A Blessed Scene of the Righteous in Heaven
After such a horrifying vision in chapter thirteen (dragons and seven-headed beasts and such), the Lord rewards us with a refreshing and truly glorious vision in chapter fourteen. God has a way of doing this for His saints. He never leaves us to despair, no matter how dark things become. He constantly places before us our heavenly abode and eternal city; otherwise, how could any of us stand? God knows our frame – how weak we truly are (Psalm 103:14).
So we arrive at Mount Zion, another name for our heavenly home. I have already indicated my belief along with many that the 144,000 represents the entire Church of the redeemed from every age and nation. Their virginity is not so much a reference to physical celibacy as spiritual fidelity. Thus Paul says to the church in Corinth: “I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:2). Marital fidelity or infidelity is often used in the Scriptures to symbolize one’s faithfulness, or lack thereof, to God (the Book of the Prophet Hosea, for instance). Celibacy does not commend us to God, unless we are first commended to God in our hearts. And we certainly cannot think that only men would be in heaven! These must be the full number of the redeemed who have not defiled themselves by committing adultery with the world by compromising the gospel. They have remained faithful in the midst of hardship; they have endured to the end.
This is a most blessed vision, especially as the saints sing “a new song.” Not so, the wicked. The angels fly overhead, one with the “eternal gospel” which unregenerate men refuse to believe. A second angel follows proclaiming the doom of Babylon, not the ancient city in Mesopotamia, but any city which sells itself to the Antichrist and his diabolical world system. A third angel warns of the eternal punishment awaiting those who receive the mark of the beast and worship at his footstool. We may be shocked to read that these will be tormented in the presence of the angels and the Lamb, but the Bible would have us know that we worship a righteous God whose holiness is uncompromising. He has given his Son for our salvation, and to reject His Son is the greatest of offenses. The salvation of the righteous serves to magnify God’s grace, while the punishment of the wicked serves to magnify His justice. And who are we to answer back to God or to question His will (Romans 9:19-29). In the meantime, we are called to endurance by the hope of our reward. We shall one day rest, and our labors will follow.