Author: Ron Graham
The Lamb and his First Fruits
Judgment of the Beasts (Revelation 12-20) >Seven Signs >5th sign >The Lamb on Mount Zion
An Exposition of Revelation 14:1-5. In contrast to the antichristian kingdom of the Beast whose subjects have the mark of his name upon them, John now has a vision of the kingdom of Christ the Lamb. His 144,000 followers have the mark of another name upon them, the name of Christ and his Father.
1 The Lamb and his 144,000
Mount Zion Jerusalem is often called Zion. Mount Zion is one of the hills of Jerusalem. So this vision takes place on earth. However Zion is in close touch with heaven and the 144,000 saints on Zion are hearing and learning a song being sung in heaven where is the new Jerusalem (Revelation 21:1-2).
144,000 We have met this 144,000 before in an earlier vision (Revelation 7:1-4).
Following that vision, the next one lifts the portrayal of Christ’s kingdom from 144,000 on earth to a vast uncountable multitude in heaven (Revelation 7:9). This multitude in heaven is not a different one from the 144,000 on earth, just a less idealised and more realistic portrayal of the number of the saved.
His name A primary characteristic of this 144,000 is that they have the name of Christ and his Father (and not the name of the Beast) written on the foreheads (Revelation 14:1).
In the vision of the messages to the seven churches of Asia, Jesus had promised to write upon every one of his followers his new and heavenly name (Revelation 3:12).
Four living creatures (Revelation 14:3). We met these four creatures, and the 24 elders, in the first vision of Heaven (Revelation 4:6-8).
The first creature was like a lion, symbolizing the kingship of Christ. The second was like a calf, symbolizing the priesthood of Christ. The third was like a man, symbolizing the humanity of Christ. The fourth creature was like an eagle, signifying the divinity of Christ.
2 Redemption and Sanctification
Purchased (or redeemed) These 144,000 were "purchased from the earth... purchased from among men" (Revelation 14:3-4).
This purchasing represents redemption and reflects the song to the Lamb, "You were slain and purchased [a kingdom of priests] for God with your blood from among every tribe and tongue and people and nation" (Revelation 5:9-10).
Virgins These 144,000 "have not been defiled with women, for they have kept themselves virgins" (Revelation 14:4). They were males who had never had sexual intercourse.
This virginity is a symbol of sanctification or holiness. Remember, this is only symbolism. In reality it is not necessary to remain a virgin in order to be wholly sanctified and pure. In practical Christian life (as distinct from visions and signs) "Marriage is honourable among all and the bed undefiled, but God will judge fornicators and adulterers" (Hebrews 13:4).
Defiled with women This is not saying that men are clean and women are unclean, nor is it suggesting that women cannot be defiled with men like men can be defiled with women. Whilst the vision portrays men who avoided sexual unions, the vision is intended to reflect the message of Christ to the congregation at Thyatira.
Jesus said, "I have this against you that you tolerate the woman Jezebel... she leads my bondservants astray so that they commit immorality... with her" (Revelation 2:20-22). It is women of her ilk that Revelation has in mind to condemn, not holy women of exemplary behaviour.
3 The Lamb’s First Fruits
First fruits These 144,000 are described as "first fruits to God and to the Lamb" (Revelation 14:4).
Now this does not mean these 144,000 have first place or special status above the rest of the saved. It means they are dedicated to God and to Christ. In this, they represent all Christians (James 1:18). The “first fruits” of the earth, in Old Testament times, were dedicated as an offering to God (Exodus 23:19).
No lie (Revelation 14:5). We cannot be dedicated as firstfruits to God without being dedicated to truth. What distinguishes those who follow the antichrist is that "they did not receive a love of the truth so as to be saved" (2Thessalonians 2:10).
Part of the sanctity or holiness of the 144,000 is their love of the truth reflected in the words of their mouth. "And no lie was found in their mouth" (Revelation 14:5).
Not only were the actions of these holy ones holy and pure, but so too were their words. They spoke only truth. The beasts and their subjects are deceivers who speak lies and blasphemies (Revelation 13:6, Revelation 22:15).