Wednesday, June 24th, 2009
"I will constitute your seed like the dust particles of the earth." (Genesis 13:16)
Abraham was told that his seed would multiply and become "like the stars of the heavens." (Genesis 22:17) In other words, in Abraham's time it was impossible for humans to know how many would make up this seed. However, the exact number of his spiritual seed was eventually revealed. In addition to Jesus, it was to number 144,000. (Revelation 7:4; 14:1) Regarding Abraham's faith, God's Word states: "[Abraham] put faith in Jehovah; and he proceeded to count it to him as righteousness." (Genesis 15:5, 6) True, no human is absolutely righteous. (James 3:2) Nevertheless, because of Abraham's outstanding faith, Jehovah dealt with him as if he were righteous and even called him his friend. (Isaiah 41:8) Those who make up the spiritual seed of Abraham along with Jesus have also been declared righteous, and this brings them even greater blessings than Abraham received.
(Watchtower issue: 01/15/08, 4:6, 7)
*here's some additional reference material explaining how we know that the number 144,000 is literal in this instance and not merely a symbolic number...
(Reasoning from the Scriptures -"Is the number 144,000 merely symbolic?" pg 167) "The answer is indicated by the fact that, after mention of the definite number 144,000, Revelation 7:9 refers to "a great crowd, which no man was able to number." If the number 144,000 were not literal it would lack meaning as a contrast to the "great crowd." Viewing the number as literal agrees with Jesus' statement at Matthew 22:14 regarding the Kingdom of the heavens: "There are many invited, but few chosen." and Luke 12:32 says "Have no fear, little flock, because your Father has approved of giving you the kingdom."
Also if you compare how God dealt with the nation of Israel in the Hebrew scriptures you can totally see the parallel here ... The 12 tribes of Israel made up the majority of the people, by far. Whereas, the priestly duties were assigned only to the tribe of Levi. And even before that officially got underway, Moses delegated judicial responsibilities to a small group of those who were spiritually qualified to assist him in judging the people and handling matters. (Exodus 18:19-26)