Harry Whittaker
Revelation - A Biblical Approach

Chapter 29 - The Lamb on Mount Zion (14:1-5)

Just as the Seals are introduced by a vision of the 144,000 of God’s spiritual Israel, so also the next section of Revelation (ch. 14), which will be demonstrated by and by to be the Seven Thunders (10:3, 4), is prefaced by a further vision of the 144,000 now redeemed and united with the Lamb. God has set His King upon the holy hill of Zion (Psalm 2:6), and these who have followed the Lamb are with him in his glory.

By contrast with those receiving the mark of the Beast, these have the Father’s name written in their foreheads, a detail which has been discussed in Chapter 15. In Old Testament times there was one man who permanently carried the name of the God of Israel in his forehead. He was the High Priest. His priestly crown had a golden plate over his forehead inscribed: “Holy to Jehovah.” Therefore the vision of a multitude all bearing the Father’s name in their foreheads is a token of a time when those who follow Christ are made kings and priests to reign on the earth (5: 10). The promise to the faithful in Philadelphia is fulfilled here: “I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God ... even my new name” - and that name is Jehovah our Righteousness (3:12; Jeremiah 23:6; 33:16).


Awe-inspiring as this vision of the great number of redeemed is to the apostle John, the sound that strikes on his ears is even more arresting: “harpers harping with their harps.” These are the twenty-four elders. And since the normal association of harps in Scripture is with expressions of joy and praise (Isaiah 24:8; 1 Chronicles 25:1, 3, 5; Psalm 71:22; 92:3), this impressive repetition can only imply a veritable crescendo and climax of unalloyed happiness and thanksgiving in the heavenly sanctuary. Harps, which had been hung up on weeping willows whilst Babylon was in the ascendant, are now made to send out their most resonant message of glad praise to God.

Mingling with this are other sounds, equally awe-inspiring and meaningful. One is “a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of great thunder”. The last phrase here supplies the clue. When the Father responded audibly to the appeal of His Son, soon to face the agonies of Gethsemane and Golgotha, “some said that it thundered” (John 12:29; Psalm 29:3). Here, then - wondrous notion, truly - is the Almighty Himself joining in the gladsome expression of joy as the great work of redemption in Christ comes to fruition.


Some of have been misled by the accompanying phrases: “as the voice of many waters.” Since, elsewhere (17:15) waters are interpreted as “peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues,” it has been assumed that this must be the idea to be associated with the words in every place. This is a mistake. Here the emphasis is on “the voice of many waters,” which is plainly interpreted in Ezekiel 1:24 as “the voice of the Almighty.” What more apt figure could be used than the thunderous crash of ocean waters in time of storm?[56]

The third element in the great rejoicing is “as it were, a new song, sung before the throne ... and no man could learn that song, but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth.” Here is one of several hints supplied in the I3ook of Revelation that one of the marvels and wonders of the life of immortality bestowed on the saints in Christ will be an unlocking of faculties which arc at present inhibited or only partially realized in this day of Adamic limitation and curse. It is a theme which the Apocalypse can allude to only in mysterious terms, for it involves that which is altogether beyond the comprehension of men, even men of the Spirit, who are still fettered with mortality.[57]

The further description of the redeemed can be somewhat puzzling if the background to the phraseology is not recognized: “These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins.” The first expression is appropriate to men, but the second to women!


In the first century every pagan temple had its quota of sacred “virgins” dedicated to the god. Ritual fornication with one of these was a well-recognized element of worship at the shrine. It was one aspect of the deification of sex, which ran through all the old nature religions, and wl1ich has revived in this generation in more sophisticated forms. Thus the description of the 144,000 is now seen to mean that they have not defiled themselves with any of the world’s unclean enthusiasms, the reason being that they themselves are “virgins,” that is, every one of them is wholly devoted to the service of the True God in the new temple of dedicated believers, which Christ has sanctified.

Their dedication has expressed itself in “following the Lamb whithersoever he goeth.” John’s gospel begins with a picture of disciples of John the Baptist leaving him to follow one who had just been pointed out to them as “the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world.” That following was no light-hearted experience, for it was to be “whithersoever he goeth.” He had gone forth bearing his cross. And these in turn have each taken up the cross of self to follow where he has led.

However that cross-bearing brought the Lamb to glory in heavenly places and to unsurpassed rejoicing on mount Zion. This, too, is the experience of those who are now “redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb.” That word “firstfruits” is very significant. It implies a much greater ingathering to follow. He shall truly “see of the travail of his soul, and be satisfied.”


The rest of Revelation 14 unfolds the next section of the Apocalypse - the Seven Thunders. These are each introduced by an angel with a loud voice. The angel speaks on God’s behalf. The thunder is the voice of God.

1. “And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven ... saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him...” (v. 6, 7).

2. “And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen” (v. 8). This is repeated and expanded in 18:2, where the angel “cried with a strong voice.”

3. “And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image ... the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God...” (v. 9, 10).

As in the other heptads, there is a break in the sequence here, and then the Thunders are resumed at v. 15:

4. “And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice ... Thrust in thy sickle, and reap...”

5. “And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle” (v. 17). The words and action of this angel are not described here, but that lack is more than made good in the detail of 19:17: “an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice ... Come, gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God.”

6. “And another angel came from the altar ... and cried with a loud cry ... Thrust in thy sharp sickle...” (v. 18).

7. “And I heard a great voice out of the temple saying to the seven angels, Go your ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth” (16:1). Thus, in harmony with the earlier structure of Seals, Trumpets and Dramatis Personae, the seven Vials evolve from the Seventh Thunder.

It is true also that the seven Thunders evolve from the seventh section of the previous heptad, for not only does the introductory vision (14: 2) mention “a voice of a great thunder,” but also the 144,000 “having the Father’s name written in their foreheads” is a deliberate contrast with the end of chapter 13 and its repeated mention of those who receive the mark of the Beast in the foreheads.

Thus the details of the structure of this part of the Apocalypse are in perfect harmony.

[56] Note also how Daniel 10:6 is explained by Revelation 10:3 (pp. 140 and 13).
[57] This point is developed at greater length in chapters 41 and 42.
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