13. The Sealing of the 144,000 – Overview

By John Thiel, The Characteristics of the Twelve Tribes of the 144,000 Conference, study 13, mp3

The sealing of the 144,000 tribe by tribe has been our meditation and our study for many hours. We have appreciated that ever since the work of the third angel who was the sealing angel, after 1844-1848, the sealing of the 144,000 has been taking place. And here we are today, my generation is the fourth generation from that time; and even at that time there were other generations that were part of that scene; so that makes it even five generations ago. The sealing of the 144,000 has been going on for that long. And like the twelve sons of Jacob, the people ever since 1848 were given a lifetime to perfect their characters so that they could be sealed among the 144,000. As we studied the sons of Jacob, we saw that they came to a position where they were so totally humbled, and their characters were so totally winnowed through the experiences, that they came even to the point of the death of their father, after all that had taken place in Egypt with Joseph, and you can see their utter humiliation and dependence on the mercy of God here expressed:

Genesis 50:15 And when Joseph’s brethren saw that their father was dead, they said, Joseph will peradventure hate us, and will certainly requite us all the evil which we did unto him. 16 And they sent a messenger unto Joseph, saying, Thy father did command before he died, saying, 17 So shall ye say unto Joseph, Forgive, I pray thee now, the trespass of thy brethren, and their sin; for they did unto thee evil: and now, we pray thee, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of thy father. And Joseph wept when they spake unto him. 18 And his brethren also went and fell down before his face; and they said, Behold, we [be] thy servants.

What a display of total humiliation and total appreciation that forgiveness was needed. There you have a lifetime of experiences which has really been a powerful demonstration for God’s people in these last days who plead with God for mercy and forgiveness for all their past that has sullied their life. This experience of theirs is further described:

During the years since Joseph had been separated from his brothers, these sons of Jacob had changed in character. Envious, turbulent, deceptive, cruel, and revengeful they had been; {PP 225.3}

This is what their character was;

…but now, when tested by adversity, they were shown to be unselfish, true to one another, devoted to their father, and, themselves middle-aged men, subject to his authority. {Ibid.}

What a difference. What a beautiful description of character change, which is the symbolic representation of the character change of the twelve tribes of Israel in the sealing work.

Character Change

As we went through each one of these tribes, these sons, we have seen the impact of their past life and the change of their characters to be among the 144,000 in symbol.

In his first greeting to Joseph, Jacob had spoken as if, with this joyful ending to his long anxiety and sorrow, he was ready to die. But seventeen years were yet to be granted him in the peaceful retirement of Goshen. These years were in happy contrast to those that had preceded them. He saw in his sons evidence of true repentance; he saw his family surrounded by all the conditions needful for the development of a great nation; and his faith grasped the sure promise of their future establishment in Canaan. He himself was surrounded with every token of love and favor that the prime minister of Egypt could bestow; and happy in the society of his long-lost son, he passed down gently and peacefully to the grave. {PP 233.4}

This shows how the series of events that took place had brought his sons to such a position and a condition that, at the end, as the middle-aged men that they were, they were even submissive to the authority of their father. This could only take place by the miracle-working power of God through the terrible trials that their sins and the sins of Jacob brought upon them. Their sins were orchestrated by God to purify them and develop in them this unblemished character.

We see in all this a tremendous hope for each one of us to be sealed among the 144,000, if we permit God to so affect us. The lifetime activity of this kind of work is addressed here:

There is no such thing as instantaneous sanctification. True sanctification is a daily work, continuing as long as life shall last. Those who are battling with daily temptations, overcoming their own sinful tendencies, and seeking for holiness of heart and life, make no boastful claims of holiness. They are hungering and thirsting for righteousness. Sin appears to them exceedingly sinful. {SL 10.1}

No boastful demonstration of holiness; they are just like these sons, fully repentant, still pleading for forgiveness, even though they had already been forgiven. What an attitude had developed – there was a total appreciation of one’s undone condition, making no claims of holiness; just thirsting for purity of character continually. It is to be a lifetime of such work. This is the work God’s true people from 1848 onwards have been concentrating on.

The Last Generation

Here we are today in the fourth and fifth generation from that time. These people have had their lifetime, and they have reached their time of final passing away, like the sons of Jacob; but here we stand – the generation that is described by Jesus in Matthew 24. Here is a prophecy that Jesus gave in connection with the fig tree; and that fig tree in the Bible symbolism has always been the Jewish nation. Therefore the nature of the fig tree and the nature of the Jewish nation is all brought out in this description of the events just prior to Jesus’ coming:

Matthew 24:32 Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer [is] nigh: 33 So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, [even] at the doors. 34 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.

There is a generation that dwells just before the coming of Jesus, and the fulfilment of the events prophesied by Jesus here, the shooting of the fig tree being one of them, stand as the last waymarks before His second coming. The Jews were again brought to a budding and shooting when in 1948 they received their nationhood back. Before that they didn’t exist; they were scattered throughout the world; they had no homeland of their own. But in 1948 they received it again; the fig tree was shooting. And it says, This generation that shall see this and the fulfilment of these events (“all these things”) shall not pass. Now we have a generation that will not pass until all these things are fulfilled; they need to go through their purification experiences before their life ends. They need to be pure before their life ends; they have a shorter period of time than all the other ones had.

Those Who Died Under the Third Angel’s Message

Indeed we are told that there would be the dying of the previous generations under the third angel’s message. A special mention is made that there would be a people who would die under this message of the sealing.

Revelation 14:13 And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed [are] the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.

This is very profound language in reference to the purification exercises. They will rest from their labours, the labours of purification and trial; and their works of purification will follow them. So these people who are under the sealing message of the third angel are here identified as passing into death for a while.

Abundant light has been given to our people in these last days. Whether or not my life is spared, my writings will constantly speak, and their work will go forward as long as time shall last. My writings are kept on file in the office, and even though I should not live, these words that have been given to me by the Lord will still have life and will speak to the people. But my strength is yet spared, and I hope to continue to do much useful work. I may live until the coming of the Lord; but if I should not, I trust it may be said of me, “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them” (Revelation 14:13). {1SM 55.5} Letter written on Oct. 23, 1907

So the sealing of the 144,000 included Sister White. They had expected that Jesus would come in their lifetime, but no. She actually says that if she was actually to be laid to rest, I trust it may be said of me, “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth

These people, of whom Sr. White is part, are sealed among the 144,000 and will be resurrected at the voice of God.

It was at midnight that God chose to deliver His people. As the wicked were mocking around them, suddenly the sun appeared, shining in his strength, and the moon stood still. The wicked looked upon the scene with amazement, while the saints beheld with solemn joy the tokens of their deliverance. Signs and wonders followed in quick succession. Everything seemed turned out of its natural course. {EW 285.1}

She is describing the scene of the earth rocking around.

The streams ceased to flow. Dark, heavy clouds came up and clashed against each other. But there was one clear place of settled glory, whence came the voice of God like many waters, shaking the heavens and the earth. There was a mighty earthquake. The graves were opened, and those who had died in faith under the third angel’s message, keeping the Sabbath, came forth from their dusty beds, glorified, to hear the covenant of peace that God was to make with those who had kept His law. {Ibid.}

These words refer to an event that happens before Jesus is actually coming in the clouds. It is the voice of God and the earth shaking in the seventh plague. The people are still on earth; Jesus has not yet come. So there is a resurrection of those who had died in faith under the third angel’s message. This is what Sister was trusting, that she would be among that people.

We see therefore that people like Sr. White, and people in the time of those other generations, that have passed away a long time ago, have had opportunity to develop their sanctification, their experiences to perfection, just as we have seen in the experiences of the sons of Jacob. But now we are living in these last moments of earth’s history; do we have a full lifetime like they had? To them was given ample time. But for us, as the close of probation comes, we will still be living. For these people probation closed by death; but the people of the last generation are still living when probation closes. That’s us; because it says, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. What then must happen in their purification? They don’t have a lifetime.

A Short Work

There is a very important promise for this generation. It is very important to recognise that this is the privilege given us in this last generation:

Romans 9:27 Esaias also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved:

The 144,000 – a remnant.

Romans 9:28 For he will finish the work, and cut [it] short in righteousness: because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth.

So for us who are alive at this time, we do not have a full lifetime. God is going to cut short His work for us living at this time. He is going to cut short in our lives the work that He has been doing in the lives of those who have gone before us, in the preparation to be sealed among the 144,000. He will cut the time short. What those generations have had all their lifetime to learn, we have to learn in a short time.

As I saw what we must be in order to inherit glory, and then saw how much Jesus had suffered to obtain for us so rich an inheritance, I prayed that we might be baptized into Christ’s sufferings, that we might not shrink at trials, but bear them with patience and joy, knowing what Jesus had suffered that we through His poverty and sufferings might be made rich. Said the angel, “Deny self; ye must step fast.” Some of us have had time to get the truth and to advance step by step, and every step we have taken has given us strength to take the next. But now time is almost finished, and what we have been years learning, they will have to learn in a few months. They will also have much to unlearn and much to learn again. Those who would not receive the mark of the beast and his image when the decree goes forth, must have decision now to say, Nay, we will not regard the institution of the beast. {EW 67.2}

There is so much contained in that statement. To overcome the world, to overcome and be victorious in our character building, how much time do we have left to do all this compared to those who have passed away ever since 1848? What they have been their lifetime learning, in character building, we are to learn in a much shorter period of time. But we have the promise – God will cut it short in righteousness. And how is it going to happen? Through severe trials, like those we saw in the story of the twelve sons of Jacob.

Just as soon as the people of God are sealed in their foreheads–it is not any seal or mark that can be seen, but a settling into the truth, both intellectually and spiritually, so they cannot be moved {4BC 1161.6}

This is what the sealing is – going through an experience intellectually and spiritually, to the point where they are so settled in that they cannot be moved; they are sealed; they have a character development that is perfection.

–just as soon as God’s people are sealed and prepared for the shaking, it will come. Indeed, it has begun already; the judgments of God are now upon the land, to give us warning, that we may know what is coming. {Ibid.}

People read these sorts of statements very glibly. This was written in 1902, and ever since that time, what were the things that were happening? How much did the generation of Adventism really settle into the truth so that they could not be moved, and how few are left? The First World War – myriads of Adventists gave way; then the Second World War – same thing again. And ever since the Second World War men’s hearts have been failing them for fear. The year 1948 came after WWII, and ever since that time these words apply: This generation shall not pass.

Having considered the lives of the sons of Jacob, we realise where we can resonate with them in our beginnings and our dysfunctional backgrounds. What is the experience of the majority of people today? Family backgrounds that are so sad; just like that of Jacob’s sons. And as we have to go through the trials that are described for us in the experience of the sons of Jacob, God has a shorter time for us to reach that perfection which the 144,000 are to have, where there is a true attitude of contrition and humility coming forth, a seeking for forgiveness, being in a state of willingness to put away the things that are faulty in our lives.

Final Events

When the number is made up, probation closes. When the fig tree shoots, the people that are watching the Middle-East will then see another event. Speaking of the Muslim world, the Bible tells us:

Daniel 11:45 And he shall plant the tabernacles of his palace between the seas in the glorious holy mountain;

They are going to put their headquarters in Jerusalem; and when that takes place,

Daniel 11:45 …yet he shall come to his end, and none shall help him. 12:1 And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was…

This is the close of probation, when Jesus finishes His work in the most holy place. This situation which we can identify is in the experience of the generation in which we live. And this terrible time of trouble, which marks the beginning of the close of probation, is here described:

Daniel 12:2 And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame [and] everlasting contempt.

Here you have what we saw before: Sister White would be raised among that people who awake to everlasting life. Those who have died in the faith of the third angel will come up in this resurrection, during the time of the plagues.

Here they are now, a completed number, standing together, the 144,000. Those who were alive to the end and those who were resurrected come up to be together as one company:

Soon we heard the voice of God like many waters, which gave us the day and hour of Jesus’ coming. The living saints, 144,000 in number, knew and understood the voice, while the wicked thought it was thunder and an earthquake. {EW 14.1}

Who were there? The wicked and the 144,000 in number. That’s all that existed there.

When God spoke the time, He poured upon us the Holy Ghost, and our faces began to light up and shine with the glory of God, as Moses’ did when he came down from Mount Sinai. {Ibid.}

So why were these people resurrected? That they might hear the voice of God giving the covenant of peace to His people, and the day and hour of His coming. That is what the faithful people who had died under the third angel’s message were resurrected to hear. Here they are – 144,000 in number. They have gone through their purification experience, they died; and the ones that were still alive at the time of the close of probation are there together with them.

The 144,000 were all sealed and perfectly united. On their foreheads was written, God, New Jerusalem, and a glorious star containing Jesus’ new name. At our happy, holy state the wicked were enraged, and would rush violently up to lay hands on us to thrust us into prison, when we would stretch forth the hand in the name of the Lord, and they would fall helpless to the ground. Then it was that the synagogue of Satan knew that God had loved us who could wash one another’s feet and salute the brethren with a holy kiss, and they worshiped at our feet. {EW 15.1}

The 144,000 in number; they are the people whom we have studied about that would be purified and stand to hear God’s voice declaring to them the covenant of peace. They had settled into the truth; and for the generation that we are part of today, this has to happen quicker than it happened to those who have passed before us.

Now, like the twelve sons of Jacob, with the true condition among them, each character forms a part of the whole of Israel, each having been purged and purified.

Stephen Haskell expressed this in his book The Story of the Seer of Patmos:

All are needed to make the number complete. Let not the burden bearer think, that because he bears the heavy burdens he is the most important. He is only one twelfth part of the whole. One company will represent Levi, whose life seemed a failure through sin; and yet through victory in God, the Levites became teachers in Israel. And of unstable Reuben it is said, “Let Reuben live, and not die.” He became the “excellency of dignity, and the excellency of power.” Judah represents the leaders, those before whom the others bow down. Every phase of the work is represented, and the name of each tribe will be placed on one of the gates of the city of God. {1905 SNH, SSP 137.2}

The 144,000 are a complete number, a complete people, but each one is only a segment of that completion. So here is a company of people with all their personality differences, being purged to make up a complete whole, every person doing their part; just like the church is one body with several members.

Meeting Jesus

And with this company that is now alive to meet Jesus, how do they describe themselves in this meeting? Just like the sons of Jacob did when they met Joseph. How do they describe themselves at this point in time in reference to their righteousness? Are they conscious of their purification now, when they meet Jesus? Here the 144,000 see Jesus coming:

Soon our eyes were drawn to the east, for a small black cloud had appeared, about half as large as a man’s hand, which we all knew was the sign of the Son of man. We all in solemn silence gazed on the cloud as it drew nearer and became lighter, glorious, and still more glorious, till it was a great white cloud. The bottom appeared like fire; a rainbow was over the cloud, while around it were ten thousand angels, singing a most lovely song; and upon it sat the Son of man. His hair was white and curly and lay on His shoulders; and upon His head were many crowns. His feet had the appearance of fire; in His right hand was a sharp sickle; in His left, a silver trumpet. His eyes were as a flame of fire, which searched His children through and through. {EW 15.2}

This is coming soon, brethren and sisters; you are going to stand in front of Him one day, and you are going to be pierced with His eyes through and through. What happens now to the 144,000?

Then all faces gathered paleness, {Ibid.}

Have you ever been under the stress of the overwhelming sense of your guilt and sin? Just like the sons whose father had died were now scared of Joseph. There the assurance is needed whether or not they are now going to be receiving punishment.

…and those that God had rejected gathered blackness. {Ibid.}

Can you imagine what is going through the system?

Then we all cried out, “Who shall be able to stand? Is my robe spotless?” Then the angels ceased to sing, and there was some time of awful silence, when Jesus spoke: “Those who have clean hands and pure hearts shall be able to stand; My grace is sufficient for you.” At this our faces lighted up, and joy filled every heart. And the angels struck a note higher and sang again, while the cloud drew still nearer the earth. {Ibid.}

Here is the expression of the 144,000. How do they feel? Just as humbled as the sons of Jacob did; still feeling in their hearts, “I need assurance; I don’t know how I am standing. Who is able to stand?” Jesus gives them words of comfort, “My grace is sufficient for you. It is by My grace that you were perfected. My work to let your sins correct you, that is My grace.”

Revelation 14:4 These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins.

This is a symbolic, metaphoric statement meaning that these are people who were not defiled by the false doctrines of the wine of Babylon, by the false churches.

Revelation 14:4 …These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, [being] the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb.

These people are now comforted because, as they see Jesus in His glory, and His eyes pierce them through and through, and their sins come up before them in their great final display, yet He says, My grace is sufficient for you. Paleness turns to joy right at that very last moment.

Then Jesus’ silver trumpet sounded, as He descended on the cloud, wrapped in flames of fire. He gazed on the graves of the sleeping saints, then raised His eyes and hands to heaven, and cried, “Awake! awake! awake! ye that sleep in the dust, and arise.” Then there was a mighty earthquake. {EW 16.1}

This is yet another earthquake that raises God’s people.

The graves opened, and the dead came up clothed with immortality. The 144,000 [part of whom had been raised in the special resurrection] shouted, “Alleluia!” as they recognized their friends who had been torn from them by death, and in the same moment we were changed and caught up together with them to meet the Lord in the air. {Ibid.}

This is a phenomenal statement. People who had been torn from them by death were raised in that resurrection of the just. Who are they?? They were not under the three angels’ messages; they lived up to the light that they had. They were the friends of those who were living under the three angels’ messages and were there witnessing to them; but death had taken them away before they could be fully under the third angel’s message – they were their friends, children of God, but not fully purified under the life of the 144,000, settling into the truth both intellectually and spiritually so that they could not be moved. These were people who were covered by Christ’s righteousness and lived up to the light they had. They would be redeemed as well.

Then they will all be carried up together to meet the Lord in the air. What a glorious experience this will be. What a picture of the sons of Jacob and Joseph, the relief, the release from all their anguish; gone for good. This is a metaphorical experience; yet it is an experience in reality. It is something which we are to learn from and take courage from as our experience deepens and as we see more and more details of our earthliness, and of the past sins that we have committed, that we have already repented of, but that we keep on repenting of, like they did. This is the experience that we must have.

I pray that after having studied this we will come forth from this with a decision and a choice of life to no longer place ourselves under the excuses that, I just had that bad experience of the past; I had that dysfunctional family. No; no excuses; we hate sin; we will put away the wrongs that we have pitied to function under. We will put them away; we will not continue on this path anymore. We hate sin; we will permit God to purge us through our own sins that will catch up with us and correct us. This is our experience; we need to know it. And as it happens, we don’t have to give up because we are so guilty and so sinful; the wonderful hand of Joseph, as a representative of Jesus, is extended to us, My grace is sufficient for you.

May God help us to be resolved to settle into this truth so that nothing can move us anymore. We will battle on through to the end, clinging as did Jacob to Jesus:

I will not let You go.

Posted on February 21, 2018, in Characteristics of the Twelve Tribes of the 144,000 and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Very well put and not too heavy that we cannot understand if we have the basics of our fundamental beliefs in place ! Thank you….

  2. Dear Sir/Madam Peace be upon you. I would like to say God bless you all for sharing these wonderful sermons that I have been blessed with it. I have followed intensively the Sealing of the 144,000 and indeed, I learnt a lot. God bless abundantly Pastor John. however, concerning this title, I end up with some questions. I am pretty eager to make my happiness full by answering these of my questions.

    1. the new thing that I have learned is the 144,000 saints include all who died under the message of third angles since 1847.therefore, please is this number is a symbol or literal?

    2. If it is literal does not take as to the doctrine of only predetermined people will save. 3. since 1847 till the end of the seventh day Adventist only 144,000 saints will be saved? imagine today we are around 20 million. please, please help me this is a big question for me. I am looking forward to your swift answer.


    Best Regards

    • Dear Brother Getu,
      We are glad you have been so blessed by these studies, and pray you will continue to hold on to this blessing you are receiving.

      Regarding your questions:

      1. Yes, the number of the 144,000 is indeed literal. This has always been the united teaching of the pioneers of Adventism. Talking about the 144,000 during the time of trouble, the Spirit of Prophecy says: “The living saints, 144,000 in number, knew and understood the voice…” {EW 14.1}.
      2. The fact that this number is literal does not go against the free will with which God has endowed every human being. It only shows how perfect is God’s providence and orchestration of the plan of salvation. Every one of us may be among the 144,000 if we will follow God’s directions and unite with Him in the work of character building.
      3. I can understand your perplexity, however, if you continue to drink in those realities, you will see that God’s love is big enough to secure us among that number, even though it only comprises, as you said, the whole body of Adventists saved from 1848 to the end of probation.

      I pray you will be encouraged to take fast hold of the hope we have to be a part of these people who have no guile in their mouth and who finally stand with the Lamb on Mount Zion.

      With Christian love,
      Your brother in Christ,
      Victor Bireaud

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