THE BOOK OF REVELATION
THE CHURCH'S TRIUMPH THROUGH CHRIST
Sermon #50 - "The Lamb and His People on Mount Zion" - Revelation 14:1-7
INTRODUCTION - Let us remind ourselves that as we interpret Revelation, we are endeavoring to understand this book in its first century context. It is not a futuristic book, writing about events which are going to come sometime in our future, rather it is a book written especially for the early church as they dealt with the struggles and persecutions of their own day. We have spent the last few sermons detailing the subjects of chapters twelve and thirteen. Here we looked at the diabolical enemies of the church - the Dragon, the Beast, and the False Prophet or, as we have come to interpret them - the Devil, Rome led by Nero, and apostate Israel. These were the great enemies and persecutors of the church in the first century. Since the Devil could not defeat the Lord Jesus Christ, he turns his sights against the Church, and endeavors to destroy Christ's people using Rome and Jerusalem. This was the theme of chapters twelve and thirteen, but now, as we turn to a new chapter, the scene changes to show us that despite the enemies that rage against the Church, the people of God have much to hope in.
1) THE TRIUMPHANT CHRIST STANDING UPON MOUNT ZION - Revelation 14:1 - The turbulent days of the first century might leave the early church wondering, "Are we going to make it through all this persecution and oppression? Will the church survive the onslaughts of Nero and Israel?" John's opening words of Revelation 14 are meant to comfort this persecuted people. John describes for them "a Lamb standing on Mount Zion." Why is this phrase so important? Why is it placed so strategically here in the text after the enemies of the church have been cited? The first century church would immediately recognize this picture, for it is taken directly out of the Old Testament. The Apostle Peter makes use of that Old Testament text in Acts 4:25-28. He had been persecuted for preaching Christ. Now, as he returns from prison to speak to the church, he quotes from Psalm 2 to explain this persecution and torment. Enemies rage against Christ and His people. Herod, Pilate, the Romans and the Jews - all of the world is against Christ and His people. Peter sees this as a fulfillment of the words of Psalm 2, "Why do the nations rage, and the people plot a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves…against the Lord and against His anointed (His Christ)…" (Psalm 2:1,2). Psalm 2 shows us how God responds to the onslaught of these enemies. First, Almighty God laughs (Psalm 2:4), for the scene is absolutely ridiculous. How do the Jews and Romans think they are going to overthrow God and His Christ? How can puny man dare defy the holiness and majesty of Almighty God? Then we see how God deals with such rebellion. An important statement is made in Psalm 2 which is what John is referring to in Revelation 14, "Yet I have set My King on My holy hill of Zion" (Psalm 2:5,6). God deals with the rebellion of His enemies by putting Christ, His Anointed and King, on Mount Zion. This is the picture of Revelation 14:1. The enemies might rage against the church, but Christ is on Mount Zion. What is the significance of the Lamb on Mount Zion? The rest of the Psalm declares what this means. This is Christ at His ascension into heaven as He is given the kingdom by His Father. Christ has been put on the throne of God's majesty with all dominion and power. The nations become His inheritance. He rules the world presently with a rod of iron and the enemies of God are called to either "kiss the Son" or perish in His wrath. This is how John wanted his readers to view their enemies of chapters twelve and thirteen. The Devil might wage war. Rome and Jerusalem might attack the Church. It might look like the people of God are in great trouble. Yet the Lamb is on Mount Zion - the Church has nothing to fear. Christ is on the throne and the enemies of God must face Him in this great battle. They will be smashed with the rod of His might if they do not bow before Him. So it was true for the days of the early Church, and so it is still true for the Church today as we face our enemies. Yet there is something more which John places in his picture of Christ on Mount Zion. In John's picture we also see -
2) THE CHURCH STANDING WITH THE LAMB OF GOD ON MOUNT ZION - Revelation 14:1 - The Lamb of God is not alone for the 144,000 (a figurative term for the entire church - see sermon notes on Revelation 7) is with Him. Here is the true Israel of God, not apostate Israel. The 144,000 is a number representing all of God's people in every age and time. In contrast to the devil's people who are sealed with the name of the Beast (Revelation 13:17), the people of God are sealed with the name of God the Father. This vision of the Church with Christ is exactly what the first century church needed to see, and it is a vision which we need to remember for ourselves today. Though the Church may go through terrible persecution, though it may look as if she is defeated, as though her doctrine and practice have run dry, as though the enemy has actually conquered her, she still stands with Jesus Christ on Mount Zion. The Church must always be seen in the victorious and exalted state. We stand with our ascended Christ. Even in our worship today, we are told that the Church approaches Mount Zion, the place where all the angels and saints worship God and Christ (Hebrews 12:22-24). If this is true, then what does the Church have to fear? Rome and Jerusalem can do nothing to overthrow God's people, for they are safe at the side of Christ on Mount Zion. The enemies might rage against the Lord, but they shall be smashed in His wrath. Such is the hope and comfort for the Church of the first century and for ourselves today!
3) THE DESCRIPTION OF THE PEOPLE WHO STAND WITH CHRIST ON MOUNT ZION - Yet, do you stand with the Savior and Lord of the Universe? You can only stand in one of two places - either with Christ or against Him. Revelation 14 shows us what Christ's people are like. Do you see yourself among them?
A) THE PEOPLE WHO STAND WITH CHRIST ARE THE ONLY ONES WHO CAN SING THE NEW SONG - Revelation 14:2,3 - A song breaks forth from the people of God who are with Christ. Yet it is only a song which the Church sing. What is that song? We have heard it already in Revelation 5:9,10. The singers of this song declare that Christ is the Lord of the New Covenant who is worthy to open that covenant and bring forth its blessings and curses. They sing of their salvation in Christ, that Christ was killed for them and that He has redeemed them from all nations. They also sing of their exalted state in Christ as kings and priests. Is this your song? Do you love Christ and worship Him as God and Savior? Do you see your horrible sins paid for in His death? Do you see the burden of sin lifted in Christ and your guilt taken away in Him? Do you long to serve and follow this Christ? If so, then you are one who sings the new song of God's people.
B) THE PEOPLE WHO STAND WITH CHRIST ARE HOLY AND PURE - Revelation 14:4,5 John describes God's people as "virgins," using this word in a figurative sense, defining their purity and chaste life in Christ. God's people are holy people. Our holiness is not our own but has been given to us by Christ. Our holy acts are energized by the gift of God's Spirit to our hearts. As we have been made pure in Christ Jesus, so we are a people who walk with Christ. We follow Him as our good Shepherd. We live holy lives in the presence of the Savior. So if we are truly Christ's people, not only will we see ourselves as forgiven in Him, but we will also long for holiness in all of our thoughts, feelings and actions. We will do battle with sin, and constantly wage war against the evils which rise against us. Though sometimes we may fail, yet still God's people persevere in the holiness of their Savior and Lord. Does this describe you? If so, you are secure on Mount Zion with the Lamb of God! Let the enemies rage, let them taunt and persecute, nothing can harm the people of God, for we are secure in the presence of the Lamb!