In Revelation Chapter 7 we read about the 144,000 sealed servants of God. The list includes 12,000 from each tribe of Israel. Joseph had two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, who each received a portion from Israel, thus Joseph is listed twice in the list. The only tribe who is missing is Dan. There is a reason that Dan is missing but that is outside the scope of this lesson. Dan does return before the end of the book of Revelation and it is recorded that a gate to the New Jerusalem bears his name.
In the verses immediately following this list we are then told about the great multitude, that no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples and tongues, who are standing before the throne of God clothed in white robes with palm branches in their hands.
I have always been taught that the 144,000 represent only the Jews and the great multitude represents the Gentiles.
Let me place this before you for consideration.
The 144,000 and the great multitude are one and the same. The number 144,000 is not meant to indicate a literal 144,000 people but what we have here is, true to Hebraic nature, gematria.
In Hebrew, every letter in the alphabet is also a number, and every letter in the alphabet also has a pictograph which it represents going back to Paleo-Hebrew. In other words, every word, name, or phrase has a numerical value. For example the Hebrew name David has a numerical value of 14. This is why in Matthew Chapter 1 we find the Apostle relating the birth of Messiah to all of those 14 generations. He is doing this to tie Messiah to David by gematria. Likewise, every number in Hebrew has a meaning. The number 7, for example, means perfection or perfect completeness. Gematria works in multiples or doubling of numbers as well.
In our example of 144,000 there are a few things that we should be able to see very quickly if we are familiar with this culture of thought.
The number 1000 can mean a day or time. The root value is one. The number one is always related to YHVH; the Supreme Being, Unity.
Deuteronomy 6:4 "Hear O Israel, Yahweh is our God, Yahweh is ONE."
2 Peter 3:8 "But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day." Peter takes this from Psalm 90:4.
The number 1000 is also a multiple of 10 (10x10x10). The number 10 in Hebrew denotes perfection of Divine order. It denotes completeness and that nothing is lacking, and that the cycle is complete and perfect.
When Yahweh wraps up His end of this age all will be complete and perfect according to His divine order and we will be entering His rest-the 7th day or the 7000th year from creation. The cycle will be complete for the age of man.
The number 12 in Hebrew represents power and authority, perfect governmental foundation. It denotes perfectness of government and government rule. It is a perfect and harmonious unit. 144 is a multiple of this number (12x12). Examples of this are: 12 tribes of Israel, 12 Apostles, 12 gates and foundations in the New Jerusalem.
The number 24 is also a doubling of the number 12. There are 24 hours in a day, 144 hours in 6 days. That is interesting since God created everything in six days (144 hours, each day having a morning and an evening -24 hours) These 6 days of creation were indeed a completion of divine order, then God rested from His creation - the 7th day!
The New Jerusalem is measured in Revelation 21 and the city measures 12,000 by 12,000 by 12,000 furlongs and its walls 144 cubits. Surely this represents completeness of a divine plan.
The scriptural examples of this are exhausting to the mind. Surely one can see a pattern here of the importance of these numbers: 12, 24, 10, 100, 144 and 1000 either singularly or in multiples or doubling. These numbers are not listed by accident.
New Jerusalem is synonymous with the bride.
Revelation 21:2 "And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband."
Revelation 21:9-10 "And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb's wife. And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,"
So, the 144,000 represent the overcomers, the sons and daughters of God, the saints, the redeemed of the earth, the bride of Messiah. They are made up of every nation, tribe, people and tongue.
Why are they labeled as the sealed of Israel according to the tribes? That's the mystery of an identity crisis that most Christians have not yet seen. Yahweh only has ONE family. That family is Israel. He only has ONE bride. That bride is Israel. Either you are the "natural olive branch" or you are the "wild olive branch" which has been grafted in. Either way, you are counted as an Israelite. Whether you have the DNA of Jacob (Israel) flowing through your veins (and it would only take one drop) or whether you are grafted in like Ruth was when she stayed with Naomi and made this statement: "where you go I will go, where you lodge I will lodge, your God will be my God and your people will be my people", you are an Israelite. What made Ruth a Hebrew? She accepted the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. She accepted the God of Naomi and her people and became the great-grandmother of David.
There will be 12 gates to the New Jerusalem each bearing the name of one of the tribes of Israel. (Revelation 21:12) I don't see any name of a Gentile on any of those gates. There are 12 foundations to that city (Revelation 21:14) and each foundation bears the name of one of the 12 Apostles of Yeshua. They were all Jews. I don't see the name of a Gentile on any of those gates.
So, if you want to get on board and enter that city I guess one must assume they will be sealed as, and enter and live as, an Israelite. Are you a Gentile or an Israelite? I for one am an Israelite. Under which tribe am I counted? Only God knows - but He does Know!
I hope this short lesson has enlightened your eyes to the Jewishness of Messiah, His Apostles, and the New Testament writings.