Week - 25 The Character Qualities of Godly ServantsRevelation 14:1-5
Updated: Dec 15, 2021
Authored by Jerry Marshall Introduction:
Back in Revelation seven, we were first introduced to those central characters who emerge on the scene once again in Revelation 14:1-5.
We learn from Revelation seven, that this company of people totaling 144,000, 12,000 from each of the 12 tribes of Israel, who are called the servants of God, were marked out with the seal of God on their forehead.
This mark or seal of God on their foreheads protected them from the various expressions of God’s wrath during the time of the Great Tribulation. The seal also indicated that they belong to God and that they were loyal to God.
As a matter of fact, all true believers in Jesus Christ have been marked by God. Although today, true believers have a different kind of mark than their 144,000 brothers who will minister on earth during the time of the Great Tribulation.
They will bear the Mark of God on their foreheads. We today have the mark of God in our hearts (Ephesians 1:13-14; 4:30).
In the chapter that we studied last week, Revelation 13:11-18, we learned about another kind of marking - the mark of the beast (13:16). We learned last week, that those who will live upon this earth during the time of the Great Tribulation, under the autocratic rule of the Antichrist with his one world socio-economic plan and his one world religion- are mandated to receive the mark of the beast in order to buy or sell, or to engage freely in commerce.
In all three examples that I have used this morning, the mark is a significant sign of the one who is the possessor of one’s loyalty, devotion, love and worship. The mark that each person has is also significant in the sense that the destiny of each person is determined by the mark they bear (Ephesians 1:14; 4:30; Revelation 14:9-10).
The 144,000 marked out servants of God serve as examples for you and me today of the qualities that are essential for all believers to possess in order to be effective servants of the living God. What attributes will you find in those who are marked out to be God’s servants?
Those qualities will be revealed to us this morning, as we together, examine four aspects of John’s continuous vision recorded in Revelation 14:1-5 of the things that must take place in the days yet to come.
I. The Scene on Mount Zion (Revelation 14:1)
Having described to us his vision of those who are the Antichrist’s devoted followers on earth bearing the mark of the Beast (Revelation 13:11-18), John now describes a new scene in his vision of those who have been marked out by God as His own, who have been protected by a seal, from the destruction of God’s wrath expressed in the days of the Great Tribulation as well as death by martyrdom.
The first central character of John’s vision is...
A. The Lamb of God (14:1a)
1 Then I looked, and there before me was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion
The last time that John had a vision of the Lamb was in Revelation 7:9. At that point He was being worshipped in heaven by a great multitude who had come out of The Great Tribulation (7:14). Elsewhere in this book, he is depicted as being slain yet standing (5:6); and slain before the creation of the world (13:8).
The Lamb is the only worthy one who is able to take the seven sealed scroll from God’s hand and break the seals of this prophetic scroll, revealing to us God’s final judgment and end time plan for planet earth and beyond (5:7; 6:1). Of course, this Lamb is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ, of whom John the Baptist proclaimed; “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” (John 1:29)
At this segment of John’s vision, the Lamb of God is not sitting enthroned in heaven, but standing on Mount Zion. There has been quite a bit of discussion that has been generated about whether this refers to the earthly Mount Zion or the heavenly Mount Zion spoken of in Hebrews 12:22.
22 But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly,
This passage from Hebrews is clearly speaking of the abode of God which is heaven, not the earthly Mount Zion which refers to a hilly area in southeast Jerusalem, which is the Temple Mount. Sometimes Mt. Zion is used to describe the entire city of Jerusalem.
But given the context of this passage, this entire scene takes place before the throne of God. So Mount Zion, in this passage is not referring to the earthly place but rather the dwelling place of God which is heaven itself.
B. The servants of God (14:1b)
and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads.
In contrast to the inhabitants of the earth who had received the Mark of the Beast on their foreheads or on their right hand, demonstrating their loyalty to the Antichrist, we have 144,000 who had the name of the Lamb and the name of the Father written on their foreheads.
Who is this specially marked company? They are the sealed servants of God spoken of earlier in Revelation 7. They are servants of the living God who bear the seal of God, which marks them out as those who belong to Him and are protected from His wrath expressed during the time of the Tribulation (Revelation 7:1-3). They are Israelites from the 12 tribes of Israel (Revelation 7:4-8). They are all men, who are apparently like those who have taken the Nazarite vow (Revelation 14:4-5).
We see them in this passage, having completed their earthly mission and now in the presence of the Lord.
II. The Sound from Heaven (Revelation 14:2)
Like the visions of John previously revealed in this book, this one includes both sights and sounds.
The word “Sound” in the NIV and “Voice” in the NASB are translations of the Greek word fo-nay which can be translated a sound or a tone but also “a voice of the sound of uttered words.”
The similes used by John to describe what this sound was like gives us the impression that it was continuous sound, loud and melodic.
A. Like rushing waters (14:2a)
“The sound of many waters.”
It was continuous, as the sound of rushing waters. Certainly, this was a familiar sound to John who had been exiled on the Island of Patmos were he would be exposed to the incessant sound of the surf crashing against the island’s shore.
B. Like loud thunder (14:2b)
and like a loud peal of thunder.
This sound from heaven, according to John, was like that of the crashing sound of thunder. Loud and startling at first and then reverberating with a rumbling that eventually fades off into the distance.
C. Like harpists playing (14:2c)
The sound I heard was like that of harpists playing their harps.
This is the first simile used by John that indicates that this sound was melodic. It was not simply loud and continuous noise. - It was the sound of music. Heaven is filled with the sound of music. So what John heard was loud, continuous music.
The harp is used frequently in the O.T. as the accompanying instrument for joyful singing.
III. The Song in Heaven (Revelation 14:3)
3 And they (144.000) 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.
A. What was sung (14:3a)
There are many exhortations in the Psalms to sing to the Lord a new song. These exhortations to the people of God are to compose and sing fresh songs with lyrics that capture some new aspect of God’s mighty deeds or a fresh nuance of the perfection of who God is. These songs then, were a tool for instruction, exhortation or affirmation, as all songs should be when sung for the purpose of worship and adoration.
The context of this passage suggests that this was a fresh anthem of redemption sung specifically by the 144,000.
The word Redemption is a translation of the Greek word Ag-or-ad-zo (perfect passive participle) which literally means to be in the market place for the purpose of buying or selling something. It is used in this passage figuratively to indicate that the 144,000 were purchased by God once and for all out from this fallen earth and the destruction it will experience as a result of God’s wrath expressed in the seal, trumpet and bowl judgments.
Their souls were purchased from the slave market of sin through the redemptive work of Christ. Their physical lives were purchased or redeemed from harm or death caused by the various expressions of God’s wrath against the sinful inhabitants of the earth during the time of the Great Tribulation or by means of martyrdom.
It is a new song of God’s protective power upon those who are His even in the midst of a time that Jesus described as the Great Tribulation.
21 .... a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will.
B. Where it was sung (3b)
The 144,000 sang this special song of redemption before the throne of God, with the angelic order of heaven as their audience. It was a song of redemption sung to the Redeemer and those who are before Him constantly.
C. Who can sing it (3c)
Not everyone could sing this song. You would have to experience redemption in order to sing of redemption.
Dr. Henry Morris, in his commentary called The Revelation Record, suggest why only the 144,000 could sing this new song of redemption.
Although the words of the song of the 144,000 are not recorded, it surely dwells in part at least on the great truth that they have been “Redeemed” from the earth. Although in one sense all saved people have been redeemed from the earth, these could know the meaning of such a theme in a more profound way than others. They had been saved after the rapture, at the time in history when man’s greatest persecutions and God’s greatest judgments were on earth. It was such a time that they like Noah (Genesis 6:8), had “found grace in the eyes of the Lord” and had been separated from “all that dwell upon the earth” (Revelation 13:8). Not only had they been redeemed spiritually but, precursively as it were, they had been redeemed from the very curse on earth (Genesis 3:17), being protected from pain and death by the guarding seal.”
IV. The Servants in Heaven (Revelation 14:4-5)
A. Their purity (14:4a)
This descriptive statement about the 144,000 is not to be understood to mean that they were celibate. It is true that the Apostle Paul suggested that being single was an advantage for him and his ministry and that if others could, they should follow him in this example.
But, if we understand that this passage suggests that 144,000 were a sort of elite group of saints who have attained a higher level of spirituality and service to God by renouncing sexual intimacy within the context of a committed marriage, we are also then suggesting that this, the first institution created by God in which sexual intimacy was to be enjoyed is defiling, That it is morally polluting.
The Apostle Paul told Timothy that such teaching is tantamount to the teaching of demons (1Timothy 4:1-4).
The purity that characterized these sealed servants of God is moral purity. That in the midst of living in a world which at that time, will give itself fully to perverse wickedness, these servants of God will remain chaste (they abstain from illicit sexual relationships).
They serve as an example to us that those who desire to serve God must effectively exercise self control in this area. They must lead holy and pure lives. Certainly, the word of God is very direct regarding this matter.
1 Thessalonians 4:3
3 It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality;
(Porneia - illicit sexual intercourse, premaritial sex, homosexuality, lesbianism, intercourse with animals etc)
The Apostle Paul exhorted young Pastor Timothy to...
2 Timothy 2:22
22 Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.
1 Corinthians 6:13
The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.
1 Corinthians 6:18-19
18 Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. 19 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;
The Apostle Paul said that marriage is a deterrent to sexual immorality
(1 Corinthians 7:1-4).
B. Their piety (14:4b)
I use the word Piety in reference to their devotion and loyalty expressed to the Lamb of God during the time of their ministry on earth.
This description of discipleship doesn’t mean that they followed the Lamb of God doggedly as he sort of strolled through heaven.
To follow Christ is used figuratively here to mean that they allowed their master to set the course for their lives while on earth. Their master’s teaching served as the compass for their lives.
They were faithful to the primary requirement of true discipleship, and that is to follow the Lord wherever He goes as opposed to following the impulses of their flesh or the appetites of this fallen world.
The philosophical position of this fallen place, the course of this world is not the course that true disciples of Christ will take. They will follow the Lord, in all things.
Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
Jesus exhorted the rich young ruler....
“If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
Jesus said to the religious leaders of His day...
My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.
1 John 2:6
Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.
C. Their purpose (14:4c)
The 144,000 were redeemed by the Lord from among men in order to be an acceptable sacrifice for the Lord and His service.
In the O.T. sacrificial system, the first fruits of a harvested crop were considered to be dedicated to the Lord and his service (Deut 26:1-11; 18:3-5). In like manner, the 144,000 Jewish men who will no doubt go throughout the world and spread the Gospel message will be like the first fruits offering in the sense that they will be set apart for the Lord and his service.
The dedicated servant of God lives with a sense that the hand of God is upon him or her. They also know that their lives are not their own and they live with that notion. The life they live is given to kingdom purposes and for the furtherance of the Gospel message.
That is the purpose of the 144,000 and that is why they were purchased from among men. They were the first fruits of a greater harvest yet to come.
D. Their veracity (14:5)
A dedicated servant of the Lord is not like Satan who traffics in lies and deception. The 144,000 were not like the false prophet, or those who are tossed into the lake of fire of whom God’s word says, they love to practice falsehood (Revelation 22:15).
What they will proclaim is truthful and authentic. Their word can be relied upon.
The 144,000 will proclaim God’s word with accuracy speaking the truth in love. They will boldly declare God’s Gospel message without wavering, equivocating, or adjusting its demands. They will in this sense, be like Christ of whom it was said; “He committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth.” (1Peter 2:22)
The word blameless is a translation of the Greek word Am-o-mos, which in this context refers to being without moral blemish, faultless and above accusations. They are beyond the reach of blame.
Because they lead lives characterized by moral purity, devotion to Christ and truthfulness in what they say, it will be difficult to hurl and accusation against them that will stick to them.