Revelation 14

Revelation 14  •  15 min. read  •  grade level: 7
THE fourteenth chapter is divided into seven sections: the triumphant Jewish remnant (Verses 1-5); the proclamation of the everlasting gospel (verses 6, 7); the announcement of the fall of the mystic Babylon (ver. 8); and of judgment on the worshippers of the beast (verses 9,-12); the blessing of those who die in the Lord at that day (ver. 13); the harvest of the nations (verses 14-16); the vintage of the vine of the earth (verses 17-20).
Let us consider these seven sections in detail. "And I looked, and, lo, a 'Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father's name written in their foreheads."(Ver. 1.) It should read "the” Lamb. It is Christ. Not now viewed in the midst of the heavenly throne, but standing on the mount Sion, the center of God's earthly ways, in the royal city, where David dwelt. It is a scene in relation to the earth. He is not alone, but with Him is a numerous company, one hundred and forty-four thousand. We must not confuse these with the one hundred and forty-four thousand of chapter 7. There they are out of the twelve tribes of Israel, as we have seen. These represent the preserved Jewish remnant, the firstfruits to God and the Lamb in relation to the age to come, the millennial earth. They have His name and the name of His Father written upon their foreheads.
Though omitted in the authorized English version, "His name" is added in the original. When Christ commissioned Mary after His resurrection to go to His brethren, He bade her say, "I ascend unto my Father and your Father," etc. (John 20:1717Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God. (John 20:17).) But rich as will be the blessing of this remnant of Jews associated with the Lamb on mount Sion, it falls short of this. They are openly recognized as His, and His Father's. But it does not say "their Father's." The relation of this remnant is not so intimate as that of His brethren-Christians.
“And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps: and they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth. These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb. And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God." (Verses 2-5.) The prophet hears a voice from, or out of, heaven. Two things characterize it. It is as the sound of many waters, majestic, impressive, and as the voice of a vast host of people (chap. 17:15), and loud as of a great thunder, it is widely heard. Then follows the beautiful and inspiring sound of a vast company of harpers harping with their harps. And the one hundred and forty-four thousand sung (or sing) a new song. Joy fills the vast ranks of this fresh company of redeemed ones. In that they sing not only before the throne, but also before the four living creatures and the elders, it shows clearly that they are a different company from those represented by these latter. The song which they sing is known to them only. No other man could learn it. They are a company redeemed (or bought) from the earth. They have special privileges, but in relation to the earth. They are morally virgins, pure, and separated', free from all defilement. They are blessedly associated with the Lamb, following Him wheresoever He goes. They are the firstfruits unto God, and to the Lamb. The kingdom of God is shortly to be set up, and its administration will be in the hand of Him who died to redeem them. Others, both of the ten tribes and from among the Gentiles, will then be blessed under His sway, as we have seen in chapter 7, but these are the firstfruits. They are seen in this vision in the scene of His triumph. They are with the Lamb on mount Sion, the center of His earthly government, when He shall have His rights. All liars will be cast into the lake of fire, but no guile (or lie) is found in the mouth of this happy company. Their lips are filled with His praise. Their song is probably analogous with Psa. 149. And they are without fault, or blameless, like the One whom they follow. The words "before the throne of God" are an interpolation.
“And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters." (Verses 6, 7.) This is the second section. It is an angelic announcement of the everlasting gospel. The character of the testimony differs greatly from the present one, namely, the gospel of God, of His glory, and of His grace. This latter has been introduced during the rejection and absence of Christ, closing with the translation to glory of those who are the subjects of grace. But here we are on the eve of the manifestation of Christ and of the establishment of the glory of His kingdom, which will be introduced by judgment, and shall endure to the end of time. It calls upon all in view of the solemn hour of judgment to fear God (which is the beginning of wisdom), to give Him glory (instead of to Satan and his agents), and to worship Him, who is the great Creator of the heaven, the earth, the sea, and the fountains of waters. It is announced first to the dwellers on earth (or to those settled on the earth, New Trans.). How far any will receive the testimony is another matter. The scripture is silent. It is also addressed to mankind at large-every nation, kindred, tongue and people.
And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication." (Ver. 8.) This is the third. Another angel announces the coming fall of Babylon. The word Babylon proceeds from Babel, and signifies confusion. The great city of old, called by this name, is a shadow of the one referred to here. The former was a literal city, as men generally understand by that name. This latter must be looked at morally. It has been said to set forth European civilization in its religious aspect. We shall have to say more about it further on. Here the angel simply announces her fall, alluding first to her greatness and secondly to her wickedness. Her ways affect all nations. Wrath against the truth, all nations are made to drink of her wine, and become intoxicated with the joy of fellowship with her awful corruptions.
“And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of her indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: and the smoke of their torment ascendeth up forever and ever: and they have no rest (day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name." (Verses 9-7 7.) In the previous chapter men are compelled to worship the blasphemous beast under penalty of persecution and death. Here all who worship him and his image become the subjects of the awful wrath of God. The language, partly figurative, could scarcely be more severe. Depend upon it, the execution of this judgment will be as terrible as the language conveys. God will deal with false religion and overthrow Babylon. Many are already giving up all profession of Christianity, and lapsing into infidelity. In the dreadful and rapidly approaching day here depicted, when Satan's power is at its zenith on the earth, many will worship him and his instruments, the great anti-trinity of evil.
A fourfold punishment is threatened upon every one such. The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, and that poured without mixture into the cup of His indignation! And he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone! The smoke of their torment goes up to the age of ages! And they have no respite day or night! "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." (Heb. 10:3131It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Hebrews 10:31).) This awful torment is said to take place in the presence of (or before, New Trans.) the holy angels and of the Lamb. Even holy angels who gladly worship the Lamb, and the Lamb Himself who died for God's glory and for the salvation of men, stand in full harmony with the execution of His righteous wrath on men who trample His glory under foot, and worship His wicked and deadly enemies.
“Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus." (Ver. 72.) It is blessed to find, notwithstanding the widespread apostasy, and the awful pressure brought to bear upon men through Satanic power, that God has a people who will endure at all costs. Refusing Satan's lie, they keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus who died to deliver them (as well as us) from his power.
“And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them." (Ver. 13.) In this fifth division of the chapter a voice from heaven tells John to write, "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints." (Psa. 116:1515Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints. (Psalm 116:15).) And thereupon follows an announcement of their blessedness. Many apply this scripture to saints of this present interval of grace. Doubtless all who died in the Lord are blessed. The Christian, absent from the body, is present with Him. And to depart to be with Christ is far better. (Phil. 1:2323For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: (Philippians 1:23).) But John was told to write, "Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth." Saints who die in the Lord escape the pressure of that awful crisis and rest. Some will be preserved in the power and mercy of God until the close, delivered at Christ's return to Sion and shall come into the earthly blessing of His kingdom. But those who die in the Lord are blessed from henceforth, and will also be raised to complete the first resurrection, and share with Him (and with us) in heavenly blessing. "Yea, saith the Spirit." He confirms this promise from heaven. And He adds, "that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them." They are released by death from severest conflict, and entering into rest come at once into blessing. They cease from their labors, to be at peace in the Lord. And their works which follow them will be rewarded by their faithful Savior and Lord in His day. (1 Tim. v. 25.)
“And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud sat one like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle. And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe. And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped." (Verses 14-16.) This sixth division presents_ to us the harvest of the earth. The seventh and last, the vintage. (Verses 17-20.) First, John beholds "a white cloud," the symbol of the presence of Jehovah. Upon it is seated one like unto the Son of man, Jesus in power. He wears a golden crown. He is the King of righteousness. He holds in His hand a sharp sickle. He is about to reap the harvest of the earth. All judgment is committed unto the Son. (John 5:2222For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son: (John 5:22).) And the Father has given Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of man. (John 5:2727And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man. (John 5:27).) He executes discriminating judgment (Matt. 13:3030Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn. (Matthew 13:30)), and having harvested the earth and brought His wheat into the garner, the heavenly saints (Luke 3:1717Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and will gather the wheat into his garner; but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable. (Luke 3:17)), He will take His throne and reign. He thrusts in the sickle at a command, delivered by a heavenly messenger proceeding from the temple of God. The time for the fulfillment of the prophetic word had arrived. The harvest of the earth is seen fully ripe. The One who at His first coming was refused His rights by His own, and was unknown to the world, will then exercise separative judgment, assert His power, execute the will of God, judge His foes, bless His people, and fill the whole scene with the glory of His great and all-worthy name.
“And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle. And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire; and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp tackle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe. And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs." (Verses 17-20.) The harvest of the earth is very widespread, taking in the nations. The vintage is limited to a smaller sphere, in connection with the apostate Jewish nation. Another angel came out of the temple, and the words are added, "which is in heaven," sheaving the source of the judgment demanded by the holiness of God. He, too, has a sharp sickle. Another angel comes from the altar. The brazen altar is typical of the cross of Christ. Upon that altar the sacrifices were offered, which are typical of Christ's death. But man was responsible for His death. Hence the altar cries now for vengeance upon the guilty nation which took the lead in His rejection and crucifixion. This angel had power over fire. "Our God is a consuming fire." Infinite in holiness, He consumes what is contrary to His glory among His people. And His fiery judgment falls upon His enemies in the day of its execution. The angel who has power over it cries to the angel with the sharp sickle to thrust it in, and to gather the clusters of the vine of the earth. Israel is the vine that Jehovah took out of Egypt, and planted in the land of promise (Psa. 80:88Thou hast brought a vine out of Egypt: thou hast cast out the heathen, and planted it. (Psalm 80:8).) It was planted wholly a noble vine, a right seed; but instead of bearing fruit for God, it became a degenerate plant, of low stature, and brought forth wild grapes. (Jer. 2:2121Yet I had planted thee a noble vine, wholly a right seed: how then art thou turned into the degenerate plant of a strange vine unto me? (Jeremiah 2:21); Ezek. 17:66And it grew, and became a spreading vine of low stature, whose branches turned toward him, and the roots thereof were under him: so it became a vine, and brought forth branches, and shot forth sprigs. (Ezekiel 17:6).) Her grapes are now fully ripened, and the hour of vintage come. The clusters of grapes are now to be gathered. In connection with the harvest, the wicked among the nations are seen figuratively as bundles of tares. In connection with the vintage we get clusters or bunches of grapes. "And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth." And he casts it into the great winepress of God's wrath. It is a graphic picture of the execution of the long-threatened wrath of God. The hour of God's holy judgment of His rebellious and guilty people has come. Wrath comes upon them to the uttermost. It seems to be the execution of God's wrath upon the Jews in general, rather than the city of Jerusalem in particular. That is described elsewhere. (Zech. 14:1, 21Behold, the day of the Lord cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee. 2For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city. (Zechariah 14:1‑2).) Here it says that the winepress was trodden "without the city." Fearful carnage ensues. "Blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles." It appears to convey the thought of an army of horsemen treading everything down before them, until they are wading practically in a sea of blood. This extends to a space of sixteen hundred furlongs. The length of the land of Israel is about eleven hundred. This awful judgment includes probably the Lord's vengeance in Idumæa (or Edom), where the descendants of Esau settled. Possibly other nations around may be included. We read in Isa. 63, "Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah?... I have trodden the winepress alone.... I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury... For the day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is tome.”