Again the 144,000

It seems that sometimes we are puzzled in regard to the 144,000 referred to in the book of Revelation. I have just replied to one man who talked to me asking if the martyrs of the Dark Ages will not be included in the 144,000, and if not, why not? Another question he put to me is, 'Will the 144,000 be the only ones living when Christ comes?' Can you give me some light?

The only sources of information regarding the 144,000 are a brief passage in the book of Revelation and certain limited comments in the writings of Mrs. White. These comments are neither extensive nor precisely definitive in their nature. It is this very fact that has led to differences of views among us concerning the nature of this special company of saints.

It is proper to have an interest in any subject mentioned in the Bible or Spirit of Prophecy. However, the interest should be confined within the limits of the information that Inspiration has given us on the subject. If those limits are small, we should be content with them, awaiting the day when God will enlarge the borders of our understanding of spiritual mysteries.

The trouble is that some devout souls feel restive when they are in a very restricted area in their Bible study. Finding no Bible texts that they can use as tools to break down the limiting walls of their knowledge, they are tempted to call on brooding speculation to do the task. It must be admitted that speculation can most effectively remove boundaries and enable the mind to soar east and west and north and south and up to the illimitable spaces above. Unfortunately, speculation lacks chart and compass the speculator is freed from the shackles of confining space, only to discover that he has no base for his feet.

I have no new light to offer on the nature and status of the 144,000.1 would referyou to the brief inspired declarations on the subject and leave the matter at that.

Speaking personally, I have never felt tempted to spend extra hours exploring a subject like the 144,000 and for this reason: I have always been able to find in the Bible innumerable subjects that can be explored with the light of related passages of Scripture, so that I can keep enlarging the borders of my understanding without drawing on the false light of speculation. Thus my mind is enriched, my spirit strengthened, and my understanding of the will and purposes of God ever increased. Why, therefore, should I consume in speculation the hours that could be so profitably used in exploring the numerous clearly understandable portions of Holy Scriptures?

What all of us need to do is to spend more time on the great elementary teachings of the Holy Word regarding salvation, so that we can be sure of entrance to heaven. If we can but enter and be seated on the last row, let us thank God and be content. Then, if our Lord graciously calls on some of us to come forward to a special, favored status, we can go forward and hear from His lips the explanation of why we have been thus chosen. Until that day, let us content ourselves with thanksgiving to God for the clear and unmistakable declarations of Holy Scriptures that all of us have been chosen for salvation if we are but willing to respond to the invitation.

However, this emphasis on the danger of speculation and on the value of a simple striving to enter in through the heavenly gates does not warrant the conclusion that we should not solemnly study what the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy specifically say regarding the 144,000. If we confine ourselves to those statements, and to their practical implications for our lives, we shall be edified. Certainly we may properly seek to measure up to the requirements of those who shall belong to that select company. We read of them: "In their mouth was found no guile" (Rev. 14:5).

How much of sorrow and tragedy would be removed from our homes and our churches if our lips spoke only those words that were true and uplifting. How much nearer heaven we would be every day of our lives. It is in the sense of striving to measure up to Heaven's highest standards that the messenger of God makes the statement: "Let us strive with all the power that God has given us to be among the hundred and forty-four thousand." -Ellen G. White in The Review and Herald, March 9, 1905.