Rev. 14:1 – Then I looked, and there on Mount Zion stood the Lamb, and with Him were 144,000 who had His name and His Father’s name written on their foreheads. on Mount Zion stood the Lamb
There stood the Lamb on Mount Zion
John writes in verse 1 that he sees the Lamb standing on Mount Zion. The identity of the Lamb clearly is Jesus, as we know from other scriptures. In John 1:29, John the Baptist declares, “Here is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” Seven verses later he tells two of his disciples, “Look! The Lamb of God!” Every faithful Jew would know the significance of this cry. Jesus is the fulfillment of every precious, beloved lamb slain as a sacrifice to God under the Old Covenant.
In a message at the Metropolitan Tabernacle in Newington, England, Aug. 25, 1889, Charles Haddon Spurgeon reminds his congregation that the Lamb of God is seen first in the lamb for one man as Abel offers up a more excellent sacrifice than his brother Cain. Next, there is the lamb for the family as portrayed in the Passover. Then there is the lamb for the people – two young lambs sacrificed every day for the children of Israel. We then see the Lamb for the whole world – the Lamb John beholds, who takes away the sin of the world.
Spurgeon declares, “There was nothing of greater wonder ever seen than that God Himself should provide the Lamb for the burnt offering, that He should provide His only Son out of His very bosom, that He should give the delight of His heart to die for us. Well may we behold this great wonder. Angels admire and marvel at this mystery of godliness, God manifest in the flesh; they have never left off wondering and adoring the grace of God that gave Jesus to be the Sacrifice for guilty men” (www.spurgeon.org/sermons/2329.htm).
The Lamb for all of heaven
By the time of Revelation in John’s day, after Jesus’ finished work on the cross and ascension into heaven, He is the Lamb for all of heaven. We see Him in Revelation 5, standing between the throne and the four living creatures, and among the 24 elders; He is declared worthy to take the scroll and open its seals. We see Him in Revelation 6, opening the seals and unleashing judgment, compelling the wicked to cry out to the mountains and rocks to hide them from His wrath. We see Him in Revelation 7, with a vast multitude before Him, their robes washed in the blood of the Lamb; they come from every tribe, nation, people and language.
We see Him in Revelation 12, His blood enabling the redeemed to conquer the dragon. We see Him in Revelation 13, a slaughtered Lamb whose book of life does not hold the names of those who worship the beast. We see Him in Revelation 14 – our current study passage – standing on Mount Zion with the 144,000. We see Him in Revelation 15, the object of the song of the Lamb sung by those who have won victory over the beast. We see Him in Revelation 17, squaring off against His enemies and defeating them because He is Lord of lords and King of kings. We see Him in Revelation 19, the bridegroom in the marriage of the Lamb. And we see Him in Revelation 21, as the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the sanctuary in the New Jerusalem.
So, this glorious Lamb stands on Mount Zion, which in the Old Testament is first the fortress of the pre-Israelite city of Jerusalem and later becomes a virtual synonym for Jerusalem, according to the Archaeological Study Bible. In Revelation, as in Hebrews 12:22-24, however, it seems to signify the heavenly Jerusalem, the eternal dwelling place of God and his people. Still, commentators disagree as to whether this mountain, as described in Revelation 14, is in heaven or on earth, and whether the image of Christ and His sealed slaves is present or future.
Matthew Henry expresses the notion that Mount Zion is on earth, for she is “the gospel church. Christ is with his church, and in the midst of her in all her troubles, therefore she is not consumed. His presence secures perseverance” (Matthew Henry Concise Bible Commentary, Rev. 14:1-5). Jurgen Roloff agrees, writing that “the 144,000 are not the perfected martyrs but rather the members of the earthly church. In their struggle against the totalitarian power of the world empire, embodied in the beast, they are not dependent upon themselves, but rather they are assembled around the lamb as the true ruler of the world to whom the future belongs” (Revelation: A Continental Commentary, p. 170).
The HCSB Study Bible, however, notes, “The 144,000, first seen on earth in 7:4-8, are now seen on the heavenly Mount Zion with Christ, the Lamb. The beast cannot touch them, even though they do not have his mark, because they have the name of Christ and the Father on their foreheads” (pp. 2217-18). W.A. Criswell holds the same view: “In chapter 7, therefore, we see the one hundred and forty-four thousand in their ministry upon earth…. Here in chapter 14 of the Revelation, the one hundred and forty-four thousand are seen on Mount Zion. Their task is finished, their work is done, and they are being rewarded by the Lord God for their devoted faithfulness” (Expository Sermons on Revelation, p. 144).
Whichever view is correct, there is no doubt a great future purpose in the mind of God for Mount Zion when the heavenly Jerusalem is brought down to earth. Perhaps John has both a present and future view in mind. “Indeed, the new Jerusalem will come down at the end time from heaven to the new earth in order then to become the visible gathering place of the faithful; but that does not mean that in Revelation it would be seen exclusively as a heavenly or future entity. Instead, the faithful already belong now to the new Jerusalem – indeed, in a certain way they are already God’s city on earth, the community ruled by him, which contrasts with the satanic city governed by the beast” (Roloff, p. 170).
The value of Zion
Perhaps most of us tend to see Mount Zion as the historical site of the temple and the place in heaven’s New Jerusalem upon which the Messiah stands with the redeemed. But we also would do well to understand the value of Zion as a multi-faceted symbol of the nation of Israel and the focus of God’s promises and final victory. For example, in scripture Zion symbolizes:
- The dwelling place of God (Ps. 76:2; 132:13-14; 135:21; Joel 3:17)
- God’s people, who reside in Jerusalem (Ps. 9:14; Isa. 52:1-2; Micah 4:6-8; Matt. 21:5); in Judah (Ps. 78:68); and in Israel (Isa. 46:13; Lam. 2:1)
- The object of God’s attention: His love (Ps. 87:2; 102:13-16); His blessings (Ps. 133:3; 147:12-14); and His judgment (Isa. 1:8-9; Jer. 26:18; Micah 3:12; Joel 2:1-2)
- The focus of God’s presence and promises: security (Ps. 46:4-7; 481-14); restoration (Jer. 30:17-22); salvation (Zech. 9:9-10); and a city for all people (Ps. 102:21-22)
- The heavenly Jerusalem; some say the church (Heb. 12:22-23; 1 Peter 2:6; Rev. 14:1)
Next: With Him were 144,000 – Revelation 14:1