Q & A – Is the 144,000 mentioned in Scripture a Literal or Symbolic Number?

There is much speculation on this question. It is never wise to express one’s own opinion on any Bible subject but search to see what the Bible and then the Spirit of Prophecy have to say about the subject. Human reasoning often distorts the spiritual impact that the inspired word has for the reader. It is always best, without trying to reason as to what it might mean, to simply accept what is says.

I have found no place in the inspired writings that tells us if “144,000” is a symbolic or actual accounting number, but I believe if we are faithful, someday we will find out. The important thing to know about the 144,000 is not the meaning of the number, but what makes this group of people different from all of the other redeemed.

They are first mentioned in Revelation 7:3, 4. It says that they are going to be sealed in their foreheads. To be sealed means to be sealed shut. There is nothing more that can be done about it; the work has been finished. You could say, “the dye is cast”; whatever decisions have been made are there to stay. Their minds have been made up and no one can change them.

Revelation 14 gives a little more description of the 144,000. It says that they have the “Father’s name written in their foreheads.” They are “redeemed from the earth” and then it goes on further to say that they are “not defiled with women” and also they are “redeemed from among men.” “They follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth” and in their “mouth was found no guile, for they are without fault before the throne of God.” Verses 1, 3, 4, 5.

We know from these texts that these people are humans and are redeemed from this earth so they come from among us. It would be well for us to examine our characters because, even if we are not one of the 144,000, we want to be among the saved in the kingdom of heaven, and we know that all who enter there must have on the robe of Christ’s righteousness which is without any spot of sin or stain.

Christ has completed His work in these people and what a character they have developed! Some say that is impossible but Paul said, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Philippians 4:13.

“All things” means also perfecting a character like the one which is ascribed to the 144.000. We must remember it is only through Christ. We cannot do it by ourselves, “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” Philippians 2:13. God said to Abraham, “Is any thing too hard for the Lord?” Genesis 18:14. Since the Lord said there are going to be “144,000 living saints” (Testimonies, vol. 1, 59), He is able to produce them, and if we wish to be among them we need to be working on our characters now.

We are told in the Spirit of Prophecy,

“Heaven is to begin on this earth. When the Lord’s people are filled with meekness and tenderness, they will realize that His banner over them is love, and His fruit will be sweet to their taste. They will make a heaven below in which to prepare for heaven above. …

“If you would be a saint in heaven, you must first be a saint on earth.” Sons and Daughters of God, 112.

If you have a Bible question you wish to have answered, please e-mail it to: ruthgrosboll@stepstolife.org.