by Ronny H. Graham
CGG Weekly, May 18, 2018
"The weakness of so many modern Christians is that they feel too much at home in the world."
Have we ever wanted to be a part of an entourage? According to the Random House Dictionary, an entourage is "a group of attendants or associates, as of a person of rank or importance." Would it not be great if, one day, we received a call from a favorite singer, television or movie personality, or perhaps even the President, who invited us to join his or her entourage? We would be part of the in-crowd, and everyone else would look at us and think, "Wow! What would it be like to be with them? I wonder who they know."
Some entourages have made headlines in the last few decades. On his official visit to China in June 1998, former President Bill Clinton led an entourage of 1,200 people, which included 200 secret service agents, 150 military personnel, 30 delegates, 375 reporters, four White House TV crews, 150 support staff, and 70 senior aides and advisers. It took four passenger planes including Air Force One to fly them across the Pacific, and in addition, several large military transports flew in ten armored limousines, two communication vans, a mobile hospital, and the bullet-proof presidential lectern. They rented an additional 350 cars in Shanghai.
On his 2003 visit to the UK, George W. Bush took along a 700-person entourage. Barack Obama, on his 2009 trip to the G20 Summit, reportedly traveled with 500 staff, 200 secret service agents, six doctors, and the entire White House kitchen staff. On another trip to Belgium, he was accompanied by 900 people and 45 vehicles.
In comparison, when Richard Nixon made his historic visit to China in 1972, only 300 people accompanied him. Queen Elizabeth travels in a similar fashion, as do many other world dignitaries. To many of us, these entourages seem excessive and unnecessary, especially in tough economic times, but given the world we live in, they may be necessary.
A few Bible characters also had large entourages. In I Kings 1, Adonijah decided to exalt himself as king, wining and dining everyone in Judah and preparing for himself chariots, horsemen, and fifty men to run before him. His brother, Absalom, did something similar in II Samuel 15. By contrast, crowds thronged Jesus wherever He went, and several times He had to slip away and hide from those who desired to be near Him or sought something from Him.
The most magnificent entourage this world will ever see is still future, and it involves God's firstfruits, which the Day of Pentecost pictures. Revelation 14:1-5 describes this great entourage, the 144,000 who have been redeemed from the earth and stand on Mount Zion with Jesus Christ!
Verse 1 tells us that they have "His Father's name written on their foreheads." In Revelation, the forehead is mentioned at least three times regarding the servants of God. For instance, Revelation 7:3 reads that a seal—God's seal—is placed on the forehead. The forehead is one of the first things we see when meeting another, and this is where God has chosen to place His name. It may be something literally seen, but since thinking and decision-making are generated in the frontal lobe of the brain, Scripture is probably indicating a figurative meaning. In Exodus 28, God instructed Aaron to make a seal or signet to be worn on his forehead, reading "HOLINESS TO THE LORD." Are the firstfruits not priests to God (Revelation 5:10)?
John lists several other things about this entourage of 144,000. There is music, and they sing a song that only these people can sing! No one else can even learn this song. They stand before the throne of God and are without fault, having no guile in their mouth. It is difficult to conceive of a person with no guile, no deceit, no falsehood, no gossip, no lies in his or her mouth. About the only experience we have with this is perhaps a young child who still retains his innocence. Is anything more beautiful? Even so, the 144,000 will have this characteristic.
In Deuteronomy 6:2, 4-9, Moses instructs Israel in the keeping of God's commandments, telling them to "bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes." The New Revised Standard Version renders the last phrase "as an emblem on your forehead." These passages indicate that there are obvious connections among the signs or emblems on the forehead, God's law, God's name, and holy, righteous character.
Beginning in verse 7, Moses concentrates his instruction on child-training: "You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up." One of the greatest travesties today is the failure of parents to teach their children about God and His laws! Kids these days know all about the music, television, movies, fashions, video games, and sports, but what do they know about our great God? What are we as Christian parents teaching them? How well are we doing our job in raising godly offspring (Malachi 2:15)?
We should not forget that Revelation 13:16 mentions another mark or identifier that is also put on the forehead (or on the hand). This one, though, is not from God but is the mark of the beast. Which sign or mark best identifies us and our character? Do we follow God's ways more or the world's? Which one of these identifiers are we wearing?
My father used to tell me that we must be careful to guard our name so as not to tarnish it, because if we bring dishonor to our name, we may never recover it. We who have been called by God have been sealed with His truth, given His name, and commanded to follow His ways diligently and teach them to our children. Do we want to be a part of the entourage of firstfruits standing with Christ on Mount Zion? Then we must guard God's name! Do we want our children to be a part of the entourage too? Then we must teach them to bear God's name with honor (see Exodus 20:7)!
David writes in Psalm 17:15: "As for me, I will see Your face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness." As his story and the Psalms show, David had experienced a great deal in his life—both of this world and of God and His way—and he had concluded that this world had nothing to offer. He knew that God had sealed him, and in his resurrection, he would be like God.
He will be in the entourage! Will we?