Tabletalk Subscription
You have {{ remainingArticles }} free {{ counterWords }} remaining.You've accessed all your free articles.
Unlock the Archives for Free

Request your free, three-month trial to Tabletalk magazine. You’ll receive the print issue monthly and gain immediate digital access to decades of archives. This trial is risk-free. No credit card required.

Try Tabletalk Now

Already receive Tabletalk magazine every month?

Verify your email address to gain unlimited access.

{{ error }}Need help?

Revelation 14:1–5

“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” (vv. 2–3).

People who devote their lives to the worship of false gods, whether the Roman emperor or any other false claimant to deity, are marked with the sign of the beast (Rev. 13). But there is another group of people in the book of Revelation who receive a mark. These are the 144,000 who receive not the mark of the beast but the seal of the Lord (Rev. 7:1–8). John’s record of his visions takes us back to this group in today’s passage.

The mark of the beast was the name of the beast, designating his ownership of the enemies of God’s people (13:16–18). The mark on the 144,000, however, is the name of the Son and the Father, identifying them as belonging to God (14:1). But of course, the mark on the 144,000 designates more than just ownership. Their mark is a seal, which also signifies security and protection. The followers of the beast worshiped him in order to be marked off for participation in the economy, to be protected by being able to buy and sell goods and services. Yet this is not a seal, so the beast cannot provide the security he promises to his followers, making their decision to obey him all the more foolish. God gives His people a seal, however, for He is able to finally protect them and establish them secure in a new creation. The great hope of the Aaronic blessing for God’s name to be on God’s people is fulfilled as we receive God’s name and protection through faith in Christ (Num. 6:22–27; John 16:23).

We saw in Revelation 7 that the 144,000 represent God’s end-times army who contend for the sake of the Lord against His enemies. In effect, they represent all believers, but especially those who are martyred for their faith. Today’s passage confirms that this group is God’s army by telling us about their song (Rev. 14:2–3). In the old covenant, Israel customarily sung songs of victory after defeating an enemy (for example, Ex. 14–15; Judg. 4–5); this group in Revelation 14 sings because it is an army that has been victorious in battle. Further evidence that these individuals are soldiers of the Lord is found in that they have not had sexual intercourse (v. 4). This is not because sex and marriage are bad; on the contrary, they are good gifts from the Lord (Gen. 2:24–25). Instead, abstinence from sexual intercourse was required in the military camp as God’s people prepared for holy war in order to avoid ceremonial uncleanness (Deut. 23:10–11). Abstinence here functions as a symbol that God’s people are faithful soldiers in the Lord’s army, ready to make holy war.

Coram Deo Living before the face of God

God’s people in Revelation 14 sing a song of victory because the Lamb has triumphed over sin and evil. One of the purposes of our singing as Christians is to celebrate the victory that Jesus has won and that we get to share in by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. When we gather for worship, let us sing heartily to the Lord, for He has conquered the enemy and won a victory worth celebrating more than any other.

For Further Study
  • 1 Samuel 21:1–6
  • Psalm 59:16–17
  • Luke 9:57–62
  • Revelation 15:2–4

The Beast from the Earth

An Angel Heralds the Gospel

Keep Reading Truth

From the November 2020 Issue
Nov 2020 Issue