Who are the 144K Male Jewish Virgins in Revelation 7?

by Sea Breeze 43 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • Sea Breeze
    Sea Breeze

    No mystery here. They are all male jewish virgins, just like scripture says. So, why all the muck and fuss?

    The WT has made a big deal out of the fact that Ephriam and Dan are left off the list of tribes in Revelation 7. Ephriam's father Joseph appears in his place. The priestly tribe of Levi (who had no land inheritance) appears in the place of Dan.

    So, instead of trying to find out why, the WT just declares the whole thing to be symbolic and surprise, surprise, the scriptures are really talking about them and their origanization. I will show why this is unfounded and offer a far more plausible explanation..... an explanation that does not require you to worship follow Watchtower.

    If you will recall, Joseph had an amazing life and was deprived of fellowship with his father for decades by his brothers. He was also only one of two sons from the beloved wife - Rachael.

    So, instead of Joseph receiving one portion of the land inheritance along with his brothers he received a double portion when his two sons Ephriam and Manasseh each received a portion. Normally, only the first born son would receive a double portion. But, Jacob gave the double portion to Joseph, through his two sons.

    So, the tribe of Ephriam and the tribe of Manesseh together constitute the tribe of Joseph in a sense. The tribe of Levi was a priestly tribe and did not have a land inheritance. So, by adding Ephriam and Manesseh in place of their father Joseph (minus Levi), it still equalled12 tribes.

    Now we get to the Revelation 7 list of tribes. We notice that Dan and Ephriam are conspicously missing and Levi (who never had a land inhritance but were still a tribe) and Joseph (father of Ephriam) are listed.

    There is a very plausible explanation for this:

    Why are Ephraim and Dan missing from Revelation 7:4-8? The answer is not stated specifically in Scripture, but most likely it is because these tribes led the rebellion against the Davidic kingdom that resulted in the division into the northern and southern kingdoms. The second likely reason is that these tribes immediately led in the establishment of false worship and abandoning the worship of Yahweh.

    So, these two tribes are not allowed to participate in heralding the impending birth of the Millenium Reign during the great tribulation because of their previous apostasy and rebellion.

    But when we look at the land inheritance that will be portioned out in the future Millinium Kingdom, the original land recipients are listed as usual.

    See Ezekiel 48 prophecy about the tribes of Israel in the Millenial Kingdom.

    So, Dan and Ephriam are temporarily left off the list of tribes who will be witnesses of Jesus during the great tribulation because of their rebellion and apostasy, but they do receive a land inhitance during the thousand year reign after it is over.

    Calling something you don't understand symbolic is a lazy man's theology. The explanation above is far more plausible than the WT explanation where they are the 144K listed in Revelation instead of what scripture plainly says.

  • PetrW

    The twelve tribes of Revelation is also a very interesting topic! I explain the missing tribe of Dan by God creating the New Jerusalem. He's not making a Greater Jerusalem <=> Babylon => Greater Babylon.

    There will be new tribes in the New Jerusalem. New does not mean immediately different. They will be different in their newness. If the old tribes came from four women, then the new tribes will be from the four sides of the world.

    Their names are even more symbolic than the original ones, and at the same time the substitution of Dan for Joseph shows - in my opinion - a choice. What God prefers...that is the newness. It is not a condemnation of the past, but an emphasis on the new.

    I take the 144,000 figure literally. But it's not that only the 144,000 reign with Christ. There will be more. In every age, sons and daughters of God have been born. In every age some harvest has come into the Lord's barn. As Noah was told, the sowing and reaping will never cease. It's just that sometimes the harvest is more, sometimes less. At the end of the ages there will be 144,000.

    For the New Jerusalem is a huge city, not just for the 144,000 - the last harvest of this world.

    P.S. Ephesus, the city, had a population of about 200,000 at the time of the writing of Revelation, so it must have been a wonder to the Christians of the time where so many Christians would come from all at once...

    But even that number was supposed to be a sign that great changes would come with the coming of Christ.

    So if I take it from the perspective of chronology, understanding the text of Revelation in its main fulfillment from chapter 4 onwards, as a continuous one, as a sequential one (with descriptive exceptions regarding the Beast or Babylon), then the gathering of Israel to the 144,000 is about half the time of the whole of Revelation. Then comes the second, the worse part.

    From this perspective, I see the missing name or other than expected name as the same "problem" as, say, the identification of the Nicolaitans. They are described by their function as false apostles, not by their origin, the content of their doctrines, and the content of their controversy with the rest of the church. Those details are missing, but from the few (false apostles) one can infer a lot. As well as why the name Joseph and not Rachel is in the new Israel...

  • Vanderhoven7

    My take is that the 144,000 symbolically represent the entire church of God...which are described as an innumerable group of sanctified believers. The hearing and then seeing is a literary device John uses to display the images in Revelation. Like he hears the Lion and turns and sees the Lamb.

  • Sea Breeze
    Sea Breeze
    PertW: If the old tribes came from four women, then the new tribes will be from the four sides of the world.

    That's the problem with waving the symbolic wand, you can make the text say anything.

    VH: My take is that the 144,000 symbolically represent the entire church of God

    Why would that be your 1st take? What is wrong with a plain reading?

    Revelation 14:3 And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders. No one could learn the song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth. 4 These are those who did not defile themselves with women, for they remained virgins.

    If a person is amillenial (people who believe the thousand year reign is symbolic) or if they subscribe to replacement theology (the belief that the church has replaced the Jewish peope) , then a plain reading won't fit with their presupposition.

    But, Jesus was promised a people, a kingdom and a land. I believe that he will get all three. OT saints and Church Age believers will rule with him in a literal kingdom based in Jerusalem.

    Here is an old addage that is good to remember when reading the bible:

    If the plain sense makes the most sense, seek no other sense, lest you end up with non-sense.

    And no, a person won't lose their salvation if they are amillenial or subscribe to replacement theology. But, it will tempt them to make things fit by using the symbolic magic wand when the scriptures don't fit.

  • Vidqun

    Sea Breeze, for a non-literal interpretation of Rev. 14:4:

    Often in the OT Israel is referred to God’s wife. When Israel’s leadership runs after false gods or make alliances with enemies, Jerusalem is referred to as a prostitute (Is. 54:5-7; cf. Ezek. 16:15-17, 28).

    In this sense, “These are those who did not defile themselves with women [e.g., Babylon the Great], for they remained virgins.” In what sense would they remain virgins. James explains: “You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” (James 4:4) So, if one cultivates a friendship with the world, one becomes an adulterous, enemy of God. Those who remain faithful to God are “virgins” as to world affairs.

    As for Israel, referring to all of God’s followers: “Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation. Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule-- to the Israel of God.” (Gal. 6:15, 16; cf. Romans 10:12 NIV)

  • Duran
    Vid- Those who remain faithful to God are “virgins” as to world affairs.

    I am of that line of thinking too. Didn't think “virgins” was really speaking of the sexual manner but instead the spiritual.

    SB- Why would that be your 1st take? What is wrong with a plain reading?

    Also, can see that the number could be literal.

    No one could learn the song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth
  • Anony Mous
    Anony Mous

    I haven’t looked into details on the original translation, but is it actually 2 different names in the original text or is that a later ‘translator’ addition?

    Also the listing is odd, there is a hidden meaning in the Jewish order of the names of the tribes, which Revelation breaks the ‘rhyme’.

  • aqwsed12345
  • Sea Breeze
    Sea Breeze

    @Vidqun :

    For thy Maker is thine husband; the LORD of hosts is his name - Is. 54: 5

    Thanks for the examples. Here the bible gives the definition of a metaphor as it usually does. This is an example of a standard literary device. At other times, the bible will say something like: it is like this or that, which clearly tells the reader about some parallel.

    But to assign symbolism, metaphor, or some mystical meaning without a strong biblical directive to do so is very dangerous. I have been to churches where a small group bible study is conducted where a scripture is read and the conductor asks what each person thinks that it means to them personally. What a complete waste of time. I would advise anyone to flee from a church like that.

    God's word is truth and we should not play around with it, or at least do so very carefully. Christianity is plaqued with unwarranted symbolic interpretations in epidemic proportions.

    When we make ourselves the final arbiters of which parts of the Bible are to be interpreted literally, we elevate ourselves above God. Who is to say that one person’s interpretation of a biblical event or truth is any more or less valid than another’s?

    The confusion and distortions that inevitably result from such a system of study essentially renders the Scriptures null and void.

    The Bible is God’s Word to us and He meant it to be believed—literally and completely.

    RC Sproul says this:

    When Luther and the Reformers set forth the principle of interpreting the Bible according to the *sensus literalis*, or the “literal sense,” here’s what they meant and what we mean: that to interpret the Bible literally is to interpret the Bible the way it was written. Voilà. So that when you come to the text of Scripture, you have to be able to discern that there are very many varieties of literary genre present in the text. We see that the Bible is written sometimes in the form of letters, sometimes in the form of historical narrative, sometimes in the form of parables, sometimes in the form of proverbs, sometimes in the form of poetry. And there are different rules for interpreting poetry from interpreting historical narrative, for example, and we need to be aware of that. So to interpret the Bible literally means to interpret it according to the way it was written.

    Now, let me tell what that doesn’t mean. No one ever has the right to come to a historical narrative text of Scripture and turn it into some kind of moral symbolism. Nineteenth-century liberals were the past masters of this. I grew up in a church and I wasn’t a believer and the church was exceedingly liberal. Our pastor taught us about the miracles of Jesus. And he taught us that at the wedding feast of Cana, what had happened was those great water jars had mixed with some of the sediment that had contained wine in it, that they were basically water, but the people had drunk so much wine that when they brought out this mixed-up version, people thought it was the best wine of all because they were already in a stupor. Or, he said, they were drinking water and the meaning of the text is this: that after all, water is the best wine.

    He borrowed from the German liberals on the idea of the feeding of the five thousand. He gave two different interpretations. One was very crass, that Jesus and His disciples had stored a cache of foodstuffs in a cave with a hidden opening. And like a magician, Jesus stood in this long flowing robe—and you’ve seen magicians on the stage, pulling scarves forever out of their sleeves, or sausages—so there was a bucket brigade of loaves and fishes that the disciples had stored in the cave and they were passing it through this hidden opening through this back sleeve of Jesus. And He’s producing enough food to feed five thousand people. That was one interpretation we learned in church.

    The other one was, well, the real story was about the little boy who stepped forward with his lunch and he was willing to share. And the real meaning of the text is this: some of the people came with their lunches; others failed to provide for themselves. And when the crisis came at noontime and everybody was hungry, Jesus in His masterful style of moral education was able to get those who had brought their lunches to share with those who didn’t. So, it was a miracle of ethics. That’s how I was instructed of the meaning of the miracles.

    Now, ladies and gentlemen, that’s how not to interpret the Bible. That is what we call dishonest exegesis, because those people knew very well that the literary form in which those texts come to us were not symbolic moralisms but that it was presented to us in a genre of historical narrative. Now, you can reject it if you want, but you have no right to twist it to say that it is saying something that it never was saying.

  • Vidqun

    Sea Breeze, let’s look at the book of Revelation. It starts off by saying: “The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must happen very soon. He made it clear by sending his angel to his servant John,” (Rev. 1:1 NET) He will be showing it by means of visions, containing a lot of symbolism, e.g., the beasts. Here we are reminded: “This calls for wisdom,” i.e., applied knowledge (Rev. 13:18 NET).

    Let’s look at the passage under discussion.

    Then I looked, and here was the Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with him were one hundred and forty-four thousand, who had his name and his Father's name written on their foreheads (v. 1).

    Will they literally have the Father and Lamb’s names on their foreheads? You decide. Where will they be standing? The writer of Hebrews has the answer: “But you have come to Mount Zion, the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, to the assembly and congregation of the firstborn, who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous, who have been made perfect” (Heb. 12:22-23)

    2 I also heard a sound coming out of heaven like the sound of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder. Now the sound I heard was like that made by harpists playing their harps,
    3 and they were singing a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders. No one was able to learn the song except the one hundred and forty-four thousand who had been redeemed from the earth.

    4 These are the ones who have not defiled themselves with women, for they are virgins. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever he goes. These were redeemed from humanity as firstfruits to God and to the Lamb,
    5 and no lie was found on their lips; they are blameless. (Rev. 14:1-5 NET)

    The song and harps, literal or figurative? You decide. Who are they? These are the ones “redeemed from the earth.” And these “follow the Lamb wherever he goes.” So their qualifications, 1) “they are redeemed from humanity as firstfruits,” 2) “they follow the Lamb wherever he goes” and 3) “no lie was found on their lips, they are blameless.”

    That’s why I have a problem with your literal application of 144k male Jewish virgins. Doesn’t fit the Biblical context (e.g., Gal. 6:15, 16), or the book of Revelation (Rev. 5:9,10) or the rest of the passage as demonstrated.

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