Fear not, little flock, for it has been the good pleasure of your Father to give you the kingdom. (Luk 12:32)
Jesus said the above to the twelve apostles and added: Luk 22:29 and just as my Father has granted me a kingdom, I grant you.
Rev 5:9-10 They sang a new song, saying, You are worthy to take the book, and to open its seals: For you [Christ] were killed, and bought us for God with your blood, out of every tribe, language, people, and nation, And made them kings and priests to our God, and they reign on earth.”
These verses tell two most important things about the kingdom of God: 1) Christ has bought “men from every tribe and tongue and people and the nation”. They are not natural Israel and Jacob’s tribes, but around the world! 2) They form the kingdom of God; “To be a kingdom and priests to our God” and they will reign upon the earth.
There is to be a small group that rules with Christ as kings and priests. In addition to the apostles, there are other righteous people. Many scholars believe that this small group is numbered 144,000. Interpretative disputes are whether the figure is accurate or symbolic. It turned out that the redeemed people of Christ include humans from all over the world. The group does not come from the so-called natural Israel, but from ‘God’s Israel’. Israel is in this figurative sense presented as God’s people. Perhaps also the number of 144,000 is figurative.
Finally there is only one fold and one shepherd. Jhn 10:16 have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must lead these also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock and one shepherd. – This is realized after the last conviction when God is all in all.
Paul, on his own, says this: and behold, a great crowd which no one was able to number them, out of every nation, even tribes and peoples and tongues standing in front of the throne, and before the Lamb, having been clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands.
… the crown of righteousness is laid up for me, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me in that Day, and not only to me, but also to all the ones loving His appearance. (2 Tim. 4:8)
Paul also clarifies that this crown of righteousness is given to all who are lovingly awaiting the coming of Christ. The crown refers to the royal power, that is, to the leadership of the kingdom of God. Some people say that this is not to be promised to all of them, but the wreath of righteousness means ‘only’ eternal life.
… a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, … (Rev 7:9)
I wrote above that people will be saved; a small crowd (‘flock’) will lead the kingdom of God with Christ, and a great crowd (‘multitude’) will be saved. After these things I saw, and behold, a great crowd which no one was able to number them, out of every nation, even tribes and peoples and tongues standing in front of the throne, and before the Lamb, having been clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands. (Rev 7:9).
Rev 7:13 Then one of the elders said to me, “Who are these people wearing white robes, and where did they come from? 14 … And he said to me, These are those coming out of the great tribulation; and they washed their robes and whitened them in the blood of the Lamb. 15 .. They are in front of the throne of God and worship him night and day in his temple. The one who sits on the throne will shelter them.
16 They will never be hungry or thirsty again. Neither the sun nor any burning heat will ever strike them, 17 Because the Lamb in the midst of the throne will shepherd them, and will lead them on the living fountains of waters; and God will wipe off every tear from their eyes.
So what do we know from the Bible about this great crowd? It is so great that no one could count it. Millions or hundreds of millions? Maybe as many as a billion people will get into this group. Most of humanity, however, is destroyed. We also know that these people who have been saved who have bleached their clothes and now go to long white clothes. “Bleaching” in the blood of the lamb, is figurative language telling that they have repented of their sins and resorted to the saving power of Christ’s blood i.e. they have found faith, perhaps at the very last moment. Jesus told (Mat Chapter 20) a parable of a man who hired workers to his field.
For those who were first hired, was promised a denarius per day. Those who came later were promised the same salary, even for those who came so late that they worked for just a little while. Everyone was given the same pay, no matter how much work had been done. Those who had been working all day dumbfounded that the employer paid the same salary to those who just started working a few moments ago. From the point of view of salvation, this is exactly the case; all are equal regardless of how long each has been in faith. The big crowd can also come to the last minute, that is to say, to have the same grace as those who have been long in the faith. Jesus promises to pay the wage for every one upon earth. However, these wages are different; one can get control over five cities, one of the ten cities. Everlasting life is, however, a gift for all.
In Rev 7:17 is promised, that “the Lamb in the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and will guide them to springs of the water of life; and God will wipe every tear from their eyes”. Springs of the water of life mean of course eternal life (i.e immortality).
There is a small group that acts as ‘managers’ in the kingdom, kings and priests, and then there is a very large crowd that I interpret as subjects of the kingdom. This great crowd can be, except that they come from all peoples and languages, including a very different level of knowledge of the Bible. A small crowd has to teach them under Christ’s command.
– In addition, there can be people who saved their lives who have not even heard of the God of the Bible or Christ. This is evident from Isa 66:19 I will set a sign among them and will send survivors from them to the nations: Tarshish, Put, Lud, Meshech, Tubal and Javan, to the distant coastlands that have neither heard my fame nor seen my glory. And they will declare my glory among the nations.”
Jhn 3:9 Who knows? He may turn, and God may have pity and turn away from the glow of His anger, that we do not perish. 10 When God saw their deeds, that they turned from their evil way, then God relented concerning the calamity which He had declared He would bring upon them. And He did not do it.
It is clear that in the last days, during the great tribulation, much of humanity is destroyed. But not all people. If people repent and turn to God, calling for Jesus’ (or God’s) name. Act 4:12 There is no salvation by anyone else, for there is no other name under heaven given among people by which we must be saved. Perhaps God will change his mind as He did after first condemning the destruction of Nineveh’s great city.
The message of God transmitted by the prophets of the Old Testament is much darker than in the New Testament. NT brings forth a great number of people who are saved, so great that nobody could count their number.
Rev 7:9 After these things I looked, and there was a large crowd that no one was able to count! They were from every nation, tribe, people, and language. They were standing in front of the throne and the lamb and were wearing white robes, with palm branches in their hands.
Joe 2:32 For it shall be, all who shall call on the name of Jehovah shall be saved. For salvation shall be in Mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, as Jehovah has said, and among the saved whom Jehovah shall call.
Oba 1:17 But the ones who escaped shall be on Mount Zion, and it shall be holy. And the house of Jacob shall possess their own possessions.
Heb 12:22 But you have drawn near Mount Zion, even the city of the living God, to a heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels,
Luk 10:20 But stop rejoicing in this, that the evil spirits submit to you. But rather rejoice that your names are written in Heaven.
More about the 144,000 in the next article