Not One Lost – Revelation 14:1-5 04/11/21


Not One Lost – Revelation 14:1-5 04/11/21


We’re at a bit of a transition in Revelation as, once again, John jumps forward in time. Revelation 14:1-5, John takes us past the storm the Church will endure to see what’s on the other side.[1] In contrast to the Mark of the Beast, we now observe the results of receiving the Mark of God. In Revelation 14:1–5 we find the outcome of God sealing His children; the result is a people who persevere, who are sustained by a power outside of themselves, and who are spiritually protected.[2] These are the ones who are “ransomed” from the people of the earth.[3] The 144,000 are the people collected from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.[4] These are, in fact, us. And we will stand rejoicing in the presence of our Lord.[5]


When is all of this taking place? That depends on who the 144,000 are. Are they, as I believe, the sum total of all God’s people, Old Testament as well as New Testament, all saved through faith by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ? If that’s the case, then this must be following the Millennial Kingdom, in fact it must be following the Great White Throne Judgement and just prior to the creation of the promised New Heavens and New Earth. That would be the time described in Revelation 20:13-21:1.


Alternatively, if these 144,000 are limited to the Tribulation Saints, as some believe, then what we have here is the inauguration of the Millennial Kingdom.[6] This is a period of time, on earth, when King Jesus governs, and His martyred saints of the Great Tribulation will be resurrected to reign with Him[7] according to Revelation 20:4-5.


A good case can be made for either option, but it seems to me that, since the context of the 144,000 in chapter 7 points to the entirety of God’s people, it’s most likely that this passage, too, points to the entirety of God’s people. That forces this event to a time following the Millennial Kingdom. With that, we can begin to answer the “where” question.


In Revelation 14:1 we find the Davidic Messiah, the Lamb, standing upon “Mount Zion.”[8] This is the only reference to Mount Zion in the Revelation,[9] and is therefore probably significant. Historically, David overthrew the Jebusites and took Jerusalem as his capital[10] around the year 1003 BC.[11] He then renamed “Zion” and called it “the City of David.”[12] Following King David, in about 958[13] BC Solomon began to build the Temple on a hill adjacent to, and directly north of, the City of David.[14] The site of the Temple on one hill, along with Jerusalem on an adjacent hill, came to be collectively known as “Mount Zion,” or simply “Zion.”[15]


As with the rest of Revelation, we can turn to the Old Testament for help in determining what John had in mind. In the Hebrew Scriptures the expression “Mount Zion” becomes a place that will experience future deliverance.[16] What’s more, it is on Mount Zion that blessings will be poured out, and it is to Mount Zion that the Gentiles will bring gifts.[17] With this background it’s pretty obvious that “Mount Zion” is not necessarily a literal reference to real-estate located in Israel.


With this in mind, Zion became one of the names used to refer to the true city of God.[18] What’s more, it refers to the city that God will establish and rule over at the end of the age on the New Earth.[19] Therefore, my conclusion is that Revelation 14:1 most likely refers to the true city of God that will come down out of heaven, the New Jerusalem referenced in Revelation 21:2. In that city His people will dwell in security, peace, and joy.


The 144,000 are then described in a somewhat confusing way in Revelation 14:4-5, as “virgins.” As you might guess, the meaning of this has been debated.[20] If it’s to be taken literally, then only those who are celibate will sing the new song in heaven.[21] The problem with this view is that it implies that sexual relationships within marriage are defiling.[22] That view runs contrary to the clear teaching of the New Testament.[23]


At the same time, the metaphor of the “pure virgin” is sometimes used to symbolically refer to the moral and spiritual purity of the Christian community living by the Spirit in Christ.[24] In this sense, the idea of “following Jesus” is not limited to accepting martyrdom, rather it encompasses all of our life.[25] It’s reflected in the choices we make, in how we face the trials of this life, and in how we deal with suffering in general for the sake of our commitment to Him.[26]


With all that, it’s probably better to understand (παρθένοι) “virgins” to be metaphorically used to refer to every saint who’s been cleansed by Jesus and has remained loyal to Him, even as a virgin bride remains faithful while waiting for her betrothed.[27] Faithfully, they (we) wait for the culmination of their (our) faith.[28] Then the lifestyle of avoiding being polluted by women would make perfect sense in the context of Revelation.[29] Instead of identifying with the idolatrous world, we who follow Jesus, before anything else, identify with Christ.[30]


Now we can begin to circle back to the present and consider the passage’s implications for today. We’ve answered the question, “How did God’s people fare under severe persecution?” The answer; not a single one is lost. Jesus started with 144,000, and He didn’t finish with 143,999. He finishes with 144,000. Jesus sealed them, and Jesus kept them.[31]


Now here’s where it starts to get uncomfortable. If someone were to look at your life, would they be able to say, “These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes.”?[32] That kind of life will be a life that’s changed, that kind of life will be guided by the Scriptures and changes will be made to conform to what they say. That kind of life will be a life empowered by the Holy Spirit who marks us as God’s own beloved possession. That kind of life is a walk of faith.


Ultimately, that will be a life that takes us into the presence of the Father.

[1] Robert Mounce, The Book of Revelation, Revised, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, gen. eds., Ned Stonehouse, F.F. Bruce, and Gordon Fee, (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI.: 18977), 263. [2] David E. Aune, Revelation 6–16, vol. 52B, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1998), 794–795. [3] Joseph L. Trafton, Reading Revelation: A Literary and Theological Commentary, Rev. ed., Reading the New Testament Series (Macon, GA: Smyth & Helwys Publishing, 2005), 134. [4] Joseph L. Trafton, Reading Revelation: A Literary and Theological Commentary, Rev. ed., Reading the New Testament Series (Macon, GA: Smyth & Helwys Publishing, 2005), 134. [5] Bruce Metzger, Breaking the Code: Understanding the Book of Revelation, revised and updated by David DeSilva, (Abingdon Press, Nashville, TN.: 2019), 97. [6] J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee: Volume V, 1 Corinthians – Revelation, (Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN.: 1983), 1006. [7] J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee: Volume V, 1 Corinthians – Revelation, (Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN.: 1983), 1006. [8] Joseph L. Trafton, Reading Revelation: A Literary and Theological Commentary, Rev. ed., Reading the New Testament Series (Macon, GA: Smyth & Helwys Publishing, 2005), 134. [9] Joseph L. Trafton, Reading Revelation: A Literary and Theological Commentary, Rev. ed., Reading the New Testament Series (Macon, GA: Smyth & Helwys Publishing, 2005), 134. [10] Joseph L. Trafton, Reading Revelation: A Literary and Theological Commentary, Rev. ed., Reading the New Testament Series (Macon, GA: Smyth & Helwys Publishing, 2005), 134. [11] Accessed from JERUSALEM 3000- When did King David conquer Jerusalem (israel.org) on 3/25/21. [12] Joseph L. Trafton, Reading Revelation: A Literary and Theological Commentary, Rev. ed., Reading the New Testament Series (Macon, GA: Smyth & Helwys Publishing, 2005), 134. [13] Accessed from The Bible Journey | Solomon builds the Temple in Jerusalem on 3/25/21. [14] Joseph L. Trafton, Reading Revelation: A Literary and Theological Commentary, Rev. ed., Reading the New Testament Series (Macon, GA: Smyth & Helwys Publishing, 2005), 134. [15] Joseph L. Trafton, Reading Revelation: A Literary and Theological Commentary, Rev. ed., Reading the New Testament Series (Macon, GA: Smyth & Helwys Publishing, 2005), 134. [16] Joseph L. Trafton, Reading Revelation: A Literary and Theological Commentary, Rev. ed., Reading the New Testament Series (Macon, GA: Smyth & Helwys Publishing, 2005), 134.