This chapter opens with a glimpse of Jesus Christ then shows us a “behind-the-scenes” look at heaven as it prepares the world to receive God’s full wrath.
v.1-5 Then I looked, and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His Father’s name written on their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven, like the voice of many waters, and like the voice of loud thunder. And I heard the sound of harpists playing their harps. And they sang as it were a new song before the throne, before the four living creatures, and the elders; and no one could learn that song except the hundred and forty-four thousand who were redeemed from the earth. These are the ones who were not defiled with women, for they are virgins. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These were redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb. And in their mouth was found no guile, for they are without fault before the throne of God.
In stark contrast to the counterfeit lamb rising out of the earth in the last chapter, John beholds the true Lamb of God standing on Mount Zion (the future site of His Millennium reign; Isa.2:2-3, Ps.132:13-14). The one hundred and forty-four thousand with Him are those upon whom God had earlier sealed as immunization against the plagues about to be unleashed on the earth-dwellers (Rev.7:1-8). Seemingly, just before the final bowls of judgment are poured upon the earth, the Lord stops to reassure His own that He has already taken His place in government and that His own are safe in Him.
Okay, let’s look at the one hundred and forty-four thousand and consider the many unique and exclusive characteristics that surround them.
- They sing a “new” song. For all the songs sung in heaven, only two are called new songs. That sung earlier by the twenty-four elders (Rev.5:9) and this one. Moreover, though loudly exclaimed and joyfully celebrated by those who hear it, this song cannot be learned by anyone in heaven but by the one hundred and forty-four thousand. This is probably because of how uniquely different they are from other groups. They are saved after the rapture; subsequently given protection from death by a guarding seal; and they accomplish a very demanding ministry during a time when man’s greatest persecution and God’s greatest judgments are on earth.
- They are virgins who have not been defiled with women. This might suggest that they are unmarried men (check—Matt.19:12).
- They “follow the Lamb wherever He goes.” This probably hints at their future place in the Millennial Kingdom, and perhaps explains why they are revealed to John alongside of Jesus on Mount Zion.
- They “were redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb.” In other words, they are God’s Tribulation harvest. They are planted during the Tribulation, bear fruit throughout the Tribulation, and then redeemed from among men at the end of the Tribulation.
- “And in their mouth was found no guile.” The word guile means “without decoy, or deceit,” and undoubtedly alludes to the fact that they do not accept “the lie” perpetrated by Antichrist (see—2Thess.2:11). In other words, their witness of Jesus Christ remains true, completely without compromise, and thus “without fault before the throne of God.”