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.
With Him were 144,000
John sees with the Lamb “144,000 who had His name and His Father’s name written on their foreheads” (v. 1). Who are the 144,000? Are they the same people we encounter in Revelation 7? And should the number be taken literally or symbolically?
We first hear of 144,000 in Rev. 7:4. They are identified as “slaves of our God” who are sealed “on their foreheads.” This is similar to the 144,000 in Rev. 14:1 who have the Lamb’s name “and His Father’s name written on their foreheads.” This special group is sealed on earth in Revelation 7, and is referred to as “the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth” in Revelation 14. However, the sealed slaves in Revelation 7 are from “every tribe of the Israelites,” while those sealed in Revelation 14 are not identified as ethnic Jews. So, are these the same people?
It would appear so, even though there is no clear consensus among scholars. Some insist they are the same 144,000 since they are sealed by God on their foreheads and are redeemed from the earth. Those who hold this view stress that we see the 144,000 on earth in chapter 7 and in heaven in chapter 14. Other interpreters, however, say that these are two different groups: Jews in chapter 7 and the “redeemed from the human race” in chapter 14 (v. 4), suggesting that Gentiles are included in this number.
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).
Do you know the difference between Scientology and Christian Science? Buddhism and Baha’ism? Rastafarianism and Ralph Laurenism? (Okay, I made that one up). Here’s a chance to test your knowledge. The correct answers are at the end of the quiz.
1. Which of the following is not a Hindu scripture:
a) Rig Veda
b) Sama Veda
c) Yajur Veda
d) Darth Veda
Rev. 13:8 – All those who live on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name was not written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slaughtered. (HCSB)
The sovereignty of God and the freedom of human beings are two seemingly irreconcilable biblical truths. Just as Satan acts freely to empower a beast who acts freely, those who worship these evil beings act freely as well. They make choices for which they are held accountable, and unbelievers will join Satan, the beast and the false prophet in the lake of fire. At the same time, their deeds are known to God and always have been known by Him, just as the willful acts of believers always have been in God’s view.
While some argue that God merely foresees the faith of the righteous and the rebellion of the unrighteous, and others contend that God has determined all things (without becoming the Author of sin or the Creator of a fixed game), it appears the ways of God are beyond human understanding. If God can allow Satan and his minions to slaughter countless Christians for no other reason than their staunch faith in His Son, and through these sinful acts enable believers to conquer the dragon by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony, can He not also allow unbelievers to worship a false Messiah and vindicate Himself in their judgment?
We do God a disservice when we accuse Him either of dispassionate sovereignty or spineless foreknowledge. He is sovereign. He knows all things. He has all power and authority. And in the midst of this mind-boggling transcendence, He created people in His image and entrusted them with the ability to make choices for which they are held responsible. Though the beast-worshiping unbelievers of Revelation 13 are excluded from the Lamb’s book of life, they would never have signed their names anyway – even if the Son of God opened the pages Himself and offered them a pen.
Rev. 13:5 – A mouth was given to him to speak boasts and blasphemies. He was also given authority to act for 42 months. 6He began to speak blasphemies against God: to blaspheme His name and His dwelling – those who dwell in heaven. (HCSB)
A mouth was given to him
The dragon, who has given the beast his power, authority and throne, also endows him with great rhetorical skills and he uses them to blaspheme God, His name, and His dwelling.
In the Old Testament, the root meaning of the word “blasphemy” is an act of effrontery in which a person insults the honor of God and for which he or she may be put to death by stoning (see Lev. 24:10-23; 1 Kings 21:9ff). In the New Testament, the meaning is extended to include God’s representatives. For example, Jews from the Freedman’s Synagogue accuse Stephen of “speaking blasphemous words against Moses and God” (Acts 6:11).