Revelation Chapter Fourteen Part I

144,000

Twelve Tribes – 144,000

Revelation 14:1 “And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads.”

This is the direct continuation of the last verses of the previous chapter. There, we read of Satan’s mark on unbelievers’ foreheads or on their right hands. Here we see Jesus, the Lamb standing on Mount Zion with His people that have His Father’s name written in their foreheads. This is done in contradistinction to Satan’s people who have his mark. We see Satan’s people in one vision and in the next we see God’s people. These 144,000 people are the same group that John wrote about in chapter seven. Go back and review the comments there.

Here, the Lamb has come to Mount Zion. This is the True Lamb, not the fake one also known as the False Prophet, like in Rev 13:11. This is a picture of the end of the age. The next chapters, 15-18 discuss the destruction of the last kingdom of the world, the global government and religion of the beast.

Mount Zion could represent several places. It could be Mount Moriah where Abraham was to sacrifice Isaac, his son. It could represent the Heavenly Jerusalem. It could represent the Temple Mount. It could represent the city of Jerusalem, for Zion can be loosely applied to all of Jerusalem.

Without speculation, this shows God’s people standing with their Savior, Jesus the Christ, on Zion, a place that God holds dear to his Heart. Psa 87:2, the LORD loves the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob.

Zion is the place God chose for His habitation, and for His resting place forever. Psa 132:13-14, For the LORD has chosen Zion; he has desired it for his habitation: This is my resting place forever; here I will reside, for I have desired it.”

Zion as a refuge for his peoples. Isa 14:32 What will one answer the messengers of the nation? “The LORD has founded Zion, and the needy among his people will find refuge in her.”

Zion is a place of escape for God’s people. Joel 2:32 Then everyone who calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved; for in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the LORD has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the LORD calls.

Zion is the heavenly Jerusalem where a great gathering will occur. Heb 12:22-24, But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

Zion is where those saved by the blood of Jesus will live forever. Rev 21:1-3  Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them.

Combined, these verses help us to gain understanding of the importance of Zion and why and where the Lamb and 144,000 are gathered. Zion/Jerusalem, is both a physical place on Earth and a spiritual place in Heaven. The two will exist together on the new earth under the new heavens.

Though we are not told whether or not this gathering is in heaven or on earth, either place is acceptable. Verse three seems to indicate the possibility that this may be the Zion in Heaven. Nevertheless, this sealing protects them from Satan’s wrath which occurs on earth. At the same time, since the harvest of the saints occurs in verse fourteen, these may be part of those harvested. Thus we have a similar ambiguity here the we saw in chapter 7.

One commentator1 has correctly suggested that the first gathering of the 144,000 for sealing occurred before the tribulations of chapters 8-13, and in this verse they are standing with their Savior victorious over those tribulations.

Chapter 13 told us about the coming of the global government of Antichrist after the travail of the world in previous chapters. Jesus discussed the same event in the Olivet Discourse (Mat 24, Mark 13, Luke 21). Antichrist ushered in the Great Tribulation of Satan against Christians, which make up the Body of Christ. That was not the wrath of God ushered against His enemies, but the wrath of Satan ushered against the church.

This chapter tells of Christ’s coming and gathering his saints to him. The next three chapters tell of the Wrath of God against His enemies and the end of the world age. In Chapter 13 we saw the tribulation of Satan, the dragon, who was allowed to make war against the saints (Rev 13:7).

Jesus stands with the 144,000, which symbolizes the complete and total number of the saved who are alive during the end time, which includes saved Jews and saved Gentiles2. See the notes on chapter seven verses 4-8. They have the Father’s name as their seal in their foreheads. See Revelation 7:3-4. This assemblage on Mt. Zion of the Messiah and His people comes immediately after the number of the beast.

John’s last statement in chapter 13, was about the people belonging to the beast. His next statement here in chapter 14, is about God’s people and their Savior. John uses this event to graphically show Christ with His people gathered unto Him.

Just like with other times and events, John gives us a vignette and later gives the bigger picture of the event. The vignette was in Chapter 7 and the bigger picture is here.

Revelation 14:2 “And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps:”

In this context many waters are the sound of a great multitude (Ps 93:4, Isa 17:13, Eze 43:2, Rev 1:15 & 19:6), which we see in the next verse singing a new song. The voice of God at times seems like thunder (Exo 19:16; 20:18, 2 Sam 22:14, Job 37:4,5; 40:9, Ps 77:18; 104:7, etc.). The harpists are playing the New Song:

Revelation 14:3 “And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth.”

This song is sung before the throne in heaven. The 144,000 are in Jerusalem and they are the only ones on earth who know the song. It doesn’t say, but it was obviously placed in their minds by the Holy Spirit. Again, the 144,000 represent the redeemed of earth. They are all of God’s children on earth at this time. The number is symbolic of all of God’s people. It represents whatever the actual number of Christians is at any time.

Albert Barnes wrote in his commentary on this verse, “A great truth is taught here. To appreciate fully the songs of Zion; to understand the language of praise; to enter into the spirit of the truths which pertain to redemption; one must himself have been redeemed by the blood of Christ. He must have known what it is to be a sinner under the condemnation of a holy law; he must have known what it is to be in danger of eternal death; he must have experienced the joys of pardon, or he can never understand, in its true import, the language used by the redeemed.

What is this New Song? See Rev 5:9 where we are told that the new song is about the salvation of “every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation.” The Psalms have much to say about this New song. You will find that is it a song of righteousness and judgment (Psa 33:3,4,5), praise (Psa 40:3), salvation (Psa 96:1,2), victory (Psa 98:1 KJV), rescue (Psa 144:9,10), joy (Psa 149:1,2,5), and glory (Isa 42:10,12).

Psalm 144 is a prophecy of the destruction of the enemies of God. This psalm of David is a picture of the days we are studying here in Chapter 14 of the Revelation:

Man is like to vanity: his days are as a shadow that passeth away. Bow thy heavens, O LORD, and come down: touch the mountains, and they shall smoke. Cast forth lightning, and scatter them: shoot out thine arrows, and destroy them. Send thine hand from above; rid me, and deliver me out of great waters, from the hand of strange children; Whose mouth speaketh vanity, and their right hand is a right hand of falsehood.

“I will sing a new song unto thee, O God: upon a psaltery and an instrument of ten strings will I sing praises unto thee. It is he that giveth salvation unto kings: who delivereth David his servant from the hurtful sword. Rid me, and deliver me from the hand of strange children, whose mouth speaketh vanity, and their right hand is a right hand of falsehood: That our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth; that our daughters may be as corner stones, polished after the similitude of a palace: That our garners may be full, affording all manner of store: that our sheep may bring forth thousands and ten thousands in our streets: That our oxen may be strong to labour; that there be no breaking in, nor going out; that there be no complaining in our streets. Happy is that people, that is in such a case: yea, happy is that people, whose God is the LORD” (Psa 144:4-15).

The psalmist (David) tells of God coming to earth to touch the mountains, which are symbolic of the unbelieving peoples of the earth, scattering and destroying them with His power. He delivers His people, which are believers, out of the hands of the peoples of the earth by destroying the unbelievers. Then a New Song is sung and David lists the benefits of the Kingdom of God without the presence of the unsaved on the earth. This is suggestive of the 1000-year reign of Christ.

Again, the New Song is a song of righteousness, praise, salvation, victory, dominion, rescue, joy, peace, and glory. It is to be sung by those following the Victorious Christ.

Revelation 14:4 “These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb.”

This is another explanation of who the 144,000 from chapter seven are. It is not a good idea to take this verse literally. Symbolism is being used here by John in a language the peoples of his day would readily understand.

Thayer defines the word defile: Greek μολυνω, moluno, 1) “to pollute, stain, contaminate, defile; 1a) used in NT of those who have not kept themselves pure from the defilements of sin, who have soiled themselves by fornication and adultery.”

Thayer also shows two definitions for virgin. The second definition applies here. 2) “a man who has abstained from all uncleanness and whoredom attendant on idolatry, and so has kept his chastity.” The Complete Word Study Dictionary also defines virgin: “figuratively to the spiritually pure, God’s people who have not defiled themselves with the daughters of this world (i.e., the world- system, called Babylon in Rev.)3.”

For men to defile themselves with women means to fornicate or commit adultery with them. In the scripture God often uses the words adultery, fornication, whoredom, harlotry, etc. as a metaphor to describe idolatry. When the Israelites worshipped other gods besides Yahweh, (usually the gods of other peoples) He would use words like adultery, fornication, whoredom, whoring, playing the harlot, etc. to describe their idolatry.

God said he was married to Israel (Isa 54:5; Jer 3:14) and when they worshipped other gods, which is idolatry, that was just like adultery to God. In His eyes, idolatry is like adultery would be to married persons. God feels the same jealousy for idolators that married persons would feel if their spouse committed adultery. (A few examples: 2 Chr 21:11; Isa 23:17; Jer 3:6, 5:7; 7:9, plus many more.)

Sexual intercourse in marriage between the husband wife is not sinful. It is ordained by God (Gen 2:24; Mat 19:5,6; Mar 10:6,7,8; Eph 5:31; Heb 13:4). No man can be said to have defiled himself with women (via fornication or adultery) if he has sexual relations with his wife. This verse in no way demands that church leaders should be celibate.

These virgins here in the Revelation are spiritual virgins, meaning those who have not worshipped other gods or idols. Here they are those who have followed Christ. Before they were saved, they may have committed many sins, including idolatry. But those sins have been wiped away and the people are now pure. Virginity means purity. The worship observed by the 144,000 is pure; they have not worshipped other gods, nor have they accepted a false Gospel as Paul said in 2 Cor 11:4. The have worshipped only Yahweh and His Christ.

The peoples of the world have committed spiritual adultery against God by rejecting Christ and worshipping the beast. The false prophet caused the peoples to worship the beast and the image of the beast. That is their religion. This religion is called “Mystery, Babylon The Great, The Mother of Harlots And Abominations Of The Earth” in chapter 17. The kings of the earth committed fornication with her. In other words they worshipped the beast therefore committing idolatry.

Here the 144,000 are spiritual virgins and they have not been defiled by women, that is, by worshipping idols or false doctrine. They are pure and have not been idolatrous but have worshipped only God and no one else. They are, like all believers, chaste virgins espoused only to Christ: “For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ” (2Co 11:2). In that context, Paul is concerned about a false Jesus preached by a false teacher beguiling Christians as Eve was by the serpent. In other words, Paul is writing about idolatry.

God told Israel that their firstborn sons and the firstborn of the livestock were consecrated to Him (Exodus 22:29, 13:2, 13:12, 34:19). That is the meaning of the firstfruits. Because they have been reborn (John 3:3; Jas 1:18), all of the 144,000 are as firstborn sons of men to Him. Jesus is the only begotten Son; we are the sons and daughters of God by adoption, the firstfruits (Rom 8:15,23; Gal 4:5; Eph 1:5; Jas 1:18). All of the other people, who have rejected Christ, are not the firstborn or firstfruits. They do not participate in the inheritance of God and His Christ. Only God’s people have an inheritance as firstborn and firstfruits.

The Mosaic law tells us that the firstfruits are the first items taken at the harvest and they are consecrated to God. The firstfruits were a tithe unto the LORD. There were to be given “unto the Levite, and unto the stranger, to the fatherless, and to the widow, according to all thy commandments” God had commanded them (Deu 26:13). All those that are gathered in the coming harvest of saved souls are firstfruits.

Revelation 14:5 “And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God.”

They are saved by the Blood and have been made white as snow by it. Their purity comes from Christ’s work at Calvary. Their belief in Jesus Christ is credited to them as righteousness and purity (Rom 4:22, 23, 24). There is no deceit in them—they are not liars. Because of the Blood, they stand faultless before God. All Christians do. All of their sins, including lies, are washed away by Christ’s shed blood and broken body.

Christian, your sins are forgiven you and God has cast them as far as the east is from the west from His presence. They are also cast as far as the depths of the sea where they are unseen and unreachable. That makes them nonexistent before God. Because of the shed blood of Jesus, you are therefore faultless before God (see 1 Joh 1:9).

Revelation 14:6 “And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people,”

The midst of heaven is literally the middle of the sky. This angel will be at an altitude where as many as possible will be able to see him, but not so far out that he cannot be seen or heard. The entire earth of John’s day was basically the middle east, northern Africa, Europe, Asia, Eurasia, and China. The world is much larger in regard to populations than it was then.

Every nation applies every ethnic group and every kingdom/country/state. The word translated nation here is the Greek translation of the Hebrew word meaning gentiles. In English, that is ethnos or ethnic groups. The word here includes believers and unbelievers the world over, including inside and outside of Israel. “Every kindred, tongue, and people” clears this up for us. The angel broadcasts the Gospel to every single individual alive on earth at the time.

The bible is silent on how long this will take and we must accept that the angel will accomplish this perfectly. The Gospel is summed up in the Great Commission, (Mat 28:19-20), which is what the angel is doing.

Never let it be said that God is not fair. God does not cause sin to happen in this world, the flesh does. God gives us each freedom of choice to sin or not to sin. If Yahweh were to force us to sin or not sin and then judge us for sin, that would not be a fair and impartial trial. Similarly, to force us to love Him would not be true love. The only real love is the love a person FREELY gives to another. Forced love is no love. Therefore, choice in obeying God’s law and choice in loving Him are both necessary for our love and devotion to be true love for, and devotion to, God.

The angel carries the Gospel and preaches it to the world4. This is the world’s final chance to repent and turn to Christ. But each individual has a choice and must individually choose. God will not force anyone. God is making sure that each and every person alive at this time will be given the chance to hear and accept or decline the Gospel. Therefore, at the judgment no one will be able to say He is unfair. This is a fulfillment of the prophecy of Jesus in Mat 24:14, “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.

In the midst of the regime of the beast and the false prophet and the image of the beast, this angel will spread the good news of Jesus Christ throughout the world. Let us hope that many will accept it and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ at this time. Unfortunately, most will reject it. It will be difficult because if they accept it by putting their faith and trust in Christ, they will be in danger of being killed by the beast. But if they don’t accept it then they will go on to everlasting punishment in the lake of fire.

Here in Revelation, the angel goes forth into the entire world to preach the gospel for the last time. Some teach that when people in the church finally get out and convert the entire world to Christianity, then and then only will Jesus return. They make man responsible for the timing of the return of Jesus, indicating that He must wait until men get things right for His return. This is a theology that many practice, but it is not Biblical. Yahweh and He alone knows the time of the end. He controls it, humans do not (Mat 24:36; Mar 13:32).

Revelation 14:7 [The angel] “Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.”

This is the last chance to repent of their sins and turn back to God. Once the angel comes carrying the news that Babylon is fallen, it will be too late. Afterwards, all nations will belong to Babylon (Rev 18:2,3) At this time, if they worship God and turn away from the beast, and refuse to take his mark, they will be forgiven—but, again, this is their last chance. Let us hope that most of the those who fell for Satan’s lies and followed the False Prophet thinking the beast to be the messiah will repent and return to the true Christ at this point.

Fear and respect God (Deu 10:12; Ps 89:7, 110:10; Ecc 12:13). Glorify him, that is recognize and proclaim His authority, power, dignity, and honor, and give Him your praise, and worship Him. When the hour of judgment has come, no other chance is available to do so.

Revelation 14:8 “And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.”

After the first angel completes his task of spreading the Gospel the world over, and after enough time is given for people to repent, another angel appears. He heralds the fall of the world system. Babylon is from babel, a word meaning confusion. At the Tower of Babel, God confused the languages. That is why it was called the Tower of Babel, because it became a tower of confused languages (Gen 11:19).

In Genesis 11:4, the men of earth decided to build a city and a tower. There were three objectives of these men mentioned in that verse. 1. The top was to reach to heaven, that is it was to be high enough for astrological worship of the stars. 2. It was to make a name for men so that their “name” would be above that of God. 3. It was to gather together in one place which was opposed to the command of God to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth (Gen 1:28; 8:17; 9:1).

The Tower of Babel was man’s attempt to reject Yahweh the Creator and be his own god. That was an attempt that is still ongoing even until today. Thus God confused their languages causing them to gather together in groups of the same language that would scatter and thus fill the earth. That event stopped the attempt to build that tower, prevented them from making themselves a name above God, and scattered them all over the earth as God had commanded.

Babylon sprang from this event. In fact, Babylon is a Greek (Βαλυων) and English word. The Hebrew for Babylon is simply babel (בּבל). The beast system, the brief reign of Antichrist and his False Prophet, which is final earthly kingdom of the dragon, is called Babylon here in Revelation for the same reasons that caused men to build the tower and the city in the first place. That reason was to remove Yahweh God from society so men and women could commit all sorts of sin without God’s judgment on them.

The dictionary generically defines Babylon as a term commonly used for any city of great wealth, luxury, and vice. There are many cities in the world that would qualify for that definition.

These are characteristics of the original Babylon. The global kingdom of the end times is exactly that. It will have all the wealth of the world. In fact, the world monetary system will be the impetus of its original power. That is the idea behind a one world system—money and power. Scripture states, “the love of money is the root of all evil” (I Tim 6:10

As for luxury, the antichrist comes in promising peace and prosperity to all who will bow down to him (Mat 24:38; Luk 17:27,28,29; 1 Thes 5:3; 2 Thes 2:9,10,11,12; Rev 18:9). After all he will claim to be Christ bringing in the Kingdom of God. It would behoove him to provide luxury and prosperity for all if he wants them to worship him. Luxury is what people want. If the dragon can provide those luxuries (although for only a short time), would he not have a better chance to sway people?

Revelation 18:3, speaking of the luxuries of the final kingdom, says “the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies.” Also 18:7: “How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously,” deliciously is the KJV rendering of a Greek word meaning luxuriously. So this final kingdom of the beast will be one of luxury, but only temporarily.

The end times Babylon is also called the Mother of Harlots because of her idolatry. Of course the fornication that all the nations participated in with her is idolatry. All of the things we mentioned above are idolatrous activities. They placed wealth, luxury, pleasure, and vice in the above God, making those things into idols. The people and their leaders rejected God in favor of those idols in Babylon. We will get deeper into Babylon as we progress toward chapter 19. John here mentions her briefly but goes into much more detail in chapters 17 & 18.

The wine of the wrath of her fornication is also the wine of the wrath of God because of these sins. Because the nations committed these sins with her, they will be subject to God’s wrath. We are getting ready to learn of the effects of that divine wrath via the seven vials or bowls of His wrath.

Her fornication specifically refers to her idolatry, which is the worship of anything other than Almighty God. She seduced the nations to turn away from worshiping Yahweh and toward the worship of sensualities. In other words, following Satan’s (and the beast’s) ‘do-as-you-will-with-anyone-and-to-anyone’ defiance of God’s will. This includes a myriad of ungodly activities such as carnality, lust, sexual gratification, paganism, worship of self, lack of moral restraint, etc. To put it succinctly, purposely doing anything and everything that goes against God’s will—the works of the flesh.

Paul puts it this way: “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal 5:19-21).

The main emphasis of Babylon in this context is the world system that has turned away from God. It is used here in this verse to describe pervasive system of the Beast and the False Prophet in the time of the end of the age.

Revelation 14:9 “And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand”

Anyone worshipping the beast and receiving his mark has participated in the fornication of Babylon with her. Not only will there be the ordeal of God’s wrath against them on earth, but the lake of fire in heaven (in the next verse) also awaits the unsaved.

The wrath of God is about to be poured out on the earth. It takes the form of the seven vials of the wrath of God in Chapter 15. Note that the 144,000 (all of God’s people) are still on the earth at the time depicted here. But soon comes the harvest and the vintage of the earth. These will happen before the seven vials of divine wrath are emptied upon the earth.


Do you know Jesus Christ as your Savior? He is going to return to the world soon. Are you ready? When He does if you do not know Him as your Savior, you will join all those who do not know Him in “Outer Darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Mat 22:13-14).

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Mark Oaks, July 20, 2021

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Footnotes

  1. Guzik Commentary, © 2006 David Guzik; https://enduringword.com
  2. For more information, see Keith Mathison’s “The Church and Israel in the New Testament
  3. The Complete Word Study Dictionary, © 1992 By AMG International, Inc. Chattanooga, TN 37422, U.S.A. Revised edition, 1993
  4. Some believe this prophecy was fulfilled when the gospel was preached throughout the Roman empire, which was the entire world of the New Testament, and that the end came when the Temple and Jerusalem were destroyed in 70 A.D. (see Mat 24:14). However, that does not preclude a yet future fulfillment.
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