(Pixabay/mikadago)

This week, we will cover Revelation 14:1-5, and the antithesis to the beast and his mark, which also reveals how we keep from worshipping the beast or taking its mark.

Then I looked. The Lamb was standing on Mount Zion and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand having His Father's name written on their foreheads. And I heard a sound from heaven, like the sound of many waters and like the sound of a great thunder. I heard the sound of harpists playing their harps. They sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders. No one could learn that song except the one hundred and forty-four thousand who were redeemed from the earth. These are those who were not defiled with women, for they are virgins. These are those who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These were redeemed from among men, as first fruits to God and to the Lamb. No lie was found in their mouths, for they are without fault before the throne of God.

This group may be the most speculated about from the Book of Revelation, second only to the mark of the beast. John begins this part of the text with "then I looked ... ." So this is what he saw immediately after viewing the beast and the mark of the beast. What stands out about this group is that they do not have the mark of the beast; instead they have the name of the Lord and the Father written on their foreheads. This states that the way not to worship the beast is to worship the Lord and have His name written on our foreheads.

Is it that simple? Yes. Deception often comes through complications resulting from speculations. If we truly worship the Lord, keeping Him first in our affections and devotion, we will not worship the things of this earth, the beast that comes up out of the earth or anything else. If we have taken God's mark, the devil will not be able to put his mark on us. If we have taken God's mark then we know Him as our source—we will not have to depend on "buying, selling or trading" in the ways of this beast.

There is also much speculation about whether this 144,000 is a literal number. There are persuasive arguments that this is the case, as well as arguments that consider this number to be symbolic. I always take Scripture literally unless there is compelling evidence that it is intended to be symbolic, which I do not see here. However, if it is a literal number, this does not mean that these are all who are redeemed at the end of the age. As we see in Revelation 7, there is a "great company" too big to count that came out of "the great tribulation" worshipping God. So this is a unique group within the redeemed, but the redeemed number is much larger.

Establishing who I think this 144,000 is would take many weeks to cover in this format, but it seems obvious that this group is set apart in a unique way and has a unique purpose. Personally, I think they are the "messengers of power" that Enoch prophesied would come at the end of the age. Regardless, we can take the principle established here about worshipping the Lord and taking His name on our foreheads. The great trial at the end called the "great tribulation" is about whom we really worship—God or the things of this world.

The biggest point being made here is for each of us to settle who we will serve, because we cannot serve God and another god. For that reason, we must understand the nature of the beast so that we do not serve it by living according to its ways, and that we keep God first in our affections and in our trust. A false god is not just something we have affection for that eclipses our affection for God—it is also what we put our trust in more than God. We should apply this test to everything that has our affection or that we put our trust in.

Rick Joyner is the founder and executive director of MorningStar Ministries and Heritage International Ministries and is the senior pastor of MorningStar Fellowship Church. He is the author of more than 40 books, including The Final QuestA Prophetic History and Church History. He is also the president of The OAK Initiative, an interdenominational movement that is mobilizing thousands of Christians to be engaged in the great issues of our times, being the salt and light that they are called to be.

This article originally appeared at morningstarministries.org.

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