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How many people will enter the kingdom of heaven?

The Bible never states a specific number concerning how many people will enter the kingdom of God.Thatís in part because God hasnít determined precisely how many will enter His kingdom since heís given us free will to accept or reject salvation after He calls us.(Of course, strict Calvinists who believe in predestination will disagree with that viewpoint, but that opens up a totally separate can of worms).Such a text as Revelation 20:6 doesnít give a specific number:ďBlessed and holy is he who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and they shall reign with him a thousand years.ĒAlthough the fundamental perspective of the Book of Revelation is that the vast majority donít have salvation (as per Rev. 12:9, since Satan has deceived the whole world), that doesnít mean they canít get salvation later, after their death and resurrection.The key giving evidence that people can be saved after they die unsaved is Ezekiel 37:1-14.†† Here Ezekiel in a vision saw the whole house of Israel as dry bones, as unsaved, but when they were resurrected, they werenít put into the lake of fire, but into the land of Israel (verse 12-13), where they would come to know the Lord.So thereís good reason to believe that the great majority of people will ultimately be saved, not lost, despite being deceived during their first lifetimes on earth, after the second resurrection occurs (Rev. 20:5).

Now, here I could be speculating, so please correct me in any follow-up email you would send if this is incorrect:Are you asking this question because youíve heard about the Jehovahís Witness teaching that 144,000 go to heaven and have spirit bodies while the rest of humanity lives on earth in the flesh forever?

Clearly, the Bible teaches that Christians will live on earth as the place of the saved.  After all, what do the meek inherit? (Matt. 5:5)  They inherit the earth, not heaven.  The ďmeekĒ also include the 144,000.  Why should we read into any text the interpretation that it supposedly only affects the 144,000 when it doesnít mention them?  Now doesnít God the Father come down to a new earth in the New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:1-3)?  Isnít earth the place (verse 4) without crying, pain, and death?  Jesus likewise comes to the earth (Zechariah 14:3-4) from where He prepared a place (i.e., positions in the kingdom of God, cf. Luke 19:11-27; Matt. 25:14-30) for us so "that [when on earth] where I am you may be also" (John 14:3).  But, will all Christians (besides the 144,000 in heaven) live in the flesh forever?  Where does the Bible say that having a transformed body made of spirit is limited only to the 144,000, such as in I Cor. 15, the famous resurrection chapter?  The 144,000 arenít even mentioned outside of the Book of Revelation, and itís a major interpretative error to keep reading into various texts elsewhere the assumption that those texts are only about the 144,000 when they say nothing about them.  So when Paul writes about the resurrection of saved Christians (I Cor. 15:44-45, 48-49), ďIt is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body.  If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual body.  Thus it is written, ĎThe first man Adam became a living beingí; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. . . .  Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust; and as is the man of heaven, so are those who are of heaven.  Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.Ē  Why should we limit Paulís ďweĒ to the 144,000 when he never writes anything about them specifically here or elsewhere?  What justifies making that assumption when interpreting the Bible?


The sixth seal of the book of Revelation (which is described starting in 6:12), Christ speaks about in Matthew 24:29 also, which concern the heavenly signs like the sunís becoming black.  God seals and then protects the 144,000 Israelites (who mostly arenít Jews, by the way, but are also members of the ďTen Lost TribesĒ) who are also true Christians in Revelation 7.  Jesus describes this in Matthew 24:31.  Revelation later returns to describe the 144,000 some more in Rev. 14:1-5). Then a huge multitude, gentiles and Israelites, who receive spiritual salvation, but often werenít saved physically during the this coming terrible time.  (See Rev. 7:9-10, 14).Notice that these people are ďa great multitude, which no one could count,Ē in quantity, which shows we canít know exactly how many are saved.They are just as saved spiritually as the 144,000.  These people heard the warning message to repent, obey Godís law, and have faith in Jesus as Savior, but didnít take action until the Great Tribulation began.

I believe the 144,000 of Revelation 7 and 14 are true Christians who happen also to be physical descendants of the various tribes in question.  They will be sealed by God shortly before the 7th seal of God is opened, so they are those actually alive at the end time.  It isn't a subsection of all those who have lived down through human history who are true people of God, but a group of those true Christians living shortly before Jesus returns. Notice that they are distinguished from the great multitude described in Rev. 7:9?  Why do we know they are different?  Notice this formula, "from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and tongues."  Compare it to what Nebuchadnezzar meant in Daniel 3:29, and what John wrote in Rev. 5:9-10; 14:6.  These aren't Jews or Israelites, but gentiles.  They can't be physically of the same national background as those listed earlier, from the 12 tribes of Israel, mentioned in the prior verses.  Or, at the barest mininum, Israel and Judah are also included with this great (saved) multitude as a minor subset, but the 144,000 aren't identical to them. 

The 144,000 are only part of all the saved Christians down through the centuries who will be in the first resurrection (or translation, if still alive) when Jesus returns.  The gentiles who are truly saved before Jesus' return, and also during the millennium, need not wait until the second resurrection (Rev. 20:5, first part) to be saved.  In this case, I believe the number 144,000 is literally accurate, in part because of the specific enumeration of tribes that follow afterwards.  These Israelites and Jews will be also truly saved Christians, who accept Jesus as their personal Savior in this life before He returns.  Hence, spiritual Israel and physical Israel overlap in this regard.  Likewise, historically, they did in the early days of the true Church in the first century, when the only believers in Jesus as the Messiah and Savior were Jewish.

 

I believe that all saved people will have spirit bodies and live on a purified, transformed, totally new earth forever after the New Jerusalem comes to earth with God the Father.The Jehovahís Witness teaching about the 144,000 is simply incorrect.

 

Eric Snow

www.lionofjudah1.org

 

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