“And I looked, and lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Zion and with Him an Hundred and forty and four thousand, having His Father’s name written in their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder; and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps. And they sang as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders; and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth. These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb withersoever He goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the first fruit unto God and to the Lamb. And in their mouth was found no guile; for they are without fault before the throne of God,” Rev. 14:1-5.
The above quoted passage of Scripture forms our text in this particular study wherein we intend to examine the reality of the following terms:
(1) Who is the Lamb? (2) Where is He standing and what is mount Zion? (3) Who are the 144,000 that are with Him on this mountain? (4) What does it mean to have the Father’s name written on their foreheads? (5) What constitutes the new song they were singing and why? (6) What do we mean they are virgins and why are they virgins? (7) Who are the women that did not defile them? (How is it that they had no lie in their mouth? Etc.
Unfortunately, this is one of the passages our Christian brethren has used all these years to propagate a doctrine that only 144,000 persons shall go to heaven to reign with Christ from the throne while the rest of the believers redeemed from amongst men because of their faithfulness inherit the earth as a redeemed paradise after the war of Armageddon, whereas the wicked have been totally annihilated from planet earth.
The question one would like to ask these brethren here is, does it mean up till now since two thousand years ago Christ has not been able to select the 144,000 to reign with Him in heaven from among the saints of Old?
If the era of the apostles was even to be the starting or counting point thereby excluding the old patriarchs of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, can we still believe that up till now Jesus cannot still get this number complete since two thousand years ago such that He will now inaugurate His heavenly government? Or He changed His mind on this?
Something must either be wrong with our interpretation of this scripture or Jesus has actually changed His mind.
But the truth of the matter is neither is the case, rather a lack of spiritual understanding of the passage in question based on the fact that men have ignored the spiritual symbolism of the book of Revelation.
THE BOOK OF REVELATION vesus A LOOK AT APOCALYPTIC WRITING
The opening verse of the book written by John says, “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto His servants, things which must shortly come to pass and He sent and signified it by His angel unto His servant John,” Rev. 1:1.
One of the things I would want you to note here is that the Greek title of this book is ‘APOCALYPSE OF JOHN’ and the word ‘Apocalypse’ is a transliteration of the Greek word ‘Revelation.’
Now the word Revelation actually stands for that which is hidden, which has to be unveiled, which often has to do with hidden events.
Whereas apocalyptic writings and prophetic literatures may be similar, the major contrast like the prophet of the Old Testament is that while the prophets received the word by ‘hearing the word of God’ and passing it on by word of mouth, ‘thus saith the Lord,’ the author of ‘Apocalypse’ receives this revelation in a vision and passes it on in writing.
Now, the language of apocalyptic writing is highly symbolic and the importance of the visions, which are described is never in their immediate literal meaning. Hence the message here was ‘signified’ – semaino – to indicate – signify.
So it is a work done in signs. Therefore, it must be observed as a rule in writings like this, that the elements so mentioned have symbolic value – such as the persons, places, animals, actions, objects, parts of the body, numbers and measurements, stars, colours and garments.
So then if we are not to misunderstand or distort the intention and thoughts of the writer, we must appreciate the imagery at its true value and do our best to translate the symbols back into the ideas the author intended to convey.
It is a known fact that apocalyptic writing was very popular in some Jewish circles (including the Essenes of Qumran) in the two centuries before Christ.
The vision of prophets like Ezekiel and Zachariah paved the way, and the apocalypse form of writing was already fully developed in the time of Daniel. Right in the New Testament, we have a major apocalyptic writing which is the book in question, the book of Revelation by John the beloved, 1:9.
“The progressive Book”
While it is commonly believed that the Book of Revelation is a fulfilled Book in some quarters because of the opening statement, “…things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John,”Rev. 1:1
(shortly come to pass) ,= tachos, takh’-os =a brief space (of time); i.e in haste:–+ quickly, + shortly, + speedily and without delay),
by implication the acts in the Book are about to be fulfilled without delay.
But this, honestly, was so with the Seven Churches in Asia. They saw all that Jesus said to them speedily; but going forward we are told in Rev. 4:1,
“…Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be HEREAFTER.” Now the word “hereafter” is misleading, for it really means:
NLT Rev. 4:1, “Come up here, and I will show you what MUST HAPPEN AFTER THIS.”
Ampl. Rev. 4:1, “…and I will show you what must take place IN THE FUTURE.”
TLB Rev. 4:1,”Come up here and I will show you what must happen in the future!”
Meaning the things that will happen after the age of the Seven Churches has had their activities and prophecies fulfilled to them.
So you see, this Book is futuristic. Not in terms of what we teach like the coming of the future Antichrist and things like the war of Armageddon, etc.; but rather here is a Book that is to reveal the Christ of God in and through a people, the sons of God in all ages after that of the Seven Churches.
To be continued…