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Monday, May 25, 2015

WHO ARE THE 144,000?


Who Are the 144,000? Debunking Steven Anderson

Posted: May 25, 2015 in Bible DoctrineProphecy/Current EventsSteven Anderson

Dr James Ach
Steven Anderson has made several “Post Trib Moment” videos as well as a series of anti-Israel videos in support of his Armstrongism views of the relationship between the church and Israel. These videos have been responded to thoroughly at length by two other brothers, Bryan Denlinger, Post Trib Moments Exposed, and Rick Jacoby, Israel Moments Examined, so I have chosen not to address those videos, but since this issue was addressed on my Twitter account with several others wanting a reply, I wanted to offer a few short comments to refute Anderson’s “Post Trib Moment #48″ in which Anderson asserts that the 144,000 sealed servants of Revelation 7 are not future Jews.
Anderson claims that the Bible never calls the 144,000 listed in Revelation 7:4-8 “Jews” but “of the 12 tribes of the children of Israel”. Now how anyone could come up with that ridiculous conclusion is beyond me, because to make any kind of sense to the passage, you would first have to understand who the 12 tribes were, and then who the children of Israel were, and conclude that neither the 12 tribes nor the children of Israel were ever Jewish. But Anderson offers a solution to that conundrum by offering a kind of Preterist interpretation: that these 144,000 were chosen from 12 tribes that were already on earth, and not that they will be chosen from any future tribes.
Where Are the 144,000 Located?
Anderson’s first contention (which he never really fully explains the relevancy and skips over Revelation 7) is that the 144,000 can’t be Jews because they are in heaven. He never really revisits this after making the argument that they are in heaven in Revelation 14. True, they are in heaven in Revelation 14, and that proves what exactly?? The 2 witnesses end up in heaven, too, in the middle of the tribulation (This also provides one of the strongest arguments for a 7 year tribulation. The 2 witnesses ministry lasts for 3 1/2 years Revelation 11:3, and the devil’s antics do not begin UNTIL they are killed in Revelation 11:6-8, at which point, the dragon knows that he has 3 1/2 years left. Revelation 12:11-12, Revelation 13:5).
But note that the 144,000 are first SEALED ON EARTH.  1) The angels that seal them are standing on the FOUR CORNERS OF THE EARTH (Revelation 7:1) which is below heaven where God resides, and, 2) they are told not to hurt the earth until the servants are sealed (Revelation 7:3). Why would they be told not to hurt the earth if the 144,000 were sealed in heaven? Thus we see why Anderson never came back to Revelation chapter 7 to develop this point. The 144,000 are sealed on earth, and are taken with those who believe Christ during their ministry to the mountains (Revelation 12:6), and from there to heaven which is why you see them there in Revelation 14. Keep in mind that this fits the timeline of the ministry of the 2 witnesses of Revelation 11:3, Anderson’s account does not.
What About Those 10 Tribes? Where Are the Tribes?
Anderson makes an absurd argument not found in Scripture or history that the Northern tribes of Israel (all 10 of them) became Samaria, and thus lost their Jewish identity. However, race-mingling occurred all throughout the Old Testament (See Ezra 10:3 and Nehemiah 13:26-28) and yet it never caused any of the tribes to lose their identity. Oddly enough, although Anderson contends that none of the 12 tribes are mentioned after the resurrection of Christ except one, Asher (which would be Anna, Luke 2:36), he fails to mention that Asher was of the NORTHERN tribes of Israel.
Anderson argues that the Jews lost their identity because of intermingling, but he makes this argument from only the Northern tribes. Wouldn’t that argument, to be consistent, also need to include the Southern tribes as well? If the Northern tribes lost their identity because of intermingling, then how did the Southern tribes lose their identity who did NOT intermingle? Not only is Anderson’s argument inconsistent (and unbiblical), it is also erroneous in the fact that it merely made the progeny of those particular relationships half Jewish, it didn’t make the Jewish perpetrators any LESS Jewish. And keep in mind, for Anderson’s argument to be true, all of this would have had to have been accomplished at the time of Christ, because he defers to the term “Samaria” as proof of this, yet James writes to “The 12 tribes” after Christ’s resurrection (more on that below).
Moreover, one the strongest refutations against Anderson’s position is that the tribe of Levi exceeded the physical tribal boundaries. They were not part of either Northern or Southern kingdoms because they were never offered a physical inheritance (Deuteronomy 10:9, 18:1, Numbers 18:20-24), and yet they are listed with the tribes in Revelation 7. This proves beyond a doubt that the 144,000 COULD NOT HAVE BEEN Old Testament saints as Anderson erroneously contends.
Lastly on this point is Anderson’s oversight (we think deliberately) that no other tribes are mentioned other than a prophetess from Asher . However, in Romans 11, Paul tells us he is an Israelite from the tribe of Benjamin, in Philipians 3:5 he repeats this, but refers to his identity as a Hebrew of Hebrews, and in Acts 21:39 Paul calls himself a Jew. So Israelite, Hebrew, and Jew are all synonymous, and it is therefore ludicrous to think that the 12 tribes of Israel in Revelation 7 would not be 12 JEWISH tribes, and then attempt to make some unbiblical distinction between Jew and Israelite.
We also read the following from Acts 26:7 in Paul’s address to King Agrippa,
 Unto which promise our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, hope to come. For which hope’s sake, king Agrippa, I am accused of the Jews.
Clearly here, the “hope to come” is a reference to a future 12 tribes. There’s a long list of Old Testament passages that are relevant to the millennial kingdom that could  be cited as well (such as the Zechariah 8:23) that prophesy God’s fulfillment of remaining promises to the NATION of Israel. See our article on “Not All Israel Are of Israel?” for irrefutable proof of Israel’s future restoration and a refutation of popular Replacement Theology arguments.
The 144,000 Are the Firstfruits OF the Lamb, Not BEFORE the Lamb
In Revelation 14:4, as Anderson correctly points out, the 144,000 are called the firstfruits of the Lamb. Here’s a common sense question, how could Christ be the firstfruits in 1 Corinthians 15:20-23 and Colossians 1:18, and the 144,000 be firstfruits that precede THE Firstfruit? The ORDER of firstfruits in the NT is ALWAYS Christ first. Thus, the 144,000 could not possibly have been Old Testament saints before Christ.
So Where Are the 12 Tribes Today?
Anderson contends that none of the 12 tribes exist today in Israel, and therefore that proves Revelation 7 isn’t about 12 Jewish tribes [See The Khazar Myth Debunked by Chris White for a short explanation about DNA evidence linking modern Jews with OT Jews] . Ironically, Anderson says he takes the Bible literally in Revelation 7, but then refuses to believe the possibility that these 12 tribes exist, and are just unknown, but will be made known in the future. By using this kind of criteria to evaluate Scripture one could argue that NONE of the events Christians consider future (including even Anderson’s pre-wrath rapture) will ever happen. For example, we could argue that there is not NOW a New World Order, yet even though Revelation 13-18 is clear that there WILL BE, using Anderson’s logic we could easily argue against it. Jews could have argued in the OT that no virgin has ever given birth to a child and therefore it will never happen. Nobody ever thought Israel would be a nation again, either.
Anderson admits that there are Jews alive today, and that our land is called Israel, and Jews live in it. Now common sense would tell you that we at least at one point in history had a tribal identity and just because Israel today does not KNOW all of the tribes due to being scattered and persecuted does not mean that the tribal identities will not be recovered/known at a future time, just as the Hebrew language was recovered. Many Africans sold into slavery were taken from tribes in Africa and today, none of them can tell you what tribe they belong to; that doesn’t mean those tribes don’t exist. Anderson can’t simply write off all of the fulfilled prophecies of the OT regarding Israel as coincidence (See our articles on Prophecies Fulfilled In Modern Israel, and Debunking Myths About Current Israel ) If all of the prophecies listed in these articles are not the actual fulfillment of prophecy, then there is yet another group of people that will be called Jews and another land yet to be called Israel (Ezekiel 37:12) that have yet to fulfill them all-TWICE.
Scripture makes it clear that this is a period called “The Time of the Gentiles” (Luke 21:24) and the setting aside of Israel –which would naturally and consequentially include their tribal identity– is temporary. Romans 11:25-26. Paul says that Israel NATIONALLY is brought back “from the dead” in Romans 11:15. Why then should we expect a temporarily dead nation to know all of their tribal identities? If we BELIEVE the Scripture, and take it literally as Anderson claims he does, then there’s no reason to believe that the tribes of Israel will not be made known WHEN THE TIME IS COME, a standard that applies to any other remaining prophecy (again, including even Anderson’s own view of a post-tribulation rapture). 
However, if Steven Anderson-to borrow an American phrase-“wants to be technical”, Revelation 7:4-8 doesn’t say that the tribes MUST BE KNOWN TO US. If it is only God that knew them, the Scripture would still prove that 12 JEWISH tribes are future regardless of whether those tribal identities are known to any of us (or them). Certainly, it would be hard to fathom how Jesus could promise His disciples that they WOULD (future) sit on 12 thrones judging the 12 tribes of Israel if those 12 tribes are never manifested. Matthew 19:28. And to create 12 tribes, you’re going to need men and women who aren’t virgins. Yet nothing in Revelation 7-14 indicates that any of the 144,000 virgins stopped to make a family while they were sealed and witnessing during the tribulation.
Furthermore, when James wrote his epistle, even though he admits that the Jewish tribes were scattered, he still referred to them as “the 12 tribes”. James 1:1. It would be silly to argue that James did not know the identity of these 12 tribes and yet still refer to them as “THE 12 tribes”.
Witnesses During the Wrath of God?
One of Anderson’s followers, “Edward”, stated that,
the 144,000 are from the tribes of Israel and are sent from heaven to win souls during the wrath of God.
There’s not one verse in Revelation that says there is any witnessing that occurs DURING the last 3 years of the tribulation but by ONE ANGEL (Revelation 14:6). Furthermore, in the last half of the tribulation any surviving saints (that did not make it to the mountains in Revelation 12:6 during the first 3 1/2, and those who convert under the angel during the latter half) will be martyred by the dragon who is given power over them (Revelation 13:5-7). There are no SEALED saints in the latter half of the tribulation. In fact, it is because those who heard their message during the first 3 1/2 years and rejected it chose their fate for the last 3 1/2 years (Revelation 14:8). Those who reject Christ during the first 3.5 years will not be written in the book of life of the Lamb, and will be given over to a reprobate mind (believe a lie, i.e., that the beast is God when he declares himself so. 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12). They are given chance after chance and continually refuse to repent (Revelation 9:20-21, Revelation 16:9-11).
However, not all of them will be killed (the meaning behind “he that endureth to the end shall be saved” in Matthew 24:13), some survive and make it to the millennial kingdom (Isaiah 65:20), but become slaves of Israel which will include the church as ruling judges (Isaiah 1:26, 1 Corinthians 6:3, your position in the kingdom will depend on your obedience in THIS time, 1 Corinthians 3:11-16) and be subject to the theocratic rule of the Lamb (Revelation 2:27, 12:5, 19:15). They have children during this time who increase in population and ultimately rebel against God after a thousand years when Satan is released from the bottomless pit (Revelation 20:7-8).
Finally, Anderson’s logic here is that God has left the church on the earth to endure the tribulation, and chosen to seal 144,000 Old Testament saints to carry the gospel, because apparently the entire church got amnesia and forgot what it was and how to preach it, or perhaps the Calvinists got left behind and since they don’t evangelize (in any meaningful sense of the word), God in His foreknowledge chose to get the job done with 144,000 OT virgins. Hard to fathom how 144,000 virgins passed through 2000 years of Jewish history unnoticed, but hey, Anderson’s sticking to his story. Perhaps one day he’ll fight another border patrol officer and get shocked back into sanity. Anderson’s argument is based on “it makes way more sense that…”, which is the exact type of reasoning he condemns from those who use this reasoning to support certain verses for a pre-tribulation rapture that are not exactly spelled out.* Anderson’s entire argument therefore rests on speculation, not anything he can support from Scripture with the same certainty that he demands from pre-tribulationists.
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*We do note Anderson says the 144,000 serve to replace the saints so that the earth is not left without witnesses, which would place the rapture of the saints MID TRIBULATION, when Anderson has devoted an entire movie arguing for a POST TRIBULATION rapture! Furthermore, the wrath of God that is poured out



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