a hope for the future
It can be easy to become overwhelmed with the constant change and chaos going on around us in the world. In the same way, it can be easy to become overwhelmed when reading the book of Revelation. Halfway through the book, the foreshadowings of the Great Tribulation, the mark of the beast, and the antichrist have become all too real. They can seem daunting or even scary to those who don’t know much about the end time.
But Revelation is not designed to make us fearful. Rather, it is designed to encourage Christians and remind us of the hope we have in Jesus Christ. Despite all the bad in the world, we can cling to the promise that Christ will return, defeat Satan once and for all, and make all things right. John reminds us of this hope in Revelation 14.
Looking Further Ahead
In Revelation 14:1–5, John steps outside of the chronological timeline and jumps further ahead into the future to remind us that even in the midst of what seems like the worst moment in history, at the end of it all, we will be in Jesus’ presence worshiping Him for 1,000 years and for the rest of eternity.
He reminds us of the 144,000 Jewish soul-winners who will travel the earth and save countless lives during the Great Tribulation. According to verses 1 through 3, they will be in the presence of God, they will be marked by God, and they will sing a new song of praise to God.
“Then I looked, and behold, the Lamb was standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and fourty-four thousand, having His name and the name of His Father written on their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven, like the sound of harpists playing on the harps. And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders; and no one could learn the song except the one hundred and fourty-four thousand who has been purchased from the earth.”
Despite all the chaos, the 144,000 remind us that God is still with us, we are still His, and we can still worship Him. But not only that, they will also exemplify what it means to follow Him. Verse 1 says that the Lamb of God, Jesus, will stand in honor of the work of the 144,000, and together, they will be in the presence of God. Verse 1 also reminds us that in the same way that there will be those with the mark of the beast, God will also mark His people—but instead of by a number, He marks them with a name. The name of Jesus. We are marked by the name of Jesus—the very name that saves us and redeems us. What a beautiful reminder that we are not just a number to God. Then, in verse 3, we are told about the bountiful praise that is brought before the throne. The 144,000 sing a new song because when you know Jesus, there are always more ways to praise Him.
In these verses, we see the presence, the identity, and the worship of the 144,000, but then as a read on, we also see the way in which they live. They live in a way that is centered on following God.
Following Where He Leads
Revelation 14:4 continues on to say that the 144,000 were “the ones who follow the Lamb where He goes.” They live in the presence of God, they are marked by God, and they worship God, but ultimately, they also dedicate their lives to following Him.
It is one thing to say you love Jesus and another to truly follow Him. All across Scripture, we see people being called to follow Jesus. In Mark 1:17–18, Jesus calls His disciples to follow Him. He doesn’t call them to like what He says or merely listen to Him, no He calls them to follow Him—to take action and to become His disciples. Whatever He said, they did; wherever He led, they followed. Being a follower of Jesus is more than just a title; it is a daily decision.
The Israelites in the Old Testament display a strong representation of what it looks like to follow God. They knew they were ultimately headed toward the Promised Land because that’s what God had told them, but they did not know how long it would take them, when the would arrive, or what would happen on the journey there. Instead, they woke up every day with one job—to follow God. They followed the cloud by day and the fire by night (Exodus 13:21).
Now, think about your own life. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m guilty of wanting the whole plan; wanting to know where God is leading me today, tomorrow, in five years, for the rest of my life. But, that’s what I want, not what God has called me to.
Rather, He has simply called me to follow Him. To wake up in the morning, pray, and make the active decision to follow Him, wherever He plans to lead me that day. And He’s calling you to do the same. We don’t need the plans of this world; all we need is to follow God because there is hope for the future—Jesus is returning, and we want to be following Him when He comes back.