- Is Heaven Just for the “Anointed Class”?
The WTS teaches that only the anointed 144,000 seen in Revelation 7 will enter heaven (the “anointed class”), while the remainder that are not annihilated (the “other sheep”) will live forever on earth in paradise. However, the Bible poses some irreconcilable difficulties with this idea.
If Revelation 7 is to be taken literally, there would only be 144,000 Jewish male virgins taken from a square shaped earth that are now in heaven worshipping a sheep. This would mean that Peter (not a virgin), the Blessed Mother (not a male), and Charles Taze Russell (not a Jew) could not be in heaven. Reading one number literally while taking the rest of a book symbolically is not sound exegesis. Beyond this, we see in Revelation 14 that the 144,000 stand before the 24 elders from Revelation 4:4. This at least brings the grand total to 144,024 people. But, the Scriptures indicate that there are still more to come. Revelation 7:9 speaks of a countless multitude before the throne, which is in heaven (Rev. 14:2-3). Still in the book of Revelation, we read that all those with their name in the book of life are in heaven (Rev. 21:27), while all whose names are not in the book of life are thrown into the pool of fire (Rev. 20:15). There is no third “earthly” class. Jesus reiterates this, and never speaks of two flocks. He has one bride, whose “reward is great in heaven” (Luke 6:23). Paul even exhorts the Christian community, calling them to remember, “As for us, our citizenship exists in the heavens” (Phil. 3:20).
The JWs attempt to use verses such as Psalms 37:29 as evidence that the just are to inherit the land forever, which is earth. In context, this refers to inheriting the promised land as a sign of God’s blessing in the Old Testament. But, Hebrews 11:8-16 indicates that there is a homeland better than the promised land on earth, and this is the heavenly one for those who die in faith. The Old Testament patriarchs “publicly declared that they were strangers and temporary residents in the land . . . they are earnestly seeking a place of their own. . . . But now they are reaching out for a better [place], that is, one belonging to heaven. . . . God . . . has made a city ready for them. . . .These [OT men and women] did not get the [fulfillment of the] promise . . . as God foresaw something better for us” (Heb. 11:13-16,39-40). Even the footnote of the NWT makes clear that the “city” spoken of in these verses is the heavenly Jerusalem mentioned in Hebrews 12:22 and Revelation 21:2. But, the Watchtower still maintains that no one that lived before Christ will ever enter heaven. “The apostle Paul in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews names a long list of faithful men who died before the crucifixion of the Lord. . . . These can never be a part of the heavenly class” (Millions Now Living, p. 89). Only the 144,000 elite that all lived after the death of Christ will supposedly go to heaven. Matthew 8:11-12 provides severe difficulties for this idea, since Jesus proclaims, “many from eastern parts and western parts will come and recline at the table with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of the heavens; whereas the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the darkness outside. There is where [their] weeping and the gnashing of [their] teeth will be.” No verse could be clearer in declaring that the patriarchs are in heaven. The following verses all demonstrate that Christians go to heaven, and do not remain on earth: 2 Corinthians 5:1; Hebrews 3:1; Ephesians 2:6; Colossians 1:4-5; 1 Peter 1:4.