Lance Goodall

23 July 20

updated 25 July 20

This issue not a new one, but it’s one I feel I need to now address. However it is one I have wanted to avoid.

You know the idea, hoping that a respected man of God has somehow been taken out of context by some narrow minded watchmen, that in the end the critics are wrong, or if John MacArthur is clearly proven wrong, he will bring clarification, or some sort of retraction.

Back in 1980 so I’m informed (yes a long time ago) a Q&A session was held where John MacArthur gave an opportunity for questions on various topics from the congregation.

The question came up from a young man asking if the Mark of the Beast if taken could be repented of.

It is certainly an interesting question. It would be one that I would, (if I was John Mac) try and avoid answering, because what are you going to say?

Here is one version of that moment.

One blogger who knows Phil Johnson recounts

When I spoke with Phil about the video, he said we’d revisit it sometime after the conference.

Well, it just so happens the Monday morning following Strange Fire, John came out to GTY to do some recording and we all had a chance to bring up the video with him. His first response was, “Oh yeah. Someone asked me about that after one of the sessions.” We asked him how he would respond now and whether or not his view had changed since he had preached through the book of Revelation, and to my surprise, he basically affirmed what he said in that Q&A some 30-plus years ago.

That being, that during the seven year tribulation, when people are deceived by the Antichrist to take his mark in order to survive in his “society” (Revelation 13:16,17), but then later, upon hearing the Gospel preaching of the 144,000 and the call of repentance as heralded by the three angels (Revelation 14:1-13), many of those people who took the mark can and do repent and follow Christ, and thus they are saved.

By the way, a lot of this assumes the “mark” is some physical thing a person can take to himself. Say for example, a microchip or a bar-coded tattoo.

So in John’s view, the taking of the mark during the tribulation is not a final, absolute certainty of damnation that seals and fixes the eternal destination of the person.  In fact, if one were to read Revelation 15:2, the idea of victory over the mark of the Beast is clearly implied, And I saw something like a sea of glass mingled with fire, and those who have the victory over the beast, over his image and over his mark and over the number of his namestanding on the sea of glass, having harps of God.

Couldn’t that “victory” spoken about be those who may take the mark, repent upon hearing the Gospel, and will then be saved? And, according to the verse, it seems to suggest that they are executed for their actions of rejecting the mark thus becoming martyrs. So the idea of what John is saying is not far-fetched and without warrant from the biblical text as those wack-a-doodles suggest in their video when they write OUTRAGEOUS! It certainly exposes the fact that they are merely haters and haven’t even thought through what is being taught in Revelation.

Well, once John gave his affirmation, Phil wrote up a response affirming what he originally stated and explaining his view a bit more and providing an “official” statement to all those folks out there wondering what he thinks about that video.

Phil Johnson Responds

The following is from Phil Johnson on the Grace to you website as a way of response to the issue that has not gone away, and been raised by different ministries in particular Jacob Prasch of Moriel.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Several years ago in a live Q&A session, someone asked John MacArthur if taking the mark of the Beast during the Great Tribulation would be an unpardonable sin. His answer, in short, was no.

Though there is a stern warning against taking the mark of the Beast in Revelation 14, the sin is not categorically said to be unpardonable. (That would contradict Matthew 12:31.) The point of the severe language in Revelation 14 is to make clear what an utterly reprehensible sin it will be to swear an oath of willful loyalty to Antichrist.

Someone posted John MacArthur’s reply to that question on YouTube with a melodramatic one-word title in all caps: “OUTRAGE.” Gossip-mongers on the Internet got hold of it, apparently, and within days someone wrote to our ministry saying, “I saw pastor John on a YouTube video saying the way to be saved in the Tribulation is to take the mark of the Beast.”


If someone listens to Pastor MacArthur’s reply and imagines he was saying it’s no great sin to receive the mark of the Beast, listen again; that grossly twists what he actually said. The question is not (as one writer suggests) “How Far Can You Go and Still Be Able to Repent?” The point John MacArthur was making is about the extremes to which God’s grace will reach in order to seek and save a sinner.

Yes, Revelation 14:9–11 says, “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.” Clearly, receiving the mark is a sin that will send those who commit it to hell.

But the Bible also says, “Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9–10).

In short, all sin carries the threat of eternal doom, and some particularly heinous sins have a built-in hardening effect that makes them particularly dangerous. Scripture occasionally singles out common sins that have this peculiarly soul-destroying effect.

On the other hand, only one very specific sin is ever said to be unforgivable. Any sin that is repented of is forgivable. Immediately after declaring all fornicators, drunkards, and swindlers unfit for heaven, the apostle writes, “Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11). After saying, “Whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven,” Jesus famously forgave Peter, who denied Him before men.

Jesus Himself said, “Any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven ” (Matthew 12:31, emphasis added).

The one unpardonable sin was the sin of those who had seen His miracles with their own eyes; they knew He was the true Messiah; they were part of the generation to whom He was personally sent.

And yet they attributed His powers to Satan. That was unforgivable because it was such a hard-hearted, willful expression of utter rejection from fully enlightened hearts, who punctuated their rejection with an extreme blasphemy. Those Pharisees had stood in the presence of the living embodiment of all truth; they heard His words and saw His works. All the mysteries of Christ had been unveiled before their very eyes. And yet they spurned Him. There was nothing else that could be shown to them to enlighten them further. They were not deceived; they knew full well what they were doing. That’s why their sin was unpardonable (cf. 1 Timothy 1:13).

Revelation 19:20 indicates that multitudes will take the mark of the Beast because they are deceived. Scripture does not say that they are thereby automatically hardened forever against repentance. That is not the point of the strong warnings.

This whole issue suddenly became a matter of intense controversy when it was mentioned on a provocative radio program. It’s certainly not worth all the ink that has been wasted and all the bandwidth that has been consumed by angry people demanding explanations and retractions. This much should certainly be clear from the biblical text (and I think would be affirmed by all sides): Taking the mark of the Beast is high treason against Christ and will be judged by God accordingly. Meanwhile, the Lord is “good, and ready to forgive, and abundant in loving kindness to all who call upon [Him]” (Psalm 86:5).

Bill Johnson talks about his view on the Mark and Repentance in a recent interview with Doreen Virtue. Note: Doreen has only been a Christian since 2017.

Conjectural Criticism:

I note that this issue has not gone away because a man of God has failed to ease the concern, the confusion, and the controversy over the matter of someone taking the Mark and the door of repentance still being open to them.

The 144000 Jewish Men

One of the aspects of this whole argument is the belief that there is a special group who will preach the gospel during the Tribulation, these are the 144000.

One commentator suggests that “there will be 144,000 Jewish men who must preach the Gospel of the Kingdom to all nations and a great multitude of Gentiles will be converted. The focus is on Jerusalem where two prophets are martyred by the Beast after 1,260 days of testimony and their bodies are resurrected from the streets of Jerusalem after 3 1/2 days.”

But who says this is their task or role? And who are they for a start?

The numbers 12,000 and 144,000 are variously interpreted in traditional Christianity.

Some, taking the numbers in Revelation to be symbolic,[4] believe it represents all of God’s people throughout history in the heavenly Church.[5] One suggestion is that the number comes from 12, a symbol for totality, which is squared and multiplied by one thousand for more emphasis. Others insist the numbers 12,000 and 144,000 are literal numbers and representing either descendants of Jacob (also called Israel in the Bible) or others to whom God has given a superior destiny with a distinct role at the time of the end of the world.[6] One understanding is that the 144,000 are recently converted Jewish evangelists sent out to bring sinners to Jesus Christ during the seven year tribulation period.[7]

Preterists believe they are Jewish Christians, sealed for deliverance from the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.

Dispensationalist Tim LaHaye, in his commentary Revelation: Illustrated and Made Plain (Zondervan, 1975), considers the 144,000 in Revelation 7 to refer to Jews and those in Revelation 14 to refer to Christians.[8]

So is it a literal number or a symbolic number?

The question rephrased is, which is the more natural reading or meaning?

Revelation Chapter 7 

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.

Of the tribe of Judah were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Reuben were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Gad were sealed twelve thousand.

Of the tribe of Aser were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Nephthalim were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Manasses were sealed twelve thousand.

Of the tribe of Simeon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Levi were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Issachar were sealed twelve thousand.

Of the tribe of Zabulon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Joseph were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Benjamin were sealed twelve thousand.

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.


The 144000 Revisited:

Many of us have been taught that the 144,000 of Revelation 7 were literally all Jewish virgin men — and exactly 12,000 each from the 12 tribes of Israel — that would “go through the tribulation” in an effort to evangelize an untold number of lost souls to the saving knowledge of Christ after a pre-trib rapture of Christians, and that they would do all of this without the guidance, giftings, empowerment and conviction power of the Holy Spirit (cf John 15:26; 16:8-11).

But the question must be asked how they could find salvation if they were not saved at the time of a “pre-trib rapture” to be whisked away when, according to many of these same teachers, the Holy Spirit — the One who convicts the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment (John 16:8-11) — would be removed or who would no longer convict as he once did?

I do not hold to the idea that the 144,000 is an actual number of Jewish male virgin evangelists, but rather as a two-fold or three-fold way of signifying completion into the Israel of God once the fullness of the Gentiles has come in (cf. Rom 11:23-27).

  • Note above in Chapter 7 of Revelation, that there is no mention of the 144000 even preaching the Gospel.
  • Also note is doesn’t say the multitude came out of THE great tribulation, but that they came out of great tribulation. In other words out of great distress and trial, that’s why it says in the verse that the Lord Jesus ‘shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.’

Here is the detailed explanation supplied by ICA of midnightwatcher.

To help explain, we first need to pay particularly close attention to the sequence of the twelve tribes in Revelation 7.

This is the only place in the Bible that the list appears in this order. To understand why they are in this order and what the significance of this list entails, we also need to understand that the Hebrews often named their newborn child a word that had a phrase/meaning to the name given. For example, when Leah gave birth to Judah she said “I will praise the Lord.” When Reuben was born she said “He has looked upon my affliction”.

Normally the first born is listed first, but in the list of Revelation 7 Judah is listed first, not Reuben. Reuben is the eldest. 

Both Dan and Ephraim are completely left out, likely because of disbelief and idolatry (cf. Deut 29:18-21; Hosea 5:9,11) so it’s a very interesting sequence that John, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, puts together for us. 

Here is the list and order they appear in Revelation –> 1. Judah, 2. Reuben, 3. Gad 4. Asher, 5. Nepthalim, 6. Manasses, 7. Simeon, 8. Levi, 9. Issachar, 10. Zebulon, 11. Joseph, and 12. Benjamin.

When we take the tribes as listed in the Revelation of Jesus Christ, and then take the time to discover the meaning of and/or why those names were given, we get something very interesting after constructing it in the listed order.

Here are all the verses with the names (KJV/NASB):

  • Judah — Gen 29:35 And she conceived again, and bare a son: and she said, NOW WILL I PRAISE THE LORD, therefore she called his name Judah; and left bearing.
  • Reuben — Gen 29:32 And Leah conceived, and bare a son, and she called his name Reuben: for she said Surely THE LORD HATH LOOKED UPON MY AFFLICTION; now therefore my husband will love me.
  • Gad — Gen 30:11 Then Leah said, “HOW FORTUNATE!” So she named him Gad.
  • Asher — Gen 30:13 And Leah said, HAPPY AM I for the daughters will call me blessed: and she called his name Asher.
  • Nepthalim — Gen 30:8 And Rachel said, WITH GREAT WRESTLINGS HAVE I WRESTLED with my sister, and I have prevailed and she called his name Naphtali.
  • Manasses — Gen 41:51 Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh: “FOR GOD HATH MADE ME FORGET ALL MY TOIL and all my father’s house.”
  • Simeon — Gen 29:33 And she conceived again, and bare a son; and said, BECAUSE THE LORD HATH HEARD THAT I WAS HATED, HE HATH THEREFORE GIVEN ME THIS SON also: and she called his name Simeon
  • Levi — Gen 29:34 “And she conceived again, and bare a son; and said, NOW THIS TIME WILL MY HUSBAND BE JOINED UNTO ME, because I have born him three sons: therefore was his name called Levi.
  • Issachar — Gen 30:18 Then Leah said, “GOD HAS GIVEN ME MY WAGES because I gave my maid to my husband.” So she named him Issachar.
  • Zebulon — Gen 30:20 Then Leah said, “GOD HAS ENDOWED ME WITH A GOOD GIFT; NOW MY HUSBAND WILL DWELL WITH ME, because I have borne him six sons.” So she named him Zebulun.
  • Joseph — Gen 30:24 And she called his name Joseph; and said, THE LORD SHALL ADD TO ME another son.
  • Benjamin — Gen 35:17-18 And it came to pass, when she was in hard labour, that the midwife said unto her, Fear not; THOU SHALT HAVE THIS SON also. And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, (for she died) that she called his name Benoni: but his father called him Benjamin.

Now, when we take them all and put them in the order that the tribes appear, we get the following rendition:

“Now will I praise the LORD, Surely the LORD hath looked upon my affliction, How fortunate!, Happy am I, With great wrestlings have I wrestled and I have prevailed, For God hath made me forget all my toil, Because the LORD hath heard that I was hated he hath therefore given me this son, Now this time will my husband be joined unto me, God has given me my wages, God has endowed me with a good gift; my husband will dwell with me, The LORD shall add to me, thou shalt have this son.”

The name Benjamin literally means “Son of My right hand” so another reading of the last portion could be “The LORD shall add to me the Son of [His] right hand.”

Let this sink in for a moment. The way that the 12 tribes are listed in Revelation 7 describes the Bride of Christ and the complete story of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ marrying His bride after delivering her from her affliction.  This is a fulfillment of the prophecy regarding Israel in Hosea 2:

Hosea 2:14,16,19, “Therefore I am now going to allure her (Israel) … ‘In that day,’ declares the Lord, ‘you will call me ‘my husband‘; you will no longer call me ‘my master… [and] I will betroth you to me forever.’

Not only is this evident of the Divine inspiration of the Scriptures, it also points us to the understanding that believing Israel is the Bride of Christ. It always has been, and what we see above is incontrovertible proof in my opinion. Does Scripture confirm this elsewhere? Yes.

Revelation 21:9-12, “And there came unto me one of the seven angels … saying, come hither, and I will shew thee the bride, THE LAMB’S WIFE. And he … shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem … which had a wall great and high, and twelve gates… and names written thereon which are the NAMES OF THE TWELVE TRIBES OF ISRAEL.

But what about us?  What about Gentile Christians?  Those of us that are Gentiles who now have a relationship with YHWH the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob have been adopted or “grafted in” to the household of God through Jesus Christ (cf. Ephesians 2; Read here to learn what Scripture really has to say about the nature of the Church).

As believers in Yeshua ha’Maschiach we have become fellow citizens with the saints. We are members of the household of God and “are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus” (Eph 3:6).  Since we have been incorporated into believing Israel we experience the blessings of the New Covenant today.

“National Israel” will still receive and experience her blessings when the fullness of the Gentiles comes in and she believes again and is grafted back in.

Then all of Israel will be saved (Romans 11:25-26).

It is therefore no surprise that after John describes the 144,000, that he then sees a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues standing before the throne and before the Lamb.

We will come out of the Great Tribulation that will be invited to this wedding (Matthew 22:9-10). Revelation 19:9, “Then the angel said to me, ‘Write: ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!’’ And he added, ‘These are the true words of God.’” Indeed, and as the prophecy in Hosea concludes, “… Then I will say to those who were not My people, ‘You are My people!’ And they shall say, ‘You are my God!’” (Hosea 2:23b).

Whether this is intended for restored national Israel who now believes, or to Gentiles that are grafted in, we’ll have to wait and see.  It may even allude to both.

Below is explanation from Coffman from his commentary which to me is a plainer and clearer explanation, ie. that is, it is a symbolic use of the number 12.

The 144,000 … 

This is a number made up of 12 10:12 10:1,000.

Earlier in Revelation we had a number made up of 12 + 12, that of the “four and twenty elders” (Revelation 4:4); but here the “twelve” is multiplied by itself, and then again by a thousand, indicating completeness and perfection in the ultimate degree. What is meant? “That not one of those who are worthy shall be overlooked or forgotten.”[33] It also carries the thought that the natural universe, the powers of evil, and the ravages of time shall not interfere with God’s plans until all are accomplished. Therefore, the 144,000 are a symbol of the total number of the redeemed, a definite number, unknown to us, but surely known by God. It is the same as “the innumerable company” of  Revelation 7:9.

Twelve tribes … 

Why are they listed? First, the number “twelve” is a sacred number. 

There were twelve tribes of Israel, twelve apostles, twelve foundations of the eternal city, twelve gates, twelve angels at the gates, twelve manner of fruits on the tree of life, twelve seasons in the year when the fruits were yielded, and twelve stars in the crown of the glorious woman arrayed with the sun!

Question: Are these literally the twelve sons of Jacob? How could they be? The ten northern tribes had already been lost for centuries when John wrote. Dan is not mentioned here, nor is Ephraim; but Joseph which includes both Ephraim and Manasseh is listed. As Beckwith said, “Nineteen different arrangements of these names are found in the Old Testament, with none of which does this list agree.”[34] If these are understood as literal tribes, it would mean that exactly the same number would be saved from each one; and what kind of a straitjacket is that? It would also have to mean that none will be saved from the tribe of Dan. Thus we are driven to the conclusion reached by Roberts: “The 144,000 must represent the whole church of the New Testament as spiritual Israel.”[35] No satisfactory explanation of this irregular list has ever been offered, unless it is this, “John intends to say that the twelve tribes of Israel are not literal Israel, but the true spiritual Israel, which is the church.”[36]

Foy E. Wallace, Jr., also agreed that, “They signify the whole faithful church, the total number of the redeemed.”[37]

Regarding the question of why, then, should John have broken the 144,000 into twelve tribes, Bruce thought he did so in order, “to emphasize that the church is the true Israel of God, and that the number represents the sum total of the faithful.”[38] “The reference to the twelve tribes is therefore accommodative, as in  James 1:1.”[39]

Besides all this, to bring racial considerations into the interpretation of this prophecy “seriously complicates the book of Revelation by bringing in racial considerations that no longer exist.”[40]

Bruce, Caird, and others apply the sealing of the 144,000 to martyrs only, but there is no way we could agree”

Another commentator Ellicott writes; 

Verse 4

(4) And I heard the number of them . . . Translate

And I heard the number of the sealed: there were a hundred and forty and four thousand sealed out of every tribe of the sons of Israel.

There are two or three questions which these verses suggest.

What are we to understand by the number twelve thousand from each tribe?

Who are these who are drawn from the tribes of Israel?

Why is there a change of the order and name of the tribes?

It may help us to clearer thoughts to take the second of these questions first.

(1) Who are these one hundred and forty-four thousand?

An answer to this has been partly anticipated in our previous comments; but perhaps a fuller consideration is needed. Some have thought that the sealed ones must be Jewish Christians: i.e., they are disposed to take the twelve tribes literally. The scope of the previous verses seems decisive against this view. The time of judgment and trial is drawing near; we have seen the tokens of the coming storm in the opening of the sixth seal; our wish is to know the lot of the saints of God; this chapter answers this wish: they are safe, having the seal of God. Now, to limit the answer to the Israelitish Christians is to break in abruptly upon the general flow of thought with a bold literalism.

The sealed ones are explained to be the servants of God; the description which follows proclaims them to be the “Israel of God.” It would be a strange leap away from the subject to introduce a sudden limitation of thought. Nor is there any necessity for doing so. Israelitish and Jewish names are freely adopted by the sacred writers, and used in a spiritual sense without any explanation of such usage; and the Apostle most emphatically laid down the principle that “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 and not in the letter” (Romans 2:28-29); and the principle he applies by affirming that in Christ “there is neither Jew nor Greek” (Galatians 3:28). The Christian Church absorbs the Jewish, inherits her privileges, and adopts, with wider and nobler meaning, her phraseology. She has her Jerusalem, but it is a heavenly Jerusalem (Hebrews 12:22): a Jerusalem from above (Galatians 4:26): a new Jerusalem (Revelation 21:2; see Revelation 3:12); and to that Jerusalem of God the true Israel of God, the chosen generation and royal priesthood of every age, turn the eye of faith. It is needless to say that this view does not rob, as it has been said, the Jew of God’s promises; it only intensifies those promises by showing the growth of that Church in which the Jew may yet find the truest consummation of his holiest and highest hopes, and into which God is yet able to graft them in again (Romans 11:23; Romans 11:25-26), and in which he may yet play a part loftier than men dream of.

(2) How are we to understand the numbers?

As we cannot adopt the literal interpretation of the tribes of Israel, still less can we admit a literal interpretation of the numbers here mentioned; but they are not on this ground to be looked upon as meaningless numbers: there is an appropriate symbolism in the numbers of the Apocalypse.

Twelve is used as the number of those who in every age have been called out to witness for some truth which the world needed. Thus the twelve tribes of Israel were the appointed witnesses of a pure theology and a pure morality in the days of idolatry and license; and later, the twelve Apostles became the inheritors of a similar, though higher, spiritual work in the world. The number twelve, then, stands for a world-witness of divine truth; and the fruits of this world-witness is a wide and sustained success: the twelve multiplied by the twelve a thousand-fold—“the native and not degenerate progeny of the Apostles apostolically multiplied” (Mede, quoted by Dr. Currey).

The skeleton organisation is twelve, the college of the Apostles; the one hundred and forty-four thousand represent the growth into full numbers of the choice ones of God. (3) Does the change in the order and names of the tribes symbolise anything? The alterations are not without significance. They are briefly these: The tribe of Dan is omitted, and the name of Ephraim does not appear, but the number is made up to twelve by two representatives of Joseph: Manasseh, who stands sixth in order, and Joseph (superseding the name, but representing the tribe of Ephraim), who is placed eleventh on the list. The number twelve is maintained to show that in all changes God’s purposes stand.

The omission of one tribe and the changed name of another are designed to show that in the Church, as in Israel, the most splendid opportunities may be lost. Dan, once a tribe, and not an insignificant tribe, which had reared its heroes, gradually lapsed into idolatry and immorality, dwindled in numbers and importance, and at length disappeared, and as a tribe became extinct. Its omission in this list is a silent but emphatic comment on the sacred warnings: “Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” “Begin not to say we have Abraham to our father: God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.” Similarly, Ephraim, as has been suggested by a thoughtful writer, who exalted himself in Israel, is now lost in the greater name of Joseph. (Comp. Hosea 13:1; Hosea 10:11; Luke 18:14.)

The order of the names is altered. Reuben no longer stands first: Judah has taken the firstborn’s place; and Levi, though named, does not occupy the third, the place of his birthright, but the eighth place. Here, again, the changes have their teachings. The unstable Reuben, with all his splendid advantages—the firstborn, the excellency of dignity and the excellency of power—failed to hold his own among his brethren; the fatal instability of his character accompanied his history, and weakened his otherwise pre-eminent powers; yet weak and erring, the type of the brilliant and vacillating, he is not an outcast altogether, but finds place, and high place, among the servants of God. Judah, lion-like, resolute, and strong, wins the foremost place; from him springs the true Ruler, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, to unfold the counsels of God, and to rule the world with a righteous sceptre.

Levi’s subordinate position is thought to be due to the fact that the Mosaic ritual and Levitical priesthood are at an end. This may be so; the changes are the result of the actual history of the tribes, and illustrate how in the Christian Church, as in the Jewish, privileges may be lost, opportunities seized or cast away, offices and functions used for a time, and then laid aside when their work is accomplished; but in all and through all changes, God’s unchanging purpose runs onward to its certain close.

The grouping of the tribes is, as has been pointed out, in the order of closest kinship: “We find not one violent separation of those who are naturally united, where both are truly members of the Israel of God” (Rev. C. H. Waller, Names on Gates of Pearl).


Having shown this as a reasonable explanation, yet the likes of John MacArthur and Phil Johnson have the 144000 Jewish men out evangelising and converting those who have mistakenly taken the Mark of the Beast.

David Jeremiah is another one who suggests;

John in Chapter 7 of Revelation says,

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.

What a wonderful picture this is! The bible says so many are going to come to Christ during that time that you don’t even have any way to number them. ‘ A great multitude that no one could number’ And they represent all of the nations and tribes and peoples and the tongues all over the earth. The harvest from the great revival of the 144000 witnesses. And that is going to be something you know that we’ll be able to observe in heaven. This is, I believe, the fulfillment of this promise of Jesus given in His Olivet Discourse. Jesus said the gospel of the Kingdom would be preached in all the world and then the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come,

Ladies and gentlemen, one of these days there is going to be this massive spiritual return to God during one of the darkest times on planet earth,

But there is actually another group who went through the great tribulation who were beheaded.

Revelation 20:4

4 ‘And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.’

So one group is clothed in white robes (Rev 7:9,10)  who somehow managed to escape the wrath of the Antichrist, and yet the other group of believers were put to death for their witness of Jesus here in chapter 20. 

The idea of this great multitude from every nation and tongue being saved and coming out of THE Great Tribulation makes for a great story, but If the view point is flawed, then their eschatology falls down like a house of cards.

Challenging the Narrative: 

I include one comment from the GTY blog which helps show the lack of clarification by John MacArthur and his team:

“Johnson’s thesis paraphrased: If you are deceived into taking the mark of the beast, you can still come to the truth and be saved, because it doesn’t compare exactly to the ‘blaspheming the Holy Spirit’ passage. Being deceived is not the same as knowingly going against God.

But doesn’t God send deception as final judgement as well?

2 Thessalonians 2:9-12.

Doesn’t that chapter deal with the end times, where God clearly sends a strong delusion as punishment, resulting in eternal damnation.

v 9 ‘Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.11 And for this cause God shall SEND them strong delusion, that they SHOULD believe a lie:12 That they all might be DAMNED who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. ‘ Here God sends deception as judgement, where damnation follows punishment.

And what about Revelation 19:20 where It says:

20 ‘And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.’

It doesn’t say: with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast AND HAD NOT repented. And then those terrible words NOT they will be saved, but they ALL might be DAMNED!!

Or read

Revelation 20:4

4 ‘And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.’

If Phil Johnson thinks the best way to start out a defense of this particular teaching, by labelling those who called GTY out, gossip mongerers on the internet, than he did not do his research very well.

The controversy is not people on youtube calling out GTY on this very important matter. The controversy is that these ‘gossipmongers’ were critical and for that they get the previous mentioned label. The controversy is the insufficient defense in this blogpost of the 1980 q&a and teaching. The controversy is a later John Macarthur teaching (1993), where John teaches the opposite and that both teachings are downloadable.

Being deceived is sometimes ones own fault, for instance by not obeying Matthew 24:4. But it can also be an eternal punishment from God (Thessalonians 2:9-12).

But what do I know, I’m just another layman with a bible and an internet connection.”


The previous blogger who obviously supports MacArthur asks;

Now for the rest of you all out there who have actually benefited from John’s preaching over the years, are you prepared to throw John’s ministry under the bus because of an idiot video on Youtube and conclude all of that blessing you experienced was a sham? Really?

Think about it: John has had 50 years of solid, Bible teaching ministry that has reached around the globe. I’ve met people from the farthest reaches in the world who testify how they were in a rural rice patty in Vietnam or some tundra landscape in northern Russia listening to John MacArthur tapes on a walkman or Grace to You on a handheld radio and it was in those circumstances God brought them to salvation by the preaching of the Gospel and the consistent teaching of God’s word.

His study Bible has been translated into Arabic, the only genuine Study Bible to have been so; and the Chinese version is coming sometime in the next year. John was the guy on Larry King Live who irritated to no end Deep-pockets Chopra when he told him there was only one way to God through Jesus Christ alone and that the NT was originally written in Greek, not Aramaic.

John MacArthur is to be commended for all his faithful years of ministry. The issue is still remains, and it is not a light one. Can someone really take the Mark of the Beast and later find repentance? I personally think not.

I have to ask, if only John MacArthur had rephrased his answer regarding repentance after taking the Mark in a more cautious manner, considering the awful demise of those who do, Christendom would be a happier place.

Had John MacArthur remembered these verses in the gospels “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea” (Mark 9:42 NKJV), we would have had none of this debate.