Scripture Revelation 14:1-5
Then I looked, and there was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion! And with him were one hundred forty-four thousand who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads. 2 And I heard a voice from heaven like the sound 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 sing a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and before the elders. No one could learn that song except the one hundred forty-four thousand who have been redeemed from the earth. 4 It is these who have not defiled themselves with women, for they are virgins; these follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They have been redeemed from humankind as first fruits for God and the Lamb, 5 and in their mouth no lie was found; they are blameless.
- The 144,000 are in contrast to those who have the mark of the beast (described in the previous chapter)
- Name written on their foreheads – easily seen, cannot be ignored or hidden
- Are th3 144,000 literal virgins? Or are they those who have not defiled themselves with the Great Whore (coming up in a later chapter)? Is this a symbol of purity along with their never having lied?
- “Follow the Lamb” – echo of Jesus’ call to follow him in the Gospels?
- 144,000 is 12 *12,000 and alludes to the 12 Jewish tribes but also to a completeness, a totality. But they are described as ” first fruits.”
The image of the Lamb’s and Father’s names written on the 144,000 foreheads always reminds me of Ash Wednesday when many Christians have ashes placed on their foreheads as signs of repentance and mortality. They cannot be hidden very easily can they? I see them around town on that day and think “Oh, she’s been to church” or “He’s observing Ash Wednesday.
The name of the Father and the Lamb clearly identifies them as belonging to them. And they contrast with the mark in the previous chapter on those who follow the beast. In both cases there is no anonymity, no “private religion.”
And there isn’t for me either. I may not have a mark or a name on my forehead. But my lifestyle, my character, my loyalties all mark me for who and whose I am. Do people see the name of the Father on my forehead when they engage me in conversation at the grocery store? Do they know that I follow the Lamb when they follow me on Facebook or Twitter (that’s more than a little convicting!)?
Father in Heaven, write your name upon me and upon my life today. Mark me out as yours and and as a follower of the Lamb. May I be counted among those who belong to you and seen as such. And where I am not obviously so, bring me to repentance and to renew my following of the Lamb and my life in Him. Amen.