I have recently received this letter from a reader of the portal Moldova Creștină:
I work with people who are Jehovah’s witnesses. I had many talks with them, but I want to ask you how you explain the number of 144,000 people written in the Book of Revelation? They say that only this number of people will go to heaven.
There are two references to this number in the Book of Revelation and in this article I will present the context and the teaching regarding those 144,000 mentioned people.
Those 144,000 are from the people of Israel
The Book of Revelation describes the event that will take place in those 7 years of the great tribulation before the Kingdom of 1000 years will be established, then it describes this Kingdom, then the Day of Great Judgement and the creation of a new heaven and earth. Crhistians are mentioned very seldom as a part of these events, but it is spoken very much about the people of Israel and it refers to them as “saints”. So, when it describes the events to take place in those 7 years of the great tribulation, John, through whom the Book of Revelation was written, said:
After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth, so that no wind would blow on the earth or on the sea or on any tree. And I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, having the seal of the living God; and he cried out with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea, saying, “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees until we have sealed the bond-servants of our God on their foreheads.” And I heard the number of those who were sealed, one hundred and forty-four thousand sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel. (Revelation 7:1–4)(NASB)
Then it is written the list of those twelve tribes of the sons of Israel and it specifies that 12,000 people were sealed from every tribe.
True Christians will have already been in heaven when those 144,000 bond-servants of God from Israel will be sealed
Immediately after this event when these 144,000 bond-servants from the people of Israel were sealed, event that will take place on earth, John describes the next event from heavens:
After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands; and they cry out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures; and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, “Amen, blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might, be to our God forever and ever Amen.” Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, “These who are clothed in the white robes, who are they, and where have they come from?” I said to him, “My lord, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. ”For this reason, they are before the throne of God; and they serve Him day and night in His temple; and He who sits on the throne will spread His tabernacle over them. They will hunger no longer, nor thirst anymore; nor will the sun beat down on them, nor any heat; for the Lamb in the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and will guide them to springs of the water of life; and God will wipe every tear from their eyes.” (Revelation 7:9–17)(NASB)
So, true Christians will be in heavens with the Lord Jesus. They will be very many from every nation and from every people.
Those 144,000 bond-servants from Israel have been purchased from the earth
I remind the reader that all events described in the Book of Revelation take place during those 7 years before the Lord Jesus establishes the Kingdom of 1000 years on earth. The seventh chapter from the Book of Revelation talks about an angel who has sealed those 144,000 bond-servants from Israel, so that they may not be harmed by the curses that have to come upon the earth. The 14th chapter of the Book of Revelation describes the meeting between the Lord Jesus and these bond-servants:
Then I looked, and behold, the Lamb was standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His name and the name of His Father written on their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven, like the sound of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder, and the voice which I heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps. And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders; and no one could learn the song except the one hundred and forty-four thousand who had been purchased from the earth. These are the ones who have not been defiled with women, for they have kept themselves chaste These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes These have been purchased from among men as first fruits to God and to the Lamb. And no lie was found in their mouth; they are blameless. (Revelation 14:1–5)(NASB)
If chapter 7 of the Book of Revelation describes these 144,000 bond-servants on earth, then chapter 14 presents them on the Mount Zion and then before the throne from heavens. Now they joined that great multitude of Christians from all nations.
Those 144,000 bond-servants that will be sealed by God are only from the people of Israel
When they are sealed, during the great tribulation, Christians from all nations will have already been in heaven. The sealing of those 144,000 will take place after Christians will be caught up to heaven.
Those 144,000 bond-servants from Israel will join later the huge multitude of Christians from heaven.
Those 144,000 bond-servants from Israel are not the only ones to inherit the Kingdom of Heavens.
Those who preach that only those 144,000 people will inherit the Kingdom of Heavens tell a lie and they make those who are naive loose their hope in the salvation that the Lord Jesus brings to every man.
Translated by Felicia Djugostran