The fullness of the Gentiles will conclude the age of Grace with the rapture of the Church. The Lord will then once again call on Israel to be a spiritual witness and light to the nations during the seven year tribulation that will follow. The Jewish witnesses will not only include the much speculated about Two Witnesses (many believe to be Elijah & Moses) (Revelation 11:3-13), but also 144,000 sealed Jewish witnesses made up of 12,000 Jews from each of Israel’s 12 tribes (Revelation
Despite terrible persecution and martyrdom, hundreds of millions “of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues” will hear the witness that they
proclaim about the coming Messiah (Revelation 7:9). As a result, these hundreds of millions will become tribulation saints (Revelation 7:14-17). During the Great Tribulation, many will worship the antichrist and take his mark (Revelation 13:8, Revelation 13:15-18).
But others will see through his deception and teach the truth, even though it will cost them their lives (Daniel 11:33,35). These courageous believers who by the witnesses of the 144 thousand and the two prophets give their lives to Jesus will risk everything to lead others to Christ. Many will be martyred for their faith (Revelation 6:9-11, Revelation
but their very willingness to die for the truth will inspire some to seek Jesus. Though the world will heartlessly discard them, God will not forget them (1 Corinthians 15:58). To Him, will be “like the stars forever and ever” (Daniel 12:3).
These new believers are those to whom God will give “insight” (Daniel
12:3), an understanding of His Word and the time in which they are living. Wisely, they will give teach and give testimony to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ in order to encourage believers and reach people in the midst of the terrible suffering.
The Sealing of the 144,000
Even though the 144,000 Jews will be miraculously used by God, their life will be full of turmoil and persecution thanks to the Antichrist. Just as the Antichrist will demand his followers take the mark of the beast in either their right hand or forehead, the 144,000 witnesses will receive their own seal of God on their forehead. These 12,000 Jews from all twelve tribes of Israel will be tribulation evangelist. The seal of God upon this group will protect them as God judges and pours out His wrath on a non-believing earth. The non-believing earth will stand in rebellion against God, but the 144,000 as witnesses of God will faithfully proclaim the
gospel. They will keep the commandments of God and hold the testimony of Jesus (Revelation 12:17) in the face of severe persecution inflicted on them by God’s enemies.
They will escape the impact of God’s wrath, such as the "locust" plague which will hurt only "the men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads" (Revelation 9:4). This will free them to conduct their worldwide ministry of evangelism in those last days. These faithful 144,000 will be His voice in a world marked by unbridled human sin and darkened by the reign of the false Christ. That will be their role.
A Multitude Will be Saved
One of the most frequently asked questions in regard to the Tribulation time period is whether or not anyone will come to a saving faith in Jesus Christ during that difficult time.
2 Thessalonians 2:7
“For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way”.
After the Rapture the Holy Spirit will still convict people of sin, but his restraining ministry will be over and all of satan’s evil will break loose on earth. We already know that 144 thousand people from the 12 tribes of Israel will be set apart for the Lord, but they will not be alone!
Those who come to believe during the Great Tribulation will be in one of two groups. The first group will be the remnant of physical Israel sealed for protection and called to testify concerning Christ (Revelation 7:1-8). The second group will be comprised of the masses of gentiles who believe in Christ and suffer persecution and martyrdom for their faith. These martyrs will come out of
the Great Tribulation through death, but their suffering will instantly give way to victorious worship as they join the heavenly chorus in praise to “our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb” (Revelation 7:10)
John tells us about them in his vision of a different group, other than the 144,000 (Revelation 7:9-17). We know this is another body of people because rather than definite number of 144,000, this group is comprised of a crowd so large that no one could count how many there were. Instead of coming from the twelve tribes of Israel, this crowd came from every nation. The fact that this large group "have washed their robes and made them white in the blood
of the Lamb" (Revelation 7:14) demonstrates that they have believed in Christ and had their sins forgiven. This large a gathering of believers—so large that they cannot be counted—may seem a bit surprising in light
of Jesus’ teaching that many are called but only a few are chosen (Matthew 22:14) and that only a few enter through the narrow gate to find eternal life (Matthew 7:14); yet with the rate of growth of the world’s population so rapid, a few or a small percentage of the vast number now living still constitutes a considerable group. Remember that this crowd comes from "every nation and all tribes and peoples
and tongues" throughout
the world (Revelation
7:9), so even though they are a small minority, the number is still significantly large.
This event will be the largest soul harvest the world has even seen. Some Biblical scholars believe that more people may come to Jesus in period than in the last 2,000 years since Christ first walked the Earth.
What would it take for Israel to come to believe in Christ as a nation? Regrettably, it will take the awesome time of the Tribulation, with all of its judgments falling from Heaven, and its persecution of the Jewish people by the Antichrist. Through the testimony of the 144,000 Jewish evangelists and the Two Witnesses, by the end of the Tribulation Israel will be able, willing, and eager to receive their long-lost Yeshua as Messiah:
“And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon him whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.”
“And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east.”
When Israel repents and believes in the One whom they have pierced, the Lord Jesus Christ will return to the very place, the Mount of Olives, where He bade Jerusalem farewell so many centuries ago.
God will never leave the world without a witness to Himself. Fellow Christian, you and I are His witnesses during the present era as we await our Lord’s coming for His church. We must be faithful to represent Him because many around us need to hear and embrace the good news that Jesus saves. We will face opposition, but we can rest assured that He will protect us as long as He has a job for us to do just as He will protect
the 144,000 in the future. The pressure upon us is far less direct and harsh than that upon our future fellow-witnesses, but on us the temptation to remain silent will perhaps be more subtle. Let’s not be lulled to sleep by the enemy. Let’s redeem the time because the days are evil.
Dr. Thomas McCall: Zola Levitt Ministries
Chuck Missler: Koinonia House
Charles Swindoll: Daniel, Volume 2: God’s Plan for the Future
Charles Swindoll: Revelation—Unveiling the End
Tim LaHaye and Ed Hindson: The Popular Encyclopedia of Bible Prophecy
Grant Jeffrey: Countdown To The Apocalypse