THE FIRSTFRUITSCopyright Š 2012 Robert B. Thompson. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright Š 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
Then I looked, and there before me was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father's name written on their foreheads.
And I heard a sound from heaven like the roar of rushing waters and like a loud peal of thunder. The sound I heard was like that of harpists playing their harps.
And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders. No one could learn the song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth.
These are those who did not defile themselves with women, for they kept themselves pure. They follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They were purchased from among men and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb.
No lie was found in their mouths; they are blameless. (Revelation 14:5)
They follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They were purchased from among men and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb. Did you ever hear anyone preach about God's Firstfruits? Neither did I!
Why is this passage ignored? Probably because we do not know what it means. Or we do not want to be guilty of elitism. Or because it has nothing to say about the "rapture." Or perhaps it is talking about Jews or somebody somewhere we do not know about.
Some pastors say we should not read the Book of Revelation because no one can understand it; and it confuses the saints; and we might get into error. Imagine that! An entire book of the Bible that we are not supposed to read.
This does not set well with me. I would rather ask God to help me understand it. Perhaps it has something to say to us that is important as we enter the closing days of the Church Age.
They follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They were purchased from among men and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb. If the Book of Revelation really is from God, I would like to follow the Lamb wherever He goes. I would like to be part of the Firstfruits to God and the Lamb. How about you?
First, is there anywhere in the Bible to support the idea that God's people are found in differing ranks? Yes, in many places in both Testaments.
We are going to have to get used to this idea. It is not that God loves some of His children more than He does others. It is that God is building a kingdom, and in any kingdom there are ranks.
Salvation is of the Lord. It is not our choice what rank we are in, in the Kingdom or how God uses us. Our effort is to be, as the Apostle Paul mentioned: to grasp that for which we have been grasped. A lack of diligence can cause us to lose our crown.
It is true that the members of the Royal Priesthood have been chosen from the beginning of the world. But those people must be careful to make their calling and election certain by applying themselves diligently to the tasks set before them.
Some examples of differing roles in God's Kingdom are as follows:
The priests, Levites, and common people during the time of the Tabernacle of the Congregation.
The configuration of the Tabernacle itself, the Holy and Most Holy places.
David's rule from Hebron and then over all Israel.
The calling of Abraham, Moses and Aaron, and the Prophets, including John the Baptist.
The calling of the twelve Apostles.
The bringing of Peter, James, and John to be with Christ on the Mount of Transfiguration.
The marriage of part of the Bride, in the nineteenth chapter of Revelation.
The overcomers, of the second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation.
The fact that God chose Israel from the nations of the earth.
Salvation is of the Lord. He chooses whom He will to be close to Him. This is a difficult concept for us Americans to accept because we have been taught that all people have the same opportunity to excel. From observing what actually is true among us, we ought to know better than this. But we persist in this delusion.
God chooses whom He will. Each one of us is to accept the role and tasks that are ours, and do our job to the best of our ability. If we prove ourselves faithful in the small things, God may choose to increase our talents.
My point in saying all this is to demonstrate that there is biblical support for the concept of a Firstfruits. I am not sure if everyone is called to be a member of the Firstfruits. But I would say to anyone who desires to be part of God's Firstfruits, that desire most likely comes from God and it is up to you to put it before you as a goal. I can't imagine God saying to anyone "you can't come up to this level!"
I know this is a role I want. If God says to me, "I have something else for you," then I realize that being a member of the Firstfruits would not bring me the eternal righteousness, love, peace, and joy that I desire.
So let's you and me assume that God wants us to be a member of the Firstfruits company, and think about what is characteristic of such believers.
Then I looked, and there before me was the Lamb. He is the Lamb, not the Lion, in this instance, because the Firstfruits are part of the Bride. The Bride is not the Bride of Christ, or the Bride of the Lion, but the Bride of the Lamb. This is because she is married to the Lamb by eating His flesh and drinking His blood.
This wonderful vision was given to the Apostle John, not because he earned it but because God chose to give it to him. John then did what God expects of every believer to whom God has given the riches of His Kingdom: John wrote the vision so his fellow Christians could share in what had been given to him. He put his talent to use, just as you and I must do.
Standing on Mount Zion. Christ has been seated at God's right hand, waiting for God to make His enemies His footstool. Today we are entering the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish Blowing of Trumpets. It is the beginning of the final war between good and evil. Therefore Christ is standing today, ready for the conflict, beginning with the enemies in His people.
Mount Zion is the place of deliverance and of the rule of the Kingdom of God.
Deliverers will go up on Mount Zion to govern the mountains of Esau. And the kingdom will be the LORD's. (Obadiah 1:21)
And with him 144,000. Those who are with Him are called, chosen, and faithful. Notice that not every believer is with Him. 144,000 is a multiple of twelve, so the number may be symbolic. The point is, now that it is time to enter the war that is to conclude successfully with the overthrow of Satan, not all believers are qualified to be with Christ.
In First Thessalonians we find the expression, "And so we will be with the Lord forever." I think most believers of today have been led to believe that when Jesus returns they will be raised from the dead and be caught up to meet Him in the air.
I do not believe such is the case. Those who participate in the resurrection and ascension mentioned in the fourth chapter of First Thessalonians are God's Firstfruits. They will fight alongside Christ when He comes, and then will govern the nations of the earth along with Him.
The idea that the casual church-attenders of our day are competent to fight alongside Christ and then govern the nations of the earth with Him seems unreal to me. Most of them are not fervent, cross-carrying disciples. They do not appear to have the iron scepter created in them. They have a problem acting like a Christian during the simplest of trials. They are not victorious saints, and therefore are not qualified according to the Bible to govern the nations with Christ.
The Bible says "the dead in Christ shall rise." Being "in Christ" may mean a lot more than saying "I accept Christ", and then living to please ourselves in our customary manner. Abiding in Christ requires a lifelong pursuit of Jesus.
Those who teach that all professing believers are about to be caught up to Heaven to escape the Great Tribulation will probably keep on believing this, though such an idea does not lie clearly in the words of the Apostles. It is a delusion and it is preventing people from preparing themselves to stand in the evil day that is on the horizon.
In fact, the number 144,000 suggest an elite, doesn't it? It certainly is not the entire Church, the entire Body of Christ.
Who had his name and his Father's name written on their foreheads. I think the name of Christ and the Father written on the forehead of each member of the Firstfruits tells us two things: first of all, these people belong especially to God, which makes them unusually holy; and second, they do God's will, since it is written on their forehead. They delight to do God's will.
The idea of doing God's will is of special importance to me.
When I was in Bible school, 1946-48, I was taught that no one ever has done God's will perfectly. It is impossible to do God's will. The world is waiting for someone to do God's will. Such nonsense! It is as though God has the personality of a satan.
I was not raised in a Christian home, and had been a Christian for about three years when I entered Bible school. This was the first time I had been exposed to the idea that no one can do God's will perfectly. I soon found that the general teaching in the churches I was exposed to was that while we are in this world we have to sin.
I do not know why I reacted so strongly against this idea that no one can do God's perfect will. My wife, Audrey, says it is because I am a maverick. But honestlyI can't live like this, always feeling guilty that I am not doing God's will.
So during one recess, I told God if He would give me the grace to do so, I would do His perfect will. While I am living on the earth He cannot say there is no one to stand in the gap and make up the hedge before Him.
Can you imagine such effrontery?
When we went back into class, one of the students, knowing nothing of my pronouncement to God, began to prophesy. He said: "If you mean what you said, it will be a blessing to many people."
Well, I meant exactly what I said. Now, 65 years later, I still mean it.
You know what? Perhaps because of my statement to God, God has given me a passion for His will. I do not have a passion for souls, as some do. I do not have a passion for prolonged intercessory prayer, as some do (although I pray without ceasing in that I talk to Jesus constantly).
But I have an absolute passion to do the Father's will.
I am not boasting about this passion. I realize it is a gift from God. All aspects of salvation are a gift from the Lord. I love to do God's will. I rejoice in it. I have found there always is grace to do what God wants.
It is true that sometimes His will is hard to find, and we have to watch and pray very carefully that we do not go off into error. It is true that sometimes we have to surrender idols. But God's will always leads us to righteous behavior, love, joy, and peace. Who does not want these.
I pray fervently every day that Christ will give me truth and deliver me from the deceptions of Satan. Do you do this? It is needful is the present hour.
I would imagine serving Satan can be difficult, and that he never is pleased with his servants. But God is not difficult to serve, once we make up our mind that we want to do His will at all times. His commandments are not grievous, as the Apostle says.
The more Christ is formed in us, the more we delight to do God's will. This is because Christ delights to do God's will.
The strongest of all prayers is, "Your will be done." We must live with this determination always before us.
I believe God is calling forth His firstfruits today. One thing is certain: if we wish to be in this company, we must always do God's will as we understand it.
It appears that ever since man has been created he has determined to find his own way in life. If everyone, including the Christian people, would announce to God that they were going to cease from their own ways and look to Christ for every decision they make, could you imagine what kind of world this would be?
There would be no more wars, for one thing. We have wars because the political leaders are choosing their own way instead of seeking God's will. It is just as simple as that. I have never heard our own President mention the name of God, let alone Christ, even one time. I believe this is unprecedented in America. But there it is. Maybe he has, and I wasn't present to hear it.
I have no faith whatever in a president who does not seek God's will for our country but relies on his own abilities.
I am passionate about doing God's will and everyone else doing God's will. If I have enough authority after I die and pass into the spirit world, I will insist that everyone do God's will.
No more of this saying it is too hard; that everyone must sin once in a while. God told Cain that sin was crouching at the door and he must master it. God did not say it was impossible to master it. With the help of Christ we can master sin. I won't hear of anything else. How about you?
And I heard a sound from heaven like the roar of rushing waters and like a loud peal of thunder. This is the sound of power, of the "seven thunders" mentioned in the tenth chapter of the Book of Revelation. The voice of the thunders was silenced because the people of God are self-willed, seeking their own aggrandizement.
When there are enough believers who are willing to forsake their own way and look to Jesus for everything, the seven thunders of power will speak. Then we will see the two witness of Revelation, Chapter Eleven. They are victorious saints in whom Christ is dwelling. God will thunder through them as they do His will in the earth, bearing witness of the soon coming of the Kingdom of God.
The sound I heard was like that of harpists playing their harps. In addition to the voice of power there was the sound of singing. So it is true that the power of God is delightful. It is a time of dancing, of worshiping, of tambourines and violins and trumpets of the loud cymbals declaring the Glory of God, not our own glory.
Today we often hear ministers of the Gospel pray for power. But they are not dancing with Christ. There is no music, only striving. They are seeking their own glory, in numerous instances. Enough of this! We need to sing and dance with the Lamb. The Father will issue all the power needed to do His will, not our self-seeking will! Let the harps play so we can sing and dance in the heights of Zion.
And they sang a new song. The old hymns helped us on our way. "What a Friend We Have in Jesus." There is a new song today. It has to do with our oneness with Jesus, our forsaking of our own life that we might live by His Life.
The new song speaks of total victory over sin, Satan, Antichrist, the False Prophet, and our own sinful nature and self-will. The new song tells us to not fret about the conditions in the world but to keep our eyes fixed on Christ as He prepares to destroy the enemies of God.
The new song speaks of the Kingdom that is being fashioned in Heaven and that is coming to the earth to install the new world of righteousness. The new song portrays the Kingdom of never ending righteousness, love, joy, and peace.
Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this. (Isaiah 9:7)
Can you hear that song? Tell the Lord you want to hear it. You want to obey God perfectly no matter what the world and the churches do.
Before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders. They do not sing for the benefit of other people. They sing before the Throne of God; before the four Cherubim of Glory; and before the twenty-four elders. How often do we sing to be heard by other people? Imagine singing so God can hear us!
(No one could learn the song except the 144,000) who had been redeemed from the earth. It does not sound like the Lord, does it, to single out specific people for such glory and honor.
But that is the way of the Kingdom. I have no doubt that some of the most dedicated saints of history, or even of our own day, are unknown to us. Why is this? It is because they are precious jewels of the Lord and He does not want other people to see them. They are reserved for Him alone.
Would God do such a thing? Absolutely. But they are known in Heaven, and we will know them when we die if our lives are acceptable to the Lord.
These are those who did not defile themselves with women, for they kept themselves pure. It is my opinion that this is not speaking of human women necessarily. The Bible says that marriage is honorable in all and the bed undefiled. It is obvious in our own day that because of the demons of lust in the spiritual atmosphere, a Christian denomination that does not permit its ministers to marry results in the clergy engaging in criminal sexual activities with children.
No, I believe the defilement has to do with anything that defiles the believer, such as money, or education, or entertainment, or material wealth. It can include immoral relationships with women, but I do not believe it is speaking of ordinary marriage.
Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. (I Timothy 4:3)
The Apostle Paul refers to such ordinances as doctrines of devils. And so they are, as we can tell from the fruit they bear.
They follow the Lamb wherever he goes. This is the highest calling possible for a human being. We can embark on this adventure today by telling the Lord Jesus that we want to be with Him wherever He goes.
This does not mean necessarily that He wants us to go with Him to China, although it could mean that. How about the little journeys around our house or job. If we keep looking to the Lord Jesus, throughout the day and night, and keep telling Him that we want to go with Him wherever He goes, I think He will answer that prayer for us.
When it comes to pass that you are with Him wherever He goes, then a person cannot have you without having Jesus and can't have Jesus without having you. It is true also that no one can have God without having Jesus, and no one can have Jesus without having God. How utterly marvelous!
Do you have a powerful desire to always be that close to the Lord? I do!
They were purchased from among men. Again you can see that all men are not "purchased." I have been sounding this note from the beginning, that salvation is of the Lord. He chooses people and does with them as He will. This always is true of the Kingdom of God.
Today the emphasis is on the rights of people---how wonderful everyone is and must have their "rights." Mankind is in love with itself. We might think such an attitude is godly, but it is not. It is an illusion, for one thing. All people are not nice. Some molest children. They are not nice. Some people live by stealing from other people. They are not nice.
The truth is, people are not nice, ordinarily. We all were born in sin. Even the "nicest" people will hurt you if they feel it is necessary for them to keep from losing anything. Most of us are self-seeking scoundrels, if the truth be known.
But the Spirit of God moves among the multitudes of the earth, and He does what He will with people. Some were purchased from among men. That is what the Bible teaches. And it is up to those who have been purchased to seek Christ to find out for what role and tasks they have been grasped for.
If God has chosen us to be members of His Firstfruits company, then nothing will satisfy God except our turning over our life completely to Christ that He may conform us to His image and teach us to find rest in the perfect center of God's Person and will.
And offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb. Where produce is grown, that which is reaped first is the best; the tenderest; the tastiest. The Old Testament has much to say about firstfruits.
Mankind is God's planting. He is a Farmer. He wants good fruit from what He has planted. There is a Firstfruits purchased by the blood of the Lamb. God watches over His Firstfruits. They are being made in the image of His Son, that Jesus may have true brothers in His own image.
I believe you and I can be firstfruits to God and the Lamb. But we will have to cease comparing ourselves with other Christian people and follow the teachings of the Apostles of Christ. We absolutely must present our body as a living sacrifice that we may prove God will for ourselves. Never mind what other Christians think or do, just follow the Lamb wherever He goes.
We must learn to live by the Life of Jesus in all we think, say, and do. Nothing short of this will enable us to stand, and help others to stand, throughout the Divine judgment that is facing the United States of America.
Neither the Republicans nor the Democrats, no any amount of money can protect us from what is coming our way. Only the Lord Jesus Christ can save us, as we fear and trust in Him.
No lie was found in their mouths. All of us are natural-born liars. We begin to lie at our earliest age. We survive in this valley of the shadow of death by evading the truth. There may be someone of whom this is not true, but Diogenes never found him.
God does not lie. If we are to cease lying we must ask God to help us. He will do that. He will burn the lie out of us. It may take a while. But if we do our best, and keep asking God, He will purify us from the spirit of lying.
They are blameless. The man or woman, boy or girl, who never lies might be said to be blameless. In any case, a truthful individual is well on his or her way of being found blameless in his or her behavior.
When all is said and done, there is a Firstfruits company. They will stand with the Lord on Mount Zion, the place of deliverance from Edom, from the works of the flesh.
Today is the time when the Spirit of God is looking for such blameless people. He has a great purpose for them in His everlasting Kingdom, in His new world of righteousness.
I see no reason why you and I cannot aspire for God's highest and best.
Let's do it!