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11 March 2021

Redeemed People of God

SYNOPSIS – In Revelation, final victory over the “Dragon” means the redemption of men and women from every nation - Those who follow the “Lamb wherever he goes.” 

Church at night Photo by Andrew Seaman on Unsplash
In the book of Revelation, the covenant community attacked by the “Dragon” and its earthly agents is labeled variously as “the saints,” the “seed of the woman,” they who “have the testimony of Jesus,” those who “keep the faith of Jesus,” “kingdom of priests,” and the men and women “who have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb.” What determines membership in this company is identification with - and redemption by - the “Lamb.” - [Photo by Andrew Seaman on Unsplash].

When the nationality of the group is revealed, consistently in the book, it consists of men and women redeemed by the Lamb from “every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation.” For example, the “innumerable multitude” from chapter 7:
  • (Revelation 5:8-10) – “And when he took the scroll, the four living creatures and the four-and-twenty elders fell down before the Lamb…and they sing a new song, saying — Worthy art thou to take the scroll and to open the seals thereof; because thou wast slain and didst redeem unto God by thy blood [men] out of every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation, And didst make them unto our God a kingdom and priests, — and they reign on the earth.” – (The Emphasized Bible).
In its entirety, Revelation is addressed to the “seven churches in Asia,” Christian congregations residing in key cities of the province of Asia. In the first vision, Jesus is the “Son of Man” arrayed in priestly garb who walks among the “seven golden lampstands” – The “churches” - (Revelation 1:19-20).

The next two chapters present seven letters for the seven churches. They were struggling against deceivers, compromise, and, in at least two cases, persecution. For example, in the city of Smyrna the church had been “slandered” by the “synagogue of Satan.” This refers to false charges leveled against the church before local magistrates. “Slander” or blasphemia does not refer to profanity but to legal accusations. The language anticipates the “slander” against the “saints” by the “Beast from the sea” in chapter 13 - (Revelation 2:93:9).
  • (Revelation 13:5-7) – “And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and slanders (blasphemia); and it was given unto him to act forty and two months. And he opened his mouth for slander (blasphemiaagainst God to slander (blasphemiahis name and his tent—them who in heaven were tabernacling. And it was given unto him to make war with the saints and to overcome them.
The attacks against the “seven churches” are a microcosm of what the “Dragon” does to the “servants of the Lamb” worldwide, especially through his minions, the “Beast from the sea,” the “Beast from the earth,” and the “Great Whore, Babylon.”

The “Lamb” first appears in the vision of the Throne and the “sealed scroll.” Only the “slain Lamb” was accounted “worthy” to break the seals and open the scroll. As he approached the Throne, all creation pronounced him “worthy” because:
  • You were slain and purchased for God with your blood men from every tribe, tongue, people, and nation, and made them for our God a kingdom and priests; and they are reigning upon earth.” – (Revelation 5:9-11).
This victorious company is identified by the redemption achieved by the death of the “Lamb.” Previously, Jesus was declared the “ruler of the kings of the earth” and the one who “loves us and loosed us from our sins by his blood; and he made us a kingdom, priests unto his God and Father.” Already, this priestly company is reigning on the earth with him – (Revelation 1:5-6, 20:1-6).

Between the fifth and sixth seal openings, John “heard” the number of the company of the “servants of God” about to be “sealed on their foreheads” - 144,000 males from the “twelve tribes of Israel.” However, when he looked, John “saw” a vast “innumerable multitude” of men and women “out of every nation and of all tribes and peoples and tongues,” exiting the “great tribulation” to stand before the “Throne and the Lamb.” One of the twenty-four “elders” provided the interpretation of the vision:
  • These are they that come out of the great tribulation, and they washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore, they are before the throne of God; and they serve him day and night in his temple; he that sits on the throne shall spread his tabernacle over them. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; neither shall the sun strike upon them, nor any heat; for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne shall be their shepherd and guide them to fountains of waters of life: and God shall wipe away every tear from their eyes” – (Revelation 7:13-17).
Thus, John “heard” the number - 144,000 males from Israel - but “saw” a multitude of men and women that “no man could number” redeemed by the “blood of the Lamb” out of every nation. The company of 144,000 males from Israel is identical to the “innumerable multitude from every tribe and nation.” This is the same group of redeemed men and women that “sang a new song,” declaring the “Lamb worthy” to open the “sealed scroll.”

Later, the same group is seen standing on “Mount Zion” - The 144,000 “males” appear with the “Lamb,” singing a “new song,” men with his “Father’s name written on their foreheads.” This company was “purchased from the earth,” just as the vast “innumerable multitude” that was redeemed from “every nation” - (Revelation 14:1-5).

Satan, symbolized by the “Dragon,” is called the “accuser of the brethren,” the latter, a group identified as these who overcame the Devil “by the blood of the Lamb, the word of their testimony; and because they loved not their life even unto death.” Unable to destroy the “woman clothed with the sun,” the “Dragon” vented his rage by launching a “war” against the “rest of her seed,” a group described as “they who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus” - (Revelation 12:8-17).

The “war” launched by Satan plays out on the earth when the “Beast from the sea” is authorized to “make war against the saints, and to overcome them.” This passage uses language from the book of Daniel where the “little horn” with a “mouth speaking great things” persecuted the “saints” connected to the one “like a son of man”:
  • (Daniel 7:19-21) – “Then I desired to know the truth concerning the fourth beast, which was diverse from all of them, exceeding terrible, whose teeth were of iron, and its nails of brass; which devoured, brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with its feet; and concerning the ten horns that were on its head, and the other horn which came up, and before which three fell, even that horn that had eyes, and a mouth that spoke great things, whose look was more stout than its fellows. I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them.”
  • (Revelation 13:5-8) – “There was given to it a mouth speaking great things and slanders…And it opened its mouth for blasphemies against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, even them that tabernacle in the heaven. And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and there was given to him authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nationAnd all the inhabitants of the earth will render homage to it, everyone whose name is not written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb that has been slain.
The “Beast” was “given authority” to persecute the “saints,” AND authority over “every tribe, people, tongue, and nation.” There is a double meaning in the passage. Not only is the “Beast” given the authority to persecute the “saints” and “slay them,” those who “tabernacle in heaven” - The men and women redeemed from “every nation” - It also is granted authority over all the nations of the earth. The “Beast” misleads the “inhabitants of the earth,” so their names are excluded from the “Lamb’s book of life.” The first group suffers persecution and physical death; the latter partakes of the “second death.” It is one’s relationship to the “Lamb” that determines his or her fate.

After the final defeat of Satan, John saw the “New Jerusalem” descending to the earth and fully inhabited. The description given by a “great voice” uses the same language heard earlier when one of the “elder” interpreted the “innumerable multitude”:
  • Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he shall dwell with them, and they shall be his peoples, and God himself shall be with them. And he shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and death shall be no more; neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain, anymore: the first things are passed away……And the nations shall walk amidst the light thereof: and the kings of the earth bring their glory into it. And the gates thereof shall in no wise be shut by day (for there shall be no night there): and they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it: and there shall in no wise enter into it anything unclean, or he that makes an abomination and a lie: but only they that are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” – (Revelation 21:3-4, 24-27).
  • He that sits on the throne shall spread his tabernacle over them. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; neither shall the sun strike upon them, nor any heat; for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne shall be their shepherd and guide them to fountains of waters of life: and God shall wipe away every tear from their eyes” – (Revelation 7:16-17).
The same group of men and women redeemed “by the blood of the Lamb” from “every nation, tribe, people, and tongue” is presented in both visions.

Rainforest - Photo by Mandy Choi on Unsplash
Rainforest - Photo by Mandy Choi on Unsplash

Thus, in the 
book of Revelation, the story and final victory is not about Israel or any other ethnic group, but instead, about men and women from every nation redeemed by the Lamb to inherit life in the “New Jerusalem.” This promise includes the overcoming saints from the original “seven churches of Asia.”

What determines where one dwells, whether in New Jerusalem or the “Lake of Fire,” is identification with and faithfulness to the “Lamb.”




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