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A LAMB ON MOUNT ZION, PART 1

 

 

Then I looked, and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His Father’s name written on their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven, like the voice of many waters, and like the voice of loud thunder. And I heard the sound of harpists playing their harps. They sang as it were a new song before the throne, before the four living creatures, and the elders; and no one could learn that song except the hundred and forty-four thousand who were redeemed from the earth. These are the ones who were not defiled with women, for they are virgins. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These were redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb. And in their mouth was found no deceit, for they are without fault before the throne of God. Revelation 14:1–5

 

Chapters 12–14 of the Book of Revelation depict what I call 7 systems of religion. In chapter 12 we found three of those systems. The first being the woman clothed in the sun, which we learned represents the church built by Jesus Christ beginning on the Day of Pentecost and the10 phases of persecution it experienced. Then we saw the woman in a wilderness where she had a place prepared for her by God. This was the church after the Edict of Milan in 313 A.D. that stopped the persecutions. Her battle then became internal in the form of heresies and a gross influx of questionable conversions from among the barbarians. The power that opposes the church in chapter 13 is the great red dragon, which we learned is the spirit of Christ-less religion that opposes the church throughout its history until the coming of Christ.

Chapter 13 introduced us to the next two systems of religion. The first is the beast of the sea, which we identified as Roman Catholicism. The second is the beast of the earth, which we found to be the churches born out of the Protestant Reformation. Both beasts are motivated by the great red dragon, the spirit of Christ-less religion. Romanism is Christ-less because it replaced Jesus as the head of the church with Papalism—replaced Jesus with a man. The churches birthed through the Reformation are Christ-less in that they divided Jesus through the spirit of division and originated the mark of the beast, which we found to be formal church membership.

So far we have found five systems of religion. In chapter 14 we will encounter the last two systems. Chapter 14 reveals Jesus, the Lamb standing on Mount Zion, calling the church He built out of the confusion of man-made churches. Jesus works consistently throughout chapter 14 and we find Him working during two distinct periods of time during the chapter. These two periods of time constitute what I call the last two systems of religion.

There is a consistency here in the revelation. In chapter 12, the church built by Jesus appears in two conditions: (1) The woman clothed in the sun, and (2) the woman in the wilderness. In chapter 14 we find Jesus working through His church at two consecutive times: (1) The reaping of the earth in verses 14–16, and (2) the gathering of the clusters of the vine of the earth in verses 17–20.

 

A Lamb on Mount Zion

 

Then I looked, and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His Father’s name written on their foreheads. (Verse 1)

 

Upon hearing about the mark of the beast, John’s attention is diverted from the debacle of man-made churches and Christ-less religion he has seen to a truly beautiful sight: a Lamb standing on Mount Zion. To his relief, the Lamb is not alone but is accompanied by 144,000 that have the Father’s name written on their foreheads and not the number or name of the beast.

Who is this Lamb? It is none other than Jesus Christ. Remember how Jesus was introduced to the world by John the Baptist in John 1:29, “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! Being the Savior of the world is no little thing. As the one that takes away the sin of the world He is also the one to whom all will give account for what they did with the salvation He offered.

The Lamb stands at the door of judgment with His book of life scrupulously guarding the entrance as is seen coming up in Revelation 21:22–23 & 27, “But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light. . . . But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.”

The Lamb represents Christ as both the redeemer and the head of His body, the biblical church. His power is evidenced by His ability to take away sin from the lives of people that turn to Him for salvation. His authority to lead His church comes directly from His blood sacrifice that made redemption possible.

For this reason the Lamb on Mount Zion represents the church built by Jesus Christ which has traits given to it by the Lamb and no one else. Only the redeemed are the biblical church of God. Not a denomination called Church of God; not a group or fellowship called Church of God; and not just a congregation called Church of God. The redeemed are the church because only the redeemed will follow the leadership of Christ. All other forms of Christianity and Christ-less religions have other agendas therefore they cannot be the biblical church of God.

 

What Is Mount Zion?

 

The Lamb stands on Mount Zion. What is Mount Zion? This is the first time the name Mount Zion appears in the Book of Revelation. Hebrews 12:1–24 identifies Mount Zion in no uncertain terms. We begin with verses 1–2,

 

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

 

Verse 1 echoes the redemption in Christ and identifies those that have laid aside every weight and sin that has burdened their lives. These are the ones that look to Jesus as the source and reality of their faith because of the atonement He made for sin through His death on the cross. To them He is not an absent or divided Christ, He is the living Christ sitting at the right hand of the Father, and with the Father He is Lord in heaven and Lord over the earth.

In receiving the salvation made possible by Christ the redeemed have a much better mountain than in the Old Testament as seen in verses 18–24.

 

For you have not come to the mountain that may be touched and that burned with fire, and to blackness and darkness and tempest, and the sound of a trumpet and the voice of words, so that those who heard it begged that the word should not be spoken to them anymore. (For they could not endure what was commanded: “And if so much as a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned or shot with an arrow.”) Verses 18–20.

 

That Old Testament mountain was Mount Sinai from which God gave the Old Testament law. The Law was terrifying as it offered no real deliverance from sin but bound people to religious legalism. The beast of the sea and the beast of the earth are similar mountains in that their practical view of salvation also is a sort of legalism. (1) Join this church and you are saved, (2) Learn this catechism and you are saved.

The redeemed have a better mountain when they follow the Lamb. Verses 22–24,

 

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.

 

Wherever the Lamb stands it is Mount Zion; it is not confined to one place on earth. It is the city of the living God; not a certain city on planet earth, but it is the very presence of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem is the church of the firstborn; the redeemed whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. We stand in the presence of God who is the true and only judge that looks into the thoughts and intents of the heart; we are those justified by Christ and made perfect or complete in salvation, and we owe it all to . . . Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, as Adam Clarke comments,

 

The old covenant and its mediator, Moses, are passed away. The new covenant, i.e. the Gospel, is now in force, and will be to the end of the world; and Jesus, the Son of God, the brightness of the Father’s glory, the Maker and Preserver of all things, the Savior and the Judge of all men, is its mediator.

 

The 144,000

 

Standing with the Lamb on Mount Zion are 144,000 thousand. Remember that the beast of the earth put the mark of church membership in the hand or on the forehead of church members to keep them separate from other Christians and in so doing the beast of the earth represents a fraudulent church. The 144,000 do not have such a mark; they have the Father’s name written on their foreheads. Clarke saw the truth of this: “They were professedly, openly, and practically, the children of God, by faith in Christ Jesus. Different sects of idolaters have the peculiar mark of their god on their foreheads.”

We met the 144,000 earlier in Revelation chapter 7 under the sixth seal. Remember in V 3 of that chapter the angels of the seal were held back until the servants of our God were sealed on their foreheads. The number that was sealed was 144,000. These were what can be called Revelation Israelites. By that we mean God’s people that were being held in the spiritual Babylon of Protestantism and churchism.

We identified the opening of the sixth seal with the Primitive Church Movement that came into being around the beginning of the 19th century. These are saved people that understood that gospel salvation produces three spiritual conditions in the lives of the redeemed: justification, sanctification, and unity among believers. Protestantism and churchism paid lip service to the unity of the faith but rejected it in practice.

Remember that 144,000 is not an actual number, it is a representative number that identifies all those that left denominational religion determining to be nothing more than the church Jesus built.

 

The Response of the 144,000

 

As the clock of history rolls over into the 19th century multitudes of God’s people saw the error of division and church membership. Verse 2 tells us this produced a response in the spiritual heaven—the realm of the true church.

There was a very special voice that spoke. This voice is the echo of the voice of God speaking from the throne of Revelation chapters 4 and 5. The movement coming out of sectarianism gave voice to the gospels and the expression of full salvation as God intended it to be for mankind. The harpists are the saints of God, the church, accompanying God in the presentation of the message of full salvation. These harpists sang as it were a new song. It really was not new; it was the gospel as originally taught by Jesus and the Apostles.

The churches of men as represented by the beasts of the sea and the earth had the song all the time but they refused to sing it. Because they would not sing it, their visible representation of the church forgot the meaning of the words. Now with people listening to God and receiving knowledge of the full gospel, it sounds like a new song—“I love to tell the story, For some have never heard The message of salvation From God’s own holy Word.”

The revival of the full gospel, justification by faith, sanctification, and the unity of God’s people, excited the four living creatures and the elders—again emblematic of the redeemed in the full expression of the biblical church.

Notice something special about this 144,000; no one else could learn the song except them. All Christian churches accept the doctrine of the church built by Jesus. However, all churches do not practice the doctrine because they do not teach or believe in the possibility of practical unity among God’s people.

Those that took a stand with the Lamb on Mount Zion were special: They were not defiled with women. While they may have been associated with sectarianism prior to their coming out of it, their hearts were never sectarian for the following reasons. They follow the Lamb, they follow Christ and when He called them out of sectarianism they came without hesitation. They were redeemed from among men—not just redeemed from sin, but from the religions of men and brought to the true religion of Christ. They were firstfruits in the sense that they were the first Christians in history to leave sectarianism for the true church. No deceit was in their mouths; they were without fault. These were not the first people to practice holiness of life; they were different from the holiness people that preceded them.

For centuries past, hosts of other saints of God lived holy lives but they did so in the confines of sectarianism. They were not free to fellowship other holy people across sectarian walls. The 144,000 were without blame in that they did not let sectarian walls stop them; they reached out in fellowship to every blood washed one regardless of denomination. They went one step further because their message called other saints out of sectarianism to follow the Lamb wherever He would lead them.

 

The Application of This Lesson

 

Let’s keep in mind what the church really is. It is the product of the blood of Christ. Salvation from sin automatically adds people to the church Jesus built. It is not a denomination or group organized by men for religious worship; it is the assembly of redeemed people who follow Christ wherever He leads. They recognize that God speaks through His church in a way He cannot speak through manmade denominations. They are willing and able to participate with God as He speaks through His church; they know the message and will share it with others.

If there is a true biblical church of God that is separate and distinct from the denominations of men, God certainly would want to call all saved people to His church. Only the church of God was purchased with the blood of Christ. Acts 20:28 “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he that purchased with his own blood.” The churches of men at the best came from good intentions of good people, but they have nothing to do with God.

If we have come to the Lamb on Mount Zion we have an obligation to other saved people who are not yet there. Accept their testimony of salvation if their lives bear the fruit. Fellowship them as much as is possible without compromising any truth or standards God has given. Call these good people out of the religious Babylon to the heights of Mount Zion so they, too, can follow the Lamb wherever He goes.