Jack Graham - Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory
"Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord. He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored. He has loosed the faithful lightning of His terrible swift sword. His truth is marching on. Glory, glory, hallelujah, His truth is marching on". When Abraham Lincoln the president first heard the words of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" at an event he attended, he stood afterwards with tears streaming down his face and into his beard, and said, "Sing it again, sing it again". "Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord".
The book of Revelation is about the glory of the coming of the Lord. And Revelation chapter 14 speaks of what His coming will be like. It's actually a fast-forward to the End of Days when Christ finally and fully returns to earth and establishes His eternal kingdom, making all things new. And so in verse 1 of Revelation 14, these words. And again, you will hear some of the words of the Battle Hymn and especially near the end of the chapter: "But 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".
Oh, there will be harps in heaven after all, "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 those who follow the Lamb wherever he goes. These have been redeemed from mankind as first fruits for God and the Lamb, and in their mouth no lie was found, for they are blameless. Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to all those who dwell on the 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, and the sea and the springs of waters.'"
These words are a call to spiritual battle, and a cry for courageous, triumphant faith. Revelation 14 contains these words of praise "Glory to God", and also a sober, startling warning to the world without Christ and the coming Judgment. Jesus is soon to appear and take us home to be with Him, and then Great Tribulation. And then at the End of the Age He will come in great glory and the whole world will see Him. Every eye will see Him. And even those who pierced Him will wail because of Him. He's coming as a conquering King, and the One who will judge the world. He is the Christ of whom we say "Glory, glory, hallelujah"! The Christ who was born amongst the lilies across the sea who is now coming as King of kings and Lord of lords.
When we closed chapter 13 of Revelation, the situation looked absolutely bleak, maybe even hopeless. The dragon, Satan, and the antichrist with his false prophet are in command and apparently complete control of the world. This is at the end of the Tribulation period and Jerusalem and the people in Jerusalem are under siege. Many are dying for their faith. As people come to Christ during the Tribulation period they are often martyred for their faith and trust in God through Christ because the only way to live through the Tribulation on this earth was to submit to the beast. Everyone is in beast-mode, marked by the beast, 666, made to worship the image of the beast or die! And it appears in the darkness of these days that Satan is winning the battle, that truth will not prevail, and that God has abandoned His people, forsaken His own. And just when you think that all is lost and it's over, God shows us His glory!
We see the glory of the Lord! One commentator put it this way: "The stage of the End Time drama now blazes with divine brilliance"! That goes under the category of I wish I'd said that. "The stage of the drama of history now blazes with divine brilliance"! It is the beautiful brilliance of the Lamb upon the throne, standing on Mount Zion with His saints of the ages. Jesus has come in great power and glory. He defeats every enemy. Again, it's a fast-forward, if you will, to the end of the Book and the final days of the battle of Armageddon, and, of course, we'll be getting to that as we study the Revelation, but the evil empire of Satan is ultimately destroyed, and the devil is casted into the pit forever. And from this point forward in Revelation chapter 14, we see God beginning to expedite the kingdom of God, to advance His kingdom in heaven and earth. He will make all things new, and He will judge the world.
From this moment forward, this point forward, chapter 14, we're going to see the completion, the final hours of history and ultimately the future that God has planned for all. The final battle will be fought, and God's final wrath upon sin and sinners will be poured out, as the hymn says: the grapes of wrath, "He hath loosed the faithful lightning of His terrible swift sword". And we will see the wrath of God, and the pouring out of judgment on the earth. Now in the midst of these visions of our victory that is to come, there is also some very personal and practical guidance for our lives today. As we live in our own generation, perhaps the terminal generation, but regardless, in our generation which is increasingly immoral, increasingly indulgent, increasingly idolatrous in our own generation, how we can live for Christ until He comes.
As the world marches in inexorably to Final Judgment, we are called to live in the light of His glory as the light of the world, to live with the expectation and hope that is ours, to live in this divine brilliance! And we're told and taught how to do that by this unusual group of people, the 144,000, what I'm going to call glorious witnesses. It's all about the glory. They showed up earlier in the book of Revelation. One hundred forty four thousand Jewish evangelists, 144,000 Apostle Pauls, Daniels, you name it, great Christians and believers of yesteryear. One hundred forty-four thousand of them spreading the good news of Jesus Christ. They rise up in the midst of the Great Tribulation, the most wicked time in the history of the world, and they immerge as true and faithful survivors, victorious soldiers of the cross.
And we see in them some wonderful truths regarding our own lives as we face battles today. For one, we are secured in Christ. They represent triumphant Christians who fight the good fight and emerge rewarded for their sacrifice. Every one of them wins, this 144,000. It does not say before the throne of God that there were 143,999! But all 144,000 of them are now home. Every one of them came out of the battle; they survived! Not one was left behind! Not one is lost! What a truth this is for all of us who are believers who are preserved and protected in Christ. We are eternally secure in Christ! We are saved and like these, we are sealed, we are marked by the Holy Spirit for the Bible tells us that the Holy Spirit seals us unto the day of redemption. We are therefore secure, eternally belonging to Christ.
Jesus put it this way in John chapter 10, verses 28 through 30. You may want to turn there in your Bibles and mark this scripture. John 10:28-30: "My sheep", verse 28: "I give them eternal life and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me is greater than all and no one is able to snatch them out of my Father's hand". No matter what may come in your life, nothing, no one can snatch you from the hand of the Father. No matter what battles you may be fighting today you are secure in the grip of God. First Peter 1:5 says that we are kept by the power of God! We are held in His hand. We are in the grip of God's omnipotent power and He will never let us go. We are secure. Whatever temptations you are facing, 1 John 4:4, "Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world"! Whatever trials you may be enduring, Romans 8:31, "If God be for you who can be against you"? Whatever tests you may face, Romans 8:37, "You are more than a conqueror through our Lord Jesus Christ".
You're going home! Like soldiers coming home from the battle, you are on your way to the presence of His glory! Glory, glory hallelujah! His truth is marching on! Your faith is going to last. Your salvation is secure. Your victory in Jesus is absolutely, unconditionally certain! Now this doesn't mean that everyone who says they're going to heaven is going to heaven. It doesn't mean that everyone who professes they are a Christian is truly a Christian, and therefore going to heaven. In fact we all know people who profess faith but do not possess Christ in their lives. And Jesus told a parable about some who get started really well. The seed is planted, sown into their lives, and then when the sun comes up and the heat is on they wither away. We know that some say they are going to heaven but in fact are not going to heaven. They quit. They stop following Christ; they fall away.
You say, "Well, were they saved and then lost"? No, they were never saved to begin with. 1 John 2:19 says this, "They went out from us but they were not of us, for had they been of us they would have continued with us, but they went out that it might be plain that they were not at all of us". True believers will endure to the end. Followers of Jesus will keep following. It's the mark of a believer in Christ, that we keep going, not in perfection but in progression, moving forward. It's the work of the Holy Spirit. And if you are a genuine follower of Jesus you will persevere, you will endure, because you're in His hands, you're in His grip, you're held, you're experiencing His power and the Holy Spirit is persevering in you.
Sometimes we call this truth once save, always save. Or we may call it the perseverance of the saints, the perseverance of the believers. It is in fact the perseverance of the Spirit in the believer because Philippians 1:6 says this: "He who began the good work in you will continue it, will complete it, will perfect it until the day of Jesus Christ". Until the day we're standing with Him on Mount Zion. So the Spirit of God assures us, the Spirit alive in us, Christ in us is relentlessly saving us and keeping us, and therefore, like these who stand, marked by the Lamb - not the beast - but marked by Jesus, they will keep God's commandment. Verse 12 says that they kept the commands of God.
Jesus said, John 14:15, "If you love Me, keep My commandments". Our heart's desire will be to obey God, to follow Him. You will live in purity and godliness, you will keep your faith in Jesus, you will stand with Him in the eternal kingdom, secure. And we are to live in this victory day by day in the One who preserves us. You will get through every battle. Listen to the blessing of Jude, verse 24: "Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to make you stand in the presence of His glory, blameless and with great joy". That verse, believer, you're looking at your future. Standing in His presence. Glory, glory, hallelujah! Sing it again! Glory, glory, hallelujah!
And speaking of singing, these 144,000 are not only standing secure, but they are singing. Verses 2 and 3, look again back in chapter 14, verses 2 and 3: "I heard a voice from heaven like a roar". This loud voice comes thundering through, and the sound of the loud thunder, "and the voice I heard was like the sound of harps, and the playing of harps". This resounding new song in heaven! And he said with a loud voice, "Fear God and give Him glory because the hour of His judgment is come", verse 7. We sing a new song unto Him. These songs are the songs of the Second Coming! The glorious Christ who is returning and reigning! Gloria is the song of Mount Zion. Glorious! They are singing, they are selected and secure, and they're also sanctified.
Look again at verse 4. Now verse 4 is one of those verses that you look at it and you say, "What"? For it says in these who have not defiled themselves with women, "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, first fruits of God in the Lamb". They are not defiled with women; they are virginal. Now this does not mean when you read the weight of Scripture that they were celibate or that they opposed marriage, or that God opposes marriage. I'm glad about that. The Bible says marriage is honorable and the marriage bed undefiled.
So when you look at that and you see that they were not defiled with women or they kept their purity, their vows of purity, you realize that God is talking about more than moral purity or physical purity, but rather spiritual purity. This speaks to the call of every Christian to be spiritually pure and not to be defiled in a dirty world. Jesus said, Matthew 5:8, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God". We are not to be defiled by the world. I noted earlier, we live in an increasingly immoral culture. A sex-saturated, sexual craving world and in the midst of that kind of sexual idolatry we're to be faithful to God, and faithful to our families, and faithful to our faith. We are not to be married to the world because we are married to Christ. That's what this is about. We are not to be attached to this world, because if we are that's hostility towards God.
Paul spoke of this same kind of purity in 2 Corinthians 11:2. This is a verse to note. 2 Corinthians 11:2, when the Apostle Paul said, "For I feel a divine jealousy", Paul introduced these people to Christ, "for since I've betrothed you to one Husband to present you as a pure virgin to Christ". These 144,000 were pure virgins to Christ and so are we called to live a clean life, a wholesome life in an ungodly world. A holy life! And to maintain our spiritual, and therefore, our personal purity! Of course, the Bible teaches that we are to refrain from sexual sin, which means, I shouldn't have to explain it, but which means that if you are unmarried you do not engage in sexual relations with anyone, and if you are married you only are involved and engaged with the wife, the husband that God has given you! Period! Amen! Selah! End of story! We are to live pure and holy lives.
Now the question is are you pure? Are you pure in mind? Are you pure in faith? Are you pure in body? Are you pure in spirit before Christ? Are you a spiritual virgin? If you have failed and fallen in this area of your life, and many have, the Scripture says that you can be made pure again by the blood of Jesus Christ which takes away your sin. And you can choose purity for the rest of your life in Christ and live a pure life in a polluted world. That's what these men did. And when they're standing before God, praising Him, I know they were thankful that by God's grace they were able to keep the vows and the promises they made to Him.
Keep your vows to be pure and godly in a world that is not. That's what happened here is Revelation 14 when these spiritual, sanctified men stood in the presence of the Lord. And then they were steadfast. Verse 4 said they follow the Lamb wherever He goes. Loyal, faithful, truthful. You know what the Christian faith is? A long obedience in the same direction, a long obedience in the same direction. They lived their faith, and they lived not a lie, but the life in Christ. They followed Him wherever He goes. Their witness is strong and true! They lead millions of people to Christ during the Great Tribulation.
Verse 5 said there was no lie in them. It says they were blameless. They lived the truth, told the true, spoke the truth, believed the truth! They were faithful witnesses. We are people not of the lie of Satan, we are people of the truth, Jesus Christ! These 144,000 inspire me to no end today. They're like the great cloud of witnesses in heaven in Hebrews chapter 12, and "since we, therefore, are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses" even today, "let us lay aside every weight and the sin that holds us back and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us! Paul said, "Keep the faith! Fight the good fight! Run the race!