Revelation 14

 
A Sevenfold Vision of God’s Intervention
Revelation 14
 
Revelation 14. In ch. 12 we saw Satan’s purpose was to destroy faith from the earth (Luke 18:8). In ch. 13 we saw the two human instruments that Satan will raise up to accomplish that purpose; i.e. the beast and antichrist. But in ch. 14 we see God’s intervention in the progress of evil.
 
 

(#1) The Jewish Remnant Preserved (14:1-5)

CHAPTER 14
And I saw, and behold, the Lamb standing upon mount Zion, and with him a hundred and forty-four thousand, having his name and the name of his Father written upon their foreheads. v.1 Preserved: on Earth. Note that vv.1-5 are an anticipatory vision, looking on to the end. The Lamb is seen standing on Mt. Zion symbolically, not literally. His literal coming is in v.14. Zion speaks of God’s movements toward the city in grace (e.g. Ps. 48:2). The 144,000 are “with Him” in the sense of identification. Although it may be difficult at first to see why, this 144,000 is not the same as in Rev. 7. The reason is that these 144,000 are connected with those who have already died, which are from the Jewish remnant; i.e. 144,000 from the tribe of Judah only, whereas in ch.7 there were 12,000 from the tribe of Judah. The numeral 144,000 (administrative perfection) is used because these form the nucleus of the nation in the Millennium. Like the woman at the well, the Jewish remnant will come to the realization that Jesus is Messiah, but this will likely occur in steps. Some more intelligent (the Maskilim) will have an advanced knowledge. The “name in their foreheads” is in contrast with the mark of the beast. The western earth will become divided into two companies: followers of the Beast, and followers of the Lamb. These faithful followers are seen on the other side of the fiery trial (Zech. 13:8, 9). It is the name of “His Father” instead of “their Father” because these are not Christians, but believing Jews. They do not know the privilege, as Christians do, of crying “Abba Father”.
 
2 And I heard a voice out of the heaven as a voice of many waters, and as a voice of great thunder. And the voice which I heard was as of harp-singers harping with their harps; 3 and they sing a new song before the throne, and before the four living creatures and the elders. And no one could learn that song save the hundred and forty-four thousand who were bought from the earth. vv.2-3 Martyred: in Heaven. Now we have a different company from v.1. Those in v.1 were on earth are “listening in” to the praises of those in vv.2-3 who have already been martyred and are in heaven (same group as Rev. 15:2). Those on earth are in fellowship with these ones in heaven because they are passing through the same persecution that the martyrs have passed through. “Harps” have to do with a state of worship (Psa. 43:4). The theme of the “new song” is redemption (Rev. 5:9), as compared with creation. The martyred remnant in heaven is teaching the preserved remnant on earth the new song. This verse shows that only the redeemed can sing of redemption. Here the emphasis is on practical redemption from the evil world.
 
4 These are they who have not been defiled with women, for they are virgins: these are they who follow the Lamb wheresoever it goes. These have been bought from men as first-fruits to God and to the Lamb: 5 and in their mouths was no lie found; for they are blameless. vv.4-5 Preserved: on Earth. The scene changes again, and we are back on earth, with the preserved remnant. These ones were preserved from the corruptions that surrounded them; “who have not been defiled with women”. They were preserved from moral and spiritual defilement (e.g. the worship of the beast). “They are virgins” is perhaps not literal virginity because some of the remnant may be married. These saints are attached to the Lamb; a result produced by wooing and weening (process traced in the Song of Solomon). This remnant are the “first-fruits to God and to the Lamb”; a sample of the Lord’s earthly people in the Millennium! A devoted, undefiled, but yet earthly people – in fellowship with heaven – as a testimony for Jehovah. It would seem that the “lie” in v.5 has to do with not believing and spreading the lie of the Antichrist. The term “blameless” is used here in the same sense as Heb. 9:14 and 1 Peter 1:19, though it could only be said perfectly of the Lamb Himself.
 

(#2) The Everlasting Gospel is Preached (14:6-7)

¶ 6 And I saw another angel flying in mid-heaven, having the everlasting glad tidings to announce to those settled on the earth, and to every nation and tribe and tongue and people, saying with a loud voice, Fear God and give him glory, for the hour of his judgment has come; and do homage to him who has made the heaven and the earth and the sea and fountains of waters. v.6-7 The Everlasting Gospel. Another thing that will happen during the great tribulation is that the gospel will spread over the whole earth, to “every nation and tribe and tongue and people”. “Those settled on the earth” are not only the earth-dwellers, but men everywhere. But this “gospel” isn’t exactly the same gospel that Christian evangelists preach today. The “everlasting gospel” doesn’t speak of redemption, but rather testifies to the majesty of God as Creator (see Psa. 19:1-3, Psa. 96, Rom. 1:19-20). The everlasting gospel is seen in Gen. 3:15; the promised seed would someday intervene in judgment. Noah and Enoch preached it as well. The scope of this “everlasting gospel” is very broad (see Acts 10:34-35). The “him” in v.7 is in contrast with the beast.
 
Three Gospels. There are three gospels in scripture:
  1. The Everlasting Gospel – warns of coming judgment based on God’s power as Creator. God will at last intervene to deliver a world fallen into Satan’s hands through man’s sin. It demands that men recognize and glorify God as Creator.1
  2. The Kingdom Gospel – based on Christ’s glory as king. It demands that men repent because the Messiah is coming to set up His kingdom. Everyone is to get ready.
  3. The Christian Gospel (of the grace of God, of the glory of God) – based on the death and resurrection of Christ, and God’s heart of love. Believing this gospel brings you into relationship with God as Father. It rises far higher than the other gospels because it presents the glorious Person of Christ as the object for faith.

(#3) The Fall of Religious Babylon (14:8)

¶ 8 And another, a second, angel followed, saying, Great Babylon has fallen, has fallen, which of the wine of the fury of her fornication has made all nations drink. v.8 Another angel appears, presumably also flying in heaven. This angel has a message of doom for “Great Babylon”, who has not yet been formally introduced to us, but of whom we will read much in ch.17-18. Great Babylon, sometimes called religious Babylon, is the false church, which will maintain control of the beast for the first half of the prophetic week. The false church is judged (falls, loses control) in the middle of the week when she is cast off by the beast (Rev. 17:15-18), and torn to pieces and burned by the horns. This verse shows that the fall of religious Babylon will precede the three and a half years of beast-worship. However, there is another aspect of Babylon that continues to the end of the week (Rev. 16:15-21, Rev. 18:21-24), and we call this Political Babylon, which is what remains; i.e. the political side of this great Roman power-structure. This other aspect of Babylon is destroyed by the Lord at His appearing. This verse speaks of “the wine of the fury of her fornication” which refers to the unholy alliances made between corporations, governments, and this false church (see Rev. 17:2 and Rev. 18:3). The kings and merchants who are associated with the false church are unaware that they have drunk a fatal dose, and will perish with final Babylon at the appearing (see notes on Rev. 19:19). 
 

(#4) Final Warning for the Followers of the Beast (14:9-12)

¶ 9 And another, a third, angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any one do homage to the beast and its image, and receive a mark upon his forehead or upon his hand, 10 he also shall drink of the wine of the fury of God prepared unmixed in the cup of his wrath, and he shall be tormented in fire and brimstone before the holy angels and before the Lamb. 11 And the smoke of their torment goes up to ages of ages, and they have no respite day and night who do homage to the beast and to its image, and if any one receive the mark of its name. vv.9-10 A third angel now appears, again flying in heaven, and proclaiming the destruction at the end of the path for those who follow and worship the beast; they are destined for eternal punishment in the lake of fire.
  • “He also shall drink of the wine of the fury of God prepared unmixed in the cup of his wrath”. There are no palliative ingredients (Ps. 75:8) in this judgment; it will be direct from God. The greatest judgement God has is in store for those who have had and rejected the greatest light.
  • “He shall be tormented in fire and brimstone before the holy angels and before the Lamb.” The punishment for those who align themselves with the beast and against the Lamb is terrible, and unmistakably individual. This will take place “Before the Lamb” who will be like a judge witnessing the sentence be carried out.
  • “And the smoke of their torment goes up to ages of ages”. The “smoke of their torment” refers to the cautionary witness that the torment of the beast-followers will be to the earth. This witness will continue through the Millennium. The “ages of ages” refers to a future eternity. The torment will never end, however the smoke will not be allowed to cloud the air of the new creation (eternal state). Note that it says “to it”, not “into it”.
  • “and they have no respite day and night”. There will be no cessation, no alleviation, from the punishment of these ones will endure. “Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:44).
12 Here is the endurance of the saints, who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. v.12 The Spirit of God then has a word to the remnant, “the saints, who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus”. Hearing this warning of the final punishment of the beast-followers is an encouragement to the faithful to press on. It is far better to be killed by the Beast than to be tormented with the Beast. The remnant is encouraged that things will be set right very shortly. This will help them endure the trial. We get an additional principle in Rev. 13:10.
 

(#5) Tribulation Martyrs About to be Raised (14:13)

¶ 13 And I heard a voice out of the heaven saying, Write, Blessed the dead who die in the Lord from henceforth. Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; for their works follow with them. v.13 After the three angels fly by, and give their messages, a voice is now heard coming out of heaven. This is a beautiful point: concerning those who have died “in the Lord”. The message is not committed to an angel, but a voice comes out of heaven, perhaps the Lord’s own voice? The sentence “Blessed the dead who die in the Lord from henceforth” is not easy to follow is many translations. Expositor and translator William Kelly says it means: (1) from this time nobody that belongs to the Lord is going to die and (2) all those who have died in the Lord are about to be blessed; i.e. in the first resurrection. The key to understanding this verse is to see that a comma could be placed before the word “from”. Then in plain English it would read “Blessed from henceforth are the dead who die in the Lord”. This wonderful promise is given to those are suffering persecution, and about to be martyred. It is the assurance of the final phase of the first resurrection! We will read more on this in ch.20.
 

(#6) The Harvest, or Discriminate, Judgment (14:14-16)

The Harvest & Vintage are "the judgment of the quick" (Acts 10:42; 2 Tim. 4:1; 1 Peter 4:5) or living, which is when the Lord will deal with the living persons on earth, at the START of the Millennium. The judgment of the quick also includes the sessional judgment (Matt. 25:31-46). It is in contrast to the "judgment of the dead" which occurs at the END of the Millennium (Rev. 20: 11-15), when those who have died without faith will be raised to stand before the great white throne, and then be cast into the lake of fire (read more...). Two great differences between the harvest and vintage are: (1) the harvest is discriminating while the vintage is indiscriminate, and (2) the harvest immediately follows the appearing while the vintage takes place after Israel is restored in their land.
 

The Harvest Judgment (Rev. 14:14-16; Isaiah 21 – 24). At the time of the appearing, the angels will go forth over the Beast's empire and “reap” those who have refused the gospel of the kingdom. This is called the harvest judgment. The Harvest Judgment is a discriminating judgment, pictured in Matt. 13 by the harvestmen removing the tares from the field.

 

The Lord will send out His angels into “the whole world” to cleanse “the kingdom of the Son of man”, which is the prophetic earth (Matt. 13:37-42). It is discriminating because only the impostors (who have made a false profession of Christianity) will be taken by the angels. Those taken will be cast directly into the lake of fire. The Lord was marked out as the One who would baptize with fire (Matt. 3:11). This is what Christ as the "Son of man sitting on the cloud" will do with the Christian testimony at the harvest judgment. The harvest judgment will take place between the appearing of Christ and 1290 days measured from the middle of Daniel’s seventieth week. It will only involve the prophetic earth (Israel and Europe). If it was the entire world then Gog and Magog wouldn’t be able to come down against them after the harvest.

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¶ 14 And I saw, and behold, a white cloud, and on the cloud one sitting like the Son of man, having upon his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle. v.14 The next thing John sees is “a white cloud”, which represents the presence of the Lord in judicial purity. The “Son of man” is the Lord’s title upon rejection (Dan. 7:13, John 5:27). What we have here is the conclusion of what was introduced in ch.12; the man child caught up to His father’s throne now returns in judgment. The Son of man is sitting “on the clouds” (Matt. 24:30), which speaks of a publicly display. The “coming of the son of man” in scripture is always the appearing. He wears “a golden crown”, representing His royal dignity and also of the glory of His divine righteousness. He holds “a sharp sickle”, showing that judgment is the purpose of His coming.
 
15 And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Send thy sickle and reap; for the hour of reaping is come, for the harvest of the earth is dried. 16 And he that sat on the cloud put his sickle on the earth, and the earth was reaped. vv.15-16 As with the vintage judgement (v.18), so with the harvest judgment, an angelic messenger is the trigger. Here the voice comes out of the temple, the direct presence of God, showing that this judgment is required because of a direct insult to His name (Jer. 7:14). The harvest is a discriminating judgment (winnowing), separating, taking the wicked and leaving the just (Matt. 24:38-43). No doubt there is a connection here with the parable of the tares, where v.16 is the completion of the age. The vintage judgment by contrast is indiscriminate. The Lord will “put his sickle on the earth” by sending out His holy angels (Matt. 13:41). The earth will be “reaped” by the wicked being “taken” out for judgment and cast into the “furnace”, or the Lake of fire.
 

(#7) The Vintage, or Indiscriminate, Judgment (14:17-20)

¶ 17 And another angel came out of the temple which is in the heaven, he also having a sharp sickle. v.17 Another angels is seen, and this angel also is the Lord Jesus, who will tread the wine-press alone (Isa. 63:1-6). Why is the Lord pictured as an angel? Perhaps it is because this is something the Lord does personally, so He appears as a warrior angel because judgment is His “strange work” (Isa. 28:21). The angel comes out of “the temple which is in heaven” because this judgment arises from the glory of God’s presence. This angel has “a sharp sickle”, just like with the harvest judgment, because both events are judgment, although they have a different character.
 
18 And another angel came out of the altar, having power over fire, and called with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Send thy sharp sickle, and gather the bunches of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripened. v.18 A second angel appears, this time coming out of the altar. This is the brazen altar, and it speaks of judgment against sin. This second angel has “power over fire”; he is an executor of God’s judgment. This angel cries to the other with the sickle, calling for him to gather the ripe grapes. The second angel represents the moral basis for the vintage judgment; God’s holiness in judgment against sin. The first angel represents God’s power in judgment; the agent being none other than the Lord Himself; “And I looked, and there was none to help; and I wondered that there was none to uphold: therefore mine own arm brought salvation unto me; and my fury, it upheld me” (Isa. 63:5). The bunches of grapes grow on the “vine of the earth”, which is in contrast with “the true vine” of John 15. This vine of the earth represents apostate religion; the corruption of what should have been fruit-bearing. If we keep in mind that Revelation 12 – 14 are looking primarily at the judgment of Israel, then the vine is specifically apostate Israel. We read in Ezekiel 20 that the Lord will “purge out from among you the rebels, and them that transgress against me: I will bring them forth out of the country where they sojourn, and they shall not enter into the land of Israel: and ye shall know that I am the LORD” (Ezek. 20:38). As the returning tribes enter the land, those in unbelief will be entrapped on the border; the vine of the earth, fully ripened, ready for judgment. But though apostate Israel is at the center, Gentiles are mixed in, though not the focus here. The wine-press is the unmingled fury of God poured out on those who have rebelled against Him. There are three steps in this judgment:
  1. “gather the vine” – speaks of the return of the ten tribes (Dan. 12:1-2)
  2. “cast it into the winepress” – rebels of the ten tribes get sifted at border
  3. “tread the winepress” – actual judgment by the Lord personally.
19 And the angel put his sickle to the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast the bunches into the great wine-press of the fury of God; 20 and the wine-press was trodden without the city, and blood went out of the wine-press to the bits of the horses for a thousand six hundred stadia. vv.19-20 

The Vintage (Winepress) Judgment (Rev. 14:17-20; Isaiah 26:20 - 27:5; Isaiah 63:1-6) will take place at 1335 days measured from the middle of Daniel's seventieth week. Those destroyed are Russia (Ezek. 38-39), many confederate nations (Micah 4:11-12, Joel 3:2), and the rebels of the ten tribes (Ezek. 20:35-38). The winepress judgment is referred to as “Jehovah’s sacrifice in Bozrah and slaughter in Edom” because Bozrah was the capital of Edom (Isa. 34:2-6). The nations will come up in vast hordes, Russia in the lead, coming up “like a cloud to cover the land.” The land of Edom is where the proud (Zeph. 3:11) and the rebellious (Ezek. 20:38) of the ten tribes will be trapped, at the “border” (Ezek. 11:10). The Lord will personally “plead” with them “face to face” (Ezek. 20:35)… but they will be “stubborn and rebellious” (Deut. 21:18-23). The border land to the south of Israel (Edom) is referred to as the Lord’s “threshing floor” (Micah 4:11-12). There the Lord will “sift” the ten tribes “like as corn is sifted in a sieve” (Amos 9:9-10). Ninety percent of the returning ten tribes will be destroyed (Isa. 6:13). “The Lord also shall roar out of Zion” (Joel 3:16) and destroy Russia specifically “upon the mountains of Israel” (Ezek. 39:2). The “valley of Jehoshaphat” (Joel 3:1, 12-13), also called “without the city” (Rev. 14:20), is where the winepress begins. It continues 1600 stadia (or 200 miles), which is approximately the distance from the valley of Jehoshaphat to the south of Edom. The "vine of the earth", who are the rebels of the ten tribes, will be caught up in the vortex of judgment. The carnage will be so tremendous that the blood will run out "to the horses bits". Horses speak of human agencies, all are in vain against the Lord. As He stamps personally upon His enemies, it will be His "fury", not His love, that will sustain Him (Isa. 63:1-6) while "He treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God" (Rev. 19:15).

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  1. Does the everlasting gospel require human preachers as do the gospel of the kingdom and the Christian gospel? Rev. 14:6 says that the everlasting gospel is something that an angel, flying in mid-heaven, will preach to the whole earth. Perhaps this means that the everlasting gospel, which has been preached since the fall of man, can be preached through the witness of creation. Romans 1:20 makes it clear that “from the world’s creation the invisible things of him are perceived, being apprehended by the mind through the things that are made, both his eternal power and divinity”. The Word of God is required for new birth according to John 3, but it may not necessarily be the written word; it may be through theophanies (like Cornelius, Acts 10:3, or this angel, Rev. 14:6), or possibly even the witness of creation. This gives us reason to hope for the millions who have lived in millennia past without access to the written Word of God.