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The 144,000: God's Seal vs. the Mark of the Beast

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Question #1:  

Who are the 144,000 from the beginning of Revelation chapter 14?

Response #1: 

The 144,000 are a select group of (no doubt mostly young) Jewish believers who will be selected at the beginning of the Tribulation to evangelize the worldwide Jewish community under the auspices of the two witnesses, Moses and Elijah, who will be brought back to (temporary human) life for the purpose of "restoring" the faith of Israel (see the link). Only part of that community will respond during the Tribulation, but this "preparing of the hearts" of Israel will dispose them to believe on the Messiah when they see Him return at the second advent. This is written up in much more detail at the following links:

In CT 2B: "The 144,000"

In CT 4: "The Martyrdom of the 144,000"

Question #2:  

Dear Bob,

I just finished Revelations 14 and 15 today, and was wondering just who exactly he 144,000 are?

Response #2: 

The 144,000 are all young, Jewish men who believe in Christ as result of the ministry of the two witnesses, Moses and Elijah, and are called out for a worldwide ministry of evangelism to the Jewish people. This will happen during the first half of the Tribulation. For the details, please see the links:

The 144,000

The two witnesses

The martyrdom of the 144,000

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #3:   

Bob sir, thank you, I Emailed my power point slides to my grand daughter, because I did not know how to put them on word document, so here they are. Bob, I truly am excited, and after reading some of your biblical statements, I thought, this man will give this a good evaluation. Anxiously awaiting, and thanks again, Bob L.

Response #3: 

Hello Friend,

The 144,000 are martyred during the Tribulation (Rev.14:1-5). That is something impossible if they had been resurrected since resurrection is a permanent state:

For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him.
Romans 6:9 NIV

If the 144,000 were believers from the past who were resurrected for service in the Tribulation, they would also not need to be sealed for their protection; had they already been resurrected, like Christ, they would in that case not be able to "die again".

1st Corinthians 15:23 actually says that Christ Himself is the "first fruits", so this verse actually excludes anyone but Jesus being part of the first phase of the resurrection. Revelation 14:4b, moreover, despite what the versions do with the Greek, actually says not "first fruits" but reads "These are they who were purchased first from among men for God [the Father] and for the Lamb" (i.e., the Greek is really not aparche but ap' arches in the oldest and best manuscript, Sinaiticus).

In any case, 1st Corinthians 15:23-24 is very clear, as are all the other places where scripture speaks about the resurrection, that at present our Lord Jesus is the only one to have been resurrected, and that the next phase is the resurrection of the entire Church which will take place at His second advent return. Please see the links:

The Resurrection of the Lamb's Bride

Aspects of the Resurrection I

Aspects of the Resurrection II

There are other reasons why I am unable to endorse a view of the 144,000 as already resurrected, but I will leave you with the above. Please do feel free to write me back about any of this.

In our dear Lord Jesus whose return we anxiously await.

Bob Luginbill

Question #4:   

Bob, Thanks so very much for your reply, but I do have some questions, and 'please excuse'. What about the many that rose in Mat, 27,v52-53? Who were they, where did they go? Also if the 144,000 were sealed for their protection, then why were they martyred? And Bob, it looks as if the seal of God is His Father's name in their foreheads. Also in Rev, 22, v4 we see in the new heaven His servants, and His name in their foreheads. We know they want need a seal for protection. ''Hay'' I know you are a busy man, but is kind of you to give attention to my questions and interest. I will try not to ask foolish questions. I will hope to be a friend.

Response #4: 

Hello Friend,

You're very welcome. As to your questions . . .

1) The resuscitated believers of Matthew 27:52-53 were individuals brought back to life in the same way as Lazarus and others resuscitated by our Lord and the apostles (and also by Elijah and Elisha). There is a large difference between being brought back to life in this present body (which is not a resurrection) and being brought back to life in a new, eternal body (which is resurrection). Those resurrected at our Lord's return will rise up into the heavens to meet Him (something none of us in this natural body can do); those resuscitated in Matthew 27 walked into town as any of the rest of us would have to do. After living out the rest of their natural lives, this group of believers – a testimony to the life which in is Jesus Christ as a result of His death on our behalf – died physically as Lazarus did, as the widow of Nain's son did, and as we all must do (unless it be our lot to abide until Jesus returns). Please see the link: Transmutation, Resuscitation, and Resurrection.

2) Martyrdom is the greatest sacrifice a believer can make for our Lord. Genuine martyrdom is a privilege and an honor only afforded to the most dedicated believers. The 144,000, as scripture attests, are a very special group who will dedicate their lives to the Lord without compromise and to a degree which has rarely been seen in human history outside of the Bible's greatest believers. The 144,000 have a very special job to do as well: evangelize the Jewish community throughout the world during the first three and a half years of the Tribulation. At the Tribulation's midpoint, their job will be done and the remnant they have evangelized, those who responded, that is, will be given safe harbor in the desert for the rest of the seven years known as the Great Tribulation (see the link). At that point, the 144,000 will be martyred as witnesses to the Lamb, the "first" group to be so martyred, followed by the death of one third of the true Church at the hands of antichrist in the Great Persecution (see the link). So the invisible sealing of the 144,000 (as opposed to the visible mark of the beast or the visible mark we will bear in resurrection) serves to protect them from satanic interference as long as they require said protection, that is, during the time of their ministry. In addition to providing an important witness to the Lord and to the power of faith (and that, of course, is what a martyr is, etymologically speaking from the Greek: "a witness"), the martyrdom of the 144,000 will serve two additional purposes:

a) It will cover the retreat of the Jewish remnant into the desert (discussed in Revelation 12), as antichrist's Great Persecution will first focus its attention on these most prominent of his opponents (after he has eliminated Moses and Elijah: Rev.11; see the link: "The Dragon's Persecution of Believing Israel").

b) It will serve as an important example to those of us destined to be martyred in the Great Persecution thereafter: while accepting martyrdom will not be easy for the rest of us destined for it, seeing the great example of the 144,000 in loving Jesus more than their lives will be both instructive and encouraging and will help us immeasurably to bear up under the pressure and the terror. Please see the link: The Martyrdom of the 144,000.

3) Sealing and the Name on the Forehead: These are not the same thing, after all – or at least not described as such in the Bible. Prior to their martyrdom, the 144,000 are said to have "the seal of God on their foreheads" (cf. Rev.9:4). However, this is not said to be the Name of God. In Revelation 14:1, we do see the 144,000 with "his (i.e., the Lamb's) name and his Father's name written on their foreheads", but with no mention of any seal. The seal is apparently invisible to the mortal human eye, but the Names will be visible forever. So the situations and descriptions are completely different, moreover, since Revelation 14:1 is a picture of the 144,000 in resurrection accompanying the Son at the Second Advent (i.e., they are "standing on Mount Zion"). That is to say, Revelation 14:1 is a look forward to that victorious future time, after their earthly ministry and martyrdom is past, when they will celebrate the return of Christ in a unique way (being given a special song fo the purpose).

Since all of us will have these Names on our foreheads in resurrection (Rev.3:12; 22:4), and in fact will all be there with Jesus and the 144,000 on Mt. Zion at His return (the Revelation 14:1 passage), and since we will all have these Names on the forehead of our resurrection bodies at that precise time, this reference to the 144,000 does not have significance for their prior state of being invisibly sealed before their martyrdom and prior to their resurrection.

It is certainly possible that the mark on the seal in Revelation 7 has God's Name, but the Name on the forehead in resurrection is never said to be a seal. The seal was the stamp of a powerful person's signet ring designed to warn all who saw it that the property or letter so sealed was under that person's protection and so could not be opened or disturbed with impunity. In biblical terms, therefore, sealing is important before eternity begins, for protection of believers from the evil one here in the devil's world (as in the sealing of all believers with the Holy Spirit: 2Cor.1:21-22; Eph.4:30); after the resurrection and Satan's removal from earth there will be no further need for sealing.

So not only does the fact that the 144,000 are sealed in Revelation chapter 7 not require them to have been resurrected first, it is in fact proof that they have not yet been resurrected – since sealing is a protection for those who still require it (i.e., are still "in the world" in a non-eternal state and still subject to the attacks of the evil one).

Yours in Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #5:  

Hello Bob,

The issue of God’s people being prepared for the tribulation and our end times calling does not seem to be on the radar of any well-known Christian ministries. It would be helpful for those God is preparing to lead the way on this teaching/training/equipping to communicate and support one another. Are you aware of Dene McGriff and Doug Krieger at Tribulation Network? Are the 144,000 referring to literal descendants of Abraham or symbolic of the church (both Jews and Gentiles) during the tribulation? See attached articles.


Response #5: 

Good to make your acquaintance. Preparing for the Tribulation is one of the hallmarks of this ministry (and the issue has been discussed in some detail in previous postings; please see the link: Christian Code of Conduct for the Tribulation?). The thousand-plus page Coming Tribulation series and the extensive prolegomena of the Satanic Rebellion series never let fall from sight the issue of spiritual preparation for all that is soon to come (see the links).

Personally, I believe a large part of the reason contemporary Christian ministries are not much interested in these matters is because the majority of generally Bible-oriented ministries believe erroneously in the "pre-Trib rapture" – even though it is not in the Bible (please see the links: "Peter #27: Three False Doctrines which Threaten Faith", "The Origin and the Danger of the Pre-Tribulational Rapture Theory" and "No Rapture"). After all, for those convinced they will not be here anyway, it is very tempting to "kick back" and "enjoy life", "praising God" but not bothering to grow spiritually, mature and produce – or inform oneself thoroughly about what scripture has to say on these matters.

As to your questions, I think I may have had some questions in the past about Tribulation Network (their site looks familiar), but I couldn't vouch for them. Secondly, the 144,000 are all Jewish. And not only that, but they are "culturally and traditionally Jewish" as well. Their ministry is to Jews for Jews by Jews, so that, obviously, any gentile intrusion would defeat the whole purpose. For the specifics on this please see the following links:

The Sealing of the 144,000: Revelation 7:1-8

The Martyrdom of the 144,000: Revelation 14:1-5

I'm not sure what Trib-net thinks about the issue. Their site doesn't have a search feature and I couldn't find anything on the 144,000 in my browsing through it (I realize you sent files, but, with apologies, I never open unsolicited email attachments).

I'd be happy to answer any questions you have about the above (you can paste-in any critical portions about which you want some comment).

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior who died that we might have life eternal,

Bob Luginbill

Question #6: 

Hi Bob,

Great, thanks for your prompt reply. My switch from pre to post-trib is only months old, so I am voluminously reading much material. BTW, I have read the Coming Tribulation series and the Satanic Rebellion series. That certainly is a lot of ground to cover and you did a great job!

The Trib Network seems fairly legit. Dene McGriff, the founder of Pergamos Ministries, was originally a part of Antipas Ministries. However, the founder of Anitpas Ministries, S.R. Shearer, had become extremist in his view of fleeing spiritual Babylon (i.e. the U.S.) and McGriff left to start Tribulation Network. Excerpted from the website:

Pergamos Ministries presents the The Tribulation Network, a network of believers and ministries who want to "hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches" in the Last Days.

The Trib Network and many others in the post-trib camp view the 144,000 as being symbolic of the church-The church being the spiritual Israel. It seems to me their points bear some plausibility. The attached articles were meant to give some perspective on the scriptural evidence presented regarding the identity of the 144,000. I may try to include some of the pertinent points in a future e-mail.

I have been a pastor for over 25 years and am now training pastors in Asia and Africa.


Response #6: 

Good to hear from you again. Thank you for your kind words about these studies, but more for your serious and important work for our Lord's Church.

On the issue of the identification of the 144,000, this is an topic which is of more than passing interest to me because of the great spiritual damage that is often done by groups who want to misappropriate that identity for themselves. The most insidious of these are the JW's and the British-Israelites (where joining up inevitably leads to apostasy and antisemitism respectively), but I think it is safe to say that a person would be very hard-pressed to find any Bible-based cult where the cult members are not told that "they are the true 144,000". I am not accusing Trib-net of this since I don't know the details of their position, and of course just because people misuse a teaching does not mean that it is untrue ipso facto – but when as in the case of this identification there has been so much abuse it is at least advisable to tread circumspectly.

In my reading of Revelation, I find John meticulously careful to distinguish or otherwise make clear what is meant to be taken symbolically or as an analogy (e.g., "I saw another sign in heaven": Rev.15:1), but in regard to the 144,000 I see absolutely no such textual signals that we are to take his words here as anything but absolutely literally. Indeed, he explicitly says in chapter seven that the 144,000 are "from all the tribes of Israel" (v.4), and then goes on to name them tribe by tribe. And often missed in such discussions is the fact that right after this description we find another group, one from "every nation, tribe, people and language" so large that, unlike the specifically numbered 144,000, it is too large to be counted. The deliberate contrast between these 144,000, specifically identified as Jewish, and the uncountable multitude, specifically identified as not Jewish (at least surely predominantly not), is one which all who want to be part of that former number should take into close consideration. There are many more reasons for identifying the 144,000 as Jewish and for not identifying them as gentiles (e.g., the exclusion of the tribe of Dan has to be significant; see the link below), but as this is all written up in some detail elsewhere I will leave you with the links and invite your further comments about them:

The 144000 are literal not symbolic

The Omission of the Tribe of Dan

Dan: The Tribe of Antichrist

The 144,000

The Martyrdom of the 144,000

The 144,000 martyrs in Revelation chapters 7 and 14

Who is True Israel?

Who are the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel?

How Many Tribes do the Jews of Today Represent?

Are the Celts the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel?

Yours in Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #7:  

Hello Bob,

Thanks for your insight on the matter of the 144,000. It does make sense to take this literally.

I am not as interested in every detail of Bible Prophecy and end-times events. Some points are more crucial as to the big picture. The main point is that if post-trib is the correct view than we, as believers, should be prepared and active as witnesses. We must be like the sons of Issachar, "men who understood the times, with knowledge of what Israel should do." (1 Chron. 12:32)

We need to have a clear, compelling message to unbelievers. This message should not be a weak message, but one with full conviction and fierce urgency similar to Jesus’ proclamation "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near." (Matt. 4:17)

We also need to have a bold, passionate, message to believers that it is "already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed." (Rom. 13:11)

My thoughts, concerns, and questions revolve more around what to do and how to do it. However, I don’t want to be off base. First, I feel I need clear conviction and confidence in order to lead God’s people.


Eternity matters,

Response #7: 

Thanks for the good words and potent observations. I respect and commend your evangelistic heart and vocation. This ministry has its own requirements and objectives, and getting to the precise truth of everything the Bible has to say (on eschatology and every other doctrinal subject) is what I am all about. I do hope and do strive to make these materials "salvation conscience" as much as possible, but most serious visitors to the site are believers, and indeed it is for believers that it has been primarily designed. For those who are following Christ, having the exact truth about everything (then believing it and living by it) is what the Christian life is first and foremost all about – because truth informs everything we think and say and do (or certainly should). I have also learned by experience that every single small point of truth means something, and on the other hand that every small deviation from it can cause a crack in one's spiritual edifice for the evil one to exploit – and in this I think I also have the Spirit of God and the testimony of scripture.

Yours in Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #8: 

In Zechariah 13:8 God says that He will bring a third through the fire or that 2/3 will be cut off. Does the third refer to the 144,000 mentioned in Revelation? and if so, does this mean that there will only be 432,000 Jews in the last days since 1/3 is 144,000? Or does the third refer to all people? Thanks!

Response #8: 

As to the 144,000, Zechariah 13:8 is referring to the purging of the Jewish people after Christ's return. The 144,000 are believers who evangelize the Jewish people worldwide during the first half of the Tribulation under the aegis of Moses and Elijah. They are then martyred as the first to fall during the Great Persecution. Those who respond to their ministry are led to a place of safety in the desert at the Tribulation's mid-point (Rev.12), and, as believers themselves, are resurrected while yet alive when Jesus returns. The individuals mentioned in Zechariah 13:8 are the Jews who are repatriated to the land of Israel as one of the first acts of the returning Messiah in accordance to the numerous promises in the Old Testament. Some of these, though they did not believe before Christ returned, will believe as soon as they lay eyes on Him returning in glory. But many, even so, will refuse to give Him their allegiance – and only believing Jews will be allowed to enter the land. Those who took the mark of the beast and any and all who continue to refuse to accept Jesus as the Messiah will be returned to the fringe of the land in Sinai but will be purged and not allowed to enter on account of their unbelief (in the manner that the Exodus generation was likewise refused entry due to their lack of faith: Heb.4). Please see the link: "The Regathering and Purging of Israel" in CT 6.

Question #9:  

Matthew 3:11 New American Standard Bible (NASB) 11 "As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire."

What is meant by 'fire' here?

Response #9: 

This is the so-called "baptism of fire" wherein the Messiah will "cleanse His threshing floor" when He returns at the second advent. This "fire" will remove from the world at that time everyone who has taken the mark of the beast (see the link: "The Baptism of Fire").

Question #10:  

Hi Bob,

Thank you for your kind and prompt response. This question is in direct line to our current dialogue. Will the ‘unrighteous generation’ that sees the 2nd Advent of Jesus be able to subsequently accept Christ upon His Coming, at His Coming, etc.?

Matthew 24:48-51 (KJV)
48 But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming;
49 And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken;
50 The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of,
51 And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

If we suggest that they can then these Unjust Sinners have indeed won the day. Why? They have managed to survive the Great Tribulation and the Man Antichrist, whether by divine intervention, or simply dumb luck, or whatever other means they found available – excluding accepting the Mark of the Beast, etc.

Furthermore, they have both seen and experienced all the miraculous works and wonders of the Beast and False Prophet first hand, they have LITERALLY seen the 2nd Advent of Christ, and they have equally LITERALLY seen the Resurrection from the Dead in Christ and the Transformation of the remaining Living in Christ – and are now in the Millennium.

Their UNJUST and Sinful status has NOT changed whatsoever – however, they now have a clear opportunity to accept Christ and receive Eternal Life that they formally rejected before the 2nd Advent. Hence, Satan is bound, the Beast and the False Prophet are both cast into the Lake of Fire, and Christ and the Saints are now ruling the earth...it could not get any better – what an OPPORTUNITY.

Tell this OPPORTUNITY to the Sinner man in Hell who just died of natural causes seconds before Christ returned - does God respect persons? Thus, in all reality there are NO CONSEQUENCES for their Sins in formerly rejecting Christ and missing the Coming of Christ, as a suffering member of the Body of Christ.

Humorously speaking...So what they repented of their Sins and accepted Jesus, they will not get a glorified body for 1,000 years nor inherit the Kingdom for 1,000 years – big deal, they still have ultimately escaped Hell and the Lake of Fire and they are now discoing with the Christ and Saints in the Millennial Kingdom.

Why WATCH for the metaphoric thief in the night, if one can simply wait and ACCEPT Jesus when He returns or during the early part of the Millennium?

While I admit it could be risky proposition for that Unrighteous generation – Some could actually be successful.

This concerns me – that is why I think Matt. 13:30 and the BINDING of the TARES is a preventative measure that STOPS this said Unrighteous generation, and puts the THREAT and CONSEQUENCES back into the WATCH!

Matthew 13:30 (KJV)
30 Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.

These Unrighteous Sinners lost their chance at Salvation when they rejected Jesus BEFORE He appears – they will enter the Millennium as Eternally LOST examples and ‘breeding stock’ – their fate is forever doomed.

Response #10: 

I fully expect a large part of the initial millennial population to be children. That is because all those adults who voluntarily took the mark of the beast will be obliterated in the "baptism of fire" at Christ's return (see the link).

Scripture says of the world's population at the time of antichrist's rule:

And all the inhabitants of the earth will worship [the beast], [that is, all] whose names are not [still] written in the book of life [where they were written] from the beginning of the world, [even the book] which belongs to the Lamb who was slain.
Revelation 13:8

The above indicates to me that the number of persons who have definitively rejected Jesus Christ in their hearts (as opposed to run-of-the-mill unbelievers of every other stripe) and who have also not taken the mark of the beast will be nil. We do know that a large number of persons of Jewish ancestry will survive the Tribulation and believe in our Lord when they see His sign of the cross appear in the heavens and Him returning with the Church (see the link: "The Repentance of Israel"). Those who survive and are regathered into the land and who still refuse to accept Him as their Messiah will not be allowed to enter the land of promise (see the link: "The Regathering and Purging of Israel").

Why a gentile who actively rejects Jesus Christ in his/her heart would also refuse to take the mark of the beast in spite of all of the difficulties and dangers in not doing so is beyond my ken. Clearly, the main damage in taking the mark is confirmation of loss of salvation – but those who have actively rejected Jesus and passed the personal point of no return so as to have their names blotted out of the book of life while still alive are lost anyway. And Revelation 13:8 seems to present this as an empty category. So it seems to me that this will not be a particularly large problem (if it ends up being a problem at all). It is somewhat difficult for us to assess the particulars, since a great deal will depend upon what will actually have gone on in the hearts of that number of 1) gentile, 2) unbelieving 3) adults who 4) do not take the mark and who 5) survive into the Millennium. Large or (as I would guess) very small, only God will know whether or not anyone in this theoretical group has actually crossed the point of no return.

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #11:  

Greetings dear brother.

What say you on Revelation 7:1-8, Ephraim is not listed as one of the tribes receiving the Seal of God for 12,000 of its members.

1. This based on the "curse?

2. Is that tribe to be know as " gentiles" ?

Response #11: 

Good to hear from you again!

Joseph had two sons, of course, Ephraim and Manasseh. Manasseh is listed at Revelation 7:6 while Ephraim is not listed by that name. However, Joseph is listed later in verse eight. Since Joseph = Ephraim + Manasseh, and since Joseph here cannot represent the previously listed Manasseh, Joseph here must represent Ephraim. John's use this particular language (i.e., "Joseph" instead of "Ephraim"), is not completely unprecedented in scripture. As I say in the context where this passage is discussed at the link in Coming Tribulation 2B footnote #80: "Ephraim is the younger yet "greater" son, and is therefore identified here by his father's name (cf. Gen.48:19; Num.13:11 has "tribe of Joseph" explained by "tribe of Manasseh")". In the gates of millennial Jerusalem, moreover, the two sons are combined into one tribe, that of "Joseph" (Ezekiel 48:30-34).

The 144,000 will be Jewish and their mission of evangelism will be directed toward the Jewish people only. This ministry will be parallel in its execution to those of the 12 and of the 72 of our Lord's day, and similar its concept to that of John the baptist, designed to "turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous--to make ready a people prepared for the Lord" (Lk.1:17 NIV; compare also Matt.17:11 with Acts 3:21).

There is much more about all this at the link: "The 144,000".

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #12:  

Dear Bob L.

I am ok with the Ephraim as to being the line of Joseph. Also with the 144,000 – 12 & 70. As for the seals, I believe, from the word, that a warning is always given & many of the "world actions" of 2012 give us a "window" of the first 3 & 1/2 years so MANY are deceived. Am also agree with the 6th & 7th after the half hour of silence& to be ready! The days for many are of great wealth & power, but also to deny the source of this blessing(s). As we are called to be watchman, I see Psalm 83, Is. 17 with Joel & Exek 36-40 being put together little by little. Also with the results of elections in Israel to place Moshe Feiglin as #14 on the Likud list, as many times prior he has been blocked as being "to right wing". Many, too many Christians will forget, that the Harvest is READY, will be placing their heads in the sand as Moshe is advocate to rebuild the temple NOW. As the prophet Jeremiah cried out over & over in Lamentations & in Jeremiah, the USA Christians (some who may just call them selves that) & so called Christian Churches, know not the word, nor what they have been called to do .

As always enjoy my sharpening of Iron by a brother who keeps it sharp!

Yours as we serve & get many many others ready, In Christ

Response #12: 

I certainly don't disagree that "things are in play". Christians should always be watching the fig tree to see whether or not the leaves are signaling the change of season to come. There are, after all, definitive trends for the Church eras placed in the book of Revelation for our instruction, and there is no doubt in my mind that the current church-visible resembles Laodicea to a "tee". Where I urge caution is in the particular interpretation of scripture. In my hermeneutic, a carefully considered one, there is no specific unfulfilled prophecy – by which I mean a particular, prophesied event – before the Tribulation actually commences. So while we may certainly see all of the puzzle piece drifting ever more clearly and rapidly into what might well be their coming places, we need to be careful not to assign specific biblical value to any particular event even when based upon recognizable trends. There are many evil people out there, but not all are antichrist. There are many specific political events which will take place during the Tribulation, but we cannot really anticipate that action X today is a definite antecedent of prophesied event Y during those dark days to come. It may or may not be. Problems begin when Christians convince themselves that X is about to result in Y – or worse that it is Y. There were good parallels between Hitler and antichrist, and between WWII and the Tribulation, after all, but it still has not commenced.

Please do feel free to write back about any of this any time – and thanks for all your good words!

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #13:   

You may have addressed this before but your most recent emails posting made me think of it again. In eternity, will we have God's name as an actual tattoo or the equivalent on our foreheads or is that symbolic with what's in our mind. Is this what the antichrist is mimicking with his followers with his name on their foreheads or hand?

Response #13: 

As to the Name on our forehead, yes, I do indeed see antichrist's marking as a deliberate mimicking of the placement of the true Name. Since mention of this divine mark is repeated so often in Revelation (re: the 144K: Rev.7:3; 9:4; 14:1; re: everyone: Rev.22:4; cf. Rev.3:12), it is hard to think of it as a mere metaphor. What form it will take, how it will appear, whether or not it will be physically part of us or something we wear in resurrection (cf. Deut.11:18: "tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads"), doesn't seem to be presently knowable. It is certainly the case that when the Philadelphians are told that the overcomers will be made "pillars in the temple of God" we are dealing with a metaphor – but that is pretty easily picked up and we only have the single reference to it. So the Name on the forehead may be a metaphor too, but in my view the weight of the evidence leans toward some sort of visible medium which contains God's Name and identifies us as His special property for all eternity.

Your next-door neighbor in the New Jerusalem,

Bob L.

Question #14:   

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

I was listening to a sermon by John MacArthur on bible Q & A's and someone in his congregation asked him if it was possible to take the mark of the beast and still be saved? I don't remember exactly how John responded, but it was something along the lines of taking it unwillingly or by accident. He essentially said that this person can still be saved. Tim Lahaye said something along the same lines in his left behind series and actually believes it. It seems odd how Macarthur and Lahaye are in agreement here since Lahaye has been known to be associated with Sun Myung Moon. Is this possible, or are those who take the mark of the beast condemned regardless? Thanks!

God Bless,

Response #14: 

I was not aware that Lahaye was/is associated with Moon. I do know that he has made millions on a fiction series that purports to be biblical but has in fact nothing to do with the Bible. Since Moon doesn't have anything to do with biblical truth either (he claims to be Christ, does he not?), maybe this makes some twisted sense.

As to MacArthur's claim, here is what I read in scripture on this point:

A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice: "If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives his mark on the forehead or on the hand, he, too, will drink of the wine of God's fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. He will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or for anyone who receives the mark of his name."
Revelation 14:9-11 NIV

The language here is absolute, and I cannot see any way to dilute it, especially in light of the other statements Revelation makes about the mark – which are equally absolute (Rev.13:16-17; 15:2; 16:2; 19:20; 20:4). One of the things MacArthur seems to be overlooking here is that taking the mark will involve "worshiping the beast" – it will be an integral part of his universal religion. Therefore it will not be possible for someone who has the mark to claim once Jesus returns that he/she did not know what he/she was doing. So there will be no accidents on this score. The mark will be the focal point of the devil's strategy during the Great Tribulation and he and his son the beast will not be interested in "tricking" people to actually take the mark (although they will have no problem "tricking" them into thinking that the beast is the Christ). Rather, they will want genuine allegiance – and they will also want to draw a crisp distinction between their "faithful" followers and everyone else, especially followers of the Lord (who will come in for martyrdom and will be the more easily identified for not taking the mark). Taking the mark will be much like joining the Communist or Nazi parties since it will be an act of allegiance to antichrist (see the link: "The Mark of the Beast"). No one will do it "unwillingly" in the sense of being held down and branded. It will be regarded as a "privilege" without which a person will be severely penalized as an economic, religious, and political outcast. This is such an important issue that no one who lives during that time will fail to appreciate the gravity of taking the mark or of refusing to do so, because it will be the life and death issue.

So I am troubled by this cavalier treatment of the mark. Since taking it means worshiping the beast, and since worshiping the beast means rejecting Jesus Christ, and since rejecting Jesus Christ means eternal damnation, even the suggestion that there might be any circumstance where taking the mark might not have this result does Christians a huge disservice. During the Great Tribulation the pressures on true followers of Jesus will be immense, greater than at any time in the history of the world. If we find ourselves pressured to rationalize bad behaviors now before the fact, how much more will it not be the case then? Holding absolutely firm to the truth that refusing the mark may cost us our physical lives but that taking it will cost us our eternal lives is an absolutely basic principle – perhaps the absolutely basic principle – necessary for Christians to come through the Tribulation with their salvation secure:

And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name. Here is the patience of the saints: here [are] they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.
Revelation 14:11-12 KJV

In Jesus Christ who is our all, to whom we pledge to stay faithful unto death,

Bob L.

Question #15:  

Hi there Bob,

I’ve received more than one email about how Obama's Health Care Bill will, in time, necessitate the implant of a microchip into people’s hands or foreheads, and a Google search reveals a number of articles to that effect (the link below makes direct reference to the clauses in the Bill). If you have a moment, would you please clarify the situation for me - could this be the start of the mark of the Beast? Pretty clever way if it is … I never saw health care as the way to get buy-in from the public.

By the way, I’ve started working on a presentation with the working title, "God’s plan for His creation" that I hope to deliver to my Christian sisters next year. Thanks for the inspiration.

Very best regards,

Response #15: 

Good to hear from you. Along with most Americans, I have absolutely no clear idea how this new health care regime will change things in our country. Probably not much for me. I rarely go to the doctor (sometimes to the critical care clinic if an antibiotic is needed). I recently posted a rather lengthy discussion of this topic on the site (see the link: "Biometry and the Mark of the Beast"). The bottom line is that the mark, however it appears or whatever it will consist of, will not start to be given until after the beginning of the Tribulation, and taking the mark will constitute a very clear act of worship of the beast. That is to say, on the one hand no one will be given the mark completely against their will as that would defeat the purpose, and on the other hand no will be under any illusion about the truth that taking the mark will constitute "pledging allegiance" to the beast and recognizing antichrist as their god. This does not mean that there will not be great incentives and great pressure to take the mark – there most certainly will be. Nor does it mean that many of those who take the mark will not have allowed themselves to have been deceived into thinking that antichrist is God or a god or Christ or whatever – deception will be a large part of the picture. But one thing Christians do not need to worry about is some scenario where unbeknownst to them or totally against their free will something is put on them or in them which causes them to be damned. It will be difficult to avoid the mark because of the ostracism and persecution that will come with refusal – and eventual martyrdom in many cases – but it won't come as some sort of complete surprise.

In addition to the first link above, please also see the main entry on this in the CT series: "The Mark of the Beast". And here are a couple of other related links:

Numbers, Letters, and the Mark of the Beast.

The origin of the mark.

The Mark and 666.

Do not take the mark of the beast (in CT 7)

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #16: 

G'Day Brother!

Hope you're keeping well! Have you read "The Antichrist and a cup of tea?" It suggests that Prince Charles will be the Antichrist. It calculates his name to be 666. Should we take much notice of this?

God Bless

Response #16: 

I'm inclined to doubt it! In any case, once the Tribulation begins, antichrist will be obvious to all Christians who have spent any serious time studying eschatology, and long before he begins to require the mark. The number of his name is merely a confirmation of his identification after the fact.

So here is how it will really work: 1) Christians identify antichrist during the Tribulation (there will be no doubt about who he is for an untold number of reasons); 2) at about the mid-point, the start of the Great Tribulation, antichrist begins the process of requiring the mark worldwide; 3) for the benefit of marginal Christians or for anyone who now begins to pay attention to scripture for whatever reason, this calculation of the number of his name will make it clear that this person really is the beast of Revelation, and that the mark must not be taken. As I say where this is discussed in CT 4, there are all manner of names which can be calculated to result in six hundred and sixty six – but that is going about things exactly backwards. The actual mark is what will be calculable and biblically significant – and that calculation of the mark as it is being given at the time will be the "fail safe" for those on the fence: if they have any doubts about this being "the" beast and this being "the" mark, all they have to do is perform the biblical calculation for confirmation of what all serious believers who have spent any time studying these things before the fact will know quite well by this time. So there is no point in making such calculations before the Tribulation begins. After all, we cannot say for certain what form of the beast's name will be used for the mark unless and until we know precisely what that mark looks like.

Yours in Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #17:  


As always, thanks for your prayers and insightful emails, I usually read them a few times because I truly believe God is speaking through you. I've come across one particular passage several times, and every time I read it, I believe is defines today's America. I certainly can't speak for other countries, but I'm pretty sure it fits much of the world.

But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! — 2 Timothy 31-4

I remember reading this when I was a kid and thinking, this seems pretty accurate, however, when I read it today, it's unbelievably accurate. Even when I was a child in the 70's and 80's, kids were disobedient, people were greedy, lovers of pleasure and violent, not to mention unholy! I honestly believe that things are almost certainly twice as bad now. The music industry and Hollywood is totally out of control. The once (seemingly) innocuous rock and roll music I listened to as a kid is turned into perverted, disgusting and openly satanic noise, nothing more. Sadly, almost all kids listen to it! Satan's control of the music industry and Hollywood has lead many youngsters (and adults) away from God. One thing that is very clear, even with the bands I grew up listening to as a kid, is that it's not possible to achieve huge fame and be a true Christian, Satan would not allow that to happen but at the same time, I don't believe Jesus wants anyone to get sucked into that life. I believe the Bible says you can't serve two masters. Nothing good can come fame and fortune. That's not to say that rich people are all evil, but you would be hard pressed to find any Hollywood stars or rich musicians that don't follow the "do what thou wilt" mentality, which is Satan's. I don't know that there is any way to keep kids away from this stuff now days, it's everywhere. I am concerned that my niece and nephews will eventually be exposed and follow the same path I did.

That being said, I can see why you told me once that you don't listen to modern music, it's just another drug (IMO) as it does alter your mind and perception of reality. I was shocked to find out that my favorite band as a kid were openly satanic, using masking on their records and putting satanic symbols on their album covers. Now had I known this at 14, I wouldn't have started listening to them. There appears to be a huge price for fame and fortune, your soul.

Hope thing at U of L are ok, I haven't had much time to read up on Louisville news. I'm glad the Lord allowed us some rain though, we desperately needed it as we were heading into a severe drought. We've gotten plenty over the last month though, and hopefully people will make it a point to thank God for that. He certainly has used weather and droughts in the past to wake people up, I'm glad, at least for the time being, that we have been spared.

God Bless,

Response #17: 

Good to hear from you – I hope that all is well and improving for you day by day. I keep you in my prayers and I thank you for yours as well – they are very needful and much appreciated at present especially.

As to 2nd Timothy 3:1-4, you make some very good points. It certainly is true that these general trends seem to be accelerating all the time. The only two points I would wish to add on this are that 1) these individuals are, technically speaking, the false teachers of chapter two (which is why in verses 8-9 of chapter three Paul compares them to Pharaoh's court magicians, Jannes and Jambres). That is what characterizes the end times – not so much the evil among the general population, but rise of false teaching in place of biblical Christianity; and 2) as bad as things are now and as fast as they are moving toward the bad side of things, this trend will be exponentially accelerated once the Tribulation begins as part of the unleashing of the mystery of lawlessness which, while it is "already at work" (2Thes.2:7), will receive an "empowerment of error" (2Thes.2:9-12) once the Spirit's restraining ministry lapses during those dark days (2Thes.2:7-8), resulting in most of world flooding into antichrist's false religion. All of this is written up at the following link: in CT 3A: "The Causes of the Great Apostasy".

Hoping to continue to hear good things from you as the days go by. In my prayers in Jesus.

Bob L.

Question #18: 

One thing is certain, whether or not you are a Christian, invariably you will have to deal with some form of severe crisis in your life. The big difference is, Jesus will give you the tools to help deal with it. I still cheer for U of L and was depressed to see them lose to Kentucky in the NCAA finals. Not a huge sports fan but I still like football and basketball.

My situation has improved although things are still not going well. I have gotten back into the practice of saying a prayer every single night before I go to sleep, and when I see that The Lord has intervened, I make it a point to thank him for doing so. I need to do much more though. He has given me the strength to take care of my father when I didn't think I had any strength left. My family are here for the 4th of July and I am going to give each one of them links to your website. Not everyone will bother to check your site out, but at least I am attempting to spread the word of God.

Hope things are going well in your life, I do remember you in my prayers and wish there were more people in your field who were dedicated, approachable and giving. These are 3 words that come to mind (at least for me) when describing a true Christian man.

God Bless,

Response #18: 

Thanks for the update, for all your good words, and especially for your prayers. Please know that I am continuing to keep you and your father and family in my prayers every day. I am very pleased to hear that you are doing some better, and I hope and pray that this trend will continue and accelerate as the days go by. The Lord can bring back the dead; He can certainly restore the living. Thanks also for your wonderful perspective and your witness of faith in the face of such trouble. I find it personally very inspirational, and that is always welcome. As you say, no genuine Christian who is in any way attempting to walk the path Jesus has laid down is going to be a stranger to troubles – but they are all very much worth it in Jesus, both now and especially on that great day of days.

Yours in Jesus in anticipation of deliverance beyond expectation for good in every way.

Bob L.

Question #19:  

Why was water baptism required to demonstrate repentance of sin? And what did John mean by the baptism of fire that Jesus would do?

Response #19: 

To take these in reverse order, the "baptism of fire" is the initial cleansing of the Messiah's kingdom accomplished by our Lord Jesus when He returns, wherein all still alive after Armageddon who took the mark of the beast will be summarily put to a fiery death (see the link: "the baptism of fire"). On water-baptism, this was a ritual designed for Jewish people under the Law wherein water was often employed to represent cleansing. On the eve of Jesus' earthly ministry, Israel was laboring under a double burden of legalism and secularism (represented by the Pharisees and Sadducees respectively). Requiring those willing to repent and prepare for the coming of the Messiah to physically leave the settled land and go out to the wilderness and then engage in a purification ritual similar to but not actually connected to the Law was a very graphic way of representing that the Messiah would not be a part of the current power-structure and that His coming would not be what everyone expected. Still, most did not "get" the message and most who were baptized by John did not accept Jesus (or at least did not stick with Him when the going got rough). This was a unique ministry meant to very vividly represent the Messiah's break with the past though doing so in a way not foreign to those growing up under the Law (for more, please see the links "John's Water-Baptism versus the Baptism of the Holy Spirit" and "Baptism: Water and Spirit II").

Question #20:  

Could you please explain the difference between Luke 10:4: 4 Carry no money belt, no bag, no shoes; and greet no one on the way, and Luke 22:36: "And He said to them, "But now, whoever has a money belt is to take it along, likewise also a bag, and whoever has no sword is to sell his coat and buy one." In the first instance, the 70 are sent being told to take no provisions, but that changes later on, when an opposite recommendation is given.

Response #20: 

Different rules apply to different parts of God's plan for mankind. This doctrine of these distinctions is sometimes called "dispensationalism", but the traditional formulation under that rubric is somewhat problematic (see the link). In essence, a dispensation is a period of God's dispensing of His truth (as is clear in the etymology of the Greek word oikonomia as used at Eph.1:10 and 3:2, and as also reflected in this English word's picking up of that basic meaning). This has happened historically, as Hebrews tells us, "at many times and in various ways" but now "by His Son" (Heb.1:1-2 NIV). What this means is that before Moses, for example, patriarchs were the prime receivers of truth; later, under the Law, God provided prophets and also written scriptures; during the transitional period of the Church, we had apostles; and now, the Word of God is the exclusive, one and only direct source of God's truth. Associated with these different periods there are also, of necessity, some different ground rules, both for general believer-behavior and also for the process of dispensing God's truth. These two sets of rules, however, do not always "stay on track" with each other in a precise way. Failure to see this divergence and distinction between how God is dispensing His truth on the one hand and the other stipulations for the behavior of believers during a set time period on the other is the main problem with dispensationalism as traditionally formulated – along with a generally incorrect understanding of "covenants" (see the link).

As to behavioral differences, there are a number of things which do depend on the "times and seasons" as God has set them out. Take food, for example: before the flood, animals were not legitimate for food, but after the flood they were (Gen.9:3); before the Law there was no distinction between eating clean and unclean animals, but after the Law there was (e.g., Leviticus chapter 11); during the period of evangelizing Israel, the 72 and the 12 were to eat "whatever is set before you" (Lk.10:8), but afterwards Jesus told them to take "a purse", that is, money to buy provisions (Lk.22:35); and during the time of Israel, the dietary restrictions for Jews were hard and fast, but during the Church they have been removed (Mk.7:19; Acts 10:9-16).

Importantly, in regard to the specifics of your question, during the Tribulation, in my reading of the scriptures, believers will be required to avoid violent opposition to the world rule of antichrist, although in our present day and age, as I have written to you before, opposition to invading armies before and after their occupation is a legitimate function of national self-defense (see the links). The 12 apostles and the 72 evangelists were given special divine protection for their proclamation of the Messiah and His kingdom just as the 144,000 Jewish witnesses will be during the first half of the Tribulation (in fact, the former are a type of the latter; see the link). Since this is so, taking steps to protect or defend oneself would represent a serious lack of faith and present a poor witness. During the Church Age, however, we are expected to walk in the world according to the normal parameters of human behavior: not that God does not protect us, but during this time we are expected to do everything other human beings do to sustain and maintain life. During the 40 years of wandering in the desert, God provided the children of Israel with manna, but as soon as they ate from the produce of the Promised Land, the manna stopped coming (Josh.5:12). So knowing these "times and the seasons" and the divine "ground rules" which apply to each time period is very important to doing what God wants us to do.

It should be an easy thing too, since there are not so many such "dispensations" that we may be forgiven for confusing them. However, when churches (like the R.C. church) adopt the priestly cult of ancient Israel and adapt it to their ritual, rite and practice, or when churches (like the Baptists and others) adopt a transitional ritual like water-baptism meant for Jesus' generation only and sometimes even say it is necessary or necessary for salvation, or when churches (like Messianic groups) adopt circumcision or keeping Kosher as a spiritual vehicle, or when other groups (notably the Charismatics) assume to themselves spiritual gifts that have not been given since the days of the apostles, well, these are all major violations of obvious dispensational shifts. Indeed, it is often the case that when we find any church or group today on the wrong side of this issue it is usually because they have abandoned grace (the fundamental characteristic of the Church Age wherein we all have the Spirit) and have adopted instead something from another era of divine history which may well have been legitimate then but is out of place now.

Question #21:  

Could you please clarify Revelation 13:4: "These are the ones who have not been defiled with women, for they have kept themselves chaste. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These have been purchased from among men as first fruits to God and to the Lamb."

Since even some of the apostles were married and it is not considered a sin, why does the passage say 'defiled with women'? Also, who are the 144000?

Response #21: 

The 144,000 are teams of Jewish evangelists who will be converted by the ministry of Moses and Elijah during the early days of the Tribulation and will evangelize the Jewish people throughout the world (see the links: "the 144,000" and "the martyrdom of the 144,000"). As to their virginity, here is what I write about that in CT 4:

Finally, some explanation is required of the statements regarding the "virginity" and "blamelessness" of the 144,000. We have already had occasion to show in part 2B of this series how that these men were indeed all virgins, a special sacrifice undertaken in order to carry out their unique ministries (cf. "eunuchs for the Kingdom of God": Matt.19:13), but, clearly, no human being has ever been sinless, apart from our Lord.(54) As to their present status, standing before the throne in the presence of the Lamb, they most assuredly are blameless and incapable of any prevarication (as indeed we all shall be then and should strive to be now: Eph.1:4; 5:27; Phil.2:15; Col.1:22; Jude 1:24). As to their former lives, "blamelessness", while not allowing for sinless perfection, does speak to their incredible integrity of lifestyle, an important ingredient in the specialized ministries they undertook. The statement "no lie was found in their mouths", while not allowing for a life without ever so much as bending the truth, does speak to the absolute integrity of their message, as they witnessed in all sanctification to the truth of Him who is the truth throughout their earthly ministries. In each of these two pairs of phrases, the Greek conjunction gar (γάρ) is being used to adduce the grounds for the first phrase. That is to say, the grounds for concluding that the 144,000 had perfect integrity of message is their blamelessness (i.e., their good conduct supported their message; cf. Jas.3:2), and likewise the grounds for concluding that the 144,000 had a perfect record in abstention from illicit sex (apparently a widespread part of antichrist's new religion; cf. Num.25; 2Pet.2:15; Jude 1:11) is the fact of their virginity (i.e., their virginity is the proof). One thing seems clear from the blessed description of the 144,000 as they stand and sing in the presence of the Lord: despite the difficulties of their lives and of their deaths, none would have had it any other way, for they have been highly rewarded for glorifying God in this special way.

Question #22:  

You wrote: The Sending of the 70 (Lk.10:1-24): The Kingdom Proclaimed as Imminent; the 12 proclaimed and showed its power; this is a "far and wide" proclamation (prefiguring Rev.14:6) that takes away the argument "we never heard" (cf. Rom.10:18-21). Does this mean that the sending of the 70 prefigures what will happen in the end times, as described in Rev.14:6?

Response #22: 

Yes, it is anticipating the worldwide evangelism of the 144,000. See the links: "The 144,000 (in CT 2B)" and "The Martyrdom of the 144,000 (in CT 4)".

Question #23:   

Why were the disciples sent out in two? And why do Angels often appear in a pair of two also?

Response #23: 

The pairing of the disciples in twos seems a practical thing. The same is true of the 12, the 70, and 144,000. Beyond mutual help and support, I'm not sure I have a deeper theological explanation for you. Human beings are not meant to be "loners" (marriage is the divine antidote for that: Gen.2:18). In all of the cases mentioned here there is a divine mission at issue wherein hardships will attend and also wherein the Word will need to be proclaimed so that married couples would be inappropriate (but the support of a compatriot no doubt very welcome).


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