And I looked, and, see, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand…
And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the Mount Zion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father's name written in their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven, etc. May we not regard these verses as a pictorial representation of the supersensuous heaven of humanity? If so, the following facts are suggested concerning the unseen realm of the good or the Christly.
I. IT IS A SCENE IN WHICH CHRIST IS THE CENTRAL FIGURE. "And I looked [saw], and lo [behold], a [the] Lamb stood [standing] on the Mount Zion" (ver. 1). No one acquainted with the Scriptures needs to ask who the Lamb is. Christ is the "Lamb of God." Why is Christ called "the Lamb"? Is it because of his innocence, or because of his moral and sacrificial character, or both? Morally he was innocent as a lamb, "holy, undefiled." "He did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth." Or is it on account of his sacrifice? He was, indeed, a sacrifice; his whole being was a sacrifice. There have been those who have answered these questions to their own satisfaction, and there are now those who render replies without hesitation or doubt. I cannot. My eyes are too dim to penetrate into the rationale of Divine operations. What seems clear is that Christ is the central Figure in man's heaven. He stands on the citadel on which all eyes are fastened, and to which all hearts point and all sympathies flow.
II. IT IS A SCENE INTERESTINGLY POPULATED.
1. The population is very numerous. "An hundred forty and four thousand" (ver. 1). This I take to be a definite number used to represent an indefinite multitude - a "multitude which no man could number." The dreamer being a Jew, his visions are, of course, full of Jewish facts and sentiments. Hence he thinks of the Jewish scene of worship, Zion, and the Jewish tribes, incalculably numerous. To us, however, all these are mere illustrations of things higher, more important, and lasting. The human tenants in heaven were in number beyond calculation in the days of John, and they have been multiplying ever since.
2. The population is divinely distinguished. "His Father's name written in their foreheads" (ver. 1). Men glory in things that are supposed to distinguish them advantageously from their fellow men - the attractions of physical beauty, the glitter of wealth, the pomp of power; but the greatest of all distinctions, the grandest and highest, is to have the name of the great Father manifest in our lives - written on our very "foreheads."
(1) It is the most beautiful distinction. The face is the beauty of man; there the soul reveals itself sometimes in sunshine and sometimes in clouds. The beauty of the face is not in features, but in expressions, and the more it expresses of purity, intelligence, generosity, tenderness, the more beautiful it is. How beautiful, then, to have God's name radiating in it! God's name is the beauty of the universe.
(2) It is the most conspicuous distinction. "In their foreheads." It is seen wherever you go, fronting every object you look at. Godliness cannot conceal itself. Divine goodness is evermore self revealing. As the face of Moses shone with a mystic radiance when he came down from the mount after holding fellowship with God, so the lives of all godly men are encircled with a Divine halo.
(3) It is the most honourable distinction. A man sometimes feels proud when he is told he is like some great statesman, ruler, thinker, reformer. But how transcendently honourable is it to bear in our face the very image of God! Let us all seek this distinction. With the Father's "name in our foreheads" we shall throw the pageantry of the shahs, the emperors, and all the kings of the earth into contempt.
3. The population is rapturously happy. "And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of [the voice which I heard was the voice of] harpers harping with their harps: and they sang [sing] as it were a new song" (vers. 2, 3). All souls yonder run into music! Here is music loud as booming billows, pealing thunders, and melodious as the enrapturing strains of the harp. How mean and unworthy are men's views of religious music. "Let us sing to the glory and praise of God," says the leader of public worship. And forthwith a whole congregation breaks into sound. And if the sound is regulated by the harmonious blending of notes, the production is called a "Service of Song;" and more, alas! is made an article of trade. Large incomes are made by the sale of such music. Can such be the music of heaven? Nay. True music is the harmony of soul - souls moving ever in accord with the Supreme Will. True music consists not in blending of sounds, whether vocal or instrumental, however charming to the senses, but in sentiments unuttered, perhaps unutterable, yet entrancing to conscience and pleasing to God.
4. The population is redemptively trained. "No man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed [purchased] from the earth" (ver. 3). Heaven, it has been said by men of old, is a prepared place for a prepared people. It is verily so. Observe:
(1) Man requires training for heaven.
(2) Redemption is the method of training for heaven.
(3) Earth is the scene of this redemptive training.
5. The population is spotlessly pure. "These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins" (ver. 4). There are those of our race who have never fallen, who have retained their virgin innocence, who required no pardon for their sins, nor regeneration. What millions of the human population die in their infancy, and go on unfolding their faculties and invigorating their strength through indefinite ages, in scenes of absolute holiness and infallible intelligence! They were not "redeemed from the earth;" such redemption they required not. From the dawn of their being they were ushered into the realms of immaculate purity and perfect bliss.
6. The population is absolutely loyal. "These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth" (ver. 4). All follow the Lamb, the Christ of God. Two words, "Follow me," embody at once the whole duty and perfect Paradise of souls. "Whithersoever he goeth." He is always moving. "The Father worketh hitherto, and I work." We cannot do exactly what he does, but we can imbibe that spirit which inspires him in all he does. Would I become a great painter? then how shall I proceed? If I copy the exact style and method of one of the greatest masters of the art, I shall only become a mere mechanic in the profession, never an artist. But if I catch the genius of the great master, I may, peradventure, leave him behind, and win a place and a distinction all my own. Let us catch the moral genius of Christ
7. The population is incorruptibly truthful. "In their mouth was found no guile [lie]: for they are without fault before the throne of God [they are without blemish]" (ver. 5). No lie! How unlike us! The social atmosphere of our world teems with lies as with microbes. Lies in parliaments, in markets, in Churches. The whole world teems with impostors. What a blessed world must that be where all is truth and reality! - D.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father's name written in their foreheads.