Did you know that there are two flocks that follow Jesus? At least there are or will be until all is accomplished and the two are combined into one flock. Jesus talks about a little flock in this section of scripture saying, “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” (Verse 32) Now I don’t know about you, but if the little flock is going to be given the kingdom, and it will be the Father’s pleasure to do so, then that’s a flock I’d like to aim to be in. But who are they?
The Two Flocks
Jesus talks about two flocks which will be combined together so that there is one flock. He says, “I have other sheep, that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will heed my voice. So there shall be one flock, one shepherd.” (John 10:16)
So there is the little flock spoken of in the section of Luke we are looking at today, and then there are the sheep of this “other fold” that will be brought in. So how many are there in this second or other flock? Lots! The description of one flock as a “little” flock immediately suggests that the other flock must be a “big” flock. And there is evidence in the Bible of two such groups who are the people of the Lord that seems to fit this description.
The Little Flock
In terms of size this is a relatively small number of people. We see in this section that it is the Father’s good pleasure to give this little flock the kingdom. Thus they must have achieved the highest possible standing of righteousness, holiness and godliness in Jesus Christ. These are those who have reached a place of perfection in Christ Jesus and follow in His footsteps.
In my opinion this sounds like the 144,000 spoken of in Revelation. It says, “Then I looked, and lo, on Mount Zion stood the Lamb, and with him a hundred and forty-four thousand who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads.” (Revelation 14:1) Also it says of these people that, “…it is these who follow the Lamb wherever he goes; these have been redeemed from mankind as first fruits for God and the Lamb, and in their mouth no lie was found, for they are spotless.” (Revelation 14:4-5)
These people have reached the completed state of being transformed into the image of Christ. There is no lie in their mouth, they are spotless and it says they “follow the Lamb wherever he goes,” and to be a true follower you must be like Jesus in every way. It is no wonder that it would be the Father’s good pleasure to give this flock the kingdom.
What we also see about these people is that when they enter God’s kingdom they enter singing for it says, “…they sing a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and before the elders. No one could learn that song except the hundred and forty-four thousand who had been redeemed from the earth.” (Revelation 14:3) They truly have reason for joy in the Lord and they sing a new song that only they will learn.
The Big Flock
Let us then look at the larger flock and compare the differences. These are the sheep of the “other fold” who will come into God’s kingdom and there will then be one flock. However their method of entry is quite different to the 144,000 who come in singing. The large flock come in through great suffering and torment.
In Revelation 7:1-8 we see the numbering and designation of the 144,000. Immediately after that we see this verse, “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no man could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits upon the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Rev 7:9-10)
So there is a huge multitude of innumerable size, dressed in white (indicating they are righteous) and standing before the throne of God and the Lamb (Jesus) praising them. In verse 13 one of the elders asks John, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and whence have they come?” John answered saying, “Sir, you know” and then the elder began to describe who they were. His description is enlightening. He said in verses 14-17.
“These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
15 Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night within his temple; and he who sits upon the throne will shelter them with his presence.
16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat.
17 For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water; and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
This second flock do not go in singing. They are suffering for we see they are in need of shelter, they are hungry and thirsty and I take this to mean they suffer for lack of spiritual food, the food that leads to righteousness. They also have suffered under the heat of the sun. They need to be guided into the living waters and they are crying for God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.
We know that there are many levels of teaching and understanding amongst those called as Christians. Paul writes about this in 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 where he says there is only one foundation that can be laid and that is Jesus Christ. But then the teaching that is built on that foundation is likened to gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay or straw. This teaching is tested by fire in each person’s life and those with poor teaching will suffer for their teaching will not be able to withstand the fires of testing. But those with gold and silver will actually get stronger just as gold and silver are purified by burning off the dross under great heat.
It is my belief that the second, larger flock is those who have suffered under poor teaching for they will still reap the reward of salvation as believers in Christ, but they will suffer because they have not learned all that is needed to find the righteousness offered in Jesus Christ and the New Covenant.
But if there is only 144,000 who will reach that place of perfection, what should the rest of us do? Aim for it! Or to take Paul’s analogy in 1 Corinthians 3, aim for the gold standard of teaching, which is the true wealth in Jesus Christ.
We may not hit the mark that the 144,000 achieve, but that does not mean we cannot use that mark as our goal. Learn all you can about what God desires and how the New Covenant works. Then apply it in your life. I don’t know whether I will make that grade myself, but this is the aim I have for my life and what I hope you would aim for too. After all, we don’t want to go to God’s kingdom in tears, but rather in joy. However, even if it is in tears, I’ll take that any day over not entering at all!
(Picture sourced from stock.xchng www.sxc.hu provided by Andrew Petrie)