ambition, aspiration, desires, discerning the spirits, dying to self, emotions, encouragement, entering his rest, experience, eyes of the heart, following Jesus, God's love, joy, light, love, mind, Mount Zion, peace, soul, suffering, T.A. Sparks, the 144.000, the Lamb, the mind of Christ, the will, walking by the spirit
Several Christians over the last centuries have had thoughts and ideas about who these particular people mentioned in the Book of Revelation might be. Even a cult (Jehovah’s Witnesses) claimed this whole group of believers for their own purposes. But can it be that easy? 🙄 Is there a single Christian denomination or a ‘Christian’ cult that would be able to comprise those 144,000 who seem to occupy a very special position, maybe, even the best position possible as to their closeness to God? 🙄
I saw in my last post where I mainly published longer excerpts from T. Austin Sparks that it does not make much sense to go on doing so. It seems I should offer some explanations combined with my own experiences or insights regarding all topics so that the whole article gets more vivid. Actually, I know myself how tedious the simple reading of facts without enlightening examples can be. 😉 So I decided to include only short excerpts by TAS where I thought it might be helpful and to also offer my own ideas as to the following Scriptures. As for these 144,000, the apostle John describes what he saw in the Book of Revelation.
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. 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, and 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. It 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, and in their mouth no lie was found, for they are blameless. (Rev 14:1-5 ESV)
What can we say about the Lamb standing on Mount Zion here? 🙄 We need not forget that the New Covenant is a mere spiritual one. It is no longer about going on pilgrimage by foot to some ‘holy places’, whether in Jerusalem or elsewhere, as our Lord has risen! He is already standing on this spiritual mountain as He has achieved this goal for all of us who long to be with Him forever. Furthermore, as I have learned lately from the Lord, this mountain can be reached during our lifetime if He allows since IN Him we are His fellow heirs of ALL things already now. Nonetheless, we need to wait for the consummation of these promises as far as our physical bodies are concerned. However, our spiritual bodies can be in heaven with Him RIGHT NOW. Even on this mountain! Let’s see what T. Austin Sparks wrote about the Lamb standing there…
“The terms of this passage in Revelation 14 are themselves significant and indicate things. “I saw… the Lamb…” Well, that at once signifies suffering and sacrifice. “And with him a hundred and forty and four thousand… purchased.” These are not only redeemed ones; these have been brought into a very close fellowship with what that very title, the Lamb, means — suffering, sacrifice. It is going to be that to bring about such a oneness as is here indicated.
““Standing on the mount Zion.” This is a place which occupies a very great prominence throughout the Word of God, and it always signifies the highest point and peak of attainment. It is the realisation of all aspirations. “Whither the tribes go up” (Ps. 122:4) There are many references to mount Zion, and it is a very, very conspicuous thing in the Scriptures; and it always suggests some object of highest ambition, strongest aspiration, and, to be there, the gratification of the deepest desire of the life.” (1)
We can say that those who are that close to the Lamb and are even one with Christ, they must have come to know the fellowship of His sufferings, too. Therefore, they are so close to Him as ‘the Lamb”. Also, they offered up their earthly lives as a living sacrifice to Him who secured this high place for them. Being there on high might mean, “The gratification of the deepest desire of the life” TAS just said above. What was he talking about there? 🙄 Isn’t it every human being’s deepest desire to experience the deepest love and intimacy possible, to have achieved all our ambitious goals (creatively and professionally), and to live a life without pains, worries, sorrows, but only in restful peace and joy forevermore? 🙄
Here we must stop for a moment. Not that confusion comes up. From a worldly point of view, every human being who has not been completely crippled by circumstances wants to achieve ‘something’ in life, whether it is about having a family, a career, to become famous, whatever. Sparks several times mentioned that ambition in itself is not wrong as it has been God-given originally. Whether our ambition is to be seen as good or not depends on the source out of which it has sprung from: Has it come from God or from Satan, or rather, was it our uncrucified flesh (self) that has unknowingly submitted to the enemy?
We all have different natural talents, some have more, some have less. But that number of talents is not at all important as for being enabled to stand with the Lamb on this mountain. In order to bring us to this high spiritual position, we need to go through decades of suffering during which our old nature’s powers are being killed. Our soul (the will, mind, and emotions) that usually acts independently from God to achieve its own goals must be brought into oneness with the One Who created the soul initially. This process needs a long time, indeed!
I do not want to dig deeper as to the number 144,000 of which I believe it should not be taken literally. Hebrew numbers often have a significance that goes deeper than a normal number might indicate. If you want to read more, you can follow the link to TAS’ article in which he pointed to a sort of selectiveness here. I only want to mention that the number 12 basically means “Governmental perfection” (2). 12 times 12 equals 144, well, if that is not the completion of Divine government, I don’t know… 🙄 Furthermore, the number 1,000 signifies “Divine completeness and Fathers glory” (2). 144,000 then seems to be about divine perfection, doesn’t it?
What jumped right out on me as I read chapter 14 of the Book of Revelation lately was the fourth verse that says these “virgins” (i.e., those who have only one God), “these who follow the Lamb wherever he goes.” Isn’t John talking here about walking in the Spirit continually? We read in Romans, chapter 8, that those who follow Jesus Christ’s leading, even through suffering, they will be glorified. I always thought that glorification fully belongs to our life after leaving the earth. But is that really the truth? 🙄 Paul told us,
For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. (Rom 8:14-19 ESV)
Just in case you think that I might have gone crazy lately, maybe, you are right. 😉 Indeed, I am overwhelmed to increasingly discover that the whole of the Bible, including the Book of Revelation, can come true for us any time, even RIGHT NOW (although only by God’s grace, of course). Paul in these verses above said that he did not consider the sufferings of this present time worth comparing with the glory to be revealed. In fact, I was always wondering how a man who endured numerous pains and persecution could make such an incredible statement. 🙄 It was only recently that it has begun to dawn on me that God wants to enable us to change our perspective on all things completely. Walking in the heavenlies with God and Jesus gives us a whole new view on everything which is perishable here on the earth. Actually, I do not want to write more about this issue as this has already turned into a pretty long article. I am sorry as that was not my initial intention. Yet I am afraid I could go on writing for days and hours, like Peter and John who said, “for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:20 NASB)
One final thought just came to my mind as for walking in (His) Spirit. Isn’t it true that we cannot walk by the Spirit if our thoughts and concerns are focused on everything that takes place on this earth, whether it is happening right now, or if it will come to pass in the future, or if the occurrence is already history? 🙄 I believe we need to have died to our old nature through these aforementioned sufferings with Christ so that we can experience the power of His resurrection that translates us into the heavens spiritually. Then we will be able to walk in the heavenlies with Him Who took us there because He longs to be together with us forever, too.
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (Col 3:1-4 ESV)
All images © Susanne Schuberth 2021