Read Revelation 14 at Bible Gateway.
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. 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. 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. These are the ones who were not defiled with women, for they are virgins. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These were redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb. And in their mouth was found no deceit, for they are without fault before the throne of God. Rev 14:1-5
The most important thing to remember in trying to understand Rev 14, is that it is preceded by Rev 12 and 13. Rev 12 and 13 are pictures of the rise of the kingdoms of this world to dominance, under the leadership of Satan, during the course of the ages of the earth. The war in heaven (Rev 12) takes place very early in the history of the earth, with the rise of the world dominating empires following, while the detail of the beasts of the sea and the land (Rev 13) takes place during the Middle Ages, if the traditional interpretation is correct.
Rev 13 ends at the height of the power of these Roman beasts, who wield so much temporal power that no one can make war with them, no one can withstand them, and no one can buy or sell unless they bear their name. As we saw, this detail was fulfilled during the Middle Ages. In Rev 14 the scene begins to drastically change: the true Lamb appears on Mount Zion! The tide is now going to turn!
In the history of the world, the turning tide against the institutions of Rome begins with the opening of the little book and the Reformation. Mount Zion is, I believe, the place of citizenship of the true ekklesia, irrespective of denominations or church buildings or synagogues. The 144,000 which were sealed in Rev 7 appear with the Lamb. In Rev 7, we were just told that they were sealed with the seal of God on their foreheads. In this chapter we have a little more information. In contrast to those who were marked by the name of the beast on their foreheads in Rev 13, the 144,000 were marked by the name of YHVH on their foreheads. Compare these passages for even more insight into what it means to be marked by the name of YHVH on one’s hand and forehead.
The phrase, “these are the ones who were not defiled with women, for they are virgins,” has been a source of controversy in the church, and has contributed to the Roman church’s stand on celibacy for the priesthood. First of all, a marital relationship does not defile a man, for from the beginning He made them male and female, and said that it was not good for man to be alone, and admonished that what God had joined together, let no man put asunder. But then there is the word “virgin” in Greek, and means just what you would expect it to mean. We saw in Rev 7 that the sealing of the 144,000 took place during the time of the great Roman persecutions of the church, and it is possible that these particular 144,000 were indeed virgins in the literal sense – choosing not to marry because of the times of persecution that they lived in. We can speculate till the cows come home. We will know for sure when the Lord returns and explains it to us.
So if the 144,000 were sealed at the time of the great Roman persecutions, what are they doing appearing with the Lamb at the turning of the tide, at the Reformation? Well, they are the seed of Israel, I believe, that were sown to the four corners of the world (Amo 9:9). This chapter and Rev 7 are picturing the same event in different ways: down through the ages, the seed of the 144,000 that was sown among the nations, the seed of the true ekklesia, grew and bore fruit and multiplied. In spite of persecution and the war which the beasts have waged against them, they now appear with the Lamb on Mount Zion, and the next thing that happens is:
Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth—to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people— Rev 14:6
Remember that the heavens represent the spiritual realm. That the angel is flying in the midst of it, unhindered, with the everlasting gospel, reveals that since the time of the opening of the little book and the Reformation, since the end of the absolute authority of the Roman church (which was described in Rev 13) there has been freedom to preach the true gospel throughout the earth, to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people: the same that appear before the throne worshiping God in Rev 7.
Continued in revelation 14, the three proclamations