Gnostic Doctrine

Wednesday, 9 January 2019

The 144,000

The 144,000

"And there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand"—The 144,000 represent the whole number of the, redeemed. This appears from ch. 14:3, where they are styled kthe redeemed1 (or those acquired by the Lamb by the ransom, or price paid, even his blood) vfrom the earth/ The real, or exact, number of the 'redeemed with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish, and without spot' (1 Pet. 1:18,19), we are told in Apoc. 7:9, is 'a great multitude which no man could number.'

Numbers have a symbolic significance in Scriptures (e.g. Rev. 13:18). It is obvious from the succeeding verses of this chapter, that this number is not to be taken literally, for it is made up of an equal number from each of the twelve tribes of Israel. The total, 144,000, is derived from the square of twelve, denoting perfect government. It is the symbolic number of fixedness and full completion (12 x 12), relating specifically to Israel, and therefore representing the Israelitish nature of the hope. The priestly and martial aspects oi Israel were already symbolised in the twenty-four elders and four living ones of Rev. 4; and now the general organisation of Israel is brought into focus. Whereas twelve is representative of the tribes of Israel, its square, or one hundred and forty four, denote the families of Israel (cp. Zech. 12:12-14).

Thus, then, the 144,000 being a miniature representation of an unknown predetermined original, it cannot be interpreted by what is called the literal; a rule which, when applied to the Apocalypse, reduces it to an unintelligible absurdity, which commends itself only to the mind of a "churchman," or of one hopelessly spoiled by "philosophy and vain deceit."

But what is the mystery of the Deity secreted in this number? Why should the number representing the redeemed be 144,000? Why might not 121,000, or any other number, have sufficed? I reply, because 12 and not 11, is the square root of "that great city, the Holy Jerusalem," which is the Bride of Christ (xxi. 2,9,10). The holy root of the Good Olive Tree is 12; which, when multiplied into itself, produces 144, thousands, furlongs, or cubits, as the number or mensuration may be in the premises. If, in the Holy Root, there had been only 11 sons of Israel, "the Urim and the Thummim" would have consisted of no more than eleven precious stones; the foursquare breastplate of judgment would have been defective in one of its rows, a twelfth stone would have been wanting; there would have been only eleven oxen under the laver, and eleven tribes of Israel; only eleven lions on the steps of Solomon’s throne; there would not have been a double 144, "instructed in the songs of Yahweh" (1 Chron. xxv. 7); nor a double 144,000, under twelve captains, or princes (1 Chron. xxvii. 15): there would have been only eleven thrones of the House of David, which would have required only eleven apostles to occupy them in the regeneration (Matt. xix. 28). Had 11 been the square root, and not 12, there would have been only twenty-two elders, and 121,000 sealed, 11,000 from each of 11 tribes; there would have been only eleven gates to the Holy Jerusalem, and at the gates only eleven angels standing; there would have been only eleven foundations to the city on which only eleven names of apostles would have been inscribed. The city would have been only 11,000 furlongs, and the encircling wall but 121 cubits; and lastly, the Wood of Life would produce only eleven fruits. >From this, the reader may see how the difference of a unit in the root of the Holy Square would have affected the divine numerical system from Genesis to the end of the Apocalypse.

Any number multiplied into itself will produce a square. In 144, we have a square number given, from which the square root is extractable according to rule. The extraction is the finding of the number, which, multiplied into itself, will make the given number. Thus, 12 x 12 = 144 -- thousands, furlongs, or cubits, as the case may be. It is the square of twelve, and, as the symbol of a commonwealth, polity, or city, applicable only to a community all of whose citizens are based upon a square root of 12. In the Apocalypse, this root is doubled in ch. iv. 4, there being "twenty-four elders;" and in ch. xxi. 12, there being twelve gates and twelve angels at the gates. The reason of this is, that the Holy Square, styled Jerusalem "holy" and "new," and "above the Mother of us all," both Jews and Gentiles in Christ, consists of two classes; the one, based upon the prophets; and circumcision of flesh, which made them citizens of the polity founded on the twelve sons of Israel -- their faith in promises made and covenanted to the fathers, giving them citizenship in the Holy Square; one 12, therefore, is their symbol: the other class, without regard to flesh, are adopted into the Foursquare Polity, and partake of the square root 12 with those under the law; and are also based upon another 12, the apostles of the Lamb, with whom the believers before Christ came as yet had no acquaintance. Hence, to represent these two classes united in one and the same square, the square root is doubled in the elders, and the gates and their angels; and in Chronicles both the root and its square, where the numbers are 24 and 288, the last being a double 144. The 24 has been transferred to the apocalypse, where the 288 has been halved, 12 being the square root of neither 24 nor 288

Some religious groups have picked up on this 144,000 and have attempted to say that this is the exact number that are going to be saved and going to be living in the kingdom of God and so forth, and folks, it just doesn’t make any sense. It isn’t logical. That’s what happens when you take things literally out of the scripture.

The 144,000 is simply symbolic. It means a wide number of people. It’s going to refer to both Jews and gentiles. Both Jewish Christians and gentile Christians. “A great multitude from every nation,” is what he says down here in verse nine. Go down to verse nine. “After this, I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no man could number from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the lamb, clothed in white robes with palm branches in their hands.”

Peoples from all tribes and peoples and tongues. This includes the 144,000 as a reference to all the faithful who are going to be saved. And the symbology has to do with 12 times 12. The 12 tribes and the 12 apostles. 12 carries with it the idea of spiritual completeness. Spiritual completeness. The number of seven sort of carries the same idea; spiritual fulfillment or completion. But the number 12 really means completion in a broader sense, I suppose. Spiritual completion. And it’s simply a symbolic number.

1 comment:

  1. So much Gnostic literature was destroyed in the early AD centuries. Modern day cults and dispensationalists embrace literal 144,000 jews, believers etc. did CT Russell invent it? How far back does it go? What is the history of the literal concept of 144000.