Verse 1: John sees a vision of the last-days Jewish church standing in heaven with the name of God the Father and His Son written on their foreheads. Not one of them is missing. Knowing those who would believe in His Son, God protected them until each could be sealed (Rev 7:3, 4). At the same time, He sent two witnesses to aggressively evangelize (Rev 11:1-14) with the result that the complete number is now seen on a heavenly Mt. Zion before the throne of God (v 3). Were not told whether they arrived there by a rapture (caught up to God and His throne, Rev 12:5) or by unswerving loyalty to Christ in the face of martyrdom (Rev 20:4). In either case, none was lost (Lk 21:18).
Revelation 14:2, 3
Verses 2, 3: As a great choir roaring like the thunder of mighty waters yet sweetly musical like the sound of harps the 144,000 sang a new song. As weve seen in Rev 5:9, a new song is one which has been composed to thank God for a new work which He has done. In this case, God has accomplished a salvation for this final generation of Jews that is unique. Certainly they will be saved by faith in Jesus Christ as are all believers, but, as weve seen, God will do miracles to reach them which are without precedent. What other generation has had Moses and Elijah (or someone just like them) preach and do miracles for 3 1Ъ2 years and then rise from the dead and ascend into heaven before their eyes (Rev 11:3-13)? This is why they will compose a new song to give thanks for these things.
Verse 4: If taken out of the context of the spiritual life of ancient Israel, this verse will confuse us as to the nature of the 144,000. If we keep in mind that it alludes to Old Testament events that a Jew such as John would recognize, then this verse makes complete sense. It states that these are the ones who have not been defiled with women, for they have kept themselves chaste. On the surface it sounds as if all are virgin males, but if we recall that sexual restraint was one of the ways the nation of Israel consecrated itself in order to meet with God (Ex 19:15; Lev 20:7-24) then we will realize we are being told these have consecrated themselves by living morally and spiritually pure lives. They have not been defiled; they are clean from the dirt of the world and ready to stand before God.
Revelation 4:4, 5
Verse 14 (continued): In Israel a portion of a field, vineyard or orchard was marked off before harvest time as dedicated to the Lord. When the actual harvest took place, that portion was collected first and presented to the Lord at the Temple in Jerusalem. This special portion of the harvest was called the firstfruits. It was the first portion gathered and it belonged to God. Here the 144,000 are described as having been purchased from among men (Rev 5:9) and as firstfruits. Of course, many Gentile Christians will also be gathered to the Lord during these years but calling this Jewish church a firstfruits is to emphasize that they represent a portion of the human population God has specially set aside for Himself. In order to fulfill His promises to their fathers (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob), He marked off this generation as His and now they stand with Him gathered into His storehouse. Verse 5: In addition to their sexual purity, they are truthtellers. No lie was found in their mouth (v 5). This combined with the fact that they have not defiled themselves (v 4) and have followed wherever Christ led them (v 4) has rendered them blameless meaning there is nothing that disqualifies them from coming before God. This same word is used in Eph 1:4, 5:27, Col 1:22 and Jude 1:24 to describe the sinlessness belonging to all believers. Like all true believers, they follow the Lamb wherever He goes even to death, if necessary.
Revelation 14:6, 7
Verses 6, 7: Johns attention turns to focus on another scene unfolding before him. He sees an angel flying over the earth warning unbelievers in a loud voice to fear God and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgment has come. He also warns them to worship Him who made the heavens and the earth and sea and springs of waters. In Mt 24:14, Jesus said, This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole worlds as a testimony to all the nations and then the end will come. Of course, in every generation, the church has an assignment to preach the gospel (Mt 28:18-20) but during these final years such preaching will be very difficult due to enormous persecution. God will make up for human inability by sending His angels. He will not allow His wrath to be poured out until those who are willing to repent have been given an opportunity to do so.
Verse 8: A second angel follows behind the first. This one announces the doom of the political, economic and spiritual empire set up by the antichrist. He calls it Babylon, identifying this city as the spiritual capital of a long line of antichrists that have arisen throughout human history. They are identified with Babylon because thats where the spirit first expressed itself. The tower of Babel (Ge 10:8-11; 11:1-9) was the first attempt to unite the world under a dictator and focus its worship away from God. But it certainly wasnt the last. This malignant spirit has repeatedly tried to emerge over the course of human history but God has repeatedly restrained its full expression (2Th 2:6-9) and will continue to do so until the final seven year period. Yet, even during that terrible time, Gods destruction of this empire will be so certain an angel will announce it as a completed fact before it takes place. This angel declares, Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great... and then announces Gods verdict so all will understand the cause of its destruction; she who has made all the nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her immorality (literal). Babylon has made the nations drink a wine it has produced which is filled with spiritual immorality. It has lured the nations into worshipping false gods and in doing so has doomed them to drink from the cup of Gods wrath.
Verses 9-11: A third angels announcement is so explicit no one on earth can miss his point. He says if anyone takes the antichrists mark (Rev 13:16, 17) he will be subjected to Gods wrath which will ultimately mean he will end up in hell tormented with fire and brimstone (sulfur) in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; they have no rest day and night... Its hard to imagine how anyone could describe the horrors of hell more vividly, or how anyone listening to this angel could ignore his warning. Verse 12: The angels description of hell puts the suffering which believers are enduring into proper perspective. Though many may suffer and die because they refuse to worship the beast and his image or receive the mark of his name (v 11), their earthly persecution is nothing compared to the eternal misery ahead for those who have temporarily saved their lives by complying with the antichrists demands. Knowing this will strengthen the resolve of believers and help them persevere during these last terrible years. Verse 13: The voice John hears from heaven further assures believers that heaven awaits those who die in the Lord from now on. Anyone choosing to withstand the antichrist in those final years will face an unprecedented level of persecution but they must remember that death will only usher them into the glorious rest of heaven where their reward awaits. In a later vision, John sees this particular group of abused believers being resurrected and reigning with Christ during the Millennium (Rev 20:4-6). His point is not to say that other believers will not also be resurrected and rule with Christ but to give added comfort to those who will face a degree of persecution like none which the world has ever known (Mt 24:21, 22). They will indeed take up their cross to follow Him (Lk 9:23) but they will also share in His resurrection and glory.