The Lamb On Mount Zion
It might perhaps be expected that some of God’s people would be missing, that some would have abandoned the attempt to follow the Lamb. The times were hard, the suffering for Christ’s sake was very severe. They could not buy or sell. They had no place left on the earth. They were hated of all nations. Perhaps some of them yielded to the demand of Antichrist, forsook the Lamb and bowed before the beast. But no. All the one hundred and forty-four thousand are still with the Lamb. Not one is lacking. All God’s people are saved through the power of the Lamb, in spite of the raging fury of Antichrist.
In what respect have they remained untouched? Have they been protected by the power of the Lamb in the physical sense of the word? Have they not been in prison? Have they not been in suffering and death? We know better. They have suffered hunger and nakedness because of their faithful refusal to worship the beast. They were killed all the day long. But this does not hurt them. They have a spiritual existence and life. The question is not whether they were hurt physically but whether they had any spiritual want. The great question for the people of God in the world is not whether or not they must suffer the suffering for Christ’s sake because of their faithfulness, but rather whether they shall remain faithful in the midst of tribulation. And, behold, that is the case with these one hundred and forty-four thousand. All have remained with the Lamb. All have chosen His side. All have faithfully followed Him even in tribulation and distress. Still more. They remained pure. The text says: “They are not defiled with women, for they are virgins.” You understand, of course, that these words must not be taken in the literal sense any more than the rest of the text, as if celibacy were advocated here and as if the unmarried state were given preference above the married. This certainly is not the case. But we must remember that fornication in Scripture is the symbol of spiritual fornication. In that sense Esau was a fornicator because he despised God’s covenant. In that sense Israel of the old dispensation is very often pictured in the Old Testament as an adulterous woman, whoring after other gods and departing from the ways of Jehovah their covenant God. And, therefore, being defiled in the physical sense of the word is symbolic of the violation of the covenant of Jehovah. In this sense, then, these one hundred and forty-four thousand have not become defiled. All the world was committing fornication in the spiritual sense. All whored after the beast. And all the evil world demanded of these one hundred and forty-four thousand to commit fornication as they did. They had threatened them with expulsion from the world if they would not worship the beast. But these had not heeded this call and had ignored the threat of the beast. They had remained faithful to their covenant God. The same is expressed in the words, “they are without blemish.” They have not been stained by the defilement of the world. Yea, still more clearly: in their mouth was found no lie. All the kingdom of Antichrist was filled with, was based upon the lie that the beast must be worshipped and that the dragon was king. But they had adhered to the truth and had maintained boldly and without fear: Christ is King, and the Almighty God is sovereign of heaven and earth. Thus they had remained faithful all through the reign of Antichrist. The people of God need not fear. For when that terrible time shall come, they shall remain with the powerful Lamb on Mount Zion and follow Him whithersoever He goeth.
But why do the people of God remain faithful even in the midst of most terrible suffering and persecution for Christ’s sake? Is it in their own strength? Is it because of their own natural faithful character perhaps? By no means! In the first place, let us call your attention to the sign they bear on their forehead. Even as the wicked have the sign of the beast, so these have the name of the Lamb and of the Father. What does that mean? It simply implies in this connection that the Father and the Lamb have marked them as their own. And therefore, by this name of the Lamb and of the Father we are reminded of God’s eternal counsel. From all eternity God Almighty has chosen them and graven them in the palms of His hands. And in all eternity the Father has given His people to His Son, that he might redeem them to the full. No one, therefore, is able to pluck them out of the Lamb’s and out of the Father’s hand. The Lamb had purchased them with His own blood from the world and from among men; and they belong to Him with body and soul, for time and eternity. Shall Antichrist then prevail against them? Shall he persuade them to worship the beast? No, never! The counsel of Almighty God must first be broken, and it must first be evident that the precious blood of the Lamb was shed in vain, before this can ever happen. And that, of course, is absolutely impossible. Standing therefore in the power of the Almighty, conscious of this power by faith, redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, they cannot perish; and Antichrist has nothing in them. First fruits they must be unto God and the Lamb. And no more than God will give His glory to another, no more could these one hundred forty-four thousand of the Lamb be lost, whom the Almighty has formed for Himself that they should show forth His praise.
And finally, let us also notice that this power of God and of the Lamb enabled them to sing even in the midst of the battle, and sing of joy and victory. From heaven swells a song, strong as the voice of many waters, rolling through the air and through heaven like the voice of mighty thunder, yet carried along on the breeze in the sweet melody of harpers harping on their harps. What is this song? It is the song of the church triumphant in heaven, the song of the saints that have been in tribulation who have been redeemed â€• the song of Abel and Enoch and Noah and Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and Moses and Elijah and all the prophets and witnesses of the old dispensation. It is the song of the apostles and the martyrs, of the cloud of witnesses. This song swells the breeze till it reaches the ears of these suffering one hundred forty-four thousand that are still in the heat of their spiritual battle. It is the song of the innumerable multitude that has gone in before them, that already are appareled in their white robes and wear the palm branches. They hunger no more, neither do they thirst any more, neither doth the sun strike upon them, nor any heat. The Lamb is their shepherd, and God is their guide and wipes away all tears from their eyes. And this glorified throng, this church triumphant, sings in forceful melody: “Salvation belongeth unto our God, and unto the Lamb.” It is the song of joy, and victory. Behold, it reaches the ears of these one hundred forty-four thousand that are still in tribulation but with the Lamb on Mount Zion. And what happens? Does it till their hearts with sorrow because they are still in trouble and distress? Does it cause them to despair of their own glory? Does it sound like sarcasm in their ears perhaps? Ah, no: they understand it. They can realize already that this song is theirs. They can apply it to themselves. Surely, they are still in trouble and tribulation, and their suffering is severe. They still hunger and thirst, and the heat of the sun strikes them day by day. But conscious of the fact that they stand on the side of the powerful Lamb, conscious of the fact that they bear the name of the Father and of the Lamb on their foreheads, conscious of the fact that they have been purchased to be first fruits unto the Father and unto the Lamb, they are sure of victory. Antichrist may rage and make life extremely hard for them. His time is but short. Christ shall have the victory. And they know it. And in that consciousness they can learn this song of victory. In the midst of tribulation they too can sing it. And in the joy of heart and to the amazement of the world, that cannot understand this song and that can never learn it, they chime in with the song of the glorified saints in heaven: “Salvation belongeth unto our God and to the Lamb forever.”
Such is the truth of the passage we just discussed. Shall the saints endure tribulation? They surely shall. Shall they not worship the beast and fall for the power of Antichrist? They surely shall not. On the contrary, they shall glorify God and His power, so that the world shall stand amazed. And in the midst of apparent defeat they shall sing the song of victory. How glorious to be of God’s party in the world! But, on the other hand, how terrible to stand on the side of the beast! For his kingdom is doomed to destruction. May God ever give us abundant grace to stand on the side of the Lamb on Mount Zion. For there, and there alone, is victory and life.
The Angels and the Voice
6. And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people,
7. Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.
8. And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.
9. And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand,
10. The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb:
11. And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.
12. Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.
13. And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.
We must continually bear in mind that chapters 13 and 14 of the book of, Revelation belong together. And we said in connection with the passage we discussed in the preceding chapter, we shall never obtain a complete and true picture of the kingdom of Antichrist from the thirteenth chapter only. Our chapter must be taken in connection with it. In the thirteenth chapter we found indeed that the whole kingdom and reign of Antichrist was pictured to us both from its political and from its religious point of view. It was a kingdom in which all the works of God were developed to the full, but in the which they were all devoted to the devil and the glory of the beast. It was a kingdom in which only they that worshipped the beast could participate in the blessings of the kingdom, and in which the faithful in Christ Jesus were pushed to the wall, so that they could neither buy nor sell. And therefore it seemed rather hopeless for the people of God, who put their trust in Christ Jesus their Lord. But for that, very reason it will not do to consider chapter 13 as a complete picture of the kingdom of Antichrist. No, chapter 14 belongs with it. And if in chapter13 we found the picture of the antichristian power and kingdom from its own point of view, apparently victorious, from the point of view of things visible, here, in chapter 14, we find a picture of that same kingdom from the point of view of God Almighty. And hence, we find it as being doomed to destruction. If in chapter 13 we found the people of Jesus apparently lost and without hope, in this chapter we find that they enter into glory and that the people of the beast shall be drunken with the wrath of God forever and ever.
The Lamb, so we found in the preceding passage of this chapter, was standing on Mount Zion. There was no difference of opinion about the identity of the Lamb, representing, of course, Christ Jesus as the servant of God, having fulfilled all things. And as to the figure of Mount Zion, we explained that it must be taken as a whole, and that the expression, “the Lamb on mount Zion,” denotes just one, single idea. Explaining it in connection with Psalm 2, we found that it denotes how God in heaven laughs about the output and power of Antichrist because He has anointed His Son and given to Him the kingdoms of the world. Because of that fact. Antichrist must suffer defeat, and the kingdom of Christ must be victorious.
In the same light we also viewed the one hundred forty-four thousand that were standing with the Lamb on Mount Zion. As to the meaning of the one hundred forty-four thousand, we said that they represented God’s people, the complete number of God’s elect on earth during the time of the antichristian reign. And the great significance of this number in this connection, we found, was that they were all there and that not one is lacking. In the power of the Lamb they all stand, and they remain faithful to the end, even in the midst of the suffering and tribulations of the last times. We found that they remained pure and free from the defilement of the antichristian kingdom and that they did not worship the beast; but following the Lamb whithersoever He leadeth them, they remain faithful even unto the end. We found that the secret of their faithfulness must be sought in the name they bear on their foreheads, denoting that they belong to the Father and to the Lamb and that they have been redeemed by the precious blood of Christ Jesus. And we found, finally, that because they were conscious of their being loved from eternity and of their being redeemed by the Lamb, they could learn the song of victory, in the midst of tribulation and could chime in with the church triumphant in heaven, “Salvation belongeth unto our God and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.”
The relation between that first portion of the chapter and the passage we are now discussing is evident. Also in the present passage the light of heaven is shed upon the established kingdom of the beast. In the first part of the chapter we are told that God maintained His power and that He has anointed His king over Zion forever. In this portion, however, we have an indication of the manner in which that Lamb will maintain His authority and power over the kingdom of darkness.