Who are the 144,000 and the Two Witnesses in the book of Revelation?
To answer that question, Dr. David Reagan and I on our television program Christ in Prophecy put together a panel of Bible prophecy experts. We invited Gary Fisher of the Bible prophecy ministry Lion of Judah Ministries from Franklin, Tennessee and Dennis Pollock of Spirit of Grace Ministries which focuses on evangelizing the continent of Africa.
Dr. Reagan: One of the chapters in the book of Revelation that has encountered the most speculation has to do with chapter seven where it talks about 144,000 people. Who are these 144,000? Are they Jehovah’s Witnesses?
Nathan Jones: Revelation 7:4 says, “And I heard the number of those who were sealed, 144,000 sealed from every tribe of Israel.”
Dennis Pollock: Of course, most Jews would not be able to tell you what tribe they are from, but God knows. He has excellent record-keeping in heaven. So, it would be no problem at all for Him to identify Jews from different tribes and raise up these individuals to salvation and service during the Tribulation.
Dr. Reagan: I just don’t understand why people would interpret this to mean anything other than what it says. The Scripture is clear — it’s just 144,000 Jews that God is going to give a special mission to.
Dennis Pollock: One thing you have to remember is that God is a communicator. He knows how to communicate. It would be foolish for Him to write a book so mystical, so bizarre, and so highly symbolic that nobody could get anything out of it. It would be like you inviting me to come to this forum and I spoke fluent Russian the entire time. I might be doing very well, but it wouldn’t do one thing for anyone else. And so, it wouldn’t do anything for us if God made Revelation so difficult that we couldn’t get anything out of it.
Gary Fisher: There’s another dynamic being mentioned here. Those 144,000 from the 12 tribes of Israel bring to mind something about how God has operated in the past. What happens in the enterprise of preaching the Word of God when the Holy Spirit falls entirely on a Jewish person? Where would we be without the Apostle Paul, or some of the other Jewish prophets? When the Holy Spirit gets involved in the Jewish person then the enterprise of reaching people goes into hyper gear. God has used for 2,000 years the ministry of the Apostle Paul, just one Jewish man full of the Holy Spirit. There is going to 144,000 of these dynamic evangelists!
Dr. Reagan: That reminds me of a conversation I had one time with Zola Levitt, who has since gone on to be with the Lord. He was at one time the leading Messianic Jew here in the United States.
I called Zola and asked, “Do you believe the 144,000 are going to be real Jews?” He replied, “Of course they are going to be real Jews.” He elaborated, “Why do you think God gave us the personality we have?” Well, I wasn’t about to touch that, so I played dumb. I asked, “What do you mean.” He said, “Haven’t you ever met a Jew?” And I said, “Well, yeah.” He said, “Haven’t you ever noticed that we are real pushy?” I said hesitantly, “Well, as a matter of fact, yes.” He said, “We are the world’s greatest salesmen. Can you imagine God unleashing 144,000 spirit-filled Jews on the world? We are going to convert more people in seven years than the Church has in 2,000 years. We’re going to push them up in the corner and hold them by the neck until they say, ‘Jesus’.” I could only say, “I hope you’re right, brother.”
The Two Witnesses
Dr. Reagan: Revelation 11 speaks of two special witnesses of God who are going to be a sort of conscience for the world for the first 3.5 years of the Tribulation. Revelation doesn’t say who they are. Who do you think they are going to be?
Nathan Jones: There are a few candidates. Most people say Elijah because Elijah was to be the forerunner of Christ, although I think Jesus pretty much cleared up that Elijah as the forerunner really was John the Baptist.
Some believe Moses might have been raptured, but we read in Jude that he did die, so he is an iffy candidate.
Enoch was certainly raptured from the earth, leaving two guys in the Old Testament — Elijah and Enoch — who were both raptured. Elijah represents Israel. Enoch represents the Gentile since he lived before there were even Jews.
Another theory is that the Two Witnesses will be just two people who are alive at that Tribulation time period who are gifted like the 144,000 and have a special ministry.
So, honestly, we just don’t know for sure who the Two Witnesses will be. But, whoever they are, their power and their abilities will exude just like the Old Testament prophets all over again. They have the ability to shut up the rain. They can call down fire. They can do everything that the False Prophet can do and more so. For the first 3.5 years of the Tribulation they shake the world up, so when they are killed by the Antichrist the whole world rejoices over their death.
Dr. Reagan: Yes, it’ll be like Christmas in the middle of the Tribulation as people exchange gifts over their deaths. The people then will be so happy over the killing of these two guys who have been the conscience of the world during this horrible time.
Gary Fisher: I think one of them can be easily argued that it is Elijah. In the book of Malachi 4:5 it reads, “Behold, I am going to send to you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord.”
Dr. Reagan: The Jews believe that too, for when they hold the Passover meal they always have an extra chair set aside for Elijah the prophet, because they know he is going to come back in the end times.
In the fifth segment of our forum on the book of Revelation, we’ll ask our Bible prophecy experts if there are things about the book they don’t understand, such as the number 666.