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Revelation 14:1-5: The Characteristics of the 144,000

Norman McNulty

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Norman McNulty

Neurologist at Southern Tennessee Regional Health System, Lawrenceburg, TN

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Recorded

  • August 16, 2008
    9:00 AM
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[Audio begins here]…his writings, where we hear Jesus described as the Lamb. Okay, John 1:29, and John 1:29, what does that say? Okay, so John 1:29 says, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” And then in Revelation, chapter 5, we see the Lamb as it had been slain. In Revelation 13:8, we see “the Lamb that was slain from the foundation of the world.”

 

So, this concept of the Lamb is associated with Jesus as our sacrifice, and yet we also see Jesus as our sacrifice as the Lamb with the 144,000 standing on Mount Zion. Now, how could we connect, for example, John 1:29 to the 144,000? So, John 1:29 says, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” So, if the 144,000 are standing on Mount Zion with the Lamb, what would that tell you about the 144,000? Go ahead.

 

[AUDIENCE MEMBER] A couple of things, one of them is…

 

Actually, why don’t you wait for the microphone, sorry.

 

[AUDIENCE MEMBER] It tells us a couple of things, but one of the things that stands out is that they’re standing, and that means that, you’ve already intimated this at the beginning of your talk in the study this morning about victory. They have gained victory through this sacrifice that the Lamb has provided, and this is the key point of the introduction to the chapter.

 

That’s a very good point. So, the 144,000 are standing with the Lamb. Now, let me point out a couple of things here. In John 1:29, it says, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” In its most basic sense as we understand that, we understand that, as we look at Jesus on the cross, we receive forgiveness of sins, and that’s very clear. So, it would be fair to say that the 144,000 have received forgiveness of sins by accepting Christ’s sacrifice as the Lamb who was slain, so that’s clear.

 

Now, in John 1:29, when it says, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world,” when we understand the concept of the sanctuary service, the Lamb was slain in the outer courtyard. The blood was then taken to the Holy Place, and then on the Day of Atonement, the blood was used from the slain lamb to blot out the sins of God’s people. And so, the question is, when are the sins of God’s people taken away?

 

And, if you look at Hebrews, and I’m going to just kind of jump through this, and I would encourage you to go back through this. But, in Hebrews, chapter 10, verses 1 through 4, it talks about how the Ceremonial Law could not make those who observe the Ceremonial Law perfect, and that the blood of bulls and goats could not take away sins. And, what’s very clear is that the word “perfect” in Hebrews, chapter 10, is connected with blotting out of sin, and the phrase “take away sin” also is connected to the blotting out of sin.

 

So, God’s people, in the sacrificial system in the wilderness on the Day of Atonement, really didn’t have their sins taken away, or they really didn’t have their sins blotted out, because the service was recycled again year after year after year. But Jesus, with His blood, and you can see this later on in Hebrews, chapter 10, that His sacrifice is sufficient to take away or blot out our sins.

 

So, here’s the point. When we behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world, we receive forgiveness of sins, but we also have the promise that through His blood we have the promise ultimately of having our sins blotted out at the end of the Day of Atonement. Now, I want to point you to a verse in Hebrews, chapter 9, which bears out this thought, and this is found in Hebrews, chapter 9, verses 27 and 28. So, Hebrews, chapter 9, verses 27 and 28. Actually, is there a volunteer to read Hebrews 9:27,28? Alright, back there, very good. Speak up so everyone can hear you.

 

[AUDIENCE MEMBER] “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.”

 

Okay, here you see this concept in Hebrews, chapter 9, so notice here, Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many. He’s the Lamb of God that was slain from the foundation of the world. He was lifted up on the cross, sacrificed for our sins, and then notice what it says, “Unto them that look for him,” or those who behold the Lamb of God, “shall he appear the second time,” that’s His Second Coming. So, He appears the second time; how does He appear? “Without sin.” Do you see the connection there? Why does He appear without sin the second time?

 

Because, by this point, the judgment has happened, and He has taken away the sins of God’s people or blotted out the sins of those who have looked for Him or have beheld Him as the Lamb of God. So the point is, the 144,000 are the group of people that have beheld the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. They have looked for Jesus; they have especially looked for Him in the context of the Second Coming, so that when He appears at the end of the judgment, He will have blotted out their sins. So, the 144,000 can then stand with the Lamb on Mount Zion because He has blotted out their sins in the judgment. So, do you see that?

 

Jesus, the Lamb of God, He’s the sacrifice who, through His sacrifice, He takes away the sins of the world. The sins of the world are taken away at the end of the judgment when the sins of God’s people are blotted out, and those who look for Jesus, He will appear the second time without sin. And that’s the experience of the 144,000.

 

Now, we will come back to this later, but all of that is tied in to Hebrews, chapter 12, verses 1 to 4, “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.” And we will come back to that concept.

 

Now, notice as we continue through this study of the characteristics of the 144,000, so the first thing that we can say with confidence about the 144,000, that, because they are standing with the Lamb on Mount Zion, this means that their sins have been blotted out in the judgment.

 

Secondly, notice it says they have His, the Lamb’s, Father’s name written in their foreheads. Now, I want someone to read Isaiah 57, verse 15, and someone else to read Matthew, chapter 6, verse 9, so a volunteer, please, to read Isaiah 57, verse 15. Over here, Ben, Isaiah 57:15, and then a volunteer to read Matthew, chapter 6, verse 9. Actually, well, let’s see, Moses, could you read Matthew 6:9 after Ben’s done with Isaiah 57? So, we’ll start with Isaiah 57:15, and, Ben, go ahead.

 

[AUDIENCE MEMBER] “For this is what the high and lofty One says, He who lives forever, whose name is Holy, “I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.”

 

Okay, thank you very much. So, how is the name of God described in Isaiah 57, verse 15? What’s the characteristic of the name of God? It’s holy, okay? Matthew, chapter 6, verse 9, Moses, if you could read that for us. Matthew, chapter 6, verse 9, this is a familiar passage.

 

[AUDIENCE MEMBER] “After this manner therefore pray ye, ‘Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.’”

 

Okay, so how is the name of “our Father” described in Matthew, chapter 6? It’s hallowed. So, here the name of God in Isaiah 57 is holy. In the Lord’s prayer, the Father’s name is hallowed. So, if the 144,000 have the Father’s name in their foreheads, what does that tell us about the characteristic of the 144,000? It tells us they are a holy people.

 

And, in Hebrews, chapter 12, verse 14, I believe, it says, “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord,” which is interesting that it’s in that chapter because that’s the same chapter that talks about running the race with patience, looking unto Jesus, beholding the Lamb of God. So, as we behold the Lamb of God, and we seek peace with all men and holiness, we will come to live a holy life that will allow God to blot out our sins in the judgment.

 

So, the 144,000, they can stand on Mount Zion with the Lamb because their sins have been blotted out because they’ve learned to behold Jesus, the Lamb of God, who forgives their sins and also blots out their sins and provides an example to live a holy life. And they have the Father’s name written in their foreheads, so they have a holy character. So, that is the beginning of Revelation, chapter 14.

 

Now, as we move through this chapter, I want to point out that…This is an obvious question, but what is the full name of the book of Revelation? It’s the Revelation of Jesus Christ. Where do we see Jesus most clearly revealed in the book of Revelation? We actually see Jesus most clearly revealed in the book of Revelation in Revelation, chapter 14, verses 1 through 5. The 144,000 are the Revelation of Jesus Christ on this earth. They are the mystery of God finished, “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” That work has come to completion, and here you see the 144,000 standing with the Lamb on Mount Zion.

 

Now, as we move through here, verse 2 says, “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.” Then we go to verse 3, and it says, “And they,” the 144,00, “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.”

 

In the Bible, what does singing a song represent, or what is a song representative of in Scripture? Of praise? Sure. Now, if you think about places in Scripture where God’s people sang a song, the one place that especially comes to mind is found in Exodus, chapter 15, and this is known as the song of Moses. Now, if you turn to Exodus 15, this song, if you look at the words, describes (and this is found in Exodus 15, starting in verse 1 and going on through the chapter), this song describes the experience of God’s people after God had given them the victory over Pharaoh and the Egyptian army. They pass through the Red Sea, and then the Red Sea destroyed the Egyptian army.

 

So, God’s people here are singing a song of their experience, and it’s called the song of Moses. And, in Revelation, chapter 14, the 144,000 sing a new song which no man can sing but the 144,000. So, it would be fair to say that the 144,000 are singing a song of their experience. Now, the question is, what song are they singing, or what is the song that they are singing, which will help us to understand the experience that they have? Well, Revelation, chapter 15, tells us in verse 3, it says, “They sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb,” so now the Lamb is brought back in.

 

So, here the 144,000 “sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb.” Now, we just talked about the song of Moses in Exodus 15. Notice that Moses is described as “the servant of God,” and the 144,000 in Revelation, chapter 7, are described as “the servants of God.” So, Moses, as the servant of God, and the 144,000, as the servants of God, have similar characteristics because they’re both described as servants of God. And then you have the Lamb.

 

So then, the question is, what does Moses, the Lamb and the 144,000 all have in common so that the 144,000 could sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb? Well, let’s look at a verse. I’d like a volunteer to read Exodus, chapter 32, verses 31 and 32. So, a volunteer to read Exodus 32, verses 31 and 32. We have a volunteer down here, Exodus 32, verses 31 and 32.

 

[AUDIENCE MEMBER] “And Moses returned unto the Lord, and said, ‘Oh, this people have sinned a great sin, and have made them gods of gold. Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin--; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written.’”

 

So, what is Moses praying for here in Exodus 32? So, Moses is interceding in behalf of Israel. He’s saying, “God, if it comes down to whether or not You’re going to destroy Your people, I’d rather have You blot me out of Your book of life and destroy me eternally so that Your people will be saved.” In other words, he’s saying, and if you read the other verses, he’s saying, “Lord, if you destroy these people, Your name will be profaned among the heathen because they will say You led Your people out into the wilderness to destroy them, and so Your name will be profaned.”

 

And so, Moses is saying, “I would rather be destroyed and lose my eternal salvation so that Your name will still have honor, than to see Your name profaned among the heathen.” So, that’s the experience and the character of Moses.

 

Now, what about Christ? We’re told in the Desire of Ages that Christ was willing to die eternally and never be resurrected so that each one of us could receive salvation. And it suggests, based on the experience of Moses and based on the experience of Christ, that the 144,000 can sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb because at the end of time, what they are most concerned about is the honor of God’s name in the Great Controversy between Christ and Satan. Their personal salvation is not at the top of the list. At the top of the list is the honor of God’s name and the salvation of others rather than themselves.

 

So, the 144,000 can sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb because they have a similar experience to Moses and to Jesus Christ. And, you know, that’s the type of people God’s looking for today. Instead of people saying, “Well, is this a salvational issue? Does it really matter if I do this or that or the other thing? Why does it matter?” as opposed to that, what God is looking for is, “I love God so much that I want my life to honor God’s name. I wouldn’t want my life to be a stumbling block to anybody else and to potentially cause them their eternal salvation, because I don’t think this is a salvational issue.” Well, maybe it’s not for you, but it could be for someone else.

 

And so, God’s people at the end of time are concerned more about the honor of God’s name than arguing about trivial issues about whether or not it’s salvational or not. So, that is God’s people. They sing a new song.

 

Let me look at the time here. Okay. I think we’ll be able to get through the five verses that we want to today.

 

So, then verse 4, here is says, “These are they,” the 144,000, “which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins.” Now, clearly this is not talking in a literal, physical sense. This is a spiritual description. In the book of Revelation, the idea of a pure and corrupt woman is very clear. Revelation 12 gives the picture of the pure woman. Revelation 17 gives us the picture of the harlot. So, there are two women in Revelation, and the woman in Revelation is actually called Babylon and is the mother of harlots with whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication.

 

Now, here you have in Revelation 17 the kings of the earth committing fornication with Babylon, which, we’ll get to that, but it’s clearly the union of church and state and a church power uniting with state, and the kings of the earth committing fornication and the false doctrines that come along with it. And yet, here you have a group of people who were not defiled with these women. They did not commit fornication with this corrupt woman, and so they are described spiritually as virgins. So, they are a pure church, a people from a pure church with pure doctrine, pure lifestyle, and everything about them is pure. And Revelation 12 and Revelation 17 makes it very clear based on the physical characteristics of the two women how you can tell the difference.

 

So, the 144,000 are not defiled by Babylon or the daughters of Babylon, so to speak. They are a pure group of people. Now, here is where I want to spend a little bit of time. So, they are not defiled women; they are virgins, but notice the next [sentence]. “These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth.” Now, don’t you think it would be beautiful to be among the 144,000 and to be able to follow the Lamb, Jesus Christ, whithersoever He goeth throughout the ceaseless ages of eternity? To follow Jesus for ever and ever.

 

Now, here’s where the rubber meets the road in our personal daily experience. If we want to follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth throughout the ceaseless ages of eternity, we need to be following Him wherever He goes now, on this earth. So, if we’re going to places that Jesus wouldn’t go with us here on this earth, we shouldn’t expect that suddenly, when we get to heaven, we would enjoy following the Lamb wherever He goes. That would be unpleasant and torture because we would want to maybe do things our own way.

 

So, the question is, how do we follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth? And this is where we get to Hebrews, chapter 12, and we alluded to this earlier. Hebrews 12:1-4 I think is one of the other most powerful passages in Scripture besides Revelation, chapter 14. So, how do we follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth?

 

Well, Hebrews, chapter 12:1-4, clearly shows it, and let me just read this passage. “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.” So, here on this earth, we are called to run a race with patience. And the race that we are called to run is a race that requires us to look unto Jesus at all times, who is the author and finisher of our faith.

 

Now, if we are running this race with patience, always looking unto Jesus, it would only make sense that we would be following the Lamb whithersoever He goeth because He ran that race, we look to Him, and we follow after Him. And, as we follow after Him looking unto Him, we are following Him wherever He takes us. And sometimes where He takes us isn’t necessarily pleasant, which is why it tells us to run this race with patience.

 

And it also tells us to lay aside every weight. Well, maybe you have something in your life that isn’t clearly condemned in the Scripture as sin, but you know in your heart that it’s keeping you from keeping your eyes on Jesus at all times. Maybe it’s a relationship. Maybe it’s something you like to watch on the internet or TV or whatever. Lay aside every weight and the sin. There’s no way we are going to run this race if we hang onto sin in our lives.

 

And so, in order to follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth, we lay aside every weight. By the grace of God, we obtain victory over sin, and we run this race with patience. And how do we do this? “Looking unto Jesus.” (“Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”) “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith,” now notice this, “who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

 

So, where does this race begin? It begins at the cross. “For the joy that was set before him, he endured the cross.” So, where do we begin the race every day? We behold the Lamb of God on the cross who takes away the sin of the world, but we don’t stop at the cross. We follow Him all the way from the cross into the throne room of God, which since 1844 is the Most Holy Place of the heavenly sanctuary.

 

So, we look unto Jesus as our Great High Priest who is able to give us mercy and grace in the time of our need to give us victory over sin. So, we see Jesus on the cross. Our hearts are melted by His love. He loved us so much that He died for us. And then we follow Him by faith to the Most Holy Place of the heavenly sanctuary and say, “Lord, I don’t know how to do this. This is a hard temptation.”

 

And He says, “Don’t worry. I took the same nature that you took. I ran that race when I was here on this earth, and I have the power to give you the victory over that sin in [your] life.”

 

And so, the 144,000, they look unto Jesus, the author and finisher of their faith. They behold the Lamb of God, and by beholding Him, they learn how to run that race with patience. They learn here on this earth to follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth, so that when they get to heaven, it’s a continuation of their life here on this earth.

 

So, “These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth,” and that’s a beautiful message. I want to learn how to follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth now, today, not in the future, not in heaven, because if we don’t do it on this earth, we’re not going to do it in heaven. So, Hebrews 12:1-4, looking unto Jesus.

 

And by the way, I might add that’s the theme for Southwest Youth Conference. You’re going to want to be there. If you haven’t signed up, now is the time to sign up. Sorry for the plug.

 

Anyway, so, “These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth.” And then verse 4, “These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb.” Now, I’m going to have to move along here to finish. So, let me just point out, the concept of the firstfruits shows up again in the book of James.

 

Now, if you look at the book of James, the very first verse, James is writing to the 12 tribes, which are scattered abroad. Well, the 12 tribes in the time of James did not exist. The ten tribes from Samaria were gone, so the book of James is written especially to the 144,000. And when you get to James, chapter 5, verse 7, and we see how “the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain.”

 

So, when is the “precious fruit of the earth” going to be ripe or ready? It’s when the latter rain falls. And you get to the end of James, chapter 5, we see that Elijah prayed for rain, and the heaven brought forth rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit. And so, after the rain, after the latter rain, so to speak, the earth brings forth fruit.

 

The clear illustration is that Elijah is a type of the 144,000. He prayed till the rain came, and the 144,000 need to pray for the latter rain until the latter rain falls. Zechariah 10:1 tells us, “Pray for rain in the time of the latter rain.” And the concept here in James 5:7 clearly is that we’re not waiting for Jesus; Jesus is waiting for us, and we need to learn like Elijah, who is a type of the 144,000, to pray for the latter rain.

 

Now, to finish up in the last couple of minutes, in verse 5 it says, “In their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God.” Is there a place in Scripture where someone else is described as having no guile? And I think many of you know this. This is found in 1 Peter, chapter 2. So, the characteristics of the 144,000, no guile in their mouth, falls before the throne. In 1 Peter, chapter 2, verses 21 through 23, let me read this.

 

Here is says, “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously.”

 

This is especially talking about Jesus as He went through His crucifixion experience, and Jesus had every human right to fight back because He was being mistreated, but He did not. And that’s what it means to have no guile in your mouth. And this is where the rubber meets the road for us: How do we respond when we are mistreated unfairly?

 

Some of us, when we do something wrong, and we’re rebuked for it, we fight back and say, “Hey, how come you’re talking to me like that? I know I messed up, but it’s not your right to tell me I messed up. Be quiet.” Well, you’re supposed to just take it because you messed up, and the Bible clearly says that here. But what is acceptable with God is when we do what is right, and we suffer for it, and we don’t fight back. And those are the characteristics of the 144,000. Those are the characteristics of Christ.

 

Some of us have a long way to go because we’re still fighting back even when we mess up. And God is saying…I mean, that’s just bottom line. You don’t even fight back when you mess up; you take it patiently. But, when you do what’s right, and you get rebuked for it unfairly, that’s where the rubber meets the road in your true Christian experience.

 

And so, that is the calling that God is calling us today, so how do we do that? We look unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. He endured the cross unfairly, but He overcame. He is now in heaven, and He’s waiting for a group of people who will, just like Him, run that race with patience. Pray for the outpouring of the latter rain so that we can see the mystery of God finished in the Advent Movement. When that time happens, we will see the earth lighten with the glory of God, Revelation 18:1 will be fulfilled, and Jesus will come.

 

And we have every opportunity to see that happen in our lifetime, and there’s no reason why it can’t happen. We know too much. So, I pray that each one of us will run that race with patience and seek, by God’s grace, with all of our hearts, to be among the 144,00. God raised up the Second Advent Movement to prepare us to be the 144,000, and He wants us to be translated without seeing death. May we be faithful to that calling.

 

Thank you, and next week, as I said at the beginning of the lesson, Emanuel Beck will be picking up with the first angel’s message starting in verse 6. You won’t want to miss that. He’s an excellent Bible teacher, so next Sabbath, Emanuel Beck will be teaching our class. Thank you.

 


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