By Israeli Bar Avaddhon
«From the days of John the Baptist until now, the Kingdom of the heavens is the goal toward which men press, and those pressing forward are seizing itÂ» - Matthew 11:12
The words of the Lord recorded in Matthew 11:12 suggest that the number of those who would have grasped "the kingdom of heaven" would have been a limited number and closed regardless of efforts or who would have been rewarded those who would have "pushed ahead" , ie strive to do so?
Some might say that since the 144,000 number appears in the Bible this demonstrates beyond any doubt that all the elect fall into this number but before closing our mental faculties to any contrary argument we must examine Scripture carefully - Acts 17: 11
We know that the vision of Revelation is fulfilled "on the day of the Lord" (compare Revelation 1:10) and understanding the period of time of vision allows us to re-discuss some of the seemingly more solid beliefs, such as total number of the elect.
If all revelation is fulfilled from the day of the Lord on, the angel's command to affix the seal to the slaves of God applies exclusively to the day of the Lord.
At the time of John many of the elect had fallen asleep in death but those to whom the seal described in Revelation are affixed seem to be all alive during that period, that is, on the Lord's day, as the angel warns to "Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until after we have sealedHello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content. the slaves of our God in their foreheads.Â”- Revelation 7: 3
If the vast majority of these were asleep in death, what bother could they ever give them this wind?
Â Â Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content. Perhaps we need to break down some mental barriers to rely completely on Scripture Â One might think that the warning refers only to a small part of these 144,000, or those still alive on the Lord's day, but the description of the complete sealing that is done soon after, casts a shadow on this hypothesis - Revelation 7 : 4-8
Someone could assert that the sealing begins with those who are alive (and who are worried about not letting them hit by the wind of judgment) and ends with those who died in the past to which the wind could no longer bother.
To show that this is not the case, we will look at other scriptures to support what has just been said * (see footnote).
The two witnesses clothed in sack described in Revelation chapter 11 should be the last two elected, in order of time, to be killed thus completing the number of 144,000.
In fact, immediately after this event and their resurrection we read "The seventh angel blew his trumpet. And there were loud voices in heaven, saying: Â“The kingdom of the world has become the Kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will rule as king forever and ever.Â”- Revelation 11:15
Two more verses later read "Â“We thank you, Jehovah God, the Almighty, the one who is and who was, because you have taken your great power and begun ruling as king " - Revelation 11:17
It seems evident that the death and resurrection of these two witnesses creates the right conditions for the Kingdom of God to begin to dominate.
What would these "suitable conditions" be?
The context seems to refer precisely to the resurrection of the complete number of those sealed on the Lord's day.
We are not discussing whether during the seventh trumpet all the elect lived since the first century because it is clear that it is so - 1 Corinthians 15:58
The seventh trumpet begins the spiritual resurrection of all the elect but only 144,000 of them participate in the war.
The war of Armageddon is fought by Christ and the 144,000 and there is little to discuss about it (compare Revelation 14: 1) but this in itself does not prove that they are or will be the only ones to be resurrected with spiritual bodies.
Revelation 14: 4 says that they have been bought by mankind as "firstfruits" and so far we have understood that this marks a distinction between the elect (which would be the first fruits) and the great crowd, but we shall see that it can not be.
The writing says that they "were bought from the earth as first fruits" and therefore means that others, after them, will be bought from the earth.
"Bought" in what sense?
Bought from the earth for life in heaven.
The great crowd does not need to be "bought from the earth" because it will live on the earth, in fact it has washed its clothes to survive - Revelation 7:13, 14
None of those who live on earth can call themselves "bought" by the human race, is it not?
Only those who reign with Christ can call themselves "bought from the earth", for this is the sense reported in the Scriptures.
So the speech is simple.
If there are those bought from the earth as first fruits, there are also the following ones, always bought from the earth but no longer as first fruits, but in the full maturation of time.
If all this is not enough to undermine our preconceptions, let's try to go on reading.
Â«And I saw thrones, and those who sat on them were given authority to judge. Yes, I saw the souls of those executed for the witness they gave about Jesus and for speaking about God, and those who had not worshipped the wild beast or its image and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand. And they came to life and ruled as kings with the Christ for 1,000 yearsÂ» - Revelation 20:4
At this point in the Revelation there has already been the war of Armageddon which is described in Revelation 19: 19-21.
If the war of Armageddon is fought by Christ and by the 144,000 who are those who come to life after Armageddon and reign with Christ for a thousand years?
Even though it's hard to accept, does not it seem like you're talking about other people coming to life in heaven after the Armageddon War?
Let's try to reread it carefully starting from the first verse of chapter 20.
Â«And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven with the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. He seized the dragon, the original serpent, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for 1,000 years. And he hurled him into the abyss and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not mislead the nations anymore until the 1,000 years were ended. After this he must be released for a little whileÂ» - Revelation 20:1-3
Up to this point it is very clear, is not it?
The Lord, at the end of Armageddon, grabs the dragon, chains it and throws it into the abyss.
This war has been accomplished by Christ and by 144,000 is not it?
After this event we read Â«And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven with the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. He seized the dragon, the original serpent, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for 1,000 years. And he hurled him into the abyss and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not mislead the nations anymore until the 1,000 years were ended (Â…) And they came to life and ruled as kings with the ChristHello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content. for 1,000 yearsÂ».
Here too we can see at least two distinct groups.
There are the thrones and those who sit on it (topic covered by the subtitle "What about the 24 elders?") And then it is said that you see the souls of those who did not worship either the wild beast or its image ... .
But at this point we have a problem.
The last two components of the 144,000 are killed before the appearance of the false prophet and his mark - see Revelation chapters 11, 12 and 13
Shortly after the death of the two witnesses the seventh trumpet sounds and therefore begins the general spiritual resurrection, in harmony with the words of the apostle Paul.
It should be concluded that at the end of Armageddon, even if there are still elected in life on earth waiting for their transformation, there should not be other people still in death awaiting the heavenly resurrection, is not it?
On the other hand the seventh trumpet sounds in Revelation 11:15 and the resurrection takes place in a "blink of an eye" - 1 Corinthians 15:52
Instead Revelation 20: 4 says that after the war of Armageddon that was fought by the 144,000, those who sit on the throne judge all those who have not worshiped the wild beast and have not received the mark.
What is the result of this positive judgment?
"They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years".
So how many will those who reign with Christ?
The Bible simply does not say it but surely it is not a predetermined and closed number because this would mean establishing a priori how many will resist the pressures of the wild beast.
Revelation speaks of "those who had not worshiped neither the wild beast nor his image".
Would it be reasonable to suppose that those who resist the wild beast, many or few who are, will be a specific and "round" number like 144,000?
If so, would it not be suspected that salvation is something preordained? - Ezekiel 33:11
Let's try to evaluate this information without any emotionality and see if "the shadow of reality" can help us to understand the point.
In the kingdom of Israel they were not all soldiers.
There were the Levites, the temple servants, and many other administrative figures.
Each had his specific task and the limits of authority of that office - compare 2 Chronicles 26:18
In reference to the 144,000 what is Revelation telling us?
He tells us that these are people chosen on the Lord's day, who are first sealed and then, once killed by the world of Satan, resurrected to fight with Christ in Armageddon.
Is it perhaps written that this is the total number of the elect, or those that existed from the first century to today?
If we only read what is written, we will not find such a thing.
This group of people therefore forms the army that fights with Christ at Armageddon and protects the people who are about to reach the Promised Land Â– compare Daniel 8:10
At the sound of the seventh trumpet begins the general resurrection (ie of those dead from the first century) because soon after we see the birth of the male Son.
After Armageddon, however, it is specified that others resurrect and is not a reference to those who died long ago but to those who did not worship the wild beast or its image.
The Scripture is simple if we are not guided by other things.
How many, then, will those who will be resurrected to reign with Christ?
The Bible does not say it, as it does not even say how many are bought from the first century.
According to the Lord's words, which guide this article, those who will have gone forward will have grasped this opportunity - Matthew 11:12
From this discussion we can say that we were right and at the same time wrong.
Not all good people go to heaven, that's obvious.
All those who go to heaven become kings and priests for whom they must reign and perform the functions of priests over a people - Revelation 1: 6
The rulers must obviously be fewer in number than the people and therefore the hope for the vast majority of people is and remains eternal life on earth.
The number 144,000 is a literal number and these are those who will fight Armageddon alongside the Lord.
In these things we were right.
However the Bible, while mentioning specifically this number, never said that this would be the number of all those who reigned with Christ.
Indeed, these are only those who are sealed on the day of the Lord to be resurrected as firstfruits to fight the war of Armageddon and re-establish the kingdom of Israel - Acts 1: 6 (compare Psalm 110: 1-3)
We have always thought that the 144,000 were all destined to go to heaven but there is no scriptural basis to support it.
In this we were wrong.
With all due respect to nostalgic and traditionalists, if anyone asks us where it is written in the Bible that the elect will be only 144,000, we could only prove that this number is described in Revelation which is fulfilled on the Lord's day; we can demonstrate with logic that it is a literal number and we can also prove that kings and priests must be less than the people.
We can prove that it is a small flock compared to a larger flock, but we can not prove anything else - Luke 12:32
In the articles entitled "The 144,000 and the great crowd" and "Who must take the emblems" ** it was emphasized, among other things, how silly and counterproductive it was to keep count of "who has heavenly hope and who does not" to begin with because this would not have been indicative of who would reign with Christ.
Having a hope, in itself, does not mean anything.
This includes understanding that it is wrong, and it has always been wrong, to give high responsibility assignments exclusively to the "anointed" ***.
This discussion has added one more reason, if ever there was a need to understand the utter futility of the calculation.
Not only must the emblems take all the Christians, not only it is impossible to understand who will reign with Christ and those who do not, but we never had any number to "keep in mind" (if we had really succeeded in counting them since the first century, which, moreover, is impossible).
What about the 24 elders?
Chapter 4 of Revelation mentions "24 thrones, and there were 24 elders seated on them" and John sees all this before the Lamb begins to open the seals.
Who are these 24 elders?
Having understood that the visions of Revelation are in chronological order and not as we have been told, we understand that it is not possible for these 24 elders to represent 144,000.
Among other things, the 24 elderly represent the 144,000 is incongruent with the claim that these are literal.
If the 24 elders represent 144,000 it means that this is a symbolic number and it goes without saying that if "24" is a symbolic number, why 144,000 should be literal (which by the way is a multiple of 12)?
Moreover, they are present even before the Lamb begins to open the scroll and therefore exist before all the events described in it.
It is no coincidence that they are described as "elders" and this suggests that in the time when the day of the Lord begins, they have existed for quite some time.
Can we discern who these 24 elders are from the description that is made of them?
Well of them they are said to wear white robes and have golden crowns.
The large crowd is dressed in long white robes and we know that it reaches this condition thanks to the blood of the Lamb.
At a first reading one would think - not that they are the great crowd of course - but that they too have reached a condition of purity and justice thanks to the sacrifice of the Lamb, which would exclude angels and other creatures already born as celestial.
The white color, often symbolized by the "shining and pure" linen, represents the just acts of the saints - Revelation 19: 8
The fact that they have crowns recalls the words of John in Revelation 1: 5, 6 and also the words of Peter who, in reference to the elect of the first century, mentions a "holy priesthood".
Subsequently, when the Lamb takes the roll it is read that Â«And they sing a new song, saying: Â“You are worthy to take the scroll and open its seals, for you were slaughtered and with your blood you bought people for God out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and you made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God, and they are to rule as kings over the earth.Â” - Revelation 5:9, 10
So we see that these elders have the cups full of incense which means "the prayers of the saints" and therefore they act as priests, also giving honor to the Lamb.
It is evident that these people can not be others who are elected resurrected and glorified and this fact must have led to think that they depicted the all body of the elect.
But at the same time we have seen that they can not represent the whole body of the elect for the reasonings made a moment ago.
We must conclude that they are a small part of anointed chosen to reign directly with Christ before the others.
Before closing our mental faculties and thinking that it is nonsense, let's examine the following.
Our mind can not but return to the Lord's words when he said, Â“Truly I say to you, in the re-creation, when the Son of man sits down on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will sit on 12 thrones, judging the 12 tribes of Israel"- Matthew 19:28
It is interesting to note that Jesus did not say that the twelve apostles would be resurrected in regeneration but that by then they would sit on thrones.
This does not exclude the possibility that they have been resurrected before and perhaps even in the first century.
The twelve faithful apostles could be a part of the twenty-four elders described here although this opens up to the possibility that some have not had to wait for the sound of "the last trumpet" to be resurrected - 1 Corinthians 15:58
It is true that the apostle Paul said that "everyone would be transformed ... during the last trumpet" but this does not exclude that he was making a general speech.
Obviously we can not be categorical but in fact Revelation speaks of at least two people who are resurrected before the sound of the seventh trumpet - see Revelation 11:11, 12, 15
This makes it clear that when the apostle Paul said "everyone" did not mean just about everyone, otherwise we would have to choose who, between Paul and John, was wrong.
So one of the two was wrong?
Paul was making a general speech, in fact the overwhelming majority of the elect are resurrected during the last trumpet.
In the same way it would seem that these 24 elders, who are undoubtedly resuscitated and glorified persons, have been resurrected long before the sealing and resurrection of the 144,000.
The fact that they are described, from the first chapters, as elders suggests that they have been alive for a long, long time.
None of the 144,000 or the other elect resurrected is described as elders.
Is it possible that they were resurrected at the end of the first century?
A resurrected elected 2,000 years ago would be rightly described as an elder.
Even the number of these seniors would make us think of the correctness of understanding.
Jesus told his apostles that they would sit on 12 thrones and that they would judge the 12 tribes of Israel but in Revelation we see 24 elders, that is, the double.
The Mosaic law foresaw that the judgment was legally valid if there were at least two witnesses - Deuteronomy 17: 6
Jesus reiterated the same concept - Matthew 17:16
Starting from this assumption it is evident that if the apostles, who were twelve, should have judged the twelve tribes of Israel, this would have meant using only one witness for each tribe and the judgment would not have been valid.
Being 24, however, the judgment becomes legally valid and binding.
The testimony of these elders is legally perfect and true because each tribe is judged through the testimony of two witnesses.
This, too, indirectly shows that the number 24 can not be symbolic exactly as the need of the two witnesses was never understood in a symbolic sense.
It was a clear legal principle on which there was little to interpret - compare John 8: 12-18
We can make other arguments that help us to hypothesize why some may have been resurrected before others.
If these 24 elders are to judge the "12 tribes of Israel" it is clear that judgment can be both positive and negative.
Indeed, judgment is not synonymous with condemnation - compare Acts 24:15
The positive judgment includes those who will receive the prize, whether in heaven or on earth, thus including the 144,000.
The 144,000 are in fact chosen "by the 12 tribes of Israel" - Revelation 7: 4-8
Now we know that not all Israel is indeed Israel (compare Galatians 3: 27-29) and this seems the intrinsic message in the fact that the tribes listed in Revelation do not correspond perfectly to the 12 tribes of Israel, however the principle does not change.
Whatever the tribe being judged, whether positive or negative, that tribe needs at least two witnesses to make this judgment valid.
It is logical to conclude that in order to affix the seal to those who will be resurrected once dead (and therefore considered worthy of receiving the first resurrection) and who will fight at Armageddon, it is necessary that someone has judged them favorably.
Who could have judged them?
Can not have them judged Jehovah because Jesus himself says that he has left all judgment in the hand to Son - John 5:21, 22
He could have judged them exclusively Christ but he claimed that he would give this privilege to his apostles - Matthew 19:28
Also with regard to subsequent resurrections we see "thrones and those who sit on them" (Revelation 20: 4) and this is a further reference to the 24 elders to whom the authority to judge is reserved.
Note that this privilege was granted exclusively to the apostles and not all disciples, in fact Jesus is responding to Peter's question and the 12 thrones are precisely and not coincidentally the number of apostles - Matthew 19:27
The judgment of the 12 tribes of Israel includes those who receive positive judgment and therefore the general heavenly resurrection which, as we know, takes place not before the sound of the seventh trumpet.
* In Chapter 9 of Ezekiel we see a similar situation.
The man dressed in linen has the task of affixing a sign on the forehead of "men who sigh and suffer for all the detestable things that are done in the city" - Ezekiel 9: 4
Obviously this sign is not affixed to the front of dead people.
On the contrary, just as Revelation does understand, this sign serves for the punishment sent by Jehovah through the cherubim not to fall upon those who possess this sign - Ezekiel 9: 5-7
In the same way, during the ringing of the fifth trumpet it is said to strike "only men who do not have the seal of God on the forehead" and this should also help us to understand that those who have received the seal are precisely those who have been sealed in Revelation 7: 4, or 144,000 people
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***The members of the governing body "should be" exclusively "anointed" (this tells the official version).
Until a few years ago high responsibility positions were given only "to the anointed ones".
One of the questions that the governing body of Jehovah's Witnesses did before giving responsibility to someone was whether he was "an anointed or a member of the great crowd".
**** Revelation 14: 1-4 mentions the song that only 144,000 can learn.
This is reminiscent of the Israelite victory songs after winning their wars by Jehovah's will or when they won them even before they fought - Exodus 15: 1; 2 Chronicles 20:21, 22
This is not only a strong indication that the 144,000 have exclusively the role of warriors in armageddon but also that they and the 24 elders are two separate and distinct groups.
For they sing this song "in front the four living creatures and the elders" - Revelation 14: 3
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