The Redeemed of the Earth

The Book of Revelation applies several terms and symbols to the church that is under assault both from without and within. The men who are redeemed from the Earth by Jesus form a company that transcends all national, social, and cultural boundaries. And “tribulation” is not an aberration to be avoided at all costs. Instead, persevering through trials and faithfully bearing witness in persecution are part and parcel of what it means to follow the “Lamb wherever he goes.”

What sets this company apart is its composition of men from every “nation,” “people,” “tribe,” and “tongue” who have been redeemed by Jesus. And by his blood, they have become the “kingdom of priests” that is now sent to mediate the light of the Gospel throughout the Earth.

The purpose of the church is presented in the Book’s opening paragraph. Jesus is the “Faithful Witness, the Firstborn of the Dead, and the Ruler of the Kings of the Earth.” His past death is the basis of his present reign.

By his death, he freed his people from their sins and made them a “kingdom of priests.” Thus, the mission assigned long ago to Israel has now fallen to the people who follow the “Lamb wherever he goes” - (Exodus 19:4-6, Revelation 1:4-6, 5:10).

The recipients of the Book are identified as the “servants” of God, the “Seven Churches of Asia.” They are “fellow participants” with John in the “tribulation and kingdom and perseverance in Jesus.

John was on the island of Patmos “because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.” Already in the first century, he and his fellow believers were experiencing “the tribulation” on account of their “testimony for Jesus.”

At one point, John sees a glorious figure seated on the “Throne” at the center of the Cosmos who is holding the Scroll sealed with Seven Seals. After a search of all creation, only the sacrificial “Lamb” is found “worthy” to open it because “he was slain and redeemed for God by his blood men out of every tribe, tongue, people and nation, and made them a kingdom and priests to our God” - (Revelation 5:9-10).

Thus, the same category applied to the “Churches of Asia” is applied to this great multitude from every nation, the “kingdom of priests.” Though this vast company is larger than the seven small congregations of Asia, it also includes them.


In Chapter 7, John “hears” the “number” of God’s “servants” that are “sealed,” twelve thousand males from each of the twelve tribes of Israel, or 144,000 men. However, when he looks, he “sees” a vast multitude that “no one can number out of every nation, and all tribes, and peoples, and tongues, standing before the Throne and the Lamb.”

What John “sees” interprets what he “heard.” The “innumerable multitude” is identical to the 144,000 males from the “twelve tribes of Israel.” And this is the same company of men purchased from “every nation” by the “blood of the Lamb” - (Revelation 5:9-10, 7:1-17).

In this way, Revelation transforms the image of the “tribes of Israel” assembled around the Tabernacle into the “innumerable multitude” of men from every nation and standing in worship “before the Throne of God” in his “sanctuary” - (Revelation 7:13-17, 21:1-6).


In Chapter 11, the “Two Witnesses” are called the “two lampstands,” and elsewhere in the Book, lampstands” represent CHURCHES. When their prophetic ministry is finished, the “Beast that ascends from the Abyss wages war with them and overcomes and slays them.”

This last clause borrows language from Daniel’s vision of the “Little Horn” that waged war on the “saints” of Israel, the “King of fierce countenance” who defiled the Sanctuary in Jerusalem, caused the cessation of the daily burnt offerings, and corrupted many of the saints - (Daniel 7:20-21, 8:20-27, Revelation 11:7).

But the “Beast” cannot kill the “Two Witnesses” until he is authorized to do so, and their violent deaths do not mean defeat for the “Lamb.” Their martyrdom will be followed by the “Day of the Lord” and the consummation of the Kingdom of God when the “seventh trumpet” sounds - (Revelation 11:15-19).

In Chapter 12, Satan is expelled from heaven and no longer is able to “accuse our brethren before God.” Enraged, he gathers his forces to “wage war against the seed of the woman, those who have the testimony of Jesus.” But the “brethren” overcome the “Dragon” by the “blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony,” and because they are willing to suffer martyrdom for his name and testimony - (Revelation 12:9-17).

And the “Beast that ascends from the Sea” will make war on the “saints and overcame them.” This refers to the same reality as the war against the “Two Witnesses” by the “Beast from the Abyss,” and the “war” by the “Dragon” against the “seed of the woman,” those who have the “testimony of Jesus” - (Revelation 12:17, 13:1-10).

Next, the “Beast from the Earth” causes all the “Inhabitants of the Earth” to render homage to the first “Beast,” and to take its “mark.” In contrast, the sealed company of those who were “redeemed from the Earth” are seen standing with the “Lamb” on “Mount Zion,” having been “purchased” from the Earth. Rather than the Beast’s mark, they have his Father’s name inscribed on their foreheads.


Thus, in Revelation, humanity falls into two groups:  those redeemed from every nation who follow the “Lamb,” and the “Inhabitants of the Earth” that take the “mark of the Beast.” The names of the latter group are NOT “written in the Lamb’s book of life,” they have NOT been “redeemed by his blood” - (Revelation 13:15-18, 14:1-5).

At the commencement of the “Seven Bowls of Wrath,” the Redeemed are described with imagery from the Exodus story.  Those who “overcome” the “Beast” are seen “standing on the glassy sea… and they are singing the song of Moses the servant of God and the song of the Lamb” - (Revelation 15:1-4).

The English term “overcome” translates the same verb applied in the messages to the “Seven Churches” to faithful saints who “overcome.” And it is the same verb found when the “brethren OVERCAME Satan by the blood of the Lamb.” Once again, the same company of the Redeemed is seen, this time standing on the “glassy sea.”

The “saints” overcome the “Beast” by enduring faithfully whatever it may inflict on them, all while maintaining their “testimony.” This is the “perseverance of the saints.” Like the 144,000 “males” singing the “new song” on “Mount Zion,” the faithful stand on the “sea of glass” and sing the “song of the Lamb.” The two “songs” link both groups - they are one and the same.

The great whore, “Babylon,” is judged and destroyed for her egregious sins, among them, her persecution of the saints. John saw her “drunk with the blood of the saints and the blood of the witnesses of Jesus.” The saints rejoice over her destruction because it means their vindication - (Revelation 17:1-19:10).

With her demise, the time arrives for the “marriage of the Lamb, for his wife has made herself ready.” She is “arrayed in fine linen” which represents the “righteous acts of the saints.”

Likewise, in Asia, faithful believers who heed the Spirit and OVERCOME the Devil are “arrayed in white garments.” So, also, members of the “innumerable multitude” that came out of the “Great Tribulation” are “arrayed in white garments,” having made them white “in the blood of the Lamb” - (Revelation 3:5, 3:18, 7:9-17).

Thus, from start to finish, the focus of the Book of Revelation is on the church, the people of God, the men and women redeemed by Jesus through his sacrificial death.  Though different terms and images are applied, the same redeemed company is in view in each case.

The terms used mostly derive from the story of Israel, but Revelation reapplies them to the followers of the “Lamb” from every nation and tribe. Consistently, what sets them apart is the fact they have been “redeemed by the blood of the Lamb,” the same Lord they now follow “wherever he goes.”



Son of Destruction

Rosh Means Head