New Earth, Eden Restored


50 They Follow the Lamb

by Hubert F. Sturges, www.everlastingcovenant.com, December 2013

These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb. Revelation 14:4

Has the covenant been successful? Have people’s lives been changed? The work of grace was to take people with a sinful nature, often also with sinful habits, and change them into children of God. The happiness and joy found among God’s people is in marked contrast to the negative situations and attitudes found among the people of the world. God’s people reveal the beauty and happiness there is in living for Christ. They will take to heaven and the new earth a love that will bind together all God’s creation for eternity.


A Special People

The 144,000 are essential to God’s plan. Revelation 14:1-5 describes this group’s character. When Jesus comes again, the 144,000 have the privilege of living to see Him come, and be saved without seeing death. Those in this exceptional group walk with God as did exceptional people in Scripture:

• Adam was created one of the “sons of God” (Gen. 6:2, 4; Job 1:6).
• “Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him” (Gen. 5:24).
• “Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations” (Gen. 6:9).
• “Abraham believed God, “| and he was called the Friend of God” (James 2:23).
• “The Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend” (Exod. 33:11).
• “David the son of Jesse, a man after [God’s] own heart,” to fulfill all of God’s will (Acts 13:22).
• Daniel was “greatly beloved “|” (Dan. 9:23; 10:11, 19).
• “Jesus loved Martha, and her sister [Mary], and Lazarus” (John 11:5).
• John was the disciple “whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23).
• Mary washed Jesus’ feet and received His commendation: “against the day of my burying hath she kept this” (John 12:7).

This is a list of ten select people in the Bible, and there are many more. If God is not a respecter of persons, how can he have “select people?” This is not solely because God chose them, but because they responded to God and made Him first in their lives. God responds to love, and that is what made these ten people unique. It is love for God that also makes the 144,000 unique. They have each individually come close to Jesus!


The Lamb Stood on Mount Zion

Jesus is “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Rev. 13:8). He has paid the penalty of sin for every man.1 The New Jerusalem has come down from God out of heaven to the Mount of Olives, which has divided into a great plain (Zech. 14:4).

With Jesus on Mt. Zion are the 144,000, a group who are God’s elect. They have demonstrated that Jesus’ sacrifice on Calvary provided grace that is sufficient to save and sufficient to change the life. The firstfruit of redemption is the 144,000, a gift to Jesus that makes His suffering a success (Isa. 53:11; Heb. 12:2).

They have His Father’s name written in their foreheads. A name represents identity and character. God restores His image in the redeemed. They reflect His character fully.

The 144,000 sing a new song--a song that represents a new experience that no one else has ever had.2 They have lived through a time when Satan is unrestrained in his treachery and cruelty, and they have depended entirely on the grace and power of God for protection and support (Ps. 91; Isa. 33:16). Their main concern is whether there is any unconfessed sin in their life, but they find none. They do not have to consider this long, for Jesus soon comes in the clouds of heaven, raising the righteous dead and delivering the waiting saints! The 144,000 sing their song of experience as they arrive on the sea of glass, before the throne of God. It is a song that no one else can sing (Rev. 4:6; 15:3).

The four “beasts” are present: the lion, the calf, the man, and the eagle, representing the four divisions of the camp of Israel (Rev. 4:7). Twenty-four elders are on thrones about the throne of God. Elders are “old men” of wisdom and responsibility. They may represent the foundation of the living temple of God resting on the prophets and the apostles (Eph. 2:19, 20; 1 Peter 2:5). It is in this setting that we see the portrayal of the 144,000 in heaven.


They Are Virgins

Taken literally, the requirement that they be “virgins” (Rev. 14:4), not having been “defiled with women,” would severely limit who would be qualified for this group. However, Revelation is a book of symbols. A woman represents the church, though here the language points to individuals. Being a “virgin” means having purity in life and doctrine and having no other loyalty except to Christ.

Thus, the 144,000 have loyally followed in Jesus’ footsteps on this earth. In the new earth, they loyally “follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth” (Rev. 14:4) The most desirable place in the new earth will be next to Christ. Those who are closest to Christ in heaven are those who have sought to be close to Christ on this earth! Those who are privileged to converse with Christ in heaven are those who have spent time conversing with Him on earth!

The virgins are firstfruits. In an agricultural community, firstfruits are the biggest, the sweetest and the best. These are people who most fully represent the power of grace to change the life and most fully reflect the character of Christ in their lives. For this, Jesus is satisfied.


Without Fault Before the Throne of God

The description of these pure followers of Christ includes the phrase, “In their mouth was found no guile” (Rev. 14:5) This means no deceit, no lying, only the absolute truth. This is a characteristic that all Christians claim. Yet, how often will there be found subtle deceit in one’s words and actions? Sometimes telling the truth hurts us (Ps. 15:4). Sometimes it hurts others for us to tell the truth. Shall we then always tell the truth? This is not an easy matter. However, when a Christian always tells the truth, he is putting the results of that action in the hands of God. In saying this, one must also recognize that sometimes there are facts that need not be said--ones that will unnecessarily harm another. It seems that this last characteristic is what it takes to be “without fault before the throne of God.” Are we talking about perfection here? Maybe we are! Perfect trust, perfect faith in Christ puts your life in the hands of Christ. He is the Author and Finisher of your faith. He is responsible for your “perfection.” Perfection then is in your trust and faith in Christ.

Is such perfection without sin? Here, one must be careful. We will each continue to have a sinful nature and sinful propensities until Jesus comes again, when “this corruptible must put on incorruption” (1 Cor. 15:53). So does the person sin? The Bible says that the person who is in Christ does not sin (1 John 3:5, 6; 5:18). That is reassuring.

How can a person arrive at such a point? Remember that your faith and your perfection are in the hands of Christ. When people contemplate the purity and perfection of Christ, they realize ever more their sin and shortcomings. When people put their life in the hands of Christ, their perfection is by the power of His grace (Gal. 2:20; 1 John 1:6-10).

At conversion, people become a “new creature,” and they are given pardon and salvation. However, the sinful nature is still present, which must be covered with the robe of Christ’s righteousness until Jesus comes again. Habitual, besetting sins and “blind spots” still remain, which must be overcome by grace. This is the process called “growth in grace.” Will a person ever achieve perfection? This is in the hands of Christ, but a person must make his commitment to Christ complete in order to receive the seal of God.3

In the beauty of the new earth, we will study the science of salvation. We will learn more--much more--of what it cost for Jesus to come to earth, live a sinless life, and die on the cross that people might be saved. This is a story that will reach deep into the hearts and minds of every person. Since the saved of the earth are the only ones to have this experience, they will travel to other worlds to tell sinless beings the story of salvation.

Jesus came and died to preserve the unique gifts that God gave to humankind. Even in eternity, people will still possess free will and creativity. Knowing the cost for Christ to die for our sins will create a barrier against sin in the minds of each person that no one will ever again cross. “What do ye imagine against the Lord? he will make an utter end: affliction shall not rise up the second time” (Nahum 1:9). The redeemed will focus their activities and lives in such a way as to return to Him the glory that He gave up to save mankind.

The key issue here is that each person’s personal probation closes at death. However, there will come a generation that will be alive to see Jesus come. Only the “pure in heart” will see God (Matt. 5:8). Character must be formed now. Sins must be confessed and forsaken now (Rom. 13:11). When, for any reason, a person refuses Jesus Christ, it becomes more difficult to hear and obey later. A person cannot afford to let salvation pass him or her by.


Endnotes

1. Jesus paid the penalty for sin for every human being (Rev. 13:8; Isa. 53:5, 10, 11; Rom. 5:15-19; 1 Tim. 2:4).

2. There are many passages of Scripture about songs and poetry praising God (Exod. 15:1-21; Deut. 32:1-43; 33:1-29; Joshua 10:12, 13; Judges 5; 1 Sam. 2:1-10; 2 Sam. 1:19-27; 2 Sam. 22; 23:1-7; Psalms; Song of Solomon). There were other songs during these times. Some were recorded in the Bible; many others were not. The figurative language of Revelation contains the songs of the heavenly beings praising God on His throne. “And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth” (Rev. 14:3). There are many songs in heaven, but the song of the 144,000 is unique. These sing about living in the last hours of earth’s history and God’s deliverance. Satan was unrestrained in his evil designs but could not harm the elect of God. Even in the midst of trouble on all sides, God protected them.

After the close of probation, Satan is unrestrained in bringing evil on the earth, though the people of God are protected (Ps. 91). Nonetheless, God’s people are in agony, knowing that Jesus has finished His mediation in the heavenly sanctuary. Through this time they must live in the presence of a holy God without a Mediator. They do not know, at first, that God has sealed them and that they are safe for eternity. In their agony, they have thrown themselves upon the mercies of Christ. Yet, they cannot find any sin that has not been confessed and forgiven. Then Jesus, who has been with them all the while through His Holy Spirit, appears in the clouds and delivers them.

3. See chapter 47, “Grace Is Sufficient to Save.”