"Dear Mr. Wilson:
I heard you say in a seminar several years ago that you believe the selection and sealing of the 144,000 is the next prophetic event. I have three questions about this. First, how will the 144,000 know they have been selected and sealed? Second, will their selection and sealing remain a secret until the censer is cast down and the Great Tribulation begins? Third, if someone claims to be one of the 144,000, how can we know if he or she is speaking truthfully?
Thank you for your questions. I will begin with your third question: "If someone claims to be one of the 144,000, how can we know if he or she is speaking truthfully?"
During the past twenty-three years, I have received many letters and emails from people claiming (a) they are one of the 144,000, (b) they are one of the Two Witnesses, (c) they have seen God or received visions from Him, or (d) they have received a message or a prophecy from God.
When we hear these types of claims, it is best to reserve judgment until we can test them. The Bible tells us to test "the spirits" because a claimant can be delusional, self-seeking, religiously intoxicated, perhaps medicated, or in need of medication. God knows that we cannot read a claimant’s mind and we cannot investigate an alleged dream or vision.
God knows that we cannot tell if people are prophesying out of their own imagination (in which case, God will surely punish them – see Ezekiel 13) or if they are, in fact, telling the truth. This is why John wrote, "Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world." (1 John 4:1)
Because God selects ordinary people as messengers from time to time, it is important that we consider and test their testimony. Here are three "tests" to remember.
First, what is the message? Does the message lead to a better of understanding of Scripture or does it, instead, attempt to glorify the messenger? Does the message rest squarely on the five essential Bible doctrines and does it align with valid rules of interpretation?
Second, is the message specific? Does the message contain definition, that is, does it pertain to a specific event, person(s), place(s), or an appointed time? Does the revelation contain detailed information that can be tested and validated? God is not trivial.
When He speaks for the benefit of His people, He does not use vague concepts or weasel words. He declares the truth forthrightly and reveals the unknown. Consider the visions God gave to Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Daniel, Hosea, and other prophets; they are loaded with definition.
Third, what is character of the person who claims to speak for God? (Matthew 7:16-20) Are they self-sustaining or do they seek money? Are they on a mission to gain for themselves or give to others? Jesus said, "Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’
Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ " (Matthew 7:21-23, italics mine) When a person claims to have received information from God, it leaves us with only two options. The person is either lying or God has given a revelation that everyone should thoughtfully consider.
We should be very cautious of anyone who claims to have a message from God. Jesus said, "If I testify about myself, my testimony is not valid." (John 5:31) If Jesus, the Son of God, said this about Himself, what does this say about human beings who claim to be a prophet of God or a messenger from God? Why would Jesus say that a person’s testimony about himself is not valid? The answer is simple: A person can lie and who would know? Maybe a short illustration will help.
I hear people say from time to time that they are "born again" Christians. This testimony is not valid. Who determines whether a person is truly born again – God or man? The Lord looks upon the heart and He alone knows whether a person is truly born again.
Many "well-behaved people" may think they are born-again, but they are not. Remember this story? "[Jesus said to the young man]‘. . . If you want to enter life, obey the commandments.’ ‘Which ones?’ the man inquired. Jesus replied, ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother, and love your neighbor as yourself.’
‘All these I have kept,’ the young man said. ‘What do I still lack?’ Jesus answered, ‘If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’ When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.’ " (Matthew 19:17-22)
The Lord carefully showed the young man that his faith was misplaced and his love was misdirected with three sentences! Jesus knew this young man’s heart. Knowing that he was self-righteous, Jesus first highlighted the importance of obeying God’s law.
The young man smugly responded, "All these I have kept." Then Jesus said, "If you want to be perfect. . . ."
I am sure these words shocked the young man. Do you mean that perfection does not come through good behavior? Are you telling me that I am not perfect? Are you telling me that I have to sell my possessions before I can become perfect?
The young man had been educated and trained well. Jesus could see that he was well behaved, but not born again. A born again person understands that he is only a trustee of whatever God has given him to manage. A born again person understands that in terms of wealth, God gives much to some people and much less to most. A born again person is not jealous of the person having much because he is content with what he has been given to manage, and his focus is on pleasing the Lord with whatever the Lord has given him.
Any self-proclamation of being born again is meaningless because Jesus, in three sentences or less, can expose our imperfection. Likewise, anyone claiming to have a message from the Lord may be boasting. So, listen and test. Reserve judgment until you have thoroughly tested the message and the messenger. False preachers and false prophets have misled many people because they are unacquainted with the Word of God.
The second question "Will the selection and sealing of the 144,000 remain a secret until the censer is cast down and the Great Tribulation begins?"
Based on the examples given in the Bible, I believe the identity of the 144,000 will remain unknown until the 1,260 days of their empowerment begins. Maybe a few close friends and relatives will know about their election, but generally speaking, I believe they will remain unknown until the censer is cast down and the global earthquake occurs. (Revelation 8:5)
I understand that God typically prepares a person for service in a private setting and until the Holy Spirit works through that person in a dramatic way, that person appears to be just like everyone else. Many people thought Jesus was an ordinary person until He performed miracles. (John 6:42)
Moses was out in the desert when God called him. (Exodus 3:1,2) God called Isaiah in a vision. (Isaiah 6:8) Amos was picking figs. (Amos 7:14) God gave Daniel a vision in the night. (Daniel 2:19) Saul was traveling with others to Damascus, but no one else saw what he experienced. (Acts 9:1-7) Nathanael was sitting under a tree. (John 1:48) God called Jeremiah and Ezekiel as very young men and as such, the elders of Israel did not recognize or respect them as prophets. (Jeremiah 1:6; Ezekiel 1:3)
"How will the 144,000 know they have been selected and sealed?"
I believe Jesus will meet with the 144,000 at the same time. In other words, I believe Jesus will select and seal the 144,000 on the same day. Jesus’ ability to meet with 144,000 different people at the same time is similar to the scene that will occur at the end of the 1,000 years. When the seventh seal is broken, there will be silence for about half an hour as each created being meets with his Creator. Everyone will meet with Jesus for about half an hour. This is possible because the Holy Spirit is omnipresent (everywhere at once).
When Jesus appears to the 144,000, the Bible says, "And he gave a loud shout like the roar of a lion. . . ." (Revelation 10:3) I believe this shout will be heard around the world. (See Acts 2:2; 9:7 for a parallel.) For the 144,000, this shout (a thunderous declaration) will be overwhelming.
Everyone will hear heavy thunder booming and rolling throughout Earth, but nothing will be found in the heavens or on Earth to produce such a awesome sound! (See Job 36:26-37:5.) The 144,000 will understand the words of this shout and it will serve as a defining signal.
Jesus Christ has taken control of Earth away from man. He will exercise authority over Earth. John does not reveal what is said in the shout, but I like to think that Jesus will shout and the 144,000 will hear, "Prepare the world to meet its Creator!" (Amos 4:12)
You may recall that the Father spoke to Jesus a few times when He was on Earth. Consider this situation which occurred a few days before Jesus was crucified: "Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour.
Father, glorify your name!’ Then a voice came from heaven, ‘I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.’ The crowd that was there and heard it [but did not understand the words] said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him. Jesus said, ‘This voice was for your benefit, not mine. Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.’ " (John 12:27-32, italics and insertions mine)
I believe very few, if any, of the 144,000 will know one another. In fact, they will be scattered all over Earth and come from different religious backgrounds. They will speak different languages and understand different cultures. I think it is so generous of God to have brothers and sisters speaking to their own brothers and sisters (their own countrymen)!
Amazingly, the testimony of the 144,000 during the Great Tribulation will be the same! They will deliver four inflammatory messages, and as needed, Jesus Himself will speak through their mouths (thus, the testimony of Jesus will be heard).
The Holy Spirit will perform miracles through them as needed to confirm the authenticity of their message, and most, if not all, of the 144,000 will die as martyrs. The 144,000 will meet with Jesus and the experience will be as real and literal as Paul’s experience with Jesus on the road to Damascus. In other words, there will be no doubt about it. Sam, if you have not examined the study that I wrote sometime ago on the 144,000, please download it at www.wake-up.org/Revelation/Rev144.htm. It’s free.
In summary, I believe the selection and sealing of the 144,000 is the next prophetic event. In general terms, the world will not know who the 144,000 are until the censer is cast down and the global earthquake occurs. One big clue indicating the 144,000 have been selected will be a phenomenal thunder – the commission given to the 144,000 to prepare the world for the arrival of Jesus!
I hope this has been helpful!