And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps: And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders:and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth. These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb. And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God. (Revelation 14:1-5 KJV)
Many people have argued about identity of the 144,000, but it will be of more profit to us if we simply seek to emulate them in their devotion to Christ. Although we are introduced to them earlier in Revelation, here in Chapter 14 it seems we see them at the completion of their ministry, as they receive their reward from the Lord.
This special group of believers is rewarded for their faithfulness with very high privileges. First, they are given the right to worship God with a special song which only they are allowed to learn and, apparently, play. Second, they are invited to follow the Lamb wherever he goes. Think of that! Wherever Jesus goes, these loyal followers who will be there with him. They are His personal companions. Third, they are described as being “before the throne of God.” They have a special place of closeness to God’s throne. John connects this to the fact that there is no deceit in their mouths.
I believe this is a reference to Psalm 15. In the Old Testament, people knew that you could only stand before God if you had clean lips. (We recall that Isaiah had to have his lips cleansed when he was taken up to the third heaven.) Psalm 15 goes like this:
Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? Who shall dwell in thy holy hill? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart. He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbor, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbor. In whose eyes a vile person is contemned; but he honoureth them that fear the Lord. He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not. He that putteth not out his money to usury, nor taketh reward against the innocent. He that doeth these things shall never be moved. (Psalms 15:1-5 KJV)
The 144,000 display the kind of holy living that God seeks from his people. We see in them a quality of character radically different from that of the Beast-followers in the chapters preceding.
While followers of the Beast bear his hideous name or mark on their forehead, these men have the name of their Father. It may be invisible to us, but God can see that they are completely devoted to Him.
While followers of the Beast blaspheme God, these render Him pure worship, and they sing Him a new song.
While followers of the Beast have no “love of the truth” so as to be saved, the 144,000 have no deceit in their mouths.
The followers of the Beast reject God and fall away in the Great Apostasy, but these men follow the Lamb wherever He goes. And what a beautiful description of Christian living that is.
These overcoming saints live a life of personal holiness. During the trumpet judgments of Revelation, people refuse to repent of sins such as murder, theft, and sexual immorality – but these men refuse to defile themselves while sin is raging all around them.
What a beautiful contrast between two groups of people, and what a wonderful testimony to the grace of God. These men’s lives show us that even in the darkest days of history, His power can keep us close to Him, and keep us holy.
Indeed, if they did not follow Him wherever He went in the days of Tribulation to come, they would never have been rewarded by being welcomed to follow Him wherever He goes in the Age To Come.