The Bible was designed in every detail by the Lord God Almighty. He established His fundamental doctrines on repeating patterns. This is how we know when we have a correct interpretation - it is confirmed by many witnesses.
I am in the midst of receiving a new and wonderful understanding of the 144,000. It is becoming clear that they represent the literal Jewish believers who were sealed at Pentecost in the first century. The number is probably symbolic, but it could be literal. Here are a few of the parallels between the 144,000 and the Jewish Believers sealed at Pentecost.
The first parallel:
The fact that the 144,000 were described with a very specific list of names of the tribes suggests that God gathered the remnant of the Ten Lost Tribes of the house of Israel and joined them to the house of Judah in Messiah Jesus at Pentecost, thus fulfilling all the prophecies that predicted their future reunion. Thus, the New Covenant of Jeremaih 31 and Hebrews 8 speaks of the two houses reunited in one covenant which is the New Covenant in Jesus Christ, and this links to Isaiah 11:
- The 144,000 were from all 12 Tribes of Israel. The list of tribes is very specific.
- The Jewish Believers at Pentecost were from all the nations of the earth. The list of nations is very specific.
The "first time" God regathered His people was after the Babylonian exile. The "second time" was at Pentecost. We know Isaiah 11 is speaking of the Gospel because it says the Gentiles would be included. It is particularly intriguing that there is an overlap in the nations listed in Acts 2 and Isaiah 11. They are the only two passages in the entire Bible that mention both Egypt and Elam, and the other names are variations describing the four quarters surrounding Jerusalem. This further links to the prophecy spoken by Caiaphas in John 11:Isaiah 11:9-12 They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea. 10 And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious. 11 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea. 12 And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.
The second parallel:John 11:51-53 And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation; 52 And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad. 53 Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death.
The common theme of "sealing" found in Acts and Revelation on Spoke 22 is a strong confirmation of this correlation (See Tav - Sealed with the Sign of the Cross).
- The 144,000 were sealed with the "Seal of the living God"
- The Jewish Believers at Pentecost were sealed with God's Holy Spirit, and so were sealed with the "seal" of God Himself.
The third parallel:
The symbolic meaing of 12 as the "people of God" was established in Genesis, and carried through to the NT in the Twelve Disciples, and ultimately the 12 foundations of the New Jerusalem.
- There were 144,000 = 12 x 12 x 1000 sealed in Revelation 7 (product of powers of 12 and 10)
- There were about 120 = 12 x 10 in the upper room sealed at Pentecost (product of 12 and 10)
The fourth parallel:
The Jewish Believers at Pentecost were identified as the Church (Acts 2:47), and the Church is identified as Mount Zion: "ye are come unto mount Zion ... to the general assembly and church of the firstborn (Heb 12:22-23). Pentecost also fulfills the prophecy in Micah 4:
- The 144,000 are identified as "firstfruits" unto God and the Lamb
- The Jewish Believers at Pentecost were literally the firstfruits from the literal seed of Abraham which coheres with the fact that Pentecost is literally called the "Feast of Firstfruits."
The "reign of the Lord" is called the "Kingdom of God." The Kingdom of God came to earth in the person of Jesus Christ, and then in His Body first composed of literal Jewish Believers sealed at Pentecost. And from these believers went forth the message (angelia) of "the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people" (Rev 14:6) and so from them came "a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, [who] stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands." (Rev 7:9).Micah 4:1-8 But in the last days = Pentecost [Acts 2:17] it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it. 2 And many nations shall come = [Acts 2:5], and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. 3 And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. 4 But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the LORD of hosts hath spoken it. 5 For all people will walk every one in the name of his god, and we will walk in the name of the LORD our God for ever and ever. 6 In that day, saith the LORD, will I assemble her that halteth, and I will gather her that is driven out, and her that I have afflicted; 7 And I will make her that halted a remnant, and her that was cast far off a strong nation: and the LORD shall reign over them in mount Zion [= the Church] from henceforth, even for ever. 8 And thou, O tower of the flock, the strong hold of the daughter of Zion, unto thee shall it come, even the first dominion; the kingdom [of God!] shall come to the daughter of Jerusalem.
The Book of Revelation was written in symbols drawn from the WHOLE BIBLE to reveal how everything in the WHOLE BIBLE conspires to preach the EVERLASTING GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST.
The theme of the Book of Revelation is identical to the theme of the whole Bible, which is The Revelation of of the Lord Jesus Christ.
That's what its all about, and so we know that's how it must be interpreted.
PS: I found a website that lays out the proper interpretation of Revelation with great clarity. Here is their article on the 144,000: http://www.christianhomesite.com/revelation/144000.htm