Rev. 14:1 – Then I looked, and there on Mount Zion stood the Lamb, and with Him were 144,000 who had His name and His Father’s name written on their foreheads. 2I heard a sound from heaven like the sound of cascading waters and like the rumbling of loud thunder. The sound I heard was also like harpists playing on their harps. 3They sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders, but no one could learn the song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth. 4These are the ones not defiled with women, for they have kept their virginity. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. They were redeemed from the human race as the firstfruits for God and the Lamb. 5No lie was found in their mouths; they are blameless. (HCSB)
In Revelation 7 we are introduced to 144,000 “slaves of our God … sealed from every tribe of the Israelites.” Now, we encounter 144,000 standing with the Lamb on the Mount Zion. They sing a new song that only they can learn in the presence of the four living creatures and the elders. They are described as ones “not defiled with women,” who “follow the Lamb wherever He goes.” They are redeemed from the earth as the “firstfruits for God and the Lamb,” and “they are blameless.”
Many questions arise as we read this passage:
- Who are these 144,000?
- Are they the same 144,000 we encounter in chapter 7?
- Is this number to be taken literally or figuratively?
- What is the new song that only they can learn?
- Is their virginity a reference to sexual purity, or does it mean something else?
- In what way are they “firstfruits” for God and the Lamb?
- And does their blamelessness mean they do not sin?
The identity of the 144,000 – here in Revelation 14 and in Revelation 7 – is a matter of much debate. Whether we can know with certainty who these redeemed people are depends in part on our willingness to challenge our preconceived notions and let the Scripture speak for itself. We must consider the genre of Revelation, the historical context, the meaning of key words and phrases, and the importance of numbers in Revelation. We also need to be willing to go as far as scripture takes us, but no further. With these cautions in mind, let’s take a deeper dive into these verses.
Next: There on Mount Zion stood the Lamb – Revelation 14:1