These are not what you think? Here is why? Some think the Revelation is about a “fixed” number of people. The Jehovah’s Witnesses, according to some, think that only 144,000 will “enter into heaven.” But is that what this is about? Hardly. The confusion is the result of a misunderstanding created by the translators!
The Hebrew language has a number assigned to each letter including the finals. This is described on the page in this blog regarding Hebrew Letters and Numbers. Another number represented by a large Aleph has the number 1,000. So very common to the Hebrew is the general expression of “thousands.” You might find this written as “thousands of thousands” and “thousands times ten-thousands.”
Enoch, in the passage that Jude quoted in his letter, reads …
“And look! He comes with ten thousands of His set-apart ones to execute judgment on all, and to destroy all the ungodly, and to convict all flesh of all the works of their ungodliness that they have ungodly committed, and of all the hard things that ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.”
This is not saying that He is coming with only “10,000 of His set-apart ones” but with ten “thousands.” This means that there is a general understanding of “thousands” (the large Aleph) that is a term that means “a lot” and the number preceding the “thousands” is an adjective that may have more meaning that simply “10.”
Also, in the Revelation, the words are not 144,000, but rather “144 thousands.”
What could this mean?
There are many occurrences in Scripture that use a number as an adjective. These carry more meaning than a finite number. Even “thousands” is an open ended term. To illustrate that, how many really is represented by the word “thousands?” In Scriptural context – from Enoch to Revelation, we don’t know, do we?
Therefore, we are faced with another mystery – one that is not solved by assuming we are looking at a finite number, in Jehovah Witnesses style. Rather we are looking at an amount, perhaps even unknown, that is large and undefined.
Up to a point that is true. But what happens when we modify “thousands” with another number? Is that number a literal count, or is it a descriptive adjective that relates more to “what” than to “how many.”
Going back to Enoch’s revelation, we find that we only are talking about “10″ thousands. We don’t know how many that really is because according to the Hebrew idiom we are only looking at two things “thousands” which means many and “ten” which in context and compared to “thousands” means not very much. So what does that tell us about this army? Do we get the picture that we are talking about a large army or a small one? If it was a large army, would it not be written, “Ten thousands times ten thousands and many thousands?” But hey, only “ten” thousands? That is a pretty small army. So this is telling us that He doesn’t need an overwhelming force to defeat the enemy.
Now with the 144 thousands we have a different picture. The 144, and 12, as in “12 thousands” are symbolic terms, rather than a finite numbers. It modifies and describes some particular quality about the “thousands” the Revelation is talking about. In fact, More than one passage uses this same phrase, but they have something in common.
First, we should flip the words and from this we will see something else: “144 thousands” when flipped are “thousands of 144.” Also in the above example from Enoch, instead of “10 thousands” we have “thousands of 10″. Hmm, what are we looking at now?
To what does “10″ refer? Believe it or not that is the number of the Hebrew letter “YOD.” This is the first letter of the Name “Yahua!” And that is exactly what the Enoch passage says, He (Yahua) comes with “thousands of HIS.” Remember, He is called in many prophecies “Yahua of Hosts” or more precisely “Yahua of Armies!”
With that in minds let’s understand “144.”
Revelation 7 makes the definition of 144 very clear.
“Do not harm the earth, or the sea, or the trees until we have sealed the servants of our EL upon their foreheads.” And I heard the number of those who were sealed, 144 thousands, sealed out of the children of Israel.”
Your translation may not say “thousands” but the Greek certainly does. Furthermore, the term “the number” does not refer to quantity at all, but rather to who and what. Here we have “thousands of 144s.”
In Revelation 14 we also read …
And I looked and saw a Lamb, standing on Mount Zion (See Zechariah 14), and with Him “thousands of 144″, having His Father’s name (EL) written on their foreheads. And I heard a voice out of heaven, like the voice of many waters, and like the voice of loud thunder, and I heard the voice of harpists playing on their harps. And they sang a new song before the throne, and before the four living creatures, and the elders. And no one was able to learn that song except the “thousands of 144″ who were redeemed (purchased) from the earth. They are those who were not defiled with women (the world’s religions), for they are maidens (undefiled and virgins). They are those following the Lamb wherever He leads them. They were redeemed from among men (666), being Firstfruits to EL and to the Lamb. And in their mouth was found no falsehood, for they are blameless before the throne of EL.
Therefore, 144 stands for those from among the offspring of Jacob (Israel) who were redeemed or purchased from the earth. Rather than being a quantity, this is an identifying number that could mean not just a few but many thousands from the time of Jacob (Israel) and his twelve sons until the end of this age.
These are limited to the people of Israel, but not limited to that part of Israel that some call and who calls themselves “Jews.” They are certainly part of this group, but it is not limited to them.
Also, included in this group would be the fathers of Israel, including all those from Adam to Jacob, including Seth, Enoch, Methuselah, Lamech, Noah, Shem, Abraham, and Isaac.
This group is not the “church” or a particular offshoot of the church, as many like to believe.
In addition, it does not include those who have no “number” but are in the “innumerable multitude.” They are “without number” but have cleansed and purified themselves during the tribulation and washed themselves in the blood of the Lamb. They have their place that is distinct from Israel, the Firstfruits. These will find their way and come before EL, who will wipe away all tears from their eyes.
Here is how they are described, again from Revelation 7 …
And one of the elders responded and said to me, “Who are these dressed in white robes, and where did they come from?” And I said to him, “Master, you know.” And he said to me, “These are those coming out of the great distress, having washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Because of this they are before the throne of EL, and serve Him day and night in His Dwelling Place. And He who sits on the throne shall spread His tent over them. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more, neither shall the sun strike them, nor any heat, because the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne shall shepherd them and lead them to fountains of water of life. And EL shall wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
The group that is NOT NUMBERED
There is another group not mentioned in this context that will also enter into the next age: those who were not among the 144, and those who did not wash themselves during the great tribulation or distress that comes upon the world in the last few years of this age. These, considered the “wicked” in Enoch’s fifth book, will see the honor and esteem given to the 144, and the comfort and healing given to the group that has no “number.” Then slowly they will begin to understand the beauty, wisdom, justice and love of EL and the Sons of MAN, who return to earth after having appeared before their Father and EL on the 1,335th day as described in the vision of John and quoted above.
Though there are some bleak and troubling times ahead, we can look forward to the next age and our future with hope and promise.
This was written during the Sabbath that ends the first week of the Feast of Weeks (Enoch Calendar).