Tenacious, you said:
I had to bump this thread because there is a watchtower magazine study coming out that says the Great Crowd as spoken of in Revelation is not literal. I can't remember which scripture they use to justify their point of view.
Hasn't that been the WTS position, that the number of people in the great crowd "is not literal" in the sense of the exact number is unknown? Maybe I misunderstood or there is something left of this statement. Perhaps, I should understand that while the WTS says that the 144,000 is literal and an exact number, but that the number of members of the great crowd is literal, but the exact number is unknown, "which no man was able to number". I have checked the references to the "great crowd" in 2019, and can't find what you might mean.
In 1917 the WTS said that there were a secondary heavenly class, but in 1935 the WTS did change the definition of who were the great crowd (consecrated refers to those with the heavenly hope).
In 1917, the book The Finished Mystery asserted that there are “two degrees or kinds of Heavenly salvation, and two degrees or kinds of earthly salvation.” Who made up the four groups of people with those different hopes for salvation? First, there were the 144,000, who would rule with Christ. Second, there was the great multitude. Back then, the idea was that these were nominal Christians who were still in the churches of Christendom. They had a measure of faith but not enough to take a firm stand of integrity. Therefore, they would be given lesser positions in heaven. As to the earth, it was thought that a third group, the “ancient worthies”—such faithful ones as Abraham, Moses, and others—would have positions of authority over the fourth group, the world of mankind.
The year 1935 marked a dramatic change that affected future Memorial observances, for the meaning of the “great multitude” (KJ), or “great crowd,” of Revelation 7:9 was clarified. Until then, Jehovah’s servants had viewed this group as consecrated Christians who were less zealous. Now this vast throng was identified as faithful worshippers who hope to live on a paradise earth.