Revealing Revelation – Firstfruits

29Jan11

Much like how Chapter 10 was a transitional chapter, here in chapter 14 a similar technique is being employed. This is either a transition from the fall of Jerusalem to an emphasis on Rome or it simply stands on it’s own as a separate section.

But here we are reintroduced to the 144,000 and here a declaration regarding the fall of Babylon. We then see the image of the sickles introduced and the apocalyptic picture of the grapes of wrath, a horrific bloodbath and blood reaching tremendous depths.

But how are we to understand all these images? First let’s deal with the 144,000 as they have now made it through the time of Tribulation brought on by the seven trumpets.

Rev 14:1 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. 2And I heard a voice from heaven like the roar of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder. The voice I heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps, 3and 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. 4It 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, 5and in their mouth no lie was found, for they are blameless.

These 144,000 who were introduced during Chapter seven as coming from the earth (land), are now seen as being on Mt. Zion. This picture is reminiscent of Psalm 2

Psalm 2:1 Why do the nations rage
and the peoples plot in vain?
2The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers take counsel together,
against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying,
3″Let us burst their bonds apart
and cast away their cords from us.”

4He who sits in the heavens laughs;
the Lord holds them in derision.
5Then he will speak to them in his wrath,
and terrify them in his fury, saying,
6″As for me, I have set my King
on Zion
, my holy hill.”

Set against the backdrop of nations raging against both the Lord and His anointed, we see both in Revelation 14 and Psalm 2 that the Lord is in control and that His wrath will be set against those evil rulers whole rail against His own. And he does so from His holy hill, Mt. Zion. This similar imagery should not be missed and again, here we see the Apostle relating that which he is seeing with that which he knows from the Old Testament.

This new Mt. Zion is pictured in the book of Hebrews as well as the place to which those members of the New covenant would be go.

Heb 12:22 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, 23and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven

The similarity in imagery is striking. Even the similarity of the term first born and John’s phrase firstfuits denotes similar imagery and a first century fulfillment. This also lends itself to understand the book of Revelation’s writing as being prior to 70 AD as with the book of Hebrews.

These 144,000 have the name of the son and the father written on their foreheads. This is shown as an image immediately following the mark of the beast at the end of Revelation 13. This, too, should be missed as the author is contrasting those who have the “mark of the beast” and those who have the “mark of Christ.” But oddly enough, most “literalist” futurist argue that the mark in Revelation 13 from the beast is a physical one while they make no similar argument for the one here. Just the close association of placement should make the contrasting obvious.

These 144,000 sing a song that no one else could learn. It was a “new song.” This most likely refers to the new song of the redeemed that would not be known to the nations of the world and the Old Covenant worshipers. This is a new song under a New Covenant. These first converts would be proclaiming this new song which would be unfamiliar to others.

These 144,000 are also called “virgins” which may be an odd description o the reader. But since the book should be taken as a whole and that we understand these 144,000 as coming from the land, and therefore representing the early Jewish converts to Christianity, the term “virgin” should best be understood Covenantally.

We will find later a second woman, this time called a harlot, that represents apostate Israel. These are those who continue to deny the Lord Jesus Christ as Messiah and saviour and continue the unneeded and unlawful ritual sacrifices surrounding the old covenant system that Hebrews says was vanishing away.

In contrast, the 144,000 are seen as virgins since they do not defile themselves with the Harlot of Old testament Judaism, but embrace the Lord Jesus Christ as their husband. Harlotry and Idolatry were synonymous and by not participating in a now idolatrous system, these new converts are “virgins” to the Lord.

Finally, John used the term firstfruits for God and the Lamb. As seen above, similar language is used in the book of Hebrews, though there the similar term is first born. Both a denoting the same thing. As a result, there is no way that one can push these events into the future, especially a future right before the “end” and proclaim these converts as “first” of anything. They would, in fact, be “last” fruits!

These are, in fact, those early converts who escaped as the final onslaught and destruction of the city of Jerusalem by heeding the warning of Jesus…following the Lamb!

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