Mystic Figure, The Lamb on Mount Zion, Revelation Chapter 14 Verses 1-5 (NASB)


    And I looked, and BEHOLD,

This is the same expression John uses in Revelation 4:1 in his first encounter with heaven. This implies that what he will describe is taking place in heaven.

    THE LAMB was standing on MOUNT ZION,

The LAMB is such a contrast to the sea beast (Revelation 13:1) and the earth beast (Revelation 13:11). We sense a total change in the atmosphere is taking place in this verse.

This is the only place in the Revelation where ZION is used.  The only other place where it is used in the New Testament is by Paul in Hebrews 12:18-29.  Here, too, it has the heavenly qualities. The more I study the Revelation, the more I am convinced there is a heavenly reality (not fully experienced yet) and an earthly reality which actually is a subset of the heavenly reality. Thus, references in the Old Testament while referring to the city of Jerusalem also imply a foretaste of the heavenly ZION (e.g. Isaiah 59:20; Psalms 132:13-18; Psalms 2:4-6; Isaiah 2:2-4; Psalms 76:1-3).

    and with HIM one hundred and forty-four thousand,

The tendency is to equate these 144,000 with those in Revelation 7:1-4. If these are the same 144,000 then this verse shows that the SEAL (Revelation 7:2) really works (Revelation 7:4), and these Jews are kept through all the terrible times to sing a great song (next verse). Dake's Annotated Reference Bible indicates that these 144,000 really are the man-child which was taken up into heaven (Revelation 12:5).

However, these 144,000 may also be a different group which meet the criteria in verses 4 and 5. We naturally assume these must be adults but they could be children like Jesus explained in Matthew 18:1-14.

    having HIS NAME and the NAME of HIS FATHER written on their foreheads.

This verse confirms the overcomers at Philadelphia (Revelation 3:12). They also are the new Jerusalem occupants in Revelation 22:4.

The King James version omits HIS NAME (meaning Jesus' name) and only indicates the FATHER's NAME is written on their foreheads. The FATHER is 'dominant' in the triune GOD inasmuch Jesus calls the FATHER, "MY GOD", in John 20:17 .

One thing is clear: this is a special group with a special praise (verse 3) and their purity is overwhelming (verse 4).
    And I heard a voice from heaven,

This may be redundant as we have already established in the previous verse that this is taking place in heaven. Perhaps the voice in coming from another part of heaven.

    *  like the sound of MANY WATERS and
    *  like the sound of LOUD THUNDER,

On earth the audio spectrum is a very limited spectrum. Perhaps this is John's way of saying the frequency range is expanded on both ends.  That is, the MANY WATERS expands the high frequencies and the LOUD THUNDER expands the low frequencies.

Likewise on earth, sound requires a substance to travel through like air, water, or other solid material. Now if there is no substance in heaven which is likely since it is spiritual in nature, then this voice is communicating the song (next verse) by a totally unknown mechanism. This method of communications also is described in Revelation 1:15, Revelation 19:6, and Daniel 10:6.

    and the voice which I heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps.

God is a HAPPY God, and harps are instruments of JOY. When the LAMB shows up, a song breaks out (Psalms 40:2-3 and Ephesians 5:18-19)

Harps express the emotions one is going through. On the bright side, Psalms 33:1-3 and 1 Samuel 16:14-23 show a lifting emotion. On the cloudy side, Job 30:31 and Isaiah 24:1-8-13 show the silence of a harp is like 'mourning'.
    And they sang a NEW SONG
        *  before the THRONE and
        *  before the four living creatures and the elders;

Previously, the 'NEW SONG' had words to it, but in this case there are no words. Yet the singers (some commentaries assume they are angels) are given a place near the center of heaven, the THRONE, and in the sight of the four living creatures and the (24) elders (Revelation 4:2,4).

    and no one could learn the SONG except the one hundred and forty-four thousand

In verse one, we suggested that these 144,000 could be children. Many faiths teach that children are heaven-bound if they die between conception and the "age of accountability". Since during this time, we adults have little recollection of that part of our life, how can we say what translation to heaven is (John 17:2) when one of these lives is snuffed out?  In the "greatest in the kingdom of heaven" discussion (Matthew 18:1-14), Jesus uses a child as the example.

These 144,000 thousand, I believe, understand this experience very well. See next verse.

    who had been PURCHASED from the earth.

Recall that the breaking of the seals around the scroll (Revelation 5:1), is the start of the redemption process of the earth. This SONG indicates that from the beginning of life, the first fruits (next verse) carry a special distinction. To say the these little lives have NOT been PURCHASED contradicts the sanctity of life itself. Likewise, it is arrogant for adults collectively to say that because some have not been baptized or confirmed or in some other way 'been approved' by adults, these little ones cannot take their place in front of the THRONE.

I, for one, if I am not too involved in praising my Savior, want to communicate with one of these PURCHASED lives to see how Jesus' blood covered and translated them. I believe that is one of the mysteries of heaven that we adults will not or cannot ever learn. This verse says I won't.
    These (144,000) are the ones who have not been defiled with women, for they have kept themselves CHASTE.

This characteristic of the 144,000 is the most bothersome to interpret. If one interprets this literally, then probably only children would qualify.

If one interprets this symbolically, then

defiled --> cult prostitution as in Revelation 3:4 (cross-reference Revelation 2:14,20,22)
woman --> man-made systems of religion (James 1:27; 1 Timothy 5:22; Hebrews 10:23)
CHASTE --> spiritual purity (2 Corinthians 11:2-3)

Being CHASTE is one of the most difficult of human endeavors. The force to replenish the earth (Genesis 1:28) was created into us. Thus, when false doctrines want to subvert a true believer (or these 144,000), they will attack the vulnerabilities with something like "forbidding marriage" (and allowing anything to go - 1 Timothy 4:3).

Contrast this with Hebrews 13:4.

    These (144,000) are the ones who FOLLOW THE LAMB wherever HE goes.

Here we see a role reversal from John's "Good Shepherd" discussion in John 10:1-18 and John 21:22. There is a price to pay to follow (Matthew 16:24; John 12:26), and hence the use of "PURCHASE" in the next sentence in the verse.

Contrast this with following the MOTHER OF HARLOTS (Revelation 17:5)!

    These (144,000) have been PURCHASED from among men as FIRST-FRUITS to GOD and to THE LAMB.

PURCHASED is past tense, so many scholars try to determine when they were purchased. Finis Jennings Dake implies that these are the first 144,000 in the early New Testament church who meet the requirements of this and the following verse.

In the Middle Ages, these 144,000 were thought to be priests.

However, FIRST-FRUITS are associated with reaping. Reaping has three parts:
    1.  First Fruits    - Leviticus 23:10
    2.  Harvest         - Leviticus 23:22
    3.  Gleaning        - Leviticus 23:22

Later in this chapter in verse 15 the harvest will take place. This implies that these 144,000 are FIRST-FRUITS after "the rapture" and within the Tribulation.

During the Church age, Christ is the FIRST-FRUIT (1 Corinthians 15:23). He was presented as such in the temple in Luke 2:23. But these 144,000 are post Church Age and thus have a song we cannot learn (previous verse).

An interesting observation (which does not have direct Scripture to support it):
At the time of "the rapture", if one believes that children up to the "age of accountability" are without sin, then fetuses and children through this "age of accountability" will also be "raptured". Mothers will become unpregnant and day care centers will notice a lot of children missing. However, mankind, being as it is, will still procreate after "the rapture". The devil will realize that these children "are blameless" (next verse) and are a threat to his total dominance, so he will try to eliminate them through abortions and "mercy killings".  This would be a mirroring of what Herod tried to do after Christ was born - Matthew 2:16. These may be the 144,000 PURCHASED from among men.
    And no LIE was found in their mouth;

What a contrast to what we studied in Chapter 13!

A temple guard thumped Jesus when He was asked a question by the high priest. Jesus' response is interesting, "If I have spoken wrongly, bear witness of the wrong; but if rightly, why do you strike Me?" (John 18:23) The high priest apparently couldn't produce the witnesses.  Here in this heavenly scene, the 144,000 did NOT lie, yet they had the whole throne room congregation as witnesses (verse 3).

You already are aware of what liars have waiting for them? Check out Revelation 21:8 and Revelation 22:15.

    they are BLAMELESS.

To be blameless doesn't mean these haven't sinned. What it does mean is that Someone else has taken the blame for them when they were redeemed (Philippians 2:12-18 and Jude 24-25).

That Someone is standing there with them (verse 1).

In the Old Testament, the prophet Zephaniah was shown this same group (Zephaniah 3:13).

Some day all believers will be able to stand blameless before the throne. WILL YOU BE STANDING THERE WITH ME?
"Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, © Copyright The Lockman Foundation, 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 Used by permission."

References to the Revelation of Jesus Christ are in bold italics. All other references are in bold only