14:2-5 REPRESENTATIVES OF THE LAMB
To summarize the previous sections, the 144,000 have the character of God, they are filled with His presence, and their purpose is to magnify and sanctify God’s holy name. This is the culmination of God’s plan to perfect for Himself a people who will be His witnesses during the “hour of His judgment”—“Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world” (1 John 4:17).
“And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of great thunder. And I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps; and they sang as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four living creatures, and the elders: and no one could learn that song but the 144,000, who 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 wherever He goes. These were redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb. And in their mouth was found no guile; for they are without fault before the throne of God. (Revelation 14:2-5).
Although overall the 144,000 are “without fault,” some particular traits are emphasized. First of all, they “were not defiled with women, for they are virgins.” In chapter 12 we saw that women in prophecy represent the church, either pure as in Revelation 12:1 (the woman clothed with the sun, moon, and stars), or corrupt as in chapter 17 (the great harlot). To be “defiled with women” means uniting at a heart level with a corrupt church—the harlot or her daughters (Revelation 17:5). These churches are a part of "
They also “follow the Lamb wherever He goes.” These are people who are so in harmony with the Holy Spirit that they hear His voice telling them where to go, what to do and what to say. God is always at work all around us, seeking to open people’s hearts. When someone responds to the Holy Spirit’s prompting, God needs one of His human representatives to help them progress from having an impression in their heart to being a disciple of Jesus. Abraham, Moses and Elijah are just three of many Biblical examples of people who had such a well-developed relationship with God that they understood His directions and were willing to respond. The 144,000 will have this kind of relationship with God, and they will need it in order to deliver the powerful final messages during the treacherous conditions created by the image to the beast.
They are “redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb.” The firstfruits were a sample of the first and best produce of the land, a promise of a rich harvest to come. Jesus, through His death and resurrection, became the “firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1 Corinthians 15:20-23), a guarantee that there will be a great harvest of resurrected saints. The 144,000 are the firstfruits of those who will live until Jesus comes, a guarantee of an abundant harvest (the great multitude) of other men, women and children who will also have the righteous character of Christ.
Twice in this passage the 144,000 are said to be “before the throne” (vs.3, 5) and at first glance it would appear that the vision has moved forward to the time after the Second Coming of Christ when God’s people will be in Heaven. However, in Revelation 7:15 they were also pictured as being “before the throne,” and there we saw that they were having the awesome experience of being physically on earth in the midst of the plagues, but spiritually in heaven before the throne (See 7: In Heaven While On Earth). This passage (14:1-5) is sandwiched between the final attack of the beast (the mark, number, and name) and the final message of God (the three angels' messages), and thus has the same context— God’s representatives are still on earth just before His Second Coming. In this sense they are like Jesus, who said, “Now I am no longer in the world” (John 17:11), even though He still had three days of suffering, crucifixion and the grave ahead of Him. He told Nicodemus, “No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the son of Man who is in heaven” (John 3:13). Even though He had come down from heaven, He was still spiritually in heaven with His Father.
Stephen had this experience as he was about to be stoned—“He, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and said ‘Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” (Acts 7:55,56). Paul said, “God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6), using the past tense which shows that spiritually and by faith we are already sitting with Christ on His throne. He invites us to “come boldly to the throne of grace” (Hebrews 4:16), even though His throne is in Heaven and we are on earth.
These are faith experiences which we can taste now, but the unique experiences God’s people will have during the Time of Trouble will take them to a new level. On the one hand, the 144,000 will be facing the threats that go along with the image, mark, and number of the beast, and on the other hand, they will be receiving the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in latter-rain power. In this context the heavenly realm will become such a reality that they will already be “before the throne.” This experience will inspire the “new song” that they will sing. The reason that “no one could learn that song except the hundred and forty-four thousand” is because they will have an experience unique in human history, as they proclaim the three angels' messages to the world during the time of trouble.