"His name shall be in their foreheads"

This last mention of "His Name" may fitly conclude our meditations upon this subject. There is, however, another company of saints who are shown to us with this distinguishing mark, with the addition of "the name of His Father." The words are omitted in our Authorised Translation; but, inasmuch as they are accepted in the Revised Version, as well as in most recent translations, they may be received with all confidence as genuine. To begin with the latter, we are introduced to a company of saints, an hundred forty and four thousand in number, who are with the Lamb as He stands on Mount Sion - "having His name, and the name of His Father, written on their foreheads." (Rev. 14:1, R.V.) That this company occupies a special place of blessedness is seen from the context, and indeed from the express statement that they "follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth."

If we enquire who they are, it will help us to understand the import of the written name upon their foreheads. It is very clear that they are earthly, and not heavenly saints. In the previous chapter we are permitted to see the terrible power of Satan, as embodied in the rule and authority of the first beast, and as wielded by the second, who is the man of sin - the antichrist. It is this incarnation of evil who will cause all within the sphere of his authority to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads, as indicative of their allegiance to the beast. It might seem that evil had completely triumphed; but the opening of chapter 14 reveals to us a multitude who, redeemed from the earth, and during the reign of unchecked evil, are associated with the glories of the Lamb in the very seat of His earthly kingdom. Remembering, then, that it is in Jerusalem where antichrist will exercise his deputed power, it is evident that this company with the Lamb on Mount Sion is composed of Jewish saints - saints who, whatever their sorrows, have been brought victoriously through the fiery furnace of Jacob's trouble, that time of great tribulation, the like of which will never have been, or will ever be, witnessed.

But it is not sufficient to say they are Jewish saints; for we read of another hundred and forty-four thousand in chapter 7 - made up of twelve thousand from each tribe. These are the symbolical number of the elect of all Israel; but those in our chapter, it must be recollected, are redeemed from the sphere of antichrist's sway; and hence, since only the two tribes will be in the land at that period, it is another symbolical number, made up of those who were preserved through grace from surrendering to antichrist's claims and threats, and from his moral contaminations. They are, in fact, the faithful from among Judah and Benjamin, who have now entered upon the glorious recompense of companionship with the Lamb in His exaltation in the kingdom. The very number (as in chapter 7), twelve times twelve, speaks of intensified perfection in governmental administration, and hence of Messiah's perfect reign. It is an unclouded scene of joy and blessing, the bright promise of the issue of all God's ways in government and grace, which we are permitted to behold, ere the desolating storm of judgment breaks upon an apostate people and a rebellious world.

What, then, we may now ask, is the import of His name, and His Father's name, upon the foreheads of this blessed company? Two distinct things are indicated, as is apparent from their having the Lamb's name, and His Father's name. The first is a contrast with what is found in the previous chapter. There we read, as already seen, that men generally receive the mark of the beast in their right hand, or in their foreheads, as the token of their acceptance of his Satanic rule, and as giving them certain rights and privileges within his realm. In like manner, having the name of the Lamb on their foreheads proclaims that this redeemed company, "the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb," belonged to their glorious Messiah, and that they had maintained their fealty to Him in the midst of the unparalleled sorrows of the dark persecuting days through which they had been brought. Hated, and perhaps martyred then, they are now publicly acknowledged and honoured with special marks of favour and approbation by Him for whose sake they had suffered, it might be even to death.* In addition, they have His Father's name; for "by their open confession of God and the Lamb, they had been witnesses of it, and suffered as Christ had suffered in His life in owning God His Father."

*Whether they were brought alive through, or had died in, the tribulation, is not revealed; but from certain indications, as, for example, in v. 5, we incline to the conclusion that they are, whether "changed" or raised, in a resurrection condition.

We pass now to another scene. That which we have just considered is on earth, on Mount Sion; this is in the heavenly Jerusalem. It is true that the holy city is presented in its relation to the millennial earth; for it is said that the leaves of the tree of life are for the healing of the nations. But when we come to the description of the blessedness of its inhabitants in its positive character, this of necessity is eternal. It is remarkable that the eternal state, as given in chap. 21:1-5, is presented on the side of relief - "there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain" - and that in the heavenly city we have rather what is actually possessed and enjoyed. But even so, it must be remembered that it is not the Father's house; so that, in accordance with the character of the whole book, it is still government (see v. 3); and hence the redeemed here are looked at as servants. It is profitable to observe these distinctions; and we are reminded by them that every aspect of the bliss of the redeemed must be taken into account and combined in order to comprehend, in any measure, what God has in store for His people when all His purposes are accomplished.

Three things, then, mark the condition of the heavenly citizens: "His servants shall serve Him: and they shall see His face; and His name shall be in their foreheads." They had served Him on earth, it might be thought, and many among them indeed had served Him devotedly, even as Paul was enabled to say, "Neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God." But whatever perseverance, spiritual energy, and singleness of eye had characterized such as Paul and others while on earth, their service was never perfect. There was only One, the Perfect Servant, who could say, "I do always those things that please Him" (the Father). In heaven, in the new Jerusalem, every one of the countless throng of the redeemed will respond entirely and perfectly to God's will. When, therefore, it says, "His servants shall serve Him," it means that they will serve according to the perfection of the thoughts of God. They will, moreover, see His face; they will enjoy unhinderedly the intimacy of His presence, for then, like Christ, they will see Him as He is, and be able to enjoy the beatific vision which will be the source of all their delight and their eternal joy.

"For ever on His face to gaze,
And meet the full assembled rays,
While all His beauty He displays
To all the saints in glory."

Finally, and this is our immediate subject, "His Name shall be in their foreheads." It has already been shown that the primary signification of the name borne thus upon the forehead is, so to speak, ownership; that it marks out those who have it as belonging to Christ. And this conveys much; for to be His is really the sum of eternal blessedness, inasmuch as it brings us into everlasting association with Him, both now and also in heaven itself. There is, however, another thought. In chapter 14 the Name is "written" on their foreheads; here it is only said to be there. We gather from this distinction that here the predominant feature is moral conformity to the One whose name they bear. As seen again and again in these papers, "name" expresses the truth of the Person; and hence we regard it here that full likeness to Christ is displayed on every redeemed brow. That all believers will be conformed to the image of God's Son, we learn from another scripture (Rom. 8:29); and here we are allowed to behold it actually accomplished. What joy, we may be permitted to say, it will be to the Lord Himself to see, as He surveys the unnumbered hosts of His glorified saints, His own likeness beaming from every face, Himself mirrored and reflected in all the redeemed! It helps us to enter more fully into the words of the prophet: "He shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied." Then indeed Christ will fill the scene. Old things will have forever passed away, and all things have been made new; for then, not to faith as now, but in actuality, Christ will be Everything to all His own, and this in full and unclouded display. To Him be all the praise now and throughout eternity!