Recently a young person asked me about the number 144,000 in the book of Revelation. Maybe what I wrote to this person will help answer some of your questions about this number. Honestly, it\’s a little boring, but maybe it\’s worth reading. Anyway, see what you think:
\”Hi ________. You asked a good question about the number 144,000 that is mentioned in the book of Revelation! Let me share with you the way I understand it. The book of Revelation is an БapocalypticБ book, which means it is jammed full of Бword picturesБ ( symbolic beasts and things like that) and symbolic numbers. In Revelation, these numbers often represent something that\’s been made perfect. The number 144,000 is one of those symbolic numbers. It does NOT mean that there will be only 144,000 people taken to heaven, from any period of historyБbeginning, middle, or the end-times. I believe the number 144,000 is connected to the idea that there were originally 12 tribes (Judah, Reuben, Simeon, Levi, etc. ) in Israel. Later in Bible history there were 12 disciples. They were chosen during JesusБ time to represent the 12 original tribes from Israel. Jesus was saying in effect, БBecause things havenБt quite worked out with the 12 tribes the way I had hoped, the playing field just got a lot bigger. Now these 12 men, my special disciples, will build a whole network of Бchosen peopleБ to share my love with the world. WeБll call that network the Christian Church. Б In Revelation, John (the author of Revelation) uses a similar kind of SYMBOLIC or FIGURATIVE LANGUAGE to portray God saying something like this: БOnce again IБm going to use the number 12 in a special way. But this time itБs going to represent those end-times people who have been through so much spiritual trauma and yet stayed true to Me. Yes, those folks are special in My eyes, and there will be plenty of them. Б To help build the case, God uses the number 12 (the number of tribes) and then MULTIPLIES IT BY ANOTHER FORM OF THE NUMBER 12: 12,000!
This big number is an example of one of those important, БperfectБ Bible-times numbers I mentioned earlier. (The numbers 3 and 7 are also important Bible numbers. )* So here it is again: Instead of using the small number 12 to make His point, God uses the number 12,000 and then multiplies it by itself, a Bible way of saying БThis is the perfect number to represent this throng of end-times people. Бб Again, this БperfectБ number merely symbolizes the end-time folks who have been made БperfectБ by believing in Jesus and as a result are going to heaven. Now, if you have chosen to follow Jesus and have asked Him to cover your sins with His perfect life and love, you are going home someday to be with Him! Notice that I did not say БIf you have become perfectБ or БIf you are trying hard to be perfect. Б It is a deep desire to follow the One Who really is perfectБJesusБand a trust in His power, love, and forgiveness that qualifies you for heaven. It may sound complicated, but the bottom line is that 144,000 does NOT mean that thatБs all who will be going to heaven from the last days of earthБs history. It\’s just a Bible-times way of saying there will be a plenty of people going there from the last daysБeveryone who chooses to let God lead in their lives. Anyway, that\’s how I have come to understand it. Others have different viewpoints. Just remember that there will be tons of believers from EVERY period in history, not just the last days, going to heaven. But that is a blog entry for another day! * The numbers 12,000, 144, and 12 also play important figurative roles when John writes about the New Jerusalem (see Revelation 21:10-21). The simple, straight forward and bible- based answer to that interesting question is a big \”YES\”! Revelation 14:1-4 clearly support this answer. \”Then I looked, and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His FatherБs name written on their foreheads.
And I heard a voice from heaven, like the voice of many waters, and like the voice of loud thunder. And I heard the sound of harpists playing their harps. They sang as it were a new song before the throne, before the four living creatures, and the elders; and no one could learn that song except the hundred and forty-four thousand who were redeemed from the earth. These are the ones who were not defiled with women, for they are virgins. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These were redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb. And in their mouth was found no deceit, for they are without fault before the throne of God\” (Revelation 14:1-5 NKJV). Did we notice the figure 144000 and that these are the ones who will be redeemed (purchased, ASV) from the earth? These people are said to be the only ones who. are singing a song, and playing on their harps? Clearly, they are unique and special people, and also peculiar people, and are chosen for a special purpose. The Bible shows that these people are not only fleshly Israelites. they are chosen or selected from all the people\’s of the earth. \”And [now] they sing a new song, saying, You are worthy to take the scroll and to break the seals that are on it, for You were slain (sacrificed), and with Your blood You purchased men unto God from every tribe and language and people and nation. And You have made them a kingdom (royal race) and priests to our God, and they shall reign [as kings] over the earth\” (Revelation 5:9 – 5:10 AMP). \”And formed us into a kingdom (a royal race), priests to His God and Father–to Him be the glory and the power and the majesty and the dominion throughout the ages and forever and ever. Amen (so be it)\”(Revelation 1:6 AMP).
In the above two passages, we learn that those 144000 are going to heaven to form a government and rule as kings and serve as priests with Jesus Christ in heaven, and that that government will take over rulership of the earth. Very interestingly, we have been informed of this by Daniel even before Jesus came down from heaven to the earth: \”And in the days of these [final ten] kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed, nor shall its sovereignty be left to another people; but it shall break and crush and consume all these kingdoms and it shall stand forever\” (Daniel 2:44 AMP) \”I saw in the night visions, and behold, on the clouds of the heavens came One like a Son of man, and He came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before Him. And there was given Him [the Messiah] dominion and glory and kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion which shall not pass away, and His kingdom is one which shall not be destroyed\” (Daniel 7:13 – 7:14 AMP) \”But the saints of the Most High [God] shall receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever, even forever and ever\” (Daniel 7:18 AMP) Jesus confirmed this fact as follows: \”Do not be seized with alarm and struck with fear, little flock, for it is your FatherБs good pleasure to give you the kingdom! \” Luke 12:32-AMP) The 144000 have titles such as \” saints of God\”, \” little flock\”, \” Israel of God\”, \” bride of Christ\”, etc However, let it be understood that the Bible does not say that this number only will be saved. Salvation does not mean going to literal heaven. Be assured that a \”great crowd, which no one can number\” will also be saved, Rev 7:9-14. These will inherit everlasting life here on earth. By this arrangement, God\’s promise to Abraham that all nations will be blessed by his Seed, Gen 22:18, will be fulfilled.