The 144,000

Then I saw the Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with him were 144,000 who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads. And I heard a sound from heaven like the roar of mighty ocean waves or the rolling of loud thunder. It was like the sound of many harpists playing together. This great choir sang a wonderful new song in front of the throne of God and before the four living beings and the twenty-four elders. No one could learn this song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth. They have kept themselves as pure as virgins, following the Lamb wherever he goes. They have been purchased from among the people on the earth as a special offering to God and to the Lamb. They have told no lies; they are without blame.” 
Revelation 14:1-5 NLT

In parallel with the global events under the control of the beasts, John’s vision panned across to Jerusalem, the location of Mount Zion. Jesus was standing there, and there were a lot of His people with Him. 144,000 in fact. They had the name of the Lamb of God and His Father written on their foreheads. Back in Revelation 7:4 we read, “And I heard how many were marked with the seal of God—144,000 were sealed from all the tribes of Israel.” We now also now know what the mark, the “seal of God” was, though it wasn’t clear in Revelation 7. So this event involving Jesus and Mount Zion must be confirming His second coming. Now we know that Jesus ascended into Heaven from the Mount of Olives from Acts 1:12, where Luke recorded, “Then the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives, a distance of half a mile“. And the angels present at that event, as the disciples were straining to see Jesus’ ascent through the clouds, said, ““Men of Galilee,” they said, “why are you standing here staring into heaven? Jesus has been taken from you into heaven, but someday he will return from heaven in the same way you saw him go!” So here we are, blessed and encouraged, because Jesus has done exactly what He said He would do – return to earth a second time.

It is interesting that the 144,00 Jewish believers were present as the End Time Tribulation was unfolding (just before the seventh seal was broken in Revelation 7). And in spite of the devil’s best efforts, with all his mayhem setting up the Antichrist and an evil world governmental system and religion, the 144,000 were still there. The devil failed in his attempts to eliminate them. How encouraging is that? They showed that it is possible to stand firm to the end. Also, the Jewish believers must have been followers of Jesus, because they were standing there in Jerusalem with Him. Isaiah prophesied that Jesus will rule and reign from Mount Zion. We read, “Then the glory of the moon will wane, and the brightness of the sun will fade, for the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will rule on Mount Zion. He will rule in great glory in Jerusalem, in the sight of all the leaders of his people“. (Isaiah 24:23). 

Do we pilgrims, not counted amongst the 144,000, feel a bit insecure? The Bible version we have used today, the NLT, records that these Jews were “purchased from among the people on the earth”. Other versions describe them as being the “first-fruits”. But whatever they were, these were God’s holy people with a special mission. Their purity was faultless, they were unstinting followers of Jesus, they had never told lies, and the verses today record them as being a “special offering to God and to the Lamb“. But as for us Gentile believers, where do we stand in the End Times vision? Perhaps we will be counted in the number in Revelation 7:9, “After this I saw a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes and held palm branches in their hands.” But whatever happens, those who stand firm to the end will one day be with our loving Heavenly Father, and His Son Jesus, in Heaven. Jesus’s said to the repentant thief on the cross next to him, “… I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (‭‭Luke‬ ‭23:43). God will never reject a truly repentant sinner from entering His presence.

Father God. We bow before Your throne this morning with deeply grateful hearts. Only You have the words of eternal life. Only You hold the keys to eternity. We worship You today. Amen.

No More Tears

“… “These are the ones who died in the great tribulation. They have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb and made them white. That is why they stand in front of God’s throne and serve him day and night in his Temple. And He who sits on the throne will give them shelter. They will never again be hungry or thirsty; they will never be scorched by the heat of the sun. For the Lamb on the throne will be their Shepherd. He will lead them to springs of life-giving water. And God will wipe every tear from their eyes.”
Revelation 7:14b-17

Earlier in this Revelation chapter, John saw in his vision a great crowd clothed in white gowns and holding palm branches. And they were shouting out a declaration of why they were in Heaven – solely because God saved them. He saved them from the consequences of their sins. He saved them through His grace and mercy. He saved them so that they could spend eternity with Him. And John is told that this great crowd of souls were wearing robes of white. Not just an earthly white, but these must have been a dazzling white because they had been washed in Jesus’ blood. There would have been no impurities in those robes. They epitomised total righteousness and holiness. And those souls deserved to wear them because they stood firm through such difficult times.

John tells us that this great crowd were standing in front of God’s throne, serving Him continually in His Temple. But then comes the really compassionate and poignant bit. However, to really appreciate what John saw about these souls, we have to remember what they had been through. They had all lived through the consequences of the six seals revealed in the precious chapter in Revelation. So from the first seal, they would have been involved in many battles. The second seal brought war and slaughter, and some of the “great crowd”would have perished here. The third seal led to desperate times of famine, when hunger and thirst would have been the norm, and people would have died from malnutrition. The fourth seal brought more hunger, along with summary executions and disease. The fifth seal revealed God’s people who had been martyred for their faith. And finally, the sixth seal destroyed their homes through an unprecedented series of natural disasters, rendering them homeless. But here’s the thing. Our wonderful Heavenly Father gave them shelter. Never again were they to be hungry or thirsty. Jesus was going to look after them, and provide for all their needs. And all the tears that would have become common place, would never return, because God had wiped them all away.

We don’t understand why God’s people will be caught up in the Great Tribulation. Some will resent the fact that God won’t take them away from the earth before He exercises His judgement on all those who remain. One day we will find out why, but in the meantime, we pilgrims carry on through our lives, trusting in the One who gave us life in the first place. 

Dear Father God. We have so many questions. But with unshakeable faith and trust in You we offer you our grateful thanks for helping each one of us on our journeys. You stand with us through the hard and difficult times. You lead and guide us when the way forward seems confused. And we thank You that one day You will bring us to pools of life giving water, sustaining us through eternity. Amen.