Revelation 14: The Remnant

Revelation 14  •  7 min. read  •  grade level: 12
In chapters 12 and 13 we have been instructed as to the activities of Satan and his two leading instruments during the three and a half years that close the present age. In this terrible time all the evil that man can devise under the leading of Satan will be allowed to come to a head. Nevertheless, we now learn, in chapter 14 that during this solemn time God, who is over all, will be working in securing a people for the blessings of the kingdom and in bringing the wicked under judgment.
From the opening verses of the chapter we learn that God will have a faithful remnant of believers who will be preserved through the horrors that will mark the reign of the beasts. This remnant is brought before us in a vision that John sees of an hundred and forty-four thousand saints, associated with the Lamb on Mount Zion. As a figure, Zion speaks of God acting in sovereign grace in connection with Israel in contrast to His dealings under law at Mount Sinai (see Psa. 78:65-6865Then the Lord awaked as one out of sleep, and like a mighty man that shouteth by reason of wine. 66And he smote his enemies in the hinder parts: he put them to a perpetual reproach. 67Moreover he refused the tabernacle of Joseph, and chose not the tribe of Ephraim: 68But chose the tribe of Judah, the mount Zion which he loved. (Psalm 78:65‑68); Heb. 12:18-2218For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest, 19And the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard entreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more: 20(For they could not endure that which was commanded, And if so much as a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned, or thrust through with a dart: 21And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake:) 22But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, (Hebrews 12:18‑22)). Does not the whole scene set forth in symbol that, in these closing days, God will intervene in sovereign grace on behalf of a godly remnant of the Jews, who will be redeemed from the earth, associated with Christ as the suffering Lamb, preserved through persecution, to become the first-fruits to God and the Lamb of the great harvest of souls that will be gathered from the nations to share in the glory of Christ's kingdom?
This remnant will bear a public witness to God and the Lamb for, in contrast to the followers of the beast, they will have the Name of the Lamb, and His Father's Name, on their foreheads (JND). Though passing through the world's miseries, they will have heaven's joy, for they sing a new song which only the redeemed can sing. We learn, too, under the figure of not being “defiled with women” that they will be kept in separation from the appalling defilements of the days in which their lot will be cast—a condition that, we know from other Scriptures, will be similar to the days before the flood and the days that preceded the judgment of Sodom (Luke 17:26-3026And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. 27They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. 28Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; 29But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. 30Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed. (Luke 17:26‑30)). Moreover, they will not only be separate from evil but they will also be a positive witness to Christ, for they will be faithful followers of “the Lamb whithersoever He goeth.” They will not seek to escape suffering or persecution by any false pretension, for on their lips will be “no guile,” and in their practical conduct they will be “without fault.”
How good, too, for believers in this our day, who are the subjects of sovereign grace, to seek to walk in separation from the growing evils of the day, whether political or religious, and, in obedience to the Word, take a place outside the camp, in order to gather to Christ, and as it were “follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth;” to witness to Christ without guile” and walk “without fault.”
Further, we learn that, though in this solemn time evil will come to a head, yet the world will not be left without a witness to God. There will be a world-wide proclamation of “the everlasting gospel.” It will be preached “to those settled on the earth” (JND)—that special class who throw off all fear of God and seek their all in this world. It will also be proclaimed “to every nation, and tribe, and tongue, and people.” From the beginning of history until the end, there is only one way of salvation for fallen man—through the blood of Christ, for there is none other name under heaven given amongst men whereby they can be saved. This good news is truly then the “everlasting gospel,” that is proclaimed to all. But if the gospel that brings salvation to man is ever the same, the end in view may vary at different times. Today, the gospel of the grace of God has in view the calling out of a people from this world for heavenly blessing. The gospel preached in the coming day will be to secure a people for Christ's earthly kingdom. Moreover, when the world has fallen under the fear of wicked men, and will worship the beast, men will be warned to “Fear God,” and to “give glory to Him,” and “worship Him who has made the heaven and the earth and the sea and the fountains of waters.” Further, men will be warned that “the hour of His judgment is come.” It will be a gospel of blessing with warnings of imminent judgment.
Then we learn that during these solemn days, great Babylon will fall. This false system which for long ages, while making a profession of Christianity, has in reality corrupted all nations, will not only come under the judgment of God, but will fall before men, for, as we read a little later, the nations, under the leading of the beast shall destroy this false system (17:15-18).
It becomes clear that in these solemn times there will be the followers of the beast with his mark upon them (Rev. 13:15-1815And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. 16And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: 17And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. 18Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six. (Revelation 13:15‑18)) and the followers of the Lamb with His mark in their foreheads. There will be the proclamation of the beast telling all that dwell on the earth to worship the image of the beast; and there will be the everlasting gospel telling men to fear God, the Creator and Judge. There will be the decree of the beast that none can buy or sell without the mark of the beast. There will also be the warning of God that everlasting torment will be the portion of those who receive the mark of the beast. As it has been said, “The choice must now be made between God and Satan, between Christ and Antichrist, between the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error: and that choice once made is final and irrevocable, the results eternal and unalterable.” To refuse the mark of the beast, to obey God, and be true to Jesus, will call forth the endurance of the saints.
The endurance of those who refuse the mark of the beast, and obey God, and remain steadfast in their faith in Jesus, may indeed lead, in many cases, to a martyr's death. Such might fear that they will miss the blessings of the kingdom, but they will be encouraged with the assurance that, so far from missing blessing, they will receive a special blessing, for the word to such is, “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord henceforth.” They will rest from their labors, and have their reward, for their works do follow them.
In the two closing scenes of the chapter we have, firstly, a vision of the Son of Man reaping the harvest of the earth, and, secondly, the vine of the earth cast into the great winepress of the wrath of God. Do not these two visions set forth in symbolic language that these solemn days will end in those who have “the faith of Jesus” being gathered together for millennial blessing, while the wicked, likened to the grapes of a winepress come under overwhelming judgment, as set forth by being trodden under foot without the city?
To sum up the instruction of this deeply important chapter, which unfolds the dealings of God in the closing years of this age, we see: Firstly, there will be a godly remnant of the Jews associated with Christ, following Christ, and preserved for kingdom blessing (vss. 1-5).
Secondly, a gospel testimony, with warnings of imminent judgment will be proclaimed to all nations (vss. 6-7).
Thirdly, corrupt Christendom, under the figure of that great city Babylon, will fall and come to its end (vs. 8).
Fourthly, the worshippers of the beast will come under eternal judgment (vss. 9-12).
Fifthly, true believers who in this terrible time are faithful unto death will have their reward (vs. 13).
Sixthly, all the people of God—those who by grace have accepted the “everlasting gospel”—will form a rich harvest for God (vss. 14-16).
Seventhly, those who have rejected the testimony of God and worshipped the beast will come under the vengeance of God's wrath (vss. 17-20).