Sunday after Ascension Day - Morning Prayer (16 May 2021) Revelation 14:1-13
After Jesus’s crucifixion, the rule was not to proclaim Jesus as Christ. Jesus ascended to heaven on the fortieth day after resurrection. We remembered Jesus’s ascension last Thursday. The Holy Spirit was poured on the Apostles on the fiftieth day. We remember this as the day of Pentecost. The disciples and followers of Jesus who were scattered away were strengthened after receiving the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. Disciples gave their lives as martyrs. Peter was crucified upside down on the cross. Apostle John was deported to Patmos, the island for the prisoners in Asia minor by the Roman emperor Domitian around 56AD. Theologians believe that John was made blind before he was deported to the island. Jesus revealed the end time events to John through vision. Apostle John wrote the book of Revelation when he was imprisoned in Patmos. The book of Revelation is called Apocalypse which means uncovered or revealed. John wrote the book of Revelation to the early seven churches in Asia which was called Asia minor.
The first chapter of Revelation is the introduction. Chapters 2 and 3 contain letters to the seven churches. These chapters say the qualities that our Lord admires and hates in the churches. Knowing about these qualities help us to prepare ourselves for eternal life. The fourth chapter starts with ‘After this’. This means that the events in chapter 4 happen after the church is taken as a bride during Rapture. 1 Thessalonians 4:16,17 say, “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord”. Chapters 4 and 5 detail the events that will happen in heaven. In chapters 6 and 7 we read about the breaking of six seals. When the first seal is opened, the world will be given to Antichrist. When the first four seals are opened by the Lamb of God in heaven, the consequences will be seen in earth. When the fifth seal is opened, all the events will happen in heaven. The consequences of opening the sixth seal will be seen in earth during Antichrist reign. When the seventh seal is opened, there will be silence for half an hour in heaven and the angels will get ready to blow the seven trumpets. Two witnesses will come from heaven and perform many miracles in earth for 1260 days. They will be killed by the beast. In chapter 13 we read about antichrist.
After the church is taken as the bride during Rapture, the whole world will be given to Antichrist to reign for seven years. The first three and a half years will be tribulation period and the next three and a half years will be great tribulation period. During his reign, he will introduce the mark of the beast. Revelation 13 verse 18 says that it will be a numerical number which will be 666. The people in tribulation and great tribulation must have the mark of the beast on their forehead or right hand. During this time of tribulation, there are 144,000 people from Israel who are sealed by the Lamb of God. God will separate 1200 people from each tribe in Israel. The first eight verses of Revelation chapter 7 talk about these Israelites who are sealed by God. The remaining verses tell us about the other group of people with the Lamb of God in heaven. In Revelation 7:9 we read that there was “a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues”. This multitude “stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands”.
The events in our reading from the book of Revelation chapter 14 will happen in heaven and tells us of 144,000 people. Revelation 14:1 says, “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”. In his vision, John saw 144,000 people standing on Mount Sion with the Lamb of God, that is Jesus. Hebrews 12:22 says that mount Sion is the city of living God which is heavenly Jerusalem. John did not see those who were sealed by God among Israel during antichrist reign. The people who stood on Mount Sion in chapter 14 had “his Father's name written in their foreheads.” So we can understand that those standing on Mount Sion are not Israelites.
Attributes of the 144,000 people (chapter 14)
Verse 3 says these people were redeemed from the earth. Jesus said in John 6:44, “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day”.
St. Paul said in Romans 8:30, “Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified”. Those who are predestined by the Almighty Father will have Father’s name in their forehead. According to 1 Thessalonians 4:16, they will meet Jesus when He comes to receive the church as His bride.
In Chapter 7 verse 14, one of the elders told that the multitude came out of great tribulation and had washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb of God. God the Father gave His only begotten Son Jesus Christ as the Passover Lamb. Jesus shed His blood for the remission of our sins. When we are washed by the blood of the Lamb of God, we are born again for Jesus. The great multitude of people in heaven whom John saw were those who were raptured as bride or the church.
Qualities required to be among the 144,000 people (chapter 14)
In Revelation 14:4&5 we read about the qualities of these 144,000 people. “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. And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God”. From these verses, we can know about the expectation of Jesus to inherit the kingdom of heaven. When Jesus lived in this world, He lived a righteous life. He fulfilled all the commandments and laws. He faced trials, temptations and struggles like us, but lived His life obeying His Father and fulfilling His vision. He expects us to follow His footsteps with Him as our role model. Hebrews 5:16 says, “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin”. We can overcome the trials and temptation through Jesus Christ.
When Jesus was ascending to heaven the disciples heard a voice from heaven saying, “Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11). Jesus ascended to heaven from mount Olives. Jesus will come again to mount Olives. When He comes, He will fight against the devil’s army at Armageddon and will be the king over Israel. He will save Israel and give them their nation. Jesus will be the last king of Israel for ever. His promise to David will be fulfilled when Jesus will rule as the king of Judah.
In John 14:2,3 Jesus said, “In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also”. We are now awaiting the second coming of Jesus. The ascended Jesus is preparing a mansion in the heaven. He will come to receive the church as His bride. Those who are born again and washed their garments by the blood of the Lamb of God are His bride. We, the church, are waiting for Rapture and we will meet Jesus in the mid of the sky. We will wear white robes. We will sing and stand before the Lamb of God. We will meet Him only if our garments are washed by the blood of the Lamb of God. Our garments should be clean when He comes to receive the church as His bride to inherit our eternal life in the kingdom of heaven..
We all believe in the second coming of Jesus. Some of us believe in Rapture and some believe in Jesus’s second coming on the mount Olives. Whatever our belief, are we washed in the blood of the Lamb of God? Are we without fault to stand before His throne? I pray that we listen to the comforter Holy Spirit who reproves us of sin, righteousness and judgment and prepare ourselves to be with Jesus in the kingdom of heaven. Amen!