersed back into one house in His hand, along with all those that their testimony caused to join themselves to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. His grace is so infinite!
Now today, there is no way to know who is descended from the house of Ephraim. But the Lord knows those who are His. Maybe we were called because our long ago great grandfathers were of the house of Ephraim? Regardless, once “foreigners” (Gentiles) join themselves to Israel (through the root of Jesus Christ) they become as native- born.
“So if the uncircumcised man keeps the requirements of the Law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? And he who is physically uncircumcised, if he keeps the Law, will he not judge you who though having the letter of the Law and circumcision are a transgressor of the Law? For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God.” Rom 2:26-29
Paul might as well have said, “He is not an ISRAELITE who is one outwardly … but he is an ISRAELITE who is one inwardly.” For the covenant was given to the twelve tribes, not just Judah and Benjamin (the Jews); circumcision was given to the twelve tribes, not just Judah and Benjamin; and the Law was given to the twelve tribes, not just Judah and Benjamin.
So here we are back to the 12,000 from each tribe who were sealed.
To be continued …
Update: continued in Revelation: the 144,000 concluded