Revelation 14:1-4: The Redeemed.
“Then I looked, and there before me was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads. 2 And I heard a sound from heaven like the roar of rushing waters and like a loud peal of thunder. The sound I heard was like that of harpists playing their harps. 3 And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders. No one could learn the song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth. 4 These are those who did not defile themselves with women, for they remained virgins. They follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They were purchased from among mankind and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb.”NIV
Here are a number of things we can assert about the ‘’redeemed’’ (3b), i.e. those who ‘’were purchased’’ by Jesus at the cost of His own blood (4b, see 1:5b). (It seems the number ‘’144,000’’, representing ‘completeness’, speaks of the whole people of God throughout the ages).
We can say of them:
- They are marked people – sealed by God (1). He will protect them spiritually.
- They have been given ‘’a new song’’ only they can sing (3).
- They are prepared for battle (4a) In ancient Israel, if a war was justified, it was regarded as holy. So those who fought in it had to obey special rules of purity, including abstention, for a time, from normal sexual relations (e.g. Deuteronomy 23:9,10; 1 Samuel 21:5). The image used here may refer to a people always ready for battle. But when we consider what the Bible teaches about the possibility of spiritual adultery, this may mean that they had not defiled themselves with idols, or by worshipping any other king or emperor. (None of this, of course, is to deny the importance of a commitment to sexual purity for people who profess to follow Jesus.)
- They follow Jesus everywhere! (4b) I will say more about this tomorrow.
- They are committed to the truth (5) Tom Wright points out that one of the main features of the dragon’s system is the lie. He ‘creates a world of untruth, a fake world, a sham system from top to bottom…Following the lamb means rejecting the lie. Always and for ever.’ ‘Revelation for Everyone’, p.126