New Defender's Study Bible Notes
14:1 looked. Before the resumption of his account of the chronological events of the successive judgments, John is given another parenthetical insight to the background of these events. In this case, he is translated forward in time to the end of the tribulation period, when the triumphant Lamb will assemble with His 144,000 chosen Israelites on Mount Zion in Jerusalem. It is even possible that this will be the same assembly (or a precursive type thereof) as described in Hebrews 12:22-23. With the beast setting out to kill all Jews and all Christians, it is good for the Lord to give John (and us) a quick foretaste of the outcome of such Satanic fury. The Lamb indeed not only has the right to open the great title deed, but also the power to expel all the false pretenders to His rule, and all those redeemed by His blood will eventually stand with Him in triumph on Mt. Zion.
14:1 an hundred forty and four thousand. The 144,000 are not the “chosen few” (as some cults claim) or any others except the sealed Israelites, 12,000 from each tribe, as listed in Revelation 7:4-8. The seal placed in their foreheads, here revealed to have been simply the name of the heavenly Father, will indeed preserve them safe through all the judgments and persecutions of the tribulation period as they carry out their ministry of witness and teaching during those terrible years.
14:4 virgins. These will all apparently be young Israelite men, not yet married and having maintained their sexual purity throughout their young lives. They will have been specially chosen and prepared by God for this special ministry, presumably being raised in Orthodox Jewish homes, with deep respect for the Old Testament Scriptures, especially the Mosaic laws. Somehow, after the rapture of all believers shortly before the tribulation begins, they will have been led to recognize Jesus as their Messiah and Savior, resolving to dedicate their whole lives to Him at all costs. It will then be that God will have them sealed for their future service (Revelation 7:3).
14:4 firstfruits. These will be the “firstfruits” of the future Israel. At the end of the tribulation, no doubt in large measure through their witness, “all Israel shall be saved” (Romans 11:26; see also Zechariah 12:10).