“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.” – Revelation 14:1
About twenty-five hundred years ago a prophet by the name of Daniel, while exiled in Babylon with other Jewish refugees, received a word from the Lord about his people. Daniel was a man of prayer. He once was thrown in a den of lions for his commitment to prayer (Daniel 6). Daniel was also a man devoted to the study of the word of God. It was during one of these prayerful times of searching God’s word that God revealed a special word to him. God showed Daniel that, according to the scripture book of the prophet Jeremiah, the seventy years of captivity ordained by God for His people was just about over (Daniel 9:1-2). This moved Daniel to beseech the Lord with one of the most heartfelt prayers in all of the Bible (Daniel 9:3-19). In this prayer Daniel confesses the sins of the people before God and affirms that all that has happened to himself and the people of God was according to the just warning and words of God previously given to Moses. God always, always fulfills His Holy Word.
While Daniel was offering his prayer of personal confession as well as a confession of sin on behalf of Israel, the LORD sent the angel Gabriel to inform him of 70 “weeks” (of seven years each) or 490 years of prophecy yet to be fulfilled regarding Israel (Daniel 9:20-27). This gave Daniel great hope. And Daniel would pass this hope on to the exiled people. If there were 490 years of prophecy concerning Israel according to the LORD, then the LORD wasn’t finished with Israel. They all had a future with the LORD! Prophecy instills hope.
The first sixty-nine of these seven-year periods would mark the time at which the Messiah, the Anointed One, would come to deliver His people Israel. The starting point for this countdown to Messiah’s arrival was to begin when the command was given for the City of Jerusalem to be rebuilt. This command was given on March 5th, 445 B.C. by Artaxerxes Longimanus the Persian king (Nehemiah 2:1-8). There had been three previous decrees allowing the beginning of God’s people to return to their Land. From these earlier commands Zerubbabel, Nehemiah and Ezra begin leading people back to the Land and to rebuild their Temple. But none of the previous three decrees mentioned anything about rebuilding Jerusalem. The fourth decree made specific provision to return to rebuild the Holy City. From the time that the command and permission was given for Jerusalem to be restored, March 5th, 445 B.C., if 483 years (69 x 7 years – 350 days each year for the Hebrew calendar) or 173,880 days are added from this command date, we come to April 6th, 32 A.D. What is so incredible is that this date was Palm Sunday! Palm Sunday was the day in which Jesus made His Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem and when He was proclaimed the King of the Jews, Messiah, by the people (cf. Matthew 21; Mark 11; Luke 19). No other person fulfilled such a prophecy so exactly, to the day, as Jesus did. Jesus is Messiah. It’s incredible. It’s true. You can believe it. You can believe Him.
But what of the final Seventieth Week of Daniel’s prophecy? There is one final period of seven years yet to be fulfilled regarding Israel. This is a time yet future. Jeremiah referred to this period as the time of “Jacob’s Trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7). Jesus referred to this period in history as the “Tribulation” and went into great detail about what to expect during this time as well as the signs that would tell us this Tribulation period was soon to come (cf. Matthew 24-25; Mark 13; Luke 21). But the most detailed account of the Tribulation period is found in the last book of the Bible, the book of Revelation. Revelation 6-19 provides us with specifics to be expected about this period in history. It will be a time when God will pour out His righteous wrath on a Christ-rejecting world. It will be a time when He will shake up a Christ-rejecting world in an effort to provide them with one final opportunity to repent. It will be a time when He makes up (like a maid preparing a room for the next occupant) the world in preparation for the Millennial reign of Christ in His Kingdom on earth. But lastly, according to Daniel’s prophecy, it would be a time when God wakes up Israel and restores her to the prime instrument of His remaining work on earth.
We see this final purpose of God in the Tribulation fulfilled primarily through a group of Jews who finally accept Jesus as their Messiah. Exactly 144,000 Apostle-Paul-like Jews, twelve thousand from each of twelve of the tribes of Israel, will come to Jesus and span the earth spreading the everlasting Gospel (Revelation 7). It will be an incredible time of evangelism. But it will also be an incredible time of persecution and hardship on the earth.
Coming to Jesus as Savior and Lord during the Tribulation period will be challenging in many ways. Besides the righteous wrath of God poured out in natural and geopolitical judgment on the earth and its inhabitants, for those who come to Jesus, there will be the worst persecution in recorded history. A man will rise to power during the Tribulation who is known as “The Beast” (cf. Revelation 13-17) or the Antichrist (1 John 2:18, 22; 4:3) in scripture. This man will be powered by the devil. He will be Satan’s best effort to imitate the incarnation of Jesus Christ. He will be a deceiver and powerful counterfeiter who will use lying signs and wonders (cf. 2 Thessalonians 2). He will be gifted diplomatically and a cunning covenant maker. He will lure the world to forsake God’s truth and follow His satanic lies. He will mark his followers with a dooming mark. Anyone, such as the 144,000 Tribulation saints, who refuse to take his mark, will be persecuted and executed.
This will be a hellish time on earth. But the 144,000 people of Jewish heritage who give their hearts to Jesus, they will stand tall and be mightily used by the LORD for His glory. They will provide an incredible witness and testimony to the lost world about the power of the everlasting gospel. They will victoriously defy the devil and his henchmen. Of them it will be said, “And they overcome him [i.e. the devil and Antichrist] by the blood of the Lamb [i.e. Jesus] and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death” (Revelation 12:11). These Apostle-Paul-like evangelists are the 144,000 reasons for the lost to come to Jesus.
People read Christians like a book. That is, to many, what they see in the life of a Christian may be the only light of the gospel and how it works in life that they will ever see. This is the point made by the apostle Paul when he states to the Corinthians:
- 2 Corinthians 3:2-3 – “You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men;3 clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart.”
A faith untested cannot be trusted. And a faith proven in times of testing is a great testimony to the world. We might say, no test no testimony, but tests produce testimonies.
One of the times of greatest opportunity in the life of a Christian to be a “living epistle” is during times of trials. The staying power of God in the life of a believer which enables the believer to triumph through trials, temptations and tribulations inevitably encountered in life, is a tremendous testimony to the unsaved. A believer standing in faith in a house built on the Rock of Jesus according to the word of God is a mighty witness (e.g. Matthew 7:24-27).
This is especially the case with the 144,000 mentioned in Revelation 7 and 14. These 144,000 have been sealed with the Spirit and are protected by God. These will have been protected from harm by God during the Tribulation AS A WITNESS TO THE WORLD OF GOD’S POWER TO THWART THE PERSECUTION OF SATAN.
The Tribulation will be a time of unprecedented temptation because Antichrist is a “lawless one” (2 Thessalonians 2:8 and 9) who will proclaim “anything goes.” And the Tribulation will be a time of unprecedented trials and tribulation because the Antichrist will persecute anyone who does not submit to him.
How can we resist temptation and stand during trials and tribulations which will inevitably come our way? Why should we come to Jesus as our Savior? The witness of the 144,000 answers these questions and is a testimony of warning to the world.
Revelation 14:1 – “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.”
First, the Lamb stands with 144,000 (14:1a). John, who receives this revelation, now sees the Lamb, Jesus, standing on Mount Zion. He says, “Then I looked, and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, . . .” Alongside of Jesus are the 144,000 Tribulation saints. The Lamb Jesus stands with them, and they stand with Jesus. Their close proximity to Jesus is a testimony to Antichrist and those who persecute them that nothing will shake them from their position in Christ. Like Jeremiah when thrown into the pit, like Daniel in the lion’s den, or Paul on a storm-tossed sea, when Jesus is by your side, you will weather the storms of life. When we realize Jesus stands with us and we stand with Him, nothing can shake us. That is a very good reason to come to Jesus and make Him your Savior.
Second, they are secure in the Lamb (14:1b). Notice, “and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand.” The number of Tribulation saints listed here, 144,000, is the same given in Revelation 7. This tells us that from Revelation 7 to 14, through the first half of the horrific period of Tribulation, that Jesus loses no one. We are secure in the Lamb Jesus. Although these saints have been and will continue to be the target of Antichrist through to the end of the Tribulation, Jesus has secured and protected them all the way through. And He will continue to do so.
There will be saints martyred during the Tribulation (cf. Revelation 7). But none of the 144,000 will be martyred. God’s seal is upon them in a special way. This is God’s sovereign determination and protection fo them. But even those who are martyred, they are able to overcome the devil by the blood of the Lamb, by the word fo their testimony, and by self-sacrifice. They are secure in their faith. They do not “lose” their salvation even under the pressures of persecution
We should mention here that while we cannot “lose” our salvation, there is evidence a person can cast aside or throw away their salvation. Peter speaks of false teachers who entangle themselves again in sinful ways are like dogs returning to their vomit (2 Peter 2:18-22). In Hebrews it speaks of people who “fall away,” by their own choosing or “trampled the Son of God underfoot” (Hebrews 6:1-6; 10:26-31). We do not lose our free will once we are saved. I can’t imagine any reason why anyone would ever want to walk away from Jesus, but it apparently does happen. I’m not talking about the sins committed in the struggle of life as we walk with the Lord. I’m talking about forsaking Jesus and decisively turning our back on Him. It’s an unimaginable circumstance but appears nonetheless possible. Heaven forbid we or anyone do such a thing.
But we can count on the Lamb to keep us. No one “lost” their salvation. Jesus is faithful to keep us. Jesus told His disciples, “This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I would lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day” (John 6:39). Jesus said to the Father, “Of those whom You gave Me I have lost none” (John 18:9). Jesus said, “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out” (John 6:37). If you have a desire to be with Jesus, He will accept you.
Third, the 144,000 kept Jesus in mind (14:1c). It states of the 144,000 that they, “having His Father’s name written on their foreheads.” In the Old Testament God designed certain symbolic means to convey the importance of relying on His word. One of these ways was by means of the phylactery (cf. Deuteronomy 6:4-9). A phylactery was a box which held scripture that was worn on the forehead as a symbol of keeping God’s word in mind.
God’s instruction was not meant to become a source of religious pride as with the Pharisees (see Matthew 23:5) but was meant to teach His people that they should know and keep in mind His word at all times. When we keep God’s word in mind we are keeping God in mind. That is how saints are sustained during times of trials. That is how saints are able to resist temptation. Similarly, the 144,000 with “His Father’s name written on their foreheads” symbolize that they kept God in mind during their temptations and trials.
Whenever we are tempted or tested we should always keep in mind that God is faithful and has promised to provide a way of escape so that we can get through. This promise is seen in the following verse:
- 1 Corinthians 10:13 – “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”
As we will see further on in our study these 144,000 were “undefiled” before God. This is because they practiced a willful ignorance about the “evil” things of the world. Paul points to such an attitude when he closes his epistle to the Romans saying:
- Romans 16:19 – For your obedience has become known to all. Therefore I am glad on your behalf; but I want you to be wise in what is good, and simple concerning evil.
The term “simple” means literally stupid. We should choose to be stupid concerning evil things. These were the ones who couldn’t tell you what sexual innuendoes occurred in the previous night’s sitcoms. They wouldn’t know the lyrics to the latest perverse popular song on the radio or in the video. Instead they had their eyes on God looking for the means of escape from such temptations.
Too often we are titillated by the evil in the world instead of seeing it for what it is, a temptation from the pit of hell! The apostle Paul spoke of a spiritual battle and that we should take captive very thought in Christ (2 Corinthians 10:1-5). We cannot afford to entertain impure thoughts or any thoughts contrary to Christ. We need to realize we are in a war and stop sleeping with the enemy! Our enemy wants our blood, he wants to wreck us and everything we hold dear. The psalmist voiced a covenant commitment we all should abide by when he wrote:
- Psalm 101:3 – “I will set nothing wicked before my eyes; I hate the work of those who fall away; It shall not cling to me.”
When we face trials and tribulations we need to focus on the Lord. If our heads are defiled by the world this becomes so much more difficult. God promises us “peace” in times of trials, when we keep our minds and thoughts on Him. We see this in both the Old and New Testaments.
- Isaiah 26:3 – “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.”
- Philippians 4:6-7 – “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
The 144,000 were undefiled (v.4), they did not give in to temptation and they were a shining example to the world that they didn’t have to give in to the Antichrist and his temptations or the trials he would bring against them. The lives of the 144,000 warned in a positive way that succumbing to the Antichrist and his master Satan, was without excuse.
Don’t give in to the rational that says, “Just this once, it won’t hurt to compromise just this once. Everybody else is doing it” It will hurt. You might scar your mind with an image that may never leave you. You may find forgiveness, but your mind will be scarred all your life. Those scarred memories will come up in the most inopportune times. They will hinder you and haunt you for years to come. It’s far better to do what the psalmist says to do, “I will set no wicked thing before my eyes.” That verse should be on every TV, every radio, every computer, every phone, and every other media source that carries tempting materials. The pure in mind have a powerful witness.
Revelation 14:2 – “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.”
Fourth, the 144,000 heard God’s voice of authority (14:2). The voice of authority in the lives of these saints was the voice of God. It was likened to “the voice of many waters, and like the voice of thunder”; it was powerful. Along with the power of God’s voice came the settling calming “sound of harpists playing their harps.” God’s voice gives us power. God’s voice can calm us too.
This voice of God was authoritative to these saints. It summoned them to obey. Therefore, they lived by the motto, “GOD SAID IT. I BELIEVE IT. THAT SETTLES IT FOR ME.” They were obedient to the heavenly call of God. The power and peace both found in God’s voice enabled them to persevere. Obedience is a crucial component for every child of God. Trials put our willingness to obey to the test.
A similar case was that of Meshach, Shadrach, and Abednego in the Babylonian captivity (Daniel 3). They were in a foreign land under pressure by a foreign king to bow and worship a blasphemous gold idol of that King Nebuchadnezzar. The image was 60 cubits high and 6 cubits wide and was the symbol of a man seeking to become a god to the world. The parallels to the Antichrist and his images are uncanny. When these three children of God refused to disobey God and refused to bow to this earthly king, they faced a fiery trial. Their testimony to the haughty angry king was, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter.17 “If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king.18 “But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up” (Daniel 3:16-17).
Their obedience to God made for a powerful witness to this pagan king and the world around them. Some believe that the witness of Meshach, Shadrach and Abednego in concert with other humbling circumstances brought by God against king Nebuchadnezzar led to the king’s conversion (Daniel 3:26-30; 4:34 and 37). Imagine that, the most powerful pagan king of the day converted to belief in God! No one is beyond the reach of God.
Such obedience in the face of trials is a powerful testimony of the power of God in the lives of His saints. This leads us to the further truth that the voice of one living a holy life has more authority than one who has compromised their faith. Christians have no right to say, “Do as I say, not as I do.” Christians will have a powerful testimony in proportion to the integrity of their walk with God. There is evangelistic power in the one living by the authority of God’s word.
Revelation 14:3 – “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.”
Fifth, the 144,000 had a song of joy in their hearts (14:3). That they sing “a new song before the throne, before the four living creatures, and the elders” tells us that what is done on earth plays out before the throne of God and the heavenly host. In Hebrews it states, “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and
the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1). We play out our lives before God and the host of heaven. The second part of the verse in Hebrews goes on to say, “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2). These words of scripture tell us the inspiration for the “new song” sung by the 144,000. They kept a vivid picture in mind of the Lamb Jesus, slain before the foundation fo the world (compare Revelation 5:6 and 12; 13:8). Remembering that should put a song in every saint’s heart.
The trials they experienced did not rob them of the song God had put in their hearts. Happiness depends on happenings. Joy depends on Jesus. When we look at the lives of believers who have been persecuted in history we see that even in the midst of trials and tribulation their song of joy sounds on. This is a great testimony to unbelievers who find it difficult to experience true joy even in good times.
The apostle Paul is a wonderful example of this. When ministering in the city of Philippi Paul and Silas were beaten and jailed for delivering a demon possessed girl from her torment. The local owners of this girl stirred up a riot against Paul and Silas because they had profited greatly from the girl’s divination. Paul and Silas were beaten and cast into prison. Did they pout? Did they doubt God? Not at all. They trusted in the Lord and the song in their hearts never waned. The effect of this resulted in the conversions of an entire family and songs of joy were placed into their hearts as well (cf. Acts 16:25-34). God gives us songs in the night (e.g. Job 35:10). The steadfastness of the song of joy in the saint’s heart, even in times of trial, is a great tool in the hand of God to save the lost.
A warning should be expressed here. Sometimes during times of trial or Tribulation in life the person will look for sympathy at the expense of God. Such sympathy may take the form of “Boy, God really is letting you go through it isn’t He?” Such sympathy puts God in a bad light. It may make Him appear unfair or harsh. If a person going through trials settles for sympathy which comes at the expense of God they will lose out on the symphony God seeks to orchestrate with them. In all things we should glorify and trust God, even the bad times. So, choose the symphony of God not the sympathy of man.
One last point needs to be made in regards to the 144,000. The song they sung could only be sung by them. Why? Because the song they sung was learned in the furnace of trial that only they had experienced. They alone could relate to the trial they particularly experienced. Trials, if we let them, can write a valuable and unique song of testimony on our hearts that will be powerfully used by God. Nothing goes to waste in God’s economy. He uses everything to prepare us to witness to His glory in our lives. There is power in the witness of praise offered during persecution, trials and tribulations.
Revelation 14:4a – “These are the ones who were not defiled with women, for they are virgins.”
Sixth, the 144,000 were not defiled (14:4a). There is an important practical truth here. When inevitable trials come in life there will be a temptation to find relief by compromising morally When trials or pressures of life enter in upon us, there is a subtle temptation to indulge our fleshly desires. These temptations may come in the form of gluttony, lust, spending sprees or many other things. In these times there will come a temptation to find relief in things that you wouldn’t normally even think of doing, e.g. pornography, adulterous affairs, extravagant spending. The temptation will be to turn away from God’s word and compromise with the world. Perhaps it will be questioning God’s ways. “Why haven’t those Christian guys asked me out? Why can’t I find a Christian girlfriend? Why is God making me wait so long?” you might say. John is saying in times like this that we should stop and count the cost. We should stop and consider the consequences. We live in dark days when temptations are intense. During these times we may be tempted to say, “Why not?” to some of these temptations. Instead we should say, “No way!”
The trials faced by these 144,000 did not result in their moral compromise but led these 144,000 to totally focus on God. They put God first and did not give time to the thought of moral compromise.
The phrase “not defiled” used in reference to these 144,000 is a translation of the Greek term emolunthesan from the root word moluno which means “to besmear, as with mud or filth, to befoul. It is used in the figurative sense, of a conscience defiled by sin.” Therefore, these 144,000 did not pollute, stain, contaminate or defile themselves with lustful thoughts. Their minds were purely focused on God and His plans for the lost on earth. 
These 144,000 were so dedicated to God that they subordinated their own desires for the sake of being employed by God in the redemption of the lost. This is the call of a disciple of Christ. Not necessarily abstaining from marriage, but subordinating one’s rights, privileges, desires sacrificially for the sake of the redemption of others. Jesus expressed this in the following way:
- Luke 9:23 – “Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.”
That these 144,000 abstained from marriage and “were not defiled with women” does not imply that marriage and sex inside the covenant of marriage is sinful. What it does show is that these 144,000 were so dedicated and in love with the Lord that they were willing to subordinate their own desires in order to be used by God to redeem the lost. No request or command of God was too great or costly for them. They were willing to make any sacrifice for God.
A side note here is that if these 144,000 refer to Jehovah’s Witnesses or any other cult group, is that group able to be referred to as “virgins”? That’s an interesting question for the cults to consider. There is power in the witness of those unpolluted by the world.
Revelation 14:4b – “These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes.”
Seventh, the 144,000 followed the Lamb Jesus (14:4b). They didn’t only stand by the Lamb Jesus, or have Him in their minds, but they followed the Lamb wherever He went. They weren’t merely all talk and no action. They didn’t isolate and hibernate meditating on the Lamb Jesus. No, they walked the talk; they lived out practically their call from the Lamb. They followed, actively followed the Lamb by faith.
Why as it so important to follow the Lamb Jesus wherever He went? Because they didn’t want to take their eyes off Jesus. This is especially important during times of trials and testing. The sun is an immense object. It is so big that you could fit 1 million, 300,000 earths within it. But as big as it is, you can block it out of sight with your thumb if you hold your thumb close enough to your eye. Sometimes we hold our temptations, trials and tribulations so close in view that we block out the Son of God from our circumstances. If you move your thumb, you’ll see the sun. If you put your trials and temptations in proper perspective, you’ll see Jesus and He’ll get you through.
When we keep the Lamb Jesus in view, we remember there’s nothing too hard for God. The 144,000 never let the Lamb out of their sight. They always kept Jesus the Lamb of God in full view. With the Lamb in view, whatever they faced paled in comparison. When we keep the Lamb in view all obstacles are viewed through a lens that says, “Is there anything too difficult for God?” When we keep the Lamb in view we are encouraged to continue on by the truth of such verses as:
- Genesis 18:14 – “Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.”
- Jeremiah 32:17,27 – ‘Ah, Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for You.27 “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?”
- Matthew 19:26 – “But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
- Mark 10:27 – “But Jesus looked at them and said, “With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible.”
- Luke 1:37 – “For with God nothing will be impossible.”
- Philippians 4:13 – “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
- Hebrews 13:5 – “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Furthermore, just as the Lamb of God did not come to be served but to serve and give His life a ransom for many (Mark 10:45), these 144,000 were willing to follow in His steps. That meant service. That meant sacrifice. They kept the Lamb in view and followed Him. This is our call as saints of God. The following references call us to follow in the steps of Jesus:
- John 13:15 – “For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.”
- Philippians 2:5-8 – “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God,7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.”
- 1 John 2:6 – “He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.”
- 1 Peter 2:21-25 – “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: 22 “Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth”;23 who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously;24 who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed.25 For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”
They focused on Jesus and therefore God empowered them to follow in the steps of Jesus. Christian means “little christs” and that is what a Christian should be. There is power in the witness of those who keep the Lamb of God in view and follow in the footsteps of Jesus.
Revelation 14:4c – “These were redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb.”
Eighth, the 144,000 were the firstfruits (14:4c). Jesus is the “firstfruits” or first, the cream of the crop of those resurrected from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:20-23). These 144,000 are the first of those saved in the Tribulation. These are the cream of the crop of those saved during the Tribulation because they are fruitful for God. They are fruitful to God because they give Him their best.
There’s a lesson for us to learn here. We should always give our best to the LORD. There is a principle to apply. “But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. . .. Go loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:6 and 7). Whatever we do should be done with all our heart unto the Lord (e.g. Colossians 3:17, 23-24).
Being the first to stand against the peer pressure of the world to accept Jesus as Messiah took a courageous faith. Being the first to stand for Jesus in any situation takes courage. But Jesus gave His best for us! “For you know that grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9). When you have Jesus, you have all you need. When you have Jesus, you are rich! In light of what Jesus gave for them, they counted it a rich blessing to give their all for Him.
Jesus calls the Christian to such courageous action:
- Matthew 10:32-33 – “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven.33 “But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.”
- Luke 12:8-9 – “Also I say to you, whoever confesses Me before men, him the Son of Man also will confess before the angels of God.9 “But he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God.”
The courageous public testimony of faith in Christ is a powerful testimony to the world of a believer’s commitment. They were fruitful for God in that they bore spiritual fruit even in the face of opposition (see John 15 and Galatians 5). There is power in the witness of those who take courage to stand for Christ and bear spiritual fruit in the face of opposition.
Revelation 14:5a– “And in their mouth was found no deceit,”
Ninth, the 144,000 were pure in their speech (14:5a). The words a person uses and the things that come from their mouth is a good indicator of what is in their hearts. Jesus taught that our words can either defile us or justify us (Matthew 15:10-20).
The apostle Paul also taught the importance of the words we use when he was inspired to write:
- Ephesians 4:29 – “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.”
- Ephesians 5:3-4 – “But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints;4 neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.”
James was inspired to write, “For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body” (James 3:2). All of this tells us There is power in the witness of those who speak with purity.
Revelation 14:5b – “for they are without fault before the throne of God.”
Tenth, the 144,000 were faultless (14:5b). How was this possible? There is an awesome truth here testified to by the 144,000. How can we be faultless before God? By the work of Christ, the atoning blood of Jesus. Listen to what the word says:
- 2 Corinthians 5:21 – “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
- 1 Peter 1:13-19 – “Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;14 as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance;15 but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”17 And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear;18 knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers,19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.”
- 1 John 1:7,9 – “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. . . 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Not only that, but God is able to empower us to live a holy life. The 144,000 were willing for God to work in them and the results were holy before God. God’s grace is sufficient in every area of life. As the following verses support:
- 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 – “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.24 He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.”
- Jude 24 – “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy,”
These 144,000 were faultless by virtue of their saving and sanctifying relationship with the Lamb Jesus. The witness of a holy life is powerful.
These 144,000 Jewish believers in Jesus were 144,000 walking, talking, living, loving, reasons for those around them to come to Jesus. Have you come to Jesus? Is He your Savior and Lord? Do you know Him? Do you have eternal life?
Jesus said, “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3). The word “know” here is translated from the Greek term ginosko. The idea of this word “know” in the original language meant to become aware, perceive (as in “seeing is believing”), to understand, to be conscious of, to see something or someone as it/they truly are (not merely opinion or speculation).
When this word is used in the sense of knowing someone it means:
- To know someone personally
- To be personally acquainted with someone
- To trust someone
- To have a friendship with someone
- To have an intimate personal relationship with someone
It is possible to know personally the only true God and His Son Jesus Christ. In light of this the question arises, do you know Jesus?
The Good News is that we can have a personal relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ. You can “know” the Lamb Jesus just like the 144,000 came to know Him. Entering into such a relationship is as simple as ABC: Admit/Ask, Believe/Receive, and Confess/Call.
First Admit your sin and ask God’s forgiveness for them. Our sins separate us from God (Isaiah 59:1-2). And we all have sinned and fall short of what it takes to enter heaven (Romans 3). We need to admit this truth before God. Once we admit our sin before God we need to ask God’s forgiveness for our sins. This implies turning from our sins to God (i.e. repentance). This is humbling but necessary. We come to Him on His terms not our terms. We come humbly before God who is Awesome and Holy.
Second, believe in Jesus and His atoning work. Jesus and Jesus atoning work on the cross alone, not our efforts or works, is the basis for God’s forgiveness of our sins. The wages or consequences of our sin is death. Jesus died on the cross in our place, paying our punishment for sin. God offers us salvation from our sins freely as a gift of His grace through Jesus’ death on the cross (Romans 6:23). We are saved from our sins because of His work not our work. To believe, trust, or put our faith in Jesus as Savior is not a “work,” it is God’s grace working in us (Ephesians 2:8-9). Once we believe in Jesus and His atoning work, we believe and receive forgiveness for our sins based on Jesus and His work. God has a just basis to forgive our sins because of Jesus justifying work on the cross on our behalf. Jesus paid our death penalty on the cross for us. He’s the only One qualified to do that. Jesus took our sins on Himself on the cross and when we trust in Him and His work, He offers us His righteousness to be put to our account (cf. Isaiah 53; 2 Corinthians 5:21). God did this for us in Christ because He loves us. God is Love with a capitol “L” (e.g. John 3:16; Romans 5:8; 1 John 4:8 and 16).
Lastly, Confess and call. We confess our sins to God and receive His forgiveness (1 John 1:9). But we also confess Jesus to those around us; we tell others about Jesus; we call others to follow Jesus too. These are not a works that lead to salvation. This is a fruit or evidence that salvation has genuinely taken place in us. The Bible states, “That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:9-10).
Look up these verses and pray over them. “So, then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). There are 144,000 reasons for you to come to Jesus and know Him as your Savior. I hope and pray you come to know Him today, before the Tribulation.
Vine, W. E., Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, (Grand Rapids, MI: Fleming H. Revell) 1981.