The Seven Personages - The Lamb
As you go through this chapter notice the sections are divide with phrases, such as “I looked,” “I saw,” and “I heard.”
The Lamb with the 144,000
The scene opens with the Lamb standing on Mt. Zion with the 144,000. This is not an imitation, like the second beast in Revelation 13:11, this is the Lamb, the Son of God, mentioned many times already in Revelation. He is standing on a solid mountain, unlike the beasts who were on the unstable sands of the seashore.
Mt. Zion was a stronghold and the city of David (II Samuel 5:6-7). It was a place of safety for the Israelites (Psalms 48). Since the temple is built there, it was also known as the place where God dwelt (Psalms 9:11; 135:21). It was from Zion that the Deliverer (Jesus) would come (Romans 11:26). In a spiritual sense, it is also where God’s people gather. In other words, it becomes a symbol of the church (Hebrews 12:22-24). This is not the final Zion, to be seen in Revelation 21:2, but rather it is the mountain the prophets foretold about (Isaiah 2:2-3). Zion is the church of this age.
The 144,000 are those who have the names of the Father and the Son written on their foreheads. As we show in the chart below, the 144,000, the great multitude and the redeemed are all the same group of people. The 144,000 are the redeemed on earth and the great multitude are all the redeemed through all the ages. The seal is a solid foundation (II Timothy 2:19).
The voice of God sounds forth from heaven. The voice sounds like a loud waterfall, thunder, and harpers playing; in other words: majestic, mighty, and melodious.
The 144,000 sing a new song to God, a song that only the 144,000 can learn because they were purchased from the world. These are the redeemed, the saved. They have not been defiled (II Corinthians 11:2). They have not committed spiritual adultery as Israel did (Hosea 4:12-13). The 144,000 follow the Lamb (John 10:27; Matthew 16:24).
They are also referred to as purchased first fruits. “Purchased” because Christ’s death on the cross paid for our sins and bought us out of the slavery of sin (Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:14; I Peter 1:10, 18-19). “Firstfruits” refer to the first gathering of the harvest. The first fruits belong to God (Leviticus 23:10-11) and, thus, Christians, who belong to God, become a type of firstfruit (James 1:18).
The redeemed are also honest and blameless (I Peter 2:1, 19-22). We imitate the Lamb whom we follow (Ephesians 5:27).
|The Redeemed |
|The 144,000 |
(Chapters 7 and 14)
|The Great Multitude |
|With the Lamb (5:6)||With the Lamb (14:1)||With the Lamb (7:10, 17)|
|Redeemed (5:9)||Redeemed (14:4)||Made white in the blood of the Lamb (7:14), which is the redemption price (Ephesians 1:7).|
|Out of every kindred tongue, people and nation (5:9)||All the tribes of the children of Israel (7:4)||All nations, and kindred, and peoples and tongues (7:9)|
|Sung a new song (5:9)||Sung as it were a new song (14:3)||Cried with a loud voice (7:10)|
|Before and around the throne (5:9-13)||Before the throne (14:3,5)||Stood before the throne (7:9)|
|The angels, with the redeemed, ascribe power, riches, wisdom, strength, honor, glory, and blessing to God and the Lamb (5:9-12)||The 144,00 sing before the throne, the beasts, and the elders (14:3)||The great multitude with the angels ascribe blessings, glory, wisdom, thanksgiving, honor, power, and might to God and the Lamb (7:10-12)|
|Without fault before the throne of God (14:5)||Pure and white before the throne of God (7:14-15)|
Interlude of Three Angels
As with the other series of seven, there is an interlude before the series is completed. This one involves three angels.
The first angel is involved in spreading the gospel. It is the eternal gospel (I Peter 1:25) that is proclaimed to all the nations (Matthew 28:18-20; Romans 16:25-26). The core message is to fear God because judgment is appointed (Proverbs 1:7; Acts 24:25). It leads to the conclusion that our Creator needs to be worshiped by His creation.
The second angel brings a warning that Babylon has fallen. Babylon represents Rome and her fall is pronounced in the past tense to emphasize the certainty of its fall (Isaiah 46:10). This is not the final judgment of the world because it is focused on one place. We’ll discuss Babylon as Rome a bit later, but we have seen the sea beast representing the political might of Rome. The land beast represented the religious deception of Rome. Babylon is the seductive, lustful sins of Roman (Jeremiah 51:7).
A third angel brings a warning against those who worship the beast. In Revelation 13:15, many of those who did not worship the image of the beast were killed. Here those who do worship the beast will partake in the full, undiluted wrath of God. Here is God’s vengeance on those who had killed His people (Revelation 6:10). In past prophecy, God’s wrath is often represented as a drink (Isaiah 51:17; Jeremiah 25:15-8, 27-29; Job 21:20; Psalms 75:8). Fire and brimstone were used to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19:24); thus, it becomes a symbol of God’s destruction of the wicked (Isaiah 30:33; 34:9-10; Ezekiel 38:22). It is also used in the New Testament in reference to the punishment of the wicked (II Peter 2:6; Jude 7). This is not the end of the world. Similar wording was used regarding the destruction of Edom in Isaiah 34:9-10.
Blessings on Christians Who Die
God’s destruction of the wicked simultaneously becomes the perseverance of the saints. Just as Noah was saved from evil by the destruction of the Flood (I Peter 3:20). Saints are those who keep God’s commandments and keep faith in Jesus.
Jesus told Christians that by endurance, they would gain their lives during the destruction of Jerusalem (Luke 21:19). Tribulation is difficult, but it brings about an improvement in character (Romans 5:3; James 1:2-3). Thus, Christ’s command to his people is to preserve (Revelation 3:10).
Those who die while being faithful to the Lord are blessed. You cannot die in the Lord unless you are in the Lord before your death. We enter into Christ through baptism (Romans 6:3-5; Galatians 3:26-27).
This judgment scene is similar to one found in Joel 3:11-14.
Here in Revelation, the reaping is lead by Jesus himself. It is deity who rides upon the clouds (Psalms 104:3) and God rides the cloud into judgment (Isaiah 19:1; Jeremiah 4:13). Thus, this is another indication that Jesus is God.
Jesus wears a victor’s crown and he carries a sickle for harvesting. An angel comes down out of the temple in heaven to deliver the order the harvest. Thus, the orders are from God the Father. Jesus then reaps a harvest from the earth. The time for harvest is a time for judgment (Jeremiah 51:33).
Another angel joins Jesus in the reaping. Then yet another angel comes from the altar to deliver the command that the first angel is to begin his harvesting. This second angel comes from the altar, indicating that God is answering the prayers of the saints (Revelation 6:9-10; 8:3-5). This angel is the same angel who had filled his bowl with the fire from the altar (Revelation 8:5).
The first angel reaps grapes, which are thrown into the winepress of God’s wrath. The symbolism is similar to when God executed judgment on Judah and treaded her in a wine press (Lamentations 1:15). The grapes are trodden and the juice rises to the depth of a horse’s bridle for a 200-mile area. As in Joel’s prophecy, God is squeezing out the wickedness of the people (Joel 3:13).