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Revelation 14:1

In the previous chapter, the future looked very bleak for the saints. The Beast arose from the sea, empowered by the dragon, and was given authority over the saints (Rev. Rev. 13:5+). The False Prophet aided the Beast in his ascendancy and worldwide worship (Rev. Rev. 13:11-13+). An image of the Beast was made which required worship of the image and of the Beast at the cost of one’s life (Rev. Rev. 13:15+). Here, the focus moves back from the earth, under the control of the Beast, to the heavenly realm where the justice and sovereignty of God are once again emphasized. All is not as it appears on the earth below. For the ultimate judge is on His throne, redeeming men from the midst of the Tribulation.

The blackest storms often give place to the loveliest sunsets. The winds and thunders exhaust themselves. The clouds empty and break. And from the calm heavens behind them comes a golden light, girthing the remaining fragments of gloom with chains of brightness, and overarching with the bow of promise the path along which the terrible tempest has just passed. Like this evening glory after the summer’s gust, is the chapter on which we now enter.1

John is shown the firstfruits of the redeemed of Israel, an indication of many more Jews yet to come. He is also shown a threefold angelic witness:
  1. The final global presentation of the gospel to all men representing their last opportunity to accept salvation before taking the mark of the Beast.
  2. The declaration of the certain and imminent destruction of Babylon.
  3. The divine warning concerning the gravity of worshiping the Beast and taking his mark.
John is also shown the incredibly difficult conditions under which the saints of the end must prevail and the final harvest at the end of the age, the subject of so much of Jesus’ teaching (e.g., Mtt. Mat. 13:1). a Lamb
The MT and NU texts have the Lamb. Even though the TR text lacks the article, there is no question which Lamb this is. It cannot be the second beast of the previous chapter which was “like a lamb” (Rev. Rev. 13:11+). Those who follow him will never see Mount Zion as these do. The 144,000 have the name of the Father of this Lamb on their foreheads—a clear reference to God the Father. Hence, this is the “Lamb as though it had been slain” (Rev. Rev. 5:6+). Mount Zion
Mount Zion, also known as “the City of David” (2S. 2S. 5:7). Within Scripture, the term “Zion” is used in a variety of ways2 and can refer to as many as three different locations:

David’s City . In the OT Zion refers to Jerusalem, the city that David conquered and made a capital of the united kingdom of Israel (1Chr. 1Chr. 11:5; Ps. Ps. 2:6; Isa. Isa. 2:3). The Millennial City . In a prophetic sense, Zion has reference to Jerusalem as the future capital city of the nation Israel in the Kingdom age (Isa. Isa. 1:27; Isa. 2:3; Isa. 4:1-6; Joel Joel 3:16; Zec. Zec. 1:16-17; Zec. 8:3-8; Rom. Rom. 11:26). Amillennial theologians spiritualize, rather “mysticalize,” the term to mean the Christian church of this age. The Heavenly City . The NT also refers to Zion as the New Jerusalem (Heb. Heb. 12:22-24), the eternal city into which the church will be received (cf. Rev. Rev. 21:1+-Rev. 22:1+).3

We have seen that Psalm Ps. 2:1 is alluded to many different times in the book of Revelation (e.g., Rev. Rev. 2:27+; Rev. 11:15+). And so it is here. “He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; the Lord shall hold them in derision. Then He shall speak to them in His wrath, and distress them in His deep displeasure: ‘Yet I have set My King On My holy hill of Zion.’ ” (Ps. Ps. 2:4-6) The psalmist speaks of the millennial Zion where the King will initially be enthroned (Isa. Isa. 9:7; Mtt. Mat. 25:31; Luke Luke 1:32-33). God chose Zion as his eternal dwelling place (Ps. Ps. 132:13), the site of His Temple. See The Temple Mount. God promised, in the strongest terms, that He would never forget the earthly Zion:

But Zion said, “The LORD has forsaken me, and my Lord has forgotten me.” “Can a woman forget her nursing child, and not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget, yet I will not forget you. See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; your walls are continually before Me.” (Isa. Isa. 49:14-16)

The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD. And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance, as the LORD has said, among the remnant whom the LORD calls. (Joel Joel 2:31-32)

Micah describes a coming time of global peace: “They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore” (Mic. Mic. 4:3). He then describes the gathering of the outcasts of Israel and the establishment of His millennial reign in Zion. “So the LORD will reign over them in Mount Zion. From now on, even forever” (Mic. Mic. 4:8). It is from Zion that the Deliverer will come when He turns ungodliness from Jacob (Rom. Rom. 11:25). In many of the redemptive passages concerning Zion, Jerusalem is in view. Jerusalem is referred to as the daughter of Zion (Mtt. Mat. 21:5; John John 12:15). Isaiah also speaks of the millennial Zion:

Many people shall come and say, “Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and rebuke many people; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore. (Isa. Isa. 2:3-4) [emphasis added]

We know these passage speak of an earthly scene because they speak of a need for righteous judgment and people being rebuked. Neither of these activities will take place in the eternal state where sin has been vanquished. It need hardly be said that there is no need for deliverance for the heavenly Zion because it has never been forsaken, forgotten, or come under attack like its earthly counterpart. Thus, God’s promises to redeem and protect Zion relate to the earth and not heaven.4 Although the vast majority of passages concern the earthly Zion, there are some notable exceptions. The author of Hebrews mentions a heavenly scene wherein Mount Zion is equated with the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem:

But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel. (Heb. Heb. 12:22-24)

This heavenly Mount Zion is probably in view in other passages which refer to a mountain which is in heaven and is associated with the rule of God (Eze. Eze. 28:13-15) and the heavenly Jerusalem and the eternal order (Rev. Rev. 21:10+). Since there is both an earthly and a heavenly Zion, which is in view here? The answer to this question carries with it considerable significance. If it is the earthly Zion, then the 144,000 have been protected by their seal throughout the horrors of the Tribulation. If it is the heavenly Zion, after having served out their intended ministry, the 144,000 were removed from the earth, probably through martyrdom.5 one hundred and forty-four thousand
These are the twelve thousand from each of the twelve tribes of Israel who received the “seal of the living God” (Rev. Rev. 7:2-8+). Some suggest this group to be a different group of Jews than those who were sealed in chapter seven.6 This is highly improbable: the same number are involved; they are said to be marked on their foreheads; and, with the exception of Dan, they include representatives of both Judah (the southern kingdom) and Israel (the northern kingdom). his father’s name
The MT and NU texts have, the name of him [the Lamb] and the name of the Father of him. Elsewhere, the TR text indicates that both the name of the Father and the Son will be written on the overcomer (Rev. Rev. 3:12+). The name indicates their adoption into the family of God (John John 1:12) as well as their identity with the Father (Rev. Rev. 22:4+). Those who follow after unrighteousness deny their sonship by their perverse actions (Deu. Deu. 32:5-9). See commentary on Revelation 3:12. written on their foreheads
Written is γεγραμμένον [gegrammenon] , a perfect tense passive participle, having been written upon . The name was written on their foreheads in the past and now they stand so named. The time of the writing was undoubtedly when the 144,000 of Israel were sealed (Rev. Rev. 7:3+). The name of God on their forehead is to be contrasted with those who received the mark of the Beast “on their right hand or on their foreheads” (Rev. Rev. 13:16+). See commentary on Revelation 7:3.

Notes

1 J. A. Seiss, The Apocalypse: Lectures on the Book of Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1966), 349.

2 “The word ‘Zion’ is first used of the stronghold or fortress of the ancient city Jebus. Though the Jebusites considered their city impregnable, David was able to conquer it. He lived in the fortress and named the city ‘the city of David.’ In time the word ‘Zion’ took on a broader meaning. It came to mean the entire city of Jerusalem, not just the fortress in it. The word was even used at times of a group such as ‘the daughters of Zion’ (Isa. Isa. 3:16-17), that is, female inhabitants in the city. Later the word came to mean the entire Jewish nation.”—Mal Couch, “Israelology in the Book of Revelation,” in Mal Couch, ed., A Bible Handbook to Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2001), 180.

3 Merrill F. Unger, Unger’s Commentary on the Old Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2002), s.v. “Zion.”

4 By the same logic, we know that passages such as Isaiah Isa. 62:1 record promises which will be fulfilled in the earthly Jerusalem rather than the New Jerusalem. For what need has the heavenly city ever had for watchmen on its walls (Isa. Isa. 62:6)?

5 Although it is possible they could have been taken up directly to heaven, the text is completely silent as to this possibility.

6 “The two distinct companies—of Israel and the Gentiles—were beheld by the Seer in separate visions (Rev. Rev. 7:1+). The elect company from the twelve tribes (Rev. Rev. 7:4-8+), is not only distinct from their Gentile associates (Rev. Rev. 7:9-17+), but is equally distinct from the 144,000 from amongst Judah who emerge out of the horrors of the coming hour of trial standing on Mount Zion. There are two Jewish companies of equal number. The hundred and forty-four thousand of Israel ) (Rev. Rev. 7:1+) and the hundred and forty-four thousand of Judah (Rev. Rev. 14:1+).”—Walter Scott, Exposition of The Revelation (London, England: Pickering & Inglis, n.d.), 158.

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