The 144,000 vs The Great Crowd

According to the Watchtower, 144,000 is the total number of people who will make it into heaven, and every last one of them will have been a Jehovah’s Witness. These folks (variously known as “the little flock” or “spiritual Israel”) are also the ones that the Bible was written for, and are the only ones who have Jesus as their Mediator.

All other Jehovah’s Witnesses are considered “the Great Crowd” of “other sheep.” These 8 million people are to live forever on earth rather than in heaven, and must rely on the 144,000 for biblical interpretation and salvation (in effect, the 144,000 act as their mediator in place of Jesus.)

But, in reality, when it comes to telling the Great Crowd what they must and mustn’t do and believe, it is a tiny minority of the 144,000 that fill this role: the men of the Governing Body.

The relationship of the Great Crowd to the Governing Body is best expressed in the succinct motto imposed upon the former by the latter: “Listen, obey, and be blessed.”

Without this doctrine, some 8 million people would be free to live their lives: not shunning their children who come to disagree with the Governing Body; not withholding life-saving medical procedures from them; not discouraging them from getting an education…

This fundamental Watchtower doctrine is based on the following Scripture:

Then I saw, and look! the Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with him 144,000 who have his name and the name of his Father written on their foreheads. I heard a sound coming out of heaven like the sound of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder; and the sound that I heard was like singers who accompany themselves by playing on their harps. And they are singing what seems to be a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders, and no one was able to master that song except the 144,000, who have been bought from the earth. These are the ones who did not defile themselves with women; in fact, they are virgins. These are the ones who keep following the Lamb no matter where he goes. These were bought from among mankind as firstfruits to God and to the Lamb, and no deceit was found in their mouths; they are without blemish.
And I heard the number of those who were sealed, 144,000, sealed out of every tribe of the sons of Israel:
Rev. 14:1-5; 7:4

They figured all of this out in 1935. Prior to that year the “great crowd” (aka “great multitude”) of Jehovah’s Witnesses had been heaven-bound:

…all the facts and the scriptures bearing upon the matter under consideration show that those who form the great multitude constitute a spirit class, born on the spirit plane.”
–- Watchtower 1927 Jan 15 p.20

They believed that if these who were said to be of the great multitude were faithful at that time, they would be resurrected to heavenly life — not to rule as kings but to take a position before the throne.”
-– Jehovah’s Witnesses – Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom pp.160, 161.

But, “all the facts and the scriptures” were evidently wrong:

At the end of May of that year [1935] a five-day convention of Jehovah’s Christian Witnesses was in session… the president of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society discussed the subject of ‘the great multitude,’ spoken of in Revelation 7.9-17, Authorized Version. He made it clear that the ‘multitude’ was no spiritual or spirit begotten class, would not attain the angelic nature in heaven so as to assist the 144,000 joint heirs with Christ. It was a distinctly an earthly class with hope of endless perfect human life in the earthly paradise under Christ’s kingdom”
Holy Spirit – The Force Behind the Coming New Order (WBTS 1976) p. 156

This was also the year that marked the completion of the selection of all of the 144,000 heaven-bound Witnesses:

Logically, the calling of the little flock would draw to a close when the number was nearing completion, and the evidence is that the general gathering of these specially blessed ones ended in 1935.
-– Watchtower 1995 Feb 15 p.19

But the door that shut in that year must’ve been a revolving one, because “new light” has revealed (after obdurate later-day Witnesses kept insisting they were anointed):

Thus it appears that we can not set a specific date for when the calling of Christians to the heavenly hope ends.
-– Watchtower 2007 May 1 p.31

Does anything seem a little out of whack to you about this whole thing?

A Book of Symbols

Jehovah’s Witnesses claim that they are not fundamentalists because (among other reasons) they do not believe that every passage in the Bible is to be interpreted literally. [It’s beside the point that this is based on their own definition of fundamentalism: not the rest of the world’s.]

Revelation is one of those books of the Bible that are not to be interpreted literally. The Watchtower says that it is “highly symbolic” Insight Vol. 2 p. 798-801

If you ever want to hear “the book of Revelation is symbolic and not to be taken literally” from the mouth of an actual Jehovah’s Witness, just ask them to read Revelation 20:10  to you. I can almost guarantee that a phrase similar to this will be the next words out of their mouths.

When it comes to the number 144,000 however, the Watchtower is adamant that it is not symbolic, but literal. Let’s see why their stance makes no sense.

Revelation 7:4-8 says that the 144,000 are made up of 12,000 from each of the 12 tribes of Israel. It even spells this out for us in the Bible’s frequently redundant manner. The Watchtower assures us that these “tribes” are symbolic.

That’s right: they add up symbolic tribes and come up with a total  number of literal people! That’s like counting out twelve apples and coming up with a total of a dozen doorknobs.

But wait; there’s more!

Here are all of the items mentioned in the passage from Revelation, showing whether the Watchtower considers them symbolic or literal:

How can they hope to get away with this arbitrary assigning of literalness to one item in this highly symbolic passage? It’s as if I were to tell the fairy-tale of Little Red Riding Hood, and admit that it’s all make-believe except for the part where the wolf says “The better to see you with, my dear,” that one part, I insist, is literally true. Would you take me seriously?

Somehow, eight million Jehovah’s Witnesses take the Governing Body seriously when they do the identical thing with the Bible book of Revelation!

The Watchtower’s rationale is that the 144,000 are contrasted with the “great crowd,” so:

If the number 144,000 were symbolic, referring instead to a group without number, then the contrast between the two groups would be lost. Who Go to Heaven? (parg 21)

But this isn’t necessarily so; the number can be symbolic and still contrast perfectly well with another unnumbered [or vastly larger] group.

For example, consider the number 10,000. I will give you two examples where the number 10,000 is used symbolically [or non-literally.] Then I want you to see if you can still contrast that number with another group that is unnumbered [or vastly larger.]

Example 1: Group Having a Symbolic Number Contrasted With an Unnumbered Group

In some of the older readings in Buddhism you might come across the expression “ten thousand things.” In Buddhism ten thousand isn’t some magic number. It too is vague. It could just as well be “a billion things.”
Ten thousand refers to the uncountable numbers of forms in which life force, or Buddha-nature, exists.

–With thanks to the FAYETTEVILLE ZEN CENTER article: (Emphasis added.)

In the context of Zen Buddhism I might say something such as: “Shift your focus away from the 10,000 things and onto your studies.” Those are two separate groups (10,000 things, and studies) one having a symbolic number, and the other being unnumbered. Is there any problem contrasting the two? No.

Example 2: Group Having a Non-Literal Number Contrasted With a Vastly Larger Group

MNLicenseThe state I live in (Minnesota) has a nickname: “The Land of 10,000 Lakes.” In fact, “10,000 Lakes” is what you’ll see on our cars’ license plates. But Minnesota actually has 11,842 lakes (of 10 or more acres; and many more if we count lakes 5 acres or more in size: the minimum size of a lake, according to Wikipedia.) So 10,000 isn’t a literal number in this context. It’s just a big number giving us “bragging rights.”

However, our bragging is severely humbled by the following quote:

Minnesota is known as the land of 10,000 lakes. Alaska tops that with more than 3 million lakes.

With thanks to AlaskaKids:

In the above quote, one group — with the non-literal number of 10,000 — is compared to another group with a vague, though vastly larger, number (“more than 3 million.”) Any problem contrasting the two groups (Minnesota lakes and Alaska lakes)? No.

So, just as in our examples above, the number 144,000 can be symbolic, referring to a group without number, without the contrast between this group and the “Great Crowd”  being lost.

A “Sealed” Number

The Watchtower also insists that the number 144,000 is literal because it is a “sealed number.” But, once again, they are not consistent; there are many other things in the book of Revelation which are “sealed” but are still held to be symbolic by the Watchtower. Each of the 7 plagues in chapter 6 and 8, for instance, were “sealed,” and yet the Watchtower teaches that the plagues are symbolic. Therefore, the number being “sealed” is no indicator that the number is literal.

According to the Watchtower, The Number 12 is Symbolic of Organization

Furthermore, the Watchtower has repeatedly stated that the number twelve is symbolic. They claim that it is used in the Bible (specifically here in Revelation chapter 7) to represent “organizational completeness.”

NewJerusalemIn Revelation 21:10-21 the “heavenly new Jerusalem” is described as having 12 gates with 12 angels and the 12 names of the tribes of Israel. The city is 12,000 furlongs in width, depth, and height. The wall is 144 cubits with 12 foundations. The Watchtower teaches that this city is symbolic, and that its obvious and repetitive use of the number 12 (and 144, which is 12 squared) is symbolic of organization.

Wouldn’t it be consistent then to recognize that since the number 144,000 consists of 12 groups of 12,000, it also appears to be using the number 12 in a symbolic manner?

Yes, it would be consistent, but it would lose the Governing Body its power-hold over its great crowd of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

[Revealingly, on its website, the Watchtower omits to mention the 144 cubits measurement of the “Heavenly New Jerusalem,” and fails to reveal the usage of the number 12 as a symbol of organization, in an article devoted to the subject ( What is New Jerusalem? )! Perhaps they are worried that Witnesses may put two and two together (or in this case: 144 and 12,000) if these things are pointed out.]

Where, Oh Where is that Great Crowd of Other Sheep?

The Watchtower contends that since the Great Crowd is seen standing “before the throne” in Rev. 7:9; and since a totally unrelated Bible verse states that “the earth is God’s footstool” (Is. 66:1); and since a footstool typically sits before a throne — therefore the Great Crowd must live forever on earth! [Yes, I’m being serious; this is how they “interpret” the Bible!]

But if “being before the throne” proves that the “great crowd” is on earth, then it would likewise prove that the following groups were also on the earth:

  • The angels.
  • The elders.
  • The four beasts.
  • The 144,000!

All of these groups are said to be “before the throne” in the verses already quoted above. Since the Watchtower teaches that these groups are in heaven, it cannot be true that “before the throne” means “on the earth”.

Since it all seems a bit too much for them, and they can’t seem to make up their minds, instead of asking the Watchtower where the “great crowd” is, let’s ask the Bible:

After these things I heard what was a loud voice of a great crowd in heaven. They said, “Praise Jah, you people! The salvation and the glory and the power belong to our God.”
Rev. 19:1 NWT

Where does the Bible explicitly say the “great crowd” is? “In heaven.” Where does the Watchtower say the “great crowd” is? “On earth.” Which source of information should a Witness go by?

Jehovah’s Witnesses try to be careful about how they express themselves. Instead of saying, ‘the Society teaches,’ many Witnesses prefer to use such expressions as, “the Bible says” or, “I understand the Bible to teach.” In this way they emphasize the personal decision that each Witness has made in accepting Bible teachings and also avoid giving the false impression that Witnesses are somehow bound to the dictates of some religious sect.
Watchtower, 3/15/1998, p. 19

How about really going by what the Bible teaches instead of giving it lip-service, all the while kowtowing to the Watchtower?

The Watchtower’s dividing people into classes — so that one class can lord it over the other — is just plain wrong, and has no solid foundation whatsoever. So, “Great Crowd,” live your lives accordingly: as individuals trusting your inherent empathy over the dictates of the Watchtower.

The Malawi Scandal

During the 1970’s and 1980’s the government of Malawi required its citizens to purchase an identity card. The wording on the card was such that the citizen was recognized as a member of the single government party.

The Watchtower ruled that Witnesses in Malawi could not purchase these cards because it would make them “part of the world.” This resulted in untold suffering for these people: murder, rape, burning down their homes, etc. I well remember when I was a Witness back in the mid 70’s praying for the “persecuted brothers in Malawi.” The persecution was one of the reasons we thought that it was God’s organization. Little did we know that it all could’ve (and should’ve) been easily avoided.

What makes this a scandal rather than just a tragedy is the fact that at the same time that the Watchtower’s stance was causing this in Malawi, the Watchtower was permitting more egregious mingling with “worldly government” in other areas, and was even engaging in equally intimate relations themselves!

During the Malawi scandal the Watchtower approved of Witnesses in Mexico purchasing [via bribery] government identity cards which recognized them as members of the first reserve of the Mexican army (while excusing them from immediate military service)!

Even prior to this, members of the Watchtower’s governing body held signed identity cards (namely U.S. passports) on which they pledged an oath to defend the constitution of the United States against all enemies, and swore:

“true faith and allegiance to the same… without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion. So help me God.”

Now, if the presidents of the Watchtower society could sign such a document and carry it on their person, they had no call to restrict their members in Malawi from signing a party-card.

Then, in the 1990’s the Watchtower applied for, and was granted, NGO membership in the baddest governmental agency of them all: the seven-headed image of the wild beast itself: the United Nations!

Clearly, if the party-card of Malawi was an infraction of the rule to stay separate from the world, then U.N. membership of any kind should’ve been out of the question. But Watchtower defenders claim ignorance on the part of the Watchtower: stupidly not knowing that as members they were expected to “support” the U.N. (in principle, at least.) Evidently they didn’t bother to investigate what they were doing: they just wanted to use the library (something the U.N. says does not even require NGO membership) and due to their “human imperfection” [and obvious lack of divine guidance] they went too far.

Based on historic facts I can only surmise that if the governing body had been located in Malawi rather than the U.S., they wouldn’t have had any qualms about signing the party-card. Just like their passports, they wouldn’t have given it a second thought, and just like their U.N. membership they wouldn’t have bothered investigating all that such membership entailed.

Now, remember: the Governing Body claim to be the men whom Jesus hand-picked to rule over their god’s organization on earth today, and as members of the 144,000 “joint-heirs,” are destined to rule over the future “New Earth” right beside him! Yet, if this is how they inconsistently apply the rules today, I’m pretty sure I don’t want them ruling over me — ever, and certainly not for a thousand year period where my life hangs in the balance of their judgment! How about you?

A Letter From the Future

As you might imagine, we get a fair amount of insane email here at RCL, most of which ends up in the bit bucket. The following, however, I found interesting, and I think our readers will as well.


Dear Steve,

This is me (yourself) writing to you from the future. Don’t ask how this is possible; you’d never understand it. Just trust me (yourself) that future technology has advanced to the point that we can send email to be delivered at the time we specify (even if it’s in the past.) [Though, of course, the U.S. Postal Service still inexplicably takes over a week to get snail mail delivered — unless you spend a little extra to send it Priority Mail, in which case it takes two weeks; some things never change.]

Although the Governing Body says we’re not supposed to use this back-dated email feature to contact people B.A. (Before Armageddon), I’ve decided to risk the consequences because of the critically important message I need to impart to you and those of your time.

First off, let me tell you that — believe it or not — you survived Armageddon! After one of those fiery boulders hurled from heaven destroyed your city block, you staggered — barely alive and badly burned — from the remains of your home. Just as you emerged from the rubble, a large raven gripped your skull and began pecking at your eyeballs. But you managed to frighten it off by screaming “Jehovah!” Then you ran to the nearest Kingdom Hall (still perfectly intact, of course) and got in line to answer the 80 questions (which, not surprisingly, you answered in record time and with a perfect score.) You swore the oath of allegiance to the Watchtower and Jehovah, and were re-baptized.

Because of your known penchant for computers, and the fact that you were one of the few educated people to survive, you were assigned to the one computer system that hadn’t been destroyed. Your first task was easy: write a computer program to keep track of the number of bodies being buried by region. Most of the input would come to you as hand-delivered slips of paper from all over the world: much of it illegible or untranslatable. But you made reasonable guesses and printed out colorful graphs of the bogus data for the GB to pour over and congratulate themselves on the work being done.

Once the massive burials and body-burnings were complete they turned their attention to housing. You assisted by writing a program to keep track of materials and needs, producing the brilliantly titled “Materials and Needs” system.

But you had to hire a staff of ten people to manage that system because you were yanked off it and put full-time (and over-time, I might add) on something of much greater importance: the STS (Sin Tracking System.)

It seems the GBE (Governing Body: Earthly) were informed that the GBH (Governing Body: Heavenly) expected them to handle the investigation and reporting of sin. The GBH would merely review the evidence and issue their verdict and sentence. The verdicts were invariably guilty and the sentence was always death. The executions were carried out by the elders in the sinner’s congregation, or — in rare cases of squeamishness — by a Circuit Overseer. The types of execution varied. They would use whatever means were most handy: typically hanging. A plan was in place for millennia to construct a humane euthanasia facility, but the idea was always squashed by the argument that “we should not be humane to those Jehovah wants us to kill.”

The STS was to act as a repository for the names of sinners; the sin(s) they committed (with dates — when available); names of witnesses (if any — the “two witness rule” having been deemed inapplicable in the New Order); and in the vast majority of cases a transcript of the accused’s confession. A status would then be assigned: Waiting to be Reviewed, or Reviewed with a Verdict. Finally, we’d enter the sentence and date of execution.

Your job was to write the STS system, maintain it, hire a staff to input the data, and personally ensure that the GBE received timely reports. At first they met weekly to review the data. But it soon became so overwhelming in volume (when the back-stabbing and false accusations began) that they had to meet daily. They became just like your current U.S. President Oh-bomb-all [I think I remembered that name correctly, at least phonetically]: privately reviewing their daily hit-list and deciding who should die.

I have to go; Sin Watchers are making their rounds — I’ll explain in tommorow’s email, and bring you up to date.


As promised, my future-self sent me the conclusion of his email today:

No one has ever seen or heard from the GBH. Supposedly the GBE receives thoughts from them; just as Rutherford claimed to receive thoughts from angels. There are those who secretly doubt the existence of the GBH. Some of these doubters have been found out and have appeared on the STS list.

This all went on for a very long time until the power plants broke down and no one knew how to bring them back online. Then you had to hire a larger staff to start entering everything by hand on paper files.

But, given enough time, things were slowly rediscovered and reinvented. Eventually we had power, and computers, and even a sort of Internet (tightly controlled and censored, of course.) STS was rewritten so that local elders could enter people onto the Sinners List directly to expedite things, and instead of a printed report, the GBE rubber-stamped the death sentences on a computer screen.

As decades passed and we regained more technology, the GBE set up micro vidcams everywhere (called “Jah’s Eyes”), with a huge staff of “watchers” who logged all sins. Eventually the watchers were automated by artificial intelligence programs (“AI-Watchers”) written to detect sins and dispatch a type of mini-helicopter drone to zap the sinner.

There is a project currently underway to replace the drones with implantable microchips which can be remotely triggered by the AI-Watchers to deliver a massive shock to the sinner’s heart. This is being promoted as the SIYH chip, which stands for “Sin in Your Heart” and is pronounced “sigh”. You’ve already received your summons to appear for an implant. Many have committed suicide when they have received theirs; preferring to die rather than live in fear of the AI-Watchers’ whims. The GBE claims executive immunity from the chip, which has outraged many.

You may wonder why we haven’t decimated the population by now with all of these executions and no new births. Well, the fact is, Jehovah forgot what the Watchtower had printed: he never did resurrect anyone, nor did he remove the maternal instinct or our desire for sex. So, babies have been born (parenthood is one of the leading causes of getting on the Sinners List) and we are still faced with the ongoing torture of having natural desires that are thwarted and punished.

Recently you joined the Sinners’ Rebellion. Yes, there was some violence in local congregations as part of this rebellion — and no you still don’t condone violence. For your part, you introduced a virus into STS so that whatever name was input would automatically change to either the name of the informant or the name of a member of the GBE. This has effectively ground the executions to a halt.

But you are the lead suspect in this “sin of sabotage,” so I know it won’t be long before the punishment will be meted out. There simply aren’t enough people brave enough to rise up against the GBE. You waited too long to act, and are now filled with fathomless depths of guilt.

So, here I sit — or rather, you sit, far in the distant future, guilty of aiding and abetting the deaths of so many. How I wish I had died in Armageddon. That’s why I’m writing to you: whatever happens don’t yell out Jehovah’s name, and don’t get baptized! Death is preferable to the fearful, joyless, loveless existence we endure in this dystopia on the other side of Armageddon.


Trump Tilting at Windmills!

We interrupt our regular scoffing to bring you this important message from the President of the United States of America: (He’s the one on the left, I think, but it doesn’t much matter, there’s so little difference between them.)


I never understood wind. I know windmills very much, I have studied it better than anybody. I know it is very expensive. They are made in China and Germany mostly, very few made here, almost none, but they are manufactured, tremendous — if you are into this — tremendous fumes and gases are spewing into the atmosphere.

You know we have a world, right? So the world is tiny compared to the universe.

So tremendous, tremendous amount of fumes and everything. You talk about the carbon footprint, fumes are spewing into the air, right spewing, whether it is China or Germany, is going into the air.

A windmill will kill many bald eagles. After a certain number, they make you turn the windmill off, that is true. By the way, they make you turn it off. And yet, if you killed one, they put you in jail. That is OK. But why is it OK for windmills to destroy the bird population?

— Donald Trump (Speech given for Turning Point USA, December, 2019)

Don[ald] Quixote charging a windmill.
Never one to let facts get in the way of his “alternative facts,” Trump’s tally of lies has already exceeded 15,000 since he took usurped office. But this speech has added at least 5 more to his record:

    1. Most windmills are not from China or Germany, but rather from Denmark.
    2. About 50% of windmills installed in the U.S. are manufactured in the U.S. But Denmark, rather than the U.S., remains the world leader, thanks to Reagan’s cutting of clean-energy funding back in the day. Still, over 500 U.S. factories build wind-related parts and materials in 43 states, accounting for 25,000 manufacturing jobs in 2016. Overall, 100,000 wind-power related jobs exist across all 50 states.
    3. The carbon footprint involved in the manufacture of a wind-mill is paid back after 6 months in service. After that, it produces zero emissions as it replaces the burning of fossil fuels. By my calculations the current number of windmills running in the U.S. are keeping 45,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions out of the atmosphere every hour!
    4. Windmills account for only .01% of human-caused bird deaths. With Trump’s towers probably taking a greater toll. Even the Audubon Society is in favor of windmills: “Audubon strongly supports properly sited wind power as a renewable energy source that helps reduce the threats posed to birds and people by climate change.”
      When it comes to birds, fossil-fueled facilities account for 700 times more deaths, and are about 17 times more deadly than wind power per gigawatt hour of electricity produced .
    5. No one has ever been made to shut down a windmill for having killed a certain number of eagles, nor is there any law to that effect. But if a migrating flock of birds is spotted, the windmill, of course, can be shut down temporarily.
      New wind-farms are sited outside of migratory paths, to lessen such occurrences.
You know we have a world, right? So the world is tiny compared to the universe.
It sounds as if someone just told him these facts and he’s amazed to learn them!  What they have to do with wind power is anyone’s guess. But now that a couple of facts about reality have dawned on him, maybe he’ll start considering the “tremendous fumes spewing” from his coal plants and oil refineries. But probably not, since he is such an idiot.

I never understood wind,” is where he should’ve stopped his speech; it says it all.

We need world leaders who do understand wind, and who at least understand basic science. We need people who are capable of comprehending that wind and solar energy are absolutely necessary to the continuance of life on this planet, because burning fossil fuels is killing us. What we absolutely don’t need and cannot endure are politicians who are so transparently in the pocket of the fossil fuel industry.


On April 2, 2020, Trump made the following utterly ridiculous statement in a speech to the National Republican Congressional Committee:

“They say the noise [from windmills] causes cancer.”

Who says that, Mr. Impeached President? Who? Someone in a psych ward?


We need this man removed from the office that he never should’ve been allowed to usurp. And we need to get rid of the Electoral College and embrace true democracy by electing our President by the popular vote instead of by a plutocracy.
Trump will always have a few brain-dead followers, some of whom are pictured below. But the majority of Americans have better sense and know a moronic narcissistic thug when we see one.
See also: