“THESE are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth.”
The preceding connection presents what John had seen in his vision in regard to the various manifestations of the antichristian powers arrayed against the cause and kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ, in the multiform developments indicated by the striking figures employed; the serpent, the dragon, the beast with seven heads and ten horns, the beast with two horns like a lamb, and the image of the seven headed beast. Under those characters the antichristian powers had moved the kingdoms of this world, persecuted the church of God, and deluged the earth with the blood of the saints of the Most High. But through this scene of confusion, this black and frightful cloud of Pagan and papal darkness, the glorious city of the living God is seen in primitive beauty, and the songs of the redeemed are heard, loud and clear, above the din of arms, the clamor of war, the groans of martyred thousands, and the exultation of the enemy flushed with temporary victory. Like the lily among thorns, and as the apple tree among the trees of the wood, Mount Sion appears; and on her majestic summit stands the Lamb of God, and with him the company described in the words of our text. While their enemies are designated by the mark of the beast, these have the name of the Father, (the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ), written on their foreheads. While the confusion of Babylon predominates in the ranks of all the powers of darkness, and the maddened shouts of blind infatuation rend the earth and shake the mountains, on the part of the worshipers of the beast and the admirers of his image, and while their cries are long and loud in praise of the beast and of his image, and the vaunting cry is heard from the millions of voices, Who is like unto the beast? Who is able to make war with the beast? From heaven a voice is heard, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder, and the voice of harpers harping with their harps; and they sung as it were a new song, before the throne, &c. No man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand which were redeemed from the earth. “These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth.”
Whatever views our brethren may honestly entertain as to the particular period in the history of the church this portion of the word is designed particularly to indicate, we presume there are none who will doubt that the church is in this instance presented in her primitive beauty and purity. Although a special and primary allusion may be intended to a revelation of the glory of the church as she shall appear after her conflicts with all her seven headed and ten horned assailants are over, still the portrait is drawn from the original display of the bride the Lamb’s wife, as at first presented in her gospel organization, and in which her children stood with the Lamb upon Mount Sion, in all the glory and splendor of her original purity of doctrine, ordinances and order. Beyond all successful controversy, our subject presents to us the lovely image of a definite number redeemed from the earth and assembled with the Lamb, standing in virgin purity, undefiled and spotless, bearing the name of the Father, and engaged in worshiping God and the Lamb in perfect harmony, and with sweet accord.
Our particular object in this article is to speak of this happy company, as followers of the Lamb; in doing which, two very prominent considerations are presented, first, The Lamb standing on Mount Sion, as the Leader, and secondly, His followers, and the constancy with which they follow him. Throughout the Scriptures, but more frequently in the book of Revelation, our Lord Jesus Christ is called a Lamb. Peter speaks of him as “A Lamb without blemish and without spot; who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you who by him do believe in God.” - 1 Peter i. 19-21. He was evidently set forth under the ceremonial dispensation as an unblemished Lamb, by the lambs which were offered in sacrifice on the Jewish altars. Abel’s offering of a lamb is spoken of as signifying his faith in Christ; as it was by faith he offered a more excellent offering than did his brother Cain. The superior excellency of his offering must have been in that his offering pointed to Christ as its antitype; while the productions of the earth, obtained by the servile works of Cain, only foreshadowed the earthly systems of religion, the works of men relied on for acceptance with God, and the embodiment of every kind of will-worship to be, like his, maintained by manual labor, and defended by force of arms. Wherever Christ is presented as a Lamb, we understand that he is specially pointed out as the Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world; or in other words, as the offering that should be made for sin. We should bear in mind, he is God, and man, and the only Mediator between God and men, and that he sustains or bears a variety of official characters. Such, for instance, as Prophet, Priest and King, Shepherd, Bishop, Husband and Head, &c., yet he is personally but the one Christ. The Scriptures do not (as we have been falsely represented as holding forth) ascribe to him a plurality of personality. His Mediatorial Headship of the church, and his humanity are presented in the divine record in personal union with his Godhead. So that Christ is one. Whenever he is spoken of in the Scriptures, we understand in all his names, offices or titles, the one God and Savior is personally spoken of. This will more fully appear when we take into consideration the manner in which he is set forth, especially in the book of Revelation, as the Lamb. He is here perhaps more frequently called the Lamb, than by any other name or title, and yet he is also called the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the Lord God Almighty. Displaying all that these names imply, John saw him walking in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks, and holding the stars in his right hand. As the Lamb he was slain; and as the Lamb he was seen after the resurrection from the dead, looking like a lamb that had been slain; and the heavenly assembly of his followers worshiped him, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book and to open the seals thereof; for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood, &c. And every creature that is in heaven, and on the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I, saying, Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb forever and ever. And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshiped him that liveth forever and ever. This Lamb which has been slain, and redeemed his people unto God, said to John, “I am he that liveth and was dead, and behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen, and have the keys of hell and death.” This Lamb is seen in our subject standing on the Mount Sion, as the conquering Son of God, as the Captain of our salvation, the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls, and as the Leader and Commander of his spiritual Israel; and his train fills the temple. His redeemed people are called upon to deny themselves, take their cross and follow him, and this they are to do whithersoever he goeth; through evil as well as through good report. As a Leader, Christ always goes before his flock. When he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep hear his voice, and they follow him; but a stranger they will not follow, for they know not the voice of strangers. And he has said, My sheep hear my voice, and they follow me; and I will give to them eternal life, and they shall never perish. He is not a driver. He led Jacob as a flock. He found him in a desert land, and in a waste-howling wilderness; and he led him about and instructed him, and kept him as the apple of his eye. He has promised to lead the blind in a way they know not, and in paths they have not known; but we have no account of his driving them. He makes them acquainted with the irresistable attractions of his person, and he draws them with the cords of a man; he puts his fear into their hearts, that they shall not depart from him, and has promised that he will not turn away from them to do them good. Will-worshipers and Arminians may require a task-master to drive them onward; but when God takes his people out of the horrible pit, he establishes their going, and puts a new song into their mouth, even praise to his name. As he went before Israel in the wilderness, a cloud by day, and a flame of fire by night, so Jesus lead his spiritual Israel through all their pilgrimage here below. Experimentally, doctrinally and practically, they follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. The experience of the saints follows in the line marked out by his wisdom, goodness and grace. They cannot enter into life until they hear his voice, nor can they hear his voice until he calls his own sheep by name. Their first experience and translation from darkness to light, is dictated or led by him, he puts them forth and leads them out from under the condemnation, curse and dominion of the law, and leads them into the green pastures, by the still waters, where he causeth his flock to rest at noon. In all their subsequent experience he leads them, and they follow him. He has led the way for them in all the temptations, afflictions and persecutions to which they are subject in this life; he was tempted in all points as they are, and yet was without sin. In all their afflictions he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them; in his love and in his pity he redeemed them, and he bore and carried them all the days of old. The saints follow Christ in the doctrine which he taught personally when here in the flesh, by his Spirit, and by the inspired writers. They follow the apostles as the apostles followed Christ. So that Christ is the only supreme standard of perfection, and the saints are to wait on his instructions, and follow in the path which he has pointed out for them; calling no man on earth their father or their master in these things. None of the disciples are allowed to be leaders in the doctrine of Christ our Lord, but all are to be followers of God (Christ) as dear children. Practically they observe his examples and precepts in all the institutions of the gospel. Being born again and divinely qualified thereto, they are to confess him before men, declare their faith in, and reliance on, him for all spiritual blessings, and in doing this they trace his footsteps to the baptismal waters, follow his example and obey his command in that sacred ordinance; and they follow him from the Jordan to the wilderness, to be tempted of the devil; and under their temptations they are to follow his example in disputing every inch of the ground with the tempter, and in appealing to the record of divine revelation, in defense of the truth. They follow him in the order he has established in his church, in the communion of the saints, in the occupancy and privileges of all the gifts by him bestowed on Zion; for except we follow him, we cannot be his disciples.
Can we claim for the saints of the present day, that they follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth? Alas for us, we are prone to wander, and we feel a conviction that we come short in all things; but still if we are truly his people, we shall find at least, that to will is present with us. Our desire will be to follow our dear Redeemer in all things. We love the pattern which he has given, and we admire the fidelity, constancy and strict conformity of the saints as expressed in our text; and our highest, strongest, greatest and most ardent desire is to attain to that standard of primitive purity, and be numbered with that highly favored company, of whom it is testified that they follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. May it be our happy privilege to follow him in meekness, humility, patience, and submission to the will of God. He, in setting the example for us, went about doing good, when reviled, he reviled not again, when smitten on one cheek, he turneth the other cheek also; and in all things he should be followed by all who have his Father’s name written in their foreheads. But is it so with us? Are we not too apt to manifest a disposition to follow the corrupt promptings of our carnal and wicked natures, when reviled, to revile again; and to return railing for railing? How unlovely the spirit that would prompt us to leave the footsteps of Christ, and turn aside to follow the flesh. O may we be enabled to mortify the deeds of the flesh, and crucify the old man with his deeds; and in all our deportment as individual members of the body of Christ, and as collective churches of his kingdom, may we walk worthy to the holy vocation wherewith we are called. How striking the contrast between those who follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth, and those who bite and devour one another! How good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity. But O! how evil and unpleasant it is for brethren to thrust with side and shoulder, strive for the mastery, contend about words to no profit, misrepresent, slander and speak evil one of another. Does it not become us at this present moment to inquire,
“Is there ambition in my heart?
Search, gracious God, and see;
Or do I act the haughty part?
Lord, I appeal to thee.”
Yet a very little while, and our conflicts will be over; many of us are near the end of our pilgrimage; to such,
“Soon the joyful news will come,
Child, your Father calls you home.”
And when we shall lay off our armor, and ground our arms at the feet of the Lamb that stands upon Mount Sion, may we be enabled to say with the apostle Paul, “We have fought the good fight, we have finished our course, and kept the faith.” May God reclaim us all from our wanderings, heal our backslidings, receive us graciously, and love us freely, teach us to live and love as brethren, preserve us from all evil, and at last crown us with immortal glory through Christ our Redeemer. Amen.
Middletown, N. Y.
Aug. 15, 1854.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 3
Pages 111 - 117