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Revelation; The Church Triumphant

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posted on Dec, 12 2010 @ 04:34 PM
This title is a phrase which comes from (and gives away, of course) my High Anglican upbringing.
Church Triumphant;= Those already experiencing the fruits of God's victory, in heaven. As against-
Church Militant;= Those still experiencing the various struggles and troubles of life on earth.

I want to offer some thoughts on that great human crowd which can be seen, in heaven, at various intervals in Revelation.

I'm going to be asking the question; who are these people (and what are they doing)?

We see them on four different occasions.
1) From ch7 v1, immediately following the sealing of the servants of God.
2) From ch14 v1, immediately following the account of the Beast and its "war on the saints".
(But also immediately preceding the proclamation of the fall of Babylon)
3) From ch15 v2, at the beginning of the destruction of Babylon.
4) From ch19 v1, immediately following the destruction of Babylon.

Who are they?

They're introduced to us in ch7 as "a great multitude which no man could number".
We're told that they come from "every nation, from all tribes and peoples and tongues".
This is the same extent as the authority of the Beast in ch13, which implies that they've been part of its realm.

Further information comes from dialogue between John and one of the Elders;
Elder; "Who are these, clothed in white robes, and whence have they come?"
John; "Sir, you know".
The Elder then answers both his own questions; "These are they who have come ouf of (EK) the great tribulation.
I take this to mean that they've had experience of the tribulation; they've passed through it, as it were, and come out the other side.
This exchange echoes the dialogue in Ezekiel ch37 v3;
The Lord; "Son of Man, can these bones live?"
Ezekiel; "O Lord God, thou knowest"
In Ezekiel's vision, the answer is that the bones are revived by the power in the Spirit of God.
The parallel implies that the crowd in John's vision have also passed from death to life by the power of the Spirit of God.

The Elder says their robes are white because they've been washed "in the blood of the Lamb".
In other words, they've been redeemed, purged of their sin by the death and resurrection of Christ.
He says they are before the throne of God and "serve him day and night within his temple", which can be compared to ch3 v12;
"He who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God; never shall he go out of it."
And the remainder of the Elder's explanation echoes a promise made in the time of thr first redemption from Babylon;
"They shall neither hunger nor thirst, neither scorching wind nor sun shall smite them,
For he who has pity on them will lead them, and by springs of water will guide them"- Isaiah ch49 v10.
"He will swallow up death for ever, and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces"- Isaiah ch25 v8
In short, their life is to be the life promised to the redeemed.
In the words of ch14 v4, they have been redeemed from mankind as "first fruits" for God and the Lamb.

On their next appearance, in ch14, John identifies them as the "one hundred and forty four thousand"; that is to say, as the servants of God who were "sealed" in the first part of ch7, in preparation for the conflict with the Beast.
I've already given my interpretation of this number;- 144,000
The total is built up in a way which combines the overtones of the number "12" ("God's people") and the number "10" ("completeness"); I came to the conclusion that it represents "the fullness of God's people occupying the fullness of God's world".
(And if the total is not meant to be understood literally, there's no genuine clash with the previous estimate of "a great multitude which no man could number")

They have the Lamb's name and his Father's name written on their foreheads (which is presumably the sign of their sealing).
This must be the counterpart of the mark of the Beast, which is placed in the same location.
It marks them out as belonging to God's company, not the Beast's.
John says they are chaste, "they have not defiled themselves with women". This will be a metaphor about their spiritual fidelity, in the same way that the "fornication" of the Harlot of Babylon is a metaphor about her spiritual infidelity. They're not a company of bachelors, but the complete assembly of God's faithful people, whether single or married, male or female.
And he also says that no lie has been found in their mouth.
Once again ,this echoes a promise made in the Old Testament, about the time when God has dealt with the enemies of his people;
""Those who are left in Israel,
They shall do no wrong, and utter no lies,
Neither shall there be found in their mouth a deceitful tongue".
All these details are pointing towards the fact that this crowd have been faithful to God and to the Lamb.
They have, by their fidelity, "conquered the Beast and its image and the number of its name" (as we're told in ch15 v2).
Their fidelity, we presume, has been carried to the point of martyrdom.
And since they've been found faithful to the Lamb, they're allowed to follow him wherever he goes.

What are they doing?

The appearance of this crowd in ch7 seems to mark the moment when they first arrive in heaven.
They're holding palm branches and crying with a loud voice; "Salvation belongs to our God and to the Lamb!"
In the same way that the crowd in Jerusalem were waving palm branches and shouting "Hosanna!" ("Save us!"), when Jesus was entering the city as their king, "mounted upon an ass".
We may like to understand this crowd themselves as the new Jerusalem, acknowledging his kingship once again.

When we see them in ch14, they have a new song which nobody else can learn.
This may be because their new mode of life is beyond our current comprehension.
However, that phrase, "a new song", carries echoes from the Old Testament, which may be instructive.
Thus, in Isaiah ch42 v10, the instruction to "Sing to the Lord a new song" comes in the middle of the Servant Songs, and is followed by the promise that the Lord will lead his people out of Babylon.
Psalm 96 begins in the same way, with praise about the glory and strength of God, and ends with the proclamation that the Lord is coming to judge the earth;
"He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with his truth."- Psalm 96 v13
As already observed, this appearance of the crowd in ch14 is placed between the accounts of the rise of the Beast and of the fall of Babylon. This kind of message- the "new song" which describes a fresh expression of God's saving power- would be very appropriate for both parts of the setting.

In ch15, at the beginning of the destruction of Babylon and the Beast, they add their praise to the event by singing "the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb".
The Song draws the lesson that God alone is holy and to be feared, because he brings justice and truth.
Presumably it is called after the "Song of Moses" because it celebrates the same kind of event;
God is overcoming the power of the oppressor, and preparing the way for a new covenant relationship.
Perhaps we can implicitly include in their message the last words of the original model;
"Thou hast led in thy steadfast love the people whom thou hast redeemed,
Thou hast guided them by thy strength to thy holy abode...
Thou wilt bring them in and plant them on thy own mountain,
The place, O Lord, which thou hast made for thy abode,
The sanctuary, O Lord, which thy hands have established"- Exodus ch15 v13, v17

Finally, in ch19, they lead the praise for the completed destruction of Babylon, focussing on the points in which they are most interested.
In the first place, it means that the blood of the servants of God has been avenged (as the "souls under the altar" were demanding, back in ch6).
In the second place, it means that the way has been cleared for the arrival of the Lamb's true bride. They themselves, as God's faithful people, are about to "inherit the earth".

The common factor in all these passages, of course, is the praise of the power of God.

A possible objection?

In ch7, the servants of God are being sealed, on earth, almost at the same time as the great multitude are waving palm branches in heaven.
This seems to make it necessary to distinguish between them and regard them as two distinct groups.
On that basis, the crowd in ch14 can be identified with one or the other, but not both.
There must be either at least two different human groups in heaven, or two different groups numbered as "one hundred and forty four thousand".
At least, that's the argument followed in many interpretations.
That line of argument is based on the assumption that "they cannot be in earth and in heaven at the same time"- but I'm going to question that assumption.

We're told in Ephesians that God has "made us alive together with Christ... and raised us up with him, and made us sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus"- Ephesians ch2 vv5-6
These are all things which God has already done, which means that we're already sitting in those "heavenly places".
Similarly, Jesus says about the "little ones" who believe in hin;
"I tell you that in heaven their angels always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven"- Matthew ch18 v10.
In other words, they have something of a presence in heaven even while they are alive.
This may be compared, again, with such teaching in John's gospel as;
"He who hears my word and believes him who sent me, has eternal life; he does not come into judgement but has passed [not "will pass"] from death to life"- John ch5 v24
The believer's enjoyment of eternal life has already begun, before his physical life has ended.

Therefore I see no reason why the great multitude waving palm branches in the second part of ch7 should not represent the immediate presence in heaven- even before their martyrdom- of those who have just been "sealed" in the first part of the chapter.

Therefore there is no need for us to "multiply entities", as Occam might say.
This crowd are one body- "the blessed company of all faithful people".

edit on 12-12-2010 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)

posted on Dec, 12 2010 @ 05:11 PM
1Thes. 4:13 Now we do not want you to be uninformed,14 brothers and sisters,15 about those who are asleep,16 so that you will not grieve like the rest who have no hope. 4:14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, so also we believe that17 God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep as Christians.18 4:15 For we tell you this by the word of the Lord,19 that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will surely not go ahead of those who have fallen asleep. 4:16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a shout of command, with the voice of the archangel,20 and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 4:17 Then we who are alive, who are left,21 will be suddenly caught up22 together23 with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will always be with the Lord. 4:18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.

1Cor. 15:50 Now this is what I am saying, brothers and sisters:28 Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 15:51 Listen,29 I will tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep,30 but we will all be changed – 15:52 in a moment, in the blinking31 of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 15:53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 15:54 Now when this perishable puts on the imperishable, and this mortal puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will happen,

“Death has been swallowed up in victory.”32

15:55 “Where, O death, is your victory?

Where, O death, is your sting?”33

15:56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 15:57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ! 15:58 So then, dear brothers and sisters,34 be firm. Do not be moved! Always be outstanding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.

posted on Dec, 12 2010 @ 05:14 PM
Well-written and thought provoking.

posted on Dec, 12 2010 @ 05:21 PM
reply to post by the2ofusr1

Yes, indeed.
The Thessalonians passage, of course, is particularly addressing the issue of "those who have died first", which is very relevant here. John's readers would have had the recent martyrs uppermost in their minds, so part of the effect of John's message is to reassure them.

edit on 12-12-2010 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)

posted on Dec, 12 2010 @ 05:23 PM
reply to post by CSquared288

Thank you for that encouraging comment.
It's good to know that people are finding them helpful.

posted on Dec, 12 2010 @ 05:52 PM
Right, but who's to say we are living in the times of Revelations?

Yes the signs may be there, but every Christian in history has said that.

My concern is that people will just roll over and take it, as the government continues to take over, just because the bible says they will win anyways.

If Christians had that mind set 235 years ago we would never have a United States of America.

Yes I believe the bible and Ultimately Victory is in Gods hands.

God helps those who help themselves.

posted on Dec, 12 2010 @ 05:57 PM
reply to post by thewholepicture

Agreed, but I haven't actually said that we're living "in the times of Revelations".
In all these threads, I 've been assuming only that the book applies to some unknown point in the future.

posted on Dec, 12 2010 @ 06:23 PM

Originally posted by DISRAELI
reply to post by thewholepicture

Agreed, but I haven't actually said that we're living "in the times of Revelations".
In all these threads, I 've been assuming only that the book applies to some unknown point in the future.

That's fine. Thank you for your post.

It is encouraging. However man, Christian or not, will have to endure quite a bit until the time of ultimate victory.

Many battles will be lost.

posted on Dec, 12 2010 @ 06:33 PM

Originally posted by thewholepicture
Many battles will be lost.

Yes, even Revelation indicates that.
The Beast "is allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them"- ch13 v7
That would be why Revelation on two different occasions makes "a call for endurance and faith". It implies there would be dark times when nothing but faith could carry people through.

posted on Dec, 12 2010 @ 08:12 PM
N.B. This theme was probably the biggest obstacle to one of my intentions for these threads, viz to complete the series without once using the word "rapture" in the OP.
One more hurdle crossed.

posted on Dec, 13 2010 @ 04:23 PM

Originally posted by the2ofusr1
1Thes. 4:13 Now we do not want you to be uninformed,14 brothers and sisters,15 about those who are asleep,...

“Death has been swallowed up in victory.”32

Yes, if this crowd were truly martyred, this is one of the lessons which can be drawn from their presence in heaven.
edit on 13-12-2010 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)

posted on Dec, 14 2010 @ 04:52 PM

Originally posted by DISRAELI
And he also says that no lie has been found in their mouth.
Once again ,this echoes a promise made in the Old Testament, about the time when God has dealt with the enemies of his people;
""Those who are left in Israel,
They shall do no wrong, and utter no lies,
Neither shall there be found in their mouth a deceitful tongue".

My apologies- I forgot to include the reference, and it's too late to edit the OP.
This passage comes from Zephaniah ch3 v13

posted on Dec, 22 2010 @ 12:33 AM
I'm not sure if this is your main point. In the bible i read it talks about the 144,000 people that go to heaven. It states directly each tribe they are from and most tribes have around 12,000 people each.

posted on Dec, 29 2010 @ 07:20 PM
reply to post by whipsandchainsamerica

No. that's not my main point, because I take a different view on the subject.
You're referring to the description of the "sealing of the servants of God" in ch6. But I dont take these numbers literally, either the 144,000, or the separate units of 12,000.
I said something about that in the OP, and expounded it in more detail in the discussion on the attached link;

posted on Jun, 7 2011 @ 05:23 PM
There is now an Index, covering all these Revelation threads, at this location;

Index of Revelation threads

This thread is numbered as #13 in the "order of chapters" list and Biblical reference index.

posted on Mar, 27 2012 @ 03:35 PM
Just to clarify;
Nothing in the OP is intended to suggest any particular prophetic significance in the year 2012 or the date 21/12/2012

posted on Apr, 3 2013 @ 02:55 AM
reply to post by DISRAELI

My response to the claims made about the year 2012 was that I could see no prophetic significance in the date.
This position seems to have been vindicated.

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