Q. Since the 144,000 from Rev. 7 are seen with the Lamb on Mount Zion in Rev. 14, having been redeemed FROM the earth at approximately mid point of Revelation, are the 144,000 slain at mid – trib ? Is the book of Revelation chronological, or does it skip forward and backward in time ?
A. I think that the Book of Revelation is chronological for the most part although there are a couple of places where John has to back up and fill in the detail. For example, to be strictly chronological Rev. 21 and the first part of Rev. 22 would have to be placed between verses 6 and 7 of Rev. 20, but John wanted to complete his thoughts about the final destinies of the Satan and the unsaved first.
For several reasons, I don’t believe the 144,000 of Rev. 7 and those of Rev. 14 are the same. In Revelation 7:3-8 a group numbering 144,000 is introduced as the servants of our God. They are given the Seal of the Living God in their foreheads to protect them from the judgments coming on the earth against the land, the sea, and the trees. The timing is between the 6th and 7th Seal judgments well before the start of the Great Tribulation.
This group is clearly identified as being from among the Jewish population, with 12,000 coming from each of the 12 tribes named in Rev. 7:5-8.
The group identified in Rev 14:1-5 is substantially different. This group is not on the earth and they have the names of both the Father and the Son written on their foreheads. (This was uniquely promised to the Church of Philadelphia in Rev. 3:12.) They are described as having been redeemed from the earth and are now before the Throne of God singing a new song, a song only they can sing. They are pure and blameless, they’ve been purchased from among men, and are offered as first fruits to God and the Lamb.
The only group that has been purchased from among men is the Church. In 1 Cor. 6:19-20 Paul said we are not our own but have been bought at a price. And in 2 Cor. 1:22 he said God has set His seal of ownership on us. Also Hebrews 12:22-24 provides a beautiful description of this group, saying they’ve come to Mt. Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the Living God. Their location (the New Jerusalem) and their spiritual state (pure and blameless) along with the identifiers from the previous paragraph fits only one group … the Church. This 144,000 is a sampling of the redeemed, brought to heaven in the rapture of Rev 4 and presented as the first fruits of the harvest.
By the way, the timing of Rev. 14 is right at the beginning of the Great Tribulation, just before the the bowl judgments commence.