This post addresses most of the issues that Michael Felker brings up in his review of the February 2017 Watchtower Study Edition. The biggest point I will be addressing is whether or not 144,000 in Revelation is a literal number or not. To view Michael's original video, click here.
Let’s start with Romans 1:18, which states, “For God’s wrath is being revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who are suppressing the truth in an unrighteous way.” When is God’s wrath revealed or executed against Satan’s system. Isaiah 13:9 answers:
Look! The day of Jehovah is coming,
Cruel both with fury and with burning anger,
To make the land an object of horror,
And to annihilate the land’s sinners from it.”
Jehovah’s anger against Satan and his system and that system’s supporters represents the execution of Jehovah’s judgment upon them. What is the relationship between the day of Jehovah and the great tribulation? The great tribulation is not a result of Jehovah’s judgments, for when Jehovah passes his judgments on the land, it is with the intention of wiping the land clean. This cannot be the same as the great tribulation, because Matthew 24:22 indicates that the great tribulation will be cut short. Cut short by what? The answer is obvious: by the day of Jehovah…it’s the execution of Jehovah’s judgments itself that cuts short Satan’s wicked system. It’s not reasonable to suggest that it’s Jehovah’s judgments themselves are cut short.
Why is the great tribulation cut short to begin with? The same verse in Matthew answers that it’s “on account of the chosen ones.” It should be noted here, that many in Christendom believe that the JW notion that there are “two classes” of Christians unscriptural. Actually, there is a great deal of biblical support for the notion of there being more than one class of people in God’s service. Back in the 1st century, it was the Jews and the alien residents; in the first century, again, it was the Jewish Christians and the Gentile Christians, and now, there are actually several different classifications of Jehovah’s worshippers. The one that non-JWs tak issue with are the anointed and the other sheep. Is there scriptural justification for this particular division of God’s people? The Bible itself contains direct references to the “holy ones,” or “saints,” as the word is rendered in more popular translations. So yes, the classification of “holy ones” or “saints” and other Christians, or “other sheep,” does exist in the Bible.
Mike refutes the Jehovah’s Witness interpretation of John 10:16 by saying that the scripture is talking about bringing Gentiles into the fold. He references John 11:51, 52; Eph 2: 10-17 to indicate this. While it’s certainly true that this applied to the Gentiles in the first century, but does it mean the same thing when applied to the present unfolding of prophecy? Remember that the all the anointed were originally to be bought out solely from the nation of Israel if they had kept their covenant with God. It is only because they broke their covenant with God that the opportunity to become an anointed Christian was opened up to faithful people out of all the nations. So the nation of Israel is symbolic of the anointed in the larger fulfillment of prophecy, and the Gentiles typify non-anointed Christians in our time. Thus, although the prophecy initially applied to the fleshly Jews and Gentiles, in the larger fulfillment, it refers to spiritual Israel (the anointed) and the other sheep as the non-anointed Christians.
It should also be noted that another classification is also developing in our time. The movement of ex-Jehovah’s witnesses who still worship Jehovah will almost certainly attract people who were never associated with the JWs. In fact, the Bible speaks of a mass influx of people just prior to the end…so some of the prophecies concerning the Jews and the Gentiles in the first century might also apply to JW vs non-JW Christians in our time who respond to the news of the establishment of God’s kingdom.
Going back to Matthew 24:22, what does it mean, exactly, when it says that the days are cut short (by God’s wrath) “on account of the chosen ones,” and when exactly does that occur? We can find the answer in Revelation 6:9-11, which reads:
…I saw underneath the alter the souls of those slaughtered because of the word of God and because of the witness they had given. They shouted with a loud voice, saying: “Until when, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, are you refraining from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth? And a white robe was given to each of them. And they were told to rest a little while longer, until the number was fulfilled of their fellow slaves who were about to be killed as they had been.
One side point to note here is that in his video, Michael states that he agrees with Jehovah’s Witnesses, that Christian will remain on the earth. The difference in his claim is that the “anointed” are all Christians and that all Christians will rule on earth. But if that’s so, then why is there a distinction here, between those in heaven, and those on the earth? Besides there, there are a couple of points to take away from these three versus.
First of all, these verses show that the number of the anointed (in heaven) is a fixed number that must be filled prior to the fiery day of Jehovah, which is the main point of this article. The book of Revelation continues in it’s description of the time of the end, progressing on to the actual day of Jehovah, or as verse 17 puts it, the great day of their wrath. After describing the Day of Jehovah, Chapter 17 goes on to describe the four angels for a few versus, until returning to those described previously as being under the alter. Remember, Rebelation 6:11 stated that the number of them had to be fulfilled. What is that number? Revelation 7:4 states, the number of those who were sealed, 144,000 sealed out of every tribe of the sons of Israel. So the combination of the fact that 144,000 was described as a number that needed to be fulfilled, and the day of Jehovah would wait until that occurrence, and also the fact that the 144,000 are sealed combine to give a pretty strong indication that the number, 144,000, is literal. Yes, 144,000, is 12,000 times 12, which is highly symbolic, which is almost certainly why it was chosen to be the number of chosen ones that needs to be fulfilled.
As another tangent, notice Revelation 7:9, which states:
After this [after the sealing of the chosen ones] I saw, and look! A great crowd, which no man was able to number, out of all the tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, dressed in white robes, and there were palm branches in their hands.
So a few things to notice here. The first, obvious fact, is that the great crowd is seen after the chosen ones are anointed, thus indicating that it is a separate group. Also, is the fact that the Bible contrasts the size of the group of chosen ones (144,000) with the size of the great crowd (which no man was able to number). Thus, the great crowd coming out of the tribulation, is depicted in the bible as much larger that the group of anointed. So large, in fact, that no man was able to number them This might be partially literal, but of course, we know that the population of the earth currently is around 7.5 billion. The real point that’s being made in this scripture, is that the number of the great crowd is much vaster than the number of the chosen ones, set at 144,000.
Returning to Revelation 6:9-11, the second point to take away from those verses is that it describes God’s wrath as being poured out on Satan’s system for a very specific reason. That reason is the murder of God’s chosen ones, His anointed. Notice how it says that they were told to rest a little while longer, until the number was fulfilled of their fellow slaves who were about to be killed as they had been. This supports what Matthew 24:22 is saying, when it states that the days will be cut short on account of the holy ones.
Mike brings up another point in his video concerning the resurrection of people from the past, particularly people who have not gotten to know Jehovah. He invokes Rom. 1:18-23 to argue that there isn’t anyone in the past who didn’t know Jehovah. This will be the topic of the next article. I will be analyzing the points that Mike brings up in the second half of his video to see what the truth is.