In order to show you that there are two classes, Jehovah’s Witnesses will have you read Luke 12:32, where Jesus says, “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.” Then they will take you immediately to Revelation 7:4, which says, “Then I heard the number of those who were sealed, 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel.”
They will say that this means “spiritual Israel,” anointed followers of Jesus. Revelation 14:1 also says, “Then I looked, and there before me was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads.”
Notice that they have hopscotched you from one part of the Bible to another, asserting without proof that all of these verses are referring to the same group. The best way to handle this is to ask them to show you anywhere in Luke 12 or Revelation 7 or 14 where it says that the “little flock” is this same group of 144,000 that John saw many years later in his vision.
You can follow up by asking, “Why couldn’t the ‘little flock’ whom the Father gave the kingdom simply be the apostles to whom Jesus made that statement? He told them that in the end times they would sit on 12 thrones judging the 12 tribes of Israel (Matthew 19:28).”
In fact, ask them to show you anywhere in Revelation 7 where it says that the 144,000 are in heaven. Ask them to read aloud Revelation 7:1-4 to see where they are located:
After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth to prevent any wind from blowing on the land or on the sea or on any tree. Then I saw another angel coming up from the east, having the seal of the living God. He called out in a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm the land and the sea: ‘Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.’ Then I heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel… (emphasis added)
Ask them when and where this takes place. Clearly, it takes place in the end times, right before angels are about to unleash judgment on the earth. Contrary to the Watchtower teaching that the 144,000 include Christians from the first century through the current day, notice that the 144,000 are all being sealed at the same time, and they are all on earth. Otherwise, there would be no point to the command not to harm the earth until these 144,000 have been sealed.
The Witnesses may point out that Revelation 5:9-10 says that people from every tribe, language, and nation who have been redeemed from the earth will be kings and priests over the earth. They will tell you this is the 144,000. In response, have them read Revelation 7:9, which talks about the great crowd. Where does it say they are? They are “standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb.” Ask, “Where is God’s throne, and where is Christ, the Lamb?” In heaven! Despite this, Jehovah’s Witnesses will tell you that this great crowd is on earth.
Have them turn to Revelation 19:1, which talks about “a great multitude in heaven.” They may say this is a different “great crowd” or “great multitude” composed of angels. You can say to the Witnesses, “It seems to me that the 144,000 are all on earth at the same time, being sealed just before judgment comes. Yet the Watchtower says they are a heavenly class chosen throughout 21 centuries. Meanwhile, the only references to a ‘great multitude’ in Revelation say that they are ‘before the throne and in front of the Lamb’ and that they are ‘in heaven’. Yet the Watchtower says that the ‘great crowd’ is an earthly class. Do you see why I am confused?”
You can also ask them about the 144,000 being 12,000 from each of the tribes of Israel (Revelation 7). They will tell you that these are not the tribes of fleshly Israel because Dan and Levi are missing. Ask them to explain what the tribes of the 144,000 are then. The Watchtower says that they are symbolic. You can ask them what exactly they symbolize and how it is that 12 symbolic tribes of 12,000 comprise a literal 144,000 people. They have no answers for these questions.
Have Jehovah’s Witnesses made some of these arguments to you? Do you find my responses helpful?
Share your thoughts in the comments.