In Chapter VIII ["Tribulation and Judgment," (Part 7: Parables and Ciphers)] we left off with the "sealing" of the saints of God - and we did so because we had not yet covered the matter of the Abomination of Desolation. An understanding of this matter is necessary if one ever hopes to make any sense of the "sealing" of God's servants. We now continue with this matter where we left off in Part 7 of Chapter VIII. It's necessary here to repeat some of the information we covered at that time:
"Immediately after the Abomination of Desolation - and just prior to the blowing of the seven trumpets (which signifies the beginning of the second half of the Tribulation and the supernatural events which pertain to it) - the 'saints of God' are sealed. Why? - to protect them from the supernatural events of this period.
"The sealing of God's servants directly concerns the passages of Scripture which deal with the so-called '144,000'. There is perhaps no other group of verses around which so much misunderstanding and confusion swirl than those verses which deal with the 144,000 of Revelation 7:1-8 and Revelation 14:1-7. It is a sad commentary on all of us in the Christian community that so much 'elitism' has resulted from false interpretations concerning the message of these passages of Scripture. It is of the utmost importance, therefore, that once again we recognize that these Scriptures - like the Scriptures which dealt with the Two Witnesses, etc. - have been written in code, their message hidden in a parable or a cipher.
"The first important fact that we should note with regard to these passages is that the 144,000 of Revelation 7 are different from the 144,000 of Revelation 14. WE ARE DEALING WITH TWO DIFFERENT GROUPS. In comparing the 144,000 of Revelation 14 with the 144,000 of Revelation 7, Kelly writes that the group in Revelation 14 is:
'... a remnant, not merely sealed as the servants of God [like a similar band out of the twelve tribes of Israel in chapter vii (7)], but brought into association with the Lamb in Zion, that is, with GOD'S ROYAL PURPOSE IN GRACE ...'
"In commenting on Kelley, Pentecost writes:
'It is ... held that those in chapter 7 are on earth and these (in chapter 14) in heaven, making Mt. Zion the heavenly city, New Jerusalem. Those in chapter fourteen are said to be identified with the Lamb and those in chapter seven are not. Those in chapter seven are 'sealed' but those in chapter fourteen have "the Father's name written in their foreheads".
"One group is heavenly, the other earthly, one group '... follows the Lamb whithersoever he goeth', the second group is numbered exclusively from the twelve tribes of Israel. Thus, there can be no doubt as to their identity: the 144,000 of Revelation 7 being Israel, and the 144,00 of Revelation 14 being the Church."
Both groups of 144,000 must be protected or sealed; but look - in actuality only one group is shown to be sealed, the group in Revelation 7. Why? Because the group in Revelation 14 - the Church - has already been sealed. Those in the Church - when they received Christ as their Savior - were "sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise" at that time and there is no further need to reseal them, as it were, like some half empty bottle of soda:
"In whom ye also trusted after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, YE WERE SEALED WITH THAT HOLY SPIRIT OF PROMISE, "Which is the earnest [down payment] of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchase possession, unto the praise of his glory." (Ephesians 1:13-14)
Let's look at both groups of 144,000 in greater detail.
Let's begin by examining the 144,000 of chapter 7. We first come in contact with this group just prior to the events described in the previous chapter, that is to say before the commencement of the supernatural events of the last half of the Seventieth Week - the Great Tribulation. Just prior to the blowing of the seven trumpets (which signify the beginning of the phenomenal events of this period), an angel of God descends from the east having the seal of the living God and it is announced to the fallen angels and the demons that they at last have permission to torment the very spirit of man itself - which now, through the Abomination of Desolation, has been abandoned by the "Restrainer" and given over to the power of Satan - EXCEPT THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN SEALED BY GOD:
"And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the SEAL OF GOD in their foreheads." (Rev. 9:4)
It is extremely important at this point to ascertain the exact sequence of events which now occurs. In order to do this, a number of verses must be brought together - all specifically related to the events surrounding the Abomination of Desolation: namely Revelation 7:1-8; 9:4-5; and 12:1-17.
Revelation 7:1-8 describes the sealing itself and those who are sealed (i.e., Israel); Revelation 9:4-5 describes why; and Revelation 12:1-7 gives the events surrounding the sealing; these events pertain to the woman "clothed with the sun," in Revelation chapter 12.
"And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars:
"And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered ... . And she brought forth a manchild, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.
"And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days [31/2 years].
"... and when the dragon saw that he was cast [out of heaven] unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child.
"And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time [31/2 years], from the face of the serpent.
"And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood.
"And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth.
"And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus (Revelation 12:12; 5-6; 13-17).
"While there has been general agreement among commentators of all types concerning the identity of the two aforementioned individuals [i.e., the dragon as Satan and the manchild as Christ], there is a great diversity of interpretation concerning the key individual in this passage [i.e., the woman].
"... There have been many false interpretations of the identity of this woman. Some have held that it was Mary.
"However, the only feature to make this possible would be the fact of motherhood, for Mary was never persecuted, never fled into the wilderness, was never cared for 1260 days. Others have held that this woman is the church that is travailing to bring Christ to the nations. This, however, is ... [too] allegorizing ... and must be rejected ... Still others have identified the woman as the leader of some particular sect; but only by the wildest vagaries of the imagination could some present day individual be pressed into the interpretation here.
"... It has [always] been the interpretation of … Premillennialists [i.e., evangelicals] that the woman in this passage represents the nation Israel.
"... Inasmuch then as the woman represents that which is to display divine government in the earth, and Israel is God's appointed instrument to that end [the Church being the instrument of divine government in the heavens], this woman must be identified as Israel."
Finally, the parallel between Revelation 12 and Micah 5 establishes once and for all the identity of the woman as Israel. Micah 5:2 records the birth of the ruler who shall rule all nations "with a rod of iron." It then records the rejection of this ruler by the nation of Israel and the resulting setting aside of the nation ["therefore will he give them up ... (Mic. 5:3)], which brings to an end the first Sixty-Nine Weeks of Daniel. The nation is then pictured by the prophet as being in TRAVAIL (dispersion in, and PERSECUTION by the Gentile nations) "... until the time that she [Israel] which travaileth hath brought forth" (Mic. 5:3); that is, until her blindness concerning Christ (her Messiah) is removed (Romans 11:25) and she is once again restored into God's plan and purpose.
"... in conjunction with the accomplishment of the purpose of God respecting Israel ... Christ was born (Micah v. 2); then comes His rejection ... the prophecy passes by all that has to do with the church and takes up Christ's birth ... . Here it is put figuratively, as Zion travailing till the birth of this great purpose of God as touching Israel ... [and continuing until] God's people will [at last ... resume their ancient place."
Finally, in Romans 9:4-5, Paul writes concerning Israel:
"... of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came ..." (Rom. 9:5).
And insofar as the identification of the "manchild" is concerned, Pentecost writes:
"The quotation from Psalm 2 [Thou art my SON; this day have I begotten thee ... Thou shalt break them (the nations) with a ROD OF IRON (Psalm 2:7,9)], which all would agree is a Messianic Psalm, identifies the manchild here as none other than Jesus Christ. The fact of the birth, the fact of the destiny of this child, for He is 'to rule all nations with a ROD OF IRON', and the fact of the ascension, since He is 'caught up unto God, and to His throne', all cause the identification to point to one person, the Lord Jesus Christ, for of none other could all three statements be made."
Since the "manchild" must be identified as Christ, and since, according to Paul, the one from whom Christ came (was born) according to the flesh is Israel, the woman must be identified as Israel.
It is then said of the woman that she flees into a place called the "wilderness" where she has a "place prepared for her," and where she will be safe for "a thousand two hundred and threescore days" [31/2 years] (Rev. 12:6). Now, this part is not too difficult to decipher; what is being said here is this: that Israel (which is the same as saying the "144,000" of Revelation 7), immediately after the abomination of Desolation, will escape the perils of the last half of the Seventieth Week by fleeing into the "wilderness." Why? And more, why is this said of the 144,000 of Revelation 7 (Israel), and not of the 144,000 of Revelation 14 (the Church)? Why is Israel so protected and not the Church? A fair question. The reason is this: because the protection that the Scripture has in mind here for both Witnesses (both groups of 144,000) is - as we have said before - SPIRITUAL protection, and not necessarily physical protection; but since Israel, by the time of the Abomination of Desolation, has not yet fully recognized her Messiah as Christ (Please see box, this chapter entitled, "Israel as One of the Two Witnesses"), their spirits do not as yet - indeed, cannot yet - contain the protecting presence of the Holy Spirit; thus, extraordinary care must be taken in the case of Israel that is not necessary with regard to the Church. Israel must be offered physical protection in addition to spiritual protection, for if they were to die as a result of the turmoil of the second half of the Seventieth Week, they would share the same fate common to all unbelievers who die outside of Christ. Thus, in the case of Israel, physical death means spiritual death, while the same is not true of those who die in Christ (i.e., the Church):
"For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, WE DIE UNTO THE LORD: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord's." (Romans 14:8)
"For me to live is Christ, AND TO DIE IS GAIN." (Phil. 1:21)
"And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time [31/2 years], from the face of the serpent."
"But when ye shall see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION spoken of by Daniel the prophet, STANDING [DWELLING] WHERE IT OUGHT NOT, (let him that readeth understand), then let them that be in Judea flee to the mountains [the wilderness]:
"And let him that is on the house top not go down in the house neither enter therein, to take anything out of the house.
"And let him that is in the field not turn back again for to take up his garment.
"But woe to them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!
"And pray that your flight be not in the winter.
"For in those days shall be affliction such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created unto this time, neither shall be [again]." (Mark 13:14-19)
Daniel 11:40-45 states that Antichrist shall invade the Middle East and conquer it, but that three countries will escape his grasp:
"He [Antichrist] shall enter also into the glorious land [Israel] and many countries shall be overthrown: but these shall escape out of his hand, even Edom, and Moab, and the chief of the children of Ammon." (Daniel 11:41)
God shall preserve, quite miraculously, this portion as a refuge for the children of Israel. This is the "wilderness" spoken of in Revelation chapter 12 where the woman (Israel) is to flee immediately after the Abomination of Desolation; it is the same place referred to in Matthew, Mark, and Luke (Matt. 24:1-22; Mark 13:14-20; and Luke 21:7-21). It is that portion of land east of the river Jordan which sweeps in a large arc (with the Dead Sea as the fulcrum) from about 40 miles north east of the Dead Sea southward to about 50 mile due south, southeast of the same sea - a barren, mountainous, and desolate wilderness devoid of any significant vegetation. Mt. Nebo is located in this wilderness where it is reported that Jeremiah hid the ark of the Covenant in order to prevent its capture by the Babylonians. There are scholars today who suggest that it is still there (Numbers 35). Here God will care for His people much in the same fashion that He cared for them when Moses led the people out of Egypt.
And the certainty that all of Israel will be saved and brought back as a nation - and not just as scattered individuals - into a place of blessing is vouchsafed for by the Word of God.
"For the children of Israel shall abide many days [during the dispersion] without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice ... "Afterward, shall the children of Israel return, and [through the trials and pressure of the Tribulation] seek [at last] the Lord their God... and shall fear the Lord and his goodness in the LATTER DAYS." (Hosea 3:4-5)
"AND SO ALL ISRAEL SHALL BE SAVED: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion [Zion] the deliverer [Christ], and he shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob [Israel]."
And Zechariah prophesies:
"And I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him, like the bitter weeping over a first-born.
"... They will call on My name, And I will answer them; I will say, 'They are My people', And they will say, 'The Lord is my God'." (Zech. 12:10; 13:9b)
Israel's blindness with regard to Christ is not destined to be fully removed until the Second Advent [i.e., the Coming of Christ in Glory]:
"And I will pour [out] upon the house of David and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace [unmerited favor], and of supplications. And they shall look [earnestly] upon me whom they have PIERCED [when Christ appears at the Mount to rescue Israel during the siege of Jerusalem - i.e., Armageddon], and they shall mourn for him [i.e., Christ], as one mourneth for his only son, and [they] shall be in bitterness [deep sorrow] for Him as one who is in bitterness [deep sorrow] for his first-born." [(cf. John 19:37 and Rev. 1:7); Zech. 12:10 RSV.]"
There are those who would object to Israel being a Witness of God while not yet fully saved. But, it must be remembered that the Tribulation is the very process whereby Israel's blindness is to be removed, the Second Coming of Christ being merely the culmination of that process. And even today, ISRAEL'S VERY PRESENCE IN THIS PRESENT EVIL WORLD AFTER 2,000 YEARS OF DISPERSION IS A TESTIMONY TO GOD'S UNMERITED GRACE. Indeed, the entire world finds itself today revolving around a nation of little more than a few million souls - a seeming absurdity by any standard. The Church also will be undergoing a similar transformation, for prior to the Seventieth Week the condition of the Church (and we mean here the so-called born-again Church) is characterized by the Scriptures as being one in which Christ can no longer find a home, a condition where Christ finds Himself outside the gate, knocking to get in (Revelation 3:14-20). [That this passage has specific reference to the "End Times Church," all evangelical scholars would agree - please see Miller's Church History.] For the Bible says with regard to us both (both Israel and the Church) that "God hath concluded them all [both groups] in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all. O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out." (Romans 11:32-33.)
And now, what about the 144,000 of Revelation chapter fourteen? The Bible says:
"And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father's name written in their foreheads.
"And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps:
"And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn the song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth.
"These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the first fruits unto God and to the Lamb.
"And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God." (Revelation 14:1-5)
The fact that we are here speaking of the heavenly Mt. Sion (Zion) is confirmed by verse 3 of Revelation 14: "And they sung as it were a new song before the THRONE, and before the FOUR BEASTS, and the [TWENTY-FOUR] ELDERS" - and as there can be no doubt as to the location of these dignities (the heavenly Jerusalem), there can, therefore, be no doubt that we are here speaking of the HEAVENLY JERUSALEM; that we are here speaking of the heavenly Jerusalem is further substantiated by Revelation 4:1-6:
"After this I looked, and behold, a door was opened IN HEAVEN; and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, 'COME UP HITHER' ... And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a THRONE was set in HEAVEN... And round about the throne were FOUR AND TWENTY SEATS and upon the seats I saw FOUR AND TWENTY ELDERS ... And before the THRONE there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the THRONE, and round about the throne were FOUR BEASTS ..." (Revelation 4:1-2, 4, 6)
"And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a THRONE was set in HEAVEN ... And round about the throne were FOUR AND TWENTY SEATS and upon the seats I saw FOUR AND TWENTY ELDERS ..."
All of these things - the throne, the four beasts, and the twenty-four elders - are in heaven; and it is precisely among these things (i.e., the throne, the four beasts, and the twenty-four elders) that the 144,000 are located. Thus, there can be little doubt as to the identification of this 144,000 - it is the Church, for just as the earthly Mt. Zion can only be apprehended as pertaining to Israel, so also the heavenly Mt. Zion must be apprehended as pertaining only to the Church - and the fact that it is the heavenly Mt. Sion (Zion) [not the earthly Mt. Zion] to which Christians should be looking is confirmed by Hebrews 12:22-24:
"To him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God"
"But ye [dear Christian] are come unto MOUNT SION, and unto the city of the living God, THE HEAVENLY JERUSALEM, and to an innumerable company of angels,
"To the general assembly and CHURCH OF THE FIRSTBORN, WHICH ARE WRITTEN IN HEAVEN, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,
"And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel." (Hebrews 12:22-24)
Finally, the Scripture says of this group that they have: "... his Father's name written in their foreheads." This is a clear reference to Revelation 3:12 which, once again, places this group in the "heavenly" Jerusalem (as opposed to the "earthly" city), and clearly numbers it with the Church:
"To him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name." (Revelation 3:12)
Now we come to a mystery: the Scripture says - "These are they which were not defiled with women." What does this mean? Can it possibly mean that these 144,000 are all men (with no women in their company) and that none of them has ever been married? Of course not!! - if only because such an interpretation would contradict other portions of the Scripture and would render this passage an absurdity.
First of all, such an interpretation would seem to say that sexual intercourse between husband and wife is to be avoided, or at least frowned upon. But this would contradict one of the clearest warnings of Scripture concerning the End of Days - that evil men would appear commanding men to avoid marriage:
"Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;
"Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;
"FORBIDDING TO MARRY." (I Timothy 4:1-3)
Moreover, the Scriptures plainly teach that sexual intercourse between a husband and wife [but, only between a husband and wife] is HONORABLE and a pleasure ardently to be desired. Indeed, the Lord devoted an entire book in the Old Testament to a rapturous (and even erotic) description thereof: The Song of Solomon. And the teaching of the New Testament is also quite clear on the subject:
"Marriage [sexual intercourse within the institution of marriage] is honorable in all [in everything], and the bed undefiled [i.e., both husband and wife remain pure before God]." (Hebrews 13:4)
"If thou [a male] marry, thou hast not sinned; and if a virgin [in this case, female] marry, she hath not sinned." (I Corinthians 7:28)
Finally, the above interpretation which insists that the 144,000 of Revelation 14 are all male virgins (and, as ridiculous as it might sound, there are many who insist on this interpretation), flies in the face of the clear teaching of the Scripture concerning the status of the female in the Church and in the Heavens, for the Scriptures manifestly teach that in heaven there will no longer be any distinction (insofar as standing before God is concerned) between the male and female (though such a distinction remains while we are yet on the earth) - and it must be remembered that the picture we have before us in Revelation 14 is that of the Church IN HEAVEN ]. Jesus said:
"For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage [there is no distinction before God between the two], but [they] are as the angels of God in heaven." (Matt. 22:30)
And Paul writes:
"For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus [both male and female].
"For as many as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
"There is neither ... male nor female: for ye are all one [in standing] in Christ Jesus." (Galatians 3:26-28)
So then, what does the passage before us really mean? It is rendered more intelligible when read in its entirety. The passage says of this group that they have been "redeemed from the earth;" that "they follow the Lamb [Christ] whithersoever he goeth;" that they have been "bought from among men;" that they are "the first fruits unto God and to the Lamb;" that "in their mouth was found no guile;" and that "they are without fault before the throne of God." Now, what does all this speak of? It speaks of SPIRITUAL PURITY!!
Through the affliction and distress of the Tribulation - like gold tried and refined in a burning fire or like a precious stone (a diamond or a ruby) made perfect through INTENSE pressure - they have cast off all that bound them to the cares of this life and this present evil world. They have been redeemed from the earth. They no longer belong to it, but rather their citizenship is now of the heavens; so high have they been lifted above the earth, that they cannot even be numbered among men anymore. They have been lifted up to the heavens - even above the angels. Their testimony has been made pure in everything - there no longer is any "guile" or deceit in their witness; no self-serving nor double-dealing in their testimony; no attempt to serve both God and mammon - they follow Christ now wherever He goes, be it into fire, death, torture, whatever. Their love for Jesus no longer permits any separation from Him Who now is the ABSOLUTE object of their love and desire. Their love and their service has been made totally SELFLESS. They are "undefiled with women" - which means they no longer go whoring after the delights of this world. It no longer has any attraction for them. They have been cleansed from all their whoredoms [see Hosea] and their love is now only for their divine Husband - the Lord Jesus Christ. They have been transformed from their whoredoms into a Bride made perfect and pure, and worthy of His love.
Finally, we must come to grips with the meaning of the number 144,000. Are we to understand that only 144,000 out of all Israel and out of all the Church are to be saved? Or are we perhaps to perceive these two groups of 144,000 as some kind of elite to be honored above their companions in Israel and the Church? The Scripture does not indicate this at all. Israel is one, and the Church is one. They are not to be divided into segments according to some kind of intrinsic value of their several members. Each member's standing is the same, and their standing has nothing to do with any merit of their own, but it is based solely upon the merit of their dear Savior!!
"But the Scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe." (Galatians 3:22)
"For by grace [unmerited favor] are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves [no merit of yours had anything to do with it]: it is the gift of God:
"Not of works [not out of any merit you might have], lest any man should boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9)
The Bible does speak of a "remnant" in both the Church and Israel. But this is the "remnant" that is left after much tribulation - in other words, the true believers. In no instance are we to ever perceive the "remnant" to be some kind of special caste or class in either the Church or Israel - they are merely what is left over, or what remains (hence, remnant) after the winds of persecution have swept the chaff away (those who were merely playing at Christianity for advantage).
Then to what does the number 144,000 refer? Once again, the Scripture is speaking in a parable, a riddle. The number has a specific meaning, and we can begin to discern that meaning by examining its several parts. It is made up in this way: 12 x 12 x 1000 = 144,000. Now, in Scripture twelve is the number of CORPORATE TESTIMONY; for instance, there were twelve Apostles of the Lamb and twelve tribes in Israel; and we have already seen that the number one thousand is the number of magnification. The number 144,000 then, means the MAGNIFIED, COMPLETED TESTIMONY OF GOD AND THE LAMB - pure, unmixed, clean, spotless, without blemish, chaste, and holy!! This is now the condition of both Israel and the Church, the Two Witnesses of God.
Now, two last ciphers; two last puzzles. First, the Rapture and Resurrection as they pertain to the Two Witnesses:
"And after the three and a half days the breath of life from God came into them, and they stood on their feet; and great fear fell upon those who were beholding them. And they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, 'Come up here'. And they went up into heaven in the cloud and their enemies beheld them." (Revelation 11:11-12)
What is this? Where have we heard such terminology before? The terms "3-1/2 days;" "time, times, and half a time;" "42 months;" "1,260 days" - all these are Biblical code words for either the first half or the second half of the Tribulation (Daniel's Seventieth Week); in this case, the second half. There is no reference here as some believe, to the time Christ spent in the grave - which was only three days, not three and a half days.
What must be meant here is that shortly after the Abomination of Desolation (which occurs midway through the Tribulation or the Seventieth Week), the Beast (Antichrist) will make war on Israel and the Church - those who keep the commandments of God (Israel), and those who have the testimony of Jesus (the Church) (Rev. 12:17); that he will prevail on a world-wide basis in a holocaust that will dwarf the Holocaust of Hitler (Rev. 11:7); and that the dead bodies of both Jews [i.e., those who were unable to escape according to Matt. 24:15-16: "When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) Then let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains ..."] and Christians will be scattered about in every city, town, and village of the whole earth where the inhabitants thereof will gaze upon them in glee and great joy because there is now no "righteous man" to torment their consciences.
But after three and a half years (the last half of the Seventieth Week, the "Great Tribulation"), Jesus will return, and the rapture and resurrection will occur - and this is the precise meaning behind the verse: "And they heard a loud VOICE, For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a SHOUT, with the VOICE of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord. (I Thess. 4:16-17) from heaven saying to them, 'Come up here'. And they went up into heaven in the cloud and their enemies beheld them." (Rev. 11:12, 13)
Lastly, many are puzzled about the reference to the fraction "one-tenth of the city" and about "7,000 persons killed" in conjunction with the Resurrection and Rapture of the Two Witnesses in Revelation 11. These figures are symbolical. Not, however, in a good sense, but in an evil sense. Lange (Lange's Commentaries on the Holy Scriptures) suggests an answer:
"... ten denoted completeness; one-tenth denotes a minor completeness of destruction and wreck. The added figure, 7,000 is to be understood in the same manner. Three [denoting God] and four [denoting man], thus seven denoting God's dealings with man, multiplied by 1,000 [the greatest completeness, 10 x 10 x 10]: GOD IS NOW UTTERLY THROUGH WITH UNREPENTANT MAN - 'My Spirit shall not always strive with man' (Gen. 6:3). Hence, the complete and final removal of His Two Witnesses. What this removal means is written by this figure of 7,000 killed in Babylon. The removal of the Two Witnesses is a catastrophe such as is caused when a terrific earthquake rocks the very foundations of the world, as when the central pillar that upholds the whole earth is removed. When the task of the Two Witnesses is through, GOD IS FINISHED WITH THE WORLD. The catastrophe first strikes Babylon, the headquarters of the beastly opposition. When this totters, the rest will not stand for long."
That this entire section is symbolical can easily be seen: to calculate that one-tenth of the city was 7,000 people, and that hence the entire city (i.e., Jerusalem - or New York, or Washington D.C, or whatever) was 70,000 (i.e., ten-tenths) borders on the absurd. "And the rest became terrified and gave glory to the God of the heaven" cannot mean that now at last all who were not slain repented. When judgment descends, it is too late for repentance. When under the power of the Beast, the enemies of God are struck with terror as the first blow of judgment falls, and then acknowledge that there is a God of heaven; they have not thereby shown repentance. "The demons also know and tremble."