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ch. 14:1-5    ch. 14:6-13    ch.14:14-20 

The Lamb And The 144,000 (ch. 14:1-5)


In verse 1 we see the Lamb, who is Jesus, standing on Mount Zion along with a 144,000 people.  We should note that we're still in this interlude of the narrative.  We've left the seven seals and seven trumpets.  The seven bowls are still yet to come, and, John will return to that narrative. 


There is much debate over this passage.  One debate is where this passage actually takes place.  If you take Mount Zion to be the earthly Mount Zion, then Jesus is standing on the literal mountain, and thus has returned to earth at the end of the tribulation.  However, if you understand Mount Zion to be the heavenly Mount Zion, then what we see here takes place in heaven and doesn't have to be placed at the end of the tribulation. 


We should know that there is a heavenly Jerusalem and a heavenly Mount Zion as stated in Hebrews 12:22.  So, it is quite possible that what we see here is Jesus with a 144,000 saints in heaven.  At the moment I tend to see this section as taking place in heaven due to the singing and playing of harps seen in this section.     


Again, Jesus is symbolized as the Lamb, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, as the Apostle John put it in John 1:29.


In verse 1 we see Jesus standing with 144,000 saints.  Just who these people are is the other point of controversy.  The majority view is that they are the 144,000 Jewish evangelists of Revelation 7.  There are some who believe that this 144,000 is a different group of people because their description doesn't exactly match up with the description of those in chapter 7.  Some of those holding to this view see these people as special saints throughout the history of the church. 


This is what we learn about the 144,000 as seen in Revelation 7.  They are Jews, 12,000 from each of the twelve tribes of Israel who have the mark of the seal of God on their foreheads. 


This is what we learn about the 144,000 as seen here in Revelation 14.  They had the name of the Lamb and the Father written on their forehead.  They sang a new song that only they could sing.  They were redeemed from all the earth.  They did not defile themselves with women.  They followed the Lamb.  They were purchased from among men. They were firstfruits of the Lamb.  They had no lie in their mouths.             


At the moment, I'm not sure what side of the issue to fall on.  I've traditionally seen these 144,000 as the same 144,000 we saw in chapter 7, but, of late I am less convinced at that.  To me, the fact that these are associated with the earth suggests they are not just Jews as those in chapter 7. 


If this 144,000 is the same as those in chapter 7 that would mean the 144,000 chapter 7 Jews would have had to be raptured to heaven since they're seen in heaven here.  Of course, that depends on if you believe this chapter is a scene in heaven.  They could not have died because in chapter 7 they have a mark that prevents them from being killed by the anti-Christ. 


It's not beyond the stretch of our imagination that there can't be two groups of 144,000.  We should view this number in its Biblical significance.  The number 12 in Biblical terms is the number of governmental rule.  Twelve times twelve would denote complete governmental rule.  These 144,000 could be a special group of believers set aside for a special ministry of ruling.   


We see that Jesus is with the 144,000.  This appears to be a special meeting with these people. These men had the name of the Father and the name of the Son on their foreheads, as seen in verse 1.  Some suggest that this is the mark that was on the foreheads of the 144,000 we see back in chapter 7.  If that is so, then there is just one group and not two groups, but again, that is speculative. 


In verse 2 we see that John hears a great sound from Heaven, like a great rushing water and thunder.  This might make Niagara Falls sound very quiet.  Anyone who has been to Niagara Falls knows the sound of the falls is very loud.  John says that this sound is actually like the sound of many harpists playing their harps.  I'm not sure why John uses the word "like" here, because I see this thunderous sound as being many harps.  I’m sure that this would make any musical person pretty excited to see.  Because what we see here, especially the thunderous sound of the harps, I see this event taking place in heaven.  If this is in heaven, then it is clear that the 144,000 have been raptured to heaven.  All the way through the book of Revelation when we see and hear of loud noises and thundering sounds, they come from heaven.  So, this is yet another vision of a heavenly scene.   Again, this would only be the case if these 144,000 are the chapter 7 144,000, which I'm not sure they are.            


Verse 3 tells us that these harpists sang a new song before the throne and the four living creatures and the twenty four elders.  This sounds very much like what we saw in chapter 5, but I don't believe it's the same event.


John also says that only the 144,000 could actually learn this particular song.  I believe this song was special for them because they were a special chosen group of people to carry the gospel to the world.  Of course, this is only the case if you understand these 144,000 to be the same 144,000 we see in Revelation 7.    


These 144,000 have been redeemed from the earth, according to verse 3.  This doesn't mean that there aren't others redeemed from the earth because we've seen earlier that there will be many redeemed men and women from the earth during the tribulation.  I think this phrase is just meant to add to the fact that these are special people and have a special place in heaven.  We should know that Christians will be rewarded for their work done for Jesus.  Not all will have the same reward.  These 144,000 have a special reward because of the work they have done through the tribulation.  


In verse 4 we note that these people were not “defiled by women”.  This clearly means that these were men and not women.  Some say that this means that these men had been single and had never been married.  There’s one problem I see in this thinking and that is a man who is married to a woman is not considered to be defiled by women in the Bible.  I believe what is being spoken of here is that these men were pure.  They did not have sex outside of marriage.  Nowhere in the Bible does it even hint that sex in the context of marriage defiles someone.           


The reason why some suggest that these men are single, unmarried men, is because the Greek word translated here as undefiled is the Greek word for virgin.  It's the only place in the New Testament where, in Greek, men are called virgins.  So, in one sense of the word, one has to translate this verse according to his theological presupposition.  


We should note that during the rule of the anti-Christ, part of the attraction to him and his religion is the promotion of free sex.  Like the religions of old, sex outside of marriage will be part and parcel of the religious life of the day.  There is nothing new about that.   


Also in verse 4 John says that these men “were first fruits”.  Somes suggest that these men have been raptured at the mid point of the tribulation.  They feel that the rapture takes place at the mid point of the tribulation and not before.  Others suggest that there are actually two raptures, one before the tribulation and one at the mid point.   


Verse 4 states that these 144,000 men were purchased.  This is simply repeating what was said in verse 3.  They were redeemed.  Being redeemed and being purchased are the same thing. Jesus paid the price to God His Father to purchase men and women for Himself. 


Verse 5 tells us that no lie was found in the mouths of these 144,000 men.  They were blameless.  Clearly, they had the power to go through the tribulation.  This power also made them blameless, and blameless they would have to be to survive the tribulation.              


There are many controversial parts to the book of Revelation, but this is one of the more controversial.  You have to decide where this event takes place and just who these 144,000 are.



The Three Angels (ch. 14:6-13)


In verses 6 and 7 we see yet another angel flying across the sky.  This angel is proclaiming the eternal gospel to everyone on earth.  Preaching the gospel has always been the job of humans, not angels.  I've often pointed out even Jesus didn't preach the gospel to Paul in Acts 9.  Jesus told His followers to preach the gospel.  He'd be with them and confirm the preaching with miracles, but that doesn't seem to be the result of this last supernatural preaching of the gospel.    


We might ask why angels would preach the gospel now.  There may be varying answers.  Right now as I write there are Muslims who are converting to Jesus because they claim angels have come to them with the gospel.  It might well be that most, if not all; the believers have been executed by this time in the tribulation.  That's assuming you believe Revelation is in chronological order.  Whatever the case, this seems to me to be one last miraculous opportunity for those in the world to come to Jesus.    


Jesus said that before the end came, the gospel would be preached to all nations.  This might be the final fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy.  I believe the preaching of the 144,000 Jewish evangelists seen in chapter 7 is also a fulfillment of Jesus' prophecy, but this event, might well be the final fulfillment. 


You might want to note the gospel that this angel preached.  It was not an easy come to the altar and get saved quick gospel.  The first words of the gospel he preached was “fear God and give Him glory”.  This is not a gospel of what we can get from Jesus, but what we can give to Him as we fear Him.  The premise of the true gospel of Christ is recognizing who He is and fearing Him, which means giving our lives to Him in complete reverence.  I do believe that fear means fear.  It is more than reverence as many believe today. 


As part of the eternal gospel the angel proclaims that the hour of God's judgment has now come.  This is one reason why many believe the tribulation, or, the Great Tribulation, actually begins right here, and, it is the last half of the last seven years of this age.  Note the word "hour".  This places an emphasis on these last three and a half years in the sense that right now, this immediate moment, final judgment has come.   


At the moment I just don't know how this angel will proclaim the gospel of judgment.  Will he swoop across the sky and scream it out?  Will he speak to the hearts of men and women?  I just don't know.         


I should make comment on the fact that this gospel is called the "eternal gospel".  Is this a gospel that is different than the one Paul, Peter, and the rest taught?  No, it is not a different gospel.  We need to understand that there is only one gospel, but the only one gospel consists of many gospel truths.  The gospel is not simply believe and get saved.  It includes, as it does here, the awesome nature of who God is and that He will at some point call His court and judge both individuals and the nations of this world.  


In verse 8 we see a second angel announcing that the great Babylon has fallen.  Babylon , as seen in the Bible is often symbolized as a city that represents rebellion towards God.  The debate over Babylon is whether it is a literal city in Revelation or if it's a symbolic city. 


The two great cities in the Bible are Babylon and Jerusalem .  Babylon represents fallen sinful man while Jerusalem represents the city of God . 


If we understand Jerusalem in Revelation and Biblical prophecy to be a literal city, then in my thinking it's only logical to conclude that Babylon should be a literal city.  We really can't view one as literal and the other as symbolic.  Those who believe Babylon is a literal rebuilt city in Revelation and Bible prophecy believes that it will be rebuilt and become a major city of the world.  They believe it will be the home of the anti-Christ. 


People who believe Babylon is a literal city in prophecy point to its rebuilding during the 1990's.  Here in the 21st century there is a city called Babylon , where the original Babylon was located, but it's more of a tourist site than anything else.  I would suggest that it would take a few years to build the city of Babylon as it seems to be portrayed in Revelation.  This might suggest that the end is still a bit far off.      


I can easily see that there will be a literal city of Babylon
where the anti-Christ will have his headquarters.  That being said, because the anti-Christ's empire is world wide, I can see Babylon referring to all of his empire throughout the world, not just the capital city of his empire.  Then, in this sense of the word, Babylon represents the final attempt of human government ruling the nations of the world.  It's the ultimate fulfillment of the Tower of Babel incident.  What man attempted to do at Babel, he'll succeed for a brief moment of time prior to the return of Jesus to earth.  


Note the words "maddening wine of her adultery".  The adultery mentioned here should be understood in the fact that man, who was created to be married to his God, has committed a maddening adultery by marrying himself to his own system.  With the use of the word "wine" his adultery is portrayed in terms of a drunken stupor.  Like a drunk, man has gone crazy over himself and what he has made.  He's lost all reasonable sensibility.  


To be precise, even though the angel announces that Babylon has fallen, it has not yet fallen.  We see it's fall in chapters 17 and 18.  We should understand the angels words here to mean that Babylon is as good as fallen because of the last judgments that will immediately come on it.  These are word of immediaecy.


In verses 9 through 13 we see the third angel.  He proclaims that those who worshipped the beast and take his mark will experience God's wrath in full.  Receiving the mark is tied to worshipping the beast.  Some have asked, “What happens if a person gets the mark of the beast against his will”?  Maybe the person is mentally ill and is not capable of refusing the mark.  This might be an answer to this question.  We have two thoughts here.  One thought is a person getting the mark and another thought is a person worshipping the beast.  It might be possible that getting the mark and not worshipping the beast would exclude you from God’s wrath.  On the other hand, we know that those who got the mark received God’s wrath, so it is a debatable point.  One thing we do know is that God is just and all that He does is just.      


There is still another thought you might consider.  The text says that those who receive the mark of the beast, not those who get it.  The word receive might imply a willing act of receiving.  Someone who is forced to get the mark of the beast or unknowingly gets it is not receiving it willfully.  He or she might well be exempt from the torment of the wrath of God.   


During the second century when Roman Emperors were executing Christians for not confessing that Caesar is Lord, there was a debate over this issue within Christian circles.  Some suggested that they outwardly confess Caesar being lord but inwardly denying it.  They basically suggested this so they could live and preach the gospel.  I'm convinced that would be the wrong thing to do.  I'm equally convinced that the Apostle Paul's most important witness to Jesus was his execution for Jesus' sake.  Martyrdom is the ultimate witness. I say that to say this.  The same debate may well take place concerning the mark of the beast during the tribulation.     


I don't believe that the true believer will receive the mark of the beast.  I don't think a believer could be tricked into getting the mark.  This is a very serious thing.  True believers will have the strength to withstand the anti-Christ, even if it means their death.


In verse 10 we see the “cup of God’s wrath” being poured out on those who do not have God’s mark on them.  The words “cup of wrath” should remind you of Jesus in the garden, when He asked His Father if this cup could pass Him by. Of course, we know the cup of God’s wrath was poured out on Jesus.  For those of us who accept that Jesus received God’s wrath on our behalf, we will escape God’s wrath at this point in time.  Those who reject Jesus' provision will experience what He experienced on the cross but for all of eternity as verse 11 states.


God’s wrath was poured out on Jesus.  It will be poured out again and probably with much more severity on those who refuse to come to Jesus.  The word "wine" was used in the last segment concerning Babylon 's adultery.  I would suggest that when God pours out His wrath on earth it might well resemble a drunken like state on His part.  I'm not saying that God is drunk.  Don't get me wrong.  Remember, wrath is more than anger.  It's an uncontrollable explosion of an excess of anger that can no longer be contained, thus my analogy to being drunk with wine.  When one is drunk, he has lost all control.  Wrath is an uncontrollable anger that has been pent up for a long time. I'm sure God is in control at all times, but this wrath is poured out in such a way that it appears uncontrollable.   


In verses 10 and 11 we see that God’s wrath will be poured out in front of His Holy angels and will last for ever and ever.  This is the best way to say that these people will be punished for all of eternity.  This speaks of the Lake of Fire .  Many today refuse to believe that God's wrath is eternal.  They believe it is temporary and then all mankind of all ages will be saved.  I certainly do not believe that.


Something interesting to note is that many people say that hell, or, the Lake of Fire , which isn’t really hell, is actually existing in the absence of God.  This does not seem to be the case.  John clearly says that these people will be tormented for ever and ever in His presence and in the presence of His angels. Verse 11 also says that there will be no rest for these people.  Day and night they will be tormented for ever and ever


The punishment spoken of in verse 10 is in the presence of the angels.  Some might suggest that this is not the Lake of Fire that lasts throughout eternity.  The reference to burning sulfur suggests otherwise.  The words "in the presence of the angels" in my thinking merely refers to the fact that the angels will see this punishment.  I don't see any hint of this saying that such punishment is temporary here as Universalists might suggest.   


You might wonder if the saints will see this burning infernal while in heaven and on the new earth.  I don't think they will.  The text does not say they will.  Besides, we know that all tears, sorrow, and torment, will no longer exist in the hearts of the saints in the next life.  If they could see their loved ones burning in this fire, I suggest they would be filled with tears, sadness and torment.


Note the words "mark of his name" in verse 11.  This gives us a bit of a clue to what the mark of the beast is.  It has something to do with the name of the anti-Christ.


In verse 12 we note that this calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints.  I believe this means that the saints will have to endure the persecution of the anti-Christ and his regime.  Most of these saints will be martyred for their association with Jesus, but their martyrdom in the eyes of God is a blessed thing to behold according to verse 13.


This section closes with the announcement that those saints who have died in the Lord are blessed and their works will follow them. Those who die as Christians during the tribulation will be greatly rewarded and their works will be recognized long after they pass from this earthly life.  The question can be asked, “What works are you and I doing now as Christians”?  Will they be recognized, or will they burn up in the fire of judgment? 


Paul, in 1 Corinthians 3:12 tells us that Jesus will judge our works.  Those works that are done in pure faith in Him will be judged and rewarded for.  Those works not done in faith for Jesus will be burned up.  The saints won't be judged but their works will be judged. 


The persecuted saints during the tribulation, as the persecuted saints throughout history, realize that their eternal life is way more important than their present life here on earth.  That should be our mentality as well.


This section ends in verse 13 with the Holy Spirit confirming what the angel has proclaimed.  The Holy Spirit also says that these persecuted saints will be rewarded richly for their labour in the Lord.     



The Harvest Of The Earth (ch.14:14-20)


In verse 14 to 16 we see one who looks like the Son of man sitting on the clouds.  Everyone believes that the one who looks like the Son of man is Jesus and that is who I believe He is. 


Jesus has a sickle in His hand and is getting ready to harvest the earth.  At this point another angel came from the temple in Heaven announcing to Jesus that the earth is ripe for harvest. The Greek word that is translated as ripe actually means, overly ripe, and even dried up.  This suggests that God has had enough.  The time of the White Throne Judgment as seen in Revelation 20 is about to take place.  


When Jesus left this earth, He was taken up in the clouds and Scripture tells us that He will return in like fashion, as in the clouds.  This text states that Jesus is in the clouds.  This speaks of His return to earth. 


You might wonder why Jesus is told by an angel to reap the earth.  Why wouldn't Jesus know to do this on His own?  Well, Jesus Himself said that not even He knew the time of His return.  Only His Father knew this.  I see the Father telling the angel to tell Jesus that it is now time for His return.    


For clarity sake I must make mention that Jesus is not reaping the saints from the earth here as some suggest.  He is reaping the sinners.  Joel 3:13 speaks of this very moment when Joel says to swing the sickle for the harvest is ripe.  We're not talking about Christians being rewarded for their works.  We're talking about sinners and nations being judged in final judgment. 


Verse 16 states that Jesus now reaps the earth.  The question should be asked if this reaping took place right here in the narrative or is it yet to come after the seven bowl judgments.  Some suggest that this is a mid-tribulation rapture.  I suggest that it's a glimpse into the future beyond the seven bowls when Jesus comes back to earth.  Remember, at this point in the book of Revelation we've stepped back from the events that take place on earth.  This is an interlude, filling us in on some important information.  You might even view this passage as Jesus getting prepared to reap the earth.


In verse 16 and 17 we see two more angels.  One has a sickle and the other is in charge of the fire on the altar.  The angel in charge of the fire told the other angel to use hiss sickle and gather the clusters of grapes from the earth because it was ripe already and needed to be harvested.


This may sound confusing to you.  Jesus just took His sickle and reaped the earth and this angel is told to take his sickle and gather the clusters.  There are two things going on here.  Jesus reaps the earth.  The angel gathers what Jesus reaps.  The mentioning of grapes and winepress tell us that this isn't Christians being reaped.  It's the non-Christians that are being reaped.  The angel is assisting Jesus by gathering the wicked for the White Throne Judgment and the Lake of Fire .   


In verse 20 John sees the result of this harvest.  He sees a river of blood outside the city that was 180 miles long and as high as a horses bridle.  This river of blood might be in reference to the result of the last great war when Jesus returns to earth to fight the nations armies of the world.


Most view the city mentioned here in verse 20 to be Jerusalem .   


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