Jehovah’s Witnesses and the 144,000?

by Roger Barrier

Dear Roger,

So, I have some tough (or not so tough) questions that I think you might be able to help me with. It’s about the 144,000 who are sealed. The Jehovah’s Witness say that Bible passage applies to them. First off, I have seen translations where some read the seal is ‘on’ their foreheads and some where it says ‘in’. I guess it would be kind of both in a way – but clearly the person who is sealed would know it, but do you think that others would be able to see this seal on those people as well? If not, then this would of course prove the supernatural aspect of God to the person sealed, but it really wouldn’t help others see what is coming. But if it was noticeable by others, then it would help spread the Gospel in a way never seen before since Jesus and the original twelve. Let me just say it is something that is close to my heart and been on my mind ( so to speak) for quite a while and if you could pray about it and just let me know whatever God speaks to you I would really appreciate it….


Sincerely, Daniel


Dear Daniel,

Jehovah’s witnesses claim the number 144,000 applies to them. Many of us have direct contact with them every time they ring the door bells of our homes and try to invite themselves inside to discuss their doctrines for the purpose of evangelizing others to join their group. The Society was established in the nineteenth century by Charles Taze Russell. A schism occurred after Russell’s death and after decades of theological development, the society has reached its present form.


The central beliefs of Jehovah’s Witness revolve around the return of Christ to establish His Kingdom on earth thus solving the problems of mankind. The name “Jehovah’s Witnesses,” which is based on Isaiah 43:10–12, was adopted in 1931. In 1914 the group announced that the Second Coming of Christ was imminent. When Jesus failed to appear that year the projected date was changed to 1925. When that year came and went they reconsidered and again changed the date to 1975. As far as I know, no future dates are predicted at this time.


Russell’s original teachings identified his followers to be the 144,000 mentioned in the book of Revelation. Only Jehovah’s Witnesses had any hope of surviving the impending doom. Problems arose when the number of society followers exceeded 144,000 (The society now claims some 18 million members.) In order to handle the problem, Witness’ doctrine was adjusted so that God would ultimately decide those who were in the 144,000 and who were not. Those chosen will be resurrected to live forever in an earthly paradise ruled by Christ and the 144,000.

You are referring to the Book of Revelation where God seals 144,000 (12,000 from each of the twelve tribes of Israel).


Then I saw another angel coming up from the east, having the seal of the living God. He called out in a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm the land and the sea: “Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.” Then I heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel (Revelation 7:2-4).


Let’s start with the seal. What is it and will others be able to see it? The best interpretation of Scripture is Scripture. Paul refers to the seal of the Holy Spirit which identifies, preserves and protects Christians from the moment of salvation out into eternity. This seal is the guarantee that we as Christians are God’s children: “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption” (Ephesians 4:30-31). This seal is obviously an internal-spiritual one. Christians today do not walk around with any sort of visible seal.


In the same way, it is safe to say that the sealing mentioned in Revelation Seven is an internal, spiritual seal which encourages and comforts the 144,000.


There is, however, the mark of the Beast, which appears to be an outside marker of the followers of the Anti-Christ. John tells us in Revelation 13:11-18 that the mark (“666”) is placed on their hands or forehead. John tells us that true Christians will refuse the mark and thus will endure economic sanctions, physical persecutions and martyrdom. Anyone who receives the mark will be excluded from the Kingdom and eternal life.


Regarding evangelism during the end times, God has several groups of evangelizers. First are these 144,000. Note that these are Jewish converts to Christ. We might say that these are 144,000 Jews for Jesus! Note that immediately following their conversion and sealing mighty rejoicing occurs in Heaven because of the many on earth who are saved through their testimonies.


Second, the martyrs mentioned in Revelation 6:9-11 are put to death precisely because they were sharing their faith in Christ.


Next, Jesus sends two witnesses who evangelize with mighty signs and wonders for 1260 days. They are then killed in the streets of Jerusalem to the rejoicing and relief of the Anti-Christ and his followers. Three and one-half days after their martyrdom they are miraculously resurrected. The Second Coming occurs moments later (Revelation 11:1-13). Many believe that these two witnesses are Moses and Elijah. God Himself had access to their bodies and many feel that they were once again clothed in their earthy bodies and sent back to earth for a season of evangelistic endeavor.


Finally, three angels supernaturally share the Gospel with every living creature on earth (Revelation 14:6-13). In the Olivet Discourse Jesus said: “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14).


By the way, there is another group of 144,000 mentioned in Revelation 14:1-5. Many feel that this is the same as the 144,000 Jews for Jesus. Since these are pictured in Heaven giving honor and praise to the Lamb of God, we may well be glimpsing the praise and worship of the 144,000 after they enter Heaven’s glory! I love the irony that God has written His name on their foreheads.


On the other hand, the group in Revelation 14 are specifically described as those who “did not defile themselves with women, for they kept themselves pure. They follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They were purchased from among men and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb. No lie was found in their mouths; they are blameless” (Revelation 14:4-5). Perhaps these descriptive monikers identify a different group of 144,000—perhaps not.


Daniel, I hope my answer gives some insight to your questions. Ask me another sometime.


Love, Roger

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