The extent, to which Satan would go to mislead the elect, is constrained only by the limits the Father laid down for him. When Satan is given authority to attack the elect, the duration of his authority is shortened so that the elect would not perish.
In the following table, a comparison is drawn between God and Satan’s counterfeit image intended to mislead those who are not clinging to every word of the gospel.
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Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: three Persons, one God: Trinity.
Satan, the dragon; beast from the sea; beast from the earth: Three devils: Counterfeit triune.
The Father, First Person.
Satan the dragon, first devil.
Jesus, Second Person, the Christ.
Beast from the sea, second devil, the antichrist.
Holy Spirit, Third Person, Spirit of God.
Beast from the earth, third devil, spirit of evil.
Father sends the Son.
Dragon gives power to the second devil. (13:2)
Son sends the Holy Spirit.
Third devil receives power from second devil. (13:12)
Father has throne.
Dragon has throne.
Father gives Son throne.
Dragon gives second devil throne. (13:2)
Holy Spirit has no throne.
Third devil has no throne.
Son receives fatal wound in crucifixion.
Second devil receives fatal wound.
Son is resurrected from the dead.
Second devil heals from its wound.
Son is preached in public.
Second devil blasphemes in public.
Son is worshiped.
Second devil is worshiped. (13:8)
Holy Spirit causes worship of Christ through faith.
Third devil causes worship of the antichrist through deception.
Elect receive seal on foreheads.
Reprobate receive mark (666) on foreheads and hands.
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Revelation 14:1 Then I looked, and there before me was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father's name written on their foreheads.
After John outlined for us the identity and plan of attack of Satan, he brings to us the assurance of the victory of the Lamb.
In spite of the ferociousness of the enemy, the Lamb is standing on Zion. He is not sitting or lying down. He is standing on mount Zion, which means he is ruling on earth in the hearts of the believers, in his congregation.
The reference to mount Zion is symbolic, as we shall see from the Scripture passages mentioned.
It is the place where God dwells.
Psalm 50:1, 2 The Mighty One, God, the LORD, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, 2from Zion, perfect in beauty, God shines forth.
Psalm 2:6 "I have installed my King on Zion, my holy hill."
Isaiah 8:18 Here am I, and the children the LORD has given me. We are signs and symbols in Israel from the LORD Almighty, who dwells on Mount Zion.
Joel 3:17 Then you will know that I, the LORD your God, dwell in Zion, my holy hill. Jerusalem will be holy; never again will foreigners invade her.
Zion is also the place from where we are to expect salvation.
Psalm 9:14 That I may declare your praises in the gates of the Daughter of Zion and there rejoice in your salvation.
Psalm 14:7 Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion! When the LORD restores the fortunes of his people, let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad.
Psalm 20:1, 2 May the LORD answer you when you are in distress; may the name of the God of Jacob protect you. 2May he send you help from the sanctuary and grant you support from Zion.
Psalm 128:5 May the LORD bless you from Zion all the days of your life; may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem.
Jeremiah 31:12 They will come and shout for joy on the heights of Zion; they will rejoice in the bounty of the LORD--the grain, the new wine and the oil, the young of the flocks and herds. They will be like a well-watered garden, and they will sorrow no more.
Jeremiah 31:13 Then maidens will dance and be glad, young men and old as well. I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow.
Obadiah 1:17, 21 But on Mount Zion will be deliverance; it will be holy, and the house of Jacob will possess its inheritance. 21Deliverers will go up on Mount Zion to govern the mountains of Esau. And the kingdom will be the LORD'S.
Joel 2:32 And everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be deliverance, as the LORD has said, among the survivors whom the LORD calls.
Matthew 21:5 "Say to the Daughter of Zion, 'See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.'
John 12:15 "Do not be afraid, O Daughter of Zion; see, your king is coming, seated on a donkey's colt."
Romans 9:33 As it is written: "See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame."
Romans 11:26 And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: "The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob."
I Peter 2:6 For in Scripture it says: "See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame."
It symbolizes the place of safety and strength.
Psalm 20:2 May he send you help from the sanctuary and grant you support from Zion.
Psalm 125:1 Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever.
Where the throne of God is.
Micah 4:7 I will make the lame a remnant, those driven away a strong nation. The LORD will rule over them in Mount Zion from that day and forever.
Psalm 9:11 Sing praises to the LORD, enthroned in Zion; proclaim among the nations what he has done.
Psalm 84:7 They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion.
Psalm 87:2 The LORD loves the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob.
Jeremiah 8:19 Listen to the cry of my people from a land far away: "Is the LORD not in Zion? Is her King no longer there?" "Why have they provoked me to anger with their images, with their worthless foreign idols?
It symbolizes the place where the names of the book of life were recorded.
Psalm 87:5, 6 Indeed, of Zion it will be said, "This one and that one were born in her, and the Most High himself will establish her." 6 The LORD will write in the register of the peoples: "This one was born in Zion."
Many other passages refer to Zion in various ways proving that we ought to consider mount Zion, on which the Lamb is standing in John’s vision, as a symbolic place and not the physical mountain in Jerusalem. It is, indeed, our heavenly Jerusalem.
Hebrews 12:22-24 But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, 23to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven; you have come to God, the judge of all men; to the spirits of righteous men made perfect; 24to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
Revelation 14:1 Then I looked, and there before me was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father's name written on their foreheads.
When we dealt with the number of those who were sealed in Revelation 7:4, we established that it was not a physical number of the elect but a number that encompasses all the elect meaning that not a singe one would be missing from their ranks on the day of the Lord. The repeated call of the number 12,000 from each tribe is as if a roll-call is called out to assure the believers that every name will be called.
John 10:28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.
When we deal with verse 4, this number of the elect will be further explored.
Revelation 14:2 And I heard a sound from heaven like the roar of rushing waters and like a loud peal of thunder. The sound I heard was like that of harpists playing their harps.
John’s vision instantly takes him back to earth and from there he hears a sound from heaven like harpists playing their harps sounding like the roar of rushing waters and a loud peal of thunder. It is the elect playing their harps and singing a mysterious new song; they rejoice being free after they have been cleansed from all infirmities and sin.
Revelation 14:3 And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders. No one could learn the song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth.
The word “sang” and its tense is of particular importance here because if the singing of the new song were truly in the past tense, it would contradict the interpretation that these actions happen in our time today and are still happening. The word “sing” is translated from the Greek ado  and it is here used in its Present Tense, Active Voice, and Indicative Mood.
The Present Tense represents a
simple statement of fact or reality viewed as occurring in actual time. In most
cases, this corresponds directly with the English present tense. Some phrases,
which might be rendered as past tense in English, will often occur in the
present tense in Greek. These are termed "historical presents," and
such occurrences dramatize
the event described as if the reader were there watching the event occur. Some English translations render such historical presents in the English past tense, while others permit the tense to remain in the present.
The Active Voice in Greek represents the subject as the doer or performer of the action. There is, therefore, no doubt that the 144,000 sing this song.
The Indicative Mood is a simple statement of fact. If an action really occurs, has occurred, or will occur, it will be rendered in the indicative mood.<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]>
It is, therefore, conclusive that the singing continues today and will continue indefinitely, dating these visions in our time. No one, but the elect, would be able to learn this new song. It is new in content and form because the Lamb has been revealed in his glory and majesty and this song brings Him the worship due to him that only the elect ought to bring.
Those outside of the 144,000 are unable to learn the new song, or, they are unable to worship Christ and acknowledge that He is the Son of God, which makes them antichrists. John’s vision confirms the workings of the cherubim and flaming sword in the Garden of Eden and the parables through which Jesus spoke to believers. This prohibition is not instituted to keep God’s glory a secret, but to allow only those who have been washed by the blood of the Lamb to extol him in a way that even the purest, highest angel cannot. Some passages that confirm this are:
Psalm 25:14 The LORD confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them.
Matthew 11:25 - 27 At that time Jesus said, "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. 26Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure. 27 "All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him."
I Peter 1:12 It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.
Isaiah 11:2 The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him--the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD.
The Old Testament spoke about this new song.
Psalm 33:3 Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy
Psalm 40:3 He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD.
Psalm 96:1 Sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth!
Psalm 98:1 Sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done marvelous things; his right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him.
Psalm 144:9 I will sing a new song to you, O God; on the ten-stringed lyre I will make music to you.
Psalm 149:1 Praise the LORD. Sing to the LORD a new song, his praise in the assembly of the saints.
Isaiah 42:10 Sing to the LORD a new song, his praise from the ends of the earth, you who go down to the sea, and all that is in it, you islands, and all who live in them.
Revelation 14:4, 5 These are those who did not defile themselves with women, for they kept themselves pure. They follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They were purchased from among men and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb. 5No lie was found in their mouths; they are blameless.
The qualities spoken of here are symbolic and it does not mean that only celibate men will be of the 144,000. It is, rather, a contrast with those things that depict blasphemy and falling away from God, such as lewdness and promiscuity.
Numbers 25:1 While Israel was staying in Shittim, the men began to indulge in sexual immorality with Moabite women.
Hosea 1:2 When the LORD began to speak through Hosea, the LORD said to him, "Go, take to yourself an adulterous wife and children of unfaithfulness, because the land is guilty of the vilest adultery in departing from the LORD."
Jeremiah 13:27 Your adulteries and lustful neighings, your shameless prostitution! I have seen your detestable acts on the hills and in the fields. Woe to you, O Jerusalem! How long will you be unclean?
Ezekiel 16:26 You engaged in prostitution with the Egyptians, your lustful neighbors, and provoked me to anger with your increasing promiscuity.
Hosea 4:12 Of my people. They consult a wooden idol and are answered by a stick of wood. A spirit of prostitution leads them astray; they are unfaithful to their God.
The bride of Christ, the church, is pure and blameless.
Philippians 1:10 So that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ.
Hosea 2:19, 20 I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion. 20I will betroth you in faithfulness, and you will acknowledge the LORD.
Ephesians 5:27 And to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.
Colossians 1:2, 282 But now he has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation. 28We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ.
Thessalonians 5:23 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Hebrews 9:14 How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God.
Jude 1:24 To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy.
They have remained pure in Jesus, who sanctified them from their infirmities and sin, leaving them as clean as virgins, the opposite of those who are astonished by the beast and follow him into the abyss.
II Corinthians 11:2 I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him.
I Thessalonians 5:23 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The reference to the 144,000 as “firstfruits” appears to be in conflict with the same word used to refer to Jesus, as the “firstborn” from the dead.
Colossians 1:15, 18 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 18And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.
Revelation 1:5 And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood.
The difference lies in the meaning of the words, in the first instance, and the context in which they are used, in the second place. Firstly, the word used for Jesus is firstborn (also the first begotten from the dead), which can only mean the first one to come forth from the dead. Nobody coming after Jesus can be a firstborn. Firstfruit, in contrast, is something that comes as an effect of a cause, as fruit comes from a vine.
Secondly, the context in which these words are used confirms their meaning. In the case of the Firstborn, “…from Jesus Christ … the firstborn from the dead…” (Rev 1:5) and “To the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven…” (Heb 12:23). In the case of the firstfruits, “They were purchased from among men and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb (the firstborn).” This passage clearly establishes that the fruit is an effect of the cause, the Firstborn.
It stands to reason that the firstfruits, who will be in the likeness of the firstborn, will follow the Firstborn.
Jesus is, therefore, the Firstborn and many in his likeness will follow him as the fruit of him being born first. It is certain that those in his likeness will, without fail, follow the firstborn because nobody can be a firstborn among many if there is no one following.
Romans 8:29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
Now that we have clearly established the relationship between the Firstborn and his firstfruits, it is time to determine who the firstfruits (the 144,000) are. The word implies that they are first, or before others who are not yet in the place where they are, which appears to be different from what we have studied in Revelation 7:4.
We have also determined that the attributes ascribed to them, “they are those who did not defile themselves with women,” and “they kept themselves pure,” and “no lie was found in their mouths” are symbolic, lest we believe that someone could gain access to the Father through works and without Jesus’ sacrifice, which is absurd. These attributes are ascribed to them after the blood of Jesus washed them from their sins.
Psalm 51:7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
I John 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
I Corinthians 6:11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
Ephesians 1:7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace.
Hebrews 9:14 How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!
When we dealt with Revelation 7:4, we determined that 144,000 is a symbolic number representing all of the elect. They were the ones who were sealed with God’s seal on their foreheads. Here, however, the same 144,000 are referred to as the “firstfruits.” If they are the fruits that are first, meaning there are others who would follow, then who are they? If the number 144,000 is the exact number of the elect, how can these 144,000 mentioned here be the first part of the complete number?
Some propose that they are the Old Testament saints who died in the promise of the Messiah to come. (It is a common practice in God’s providence to bestow blessings on someone based upon an action in the future. We live today in the promise of the Second Coming of Christ but we already enjoy some of the blessings that flow from His return.)
Some propose that they symbolize all of the elect that will, at length, be assembled in heaven before they are resurrected in their glorified bodies.
Finally, some propose that the 144,000 are those saints who have already departed from this life and are now assembled as spirits around God’s throne.
All three these positions are in some respect correct and should be viewed as follows:
Before we discuss these three positions, let us read the following passage to put the discussion in perspective:
Hebrews 12:23 To the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect.
Referring to the firstfruits as the saints of the Old Testament exclusively is not what we learn from Scripture here, but that they are part of this body of sealed servants. They cannot be the 144,000 exclusively.
In Revelation 7: 2,3 we read that the 144,000 received God’s seal on their foreheads. They symbolized all of the elect that will receive the seal. Putting this seal on all of their foreheads also do not happen instantaneously, but the angel who was to administer the seals to the elect called out to the four angels, who were ordered to harm the land and the sea, to wait until all the elect received their seals. There is, therefore, a process, or timeline, during which the elect receive God’s seal.
Revelation 7:2, 3 Then I saw another angel coming up from the east, having the seal of the living God. He called out in a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm the land and the sea. 3"Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God."
In this context, the 144,000 represent all of the elect who receive their seals as justified believers.
When the 144,000 are referred to as firstfruits, as we see in Revelation 14:4, it would be correct to view them as those saints who have already departed to heaven as the first of many who will follow, until the full complement of the elect has entered. They sing this song of joy, that is incomprehensible to unbelievers; a joy which we experience already in this life, as we wait upon the Lord to take us to him in glory. We will then be firstfruits of the Firstborn, offered to the Father and the Lamb, purchased from among men by His blood.
So, we see Christ as the firstborn and the saints following him, in his likeness, as the firstfruits as they arrive before others.
Revelation 14:6 Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth--to every nation, tribe, language and people.
The angel brings the gospel to those who live on the earth, both those who have a delight in the gospel as well as those who live according to the flesh. For the latter the gospel is an announcement of judgment.
Isaiah 40:9 You who bring good tidings to Zion, go up on a high mountain. You who bring good tidings to Jerusalem, lift up your voice with a shout, lift it up, do not be afraid; say to the towns of Judah, "Here is your God!"
Malachi 4:1 "Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and that day that is coming will set them on fire," says the LORD Almighty. "Not a root or a branch will be left to them."
I Thessalonians 5:3 While people are saying, "Peace and safety," destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.
Matthew 24:38 – 41 For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; 39and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 40Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. 41Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.
The angel’s purpose is to proclaim the gospel to every nation, tribe, language and people. This corresponds with Jesus’ command to the church.
Mark 16:15 He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation."
Revelation 14:7 He said in a loud voice, "Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water."
He proclaimed the gospel in a loud voice so that no one can claim ignorance. The angel proclaims the gospel, without euphemism or fear of offence. “Fear God and give him glory.” The angel continues giving the reason why the whole world ought to fear God: “because the hour of his judgment has come.” There is no more time left, repent from sin immediately and emerge from the condition of absolute misery.
Matthew 24:44, 50 So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him. 50The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of.
Even those who despise God will hear the call to repent and worship God.
Revelation 3:9 I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars--I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you.
Philippians 2:9 – 11 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Revelation 14:8 A second angel followed and said, "Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great, which made all the nations drink the maddening wine of her adulteries."
The second angel uses the word “fall” in the Greek second Aorist tense, which is characterized by its emphasis on strict attention to detail of form in action or conduct; that is, the concept of the verb is considered without regard for past, present, or future time. There is no direct or clear English equivalent for this tense, though it is generally rendered as a simple past tense in most translations. Using the second Aorist tense for the word “fall” in this context renders Babylon as already fallen by the certainty of God’s unchangeable council.
The seat of the ungodly is known as Babylon because that city was the capital of Babylonia in Mesopotamia that carried Israel into exile. It became known as the place that aligned itself with evil and against God. It is called the mother of prostitutes, a home for demons and a haunt for every evil spirit. (Rev 17:5;18:2).
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<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> Adapted from Blue Letter Bible: http://www.blueletterbible.org/tmp_dir/strongs/1083882676-4770.html