Israel is the name that God gave to Jacob (Genesis 32:28). The people who came from the families of his 12 sons are called the 12 tribes of Israel. Today, we call them the Jewish people.
God gave to Jacobís family the benefit of the promises that he had made to Abraham and Isaac (Genesis 28:13-14). Therefore, the Jewish people are Godís special people, with a special relationship to God (Romans 11:26-27).
That does not, of course, mean that all the Jewish people serve God. Many of them do not. However, it does mean that God has a special plan for their nation.
John saw how, a few years before Christís return, 144,000 Jewish people will put their trust in Christ. John carefully distinguishes them from the many people from other nations who trust Christ (verse 9). These 144,000 Jewish people will have an especially close relationship with Christ (14:3-5).
These Jewish people are among the last group of people who will put their trust in Christ before his return. God will actually have to delay his judgements against the world so that this can happen (verses 1-3).
We have described them as among the last people, but actually, God considers them first (14:4). God will only complete all his promises to the Jewish people at Christís return (Zechariah 14:3-11; Romans 11:25-29). However, these 144,000 Jewish people will have a close and wonderful relationship with Christ even before his return (14:1-5). The new relationship between God and his Jewish people will be in the lives of these 144,000 people (Hebrews 8:8-13). However, that new relationship will only come in its full power when Christ rules the world (20:4-6). At that time God will show his kindness to people in every nation by means of the Jewish people. That was what God promised to Abraham in Genesis 12:3.
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© 2016, Keith Simons.