Revelation 7:4 And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel.
Revelation 14:3 And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth.
Revelation is a book of symbols.
Revelation 1:1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:
The 144,000 are said to come from the tribes of Israel which are listed.
If we take it literally the number excludes all gentiles.
Of the tribes of Israel, Dan is excluded.
If we take it literally the number excludes the whole of Dan’s offspring.
In my opinion this indicates that the number is not to be taken literally.
There is no support elsewhere in the New Testament for a special selection of a privileged number out of the main body of saints.
Galatians 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.
Those in Christ are all part of the one body and all have the same hope.
Ephesians 4:4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;
What I believe is this:
John hears the number but then sees a multitude. I believe the number heard is the symbolic representation of the multitude which no man could number.
The chapter goes on to give more detail of the multitude.
Revelation 7:13 And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?
14 And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
15 Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them.
16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat.
17 For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.
This is the reward given to the multitude.
The 144,000 is not mentioned again until ch.14:
Revelation 14:1 And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads.
2 And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps:
3 And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth.
4 These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb.
5 And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God.
This is the reward given to the multitude.
I am unable to detect a significant difference in the reward given to the white robed multitude and that given to the 144,000. The 144,000 are said to be redeemed from among men. I think that the white robed multitude is also a description of the redeemed.
I cannot accept that two different sets of people are being described.
In Revelation 7:17 we are told of the multitude ‘the Lamb... shall lead them...’
In Revelation 14:1 we are told of the 144,000‘they... follow the Lamb...’
There is only one bride, in the same way that there is only one body.
1 Corinthians 12:13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.
2 Corinthians 11:2 For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.
The bride is shown to John in symbol as a city descending from heaven.
Revelation 21:9 And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife.
10 And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,
Revelation 21:2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
When the wall of new Jerusalem (the bride) is measured, The 144 symbol appears again.
Revelation 21:17 And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel.
The promise of being part of the bride is given to all that ‘overcome’
Revelation 3:12 Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.
This agrees with the parable of the workers in the vineyard they all received the same wage.
Matthew 20:9 And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny.
10 But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny.
It agrees with what Paul says about the return of Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ‘s at his coming.
1 Thessalonians 4:16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
When we come to Revelation 20 the symbolic representation of the redeemed changes again, but is the same body of people that is being spoken of.
Revelation 20:4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
I must therefore conclude that the 144,000 is a symbolic number; representative of the multitude that no man could number, which in turn represents all those who constitute his bride.
When Christ returns the whole of his bride will reign with him in the kingdom of God on earth.
Revelation 3:21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.
If you want to come to grips with what the Bible really teaches, why not take the free online Bible study course available on our website, www.thisisyourbible.com? This course will give you a background in the major themes of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. As with everything we offer, there is no cost to you other than your time and effort... You will also have a personal tutor to whom you may pose questions either from the course itself or those questions which come to you as you read the Bible.
I hope this helps.