Conquering the World

The first entry in this series can be found here.
The previous entry can be found here.

Success.

The world is desperate for it.

I’ve only been on Instagram for almost nine months, but it’s utterly amazing how many people are on there trying to coach people on how to be successful. And without fail, the advice is:

“Follow me”
“Do what I do”
“Don’t do these things”

Now I’m not here to say that there’s anything wrong with these people, though I will point out that a lot of them brag about how rich they are and lie to you by saying if you follow them, you can be too. Not all of them, but definitely a handful of them. So be careful.

However, the fact of the matter is that the basic content of their advice is solid for the most part.

In fact, in our passage today, John tells us how to be successful in our life-and-death–heaven-and-hell–struggle with Satan.

Then I looked, and there on Mount Zion stood the Lamb, and with Him were 144,000 who had His name and His Father’s name written on their foreheads. I heard a sound from heaven like the sound of cascading waters and like the rumbling of loud thunder. The sound I heard was also like harpists playing on their harps. They sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders, but no one could learn the song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth. These are the ones not defiled with women, for they have kept their virginity. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. They were redeemed from the human race as the firstfruits for God and the Lamb. No lie was found in their mouths; they are blameless.

Revelation 14:1-5

This passage comes immediately after the prior chapters for good reason. Whereas the previous two chapters focused greatly on the trials awaiting Christians and the enemies of Christians, this chapter makes several important contrasts.

These contrasts are seen in the Animal, their Location, and their Description.

The Animal

In Revelation 12, we were introduced to the Dragon, and then in chapter 13, we were introduced to two beasts. The beasts were empowered by the Dragon, so regardless of their physical description, they are rightly understood as ferocious and destructive.

We see the opposite here in Revelation 14. Here we are introduced–again–to the Lamb. We’ve seen Him before. He was a crucial character in Revelation 5-6. He was the only one who could open the seals, and ultimately therefore He is in complete control of all of world history. In Revelation 7, He was described as the one worshipped by the numberless saints. In Revelation 8, we were reminded of His role in Revelation 5-6. And then He disappeared until Revelation 12-13.

These two chapters are critical for understanding the difference between the Lamb and the Dragon/beasts.

They conquered him
by the blood of the Lamb
and by the word of their testimony,
for they did not love their lives
in the face of death.

Revelation 12:11

Here we see that Satan’s targets defeat Satan by the blood of the Lamb. In fact, this is the very passage that Revelation 14:1-5 grows out of and expands on. How exactly did they conquer Him? We’ll see the answer in the second and third sections of this post.

The other mention of the Lamb was in 13:8.

All those who live on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name was not written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slaughtered.

Whereas the beast slaughters those who fail to worship him, the Lamb was slaughtered to enable us to truly worship Him. This is the beauty of the Gospel. It’s proof positive why Jesus is better. As Revelation 12:11 explained, “they did not love their lives in the face of death.” This death was threatened by the beast. This is how the saints conquer in the Lamb.

Their Location

The saints conquer the beast because their location is different. This is made clear in several phrases in our passage today: “on Mount Zion,” “who had been redeemed from the earth,” and “they were redeemed from the human race.”

Remember, the Dragon was thrown down to earth, the first beast came out of the sea, and the second beast came out of the earth. The earth represents humanity. The true home for Christians is not of this world (cf. John 8:23, 18:36; 1 Corinthians 5:10). Rather, our home is Mount Zion, which according to the apostle Paul is heaven:

They are focused on earthly things, but our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ

Philippians 3:19-20

Instead, you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God (the heavenly Jerusalem), to myriads of angels in festive gathering, to the assembly of the firstborn whose names have been written in heaven, to God who is the Judge of all, to the spirits of righteous people made perfect, to Jesus (mediator of a new covenant ), and to the sprinkled blood, which says better things than the blood of Abel.

Hebrews 12:22-24

The worst possible thing for a non-believer is death. Death is the best possible scenario for a Christian, because it means life forever–free of pain and sin–with God.

For me, living is Christ and dying is gain.

Philippians 1:21

We conquer the Dragon when we die with our faith in Christ intact.

Don’t fear those who kill the body but are not able to kill the soul; rather, fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

Matthew 10:28

If you wish to be safe from the Dragon, you must change your citizenship from earth to heaven by faith.

Their Description

This leads us to the final contrast. The description of the world is those who blindly follow the Dragon and worship him at the instigation of the beasts. The description of the saints is “the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes.” This implicitly carries the possibility of martyrdom in the description, because the Lamb went to slaughter (cf. Revelation 13:8; Isaiah 53:6-7). If we are to follow Him wherever He goes, that could very well include death.

However, there are also a few other critical things to notice about how the saints are described.

First–and this is for free–the innumerable saints of 7:9-17 and the 144,000 of 7:1-8 and 14:1-5 are identical. These are described as 144,000 and as worshipping God and the Lamb, just like the innumerable throng is as well in 7:10.

Second, the saints are described as virgins. This does not mean that all Christians are to be celibate. Rather, it means that in heaven our sexual sins are forgiven. Christ’s blood washes us clean of our immorality, and He sees us as if we were perfectly pure and always had been. For those who have wives, this verse is simply an explanation of Jesus’ words:

For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage but are like angels in heaven.

Matthew 22:30

Third, the saints are described as blameless, as never lying. Again, this is proof positive that our sins have been forgiven and that God sees us as if we were perfectly honest and always had been.

Oh, the power of Jesus’ blood!

It is worth noting that the one who is truly following Jesus wherever He goes will strive to live a pure and honest life. When we fall short, we will be quick to repent, but perfect purity and perfect honesty are the goal, because that is where Jesus is leading us!

Are you scared of the Dragon? Follow the Lamb.

Do you not want to give up your “fun”? Losing out on “fun” for seventy years now, but having joy beyond the best orgasm imaginable (to put it in the words of John Piper) for eternity should be worth it.

Besides, Christianity is not supposed to be a dour, joyless venture, even on this side of eternity. Find a spouse, love him/her, and be committed to him/her for life. There’s a lot of joy to be had there. But it ultimately won’t compare to eternity.

The Lamb was slaughtered so you need not fear death. The Dragon wants to use death to scare you into worshiping him. Which sounds better?

I’ll take my chances with Jesus.

Will you join me? Trust Him by faith today!

Success in this war is found by following Jesus, living like He lived (pure and honest), and avoiding the things He commanded us to avoid (cf. Matthew 5-7). He will not string you along for your money. In fact, He paid the biggest price so we could be saved by grace for free!

Place your faith in Him today, and follow Him daily to find success against Satan.

In this with you.

Soli Deo Gloria
Sola Fide
Solus Christus
Sola Scriptura

Thanks for reading.

The next entry can be found here.


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