Follow the Lamb

Monday, September 12, 2016, 5:40 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Broken and Contrite.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Revelation 14:1-7 (ESV).

The Redeemed (vv. 1-5)

Then I looked, and behold, on Mount Zion stood the Lamb, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father's name written on their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven like the roar of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder. The voice I heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps, and they were singing a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and before the elders. No one could learn that song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth. It is these who have not defiled themselves with women, for they are virgins. It is these who follow the Lamb wherever he goes. These have been redeemed from mankind as firstfruits for God and the Lamb, and in their mouth no lie was found, for they are blameless.

Who are the redeemed of the Lord? And, what does it mean to be redeemed? Well, to answer the second question first, to be redeemed by the Lord means to be bought back for God, and this was done with the blood of Christ shed on a cross for our sins. So, why did we need this? Well, when God created man and woman he placed them in a garden. They were without sin and enjoyed perfect fellowship with God. God commanded them, though, that they must not eat of a certain tree, but then Satan entered the picture and tempted Eve to eat, and she gave some to Adam to eat, too, and thus they both sinned against God. As a result of their sin, all of us are born into sin, separate from God, and destined to hell (eternal damnation).

The Bible says that all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God, i.e. we all come up short of attaining God’s divine approval (See: Ro. 3:23). We can do nothing in ourselves to earn or to deserve salvation from sin. So, God the Father sent his Son Jesus Christ to the earth, to take on human form, and to die on a cross. He who knew no sin became sin for us, so that when he died our sins were crucified and buried with him. Yet, when the Father resurrected him from the dead, he rose victorious over sin, hell, Satan and death. Thus, when we put our faith and trust in Jesus Christ to be Lord (owner-master) and Savior of our lives, we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ in newness of life, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:24). We are the redeemed of the Lord, bought back for God with the blood of Jesus Christ.

So, who is the Lamb? Under the Old Covenant God had with his people, he required physical sacrifices of animals for the sins of the people. These had to be done yearly. When Jesus died for our sins, though, he died once for all. He became our sacrificial Lamb given in death for our sins so that we might be forgiven of our sins and have eternal life with God in glory.

So, where is Mount Zion? Well, in the times prior to Jesus’ death on a cross for our sins, Mount Zion was the city of God. It was Jerusalem, where the temple dwelt. It was also used figuratively in reference to the nation of Israel, God’s holy people at that time. Since Jesus’ death and resurrection, Zion is a reference to the body of Christ, the church, which is the temple of God, the city of God, and true Israel (spiritual Israel), the heavenly Jerusalem. So, in this passage of scripture we have a picture of Jesus, the Lamb of God, along with his redeemed people on Mount Zion, which is the city of God, his church, the heavenly Jerusalem.

The redeemed of the Lord have the name (divine character) of God the Father and the Son written (inscribed) on their foreheads (minds). The redeemed are described not just as those who are made righteous through faith in Jesus Christ, but as those who live righteously in the power of the Spirit living within them. They walk (conduct their lives) in purity, and they follow the Lamb (Jesus Christ) wherever he goes, i.e. they walk with him in obedience to his commands (his instructions). They are also not liars, but are truth tellers. They are blameless, though, only because Jesus paid the penalty for their sins, and his righteousness is credited to their accounts. Only through him can we even live righteously, in purity, and in obedience.

Fear God (vv. 6-7)

Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people. And he said with a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come, and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.”

So, what is this eternal gospel being proclaimed? Well, it is that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died on a cross for our sins, and was resurrected from the dead, so that we might die with him to sin and live with him to righteousness. Jesus died that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk not according to the flesh, but who conduct our lives according to (in agreement with) the Spirit of God (See: Ro. 8:1-14).

This is what it means to fear God and to worship him. It means that we honor our Lord by our lives, that we walk in obedience to his commands, that we turn away from lifestyles of living in sin, and that we give our lives to God as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to him, no longer conformed to the ways of this sinful world, but transformed in mind and heart by the Holy Spirit.

Jesus said that if anyone would come after him, he must deny self, take up his cross daily (die daily to sin and self) and follow (obey) him. He said that if we hold on to our lives (of living for sin and self) we will lose them for eternity, but if we lose our lives (die with Christ to sin), we will gain eternal life with God (See: Lu. 9:23-25). Paul reiterated this when he said that if we walk according to the flesh we will die (without Christ), but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live (with Christ eternally) – See: Ro. 8:1-14. And, John said that if we say we have fellowship with God, but we walk in darkness (in sin), we are liars and the truth is not in us (See: 1 Jn. 1:6).

You see, Jesus did not die just so we could go free from the punishment of hell, and just so we could go to heaven when we die. He died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24), and that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us (2 Co. 5:15). His grace is not a free license to continue in willful sin against God absent of true repentance. His grace, which brings salvation, teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return (Tit. 2:11-14). This is what it means to fear God and to worship him! And, this is what the gospel is all about, too.

Broken and Contrite / An Original Work / May 13, 2012

I come before You, Lord, my Savior,
With humble heart and crushed in spirit.
I bow before You, I implore You,
Heal my broken heart, I pray.
Love You, Jesus, Lord, my master,
You are the King of my heart.
Lord, purify my heart within me;
Sanctify me, whole within.

Oh, Lord, I long to obey fully
The words You’ve spoken through Your Spirit.
I pray You give me grace and mercy,
Strength and wisdom to obey.
Father God, my heart’s desire,
Won’t You set my heart on fire?
Lord, cleanse my heart of all that hinders
My walk with You, now I pray.

Oh, Jesus, Savior, full of mercy,
My heart cries out for understanding.
I want to follow You in all ways,
Never straying from Your truth.
Holy Spirit, come in power,
Fill me with Your love today.
Lord, mold and make me;
Your hands formed me;
Live Your life through me, I pray.