At the time of the Bible, it was very unusual for a man to choose not to marry. However, Jeremiah did not marry because of Godís instructions to him in Jeremiah 16:2. Certain royal officials could not marry because of a medical operation; God made promises to them in Isaiah 56:3-5. In Matthew 19:12, Christ said that some people would choose not to marry, in order to serve God better. Paul made that decision, as 1 Corinthians 7:7 shows; 1 Corinthians 7:32-34 explains his reason.
Perhaps these 144,000 people actually are unmarried, or perhaps it is a word-picture. Whether actual or not, the meaning is that they have chosen to be completely loyal to God. They love him with their whole hearts. They have left everything to follow him (Mark 10:29-30).
Revelation 7:17 contains the wonderful promise that Christ (here called the Lamb) will guide his people. Christís loyal people never want to be separate from him. They follow him wherever he goes. They have chosen him to be both their leader and their guide. They gladly accept his direction for their lives.
Christ purchased them by his death (1 Peter 1:18-19), as he did for all Godís people. That is, he saved (rescued) them from this world, and from the evil forces that control it. His death was the cost so that they would be free to serve God.
The firstfruit means the first part of the harvest. In ancient Israel, people considered the first part of the harvest to be very special. They gave it to God as a special gift (Leviticus 23:9-14; Deuteronomy 26:1-11; 2 Kings 4:42). That gift expresses the idea that the whole harvest belongs to God (Romans 11:16). These 144,000 people are only a small part of all Godís people (7:4-9). However, their return to God will show that all Godís people really do belong to him (Romans 11:11-16).
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© 2016, Keith Simons.