Batchelor vs. Houteff on the 144,000 (Part 1 of 2)

 

Image result for picture doug batchelor  Image result for picture victor houteff

 

In today’s S.D.A church world there is very well-known pastor who is considered one of the leaders of our church movement. As many of you know we have spoken about Mr. Batchelor  several times on this blog. We agree that few contain as much knowledge of Scripture and SOP as Doug. His position as one of the prominent leaders of the S.D.A church today is undeniable. His organization “Amazing Facts” is vastly expanding yearly. With this in mind it would be illuminating and a chance to present the difference between “learned men” and what some consider– Inspiration.

As we near the end of our S.D.a probation, we thought it would be good to discuss one of the main doctrinal teachings of the Elijah message–the 144,000. This and the church reformation is what our Lord told us would be the primary focus for His people in the last days.

We know that the Spirit of Prophecy writings began with a vision of the 144,000, then decades later in 1930 we know that the Lord gave us our first instructions of His written Rod (Micah 6:9) —

“It is the intention of this book to reveal the truth of the 144,000 mentioned in Revelation 7, but the chief object of this publication is to bring about a reformation among God’s people.” (SRod, vol. 1, preface)

So no one should doubt today that this subject of the 144,000 is paramount to us as Adventists. Ok let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of the two teachings, then you’ll decide which is Truth in the closet of prayer. Please pray BEFORE examining this study.

We will use Doug’s two-part YouTube series called “144,000 and the Seal of God” for his positions and we’ll use the Shepherd’s Rod writings for Victor Houteff’s position.

Let us first start with the Revelation Scripture that begins discussion on our subject —

“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.

 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,

 Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.

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.” (Rev. 7:1-4)

Question 1-   In this context, what does the four winds represent?

D.B —  Means “winds of strife” that will eventually blow upon the earth. The strife is “kind of summarized in the seven last plagues”.  This issue of what exactly the four winds represent in this Revelation context is largely not  discussed nor examined by DB. We wish we had more to give but that is basically all DB mentions about the winds.

VTH — Uses the following SOP reference for specific clarification.

“The time is coming when we cannot sell at any price. The decree will soon go forth prohibiting men to buy or sell of any man save him that hath the mark of the beast. We came near having this realized in California a short time since; but this was only the threatening of the blowing of the four winds. As yet they are held by the four angels. We are not just ready. There is a work yet to be done, and then the angels will be bidden to let go, that the four winds may blow upon the earth. That will be a decisive time for God’s children, a time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation. Now is our opportunity to work.” (Testimonies, vol. 5, p.152)

VTH comments  —

“the winds” held by the four angels of Revelation 7:1, represent the angel’s holding back “the anger of the nations,”–the image of the beast,–also that the angels will not let “the winds” blow into being the image of the beast before the 144,000 are sealed. (“Early Writings,” p. 38.) (SC, vol.5, no.6-12, p.8)

 

 “Here are brought to view two hurtings about to take place: one by the winds, the other by the angels; and two commands to the angels: one that they restrain the winds, that the winds blow not “on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree” (Rev. 7:1); the other that the angels restrain themselves from hurting “the earth,… sea,” and “the trees,” till the servants of God are sealed. Rev. 7:2, 3). 

Since, therefore, as soon as the  servants of God are sealed both the winds and the angels will begin to hurt the question arises as to what the work of the winds and the work of the angels  represent — political strife or something else?  As the nations have always been at war, this two-fold work of hurting could not represent political strife. And as Jesus says that at the time of the end “nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom” (Matt. 24:7), it is clear that the hurting by the winds, also the hurting by the angels both of which are kept back until the 144,000 are sealed, must be figurative of holding back the “time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation.” Dan. 12:1. 

Accordingly, God’s restraining of the four winds is His holding back the image of the beast’s activity (Rev. 13:15-17) against the saints, while His restraining the four angels that they hurt not is His holding back the executing of His vengeance (Isa. 63:1-4; Jer. 51:18) upon the sinners who trouble the church, until after the sealing of the 144,000 is completed. Being coupled, these two hurtings bring the time of trouble such as never was.

   Revelation 7:1-3, therefore, reveals a two-fold conflict: wicked men against God (the blowing of the winds) and God against them (the angels hurting them).  But though the blowing of the winds and the hurting of the angels after the servants of God are sealed, will bring the “time of trouble,” yet “every one that shall be found written  in the book” “shall be delivered.” Dan. 12:1.

   From these facts we see that this time of trouble is held back in order to safeguard the sealing of the 144,000 servants, lest they, “the very elect,” be brought down to worship the image of the beast, or be killed for refusing.” (Tract 8, p.22-23)

Question 2 — Are the 144,000 spiritual descendants or literal descendants of the twelve tribes?

DB — Makes a special point of saying that the list of the twelve are not the same as frequently listed in the OT Bible. For instance here is a handy list of the progressive names/changes of the 12. This is done to set up one of his pillars for establishing that the 144,000 are spiritual descendants not literal.

12 Tribes of Israel

He says, “The idea that getting an even number from each of the tribes, that would be interesting, but I believe that they are actually talking about spiritual Jews. That could include literal Jews and it could include people who have been adopted into the seed of Abraham by accepting Christ. Let me tell you why.

You read in the Bible in the old Testament, you read in 2 Kings 17:6 , ten of the tribes were conquered by the Assyrians way back hundreds of years before Jesus was born.”

He goes on to point out that the two tribes of Judah did come back to Israel but the ten tribes were dispersed, intermarried and disappeared as a distinct people.

“So when Revelation says 12,000  from the tribe of Manasseh, could you please show me someone from the tribe of Manasseh or Isaachar or Zebulun? When you talk about Jews you are typically talking about people from Levi, Judah or Benjamin… You are not going to find people who are pure bred people from Zebulun, Manasseh, Issachar and so forth. So what does it mean?”

He then quotes Gal. 3:29 —
If you are Christ’s then you are Abraham’s seed, and heir according to the promise.”

Romans 2:28, 29 —
“For he is not a Jew which is one outwardly: neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh. But he is a jew which is one inwardly: and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit.”

“So the idea that to be one of the 144,000 you must have a DNA test is not taught in the Bible. God does not discriminate that way, if you are Abraham seed you are heirs according to the promise.”

Clearly DB does not believe in the literal application. Ok, fair enough ,let’s look at what the other view says.

VTH — has a specific report on this subject as follows —

“Whosoever has been converted to Christianity, accepting Christ as his personal Saviour, has had an experience which has completely overthrown and revolutionized his former plans and hopes, his entire way of life.  He has renounced the world and all its “pleasures of sin for a season” (Heb. 11:25), and has become a new creature in Christ, born again, heir of the kingdom according to the promise!  This is what Jesus meant when He declared to Nicodemus: “Ye must be born again.” And Paul, having this experience in mind, says: “If ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” Gal. 3:29.

   Regardless, therefore, whether one be Jew or Gentile, he can have no part in the kingdom of Christ, save through the second birth, by which he becomes one of the seed of Abraham.  This spiritual transformation, nevertheless, does not fix anyone’s racial identity and tribal  lineage.  It can not, in other words, make one Judaite if he is not descended of Judah, or make him Ephraimite, if he is not descended of Ephraim.  Consequently, the 144,000, being of the sons of Jacob, cannot be of the Gentile nations.  They therefore, first of all, are lineal descendants of Jacob, though

Not Necessarily of the Present Identifiable Jewish Stock

   The ten tribes (the kingdom of Israel) were  carried away, scattered throughout the cities of the Medes (2 Kings 17:6), and so completely submerged in the sea of life of the surrounding nations, and assimilated, that they were utterly lost sight of, racially, to human reckoning.

Similarly, as the two tribes (the kingdom of  Judah) were carried away into Babylon, with only a few returning to Jerusalem after the seventy years of their captivity was accomplished, a multitude also of them lost their identity.

   Then, too, the early Christian church was made up of Jews only: the apostles, the 120 in the upper room (Acts 1:15), and the 3,000 who were converted on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:41) were all Jews, as were, indeed, virtually all those who “were added daily” for the first three and a half years after the crucifixion (Dan. 9:26, 27; Acts 2:47).  And even after this period was over, and the apostles were commissioned to take the gospel  to the Gentiles (Acts 13:46), many more Jews became Christians, and subsequently, as Christians rather than as Jews, were scattered among the nations.

   Clearly, therefore, in each instance most of the sons of Jacob lost their racial distinctiveness.  As the Lord, however, has ever kept the genealogies  of all nations, especially of the sons of Jacob, He will, as He has promised, “make mention of Rahab and Babylon to them that know me: behold Philistia, and Tyre, with Ethiopia; this man was born there.  And of Zion it shall be said, This and that man was born in her: and the highest himself shall establish her.  The Lord shall count, when He writeth up the people, that this man was born there. Selah.” Ps. 87:4-6.

   Thus just as obvious as strange is the fact that no one today but the recognized Jew can vouch for his ancestry, with the result that the 144,000 can be gathered from almost every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, and yet be of the sons of Jacob!

   “And it shall come to pass in that day,” says the Word of prophecy in this connection, “that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of His people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea.  And He shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.  And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall beat off from the channel of the river unto the stream of Egypt and ye shall be gathered one by one, O ye children of Israel.” Isa. 11:11, 12; 27:12.

Since, therefore, history, logic, and scripture combine their evidences to prove unconditionally that God has preserved the genealogy of the chosen branch of the human race forward from Adam to Noah (Matt. 1:1-17), and backward from Jesus to Adam (Luke 3:23-38), He must, then, for a consistent reason, also have preserved  the identity of the elect today.  And this we see, is precisely what He has done in His designating the lineage of the 144,000, as “of all the tribes of the children of Israel.” Rev. 7:4. 

And though we know not what we are, and cannot ever of ourselves tell, the One Who knows all about us, even to the last hair of each head, knows our precise ancestry, although those of us who are to be gathered from the seed of Jacob are, says the prophet, as the sand of the sea,” whereas, comparatively speaking, the identifiable Jewish race of today, is but a handful to the nations, and therefore cannot today be the ones to whom apply.” (Tract 8, p.7-11)

So the two are presenting opposite views. DB saying it’s symbolic and not literal descendants and VTH believes they are a people with the bloodline “seed” passed on down through the ages. VTH establishes the point that the 144,000 are literal descendants of which God alone has kept tract of the bloodline. Let’s keep in mind that the tribes intermarried both in the OT and NT and thus the original Israelites and the Israelite Christians (early Christian followers) took Black, Brown, Asian, and other nationalities as wives. Thus today we cannot tell who is who–but God can and does!

NOTE: This is a in-depth issue connecting the 144,000 to the SDA church. The SOP tells us that the “Israel of today” is the S.D.A Church (see Testimonies, vol. 9, p.164) .See the following post for more clarification —

http://shepherds-rod.org/TGvol1/1tg37.htm

Question 3 — Are the 144,000 the only ones to be saved in the last days?

DB– Addresses this only from whether it applies from the world, does not mention or discuss whether it applies to the S.D.A church, The latter is a non-issue with him.

“If you do the math that would be pretty sad because there are about seven billion people in the world, and if only 144,000 are going to be saved, that means your chances are about 1 out of 50,000. It’s still better than the lottery in Florida, did you know that? No they are not the only ones saved. They are a special group of leaders.

Let me make the 144,000 really easy for you. In the same way that Jesus had twelve apostles that followed Him wherever He went, that had a special relationship with Him, that sang.. the Bible says that the only time Jesus sang, He sang with the twelve… Just like the twelve got the people ready for the first coming, there is going to be an army of apostles getting the world ready for the second coming.”

DB rightly says that the 144,000 are not all that are saved in the world, yet as mentioned he does not place any significance in the 144,000 and Ezekiel 9, which SOP does clearly in the following reference–

“This sealing of the servants of God is the same that was shown to Ezekiel in vision. John also had been a witness of this most startling revelation.” (Testimonies to Ministers, p.445)

So we must deal with this prophetic connection –Rev. 7 sealings and Ezekiel 9 sealings (markings) are the same event. The church purification and the birth of the 144,000. DB does not touch on this at all.

VTH — Addresses this from a S.D.A aspect. During his lifetime (died in 1955) some of the S.D.A leaders proclaimed that the 144,000 were the only ones to be saved. VTH addressed that with the following —

“The 144,000, let us note, are not from the Gentile nations, but strictly from the church, from the twelve tribes of Israel — from the descendants of Jacob (Rev. 7:3-8).  Then, to conclude that there will be no more than 144,000 living saints when Jesus comes the second time, is to say that not a soul from the Gentile nations is to be saved, which, of course, is contrary to the teachings of the Bible, not according to Jeremiah 8:20, not in harmony with the testimony of the prophets, though in harmony with the law.

   Moreover, the 144,000 are only the first fruits (Rev. 14:4) and where there is first there must be second fruits also else there cannot be first. Because there is a first resurrection we know that there is a second one.  Those that were seen after the sealing of the 144,000, the great multitude from all nations (Rev. 7:9) are, therefore, the second fruits.

   Besides their racial lineage of identification there are the words “first,” “fruits,” “servants of God,” “sealed” and “standing on Mount Zion” by which to identify who the 144,000 are and what they are.  Obviously they are called fruits because they are the result of the “harvest,” the work which separates the tares from the wheat.  The word “first” connotes that they are the first crop (group) to be harvested — separated from the “tares,” for Jesus explains that the harvest is the time in which to separate the tares from the wheat (Matt. 13:30).

   The harvest is variously termed: (1) the purification of the church (“Testimonies,” Vol. 5, p. 80); (2) the closing work for the church (“Testimonies,” Vol. 3, p. 266); (3) the time in which the bad fish are cast out, and the good put into vessels (Matt. 13:47, 48); (4) the cleansing of the sanctuary (Dan. 8:14); (5) purifying the temple (Mal. 3:1-3); (6) Judgment In the House of God (1 Pet. 4.17; Dan. 7:10).  This is Truth positive, you know, and every Seventh-day Adventist knows it, too.” (Jezreel Letter, No. 6  p.1-2)

However unlike DB, Houteff deals with this issue in a  specific way in regards to the S.D.A Church. The following references solemnly describe the 144,000 S.D.A issue.

“Will all but the 144,000 of the present S.D.A. denomination actually be slain in the separation?”

   Answer: All but those who do not receive the mark or seal, old or young, male or female, will fall under the slaughter weapons of the angels. (Ezek. 9:6.) Only those who sigh and cry for all the abominations in the midst thereof will receive the mark. (verse 4.) John saw 144,000 sealed (marked). If others from within the S.D.A. denomination besides the 144,000 should escape, it is not known to us.” (Sym. Code, vol.1, no.15, p.9)

So in regards to our church, VTH has a direct application of Rev. 7 sealings of the 144,000 applying to our SDA church. Thus the two men, are at opposite beliefs on this aspect of the 144,000 saved.  DB does not give any credence to it affecting our S.D.A church directly whereas VTH counters it has a profound direct relationship to us as Adventists.

This concludes our part 1 of this subject, next week we’ll finish with part 2. We’ll present a final summary as well.

 

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