A BOOK WORTH READING

A VISION OF THE REDEEMED – REVELATON 14:1-5

In 14:1-5 John records a second vision of the redeemed. Like the vision in Revelation 7 it shows us the utter security of the redeemed.

They are standing on Mount Zion with the Lamb
Those who believe in Jesus Christ already belong to Zion, the ‘Holy City, Jerusalem’, the ‘bride’ of the Lamb [Revelation 21:9,10]. Here in Revelation 14:1-5 John is given a vision of this reality, which is both present and future. Note that they are with the Lamb, the Lamb with the marks of slaughter upon him [5:6]. Because they are standing with the Lamb they are secure against the judgment about to be described.

They are the 144,000
We read of this 144,000 in 7:1-8. This number is a symbol for the complete number of the redeemed. As 7:9 indicates, it refers to the countless multitudes redeemed from every nation and tribe and people and language. The symbolic number gives great assurance: the complete number will be there. Not one will be missing.

They have the name of the Lamb and of the Father written on their foreheads
7:1-4 states that they were sealed against the judgment of God that was about to fall. Here in chapter 14 a similar protection is confirmed: they have the Lamb’s name and his Father’s name on their foreheads. By this name their King is identified, their allegiance is identified, their protector and advocate is identified and their eternal security is assured.

They are singing a new song
The redeemed are singing a powerfully beautiful new song that only they can sing. Only the redeemed have any understanding of the grace that saved them or of the bondage from which they were saved. Only the redeemed can know the joy of sins forgiven and the peace of freedom from guilt bestowed on them through the blood of the Lamb. Only the redeemed can express this praise.

They have ‘been redeemed from the earth’
This description affirms the symbolic nature of the ‘144,000’. All believers have been ‘redeemed from the earth’. The ‘earth’ is under the power and deception of the evil one. The ‘earth’ is under the judgment and the wrath of God. The ‘inhabitants of the earth’ are ranged in opposition to God. But these standing with the Lamb on Mount Zion have been rescued, set free, liberated, from ‘the earth’ – from its opposition to God, from the enemy that deceives the whole earth, from the wrath of God and from the judgment that must fall.

They follow the Lamb wherever he goes
Although it means persecution and misunderstanding, they follow the Lamb. They cannot identify with the world’s hatred of the Lamb, they cannot identify with the world’s substitutes for the Lamb, they cannot embrace values contrary to the Lamb. This following the Lamb means that ‘they did not defile themselves with women – they kept themselves pure. … No lie was found in their mouths’. That is, they embraced the true Gospel and were not deceived into spiritual adultery. They did not believe the lies of the evil one. They followed the Lamb.

They were purchased from among men and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb
This parallels the concept of being ‘redeemed from the earth’, and is the same word in the Greek text. Redemption is freedom obtained by the payment of a price. We have encountered this concept previously in Revelation 1:5: ‘To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood’ and 5:9: ‘… and with your blood you purchased men for God ...’ The redeemed belong to God and to the Lamb. This is also the significance of the reference to ‘firstfruits’ – the ‘firstfruits’ always belonged to the Lord. Out of every harvest the firstfruits were set apart for God.

This dual truth of being purchased by the blood of the Lamb and being offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb speaks of the extreme preciousness of the redeemed. They belong to God and to the Lamb. We cannot begin to comprehend how precious the redeemed are, nor how protective God and the Lamb are of the redeemed.

They are blameless
There are two biblically valid ways to understand ‘blameless’: [1] that the redeemed are ‘blameless’ in that they have not followed the enemy but remained faithful to Christ; and [2] that they are ‘blameless’ in Christ. All that we could be ‘blamed’ for was taken by Christ and he bore the blame. No more blame accrues to those whom God has hidden in him [Romans 8:1; 2Corinthians 5:21; Colossians 1:22; Hebrews 10:10,14].

In these first five verses of Revelation 14, before we are told of the judgment, we are shown the redeemed in their secure position. Here they stand with the Lamb, singing the song of the redeemed. Rescued by the Lamb. Belonging to God and to the Lamb. Without blame. Beyond the judgment. Untouchable. Unassailable.

© Rosemary Bardsley 2015