After reading this passage, who do you think Jesus was referring to when he spoke of 'other sheep'? To the soon-to-be-welcomed Gentiles or a group that would be led to a completely different place? Where in this passage does the idea come forward that the flock would be split - with one group within that flock having special privileges and the others not?
As one of Jehovah's Witnesses we are taught that the number 144,000 mentioned in REV 7 is a literal number however is this true?
It is important to note that when listing the tribes, vs 8 speaks of the 'tribe of Joseph'. There was no tribe of Joseph. Obviously the tribes were symbolic. As a matter of fact, all of Revelation is symbolic. The opening words tell us that this is how the revelation was given to John - in signs. We do not believe that the 24 elders mentioned in Revelation are literal or the 7 trumpet blasts, the harlot, the wild beast etc etc so why is the number of 144,000 viewed as literal? The number obviously refers to the full compliment of those making up the 'seed of Abraham'. Jehovah promised Abraham that his seed would become a kingdom of priests to God and because of literal Israel's failure to prove faithful, Jehovah fulfils his promise to Abraham by means of spiritual Israel. Even the term 'spiritual Israel' used in the bible, helps us see that Israel, as referred to in Revelation, is symbolic.
One of the scriptures we were taught as Jehovah's Witnesses to indicate that there were two distinct groups of Christians (one with the hope to go to heaven and one destined to live on earth) was JOHN 10:16 - the 'other sheep'. I invite you to read this passage in JOHN 10:1-16 doing so without pre-conceptions. That's the hard part! 😊 While reading John 10 keep in mind that Jesus ministry concentrated on the Jews alone. But .... what group was due to become part of the Christian congregation once Jesus was resurrected? What group was going to be brought into the sheepfold so as to constitute one flock and one shepherd?
PLEASE READ JOHN 10:1-16
The bible clearly speaks of those who will live on the earth. PSALM 37 is a good example of this. If the invitation being extended at present is to heaven, then who are those who will live on the earth?
The purpose of those being invited to be with Christ in heaven is not for their own self glorification. If someone is interested in their own exaltation, then it's unlikely that they will be taken to heaven anyway. Jesus' apostles were often quarrelling about who was the greatest and Jesus kept reprimanding them for doing so. In fact, in MATTHEW 18:3 he said, "Unless you turn around and become as young children, you will by no means enter into the kingdom of the heavens."
So rather than for self glorification, the bible says that those going to heaven will rule with Christ as kings and priests - 1 PETER 2:9. Kings and priests for whom? Well there have been billions of people who have lived and died without ever having the opportunity to learn about God and his purposes. It harmonises with God's great qualities of love and justice for these to receive a resurrection back to earth and be given the opportunity to choose to accept God's righteous ways or not. ACTS 24:15.
The second passage we were taught as Jehovah's Witnesses that indicates a secondary class - a class that are not sons of God and thus are not in the new covenant is REVELATION 7:9-17.
As you read this passage also, please focus on the location of the scene. If you have cross references in your bible, these are very useful. But even without cross references, the chapter itself identifies where the scene is located. Verse 15 is especially relevant to establishing the location of the great crowd. (take note of the footnotes if you have them)