The Laodicean Message
by E.H. ‘Jack’ Sequeira
Then I looked, and there before me was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Fathers name written on their foreheads. And I heard a sound from heaven like the roar of rushing waters and like a loud peal of thunder. The sound I heard was like that of harpists playing their harps. And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders. No one could learn the song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth. These are those who did not defile themselves with women, for they kept themselves pure. They follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They were purchased from among men and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb. No lie was found in their mouths; they are blameless.
The implication is that 144,000 is not just a literal number, but a vast multitude. There are two passages in the book of Revelation and two passages in the New Testament that deal with the 144,000. We touched the first passage in our last study, which is Revelation 7. This presents the 144,000 in the context of a question, and the question is, Who will be able to stand the events preceding and leading up to the second coming of Christ? And, as you know, the events preceding the second coming of Christ is the great tribulation, the war of Armageddon. And, of course, the coming of Christ is also a tremendous event because Christ will not come with His glory veiled, but He will come in the full glory of His divinity.
Now I would like to turn to Revelation 14. You will notice here that the implication is the 144,000 are a vast multitude. Now, in Revelation 14 we are told the context of how the 144,000 will be produced. What will produce the 144,000? And the context of this section is the Three Angels Message. It is the Three Angels Message which is righteousness by faith or Christ our righteousness which will produce the 144,000.
The three angels message can be described as the sealing message. It is a message that will prepare a people for the last days and the coming of Christ. It is also, as we shall see in our study, a message that is Gods final call to a doomed world to accept His Son Jesus Christ. But I want now to look at the first five verses which describes the 144,000. Look at verse 1:
Then I looked...
Notice, John is not hearing, but hes doing what? Hes looking. Remember we saw in Revelation 7, that when he heard, the people were scattered, but when he looked they were together in heaven. And you will notice that chapter 14 of Revelation is dealing with the 144,000 who have now arrived in heaven, and we shall see that by several statements here. Revelation 14:1:
Then I looked, and there before me was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion [this is the coming of Christ], and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Fathers name written on their foreheads.
The same concept is in chapter 7; this means that they have the mind of Christ. Now, in chapter 14, this name in their forehead, which is the seal of God, is contrasted with the mark of the beast. Look at verse 9. You will discover that theres a contrast here, the second half of Revelation 14:
...If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives his mark on the forehead or on the hand....
Please notice, there are two marks. One is the seal of God on the forehead, which is having the mind of Christ, and the other one is the mark of the beast. Okay, what this verse is saying, and what this passage is saying, is that when the Three Angels Message is preached, it will divide the human race into only two camps. There will be nobody sitting on the fence, there will be only two camps: the believers and the unbelievers. As Christ mentioned once (Matthew 12:30):
He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters.
There will be only two camps. Those who are for Christ will have surrendered themselves to the cross of Christ. They will say, I am crucified with Christ. I am living, it is not I, but Christ.
The other ones will cry out, Crucify Him! Okay, so theres only two camps. Now the Bible describes these two groups in many ways: sheep and goats, the righteous and the wicked, those who build their house on the rock and those who build their house on the sand, the children of light and the children of darkness, and it goes on. You will find this dual description all through the New Testament. Now turn to verse 2, and please notice what John hears. He sees in verse 1 the 144,000 before the Lamb of God, now in verse 2 he hears. What does he hear?
And I heard a sound from heaven like the roar of rushing waters and like a loud peal of thunder. The sound I heard was like that of harpists playing their harps.
Now what does it mean, he hears rushing waters? In Africa, we have what we call flash floods. We have tremendous rains and the roads dont have bridges, because the country is poor, so they have what we call dips, the dry river beds. When you travel those on a motorcycle, its fun, because when you hit those dips and you come out you go up into the air. We had a pastor who was travelling, and he reached the bottom, and it was a bit wet, and his car got stuck, and as he was trying to push it out a flash flood came. It had rained in the mountains and it swept him and an African pastor and killed them both. Its like thunder, you hear it roaring along, and before you know it sweeps everything away.
This is the description here because you have the same concept in the Middle East. You have dry river beds. When it rains twice a year, the early rain and the latter rain, you have these flash floods. And John is saying, I heard as if it was rushing water. In the book of Revelation, water represents people. Turn to Revelation 17:15, you will notice that the water is described here as people:
Then the angel said to me, The waters you saw, where the prostitute sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations, and languages.
Please notice, waters represent a multitude of people. Now I want you to get the picture. He hears the voice as if it is of a rushing water. In other words, it is a numberless people. He hears the voices of uncountable people. It sounds like a great thunder, because thats what happens when you have these flash floods. You hear as if its thunder and the next moment the water comes along. And what did he hear? It was (Revelation 14:2b):
The sound I heard was like that of harpists playing their harps.
To whom is verse 2 referring? Is it referring to all the saved? No, look at Revelation 14:3:
And they [they refers to verse 2, which refers to verse 1, the 144,000] sang a new song before the throne [so this has to be in heaven] and before the four living creatures and the elders. No one could learn the song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth.
No one means that none of the other saved could sing this song, except the 144,000. So this is in heaven, a vast multitude are singing this song, the 144,000 sing a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts.
Now there has been a problem with these four beasts. Who are these four beasts? There is much speculation. I am not sure myself, but I will tell you what I think. If you look at the description of the temple of God, you will notice that the temple was protected; even in the Most Holy Place the temple had the cherubims. If you look at the description of the cherubims in Ezekiel 10:14, you will find that these cherubims had faces, four different kinds of faces: ox, eagle, lion, and man. If you look at descriptions of the temple, you will notice that they have statues of the cherubim and each cherubim has a different face. Ezekiel 10:14:
Each of the cherubim had four faces: One face was that of a cherub [which is the Hebrew term for an ox], the second the face of a man, the third the face of a lion, and the fourth the face of an eagle.
By the way, all these four faces represent or symbolize the characteristics of Jesus Christ. The lion He is the king. The eagle He is victorious. The man He is our Saviour. And the ox He is our sacrifice. And remember, the cherubim was at the gate of Eden when our first parents were driven out, the cherubims were at the mercy seat. They represented Christ, our Saviour. So even through the angels, God revealed His saving grace.
The elders here represent the 24 elders who were redeemed as the first fruit. And, of course the no one refers to the rest of the saved. The elders couldnt sing it, the beasts couldnt sing it, no other person could sing it except the 144,000 who were redeemed from among mankind. Why is it that they could sing it? Well, verse 4 and verse 5 describes the spiritual qualities of these 144,000. Now we must not take these literally because this has caused problems. Look at verse 4:
These are those who did not defile themselves with women, for they kept themselves pure. They follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They were purchased from among men and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb.
If you take it literally, you would have to say that this is only men. What does it mean, They did not defile themselves with women? Turn to Revelation 17:5, because the context, you will notice in chapter 14, the context is between Gods true people and Gods enemies, which are identified with Babylon. And when we look at the Three Angels Message, God is calling His people to come out of Babylon. Now look at Revelation 17:5:
This title was written on her forehead: MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF PROSTITUTES AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.
So these women here are the harlots, and the 144,000 were not defiled with their false teaching and their theology and all their human compromise. In other words, as we see when we look at the Three Angels Message in other studies, you will discover that Babylon represents self. "Is this not great Babylon that who built? With whose power? For whose glory?" That is what Babylon stands for. But well come to that. Now the 144,000 had nothing to do with self. They had lost all confidence in the flesh and were rejoicing in whom?...in Christ.
In verse 4 it says, in some translations, For they are virgins (they kept themselves pure). I had one member come to me and say, You know, no married person can be among the 144.000.
Why? I asked.
He said, It says so. They have to be virgins.
Well, thats the problem with taking things literally. Please remember the book of Revelation is a symbolic book. What does John mean when he says, they kept themselves pure? I want to give you a text that will help you. Turn to 2 Corinthians 11:2 and, after looking at the verse, I want you to look at the context, because the context is very crucial, too. Listen to what Paul says to the Corinthians in 2 Corinthians 11:2:
I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him.
Now whats the context? Look at verse 3:
But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpents cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.
I want you to be totally founded on Christ our righteousness. But Im afraid that even though I have presented you as perfect in Christ, you are trying to turn away from it. Look at verse 4:
For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we [the apostles] preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough.
And I want to remind you of John, Dont believe every spirit. Any spirit who teaches that Christ has not come in the flesh is not of God; hes the antichrist.
For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough.
In other words, I want to present you as a virgin to Christ, undefiled by philosophy, by human inventions and gimmicks. But Im afraid that I cant do it because youre so easily swept from the gospel.
So please remember here, when he says in Revelation 14:4 that these are virgins, it means that they are no longer defiled by self or any human invention or philosophy. They are resting in Christ as their only hope, as their only Saviour. Is that clear? Theyre undefiled. Thats what it means. They are virgins, they are undefiled. They are pure. And you remember what Jesus said in the sermon on the mount in Matthew 5? The very first thing He said, in verse 8:
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Okay, lets go on. These are those who did not defile themselves with women, which means that they are resting entirely on Christ our righteousness. Theres no self in it. They kept themselves pure, which means that they are saying with Paul, For me to live is Christ. Christ is everything to them. More in verse 4:
They follow the Lamb wherever he goes.
What does it mean, to follow the Lamb? The word Lamb is one of the terms used for Christ as a sacrifice. Remember, when John introduced Christ, what did he say? John 1:29:
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
And the way that He does it is by the cross. What does it mean to follow the Lamb wherever He goes? Turn to Luke 9 and listen to what Jesus says Himself about following Him. And you will notice that it all agrees with the basic concept of righteousness by faith. It agrees, it is in harmony, with not being defiled with women, or being virgins. Luke 9:23:
Then he said to them all [His disciples]: If anyone would come after [follow] me, he must deny himself [that is what the message of righteousness by faith demands] and take up his cross daily and follow me.
The cross is a symbol of the rejection of self. Let me put it another way, maybe I can give you a text, Galatians 5. What does the cross symbolize? Now please remember, to the Apostle Paul, the cross was not a piece of wood on which Christ died. The cross represented a truth. If you look at Luke 9:23, you will notice that Jesus said we must carry the cross or deny self how often? Daily. Did Christ carry the cross daily? Yes. Did He carry a piece of wood daily? No. Okay, so please, the cross in the New Testament, the emphasis is not the piece of wood. It is the truth. And I want to give you the truth. Galatians 5:24 and the context here is the fruits of the Spirit:
Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.
Now let me explain it to you in a very simple way. There are two things in each believer, there is the flesh, which is our natural life. And there is the Spirit, which is the Divine nature that we have become partakers of. And these two forces, these two things, the flesh and the Spirit, can never have partnership, they can never be married. The moment you try, you are defiling the truth, youre committing spiritual fornication. These two are enemies. Thats why Paul says in Romans 8:7 that the carnal mind, the mind controlled by the flesh, is enmity with God and can never be subject to the law of God:
...The sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to Gods law, nor can it do so.
In Galatians 5:16-17, Paul makes it clear that the two are enemies:
So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.
Now, because they are enemies, they are opposites. The flesh is founded on the principle of self. What the flesh sees, what the flesh desires, the flesh wants. At the very center of the flesh is covetousness. It covets everything. And we need to realize that this flesh will never be satisfied until it reaches the place of God. In other words, if God did not put restrictions to the flesh, where will the flesh end up? If you are getting in my way, my flesh will get rid of you, because you are in my way. How many people will the flesh get rid of to reach its ultimate goal? It has to get rid of even God, because the ultimate goal is to have the place of God.
By the way, the cross revealed that, and when you study it, you will discover that the cross reveals that if sin is given free reign, it will end up crucifying the son of God. That is why we cannot take sin lightly. Sin is more than simply doing something bad. Sin is taking the place of God. Sin is saying, I, and not Christ. The gospel is saying, Not I, but Christ. This is the difference between the Spirit and the flesh. The flesh says, I", and the Spirit says, Not I.
Now what happens when the Spirit says no to the flesh? Is the flesh happy? No, and I gave you a text in our last study, 1 Peter 4:1, when the Spirit says no to the flesh the flesh suffers. And here are Gods people who are willing to suffer with Christ. All through His life, folks, from the time of His coming to this earth to the cross, Jesus stood on the platform of not my will, but Gods will be done. And all His life He suffered in the flesh, and Gods will was performed. Now lets go on, back to the rest of Revelation 14:4:
They were purchased from among men and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb.
Now what does the word, firstfruits mean? It has more than one significance in the Bible. Let me give you two or three of them.
First, the word firstfruits means that the harvest time has approached. And you will notice, if you turn to Revelation 14:15, when the Three Angels Message has produced the 144,000, listen to what verse 15 says:
Then another angel came out of the temple and called in a loud voice to him who was sitting on the cloud [i.e., Jesus], Take your sickle and reap, because the time to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.
So the firstfruits is the sign that the harvest is ready, or around the corner.
The second is that the firstfruits symbolizes those that have reached maturity before the others. You see, the grain that has ripened first has rich maturity before the other grain which is still green. Or it can apply to fruit. In other words, even though the 144,000 are the last generations of Christians, they are the first ones to reach maturity in Christ. They are the firstfruits. Will all believers reach maturity? Yes, but where? In heaven. But the 144,000 will reach maturity here on earth. And, by the way, the Greek word for maturity in many of your Bibles is translated as the word, perfect.
Now I want to give you one example of this maturity because its in connection with the Three Angels Message. Turn to Matthew 5, and I want you to notice what Jesus is describing here. In verse 43, Hes describing the love that man can produce. This is the kind of love that we can generate. This is the kind of love that the Pharisees were teaching their people (Matthew 5:43):
You have heard that it was said, Love your neighbor [which is your fellow men, or your fellow Jews, in that context] and hate your enemy.
Now in verses 44-48, Jesus says that this concept of love doesnt require you to be a Christian. Even the publicans can do that (Matthew 5:44-48):
But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
What the gospel wants from you, what God wants from you, is to love others like God loves. And how does God love? Verse 44, does He love His enemies? Yes, Romans 5:10, While we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son.
For if, when we were Gods enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!
But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic.
But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you....
Did the people curse Christ? Yes, and what did Christ say? Forgive them. Did He do good to them that hated Him? Did He pray for them that persecuted Him, and despitefully used Him? Yes. And then is verse 45 (beginning with verse 44):
(But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,) that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.
And then He describes the love of the Father (verses 46-47):
He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you [in other words, if you love just your neighbor], what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? [i.e., the unbelievers, the sinners do the same.]
And then when He finishes this in verse 48 He says:
Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
What does He mean, Be perfect (or mature)? In other words, He says, You must love without discrimination. You must love unconditionally, spontaneously, without the object of love being good to you. You must love others like God loves you. And this is the commandment that Jesus gave His disciples in John 13:34:
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
Then in verse 35 He says:
By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
By this shall ALL MEN know that you are my disciples, when you have this love, this agape love.
And folks, this is what the 144,000 will reflect. They will reflect the love of Jesus Christ. That is maturity. And it is in this sense that Jesus will say in Revelation 14:12:
This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey Gods commandments and remain faithful to Jesus.
Here are My people who are keeping the commandments.
Please, we must be clear about what Jesus means by keeping the commandments. Does He mean the letter, or does He mean the Spirit? The Jews were expert at the letter, and so are many Adventists. But it is the spirit that God is looking for. Okay, now remember that the firstfruits means:
In other words, they are the ones who will manifest the full power of the gospel, while still on this earth. For example, turn to 1 Corinthians 15:23. Here Paul is using the firstfruits as a prototype. You see, some of the Corinthian believers were denying the resurrection of the believers. You will find that in verse 12. And Paul proves the resurrection of the believers not by the proof text method, but by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The fact that Christ rose from the dead, guarantees whose resurrection? Ours. Now look at verse 23:
But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him.
In other words, Hes the prototype of our resurrection; because He rose, we will rise. Hes the firstfruits. Our resurrection will take place at His coming.
Okay, will all the believers, will all the saved reflect the character of Christ? Yes. But not all have reached it will while they were on earth. The 144,000 will fully reflect the character of Christ. And this will be the greatest evidence of the power of the gospel, which is the power over sin and self. And then Revelation 14:5 simply describes this:
No lie was found in their mouths; they are blameless.
Some translations read, And in their mouth was found no guile. Now there are two ways this word is used. For example, Psalms 32:2 speaks of having no guile in the spirit:
Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit.
But in John 1:47, Jesus used the same word in an opposite sense: in terms of self-righteousness. If you read John 1:47, you will discover that Philip goes to his brother Nathanael, and do you know what he says to Nathanael? I have found the Messiah!
Where did you find Him? asks Nathanael.
Do you know what Nathanael replied? Can anything good come out of Nazareth? (No, it cant be. Nothing good can come out of Nazareth! He has the wrong lineage, the wrong birthplace.)
Well, Philip did not argue. He said, Come and see.
And he came. And the first thing that Jesus said to Him was, Here is an Israelite in whom there is no guile. (Who thinks hes very righteous; He doesnt come from Nazareth!) John 1:47:
When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false.
Nathaniel said to Jesus, How do you know me?
And Jesus said, Well, when you were under that fig tree I saw you.
And that was too much for him. Remember, in those days there were no telephones, televisions, cameras. And so he believed. But the text that I want to give you is 1 Peter 2, because this is the context which it is used here in Revelation 14. 1 Peter 2:21-22. Now I want you at home to read the context. The context is, We must be willing to suffer wrongfully for Christ. Thats the context. Peter is admonishing the believers, When you are mistreated, what do you do? Do you fight back? No, you must be willing to suffer wrongfully. 1 Peter 2:21:
To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.
Did He deserve that suffering? No. Was He willing to suffer? Yes. Why? Because He loved us. He was leaving us an example, that we should follow in His steps. And then His steps are described in 1 Peter 2:22-23:
He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth. When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.
He did not say, Ill get you back! He doesnt say that. Or, Ill take you to court! He didnt do that. 1 Peter 2:24:
He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.
Remember, wherever you have the word, tree, it symbolizes the curse of God. Deuteronomy says, Cursed is the man who hangs on a tree. Deuteronomy 21:22-23:
If a man guilty of a capital offense is put to death and his body is hung on a tree, you must not leave his body on the tree overnight. Be sure to bury him that same day, because anyone who is hung on a tree is under Gods curse. You must not desecrate the land the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance.
Now please note, He was willing to suffer that we might be healed. We must be willing to suffer that He might be glorified. That is what these people are, the 144,000. Now please remember, will the 144,000 be persecuted in that great tribulation? Will they be falsely accused? Will they be mistreated? Will they be reviled? You name it, they will face it. How will they react? Like Christ did. They will keep quiet, they will not fight back. Folks, that is the power of the gospel. They have no guile in their mouth, they dont fight back, they dont retaliate. The second half of verse 5:
...They are blameless.
Here are My people who have the faith of Jesus, and who are manifesting it by keeping the commandments. Or as Revelation 19:7-8 says:
Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear. (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.)
Also Revelation 7:14b:
These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
They are a people who have washed their robes and made them white and this white robe is the righteousness of Christ imparted, folks.
So here are a people who will be cleansed, who will fully reflect the character of Christ. How will this happen? By promotional programs? No. By incentives? No. But by the preaching of the Three Angels Message, and by our response to it. And the Three Angels Message is, in verity, Christ our righteousness.
Can you see that God has a great plan for us, for the last generation of Christians? That plan will be realized by the Three Angels Message. That message will produce a people who will be able to stand in the great tribulation, and the second coming of Christ. Do you know that Christ, in His divinity, is a consuming fire? And do you know, that anything that is not covered by His righteousness, will be consumed at the second coming? Do you know that the believers will be able to stand that glory, not because they are good in themselves, but because they are clothed with the righteousness of Christ. And they will cry: This is our God and our Saviour that we have been waiting for!