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. (Revelation 14:1)
Jesus warned, “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains: Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day: For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened” (Matthew 24:15-22, emphasis mine).
Jesus’ Olivet Discourse is often misinterpreted and misapplied to include all followers of Christ. However, one must consider the audience Jesus addressed. It was His disciples who asked, “Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” (Matthew 24:3). The question was prompted by Jesus’ remark concerning the Temple they were admiring. “And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down” (Matthew 24:2). The disciples were Jewish, and their concern was from a Jewish perspective. They were not yet “Christian.” They believed that Jesus was the promised Messiah. They knew He was destined to reign in Jerusalem and that His reign would culminate at the “end of the age.” Their twofold question requested two specific answers: when will He come to set up His kingdom, and when will “the end of the world” (Gk: aiōn – age) be?
Jesus’ reply addressed Jews, and the events outlined in His discourse were directed to Jews. “The abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet” was intended for Daniel and his people and his holy city, i.e., the Jews and Jerusalem. Jesus warned that they should pray that their escape from Jerusalem would not be on a Sabbath Day. Such a warning can only apply to Jews; Christians observe the Lord’s Day (Sunday), not the Sabbath (Saturday). Jesus’ discourse on the last days described the events of the seven-year Tribulation prophesied by Daniel. Its primary purpose is “to finish the transgression [of Israel], and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy” (Daniel 9:24). The prophets all speak of the scattering and regathering of Israel into their own land in the “latter days” with the promise that God will restore the nation forever (sealing up “the vision and prophecy”). Hence, the Tribulation is for that purpose and to bring God’s judgment to bear on a rebellious and sinful world.
In my previous article, I focused on Revelation 13 which deals with “the beast” (i.e., “the abomination of desolation, a.k.a. the Antichrist) and his false prophet, who shows his true colors at the midpoint of the Tribulation initiating the final 3½ years, or what Jesus called the “Great Tribulation.” Of that time Jesus said, “And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened” (Matthew 24:22).
It is at this point that John once again changes the scene. “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” (Revelation 14:1). The Lamb he sees is Jesus standing on Mount Zion. Zion sometimes refers to Jerusalem and at other times it refers to the Temple Mount or “the mountain of God.” However, it almost always refers to the dwelling place of God. God established Jerusalem as His city forever and the Temple as His dwelling place forever. Even so, Solomon rightly concluded, “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded?” (1 Kings 8:27). Obviously, God cannot be confined to a single place; therefore, Zion goes beyond an earthly temple or city. Zion is the habitation of God in heaven.
Now we see Jesus, the Lamb, in Zion, His heavenly home, and there with Him are the 144 thousand “having his Father’s name written in their foreheads.” We have seen them before in Chapter 7 of Revelation and as a result of their evangelistic efforts, millions on earth are saved. Now, here they are in heaven. What happened? Either they were Raptured about the same time as the two witnesses, or they paid with their lives for their evangelistic zeal.
“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” (Revelation 14:2-3). Clarence Larkin sums this up better than I can, so I will include his commentary as follows:
What the “voice” said is not told us, but it was followed with the voice or singing of the “Harpers” accompanied by their harps. These “Harpers” sung a “NEW SONG” before the Throne, and the “Four Living Creatures,” and the “Elders.” As the “Elders” represent the Church, these “Harpers” are not the Church, for they sing before the “Elders.” Who these “Harpers” are we are told in chapter 15:2-4. They are those who stand on the “Sea of Glass” before the Throne, Rev.4:6. The “New Song” they sing is a “double song,” the “SONG OF MOSES” and the “SONG OF THE LAMB,” and we are told that no man could learn the Song but the 144,000 who were redeemed from the earth. This is further evidence that the 144,000 “Sealed Ones” are in Heaven, either having been translated or died a Martyr’s death and from Rev. 14:4 we learn that they are the “FIRST-FRUITS” of the restored nation of Israel, not the “First-Fruits” of the Church, for that is represented by the “Elders,” and was gathered out long before.
“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 14:4-5). Larkin suggests that the idea that they were “not defiled with women” may mean that they were celibate like the Apostle Paul who did not marry. However, since “the word translated ‘virgins’ means persons of either sex, they are ‘virgins’ in the sense that they kept themselves clean of the crowning sin of that day—FORNICATION, for the crowning sin of the Tribulation Period will be fornication (Rev. 9:21; 14:8), or looseness and laxity of the marriage tie of which ‘free-love,’ and the doctrine of “affinities,” and multiplied divorce in these days are but the opening wedge to the looseness of morals of those Anti-Christian times.” This allows for the possibility that this number includes women and not just men. The defining characteristic is chastity or sexual purity, faithfulness in the bond of marriage, and fidelity to the Lord’s leading “whithersoever he goeth.”
What is remarkable to me, but not surprising, is the mercy God extends to a fallen world even at this time of judgment. He sends the 144,000 Jewish converts to spread the Gospel around the world, and they are so effective that millions of people on earth reject the Antichrist and turn to Jesus Christ for salvation even at the cost of their very lives. “After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb” (Revelation 7:9-10). Along with that, He sends two witnesses, who could be Moses and Elijah. As a result, many millions are saved during the first 3½ years of the Tribulation.
Chronologically, in the Revelation account, we are at about the midpoint of the Tribulation. The two witnesses have been killed. They are allowed to lay in the streets of Jerusalem for three days in full view of the entire world. Then God resurrects their dead bodies and calls them up to heaven to the shock and dismay of the watching world. It is possible that around this same time the 144,000 are taken out of the world, either by martyrdom or rapture, but they seem to be in heaven now according to the text. However, God still continues His outreach efforts. “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). “Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?” (Ezekiel 33:11)
God’s outreach options are not exhausted. “And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters” (Revelation 14:6-7). Just because the 144,000 and the two witnesses are gone from the scene does not mean that the message of the Gospel has ended. Surely, there are many Tribulation saints that have survived to this point and many will survive to the very end when Christ returns. They will continue to spread the Gospel by whatever means they have available. In the meantime, God sends angelic help by way of what I call the “Gospel Angel.”
John sees another angel flying in the “midst of the heaven.” This “heaven” is the atmospheric “heaven” of the earth. The Gospel historically has been the responsibility of humans. Now, with severe persecution and limited resources, God sends an unstoppable angel to preach “the everlasting gospel” to all people of every language. No one will be able to say they never heard the message of redemption. No one will have an excuse for rejecting the Gospel. It will be preached everywhere, in every language, non-stop. And Antichrist will have no power over this angel to stop him. However, it is not just one angel. Two more follow.
“And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication” (Revelation 14:8). This message is not of an actual event. It is a promise of an event that is coming, and it is such a sure thing, that it is proclaimed in the present tense.
“And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name” (Revelation 14:9-11). For any rational person, this warning should serve to scare the hell right out of them. Receiving the mark of the beast is the unpardonable death sentence. No one on earth will be forced to take the mark of the beast. They will take it willingly as a sign of fidelity to the Antichrist, the beast, and they will be eternally doomed for that choice.
No one will be able to plead ignorance. Three angels are sent by God to warn the earth dwellers of the judgments that are coming and provide them with the message of salvation. To take the mark of the beast may spare one’s life for a brief time, but in the end, the eternal fires of hell await. To reject the mark of the beast and choose Christ may mean physical death, but in the same instant that they close their eyes in death they will awaken in the presence of God, the Lamb, and all of the hosts of heaven.
“Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus. And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them” (Revelation 14:12-13).
There exist scoffers today that reject this message thinking that they will be able to survive the Tribulation. They think “if” that time ever comes, they will reject the mark and accept Christ. That sounds very self-assured, confident, and arrogant. However, if one will not accept Jesus now when it is relatively easy to do so, what makes one think that one will have enough courage in the midst of the worst economic, climatic, and environmental disasters the world has ever seen to stand up for Jesus when doing so means certain death? Reader, if you do not know the Savior, do not wait any longer. The time is short. Please read my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”
 Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21:5-36
 Sion vs Zion is due to the Greek of the New Testament. The Greek does not have a “Z” in its alphabet. The nearest thing to it is the Greek letter sigma (Σ) that equates to our English letter “S.”
 Clarence Larkin, The Book of Revelation, Illustrated, (Rev. Clarence Larkin Estate, Philadelphia, 1919), p. 131.