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12 The Remnant (Revelation 14)
In Revelation 12 and 13 we have been instructed as to the activities of Satan and his two leading instruments during the three and a half years that close the present age. In this terrible time all the evil that man can devise under the leading of Satan will be allowed to come to a head. Nevertheless, we now learn, in Revelation 14, that during this solemn time God, who is over all, will be working in securing a people for the blessings of the kingdom and in bringing the wicked under judgment.
(Vv. 1-5) From the opening verses of the chapter we learn that God will have a faithful remnant of believers who will be preserved through the horrors that will mark the reign of the beasts. This remnant is brought before us in a vision that John sees of an hundred and forty-four thousand saints, associated with the Lamb on Mount Zion. As a figure, Zion speaks of God acting in sovereign grace in connection with Israel in contrast to His dealings under law at Mount Sinai (see Psa 78:65-68; Heb 12:18-22). Does not the whole scene set forth in symbol that, in these closing days, God will intervene in sovereign grace on behalf of a godly remnant of the Jews, who will be redeemed from the earth, associated with Christ as the suffering Lamb, preserved through persecution, to become the first-fruits to God and the Lamb of the great harvest of souls that will be gathered from the nations to share in the glory of Christ's kingdom?
This remnant will bear a public witness to God and the Lamb for, in contrast to the followers of the beast, they will have the Name of the Lamb, and His Father's Name, on their foreheads (N. Tr.). Though passing through the world's miseries, they will have heaven's joy, for they sing a new song which only the redeemed can sing. We learn, too, under the figure of not being "defiled with women" that they will be kept in separation from the appalling defilements of the days in which their lot will be cast - a condition that, we know from other Scriptures, will be similar to the days before the flood and the days that preceded the judgment of Sodom (Luk 17:26-30). Moreover, they will not only be separate from evil but they will also be a positive witness to Christ, for they will be faithful followers of "the Lamb whithersoever He goeth." They will not seek to escape suffering or persecution by any false pretension, for on their lips will be "no guile," and in their practical conduct they will be "without fault."
How good, too, for believers in this our day, who are the subjects of sovereign grace, to seek to walk in separation from the growing evils of the day, whether political or religious, and, in obedience to the Word, take a place outside the camp, in order to gather to Christ, and as it were "follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth;" to witness to Christ without "guile" and walk "without fault."Rev 17:15-18).
(Vv. 9-12) It becomes clear that in these solemn times there will be the followers of the beast with his mark upon them (Rev 13:15-18) and the followers of the Lamb with His mark in their foreheads. There will be the proclamation of the beast telling all that dwell on the earth to worship the image of the beast; and there will be the everlasting gospel telling men to fear God, the Creator and Judge. There will be the decree of the beast that none can buy or sell without the mark of the beast. There will also be the warning of God that everlasting torment will be the portion of those who receive the mark of the beast. As it has been said, "The choice must now be made between God and Satan, between Christ and Antichrist, between the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error: and that choice once made is final and irrevocable, the results eternal and unalterable." To refuse the mark of the beast, to obey God, and be true to Jesus, will call forth the endurance of the saints.
(V. 13) The endurance of those who refuse the mark of the beast, and obey God, and remain steadfast in their faith in Jesus, may indeed lead, in many cases, to a martyr's death. Such might fear that they will miss the blessings of the kingdom, but they will be encouraged with the assurance that, so far from missing blessing, they will receive a special blessing, for the word to such is, "Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord henceforth." They will rest from their labours, and have their reward, for their works do follow them.
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Smith, Hamilton. "Commentary on Revelation 14". "Smith's Writings". https://www.studylight.org/