Category Archives: REVELATION Part 5

God’s preservation of Israel, and the tyranny of the Antichrist and the False Prophet,

BOOK OF REVELATION Part 5

FOURTH REVELATION: CHRIST’S FAITHFULNESS

Chapter 11:19-14:5

Christ will reveal Himself to be true to His promises to Israel despite the opposition of Satan.

This section is in four main parts, as follows:

Chapter 11:19 God’s centre of control and administration seen by John.

Chapter 12 God’s faithfulness to Israel.

Chapter 13 God’s control over the Beast and False Prophet, for their time is limited.

Chapter 14:1-5 God’s preservation of the 144,000 is shown to be effective.

11:19 And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.

Chapter 11:19 God’s centre of control and administration seen by John.

Immediately prior to the revelation of Christ’s faithfulness to Israel, the temple of God is opened in heaven. This is because the events next to be detailed have connections with the temple at Jerusalem, for the woman, (the faithful remnant of Israel), flees when the image of the beast is set up in the temple in Jerusalem, Matthew 24:15, and this is detailed in the next chapter, 13:15. So before these things are told us, God shows the true temple in the heavenly Jerusalem, thus demonstrating that He has not lost control, and that the centre of government, the ark, is still intact. No amount of profanity on the earth can touch heaven.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE BOOK OF REVELATION CHAPTER 12, VERSES 1 TO 17

12:1 And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars:

12:2 And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.

12:3 And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads.

12:4 And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.

12:5 And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to His throne.

12:6 And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.

12:7 And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,

12:8 And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.

12:9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

12:10 And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.

12:11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.

12:12 Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.

12:13 And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child.

12:14 And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.

12:15 And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood.

12:16 And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth.

12:17 And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.

Chapter 12 God’s faithfulness to Israel.

In chapter 12 we learn how God will preserve His faithful remnant people at the end time. The woman represents Israel religiously; the twelve stars are the twelve tribes which are her glory around her head; she is clothed with the sun, because her acceptableness is due solely to the Messiah, the “sun of righteousness”; the moon is under her feet because she has learnt that the religious festivals of Israel, governed by the moon, are now obsolete. Satan has his counterfeit of this. In Henry VIII’s private chapel in Hever Castle in Kent, visitors may see a picture of Mary against a blue background, with twelve stars encircling her head. This image, (without, at present, the head of Mary), is to be found on the registration plate of cars in the European Union.

It is Israel that produces the man-child, who is specifically described as having been caught up to God and His throne, thus only one person can be in view, Christ Himself. The woman cannot be Mary, since she did not flee into the desert, as this woman will do. After Christ was born, there was much sorrow caused by Herod slaying the innocents. When recording this, Matthew relates it to the words Jeremiah had used about Israel when he prophesied about what would happen to them during the Tribulation period. Jeremiah, in turn, had used the experience of Rachel, who had died giving birth to Benjamin outside of Bethlehem. She had named him Ben-oni, “son of my sorrow”, but his father called him Benjamin, “son of my right hand”. So the Lord Jesus is able to relate to Israel in her suffering, for she can call Him son of her sorrow. But He is also the Son of God’s right hand, and will deal with those who oppress His remnant people.

In Micah 5 the birth of Christ at Bethlehem is prophesied, but the prophet goes immediately on to speak of the remnant of Christ’s brethren returning to the land of Israel. So the birth of Christ is linked with events to do with Israel in the future. Isaiah 26:12-21 is of similar effect, with the added truth that God’s people will need to enter into the chambers, and shut the doors about them, a reference perhaps to the fleeing into the wilderness we are told about in Revelation 12.

We learn here who it was who moved Herod in his cruelty, for we are introduced to Satan as a great red dragon, red being the colour of blood. He has great power, and will be given opportunity to use it in the last times as never before, but then will be reduced to ineffectiveness and degradation. He has seven heads, for he has been the master-mind behind the seven world-empires, based at Babylon, that have sought to frustrate the purpose of God throughout the ages, and which also have affected the nation of Israel in one way or another. He also has ten horns, which represent the ten kings that in the next chapter will give their power to the Beast, so that he may be supreme in the earth. The beast of the next chapter has ten horns, showing that he has accepted the offer of universal dominion that Satan will have made to him. The crowns that were on the seven heads of the dragon, are now on the ten horns of the beast, showing that the rule exercised in the seven empires is now vested in the ten kings.

He has great power at his disposal, for one third of the stars, figuratively representing angels, have been deceived by him, and form his army. The army of heaven, led by Michael, the Prince that stands for the nation of Israel, will expel him from heaven. This will cause great joy in heaven as the accuser of the Jewish brethren is cast down, so that he cannot access heaven to make his charges. He had done this with Job, and had been doing it with the faithful remnant, but is now halted.

This signals the ending of his pact with Israel, and he will set up Babylon as a rival centre to Jerusalem. The vision of Zechariah 5:5-11 would indicate that Jewish business interests will transfer to Babylon at the end time. Meanwhile, in Jerusalem, the temple will be profaned by the installation there of the image to the beast. The Lord had warned His people to flee to the mountains once they knew that the image of the beast had been set up at Jerusalem, Matthew 24:15-21. This they will do, and be sheltered by God, possibly at Petra in Arabia. There is a suggestion of this in the mysterious words of Isaiah 16:1-5. (The angels that came to Sodom were able to blind the men of Sodom, so God is able to prevent Satan knowing where the remnant is hiding). They will be vulnerable there, however, for Satan is capable of producing enough rainfall to flood them out, but God will see to it that an earthquake causes a chasm to open up, to allow the waters to be swallowed up so as not to harm them. It seems that the account of their flight is given twice, first in verse 6 in connection with the catching up of the man-child, (showing that God’s provision for them is based on what His Son has done for them, and the Son’s solidarity with them in their affliction), and again in verse 14, after the devil has been cast down, showing that God allows the Devil to act so that He may show Himself to be superior.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE BOOK OF REVELATION CHAPTER 13, VERSES 1 TO 18

13:1 And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy.

13:2 And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority.

13:3 And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast.

13:4 And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?

13:5 And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months.

13:6 And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, and His tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven.

13:7 And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.

13:8 And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

13:9 If any man have an ear, let him hear.

13:10 He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.

13:11 And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon.

13:12 And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.

13:13 And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men,

13:14 And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live.

13:15 And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.

13:16 And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:

13:17 And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.

13:18 Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.

Chapter 13 God’s control over the Beast and False Prophet, for their time is limited.

This chapter details the two evil personages that the devil will use to try to achieve his purpose in the world. Daniel had seen four beasts in his vision of Gentile dominion in Daniel 7. These were a lion, a bear, a leopard, and a nondescript beast. Of the first three it was said that their dominion was taken away, but their lives were prolonged for a season. We see in Revelation 13 how this works out, for the lion, bear and leopard kingdoms have been absorbed by the fourth beast, but their characteristics continue. We also learn of the false prophet who works miracles in order to attract attention to the first beast, the Antichrist, so that worship is directed to him, and through him to the devil himself. For from Daniel 11:38,39 we learn that the first beast worships the god of forces, Satan himself.

The following are some of the features that will be found in the Antichrist, as set out in the Book of Daniel, the Old Testament “Book of Revelation”.

  • He will have the ability to subdue his rivals decisively, Daniel 7:2:8, “three of the first horns plucked up by the roots”.
  • He will have great intelligence and insight, verse 8 , “eyes like the eyes of man”.
  • He will possess great oratorical skills, and plausibility, verse 8 , “a mouth speaking great things”.
  • He will have an imposing presence, verse 20, “his look was more stout than his fellows”.
  • He will be able to oppose the saints successfully, verse 21, “…made war with the saints, and prevailed against them”.

Daniel’s attention is now drawn to this little horn again, in chapter 8. This horn came up out of one of the divisions of the Greek empire, thus narrowing down the region from which he will spring. Such is his power, that he is able to control what happens in the restored temple in Jerusalem. We learn from Gabriel certain facts about this king, in 8:1-12, and also verses 23-25:

  • He waxes great even to the extent of being able to influence the host of heaven, meaning the angel hosts, verse 10. As we shall learn later, this king is energised by Satanic power, and hence it is no surprise that he can control spirit-beings. In chapter 10 we learn that there is conflict in heaven between holy and evil angel-representatives of the nations, and that victory is not easily achieved by the holy angels, such is the power of evil. So successful is this king in verse 10, that he is able to cast some of the host of heaven and the stars, meaning, presumably, angels, to the ground and triumph over them. This is awesome power, and reminds us we should not underestimate the power of the Devil. We take comfort from the fact, however, that the eventual triumph of Christ is assured, (for “He shall send forth truth to victory”, Matthew 12:20), and meanwhile, “greater is He that is you, than he that is in the world”, 1 John 4:4.
  • He so exalts himself, that he aspires to attack Christ Himself, verse 11. We read the armies of the Antichrist make war with the Lamb in Revelation 19:19, and this statement is to the same effect. Not only is he antichrist in the sense of “instead of” Christ, but also in the sense of “against Christ”, for the Greek word “anti” has both these meanings.
  • He interferes with the sacrifices offered on the altar in the rebuilt temple at Jerusalem, verse 11. Chapter 9:27 tells of a covenant with the majority in Israel to allow them to resume their temple worship. This covenant he breaks after three and a half years, and this signals the commencement of the Great Tribulation, Matthew 24:15,21.
  • A host is give him against the daily sacrifice. A host is a multitude, especially when organised for war. The fact that a host is given him against the daily sacrifice suggests Satan allots some of his demon-forces to allow him to do this without God’s angels, and in particular Michael, preventing him. Michael does not seem to be as strong as the Devil, as is seen in Jude 9, and Daniel 10:13 indicates that Gabriel was no match for the angel-prince of Persia until Michael came to assist him. In verse 11 he magnifies himself against the prince of the host, which from 12:1 we learn is Michael, the prince that stands for the children of Israel.
  • He casts down the truth to the ground. This word “cast down”, is used in verses 7,11,12. The idea is of throwing out, down, or away. Here the little horn attacks the truth, and succeeds in casting it down, meaning that he persuades many to apostasise, especially in Israel, where the majority of the nation have sided with him, and only a remnant remains true to God. John tells us that one of the main features of the antichrist is that he denies both the Father and the Son, 1 John 2:22; 4:3. In other words, he totally rejects Christianity, with its emphasis on the revelation of the Father by the Son.
  • He practises and prospers, for evil is having its final attempt to overthrow the things of God, verse 12. It will be said that “all the world wondered after the beast”, and no-one is able to make war with him, Revelation 13:3,4.
  • He has a fierce countenance, for he will act with unimaginable cruelty, such is the nature of man, verse 23. It is no coincidence that he is likened to a wild beast, unmerciful and untamed. All the features of the bear, (relentless attack), the lion (fierce attack with strength), and the leopard, (swift decisive attack), will combine in him. In this he is like the one who empowers him, who is responsible for the misery and heartache experienced by men through the ages.
  • He understands dark sentences, which indicates that Satan gives him insight into the mysteries that have been hidden from the mass of men down the centuries. These secrets enable him to gain and keep hold of the minds of men.
  • His power is mighty, but he owes it to another, for he will have succumbed to the temptation of the Devil, verse 24. He had offered the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them to Christ, if He would bow down to worship him. This the Lord refused to do, but this man will have done it, so that “the dragon gave him his power, his seat, and great authority, Revelation 13:2.
  • He destroys wonderfully, for all the world shall wonder after the beast, such is the impressive nature of the things he is able to do by Satanic power. He shall prosper, but God is in control, allowing the Devil to overreach himself so that he may be finally and decisively defeated.
  • He shall destroy the mighty and holy people, (literally “the people of the holy ones”, the ones spoken of in chapter 7:27), that part of the nation of Israel which refuses to renounce God. Such is the intensity of his onslaught against them that only a third pass through the fire to enter the kingdom age. Zechariah 13:9 had spoken of this, and it is interesting that Christ took a third of His apostles onto the Mount of Olives to tell them of these things, as recorded in Matthew 24. They represent the faithful remnant of Israel in that chapter, whereas in John 13-17 they represent the church.
  • Through his policy he causes craft to prosper under his control, verse 25. Satan used the serpent in the Garden because it was more subtil or crafty than all other beasts of the field. Of course, before sin entered this simply meant that the serpent was crafty or skilful in the best sense. The devil used that characteristic to his own ends with the serpent at the beginning, and now is using it with the antichrist at the end.
  • He shares that leading feature of the Devil, that he magnifies self. Pride is the condemnation of the devil, 1 Timothy 3:6, who sought in pride to be like the Most High, Isaiah 14:14. We learn that this pride on the part of the antichrist is the same, for he will magnify himself even above gods that are worshipped. Satan is using him to try to gain the goal he sought at the beginning when he tried to usurp the throne of God. He still has the five-point plan he had then, see Isaiah 14:13,14.
  • By peace he destroys many, peace having the sense of “ease”, freedom from anxiety, freedom from stress. Those who worship him will be rewarded by him. They will be called “them that dwell upon the earth” in Revelation 13:8, who are content with earth, have no thought of heaven, and deny the existence of hell.
  • He will be so bold as to stand up against Christ, the Prince over the angel-princes. He will no doubt attempt this by the devilish power Satan has given him. We little appreciate the power the Devil still wields, even though he is a defeated foe.
  • He will be broken without any coming to “give him a hand”, in other words, utterly defeated. Such were the tremendous issues involved in this vision, and in particular the events concerning the little horn, that Daniel fainted, and was sick. He was astonished at what the vision indicated, but no-one understood the precise meaning of it.

In Daniel chapter 11 we learn more about this personage. The verse begins rather abruptly if the matters foretold in the previous verses have come to pass. But if they are still to be fulfilled in their details, then the king mentioned is the King of the North that has been in view throughout the chapter. Alternatively, the abrupt mention of “the King” is against the background of the fact that the whole of the book of Daniel is about this one. The following things are said about him:

  • He does according to his will, the classic sign of one who is opposed to the will of God. The will of this man, even though it is his own, is in fact influenced by the devil himself, as he seeks to frustrate the will of God in relation to Christ and His eventual rule over the earth.
  • He shall exalt himself. We have come across this before, in 8:25, but there it was in his heart; this seems to be a further development, where the desire of his heart is being put into effect. In this he is the direct contrast to Christ who humbled Himself, even to the extent of obedience in death, and that the death on a cross, the most humbling death of all, for it was the death reserved for criminals.

We should not think, then, that the end-time ruler is simply another political figure. He must be much more than this if he is to counterfeit Christ. He must not only satisfy the political aspirations of people in terms of freedom from war, poverty and anxiety, (and this he will do), but also cater for the needs of the spirits of men. He must build “the city”, as well as “the tower”, the political and the religious, Genesis 11.

Man as made by God has a spirit-dimension. He is not just a collection of atoms. He is not complete without a response to God. Now that sin has come in, and man’s understanding has been darkened, Ephesians 4:18, he chooses to express that response in wrong directions. This takes many forms, but in the final analysis this waywardness is harnessed by the Devil to his own end. That end is the attracting of worship away from God and towards himself.

The last decades of the 19th century and the first of the 20th century were marked by a rise in atheism, with its logical outcomes of socialism and communism. From the middle of the 20th century, however, a change took place, a shift from an atheistic world-view to a pantheistic one. For atheism is essentially a negative attitude, and fails to fulfil the innermost longings of the human spirit, despite what its advocates may say.

Pantheism, with its belief that man, like everything else, is “god”, is an attractive way of filling the void that is left when Christianity is abandoned. Instead of believing in the existence of God who is separate from creation, the pantheist believes that “god” is everywhere, (including within himself), since all is “god”. This, of course, is totally contrary to the teaching of the Bible; but is one of the features of the New Age religion with its emphasis on intuition and experience rather than logic and reason. This leaves the mind open to illusion and fantasy, but also means that the minds of men are open to any suggestion that Satanic forces are prepared to instil into them.

Despite being a product of the imagination, pantheism has a very strong hold on men’s minds, since it replaces God with self, and removes the restrictions that the law of God places upon them. This New Age religion is not new. It is but the re-emergence of the ancient philosophies of Hinduism, Buddhism and Eastern mysticism, and even further back, the mystery religions of the ancient world. This mix, combined with spiritism, theosophy and other occult systems, goes to make up the New Age religion, and professes to be able to bring in a new era of peace, plenty and harmony amongst men. Clearly this is a sinister movement, for the ultimate goal of it is to ensure that men realise they are god, and to bring in to the world the final great new world teacher, the new Age “Christ”, who is, in fact, Antichrist.

No wonder Daniel says that the personage he speaks of has understanding of dark sentences, for Satan will see to it that he is able to unfold to men the secrets that the ancient religions spoke of, and which, so they say, have been suppressed by those who worship the God of the Bible. Revelation 2:24 speaks of “the depths of Satan”. So when we read in Daniel 11:37 that the wilful king does not regard any god, then we understand that all systems of religion that separate between god and worshipper, are to be shunned by him.

  • He does not regard the God of his fathers. Now this expression is used in the Old Testament of the worship by Israel of the true God. If this is so here, then it means that he is a Jew. We have already noted that the generals who divided up the Greek empire are called kings, even though they did not gain their authority through descent. It is significant that the original King of the North was ruler over territory that included the area to which the ten tribes of Israel were taken into captivity by the Assyrians. There are those who believe that the antichrist will emerge from the tribe of Dan, and this tribe was one of the ten tribes of Israel taken to Assyria. If this is so, then we are confronted here by an apostate Jew; one, moreover, who sets himself up as a rival to Christ.
  • He does not regard the desire of women. Some believe this refers to the fact that every godly Jewess longed to be the mother of the Messiah, so the desire of women is another way of saying “Messiah”. Alternatively, it may refer to the myth concerning Nimrod, his death and re-emergence as the child of the mother, the origin of the idea of The Mother and the Child. Perhaps this disdain for the “Mother and Child” concept is a reference to the overthrow of the scarlet woman, Babylon the Great who rides upon, (i.e. dominates), the beast in the beginning of his career, but who is overthrown by him towards the end. See Revelation 17. Nimrod was worshipped after his death, and this became the object of the weeping for Tammuz that was especially engaged in by women. One of the abominations that Ezekiel saw being carried on in the temple at Jerusalem was just this weeping for Tammuz, Ezekiel 8:13,14. The antichrist will disdain this attention, however, because he will have renounced any sort of idolatry, (as the passage goes on to say, “nor regard any god”), in favour of the deification of self.
  • He will magnify himself above all. This is how 2 Thessalonians 2:4 speaks of this same personage: “Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God”. This must be subsequent to the erection of the abomination of desolation in the Holy Place in the temple at Jerusalem, which signals the beginning of the Great Tribulation, the second half of Daniel’s 70th week, Daniel 9:27; Matthew 24:15,21.

We might ask how this achieves Satan’s goal, if it is a man that is elevated and worshipped on the earth, for Revelation 13:8 assures us that all unbelievers on the earth will worship the beast. The answer is found in verse 4 of Revelation 13, which states that men shall worship the dragon, or Satan. Daniel 11:38 confirms this, for it tells us the wilful king worships the god of forces. This must be Satan, for this is the price he demands if universal dominion is to be given to man. It is interesting that the Lord Jesus did not dispute the claim of the Devil to have the authority to give this dominion, Luke 4:6, which reads, “All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it”. As the prince of this world, John 14:30, the Devil still has immense power, even though he is a defeated foe.

It is significant that “The Force” is a favourite expression with New Agers, being used by them as a greeting, (“May The Force be with you”), and signifies to them the all-pervasive influence of the energy in all things. In reality, this force is that of the Devil, and the antichrist worships him as such. Thus the age-old ambition of Satan will be realised, and the whole world, which wonders after the beast, is found to be worshipping Satan. He has realised the title of god of this age, as spoken of in 2 Corinthians 4:4. His glory will be short-lived, however, for the antichrist who worships him “shall come to his end, and none shall help him”, Daniel 11:45. And with his downfall comes the devil’s, for Revelation 19:20 tells of the fall of the antichrist and the false prophet, and then immediately after the Devil is bound for one thousand years, Revelation 20:21. Thus Satan’s strategy shall be foiled, and the lie he told Adam, “Ye shall be as gods”, shall be exposed in all its wickedness, but not before a man has ruled the earth claiming to have achieved the full potential of what Satan promised.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE BOOK OF REVELATION CHAPTER 14, VERSES 1 TO 5

14:1 And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with Him an hundred forty and four thousand, having His Father’s name written in their foreheads.

14:2 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:

14:3 And they sung 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.

14:4 These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb.

14:5 And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God.

We are assured, however, at the end of this fourth revelation of the person of Christ, that despite the Antichrist’s seeming success against the saints on earth, the ultimate victory belongs to God, for the 144,000 He had sent forth to preach are now seen, in chapter 14:1-4, with not one missing, in heaven, singing songs of triumph. They sing a new song that only they know, and therefore only they can sing. Their experiences of God’s delivering power will have been unique, and therefore their praise for the putting forth of His power for them will be unique also.

They have the Father’s name on their foreheads, thus assuring us that they have not succumbed to the lies of the Antichrist and accepted his mark.

They were redeemed from the earth. In Old Testament times redemption was a literal thing, either from bankruptcy, (Ruth chapter 4), bondage, (Leviticus 25:47-55; Exodus 6:7), or banishment, (Isaiah 51:10,11). These had been redeemed from the earth, not in the sense that their souls had been redeemed, (for that was true before they were sent forth to preach), but in a physical way. We should remember that these are all of the tribes of Israel. They have been physically redeemed from the dangers the earth represented to them as they travelled far and wide with the gospel of the kingdom.

They have not been involved with women, for their passion was to preach the kingdom, and they kept themselves as eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake, Matthew 19:12. They realised that conditions were not suitable for the discharge of family and home responsibilities. See 1 Corinthians 7:29-31 for the principle of this.

They are described as first-fruits to God,  for they. like the sheaf of first-fruits, are the sample and pledge that a full harvest of the redeemed is to follow. Believers of this age are “kind of first fruits of His creatures”, as James 1:18 says, whereas these are first-fruits of another sort, just as there was a barley harvest in Israel, and then a wheat harvest.