Revelation 14:1 and the Problem of Literalness

Discussion in 'Bible Prophecy' started by Earthbound, Mar 9, 2016.

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    Earthbound

    Earthbound Guest

    Christian greetings, everyone reading this.

    There is one scripture that I wanted to look at in order to help you better understand why I'm presently of the opinion that the use of "144,000" in Revelation is not a literal reference to a literal group. Bear with me if I meander, though.

    Then I looked, and there on Mount Zion stood the Lamb, and with Him were 144,000 who had His name and His Father's name written on their foreheads. — Revelation 14:1, HCSB

    [I didn't pick this particular translation for any other reason than that its nicely-structured translation of the original language. All translations that I am aware of word it similar.]

    We're going to start with the 144,000 and work our way from there. If we say that it surely is a literal number, that's fine so far. It would follow, then, that within the context we acknowledge that the Mount Zion in the vision was literally the Mount Zion and not representative or symbolic of it.

    Likewise of the Lamb. To maintain consistency with our view, this has to be a literal lamb there upon the mountain. In fact, I've seen images where that is how this passage is visually rendered by those artists. But every believer should already know that the Lamb represents or symbolizes the one that the prophet John the baptizer declared as "the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29, NIV)

    Visually, this is how the Watchtower seems to be interpreting Revelation 14:1:

    "the Lamb standing upon"
    • Symbolic/Represents Jesus

    "Mount Zion"
    • Symbolic/Representing the Messianic Kingdom or God's government.

    "a hundred and forty-four thousand"
    • There are literally only 144,000 individuals in this location,

    "having his name and the name of his Father written on their foreheads."

    • Back to symbolic again: "they" will symbolically have Jesus' name and the name Jehovah written on their foreheads."​

    It could be me, but I can't wrap my head around going symbolic, symbolic, shift to literal, and then back to symbolic— especially within the space of one verse? It feels forced to me.

    I know, for example, that 12 as used in the Bible is typically associated with a group that is complete and under blessing. The 12 tribes of Israel and the 12 apostles of Jesus are a couple examples. And multiples of 12 are even more significant in some cases (cf Revelation 4:4).

    To add emphasis or gravity to a number, one would have "thousand" to it (cf Revelation 7:5-8; Revelation 21:16), and if they wanted even more emphasis, immensity, or gravity, then one would add ten thousand. And for the double-dog-dare-you level, you'd add ten thousand times ten thousand, which in some places is translated rightfully as a "myriad" which means "ten thousand."

    Ten thousand is understood by the majority of Bible experts, and can be surmised from its context when used in the Bible, to be an immense and indefinite number. It conveys not just a lot of something, but a WHOLE LOT of something.

    For example, at 2 Chronicles 25:12, we see it used in an abstract sense:

    And there were ten thousand that the sons of Judah captured alive. So they brought them to the top of the crag, and proceeded to throw them from the top of the crag; and they, one and all, burst apart. — 2 Chronicles 25:12, NWT

    Now, I suppose we could say that someone kept count throughout this, and that they really did shove 10,000 enemies off the cliff here, but I am more inclined to believe that the significance here is not that there were literally 10,000 individuals who were killed, but rather, that the number was too many to count. Ten thousand is used in a superlative sense in much the same way a person might say a gazillion or bazillion.

    In simpler terms: thousand is used in the Bible to denote a lot of something. Ten thousand is used in the Bible to denote a whole lot of something.

    Based on this, 12 in a superlative sense would go thus:

    12 --> 24 --> 12 x 1000 --> 12 x 10,000
    If 12 is considered a "perfect" number as most commentaries refer to it, wouldn't it seem reasonable that 12 times 12 would reflect or represent an exceeding perfection and completeness?

    For example, according to Revelation 7:4-8 there will be "12 times a thousand" from each of the tribes of Israel, adding up to 144,000 who are sealed.

    Likewise, the measurements of the City having real foundations is described as 12 times "a thousand" furlongs in both length and breadth and height. The wall of the city likewise measured to 144 (multiple of 12) cubits "according to a man's measure" as well as "an angel's measure." (Revelation 21:17).

    Are these literal numbers, then, or figurative/symbolic/representative? Will we see a new Jerusalem descending from heaven that measures about 375 (after converting furlongs to miles) miles wide, deep, and tall? Personally, I feel confident in holding the view that the point here is that it will be far beyond any human city in scope and majesty. After all, the extent of the planet's own atmosphere is around 300 miles or so— and most of that is within the first 10 miles of the surface. If we literalize the numbers here, the city will rise outside of the earth's own atmosphere!!

    Sidenote: I find it interesting that the tower at Babel was man's attempt to build a structure that would reach into heaven, and today men continue to build "sky scrapers." Yet, the new Jerusalem, if it was literal, would accomplish precisely what humans cannot: a building that reaches into heaven (extends beyond the earth's own atmosphere)!​

    An additional challenge involves Revelation 14:1 if the "144,000" is understood to be literally one hundred and forty-four individuals, then we can't go and say that the "144,000" found at Revelation 7:4 is symbolic since it's there referring to 12 tribes of Israel. It seems like that sort of argumentation would fall under a pick-and-choose approach to the subject where if a person doesn't like where something's leading, they bend it to make it fit something else.

    In other words, if the "144,000" at Revelation 14:1 is literally 144,000 people, then those people must literally be of the Israelite tribes mentioned at Revelation 7:4. Or, we're going to find ourselves painted into a corner because we have two different instances of a literal 144,000 people: the ones at Revelation 14:1 and the ones at Revelation 7:4.

    I'll stop there for now, and allow for responses.

    ~ Earthbound ~
     
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    Joshuastone7

    Joshuastone7 Administrator Staff Member

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    Greetings brother, I think I stayed up to late last night, I couldn't sleep till I answered a thread in "Anointed and today's prophets". You know those moments you have to just get up and do something or your never going to sleep? :confused:

    Anyhow, right into it... Let me take you back to Rev 7. In that chapter you will notice two different groups of people spoken of, in that of the 144k and the great crowd. My question to you is this; why is the second groups number undetermined? Your argument for an undetermined number seems to fit this great crowd well, but the 144k in this chapter seems to indicate that this number is intended to be smaller then that of the great crowd. In fact it could be said that the 144k are intended to be a finite number compared to the great crowd. Wouldn't you say?

    So with that said, can we not be somewhat sure that the 144k number is intended to be smaller then the great crowd? Now, if this is the case, then why is there a number at all? Why didn't Jehovah just say "small crowd", or the like, when comparing with the great crowd?

    Finally if we are to understand the 144k are a finite number compared to the great crowd then can we say for sure that the 144k is a metaphoric number? Should not the understanding simply be that the number appears to be "numbered" unlike the great crowd? Therefore it seems likely that whatever that number is, then it must be either exactly 144k, or approximate right? If your understanding is that the 144k is to represent an approximate number then it must be somewhere around 144k, and therefore there's no reason to think the number couldn't be accurate either...

    I understand your argument about the players within the scriptures and their actions being symbolic, but it could also be argued that numbers themselves can be separated from the story line if it could be presented that every other number in Rev was literal. Let's say for example that we could present every other number in Rev as meant to be literal, there would be a presidence for the 144k being so as well. No doubt that is a whole other subject and one that would be quite in depth, but I'm just presenting a school of thought.

    Now whether we believe that number is literal or not, doesn't it seem likely that it is finite compared to the great crowd?
     
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    Earthbound

    Earthbound Guest

    Christian greetings, JoshuaStone7,

    I'm actually in full agreement with you that "it could also be argued..." and I don't personally have any problem with there being two schools of thought on the matter when they're both rooted in scripture. It goes back to what I said elsewhere about "Rorschach" passages and verses which have a certain ambiguity to them. Our views on this have no impact on my Christian love for you, or my looking forward to when we encounter each other in the Messianic Kingdom and can laugh about all the things we thought were a big deal, as well as the things that we were convinced we were right about.

    And although I'm rusty in my explaining, I'll try to do my best to explain why I am presently where I'm at with the subject of the 144,000, relying on scriptural precedents especially. I expect nothing less than to fulfill Proverbs 27:17 with your help, as well as anyone else's who would like to join the discussion.

    I will begin my reply in a separate reply to your follow-up, if that's okay.

    ~ Earthbound ~
     
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    Joshuastone7

    Joshuastone7 Administrator Staff Member

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    Hey, I like this pre-followup response, I'll have to use that sometime! I appreciate your concern for a debating scenario having an impact on our Christian fellowship, and I assure you that our conversations here are the very reason we have this forum. I learn more from those who disagree with me on some point, because they see the coin from another angle and grant me the opportunity to think of scripture in a way I had not before, and I value that greatly. I like to be challenged, that to me fulfills Prov 27:17.

    You mention the "Rorschach" aspect of scripture. You know I've noticed something over the years as time has progressed, that sometimes scripture and prophecy are multi-fold, let me give you an example. The subject of the two witnesses had been discussed back and forth between a few of us on here for years, some saying the two represent the group as a whole and others claiming they were individuals. You know what I finally discovered? I finally determined that both understandings were correct. Now, I don't expect anyone to agree with me or not, but I had come to the conclusion this was the case.

    So this wasn't the only subject, it's also included several others as well... Jehovah's word doesn't appear to be one dimensional, but rather 2D and 3D...

    It's best to get our glasses out when reading others responses whom are well read, just so long as their not rose colored! :cool:

    [​IMG]
     
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    Earthbound

    Earthbound Guest

    Christian greetings, JoshuaStone7,

    I'll start by saying that my present view is that the "144,000" is representative of those who Jesus described as "enduring to the end" and is saved. A much larger number by comparison (as you pointed out) will be those who will constitute a "great crowd" as dead ones from recent to distant history are resurrected with the veil lifted from their mind's eye for the first time in their lives, all elements of sorrow removed, limbs restored, and so on, as they come in a period of judgment of second, permanent death.

    As for those who endured to the end of this system, they will become a part of that symbolic group of divine favor. In the Messianic Kingdom, they will rule as kings and priests in what I believe will be a capacity similar to that in early Israel following Moses's delegating of matters to certain men, and in a fashion similar to the Jewish arrangement with a high priest and then other priests over which he presides.

    As for the "kings" part, I can go one of two ways on that one. It could mean that those among the "144,000" will act in-- for lack of a more contemporary term we're both familiar with-- the capacity of a "district overseer." However, the problem with that role in my mind is that man was never granted authority over other men from the start. It was man's idea to start dominating other men to their injury, not Jehovah's. To have something that was not given from the very beginning in a perfect kingdom makes no sense to me in a kingly capacity, since a king decides if someone lives or dies, if they're exonerated or condemned.

    So, another possibility I tend to lean more towards is that these ones (the "144,000") will truly be kings in the Edenic sense, having authority over the animal kingdom— not like the exploitation we've done through the ages. I'd even go so far as to say that these ones will be how a wolf will be safe around a lamb, and in similar ways be they will be one with the animal kingdom (See Isaiah 11:6) which as for so long been subjected to the fear of Man that Jehovah instilled in animals for their own sake (See Genesis 9:2), since their original nature was to be completely fine with us, and submit to us as "gods." (cf Genesis 1:28; Psalms 82:6)

    Enough prefacing, lol...

    The account reads that no man could number how many are part of the second group... IF it is, indeed a separate group at all, since all it says is that John switches from one vision to another: "After these things I saw..." (Revelation 7:9). One could feasibly connect them in this way:

    Rev 7:15, 17 That is why they are before the throne of God... the Lamb, who is in the midst of the throne, will shepherd them...

    Rev 14:1 And I saw, and, look! the Lamb standing upon the Mount Zion, and with him a hundred and forty-four thousand having his name and the name of his Father written on their foreheads.

    The "throne of God" is symbolized by Mount Zion, and the lamb represents Jesus, of course. So, the only variant to be had here is that in one vision this group is described as "144,000" and another vision the group is described as a number no man could assign, or a "great crowd."

    By saying no man could number that "great crowd," that would make sense to me, too. Even today, we don't know how many will be resurrected, or even who will be. But however many that group proves to be, not a single one will be missing— and that's borne out by applying the number associated with divine perfection, 12, and then turning it into a multiple (12 x 12) and to magnify all of that by adding the "thousand" to the number. For the Hebrews, the use of 12 represented just that and would have understood it much the same, even during early Christianity. Today, we can get down to the most finite of numbers through calculations, but during the time of early Christianity, early believers were rounding off and using the multiple concept as well as the magnification concept when specifics were needed.

    But like I said, too, I tend to lean toward the view that the "great crowd" will be those who have yet to come to truly know God, once their veil is lifted. I just want to endure, and there are days when even that's difficult.

    So, I'd agree with you that the 144,000 will be smaller than the "great crowd," but not that the 144,000 are literally one hundred forty-four thousand individuals any more than there was a literal physical lamb standing there on God's throne (Mount Zion). What the 144,000 does tell us is that the number of this group has been pre-determined and set by Jehovah Himself, and will be complete and magnificently perfect in its completeness as represented by the use of the Hebrew principle behind (12 x 12) x 1000 in relation to these ones, marking them especially precious to Jehovah, for they died or were killed by reason of their faith.

    ...even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blemish before him in love... — Ephesians 1:4, ASV

    I'll stop there to keep the post from getting to my usual rambling length.

    ~ Earthbound ~
     
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    Earthbound

    Earthbound Guest

    Been there, yes. But these past few days it's been especially aggravating when I am lines and lines into a response and my big fat finger grazes some combination of keys that suddenly sends me off to some other page I'd bookmarked, and my hard work just vanishes on me. I appreciate the board's ability to save drafts, but in both cases I lost a significant chunk of response to a couple posts, and rather than start all over again, I just have to let it be because I don't have the time left to figure out what I was just saying before I was surprised out of my head and panicking to get back, and figure it will never be as good as when I first wrote whatever it was.

    Just an inserted whine. ;)

    ~ Earthbound ~
     
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    Earthbound

    Earthbound Guest

    Christian greetings to you, JoshuaStone7,

    Because the number represents everything that this particular group is about without having to say it all. Same with the lamb. Why not just say Jesus? Why use a lamb in the vision, if not for what it represented: Jesus. That symbol told John everything he needed to know. Not just that it was Jesus, but everything associated with Jesus of Nazareth. All of that summed up in two words: the Lamb.

    So, I apply the same principle to the symbolic 144,000. It's meant to sum up everything associated with this group. It doesn't need to be literally that many people for me to appreciate what is being summed up by the symbolism within this choice of number as it reveals the certainty that Jehovah will not allow a single one to escape His hand:

    Do not two sparrows sell for a coin of small value? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground without YOUR Father's [knowledge]. But the very hairs of YOUR head are all numbered. Therefore have no fear: YOU are worth more than many sparrows. — Mat 10:29-31, NWT

    I have absolutely NO idea how many hairs on my head, although there are less than when I was younger. But our Father knows. For our part, we can say in a scriptural sense that there are 144,000 hairs on our head by reason of the above-cited scripture, right? Not a one is missing that He doesn't know about.

    Remember, 666 is a specific number but has a symbolic meaning, and we're very unlikely to see people going around with the numbers 666 or 6,6,6 etched onto or beneath the skin of their forehead, or in their hand. It represents the imposition that will come upon the people of that time, rich and poor alike. Refusal will mean you can't buy or sell. Won't that prove to be an interesting time of testing for our faith. o_O

    ~ Earthbound ~
     
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    Earthbound

    Earthbound Guest

    ... continuing...

    I'd concede that the numbering has been established, but that we do not know what that number will prove to be, so we use the Hebrew/Judaic symbolism of 144,000 explained in my previous response. Jehovah alone knows the number who will be included in the group that endures to the end, and will be saved. He's known it from the beginning if Ephesians 1:4 is right.

    If there does turn out to be literally 144,000 individuals, it will not break my heart. However many it is, it will be every one of them Jehovah deems deserving, and in the end I feel that's the more important thing we can't lose sight of. And it will be a time of joy. :)

    Alright, I've typed enough. Time for someone else to have a turn.

    ~ Earthbound ~
     
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    Joshuastone7

    Joshuastone7 Administrator Staff Member

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    Greetings brother, and good evening.. :D

    Okay, the first thing that comes to mind when considering your scenario here is Rev 7:14 "These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation." The angel claims that these ones of the great crowd come out of the great tribulation, therefore unless your prepared to say that the resurrection happens before the end of this world then those of the great crowd can only include those who witness and live through that great tribulation, correct?

    Here again I would say that the only group with a description of where they came from is the great crowd, who is said to come out of the great tribulation. As for the 144k, there is no indication that these ones lived through the great tribulation, this statement is only reserved for the great crowd.

    We should keep in mind that when these 144k are seen standing next to the Lord there is still many events to occur in the time of the end. We read in Rev 14 that the 144k are seen even before Babylon the Great goes down, before the message of everlasting good news to the world, and some even of the 144k will be killed after they have been seen with Christ Jesus. "Write: Happy are the dead who die in union with the Lord from this time onward." (Rev 14:13) So can we say anyone's been resurrected back to earth as humans at that point if some are still going to die?

    This is no doubt the reason the souls under the alter are told to wait until their fellow slaves and brothers were about to be killed. (Rev 6:11)

    Ultimately the great crowd comes out of the great tribulation (Hence maybe the name, denoting what they just experienced?), meaning they witnessed it, and in my opinion it doesn't seem reasonable for Jehovah to resurrect everyone from the past before those of this system are done away with at Armageddon.

    Warning, personal opinion coming from me! :) As you know, I currently hold to the idea that the 144k will be resurrected as spirit beings, so with that said;

    I've always liked the idea of the 144k ruling as judges of the dead, not the living. Who better to choose who is resurrected into the new world then previously sinful humans? Perhaps going back and plucking them out of time...

    Okay, personal opinion completed... ;)

    To me the statement "after these things I saw" includes the 144k whom he just saw (and I'm sure you agree with that), but the next natural progression of conversational reading would suggest that the next group of people would not include "these things" in what he had previously "saw", but that any new group would not include anything seen in the first.

    Besides, in my opinion the strongest argument against them being the same group is the fact the first is numbered. It doesn't make sense for Jehovah to name them as 144k to only then represent them as an unnumbered group a few sentences later after he just numbered them above.

    144k = Numbered
    Great crowd = No man can number

    I can certainly respect the thought that maybe the 144k isn't a literal number, after all this subject has absolutely nothing to do with our salvation, or worship of Jehovah at any point in the future, it's just fun to debate and try and unlock this wonderful mystery that is the Bible. :)

    We certainly seem to agree that the 144k are a finite number compared to the great crowd, therefore the question is raised whether Jehovah would present that number as a metaphor, or it is meant as literal.

    It is my opinion that we can separate the two groups in that of the 144k and the great crowd pretty definitively, but as to their identity I would need a little more clarification from you on how you overcome Rev 7:14 where we read the great crowd comes out of the great tribulation, and note that this group is seen before the 7th seal in Rev 8:1, and as well the events to occur after the 144k are seen, and before the end of this system.

    Thank you brother for the conversation, enjoying it immensely... ;)
     
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    Joshuastone7

    Joshuastone7 Administrator Staff Member

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    lol... We've all been there, and that moment you wonder if you could ever rewrite it as well as the first time. I happen to just repeat the same things before every post, that his words be presented, and his will and spirit. Though this is the goal, our battle is to constantly get our own understanding out of the way and allow the book to speak for itself, and in that our peers have varying ability... Just my two cents... o_O
     
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    Joshuastone7

    Joshuastone7 Administrator Staff Member

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    You know, I actually see the 666 as something that will be represented as a literal presence, such as the idol set up by Nebi measuring 60x6x6, but I know what you mean as it pertains to those who take on the number to themselves being a metaphor, but what if the number in someway becomes literal in it's fulfillment?

    Again the numbers could be separated from the actors and actions.

    I am again just now reminded of something I said to you a few posts back. Do you remember my example of the two witnesses, and how I have been convinced they represent the group as a whole and as well the two individuals? It is possible we are looking at this coin from two different sides, that in fact all of the symbolism you have presented applies to the 144k, but still can be numbered. Not unlike the lamb represents the sacrifice as well as our Lord... Maybe we're both right...

    Just a thought... :) (We need more smileys!)
     
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    Joshuastone7

    Joshuastone7 Administrator Staff Member

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    I think what we may find brother is what I just mentioned in my last post above, we very well both may be right somewhere in the middle... :D (We still need more smileys..lol)
     
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    Earthbound

    Earthbound Guest

    It must be too early, as I can't discern what you're asking here in relation to what you quoted; but maybe it would help if you could talk a bit about what I might have said which might have you thinking I believe that the resurrection occurs before the end of this system.

    That the "144,000" represents the sum total of all those who will have endured to the end, and that the "great crowd" represents those whom I reason will be restored to life in the resurrection of the righteous and unrighteous, when those who lived their lives with a veil of one sort or another interfered with them knowing our Father doesn't imply that I believe that the resurrection occurs before the end of this system of things, does it?

    Speaking of resurrections, and please let me emphasis strongly that I am speculating here, but I suspect that all of the unborn children that were aborted or died through miscarriage will be given to those women who never knew the joy of motherhood because of barrenness. We know that Jehovah has the capacity to do so just by looking at Mary, the mother of Jesus. Not because they wouldn't be able to have children in the Messianic Kingdom, but that those women will be offered that particular blessing in addition to having their own children. But again, that's pure unadulterated speculation on my part.

    In any case, the resurrection of the "great crowd" could very well have something to do with their works, because even though they didn't necessarily know our Father, Jehovah did instill in them a natural law. This particular view is based on my reading of Revelation 20 and Romans 2:

    And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds... And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds... —Revelation 20:12-13

    For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus. — Romans 2:14-16, ESV

    ~ Earthbound ~
     
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    Earthbound

    Earthbound Guest

    Several hours later, re-reading my response, I can see now what you might have been getting at, and will reply as soon as I can, JoshuaStone7. I believe you were wanting to know how the "tribulation" fits into what I was saying about the great crowd... right?

    ~ Earthbound ~
     
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    Joshuastone7 Administrator Staff Member

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    Good morning, not awake yet... o_O

    No problem, let me phrase a different way. You said you believed the great crowd are those resurrected back to earth into the new world, but the objection I saw to that is these ones come out of the great tribulation. The great tribulation only occurs in a very short span of time in the end, which means anyone that is a part of the great crowd would have had to witness that great tribulation.
     
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    Frank Conger

    Frank Conger Guest

    Hi Joshua:

    This has been an interesting discussion to follow. I have a question for either you and earthbound or actually anyone who cares to answer. In Revelation 7 and 14 there are groups of 144,000 mentioned. What is the scriptural evidence that you use to suggest that these groups are one and the same? Could there not be two "distinct" groups of 144,000 absent clear cut scriptural proof to the contrary. What is the "context" of either scripture? The context may help to determine who these groups are. I look forward to an answer from anyone who cares to take a stab at it.

    Frank
     
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    Earthbound

    Earthbound Guest

    Good evening, JoshuaStone7, and Christian greetings,

    I finally found my notes and references, and am still reading through them. But I misspoke myself earlier in this post, and I apologize for the confusion.

    I want to take some more time to review these notes and references before elaborating, however, on what I thought I was saying. It's been a very long time since I got into prophecy with the same level of interest you and others here come across as having. Over the years since my excommunication/disfellowshipping, it became enough for me to "make it [my] ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to [my] own business and work with [my] hands, just as we commanded you, so that will behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need." (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12, NASB

    Did I mention that I'm rusty? My prophecy muscles are slack and sloppy from disuse. ;)

    In any case, I would like the opportunity to start over, mostly from my own sake so I can see well enough to scrape off the oxidation that has settled on my thinking in these matters, and see what's left of the mettle (pardon the pun, but the idiom works here) beneath. ;)

    ____________________________

    At this point, I am still of the opinion, based on the argumentation I posted above as to how numbers were used and understood by Jews. So I will only briefly restate my reading before picking up from there to re-clarify my scriptural position on the related topics we started on after that.

    If I misunderstand or misrepresent the Watchtower's present teaching on matters, please let me know as I haven't spent time "keeping up with the Joneses" in the years following their decision to remove me from the "in" crowd, as it were. I did for a time, as I worked through some of the emotional and spiritual issues that ensued following that, but it's become less and less essential to me as the years have pressed onwards, and my life shifted from delving into prophecy and more into refining my own self in light of the above-mentioned 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12.

    It would probably be tremendously helpful to me, too, to stick with a particular topic and make sure I have all my ducks in a row before connecting it to the next relevant aspect of prophecy. As we both surely know, the Watchtower's theophany and doctrines regarding prophetic matters have had decades to be shaped and molded, and is still wrong in some areas— maybe more than some. At the same time, certain views have been repeated to such an extent that it can be challenging to see a thing in any other light as anything but what someone else decided that it is.

    The only reliable way to make sure of all things is to have the "freeness of speech" to be able to speak openly on these things, to have others examine them and compare them with what they've managed to discern. This opinion, of course, is part of my motivation for asking in a separate discussion how comfortable the board is with discussions that venture "outside the box." Some boards are very adamant that posters are not to question the various wisdoms of the Watchtower, others are so anti-JW and anti-Watchtower that they welcome any and every notion, so long as it denigrates either Jehovah's Witnesses or the Watchtower— preferably both for the most accolades.

    Personally, I'm of the opinion that prophecy is non-salvational in that we don't need to understand prophecy and how it all ties together in order to demonstrate we're truly dedicating our very souls to our Redeemer... and thankfully so. I also stand opposed to upholding a particular prophetic interpretation in order to be perceived as "being in the truth" or a "true" Christian or to prove our "unity" as a worldwide brotherhood. If that was the case, the apostles must immediately be shown the door, because they certainly had some wrong ideas and errant expectations, even into the years following Jesus' departure from them.

    There. Have I prefaced enough? lol

    ____________________________

    Alright, so going back to the 144,000.

    If I understand the Watchtower's interpretation, it goes something like this:

    [​IMG]

    Would you agree that my representation of the Watchtower's view is correct? If so, I'll go on from here. Otherwise, I would like to establish first a correct understanding of the current teaching of the Watchtower on Revelation 14:1 before I continue.

    ~ Earthbound ~
     
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    Joshuastone7 Administrator Staff Member

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    Completely agreed brother... :)

    I concur that this is the current understanding of the WTS.

    Many of us here that have been together some years disagree (of course) with one aspect of said understanding, in that we do not believe only JW's contain Christs brothers, and that just because they may not be current members of the society, that doesn't not change the fact.
     
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    Earthbound Guest

    Christian greetings, JoshuaStone7,

    I would be in agreement with this, as well, in and of itself. But on what scriptural basis do you arrive at a different view than that of the Watchtower? I'll have a look at them and draw my own conclusions, and we can compare notes.

    We'll use this as our baseline for what follows. In the process, I will correct and or clarify some of what I wrote earlier; I've no problem or ego, per se, to hinder my publicly acknowledging goofs and gaffs, or my earnestness in setting things right. I'm coming into this on the presumption that I am wrong on a lot of things I think I have right. It builds character to have it so. My job is to weed the garden to my best effort until the day when the veil is lifted, right? If that makes any sense.

    Now, where we left off, we were discussing our conclusions about how to interpret Revelation 14:1.

    I was of the opinion that if three out of four of the symbols used in the particular scripture are representative, then on the basis of Proverbs 11:1, which reads "A false balance is an abomination to the LORD; But a perfect weight is His delight." (JPS Tanakh 1917) and again at Proverbs 20:10: "Differing weights and differing measures, Both of them are abominable to the LORD." (NASB) you must keep the fourth like the adjoining symbols, which would require that the 144,000 be a symbol representative of something. And that is where we seem to branch into different directions, because you see it not as a symbol but rather a counting of individuals summing 144,000 who make up the Watchtower's "anointed class," even though you believe the individuals "may not be current members of the society," in your estimation.

    If I understood you correctly from earlier in the discussion, your reason for your view is because we are given a count in regard to this group, but not a count in regard to the "great crowd."

    I'm just trying to establish a baseline, and then go from there as we both share the specifics. Keeping things short and concise will also be helping me freshen up on my expressing myself through writing, because I'm sure you've seen or heard how a text message or email or post is misunderstood because we, as humans, rely on a great many factors when it comes to communication— factors such as as facial expressions, tone of voice, proximity, and all the rest when processing communication of ideas. None of which we have in this type of environment. So it requires more than the usual effort to engage others in this format.

    I appreciate the opportunity to do so through a sharing of faith and experiences.

    ~ Earthbound ~
     
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    Earthbound Guest

    Christian greetings, JoshuaStone7,

    Another aspect that I'm hoping you can help me better understand is if 144,000 is a specific number, why are you not applying that same principle to the specifically-named tribes of Israel which the Bible asserts to be composing this number? In other words, if 144,000 is a specific number, then surely the fact that specific names of tribes of Israel are declared means that the Christian Jews are the 144,000, I would think. Not a non-specific "spiritual Israel." Otherwise, why be that specific in identifying specific tribes of Israel if you mean in a spiritual sense?

    ~ Earthbound ~
     

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