[Rev. 14:1] ¶ Then I looked, and here was the Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with him were one hundred and forty-four thousand, who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads. [Rev. 14:2] I also heard a sound coming out of heaven like the sound of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder. Now the sound I heard was like that made by harpists playing their harps, [Rev. 14:3] and they were singing a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders. No one was able to learn the song except the one hundred and forty-four thousand who had been redeemed from the earth.
[Rev. 14:4] ¶ These are the ones who have not defiled themselves with women, for they are virgins. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever he goes. These were redeemed from humanity as firstfruits to God and to the Lamb, [Rev. 14:5] and no lie was found on their lips; they are blameless.
Throughout history no one has inspired more music, art or literature than Jesus Christ. And of those who have been creatively inspired by Christ none have been so inspired or so creative than those who have been redeemed by Christ! The 144,000 is a number that represents the redeemed. They are granted access to the presence of the One seated on the Throne of the Universe. The sound emanating from the Throne was a symphony of sublimely glorious music. Deep bass sounds so pure they sounded like loud thunder. High frequency tones which sounded like harps. And singing so heart-felt, that their deep gratitude to the One who had redeemed them was profoundly obvious. The lives of devotion, chastity and sacrifice which seemed so costly during their sojourn on earth, now seemed an infinitely small price to have paid compared to the wondrous ecstasy and consummate joy they were now basking in. As you draw closer to Christ don’t be surprised if you become increasingly creative and new songs arise in your soul. Proximity to the presence of God is the source of all true genuine artistic creativity.
Those who had died for Christ had not died in vain. They had followed the Lamb even to their deaths. Their deaths were avoidable – if they had only denied Christ, but “no lie was found in their mouth.” I once asked the General Manager of one of Australia’s largest companies why he was so successful at recruiting quality staff. He said that he hired on the basis of character first and competency third. In the interviews he would ask prospective employees a question: “Tell me about a time you paid a high price for doing the right thing.” As I pondered this question I realised that every Christian would be able to answer this question many times over because following Christ comes at a high price in a world devoid of character that more often than not rewards compromise and ridicules those who do right.
Were martyrs a sign of the Church’s doom? These original martyrs became the reason the Church survived! Tertullian wrote, “the blood of martyrs is the seed of the Church.” John describes them as “firstfruits”. Today we are the beneficiaries of their faithfulness. Hopefully in centuries to come future generations will be the beneficiaries of ours.