The time we live in that began with our Lord Jesus revealing himself to Israel, was not given in order to judge nations.If we understand judgement as a process which ends with an eternal life or death senstence - this kind of judgement will take place during the reign of the future millennial kingdom (see the lecture The judgement of mankind). If so, what is the purpose of the present Gospel Age - it is a time when the elect apply for the positions of judges in this future kingdom. In his vision the prophet Daniel sees the Son of Man - apparently our Lord Jesus - who "was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, That all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him". Still, a few verses later one will read that "the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people, the saints of the Most High" (Dn. 7:13,14,27 NKJV). However, since the millennial kingdom is also a time of judgement, "the saints of the Most High" exercise judgement as well. We see that in the Old Testament where the king was also the highest judge, as well as in the New Testament with John writing that he saw thrones (attribute of the royal power) "and judgment was committed to them" that sat on the thrones (Rev. 20:4 NKJV).
144000 in the context of the Tabernacle
Daniel does not introduce further distinctions within the Saints of the Most High. It does seem, however, that this class of God's people will embrace two kinds of positions. The typical Sanctuary consisted of two chambers. Their walls and equipment were gold (or golden), which points to the Divine nature. The chamber called the Holy of Holies stored the Ark of the Covenant, which symbolised the presence of God. The Holy - even though also with the gold/golden leitmotif - was separated from the Holy of Holies by a curtain. It is an important element, for it suggests that the winners of the calling that will find themselves at the level of the Holy will not have a direct access to God, as oppossed to those at the level of the Holy of Holies. The apostle John says of them that they will be homoioi - like Christ, and "we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is" (NKJV). In the commentary on Rev. 4:4 I wrote that the Holy od Holies was represented in the symbols of the Revelation as 24 elders, who sit on the thrones around our Lord, directly next to him.
The Holy, even though it is identified with the immortal Divine nature, it does suggest at the same time that at this level there will be a 'curtain' that will prevent antitypical priests from experiencing the presence of God directly. However, the tasks assigned to the priests in the Holy will likely be of that same sort that those assigned to the kings in the Holy of Holies, at least as far as the earthly part of the Kingdom is concerned. Rev. 20:4 seems to support that conclusion. John sees thrones on which elders sit. In addition, he also sees "the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God" who are brought back to life and receive the royal power. Similarly we read in Rev. 6:9-11 - here we see "the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held" who demand judgement, but are informed that they need to wait "a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed" (NKJV). The souls that are already completed are the 24 elders that will reign with Christ - the level of the Holy of Holies (the last member being sealed in 1977 - see commentary on Mt. 25:1-13 and the lecture Abraham's parallels). The souls that still are to be completed, represent the level of the Holy.
144000 as described in Rev. 14:1-5
In the symbolism of Revelation the level of the Holy is represented by 144000 elect. In Rev. 14:1-5 the reader sees them standing on Mount Zion with the Lamb, which seems to suggest the highest reward of the resurrection to the Divine nature. At the same time, there one also sees 24 elders, so both groups - even though they stand with the Lamb - are not identical (similarly as in the Tabernacle God separated the Holy from the Holy of Holies). It is worth pointing out that 144000 are the only ones who can learn the same new song that 24 elders sing. The song refers to the truth. The elect who received the spirit of prophecy as their token of belonging to Christ (Rev. 19:10) do not have it as a fixed set of doctrines. The core of prophecy is seeing things so far unseen. The song of 144000 is therefore new because their understaning of the truth is not limited to an immovable framework, but it is always in progress, always evolving and changing. Only by preserving this kind of spirit we can have the hope for the highest reward represented by the Holy - the reward of immortality, which is also clearly stressed by our Lord in Jn. 17:3 - "This means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you..." (NWT).
Thus it should come as no surprise that the information about the new song is accompanied by the statement that 144000 "were not defiled with women" (Rev. 14:4 NKJV). The only woman bethrothed to Christ is his Church (2 Cor. 11:2; Rev. 19:7,8). In Christianity, however, there isn't one church whose members would be focused on learning the truth, but there are hundreds (if not thousands) of sects, each of which claims to already have arrived at the truth, so it does not have to look for it anymore. Consequently, there are many women in Christianity, who, nonetheless, the elect cannot be defiled with, i.e. they cannot absorb the spirit present in those sects: the spirit of haughtiness caused by the conviction of one's infallibe truth, as well as the spirit of blindness caused by turning one's eyes away from anything which does go hand in hand with 'my truth'. The last of the seven churches to which Christ spoke at the beginning of the book of Revelation adopted precisely this kind of attitude: "I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing". It is especially characteristic of many new protestant churches, which believe they have already cleansed themselves of the errors of their predecessors and are already 'in the truth'. Christ firmly rebuked this kind of thinking (Rev. 3:14-20).
However, the song of the 144000 is not that of the women, but it is a new song - the song of continuous diving deeper into the meaning of the Bible. That is why Rev. 14:5 says "in their mouth was found no deceit" (NKJV). In Greek there we find pseudos, which describes anything which is not what it promises to be. So in the mouths of the winners of the Gospel Age there is no teaching which promises to be the truth, whereas it is a pseudo-truth, or simply speaking - an error. Here one can find a link to the attitude of the women, all of whom promise to deliver only the true Chrystian doctrine, whereas in reality they all teach errors to some degree. Further words describing 144000 concern the consequences of their attitude towards the truth: "they are without fault" (NKJV). Error in theory breeds error in practice. The believers in Christ who stick to erroneous doctrines stick to erroneous practices, and so they become guilty of breaching God's ethical order. This is an important warning for God's people, for we know that "Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' (23) And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'" (Mt. 7:22,23 NKJV).
Another charcteristic of 144000 is contained in the word 'firstfruits' John uses in Rev. 14:4. A twofold thought is hidden here. Firstly, at the beginning of the commentary I pointed out that the present Gospel Age aims at appointing some as judges of mankind in the future Millennium. However, for them to be judges, they first need to submit to judgement themselves. That is why the apostle Peter writes that "the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God" (1 Pet. 4:17 NKJV). So, we are firstfruits because the Church of the Gospel Age undergoes judgement in all aspects of teaching, testing, correction and sentence, before mankind in general. The necessary condition for one to be subjected to judgement is reception of the spirit of the truth (as the basis for the process), and so James informs that we become firstfruits by birth of the spirit - renewal of character in accordance with the knowledge of the Word of God (Jas. 1:18). Another meaning of the firstfruit is related to resurrection. Mankind in general will be raised in the future Kingdom. The elect who will find themselves in the antitypical Tabernacle are resurrected during the present Gospel Age, as soon as their earthly existence comes to an end - that is why they are fitst (before the non-elect mankind; Jn. 11:25,26; Rev. 20:6).
The symbolism of the number 144000
An interesting element connected to 144000 elect is their very number: 144000. Similarly, the number of the elders: 24. I am not convinced that these numbers are to be read literally. Definitely, there are reasons to believe that they have a symbolic meaning. The sum of the numbers 24 (elders) + 1 (Jesus) + 144000 gives the number of the judges of the future Kingdom: 144025. After Exodus, the judicial power rested in the hands of one person - Moses, who later on shared it on God's command with 70 'able men, such as fear God' from among the people. So the typical number of the judges was 71 (Ex. 18:13-27; Num. 11:10-17). If we divide the antitypical number of judges 144025 by the typical number of judges 71, the result is 2028.5. On time scale that would mean the middle of the year 2029. What could happen then? In the commentary on Mt. 24:23-31 I argued that the fulfillment of the Day of the Lord prophecies will be connected with the appearance of the asteroid Apophis, which will fly by the Earth in April 2029. The Earth's magnetic field will change the trajectory of Apophis due to the proximity to our planet and after another full circle is made around the solar system, the asteroid will hit our planet in April 2036.
If this scenario comes true, about the middle of 2029 we will hear in the news that Apophis has shifted to the collision course with the Earth. When this information spreads, a tribulation will start such as never happened before - tribulation that will fulfill Bible prophecies. But what relationship is there between these events and the completion of 144000 - in Rev. 7:1-4 one reads that 'harming the earth, the sea, or the trees' is to begin when the last member of the 144000 has been sealed. Thus the time of the appearance of Apophis in 2029 coincides with the completion of 144000. The correlation of numbers and events definitely does not seem to be accidental. We will be sure, however, when we see events, not only dates. For the sake of precision it might be worth adding that even though 2029 marks the time of appointing the last of the millennial judges, the class of the 24 elders has already been completed - I wrote about it earlier in the commentary. The elect who carry on with their consecration today have no hope for joining this class of kings with Jesus Christ, but can still be sealed as belonging to 144000.
This hope will come to its end when the last of the elect will be sealed as an antitypical priest about the middle of 2029. The elect who will 'wake up' to their calling during the tribulation, will be able to receive the positions of antitypical levites. The sealing of this class of the Lord's people will end in 2035, so about a year before the Apocalypse. That is when the generation mentioned by the Lord Jesus in Mt. 24:32-35 will pass. At the same time, it will mean the completion of the heavenly Tabernacle in all its members: the High Priest, priests and levites.