DISCIPLES' ULTIMATE MISSION
The Lord Yeshua’s work of salvation (Jn. 3:16/ 12:47/ Isa. 49:6) did not stop when He already returned to heaven to be with The Father. In fact, He guaranteed that the preaching of the gospel for man’s benefit will continue until the end, or on the day of judgment:
(Matthew 24:14 NKJV in all verses unless noted)
14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.
How can this guarantee of The Savior be ensured fulfillment? He commissioned His followers to continue the mission of recruiting for disciples from around the world:
19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
The Christ purposely deputized His disciples to make disciples to ensure that the gospel of the kingdom, this is His multiple guarantees for salvation and eternal life, will blanket the world.
PRIMARY MISSION OF SALVATION
While The Savior’s general mission for salvation is for the whole world (Jn. 3:14-18), He has a specific mission related with God’s Covenant to Abraham and His chosen nation of Israel:
“And now the Lord says,
Who formed Me from the womb to be His Servant,
To bring Jacob back to Him,
So that Israel is gathered to Him
(For I shall be glorious in the eyes of the Lord,
And My God shall be My strength),
6 Indeed He says,
‘It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant
To raise up the tribes of Jacob,
And to restore the preserved ones of Israel;
I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles,
That You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.’”
The Lord Yeshua was the prophesied entity who was ‘formed from the womb to be God’s Servant for the purpose of bringing back or gathering Israel (formerly Jacob), God’s own people. This gathering refers to their restoration. However, the prophecy is specific unto who from among Israel will be restored – they are the ‘preserved ones’. Part of His mission is to be ‘also the light to the Gentiles’ and become its Savior in order to show how much God loved the world - He did so by giving His only begotten Son “that the world through Him might be saved” (Jn. 3:16-17).
Who are the ‘preserved ones of Israel’ who has become the primary task of The Lord Yeshua-Christos?
20 And it shall come to pass in that day
That the remnant of Israel,
And such as have escaped of the house of Jacob,
Will never again depend on him who defeated them,
But will depend on the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, in truth.
21 The remnant will return, the remnant of Jacob,
To the Mighty God.
22 For though your people, O Israel, be as the sand of the sea,
A remnant of them will return;
The destruction decreed shall overflow with righteousness.
10 “And in that day there shall be a Root of Jesse,
Who shall stand as a banner to the people;
For the Gentiles shall seek Him,
And His resting place shall be glorious.”
11 It shall come to pass in that day
That the Lord shall set His hand again the second time
To recover the remnant of His people who are left,
From Assyria and Egypt,
From Pathros and Cush,
From Elam and Shinar,
From Hamath and the islands of the sea.
12 He will set up a banner for the nations,
And will assemble the outcasts of Israel,
And gather together the dispersed of Judah
From the four corners of the earth.
The preserved ones of Israel refer to its remnant – they are the primary mission of The Lord Yeshua. How is His work pictured in the prophecy? The prophesied descendant of Jesse (King David’s father) will be given as a ‘banner’ or sign for the nations or the world in order to find and assemble all the remnant of God’s people wherever they may be in the world! The prophesied banner to the people is also He who was given to be God’s salvation at the time 'ends of the earth' – the fulfilment was The Lord Yeshua-Christos.
How sure are we that The Christ’s primary mission, enclosed in His work of saving the world, is to save the remnant of Israel?
24 But He answered and said, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
This declaration of The Savior is His mission statement confirming God’s main purpose in sending Him to the world. That, although He was given to save the world, His primary task is to restore the remnant of Israel as He saves the world.
GENTILES AS DISCIPLES
What could be another underlying reason why The Lord commissioned His disciples to make disciples of all nations? It is to ensure that wherever those who belong to the remnant of God’s people will also be reached by His salvation. They are the ‘other sheep’ referred by The Savior:
16 And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.
The other sheep of Christ – the same ones prophesied as the remnant, preserved ones and lost house of Israel (Isa. 10:20-22/ 11:11/ 49:6/ Mat. 15:24), also need to be gathered by Him so that in the end there will only be one flock; and when this is fulfilled, then, God’s preserved ones have been restored. How will they be brought together? They will hear the voice of The Savior through the witnessing of His disciples (Jn. 13:20 / Lk. 10:16/ Jn. 17:20).
In our time, many of The Lord’s disciples come from among the Gentiles. Are they also expected to be a part of this mission of restoring and gathering the remnant of Israel?
(Isaiah 61:5-6a NIV)
5 Strangers will shepherd your flocks;
foreigners will work your fields and vineyards.
6 And you will be called priests of the Lord,
you will be named ministers of our God…
The prophet Isaiah prophesied about strangers and foreigners who will shepherd The Lord’s flocks and be His workers in His fields and vineyards. If they are strangers and foreigners, then they are Gentiles. The flocks refer to the remnant of Israel, as Israel was likened to a ‘scattered sheep’ (Jer. 50:6, 17/ Mat. 15:24/ Jn. 10:16), while the vineyards refer to the planting of God, the kingdom of heaven (Mat. 20:1) wherein The Lord Yeshua is the vine and God is the vinedresser (Jn. 15:1).
How important are the Gentile shepherds and workers in the work of accounting the remnant of God’s people? The prophet prophesied that they will be recognized as priests and ministers of The Lord God! Who are these Gentile priests and ministers of The Lord God? They are the disciples of His Son Yeshua – they will do His mission for Him while He prepares their final abode in heaven.
THE 144,000 SEALED JEWS ARE THE REMNANT
Just how many is the remnant of Israel that will be restored by The Christ Yeshua? The Apostle John has seen in his vision the number of those who were sealed:
After these things I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, on the sea, or on any tree. 2 Then 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 granted to harm the earth and the sea, 3 saying, “Do not harm the earth, the sea, or the trees till we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.” 4 And I heard the number of those who were sealed. One hundred and forty-four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel were sealed…
In this vision of John, he saw multiple personalities and characters. He saw four angels at the four corners or directions of the earth, and the four winds who have the capacity to destroy the earth that were held back by them. Then, he also saw another Angel who was coming from the east who has the Seal of God! And because He is the One granted God’s Seal, the work of sealing became His work although He is not alone in the work of sealing as there are others who help Him in this work. How many of God’s servants will be sealed? There will be 144,000 of all the tribes of the children of Israel with twelve thousand from each tribe.
What makes us certain that the 144,000 sealed Jews were the preserved ones of Israel to be gathered by The Christ Yeshua? There is then a need for us to identify all the characters in John’s vision and analyze, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and understand how they all tie up with the primary mission of The Lord Yeshua-Christos of restoring the remnant or preserved ones of Israel.
1. The Four Angels holding the winds - the angels seen by John in his vision are the angels who will serve as reapers (Matthew 13:39) and gatherers (Matthew 24:31) foretold by Christ who will do the harvesting at the end of age or judgment day.
2. The Four Winds – these are the winds from the winnowing fan held by The Lord (Lk. 3:17) that will separate the chaff from the grains of wheat (Isa. 41:15-16) so that the chaff will be burned. However, let us understand that these winds are not literal winds, but are rather symbolical. Which are represented by the winds that will separate God's servants from those who are not?
48 He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him—the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.
The words of Christ that will judge and destroy all those who are not saved in the last day are the destructive winds envisioned by John.
3. Another Angel with the Seal of God – the other Angel can easily be identified because He possessed the Seal of God. Whoever has the Seal of God is He whom John has envisioned as ‘another Angel’ whose mission is to seal God’s servants. Who was given the Seal of God?
27 Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.”
As declared by The Savior, “God The Father has set His seal on Him” being the Son of Man (Mat. 16:13-16). Many people cannot immediately accept the fact that The Savior, by virtue of Him being a Messenger of God, was also identified as an Angel because of their own limited interpretation of the word ‘angel’. It should be understood that the organic meaning of angel, from its etymological origins in Latin and Greek, is that of being a messenger. Is this supported by Scriptures? Was The Savior prophesied as an Angel?
8 For He said, “Surely they are My people,
Children who will not lie.”
So He became their Savior.
9 In all their affliction He was afflicted,
And the Angel of His Presence saved them;
In His love and in His pity He redeemed them;
And He bore them and carried them
All the days of old.
This Isaiah prophecy spoke how God decided to become the Savior of His people through His official representative - and not just thorough any representative or messenger or angel but the ‘Angel of His Presence’. In His love and pity shall the prophesied Angel of God’s Presence save and redeem them. How could this Angel be The Lord Yeshua-Christos? The Christ Himself gives the clarification:
8 Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.”
9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?
The statement of Christ explains the prophecy when He said, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father”! The Christ Yeshua is the prophesied Angel of God’s Presence simply because He is the visible representation of the invisible God. How else could He be the Angel of God’s Presence? For one, only Him possesses God’s Seal (Jn. 6:27)! What comes with the Seal of God that is vested unto The Christ? God’s government (Isaiah 9:6) and His authority (Matthew 28:18), and the immense responsibility of being made God’s Covenant unto man for salvation (Isaiah 42:6), both to the remnants of the house of Israel and the Gentiles (Isaiah 49:6).
4. Till WE Have Sealed – the people who are also instrumental in the work of sealing the remnant of God’s people are the disciples of Christ who were prophesied as priests and ministers of God also (Isa. 61:5-7) who will continue to make more disciples of Him (Mat.28:19-20) in His absence and will continue His work of reaching out to the Jewish people in order to complete the prophesied 144,000 from among them.
CONCLUSION: THE SAVIOR’S WORK TURNS BACK AROUND
As established by John in his vision, the total number of those sealed from the ‘house of Israel’ (Mat. 15:24) is 144,000. How many out of this number have already been sealed and have already believed in The Lord Yeshua to be the Son of God and Savior of the world? Only God knows. But one thing is certain. When this number is completed, The Christ Yeshua will already return to take His people with Him (Jn. 14:2-3).
The work of The Lord’s disciples is to continue His mission of blanketing the world with His gospel for salvation and eternal life. As they continue with the mission of The Lord, they should give the highest priority in reaching out to the communities of God’s remnant people wherever they are located in the world. This is how they can take part of The Lord Yeshua’s primary task and mission which is the restoration and gathering of the preserved ones or remnant of Israel.
When the last one, the ‘one-hundred forty-four thousandth’, has been sealed and brought to The Christ Yeshua, then He will return and take all of His people with Him:
2 In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.