In our study so far of the 144,000 we have set out a framework of good biblical exegesis to provide a means by which we might make our conclusions over their identity. Now I’d like to make a disclaimer at this point, that in no way, do I want to make the things I’m sharing with you an absolute or as ‘the’ right interpretation, I don’t want to come across that way, but rather in all humility share with you some insights and scriptures, from my own study and prayer as I have sought the Lord, in the hope that these things may be of value to you. As we saw last time, taking the literal approach with Revelation 7:1-8 and its sister passage in Revelation 14:1-5 is not entirely possible, for there are several elements within these verses which are clearly not literal and has to be taken symbolically. Now it doesn’t mean we dismiss the tribes of Israel and replace them with the church, or that their number isn’t significant, indeed there is a reason we are given 144,000, which so clearly shouts at us from the pages of our Bibles, as though to draw our attention to this number.
The question I left us with last time, was if there was a clue within these two passages in Revelation to provide a lens by which we might gaze deeper into understanding who are these 144,000? Well, the answer is of course yes, and the clue we are given is the actual number 144,000 itself. So today, I want to go into some really interesting numerology, but before I do so, it’s important to understand that whilst Biblical numerology can be very helpful, it can also be wrongly used and come up with all kinds of misleading conclusions and permutations. That’s because numbers in themselves can be put together in many different ways. By adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing occurrences or patterns we find in the Word of God we can easily fall into error. So here is a principle I like to adopt when considering Biblical Numerology: Any words or numbers we consider should only be used to support a principle that already exists in the Bible, in other words, numbers have a supporting role not a primary one. We are not looking to fit scripture around the numbers, but the numbers to confirm and highlight what the scripture is already saying.
With that said, I want to take you on a journey in which we will follow a numerical footprint. If you know where to look you will find this trail throughout the Old and New Testaments, but because of time, I will start at the end and work backwards from there. Since this whole volume of Quick Bites is what I have called the “Gospel According to the Bride”, it should come as no surprise then, that these are her footprints, and her trail leads us right up to her glorious unveiling in Revelation 21, but let’s pick it up from verses 9-18 in which John is given some details of her formation. Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came to me and talked with me, saying, “Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife.” 10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, 11 having the glory of God. Her light [was] like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal. 12 Also she had a great and high wall with twelve gates, and twelve angels at the gates, and names written on them, which are [the names] of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: 13 three gates on the east, three gates on the north, three gates on the south, and three gates on the west. 14 Now the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. 15 And he who talked with me had a gold reed to measure the city, its gates, and its wall. 16 The city is laid out as a square; its length is as great as its breadth. And he measured the city with the reed: twelve thousand furlongs. Its length, breadth, and height are equal. 17 Then he measured its wall: one hundred [and] forty-four cubits, [according] to the measure of a man, that is, of an angel. 18 The construction of its wall was [of] jasper; and the city [was] pure gold, like clear glass.
In verse 16, we are told that the height, length and breadth of the New Jerusalem, of the Bride, are all the same, that is 12,000 furlongs (or stadia). To help simplify things, if we call 1,000 furlongs a Jerusalem unit, then the volume or total size of the City would be 12x12x12 Jerusalem units which is 1,728. Don’t worry if you’re wondering where I’m going with this, all will become clear soon enough. But for now, just remember the size of the New Jerusalem is 1,728 units.
There is a process, known as gematria, of assigning a numerical value to a word or phrase based upon its letters. In this way, the numerical value of Jerusalem is 864. Now this might not mean much at first until we realise that 864 is half of 1,728 the number of the New Jerusalem. Or let me put it like this, to arrive numerically at size of the New Jerusalem, or the Bride, we need to add two Jerusalems together. And in Matthew 23:37 and Luke 13:34 this is exactly what we find. Here’s what Matthew writes: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under [her] wings, but you were not willing!” The value of O Jerusalem, Jerusalem is 1,728 which is the size of the Bride, the New Jerusalem found in Revelation 21. That’s really interesting, I wonder whether this verse of Jesus’ longing to gather Jerusalem, is a picture of His longing to gather His Bride. But what does Jerusalem have to do with the 144,000? Well, did you know the word for Jerusalem is found 144 times in the New Testament? That’s right, and you can check this out for yourselves with a Strong’s Concordance using the references G2419, G2414 and G2415. Similarly, the numerical value of “The Election” as in the chosen ‘Eklektos’ of God is also 144. In Quick Bites 36 to 38 we saw how the Elect were the Bride, so all these numbers are wonderfully linked together, and at the root of them all is the number 144, which of course is the product of multiplying 12 by 12.
One last point, before we pick up on this more next time, in Revelation 21:17 it reads “Then he (that is the angel) measured its wall: one hundred and forty-four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of an angel.” Here we are given the actual wall measurement, which is 144 cubits, confirming once more the significance of this number as Bridal, but there’s a really important addendum which is easily missed, for tagged onto the end of this verse it says, “that is, of an angel”, in other words, when measuring the Bride, there is a calibration between the measurement of man, and the measurement of the angel. They are the same. That’s because both heaven and earth are agreed on the dimensions of the Bride! Wow, that’s an amazing insight, man cannot count the Bride unless he’s using the measurement of the angel. Otherwise, he’ll come up with a different number. To measure the Bride, we need God’s ruler, His measurement, we need our discernment and perspective to be calibrated accordingly to the measurement of the angel. Well, we’ll pick up from here next time.