Monday, January 2, 2017
1 Then I (John) saw the Lamb (Jesus) standing on Mount Zion, and with Him were 144,000 who had His Name and His Father’s Name written on their foreheads. 2 And I heard a sound from heaven like the roar of mighty ocean waves or the rolling of loud thunder. It was like the sound of many harpists playing together. 3 This great choir sang a wonderful new song in front of the throne of God and before the four living beings and the twenty-four elders. No one could learn the song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth. 4 They have kept themselves as pure as virgins, following the Lamb wherever He goes. They have been purchased from among the people on the earth as a special offering (first fruits) to God and to the Lamb. 5 They have told no lies; they are without blame (spotless, without blemish).
6 And I saw another angel flying through the sky, carrying the eternal Good News (Gospel) to proclaim to the people who belong to this world—to every nation, tribe, language, and people. 7 “Fear God,” he shouted. “Give glory to Him. For the time has come when He will sit as Judge. Worship Him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and all the springs of water.” 8 Then another angel followed him through the sky, shouting, “Babylon is fallen—that great city is fallen—because she made all the nations of the world drink the wine of her passionate immorality (idolatry).” 9 Then a third angel followed them, shouting, “Anyone who worships the beast and his statue or who accepts his mark on the forehead or on the hand 10 must drink the wine of God’s anger (fury). It has been poured full strength into God’s cup of wrath. And they will be tormented with fire and burning sulfur (brimstone) in the presence of the holy angels and the Lamb. 11 The smoke of their torment will rise forever and ever, and they will have no relief day or night, for they have worshiped the beast and his statue and have accepted the mark of his name.”
12 This means that God’s holy people must endure persecution patiently, obeying His commands and maintaining their faith in Jesus. 13 And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this down: Blessed are those who die in the Lord from now on. Yes, says the Spirit, they are blessed indeed, for they will rest from their hard work; for their good deeds follow them!”
14 Then I saw a white cloud, and seated on the cloud was One like the Son of Man. He had a gold crown on His head and a sharp sickle in His hand. 15 Then another angel came from the Temple and shouted to the One sitting on the cloud, “Swing the sickle, for the time of harvest has come; the crop on earth is (fully) ripe.” 16 So the One sitting on the cloud swung His sickle over the earth, and the whole earth was harvested. 17 After that, another angel came from the Temple in heaven, and he also had a sharp sickle. 18 Then another angel, who had power to destroy with fire, came from the altar. He shouted to the angel with the sharp sickle, “Swing your sickle now to gather the clusters of grapes from the vines of the earth, for they are ripe for judgment.” 19 So the angel swung his sickle over the earth and loaded the grapes into the great winepress of God’s wrath. Revelation 14:1-19 (NLT)
Revelation 14 opens with a time of hope and triumph for God’s faithful people. John, the human author of Revelation, saw Jesus the Lamb standing victoriously on Mount Zion (Revelation 14:1; see also Psalm 2:6). Standing with Jesus the Lamb were His 144,000 faithful followers who had Jesus’ Name and His Father’s Name written on their foreheads (Revelation 14:1; see also Revelation 7:3-4; Revelation 17:14). Some biblical commentaries see the 144,000 as a symbolic number representing all of Jesus’ faithful followers – His redeemed church. These faithful followers refused to worship the beast and accept his evil mark (see Revelation 13:16-18), and instead they gave complete allegiance and faithfulness to God and His Son Jesus. Everyone’s destiny is determined by his or her allegiance and faithfulness to God or to Satan.
Then, John heard a voice from heaven like the roar of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder that sounded like harpists playing on their harps (Revelation 14:2). This great choir sang a new song before God’s throne (Revelation 14:3). No one could learn that glorious song except Jesus’ 144,000 faithful followers who had been redeemed from the earth (Revelation 14:3). These 144,000 were spiritually clean as pure virgins faithfully following Jesus the Lamb wherever He went and obeyed His teaching (Revelation 14:4; see also John 14:15, 21-23; John 15:10; 2 Corinthians 11:2-3; Revelation 21:9). Even more, these 144,000 had no lies or falsehood in their mouths and were blameless and spotless (Revelation 14:5; see also Zephaniah 3:12-13; Romans 1:25-31; Revelation 21:7-8; Revelation 22:14-15).
Then, John saw another angel flying directly overhead (midair), with the eternal Gospel to summon to the whole earth – every nation, tribe, language, and people to honor and worship the true and living God (Revelation 14:6-7; see also Deuteronomy 6:13-14; Matthew 4:10; Luke 4:8). The angel declared with a loud voice, “Fear God and give Him glory (honor), because the hour of His judgment has come, and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water” (Revelation 14:7, ESV; see also Acts 17:24-28; Revelation 4:11). The true and living God has revealed Himself in nature so that all people will know His existence (see Psalm 19:1-6; Romans 1:19-20; Acts 14:15-17). To “fear God” mean to honor, respect, and reverence Him. The reverence and respect for God are the beginning of wisdom and understanding (see Proverbs 1:7; Proverbs 9:10).
At that time, a second and a third angel flying midair announced two additional declarations. The second angel declared: “It has fallen, Babylon the Great has fallen who made all nations drink the wine of her sexual immorality, which brings wrath” (Revelation 14:8, HCSB). Revelation chapters 17 and 18 describe Babylon’s fall in detail. “Babylon” is a symbol of the spirit of godlessness and lawlessness that in every age lures people away from the worship of the true God.
After that, a third angel followed saying with a loud voice: “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or his hand, he also will drink the wine of God’s wrath . . . And he will be tormented with fire and sulfur. . . . And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name” (Revelation 14:9-11, ESV; see also Revelation 19:20-21; Revelation 20:10, 14-15; Revelation 21:8). The third angel’s fierce warning is addressed to believers and unbelievers deceived to worship the beast and accept his evil mark and continually deny God’s love found in His Son, Jesus Christ.
Then John declared, “Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus” (Revelation 14:12, ESV). John wrote Revelation to encourage God’s people to endure patiently every trial and persecution (Revelation 14:12; see also Revelation 13:10). During Jesus’ public ministry, Jesus declared that those who endure to the end will be saved (see Matthew 10:22; Matthew 24:13; Mark 13:13). God’s eternal blessings come to those who faithfully endure and obey God’s commands for their good deeds and good fruit will follow them to heaven (Revelation 14:13; see also Titus 2:14). The Holy Scriptures declare that God saves us and gives us eternal life by His wonderful grace when we believed and accepted His love found in His Son, Jesus (Ephesians 2:4-5, 8-9; see also John 3:16-18; Romans 3:24; Acts 15:11). Our continual faithfulness and obedience to God and His Son Jesus are evidence of our true salvation (see Ephesians 2:10; James 2:17).
Afterwards, John looked and saw Jesus sitting on a white cloud with a golden crown on His head and a sharp sickle in His hand (Revelation 14:14; see also Daniel 7:1-14; Matthew 16:27; Matthew 24:30-31; Mark 14:61-62; Revelation 1:7, 13). Another angel came out of the Temple declaring with a loud voice to Jesus who sat on the cloud, “Take your sickle and harvest from the earth, because the time to harvest has come, and the fruit of the earth is ripe” (Revelation 14:15, NCV). Jesus swung His sickle over the earth, and He harvested the earth (Revelation 14:16; see also Matthew 13:31-43; Mark 4:26-29). Then, another angel came out of the Temple in heaven, and he too had a sharp sickle (Revelation 14:17). Still another angel, who had charge of the fire, came from the altar and called in a loud voice to the angel with the sharp sickle, “Take your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of grapes from the earth’s vine, because its grapes are ripe” (Revelation 14:18, NIV). The angel swung his sickle on the earth, gathered its grapes, and threw them into the great winepress of God’s eternal wrath (Revelation 14:19-20; see also Lamentation 1:15; Joel 3:12-13; Revelation 19:15).
Revelation 14 reveals the certainty of God’s coming judgment on the unbelieving world. Some people are offended by the “fire and brimstone” judgment of those who persistently reject God and His Son, Jesus and give allegiance to the unholy trinity – Satan the dragon and his two evil beasts, the antichrist and the false prophet. Yet, the book of Revelation has revealed the ultimate consequences of those who persistently reject God’s love in Jesus and His moral commandments.
Loyd, Melton, Ph.D., Senior Professor of the New Testament (Due West, SC: Erskine Theological Seminary, 2016).
Metzger, Bruce. Breaking the Code: Understanding the Book of Revelation (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1993).
Mounce, Robert H. The Book of Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1998).