The Harvests of the World

Identifying “the 144,000 and the Great Multitude”


One of the More Puzzling Prophecies in the New Testament is Found in Revelation, Chapters 7 and 14.  Many have attempted to Explain WHO these TWO Separate Groups are.    Can We KNOW with Certainty?    Why are We given this? 

And, What Awareness can we Gain from knowing their Identities?

© Rich Traver,  81520-1411,  1-28-07    [ 16 ]


In attempting to understand a very explicit passage of Scripture, many have sought to explain in a plausible manner who these two separate groups of peoples are that we see described, first in the book of Revelation Chapter 7, and then again in Chapter 14.  Those presenting an explanation usually see themselves in the former group, and everyone else in other churches in the latter. (Not that being in the latter is a totally bad thing.)  This, at least, is one area where there is some consistency.  After that, their paths toward understanding seem to meander rather wonderfully!

We need to first ask ourselves if the identities of these groups have any real relevance to us.  Is there anything in this that we really need to know?  After all, so few throughout history have known or even could have known who they truly are.  Of those offering possible explanations, few have had much more than speculation to go on.  Is there anything more substantial than that?

An End Time Epiphany

In the concluding verses of the Book of Daniel, the prophet is told to, “Go your way, Daniel, for the words are closed up and sealed til the time of the end…”  We can see from this that some things were never intended to be understood until a set time at the end.  But, it does indicate that these prophecies were given for a purpose, and that purpose was that, “the wise shall understand.” [1] The wise being defined in the first part of verse 10, as those who are or are to be “purified and made white, and refined...”  If these purified individuals were among either of these groups, wouldn’t it be logical that they would be the first to understand their own identities?  Quite possibly, from the language, they could be the only ones to come to understand in advance. 

Who are the 144,000, and how vast a number is the Great Multitude?  Considering that the army of 200 million, mentioned under the Sixth Trumpet, in Revelation 9:16 is a numerable multitude, then the Great Multitude must be a number vastly greater than that.  It must be in the multiple billions!

It’s interesting that the inserted chapter heading in one King James version (Oxford Press) above the passage in Chapter 14, reads, “The Harvest of the World”.  This is more than an interesting observation on their part. They recognize this as the underlying subject of Revelation chapter 14.  Realizing that the presentation of these two groups addresses the formal ‘harvests’ of individuals into a full inheritance, a ‘reaping’(Rev. 14:15) we can begin to conceive what this picture is intended to give us.  Revelation 14 presents the conclusion of the harvests, but also the process.  Chapter 7, on the other hand, deals more with the identities question.  A correlation between these two chapters is useful in coming to understand who these two groups of peoples are.

A reason for the identities of these two distinct and different groups being so enigmatic is the common

misconception that there is only one day of salvation, ever!  Having severed the Biblical Holydays from formal practice and having excluded them from our consciousness, the overview of prophesy that these seven annual Holydays give us and the answers to important salvational questions they provide, leaves most religionists in darkness on certain things. [2]  T here are important questions not fully explainable under traditional exegeses.

Profound INopportunity

For example, we have vast numbers of people who lived and died long before salvation was available.  They never had any chance.  Thousands died in infancy throughout history, never having attained even the slightest awareness of salvational issues, let alone those who have lived before and after the time when salvation was available, or in areas of the world that were never effectively evangelized.  Other than, in their minds, to consign all these to ever-burning hell, traditional religion is unable to explain when that ‘opportunity’ was offered them, which logic would see as being essential to justify their being consigned to an eternal death. 

Beside these, we have a major segment of ‘Israel’ concluded in blindness by God. In other words, the non-response to salvation on the part of their majority is not entirely their fault.  We see also of these, clear indication that they will be offered salvation in some future occasion.[3]  How can they be ‘saved’ when those who lived throughout history have already died still in their God-induced condition of blindness?

The One-Hundred-Forty-Four Thousand

Understanding who the 144,000 are, from Biblical evidence, requires we consider what is said about them in both passages: Chapters 7 and 14.  Chapter 7 is inserted in the sequential narrative just prior to Christ’s return, but the setting of our view of them from Chapter 14, is just after it.  During a pause in the prophetic story flow, Chapter 7 first presents the 144,000 as an aggregate group of 12,000 accounted to or from each of the 12 tribes of Israel (with Joseph being inserted along with his own son Manasseh to again make twelve tribes, in that the tribe of Dan is noticeably excluded here.)

In Revelation 7, we read:  “And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree.  2: And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea,  3: Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads 4: And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel. And then it names each tribe of which twelve thousand is sealed: Judah, Reuben, Gad, Asher, Nepthalim, Manasseh, Simeon, Levi, Issachar, Zabulon, Joseph, and Benjamin. 

Here, we’re given a precise time marker and other than their tribal count and assignment and Earthly locale, little else. 

Then in chapter 14, much more is added into the picture:  “And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father's name written in their foreheads 2: And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps:  3: And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth.  4: These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb.  5: And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God.”

Again, a time marker, but clearly different than the one set forth in chapter 7, and here, a number of specific details are added:

As to the time setting, we’ve now moved forward to the time of Christ’s descent onto the Mount of Olives, as referred to in Zechariah 14:4-5.  Where our first introduction to the 144,000 is just before that phase of the Day of the Lord, when His wrath is to be poured out, as explained in the seven last trumpet plagues of chapter 8 thru 11, (which are contained within the seventh seal) the time setting of the continuing discussion of these same 144,000 in chapter 14 is now at and after Christ’s return, which comes with the seventh (last) Trump that we read of in Revelation 11:15. (And 1st Cor. 15:52)

In chapter 9:4 a reference is made again to ‘those which have the seal of God in their foreheads’, which 14:1 reveals includes the Father’s Name!  Does this sealing refer to a completion involving those still living, or does the 144,000 involve Saints which may have died prior to this time?

In the reference to this scene, Zechariah 14:5 indicates the He will come to the Mount of Olives with ‘all the Saints’ with Him!  This raises the question of the 144,000.  Are they all of the Saints at this point in time, or are the 144,000 only among them?  We do have a partial clue by their being identified as the firstfruits in Revelation 14:4.  But again, are these all of the firstfruits, or just part of them?  The conclusion that they are all of them is a rather unsettling prospect, causing those who’ve considered this possible answer to lay it aside!

But, another ancient passage adds evidence.  It’s by Jude quoting Enoch, who lived before the flood.  Verses 14 & 15 say this: “And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints,  To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”  If Enoch was correct, his assessment of how many Saints there would be with Christ at his return would number in the ten-thousands.  144,000 is 14.4 ten-thousands!  Over a hundred thousand, but not a great enough number to require using a plural ‘hundreds’ of thousands!  Was Enoch accurate?

Now, this event is just after Christ’s return, after the ‘Last Trump’ in which all those whose names are in the ‘Book of Life’ are resurrected.  As no others are to be resurrected until a thousand years pass, ALL the Saints there are at this point in time will have been made alive as immortal Spirits.

An Innumerable Multitude

Equally enigmatic to the religious community is the specific identity of the great multitude.  I say ‘specific’ identity, because we at least know they are converted peoples, from verses 9, 14 & 17.

Rev. 7:9  “After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;  10: And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.  11: And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God,  12: Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.  13: And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?  14: And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.  15: Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them.  16: They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat.  17: For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.”

In Revelation 7 we’re presented with the two groups as distinct.  It begins by saying ‘after this’, which shows the two groups separated in time.  Further, verse 14 places the great multitude living and perfecting themselves after the end of the tribulation, whereas the 144,000 were already converted and made spirit before them at Christ’s return!  Verse 17 is as close to a description of the conversion process as anything we could find.

Where Revelation 7 presents the two groups in contrast to one another, chapter 14 is different.  It provides a fairly clear identity of the 144,000, but then goes on to describe what many bibles, in their added chapter sub-titles, call ‘the harvest of the world’.  If we are to consider the subject in the latter two-thirds of chapter 14 as being unrelated to the identities of the great multitude, we risk not being as able to answer the identity question fully.

In chapter 7 we see that these undergo the conversion process.  What chapter 14 does is address itself to the events and process which results in the ‘harvest’ of the rest of humanity, a process beginning after Christ’s return!

THE Call to Repentance

In 14:5 we see the 144,000 before the Throne of God.  This is more than just a presence there.  In 3:21, 5:10 and 20:4, we see these Saints living and reigning with Him for 1000 years.  Now we know from what we reviewed earlier that they are the Saints or at least are prominent among the Saints.  What kind of service do they provide? 

The next verse breaks from a focus on them to the general population alive at that time.  Though it doesn’t specifically make reference here to them as the innumerable multitude, what else would be the logical result of a universal angelic ‘invitation’? [4]

14:6  “And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people,  7: Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.  8: And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.  9: And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand,  10: The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb:  11: 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.  12: Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.  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 passage brings out a lot of important things.

Worship the Creator

After Christ’s return, the opportunity for Salvation is opened to all.  The Temple in Heaven is opened (for business) (Rev. 11:19).  An angel preaches to every living person, instructing them to worship God, announcing the beginning of the general ‘judgment’ upon all humanity, and to worship the Creator.  The Creator of ‘heaven and Earth’ (the physical creation), and ‘the sea and fountains’ (see 7:17 ) (Creator of the masses of humanity and their spiritual re-redemption plan thru access to living fountains, (representing access to God’s Spirit)).

The next angel announces the second fall of modern Babylon (that religious kingdom developing since before the time of Christ, still extant at the end).

Then a third angel issues a permanent prohibition against any vestige of practice of the former false religions, as promoted by Babylon and its supporting Beast Power, whose vile doctrines and practices are still fresh on their minds, pronouncing a severe punishment: eternal death, upon anyone doing so.

Verse 13 is insightful.  If we allow the time setting introduced in verse 6 to hold, the pronouncement here provides an answer to what happens to those who live on physically into the millennial age and their ‘offspring’ as also referred to in Isaiah 65:23.  “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth:” indicates that these who become converted during the millennial age, subsequent to the angelic ‘call’, will die and await sentencing at the end, not unlike the situation in this pre-advent era.  Isaiah 65:20 seems to confirm the same!  Converted people die and go to their graves and await the resurrection in order to receive their eternal reward. [5]

In verse 14, we are ‘flashed forward’ to that sentencing period at the end of this ‘call to worship’. This is the actual ‘harvest’ referred to earlier, imposing sentences not justifiable before people are allowed legitimate opportunity for salvation!

Keep in mind that all Saints, whose names are written in the ‘Book of Life’, living or dead at the time of Christ’s second coming, are raised immortal.  That would leave no converted dead remaining at that point in time.  In order for the scene described in Revelation 14:14-19 to be possible, other converted ‘saints’ would have to have been generated!

A Two-Part Second Harvest!

14: And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle.  15: And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe. 16: And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped.[6]   17: And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle.  18: And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire; and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe.  19: And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God.”  (see also Mat. 25:31-46 and 13:36-43)

Once we realize that Revelation 14, from verse 6 onward, describes the era from which the great innumerable multitude arises, we can realize that their identity is not so concealed.  These are they who become converted under the administration of the Throne of Christ and His Saints, with His Temple wide open, and with the Ark of His Covenant seen in it!  (Revelation 11:19)  Which Ark?

As Revelation 14:1-5 expounds upon Revelation 7: 1-8, so also Revelation 14:6-12 expounds upon chapter 7:9-17.  Understanding the full message of both chapters in their co-relationships, provides better and more definitive answers than are attainable thru theological speculations.

This brings a tacit realization: That the 144,000 represents the first harvest of Saints, and the innumerable multitude of the millennial age and ‘white throne judgment’ represents the second!

How great might the ‘innumerable multitude be?  Well, we see in Revelation 9:16 that an army of 200 million is an easily numerable quantity.  It must be vastly greater than that!  Multiple billions!

A Consistent Pattern

This conclusion is consistent with the two harvests pictured in the ‘early and latter rains’ of James 5:7.  It’s also consistent with the picture of the future ages of world salvation pictured in the Biblical Holydays: a relatively ‘small harvest’ represented in the spring Holydays, culminating with the Day of Pentecost, (the Feast of Firstfruits) and a ‘vast harvest’ as pictured in the fall Holydays.

God is now preparing His Bride, they who renew the ‘covenant of commitment’ each year at Passover (the occasion when Christ formally proposed marriage to His prospective Bride), who in the millennial age, will ‘parent’ the coming generation, of unknowable numbers, vast, beyond count!     



[1] Daniel 12:9 & 10

[2]  The Spring Holydays reveal essential components in the process of personal salvation.  The fall Holydays lay out a prophetic outline, explaining how the Plan of God for world salvation will be extended to all who have ever lived.  Essen-tial to both is the fundamental doctrine of the resurrections from the dead.


[3]  Romans 9:1 thru 11:33  “For God has concluded them all in unbelief, that He might have mercy upon all.”  “…that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in.  “And so all Israel shall be saved.”  See my article of that title: “All Israel Shall be Saved”

[4]  Articles “The Early and Latter Rains” and “There Was NO Place for Them” explains more fully this period of time that Revelation 14:6-13 refers to.

[5]  1st Corinthians 15:14 attests to the absolute necessity of the resurrection from the dead.


[6]  Notice, the first group is reaped, the second gathered.  Compare that with Christ’s comment in Matt. 13:39-40


Related Topics:  (available from this author)


  “The Resurrections from the Dead”

  “The Rejected Resurrection”

  “Understanding the THREE Resurrections”

  “The Hope of the Last Great Day”

  “And So, All Israel Shall be Saved”

  “And No Place was Found for Them”

  “Understanding the Second Death”

  “A Shadow of Things to Come”

  “The Early and Latter Rains”

  “The Everlasting Covenant”

  “Passover and the Bride of Christ”