It is in chapter seven where the wheels really start coming off for those who want too much literal meaning. Some want the 144,000 to represent martyrs. Others want them to literally represent members of the original 12 tribes of Israel. It is a symbolic number, this 12,000 times twelve. Twelve is a somewhat sacred number in scripture, just as the the number seven has special meaning.
But notice that John is saying in verses 3-4 that there is talk of the “servants of God,” and that he heard the number of them (144,000). Then in verse 9 he looked upon “a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb…” This great multitude that no one could number is the same group of people that are numbered 144, 000 in the previous verses. If they were not, both groups would have needed to be “sealed.”
The 144,000 is simply the great number of the faithful from all the earth – the new Israel. John tells us so in verse 14: “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”
Bible Reading Schedule for this month
Click links below to read or listen to audio of one of this week’s chapters in Colossians and Luke
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers
Please visit this site’s menu item “The Author’s Books” for info on the author’s books, website, and Facebook page.
All of my comments in this blog are solely my responsibility. When reading any commentary, you should always refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word.