A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE
Merciful Lord, today my ears are attuned to your voice and my heart is open to your Word.
Read REVELATION 14:1-5
The Lamb and the 144,000
14 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. 5 No lie was found in their mouths; they are blameless.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectThe Greek word for ‘bear witness’ is the word we have transliterated into the word ‘martyr’. We are all called to ‘bear witness’ to Christ.* It can be costly.
The book of Revelation has been described as ‘a dramatic motion picture whose individual scenes portray the persons and actions every time from a different angle’, but ultimately these provide Christians, who were under enormous pressure, with ‘the visions of an alternative empire’ where Christ reigns supreme.** From the terror of the beast, John reorientates his readers – we have moved from a reign of evil on earth in Chapter 13 to a heavenly perspective where, instead of oppression, we find liberation, and instead of suffering, celebration.
In this passage, believers are stamped with the Lamb’s name (v 1), in contrast to those stamped with the beast’s mark in the previous chapter (13:16,17). These believers have clearly identified with Jesus and have paid the cost (’purchased as firstfruits’, v 4). The ‘new song’ (v 3) with its theme of deliverance parallels the new song in Revelation 5:9. The term ‘virgins’ (v 4) is taken by many as a symbol of purity, for those genuine believers who have refused to compromise themselves with the world and whose character reveals them as ‘blameless’ (v 5).
How might a ‘heavenly perspective’ help you to face challenging circumstances today?
Praise Christ our Redeemer! ‘To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, forever and ever!’ (Revelation 5:13b)
Lord, I’m thankful that your patience is greater than mine. You give hope to the hopeless and transformation for the broken. Continue your transforming work in me.
**Elizabeth Schussler Fiorenza, The Book of Revelation: Justice and Judgment, Augsburg Fortress, 1998, pp5,6.
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