The Lamb and the 144,000
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. 2 And 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, 3 and they were singing a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and before the elders
We should consider the possibility that there is a kind of profluence to the several visions described in the book that may not be expressed in the text itself, but may be assumed.
We have taken to heart the notion – suggested to us by Vern S. Poythress – that the book of Revelation is a “picture book, not a puzzle book.” That is to say that the visions in the book are images that would have been immediately recognized and understood by the book’s original audience. If we are to rightly comprehend the book then, we must start with an effort to appreciate how these images would have been understood by the first century churches in Asia Minor, to whom the book was originally addressed. All effort to find within the book some secret, hidden code will be “anxious striving” and “chasing after the wind.”
We have looked carefully at how Eugene Peterson and Poythress interpret the images of the beasts in Chapter 13. Now we move on to Chapter 14 and to a new image or vision, that of the “144,000.” (By the way, here is a link to Elvis Presley’s version of the gospel song based on this passage: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U09EoAtNvT0 ).
We’ll talk more about this vision next Sunday, but for now let’s consider the possibility that the images or visions in this “picture book” are related. No, more than that. Of course they are related, but what I mean to say is that we should consider the possibility that there is a kind of profluence to them that may not be expressed in the text itself, but may be assumed.
Remember that the Chapter breaks we see in our modern Bibles were not in the original text. Eugene Peterson suggests that the images in Chapter 14 tell us of the means or strategies for surviving and indeed overcoming and conquering the world that is in the thrall of that evil triumvirate described in Chapters 12 and 13.