144,000???? Help me!


#1

I was reading Revelation awhile back and I kept seeing the number 144,000 or something like that. It was the number of saints or the people with God written on their forehead or something. My question is, I’m not quite understanding this number or what it really means (and yes, I CANNOT interpret Scripture on my own, I need help with the Church!) and what does it mean?

I’m taking it like it is the number of people that are going to Heaven or something? What’s the Church’s teaching on this?


#2

[quote=Paris Blues]I was reading Revelation awhile back and I kept seeing the number 144,000 or something like that. It was the number of saints or the people with God written on their forehead or something. My question is, I’m not quite understanding this number or what it really means (and yes, I CANNOT interpret Scripture on my own, I need help with the Church!) and what does it mean?

I’m taking it like it is the number of people that are going to Heaven or something? What’s the Church’s teaching on this?
[/quote]

Read the introduction to Revelations if you want to be able to read the book profitably. The book is highly symbolic.

and numbers (four signifies the world, six imperfection, seven totality or perfection, twelve Israel’s tribes or the apostles, one thousand immensity).

12 X 12 X 1000= 144,000.

-Rob


#3

From Catholic Answers:

Q: The Jehovah’s Witnesses stress the 144,000. What 's the real scoop on this number?
A: The 144,000 people described in two passages of the Bible: Revelation 7:1-8 and 14:1-5. According to the first passage, they are “the servants of . . . God” (7:3) who are pictured as being sealed upon their foreheads. Verses 4-8 depict there being twelve thousand sealed from each of the twelve tribes of Israel, giving a total of 144,000.

In Revelation 14:1 we are told that the seal on their foreheads is Christ’s and his Father’s name. The 144,000 are with Jesus, and they sing a unique song of worship, which no one else can learn (14:3). In 14:4-5 we are told more about their identity: “It is these who have not defiled themselves with women, for they are chaste [Greek, “virgins”]; it is these who follow the Lamb wherever he goes; these have been redeemed from mankind as first fruits for God and the Lamb, and in their mouth no lie was found, for they are spotless.”

The Witnesses say these people represent the Church of Christ, the Israel of God, and this is a common view among Bible scholars, one that has had a long history in the interpretation of Revelation. The 144,000 are taken as a symbol of the Christian faithful. It is what Witnesses say next that is bizarre.

Supposedly God began collecting the 144,000 at Pentecost in AD. 33 but stopped collecting them in 1935, when the full number was reached. Some of the 144,000 are still living, and they are all Jehovah’s Witnesses. As of 1986 there were only about 9,000 of the 144,000 left alive. Since the Jehovah’s Witnesses are a larger group, possessing several million members, how are the rest of the Witnesses regarded? As non-members of the body of Christ. They will still be saved in the end, but they will not be part of the body and will not go to heaven. They are considered part of the “great crowd” mentioned in Revelation 7:9-10.

In Jehovah’s Witness “kingdom halls” (church buildings) only members of the 144,000 are allowed to receive communion when the Lord’s Supper is celebrated (which is done infrequently). Sometimes kingdom halls celebrate the Lord’s Supper and no one receives communion since none of the 144,000 are present.

Needless to say, the Witness’s view is riddled with holes. When discussing the 144,000 with Witnesses, make them realize that they are being inconsistent in how they interpret the texts where the 144,000 are mentioned. They insist that there are exactly 144,000 of these people, no more and no less, making it a literal number, but they interpret every other detail about this group in a symbolic manner.

If they were consistent, they would have to conclude that the 144,000 are Jews, drawn equally from the twelve tribes of Israel (most of which are now unrecognizably lost), that they are all male virgins who do not lie and who have two names literally written on their foreheads. The problem is that almost none of the 9,000 Witnesses supposed to be members of this group fit this description. Many of them are married Gentile women with children, and they presumably have bent the truth more than a few times in their lives.

The only detail from the text that the Witnesses take literally is the number. Every other detail of the text is taken non-literally. They should either take all of the details literally or see the 144,000 as a symbol of the Church as a whole (as does virtually everyone else).

If you’re going to be trying to understand as difficult a book as Revelation (singular, not plural, BTW), you had better get a decent Catholic commentary. I’d recommend the Navarre volume on this.

If you are looking an an in depth treatment, get Scott Hahn’s mega-tape treatment, “The End” available from St. Joseph’s Communications at www.saintjoe.com. There is also a workbook available that goes with it.

In the meantime, check this out:
catholic.com/thisrock/2002/0209fea5.asp


#4

It is total baloney that 144,000 people will go to heaven.

It’s not wild numerology or anything nutty either.

Remember your math, that 144 is 12 x 12.

The number 144 symbolized a square being the 12 tribes of Israel x the 12 Apostles. Multiplying by 1,000 was a way of saying “lots and lots.”

Thus, it may be understood as a reference to the population of heaven by Jews and Gentiles alike, the old and new covenant communities.

Lots and lots of people.

Which of course is what the Apostles were doing when John wrote this text: they converted people starting with the Jews, and then offered the Gospel to the Gentiles.


#5

Funny - I was just reading this section for my meditation before Mass last Sunday.

Right after this 144,000 number there is a passage where John refers to all the tribes and all the peoples, too many for him to count…I am paraphrasing, so please forgive my vagueness. I remember thinking at the time, “Well, this sort of blows that idea of only 144,000 people getting into heaven out of the water, doesn’t it?”.

Anyway, the Book of Revelations is certainly a difficult book to read. It is so full of imagery and symbolism. The wording alone can be overwhelming, simply in its beauty.


#6

Speaking of the Navarre commentary on Revelation, here’s what it has to say about these verses:

7:1-17. This chapter consists of two visions designed to illustrate God’s
protection of Christians and the happy circumstances of the martyrs.
The victory of the Church is depicted–of the entire Church, made up of
people from the four points of the compass (vv. 9-12). What is not so
clear, however, is who the one hundred and fort four thousand are,
drawn from the twelve tribes of Israel, whom an angel has marked with
the seal of the living God (vv. 1-8). Some commentators interpret them
as all being Christians of Jewish background (Judaeo-Christians).
Others say that they are those who make up the new Israel which St Paul
speaks about in Galatians 6:17; that is, all the baptized viewed first
as still engaged in their battle (vv. 1-8) and then after they have won
victory (vv. 9-17). The most plausible interpretation is that the one
hundred and forty four thousand stand for the Jews converted to
Christianity (as distinct from those not converted)–the ‘remnant of
Israel’ (cf. Is 4:2-4; Ezek 9; etc.). St Paul says that they prove the
irrevocable nature of God’s election (cf. Rom 1l:1-5) and are the
first-fruits of the restoration which will come about at the End (cf.
Rom 11:25-32).

The hundred and forty-four thousand are included in the second vision;
they would be part of the great multitude “from all tribes and people
and tongues”. Thus, the vision in vv. 9-17 takes in the entire Church
without any distinctions, whereas the vision in vv. 1-8 can refer only
to a part of the Church–those Jews who, by becoming Christians, made
up the original nucleus of the Church. The Church admits these on the
same basis as all those who become Christians later without having had
to pass through any stage of Jewish observance…
The number of those sealed (12 x 12 x 1000) symbolizes completeness,
totality–in this instance, a huge multitude, depicted as the new
Israel. Included in this number are the descendants of Jacob who
receive Baptism, irrespective of when they do. Obviously this number is
not meant to be taken literally, as if only one hundred and forty-four
thousand people will attain salvation. In this scene all those of
Gentile background who become Christians over the course of history are
explicitly not included. They will appear in the vision which follows.

14:1-3. It is highly significant that the Lamb stands on Mount Zion, in
Jerusalem, which was where God dwelt among men according to the Old
Testament (cf. Ps 74:1; 132:14; etc.) and where, according to certain
Jewish traditions, the Messiah would appear, to join all his followers.
The assembly, then, is an idealization of the Church, protected by
Christ and gathered about him. It includes all those who belong to
Christ and to the Father and who therefore bear his mark, which shows
them to be children of God. They are so many that it is impossible to
count them, but their number is complete: they are given a symbolic
number which is 12 (the tribes of Israel) by 12 (the Apostles) by 1000
(a number indicating a huge scale): cf. Rev 7:3ff.

The one hundred and forty-four thousand are not yet in heaven (for the
loud noise comes from heaven); they are on earth, but they have been
rescued from the power of the beast (cf. 13:13-14). The verse from heaven
symbolizes the strength and power of God; and the heavenly voice speaks
with the gentleness of liturgical music. It is a new song, for it now
sings of the salvation wrought by Christ (cf. 15:34) in the same style as
the Old Testament chants the praises of God (cf., e.g., Ps 33:3; 40:2;
96:1). Only those who belong to Christ can join in this song and be
associated with the heavenly liturgy: “It is especially in the sacred
liturgy that our union with the heavenly Church is best realized; in the
liturgy, through the sacramental signs, the power of the Holy Spirit acts
on us, and with community rejoicing we celebrate together the praise of
the divine majesty; when all those of every tribe and tongue and people
and nation (cf. Rev 5:9) who have been redeemed by the blood of Christ and
gathered together into one Church glorify, in one common song of praise,
the one and triune God” (“Lumen Gentium”, 50).


#7

I have read in David Currie’s book a very good description of the 144,000 referencing a very specific group of individuals. If I remember correctly the 144,000 were actually the first priests as they are described as being chaste or vigins. Now I don’t believe the actual number of 144,000 is meant as an exact body count. These priests are singing a new song before the throne. This song is the eucharistic song of Heaven. So the battle strategy against the beast is the Eucharist

What I don’t have is the full description of how this all works as I loaned my copy of Rapture to a friend. Anyone care to explain better than I have above?


#8

That makes sense to me. It means we cannot just pick a part out of Revelations - it must be read holistically and in light of St. John’s experiences as an Apostle and a mystic.

Right?


#9

you might try 144000ofgod.com


#10

0
I also have this Book by Curie. It’s a Great read and has interesting theological implications within it’s pages about the book of Apocalpyse. It is however formed on the Hypothesis that Apocalpyse was written around 64AD, the so called “early writing date hypothesis” which surmises that the events of the Neronian christian persecution and the Jewish-Roman War were predicted by Jesus when he said “this generation” and also predicted by the book of Apocalpyse. It is compelling, but at the same time, we have to keep in mind his own rule that prophercy can be continously repetitious(so if it did happen, it could also re-happen again), and also that this ideal of the predictions being about the first century may not be 100% so.

I do agree with his hypothesis about where the number of the beast comes from. He’s right about that I believe.


#11

forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=257892


#12

The 144.000 are 144.000 lambs without blemish, offered as firstfruits to God.

"They follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They were purchased from among mankind and offered as firstfruits to God" (Revelation 14:4)

They follow the Lamb on the cross, they were crucified with Christ, for the world.

"Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me" (Matthew 16:24)

Paul > "I have been crucified with Christ" (Galatians 2:20)

Paul > "the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world" (Galatians 6:14)


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