The sealing of the 144,000

I mentioned in my last post about having a different view than many classic PreWrathers.  Let me backtrack a little bit so you will understand where I am coming from.
 
First off, my studies in eschatology actually began when I was trying to find the PreTrib rapture in the Bible.  But I have to go back just a little farther.  When I was first saved at the age of 15, I attended a Baptist church and grew in my faith pretty substantially.  I was raised United Methodist and the switch to that church really caused me to grow.  But some of the teachings I simply accepted without searching the scriptures for myself.  After I was saved, this Baptist church taught that I could never lose that salvation.  I believed them without turning to the scriptures for myself to see if this were so.
 
Now fast forward to a time in my life where I had left stopped walking with the LORD.  I was living in sin and I knew it.  Now in the back of my mind I wondered if I were really saved or not.  Had I lost my salvation?  You see, I had only believed I couldn’t lose my salvation because this church had told me that I couldn’t, not because I had learned this from the scriptures.  When I repented and turned my life back over to the LORD, one of the first things I did was read the Bible from cover to cover in search of the answer to my question.  Can someone lose their salvation?  Now that I have studied the scriptures for myself, I know that there is nothing past, present, or future that can separate me from the love of God.  This would include any sins in the future.  At that time I made a vow to the LORD that I wouldn’t believe any teaching unless the LORD Himself showed me in the scriptures.
 
So now here I am trying to find the PreTrib rapture in the Bible.  I hear preachers preaching about it.  All the study notes in every Bible talk about the PreTrib rapture before the seven year tribulation.  But for some reason, I can’t find it in the Bible anywhere.  I was asking folks in our church if they could show the PreTrib rapture to me in the Bible.  I got to talking to someone who was not PreTrib and realized there were other positions out there.  So I asked the question that had been bugging me for the longest time.
 
"If God will always preserve a remnant, how can He take all the believers out of the world at the same time?"  This fellow answered, "There will be 144,000."  Suddenly the wheels started turning in my mind.  It was true; God would not leave this world without a remnant, but would seal 144,000 to be preserved through the time of wrath.  In a week or so I read every single end times passage in the Bible that I could think of and they all pointed to one thing.  The tribulation would come, then just before God’s wrath at the sixth seal, God would seal the remnant, then rapture the church which would begin the day of the LORD.  Although God’s wrath would be here, the church would not experience the wrath having been raptured, and Israel would not experience God’s wrath having been sealed for protection.
 
Shortly after this, someone in our church who is PreTrib asked me if I wanted to borrow a book which told of a different viewpoint other than PreTrib.  I thought to myself, "What have I got to lose."  The book was The PreWrath Rapture of the Church by Marvin Rosenthal.  I read it in less than a week.  I handed it back to him the next Sunday and he asked me what I thought.  I said, "That’s what it’s going to be."  He replied, "Oh no!"  It was sort of like he was saying, "We lost another one!"  He was hoping I would read it and refute it, but instead, everything that Rosenthal had written agreed with the conlusions that I had come to in those previous few weeks of study.  I read with great appreciation this clip concerning the timing of the sealing in relation to the rapture.
 
"The symmetry, balance, and timing of Revelation 7 should not be
missed. With chapter 8, the Day of the Lord will begin. Therefore,
in chapter 7 the church is raptured. But immediately prior to the
Rapture of the church, the 144,000 Jews are sealed. It is almost
like a baton being passed between runners. The 144,000 must be
sealed for protection to go through the Day of the Lord before the
church can be caught up to the throne in heaven. God will not leave
Himself without a people on the earth."
 
Rosenthal had come to the same conclusion that I had.  Namely, that God would not leave this earth without a godly remnant in order to carry out His plan.  The sealing had to come before the rapture in order to stay true to God’s modus operandi.  And since this is the chronological order that the events are given in Revelation 6 and 7, I thought the matter was settled.  The sixth seal is opened, the tribes of the earth mourn, the 144,000 are sealed, then the church comes out of the great tribulation and stands before the throne of God, which is a result of the rapture.
 
So imagine my surprise when I begin posting on the PreWrath Only message board and find that I’m in the minority on my position.  Directly contradicting Marv Rosenthal, many PreWrathers take a more dispensational approach to the sealing and rapture.  They reason that the 144,000 cannot be sealed until they are saved, and further, if they are saved at the time of the rapture, they would be caught up in the rapture rather than remain here on the earth to be preserved through His wrath.  So ignoring the clear chronology of Revelation 7, they hold that the rapture must happen, then the sealing immediately after that. 
 
This would not be such a big deal except that when we come to Revelation 14 we have another debate.  It’s not really a debate to me since I see the PreWrath rapture here again in the chronology just as it is portrayed in chapters 6-11.  The Great Tribulation is described in chapters 12 and 13.  Then in chapter 14 we have events that are intimately connected with the return of Christ.  The problem for those who maintain a chronological flow in the book of Revelation in order to avoid telescoping cannot find an explanation for why the 144,000 are following the Lamb on Mount Zion BEFORE the reaping of the earth by the Son of Man.  The two reapings in 14:14-20 clearly correspond with the harvest at the end of the age as taught by Christ in Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43.  The sequence as always is tribulation, rapture, then wrath.  Further, after the description of the rapture, we have the church (which contains those who have gotten victory over the beast by becoming martyrs, Rev. 12:11) standing on the sea of glass (which we know to be before the throne, Rev. 4:6) singing the song of Moses.
 
Revelation 14 teaches us the same thing that I have described above.  God will preserve a remnant even though He has plans to reap the earth of all the righteous at the same time.  These 144,000 in 14:1-5 are described as having His Father’s (the Lamb’s Father) name written in their foreheads, they follow the Lamb, and they are without fault before the throne of God.  They certainly are saved at this point in time and we are still in the midst of the Great Tribulation [with warnings to be given to those who take the mark of the beast, 14:9-11].  But here is the part of the description that lets us know that we are almost at the end of the tribulation.  Part of the description of the 144,000 is that they are redeemed among men being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb.  Here we have the first indication in this passage of the end of the age.  Those of us who are of the PreMillennial persuasion can understand these are the firstfruits of the Messianic kingdom which will be brought at the Revelation (unveiling) of Jesus Christ.  We also have the gospel angel in verses 6-7 showing us that the gospel has been preached to all nations through the church in the midst of the great tribulation.  This fulfills Matthew 24:14 and Mark 13:10 which state that the gospel will be preached in all the world to all nations and THEN, AFTER THIS the end will come.  The "end" in question is the end of the age which was the question that sparked the whole Olivet Discourse in the first place.  In short, now that the 144,000 are the firstfruits and the gospel has been preached throughout the whole world, the rapture can now happen, which it does in Revelation 14:14-16 immediately followed by the wrath of God.
 
Come on PreWrathers, this is one thing that Rosenthal hit dead on.
 
Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13
 
-The Orange Mailman
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