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Have You Been Purchased (Revelation 14:1-5)

May 24, 2015 Speaker: Bryce Morgan Series: Happy Ever After (Revelation)

Topic: Revelation Passage: Revelation 14:1–14:5

Happy Ever After

 

Have You Been Purchased?

Revelation 14:1-5

(One Lord: So Great a Salvation)

May 24th, 2015

 

I. Our Means of Escape

Two words that haunted our last lesson were these: compromise and conform. The cursed collective of human beings in rebellion against God make up what the NT often calls “the world”, or what we've called the 'world system'. And it is this 'world system' that daily tempts each of us to compromise and conform in regard to the truth, in regard to our faith in Jesus Christ.

So as we move into chapter 14 this morning, I want us to think about how it is that any of us have escaped from this 'world system'. Turn, if you haven't already, to Revelation 14:1-5.

Right from the outset I want you to see that the word “redeemed” is used in both verses 3 and 4. Do you see that? This is a word that literally means “to buy” or “purchase”. In fact, it was used in the last chapter in reference to the buying and selling that can only be done by those who have “the mark” of the beast. But as we see here, we are the ones who have been purchased. Didn't Paul remind the Corinthian Christians of this...

You are not your own, [20] for you were bought with a price. (I Corinthians 6:19b, 20a)

And as we'll see this morning, to be bought, to be purchased, to be ransomed, to be redeemed is the only way any of us can escape the dragon and his beasts. So this morning, let's dig into 14:1-5 and see what we learn about those who have been purchased.

 

II. The Passage: “These Have Been Redeemed” (14:1-5)

As you can see from the outline on your Notes insert, I've broken this passage down into three parts. Verse 1 reveals “The Destiny of the Redeemed”, verses 2 and 3 highlight “The Song of the Redeemed”, and verses 4 and 5 focus on “The Faith of the Redeemed.”

 

1. The Destiny of the Redeemed (14:1)

So with that in mind, let's look together at the first verse of chapter 14...

Then I looked, and behold, on Mount Zion stood the Lamb, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father's name written on their foreheads.

So the first question we need to answer about this verse is a question we've already answered in a previous message. It's the question, “Who are these 144,000?” Well you may remember that this group was already mentioned back in chapter 7 of Revelation. 7:2-4...

Then I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, with the seal of the living God, and he called with a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm earth and sea, [3] saying, “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.” [4] And I heard the number of the sealed, 144,000, sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel...

Now notice here that chapter 14 tells us more about this seal “on their foreheads”. 14:1 tells us they are sealed with the “name” of the Lamb, “and His father's name.” And, as we discovered when we studied chapter 7, this group is a symbolic way of describing all true believers. They are the true and full Israel of God.

Remember the number 144 is the product of 12 x 12, that is, the twelve tribes of Israel (OT) and the twelve apostles of the Lamb (NT) (both mentioned in Revelation 21:12, 14). This is then multiplied by 1000, which is 10 x 10 x10, ten being a number of completeness, multiplied three times as confirmation of the testimony. In chapter 7, this is broken down as 12 x 1000 in regard to each tribe of Israel, a way of showing a complete accounting of God's people, that not one will be lost.

The fact that this group represents all true believers throughout the ages, both Jews and Gentiles, is confirmed by the fact that their foreheads bear that specific seal. Remember what Jesus promised the Gentile church in Philadelphia:

The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name. (Revelation 3:12)

Also, in the very last chapter of the book, we read this about those who dwell in the new heavens and the new earth: They will see his [the Lamb's] face, and his name will be on their foreheads. (Revelation 22:4) Clearly, this is not some special, select group of believers. This is all believers.

One more confirmation of this fact is how this verse serves as a transition from the previous chapter. In chapter 13, we saw how unbelievers are said to be marked on their right hands or foreheads with the name or number of the beast. Therefore, we have a very clear contrast between those who belong to the world system and those who belong to God, those whose names were written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain. (Revelation 13:8)

Whether for the beast or for the Lamb, the name on the forehead is a symbol of ownership and allegiance. To whom do you belong? If you belong to Christ, then you have been sealed.

And if you have been sealed, then, as we talked about in chapter 7, and as we see here, you will, in spite of God's judgments now and later, you will be safely, securely brought all the way home. The fury of the dragon and the persecution of his beasts, the “captivity” and “sword” mentioned in 13:10, cannot stop God from causing us to stand with Jesus in victory.

But wait, where are we standing here? 14:1 says we are standing with the Lamb on Mount Zion. What is Mount Zion? Mount Zion is an OT name for both the city of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount (the hill on which the temple was built). Remember what Psalm 2:6 tells us (a Psalm in NT clearly fulfilled in Jesus):

“As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.”

We've already seen the importance of this Psalm in Revelation. Again in Psalm 9:11 we read:

Sing praises to the LORD, who sits enthroned in Zion! Tell among the peoples his deeds!

And as we will see in verse 3 of Revelation 14, these 144,000 are actually standing before the throne of God. So if the OT temple represented the earthly throne room of God, then “Mount Zion” is a symbolic way of talking about God's heavenly throne room, the true city of God. We find this same imagery in Hebrews 12:22, 23...

But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, [23] and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven...

But what exactly are God's people doing on this “Mount Zion”?

 

2. The Song of the Redeemed (14:2, 3)

Having talked about the “Destiny of the Redeemed”, look at what verses 2 and 3 tell us about the “Song of the Redeemed.”

And I heard a voice [or sound][Gk. phone] from heaven like the roar of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder. The voice [sound] I heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps, [3] and they were singing a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and before the elders. No one could learn that song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth.

The fact that this amazing sound John hears is coming from the 144,000 is confirmed by a parallel statement in 19:6. We read there...

Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns.” (Revelation 19:6)

Okay, remember, the phrase “great multitude” was another way the 144,000 were described in Revelation 7. So I think we are on firm ground to say this is all talking about the same group. And what is this group singing? What will we be singing? A “new song.” “New song” is a phrase used seven times in the OT. Listen to Psalm 98, verse 1...

Oh sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done marvelous things! His right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him. (Psalm 98:1)

In Revelation, we've already learned that the twenty-four elders sang a “new song” in 5:9, 10. And if these twenty-four elders are in some way heavenly representatives of the Church, then it makes sense that they, along with 144,000, sing what is clearly a song about salvation.

And if we listen to their song, we are reminded of how we were purchased:

And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, [10] and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.” (Revelation 5:9-10)

Remember what we saw in 14:3...No one could learn that song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth. That is, no one can sing that song unless they have personally experienced the “marvelous thing” Christ has done, how God's “right hand and His holy arm have worked salvation for Him” through the blood of the Lamb, the cross of Jesus.

If you belong to Jesus, by God's grace alone, through faith alone, then not only will you be brought all the way home and stand in victory with Jesus in the very throne room of God where the vision began in chapter 4, but as the imagery describes here, you will never, ever, ever stop praising God for that rescue.

Can you imagine what that music sounds like? The song is both powerful like crashing waves and thunder, and beautiful like a million harps plucking out the most soul-stirring music ever created. Doesn't this symbolic imagery give you some sense of how amazing that will be?

 

3. The Faith of the Redeemed (14:4, 5)

But we need to see that verses 4 and 5 tell us something critical about “the faith of the redeemed.” Listen to how there seems to be a present tense perspective given in regard to the 144,000 and how they walk in faith:

It is these who have not defiled themselves with women, for they are virgins. It is these who follow the Lamb wherever he goes. These have been redeemed from mankind as firstfruits for God and the Lamb, [5] and in their mouth no lie was found, for they are blameless.

Now very quickly, let me just say something about the term “firstfruits” in verse 4. In the OT, the firstfruits were the first portion of a harvest that, each year, was given over to God. As we will see at the end of this chapter, there is a harvest coming at the end of the age, a harvest of the entire world. But out of all of mankind, we are the firstfruits, we are that portion separated out and dedicated to God. This term just adds another layer of depth to the idea of being purchased or redeemed “for God and the Lamb.”

So, if we break verse 4 and 5 down according to all the instances of the word “these”, we go on to learn three things about God's redeemed people:

First, they have ultimately remained faithful to Jesus. The beginning of verse 4 is not talking about actual “virgins.” This is symbolic language describing spiritual purity and faithfulness. Remember what Paul wrote to the Corinthians: For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ. (II Corinthians 11:2)

Second, true believers are those willing to follow Jesus in spite of the world's pressures to compromise and conform. They have counted the cost, and are willing to go with their Master into the very suffering He warned us about.

Third, the redeemed are faithful witnesses of Christ. That's what I think it means when it talks about “no lie” being found in their mouths. For the seven churches to whom Revelation was sent, think about the temptations to compromise and conform in terms of their words; to downplay or outright deny one's faith.

As we heard in I Corinthians 6, when we are bought, we are no longer our own. Isn't that what we see here? Men and women living their lives for Christ, and not for themselves.

 

III. One Day and This Day

So why are these five verses so important? What difference would they have made for the first readers of the Revelation? What difference should they make for us? I think the point of these verses might be summed up with this question: “Shouldn't where we will stand one day affect where we will stand on this day?”

We are so tempted and so accustomed to thinking only about right now. “What do I want now? How do I feel now? What is happening now?” But if the “now” dominates our lives, we are more prone to compromise and conform in light of how we feel or how we see things now. But God wants the “then” to dominate our “now.” He wants that “one day” to invade and consume “this day.”

Because what “this day” seems like defeat, will “one day” result in victory; what “this day” seems like emptiness and lack, will “one day” lead to unparalleled abundance. So when the world says bow down “this day” and worship the beast, Jesus calls us to stand...just like we will one day stand with Him on that heavenly Zion.

And how can we be sure that we will “one day” stand with Him? Because we no longer belong to the world. You don't belong to greed. You don't belong to despair. You don't belong to anger and bitterness. You don't belong to lust. You don't belong to pride. You don't belong to selfishness. You don't belong to vanity. You don't belong to indifference. You don't belong to impatience. You don't belong to depression or anxiety. You don't belong to that which haunts you, that which hinders you, or that which heckles you. You don't belong to earthly acceptance, or earthly success, or earthly comfort. You don't belong to feelings of inadequacy, incompetence, or you don't belong to your common idols, you don't belong to the beast, you don't belong to the dragon.

No...you were bought. You were purchased. You belong...to the Lamb. He paid for you with His own life. His name is on you, and the name of His father, and the name of Zion, your heavenly city. And you better believe He will safeguard you until that “one day.” Does that mean we just turn on the spiritual 'cruise control' at this point? No, like we said, the glorious reality of where we will stand “one day”, empowers us to stand on “this day”; to stand for Christ and with Christ. To stand for His word and on His word.

When the pull of and the pressure of the beast, of the 'world system' seems too strong, please know you CAN stand because you WILL stand. And everyday this week, starting today, sing. Think about being purchased, think about belonging, and sing a “new song.” It's a song no other creature in the universe can sing, thanks to Jesus.

 

More in Happy Ever After (Revelation)

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November 15, 2015

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November 1, 2015

A Tour of Our Future Glory (Revelation 21:9-22:5)