The number 144,000 represents a problem for Ellen White. In various of her early writings, (Testimonies, Volume 1, p.59; Early Writings, p.14; Word to the Little Flock, p.14, etc), Mrs. White said that there will be literally 144,000 saints that will live until Jesus comes .
"Soon we heard the voice of God like many waters, which gave us the day and hour of Jesus coming. The living Saints, 144,000 in number, knew and understood the voice. Then Jesus' silver trumpet sounded as he descended. He gazed on the grave of the sleeping Saints and cried, 'awake, awake, awake'. The graves opened and the dead came up clothed with immortality. The 144,000 shouted 'alleluia' as they recognized their friends who had been torn from them by death, and in the same moment we were changed and caught up together with them." (Experiences and Views. p.11-13).
When the book that preceded, The Great Controversy , called Spiritual Gifts , was printed in 1860, this phrase was omitted . It does not appear in any later editions of The Great Controversy . Apparently the brethren judged that it could cause a "great controversy" to say that only 144,000 would be saved, when there are many more members in the church !
She taught later that those who die under what they call the third angel's message will be resurrected before Christ comes, and will take their places among the 144,000.
"When the voice of God came, the graves were shaken open, and those who died in faith under the third angel's message, came forth from their dusty beds glorified to hear the covenant of peace."
Following this is the general resurrection. She says:
"The earth mightily shook as the voice of the Son of God called forth the sleeping saints. They responded to the call and came forth clothed with glorious immortality crying 'victory, victory' over death and the grave." (Spiritual Gifts, Volume 1, p.205-208).
Mrs. White was mistaken again for she died in 1915 and therefore the vision was false . She was also wrong in stating that there would be only 144,000 "living saints" at the hour of Jesus coming (p.59). The Bible says they would be without number. " After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;" (Revelation7:9).
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