CHAPTER FOURTEEN – THE END OF THE BEGINNING

 

Believers Encouraged – Unbelievers Final Warning

Saints, in my own study of the prophecies, I strive for interpretations consistent with the context and with the rest of the inspired Word. I consider my interpretations basically sound although improvements and corrections are always in order when new light is discovered. We must always study for ourselves no matter who is telling us what they think is truth. And truth is tested by the Scriptures. 

( Isa. 8:20) ( 2 Tim. 3:16,  17)  (Matt. 4:4)  (John 17:17).

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Scripture Reading  Revelation 14:1
(1) Then I looked, and behold, (2) the Lamb was standing on Mount Zion, and (3) with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, (4) having His name and the name of His Father written on their foreheads.

<<< Now let us break it down for a clearer understanding. >>>

1. Then I looked, and behold  = indicates a   new vision is about to be narrated. The relationship between chapters 12-13   and chapter 14 is a difficult one to understand and explain unless the reader   understands Revelation 10:11.

Revelation 10:11 introduced a new prophetic   commission for John. The first ten chapters of the Revelation chronologically   moved from the first century through the end of Daniel’s Seventieth Week. With   the announcement that God’s delay is ended following the sixth trumpet, the   times of the Gentiles is completed.

However, Daniel 12:11 indicates that a thirty-day   period will follow the conclusion of the Seventieth Week of Daniel. It is with   this unique period that Revelation 11-19 is concerned.  

John, instructed to prophesy "again against many   peoples, and nations and tongues and kings" in Revelation 10:11, does just   that. After explaining why God   is against peoples, nations, tongues and kings (Rev 11-13), John begins the   final destruction of the beast with a preview.

Revelation 14 is a preview of the destruction God   has planned for the beast/king. In summary fashion, John highlights God’s   judgment against the living earth-dwellers (Revelation 14) prior to a detailed   description of God’s judgment against the beast, his kingdom and those who   take his mark (Revelation 15-19). There are several loose ends, which must be   tied up before the final blast of God’s wrath is detailed. This is the purpose   of Revelation 14.

2. The Lamb was standing on Mount Zion = begins   the first summary episode reported in Revelation 14.

The Lamb (Jesus Christ) is seen standing. This is   not the enthronement of the Lamb, but the continuing deliverance of God’s   people on earth. Mount Zion is the earthly city of God which will be destroyed   as highlighted in the seventh bowl judgment (Rev 16:17-21) and detailed in   Revelation 18. Verse 2 makes clear that John is on the   earth.

3. With Him a hundred and forty-four thousand =   alludes back to Revelation 7:4. There, John refers to 144,000 Jews given   divine protection from the trumpet judgments. Any doubt that John is referring   to the same group could have been removed had John used the article (the) of   previous reference.

The absence of the article has lead some to   conclude that two separate groups are intended. However, given the description   that follows all doubt is removed. The purpose of this short session is to   demonstrate the faithfulness of God. Those sealed were protected. The sealing   protection has eventuated into their salvation. The 144,000 do not represent   the entire congregation of believers (Jewish and Gentile). This group must be   limited to Jews only.

Unlike the marked of the beast whom God will   destroy, the marked of God will be delivered.

4. Having His name and the name of His Father   written on their foreheads = clearly refers back to Revelation 7:3-8. Prior to   this, the specific nature of the seal of God was not defined. However, we now   know that the seal was in fact the name of the Lamb and His Father.  

This, of course, lends itself to debate. The   length required to write out both the name of the Lord and His Father would   make such a mark impossible. Some have suggested an abbreviation of the names   be intended. Those who think in these terms forget that English is not God’s   first language. If written in Hebrew, without vowels, both the name of God the   Father and His Son would fit on the foreheads of this select   group.

The intent of the text seems to be to contrast the   marked of God and the marked of the beast. God is able to protect His marked   people, but the beast is unable to protect his.

Scripture Reading Revelation 14:2

(1) And I heard a voice from heaven, like the sound of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder, and the voice which I head was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps.

1. And I heard a voice (sound) from heaven =   places John squarely on the earth.  Phonan is better translated sound   here. John hears a heavenly choir that is both loud and musically harmonious.   This choir is not the 144, 000. They must learn the song of the   choir.

Scripture Reading   Revelation 14:3

(1) And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders; and (2) no one could learn the song except the one hundred and forty-four thousand (3) who had been purchased from the earth.

1. And they sang a new song = refers to the   harpists. What this new song is is not explicitly indicated. One can only   speculate.

2. No one could learn the song except the one   hundred and forty-four thousand = indicates that John is not a part of the   144,000. This is the only case in the Revelation where the lyrics of a song   are not given. John explains that the reason he does not give us the words is   that only the 144,000 can learn the song. Since the choir in heaven obviously   knows the song, it is clear that John means that only 144,000 on the earth are   able to learn the song.

3. Who had been purchased from the earth =   contains the same word used in Revelation 5:9 for the universal purchase of   the redeemed. Here the term obviously has a religious sense, salvation. The   earth refers to the geographical nature of the redeemed. Taken from the twelve   tribes of Israel, these redeemed folk are God’s first fruits of Israel’s   national salvation.

Scripture Reading  Revelation 14:4

(1) These are the ones who have not been defiled with women, for they have kept themselves chaste. (2) There are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. (3) These have been purchased from among men as first fruits to God and to the Lamb. (4) And no lie was found in their mouth; they are blameless.

1. These are the ones (men) who have not been   defiled with women, for they have kept themselves chaste = is the first of   four descriptive clauses that define who the 144,000 are.   

{Comment,

Define… (literally, to make dirty) is used in   a figurative sense here to mean to defile or stain or "to cause something   to be ceremonially impure, with the implication of serious defilement."   }

John is clearly focusing on the ritual purity of   this group. The implication here is that these men have never had sexual   intercourse. John does not state why these men adopted celibacy as a   lifestyle.

However, Jesus indicates in Matthew 19:12 that   some men make "themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven."   Obviously, since these are men and not boys, the decision to be celibate must   have been made before Daniel’s Seventieth Week began. This explains why   144,000 are called bond-servants of God in Revelation 7:3. This is an   excellent sign to watch for in Israel.  Such a large group of men   committing themselves to God in this way will be hard to   miss.

Some have suggested that spiritual celibacy be   intended here. That is, the 144,000 remained faithful to the Lord and did not   commit spiritual immorality with the woman presented in Revelation 17-18.  

However, the text refers to women and not the   woman. For they have kept themselves chaste further defines this unique group.   Literally, the Greeks says, For they are virgins (parthenoi). Parthenoi   usually refers to women exclusively. Here it refers to men only. These men   have not engaged in sexual intercourse. They are Jewish celibates. Some have   attempted to make "the women" refer to "the woman" of Revelation 17. However,   this is unlikely. There is both a ritual and moral purity ascribed to the   144,000.

2. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever   He goes = is the second ascription given the 144,000. For those who attempt to   identify the 144,000 as a metaphor for all true saints, they do so at the   sacrifice of the literal meaning of the text. They choose what they will and   will not emphasize to their advantage.

For example, the notion of following Christ as a   disciple is a central motif of the Gospels and the apostle Paul. A connection   between the Revelation and the Gospels or Paul is usually rejected out of   hand. However, many interpreters will see a connection here because it allows   a figurative interpretation to be forced on this text. In reality, the 144,000   are Jewish celibates who, now saved, follow the Lamb wherever He leads them.   Where the Lamb will lead this group is not explicitly   stated.

3. These have been purchased from among men as   first fruits to God and to the Lamb = is the third defining strait given in   this passage. God’s purpose for the 144,000 is clearly stated. They were   purchased or saved "from among men as first fruits."

The term first fruits occurs nine times in the New   Testament .

Let us   take a look at these passages:

(Rom 8:23; 11:16; 16:5;  

1 Cor 15:20, 23; 16:15;  

2 Thess 2:13;  

James 1:18;  

Rev   14:4).

Romans 16:5,  

1 Corinthians 16:15,  

2 Thessalonians 2:13,  

James 1:18

Here we see brethren first fruits clearly   refers to the first initial group of converts to Christianity with more to   come afterwards.

This is the most logical and reasonable sense   here. Since there are only 12,000 Jews from each tribe of Israel and they are   specially identified as "first fruits," naturally the salvation of more Jews   will follow their conversion. We are not told when the salvation of the   144,000 occurred.

However, we know it occurs between their sealing   and their standing on Mount Zion with the Lamb. The salvation of the 144,000   guarantees the salvation of the nation of Israel, which must shortly follow   this scene given the destruction of Jerusalem detailed in the seventh bowl.  

Lets look at this passage  (Rev 16:19).

4. And no lie was found in their mouth; they are   blameless = is the fourth and final descriptive statement that identifies who   the 144,000 are. The 144,000 are morally pure.

Literally, the Greek says, "in their mouth is   found no lie." A similar statement occurs in Zephaniah 3:13.    Speaking of the remnant of   Israel, Zephaniah states,

"The remnant of Israel   will…tell no lies, nor will a deceitful tongue be found in their   mouths…." These are certainly the first fruits of the remnant of Israel   that survive the Day of the Lord.

These are blameless is the final descriptive item   attacked to the 144,000. Blameless is used throughout the New Testament to   describe a faithful follower of Jesus Christ who exhibits moral purity  

Let look at these   passages.

(Eph 1:4; 5:27;  

Col 1:22;

Phil 2:15).

Scripture Reading  Revelation 14:6-7

(1) And I saw another angel flying in midheaven, (2) having an eternal gospel (3) to preach to those who live on the earth, (4) and to every nation and tribe and tongue and people; and (5) he said with a loud voice, (6) "Fear God, and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgment has come; worship Him who made the heaven and the earth and sea and springs of waters."

1. And I saw another angel flying in mid heaven =   begins the second short story about a flying angel preaching in the sky. John   indicates that this is "another angel flying in mid heaven." Another requires   that an angel preceded this reference.

This supports our conclusion that "the eagle" of   Revelation 8:13 is in fact an angel. Revelation 8:13 is the only other   explicit reference to "flying in mid heaven" before Revelation 14. Added to   this fact is the reference in Revelation 14:8, "And another angel, a second   one, followed…." Clearly, the angel of Revelation 14:6 is the first in a   series.

Is this the first contradiction in Scripture?  

God forbid! How the angel is able to fly in the   mid heaven is not explicitly stated. Scripture no where indicates that angels   have wings. This is the third   angelic announcement given in mid heaven.

The first announcement occurred in Revelation   8:13. Revelation 8:13 states, "Then I looked, and I heard   an eagle flying in mid heaven…." The figure of speech that describes   the actions of an angel as being that of an eagle is here stated explicitly.   This is the third angel John sees moving horizontally in mid heaven rather   than the typical descending / ascending movement of angels described in   Revelation 10:1.

2. Having an eternal gospel = begins a description   of the task of the horizontal moving angelic being. He has in his possession   "an eternal gospel."

The adjective eternal (aionion) suggests a message   of long standing. The (gospel) is normally articular (the gospel), but   here it does not have the article. This is not the gospel of Christ (death,   burial and resurrection of Jesus for sin), but a message of good news.  

The content of this message will be defined in   verse 7.

3. To preach to those who live on the earth =   indicates the purpose of the flying angel’s possession of the eternal message.   The angel proclaims. The audience of the flying angel is expressed in two   ways.

First, to those who live (sit) on the earth   is a slight variation of the technical phrasing those who dwell upon the earth   that is used nine times in the Revelation. The technical phrasing emphasizes   the hostile nature of the audience to God and His people.  

Those who sit on the earth emphasize the nature of   the audience. These people are earthy; that is, they see this earth as their   permanent home. This will be the clearest attempt on God’s part to communicate   to mankind their need to repent before His final installment of wrath falls   upon the earth during the thirty-day period that follows the Seventieth Week   of Daniel.

4. And to every nation and tribe and tongue and   people = is the second descriptive phrase that defines the audience of the   flying angel who proclaims the eternal message. The and that begins this   phrase should be translated even because it gives additional information about   the earthy people.

The phrase every nation and tribe and tongue and   people appears with variations throughout the Revelation. It can refer to   saved (Rev 5:9) or lost (Rev 14:6) people. This is the final universal call to   lost humanity to recognize God’s sovereignty over the   earth.

5. He said with a loud voice = is characteristic   of proclamations in the heavens. At issue here is whether what follows is the   content of the "message" or is an additional sermon of the flying angel. We   believe that what follows expresses the content of the flying angel’s message.   The Greek literally says, "saying with a loud voice." There is no break in the   thought unit.

6. Fear God = is the content of the flying angel’s   message. The flying angel calls upon those who sit on the earth "to fear God."   Fear or respect for God is an often called for response on behalf of mankind   to the true God of heaven.

Genesis 22:12 identifies   Abraham as a fearer of God. Fearers of God is the future disposition of   Israel according to Jeremiah 32:40.

Psalm 111:10 declares that, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom."  

Luke describes Gentiles who looked favorably upon   Judaism as God-fearers (Acts 10:2; 13:16). It is clear that being a fearer of   God does not make one a believer in the New Testament sense. However, it is   the beginning of wisdom. It is the starting point for those who would go on to   call out to God for eternal salvation.

Give Him glory is the second action commanded by   the flying angel. This command is similar to the actions of the hostile   earth-dwellers in Revelation 11:13. There we saw that "to give God glory" is to recognize His   sovereignty. Because the hour of His judgment has come is the stated reason   for the flying angel’s admonition.

Unlike the "Day of Judgment," which suggests a   longer period of time, "the hour of judgment" suggests a shorter period. John   is not suggesting here that this is the beginning of God’s wrath, but the end.  

The primary question at this point in the   chronology of the book of Revelation concerns the purpose of this call to   soberness. One would normally expect such a call to occur prior to the   beginning of God’s wrath.

To understand the placement of this message at   this point in the Revelation we must look at the Gospel of Matthew.  

In Matthew 24:14, the Lord Jesus prophetically   indicated that a universal proclamation would immediately precede the end of   the age. The Lord stated, "This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the   whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will   come."

Many have mistakenly identified "the gospel of the   kingdom" as "the gospel of Christ." This has led some to preach that the   gospel of Christ must be preached to the whole world before the Lord Jesus   could return. The apostle Paul declared in Galatians 1:7 that there is only   one gospel of Christ. That is, there is only one salvation by grace through   faith for the forgiveness of sin. However, the gospel of the kingdom does not   concern the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. A simple   chronology of the Gospel of Matthew will demonstrate this.  

Matthew 4:17 states, "From   that time Jesus began to preach and say, ‘Repent for the kingdom of heaven is   at hand." Accordingly, Matthew 3:2 indicates that this is the same   message preached by John the Baptist.

Matthew 4:23 declares, "Jesus   was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming   the gospel of the kingdom…(similarly Matthew 9:35)." However, Matthew   16:21 indicates a change in message for Jesus.

Matthew writes, "From that   time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and   suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be   killed, and be raised up on the third day."

This clearly marks a new message for Jesus. It is   the heart of the gospel of Christ the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus   for the sin. That this is a new message that Jesus had not preached before is   confirmed by Peter’s response.

Notice, "Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke   Him, saying, ‘God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen   to You." This can hardly be the response of a man having heard this   message repeatedly.

The gospel of Christ is a message of grace. The   gospel of the kingdom is a message of wrath. John the Baptist declared, "who   warned you to flee from the wrath to come (Matt 3:7)." He also stated that   Jesus would baptize "the Holy Spirit and fire."

This is spoken in a context of divine judgment   against the wicked (Matt 3:11-12). Matthew 24:14 indicates that God will   declare to the whole world His intent. He is going to judge and remove   everyone that is unlike Himself (both human and angelic) from the earth. The   universal proclamation will remove any possible excuse by those found wanting.  

Revelation 16:7 describes the fulfillment of   Matthew 24:14.

Revelation 14:7b records the third and final   action that should be taken by the earthy inhabitants to the imminent outbreak   of God’s final wrath. Worship Him describes the result of fear and recognition   of God’s sovereignty.

The sovereignty of God is emphasized in the   phrase, "who made the heaven and the earth and sea and springs of waters."   This underscores the earthy people who think that the earth is permanent.   Rather, God is permanent. These people must move from earth sitters to   prostrate worshippers before God.

Scripture Reading  Revelation 14:8

(1) And another angel, a second one, followed, saying, (2) "Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, (3) she who has made all the nations drink of the wine of the passion of her immorality.

1. And another angel, a second one = indicates the   second angel in this series who moves horizontally while declaring a message   to the earth-sitters. Taken with Revelation 8:13, this is the third flying   angel in the midst of heaven.

2. Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great = is the   central message of this flying angel. Spoken of in the past tense suggests   that the author sees the event as so certain that he can represent it as done.  

Babylon can be used one of two ways here: (1)   literally and (2) figuratively. Some  have argued for the literal city of   Babylon. Some for Jerusalem. Others argue for Rome. This issue will be   discussed in Revelation 17 and 18 at  length.

3. She who has made all the nations drink of the   wine of the passion of her immorality = seems to be the primary complaint   against "Babylon."

She had made to drink reflects a perfect tense   influence on the verb potizo (to give to drink). John describes what "Babylon"   has done. The nations were compelled to drink by   "Babylon."

What is it that Babylon compelled the   nations to drink?  Of the   wine of the passion of her immorality is a difficult phrase to understand.  

This is not literal, but figurative language.   Considering the grammatical particulars, this clause could be translated, "She   made all the nations drink some of the wine that leads to passion for   immorality with her." In other words, Babylon made the nations drink her wine.   The wine causes the nations to lust for intercourse with her.  

This is all figurative language. The woman is not   a real woman. The wine is not real wine. Intercourse is not engaging in sexual   intercourse. What this literally means will be detailed in Revelation   17-18.

Scripture Reading  Revelation 14:9-10

(1) Then another angel, a third one, followed them, saying with a loud voice, (2) "If anyone worships the beast and his image, and (3) receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand (4) he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, (5) which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; (6) and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb.

1. Then another angel, a third one, followed them   = indicates the third and final angel in a series who moves horizontally in   the sky while proclaiming a message for the earthy people below.  

The occurrences of this message at this point in   the chronology of the Revelation presents a problem.

This has led some to conclude that the material in   Revelation 14 occurs before or during the middle of the Seventieth Week of   Daniel. After all, they reason, it would make no sense to give this warning   after the majority of the world has already taken the mark or worshiped the   beast and his image.

However, this view fails to appreciate the fact   that this pericope is directed to the saints and not the wicked. This point   will be made forcefully in Revelation 14:12.

2. If anyone worships the beast and his image = is   the first part of a first class condition. It could be translated, "if (for   the sake of argument) anyone worships the beast and his image…." There is no   doubt that people will take the mark and worship the beast. So the statement   is not made because of any doubt that people will engage in these actions.   Rather, the point is to emphasize the consequences of doing so.  

One must remember that at this point in the   sequence of end time events, the Seventieth Week of Daniel is either over or   within days of completion. Israel is either saved or soon to be saved and put   in protective custody

Let take a look at this passage. (Ze 14:4-5).

However, the sheep of the "sheep and goat   judgment" are still on the earth. Many of the sheep will be relatively new   converts, converts who will not have had the opportunity to be discipled.  

The intensification of God’s wrath will bring a   renewed effort on the part of Antichrist and his followers to solidify his   base upon the earth. As Antichrist gathers his armies to battle at Armageddon,   the pressure to join his ranks will greatly increase.

We know there will be people who will not have   taken his mark upon the earth because of the sheep from "the sheep and goat   judgment" that follows Armageddon. This warning is for those who are fighting   to be found faithful at the Lord’s coming at   Armageddon.

3. And receives a mark on his forehead or on his   hand = is the second part of this first class condition. It is not that a   person might take the mark but not worship, or worship and not take the mark.   Those who worship the beast or take his mark are committed to him. There will   not be those trying to deceive the beast by acting on the outside, but   refraining in their hearts.

4. He also will drink of the wine of the wrath of   God = is the consequences of worshiping or receiving the mark of the beast.   Using figurative language that parallels that of Babylon’s actions, God’s   wrath will fall on those who worship the beast and take his   mark.

5. Which is mixed in full strength in the cup of   His anger = details the nature of God’s wrath. God’s wrath will come upon the   beast-marked worshipers with full strength. Unlike the Greeks who mixed their   wine with water to soften its potency, God’s wrath will come in full strength,   i.e. undiluted.

6. And he will be tormented with fire and   brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb =   is the second punishment promised to beast-marked worshipers. With language   reminiscent of the lake of fire, which is the final destiny of the damned, the   beast-marked worshipers are promised severe   punishment.

Scripture Reading  Revelation 14:11

(1) And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; (2) they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name."

1. And the smoke of their torment goes up forever   and ever = indicates that the punishment of the beast marked worshipers will   be eternal in nature.

2. They have no rest day and night = is a figure   of speech, which emphasizes the eternal nature of the punishment of the   beast-marked worshipers.

Scripture Reading  Revelation 14:12

(1) Here is the perseverance of the saints who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.

1. Here is the perseverance of the saints = begins   a difficult sentence to translate. This verse is the key to why this   announcement occurs at this point in the chronology of the Revelation. The   reader should remember that we are within days of the final outpouring of the   wrath of God—the bowl judgments. The battle of Armageddon is probably four to   five weeks away, which adds to the importance of this   warning.

Literally, this verse says, "Here is the   perseverance of the saints: the ones who keep the commandments of God and   (remain) faithful to Jesus."

This statement indicates the motive of Revelation   14:9-12. While the content is focused against the wicked, the purpose is not   to warn the wicked, but to encourage the faithful. With the salvation of   Israel just days before and the sheep and goat judgment to occur several weeks   after, God encourages His sheep to remain faithful.

God’s punishment of the wicked beast-marked   worshipers serves as warning to the faithful. God punishes wickedness. What   God will do to His unfaithful followers is not indicated at this point?   However, it is not worth finding out.

Scripture Reading  Revelation 14:13

(1) And I heard a voice from heaven, saying, (2) "Write, ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on!’" (3) "Yes," says the Spirit, (4) "so that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow with them."

1. And I heard a voice from heaven, saying,   = This  voice from heaven is not explicitly   identified.

2. Write, Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord   from now on = is the second of seven beatitudes found in the Revelation. The   first one occurs in Revelation 1:3. A drought occurs up until Revelation   14:13. Then, six beatitudes fall rather quickly. The dead who die in the Lord   identifies the focus of this blessing. These are obviously believers. In   context, their lives are taken from them—martyrs.

This is an unexpected remark at this point in our   chronology of the book of Revelation. Just days away from the beginning of the   final wrath of God, we would expect most believers to be dead or in protected   custody.

Where then are there believers to take advantage   of this blessing? The sheep and goat judgment of Matthew 25:31ff makes clear   that there will be sheep (believers) on earth when the Lord returns   immediately following Armageddon. Matthew 25:32 indicates that "all the   nations will be gathered before Him…." Out of these nations will come the   sheep (believers).

The dead die in the Lord (en kurio). In the Lord   is a favorite and exclusive phrase of the apostle Paul occurring more than 40   times in his writings. This is the only exception outside the writings of   Paul. This phrase in Paul’s writings speaks of the special relationship   believers have with the Lord Jesus.

The critical question at this point is this: does   John mean the same thing that Paul means by the use of the phrase, "in   Christ"?

Pretribulationists among others naturally say,   "no"!

Dispensational pretribulationists limit the "in   Christ" formula to New Testament believers only. In their thinking, "in   Christ" describes church age believers only. Similarly, since the church age   ends with the Rapture and since the Rapture occurs before Revelation 4, any NT   language appearing after Revelation 4 is generic in reference,   pretribulationists would say.

It is clear that Paul developed a new descriptive   phrase to explain the NT believers’ relationship to Christ. However, it is not   correct to argue that since NT descriptive language does not appear in the OT,   it does not apply to OT believers. It is true that the death and resurrection   of Christ signaled a unique turn in God’s program with man. However, the   application of God’s special work in Christ cannot be limited to NT   believers.

In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul presents Christ and Adam   as antithetical representatives of mankind. Christ is the heavenly man. Adam   is the earthly man. Christ is   the Spirit-driven man. Adam is the flesh-driven man.

The actions of the representatives have bearings   on the represented. Clearly, the fate of those represented depends on the   decision and actions of the representatives. Adam condemned the represented.   Christ saves the represented. Paul illustrates the point by explaining the   antithetical outcomes of death and resurrection. The believer’s solidarity   with Christ is a historical reality. We shall be raised because our   representative (Christ) has been raised.

In Romans, the apostle Paul again refers to Christ   and Adam as representatives. The fate of Adam’s descendants rests on his   disobedience. The outcome of Adam’s disobedience is sin in the world, death,   judgment and condemnation. The outcome of those who believe in Christ is grace   in the world, life, justification and righteousness. In Romans, the death of   Christ is the turning point. However, this does not mean that the application   of Christ’s death is limited to those who believe after the event.  

If the fruit of Adam’s choice contaminates every   man, women, boy and girl born on the earth throughout human history, then   Christ’s death can apply to all those who believe throughout human history.   Before or after the cross is irrelevant.

Galatians 3:6-14 argues that Abraham is "the   believer." Yet, no one in the OT is called a "believer" in the NT sense! In   Galatians 3:8, Paul states,

"The Scripture, foreseeing   that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand   to Abraham, saying, ‘All the nations will be blessed in you.’" As in   this case, Paul calls "all the nations will be blessed in you," the   gospel.

This signals that Paul may apply NT names and   concepts to OT ideas in unique ways. We should be careful not to say more than   Scripture says. Abraham is the model of our faith. "Christ redeemed us from   the curse of the Law…in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham   might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit   through faith." These folk   referred to in Revelation 14:13 are NT believers saved after the Rapture, but   before Armageddon.

The latter part of Revelation 14:13 adds the   qualifier, "from now on." There is debate as to whether this phrase ends the   first sentence or begins the second sentence. Because of the Greek   particulars, we are inclined to support the conclusion that "from now on"   begins the second sentence.

3. From now on, says the Spirit = indicates that   the message comes from the Spirit. Those who die are immediately   blessed.

4. So that they may rest from their labors, for   their deeds follow with them = gives us the content of the Spirit’s   declaration. The rest of the believers follow the completion of his divinely   appointed task on earth. The permanent record of the works of believers on   earth is maintained. The nature of the suffering believers will experience   during the final days of the Day of the Lord warrants special attention for   them.

It is not that others who have died before this   point are not resting as well. This is an encouragement to those living at   this very difficult time to remain faithful. No doubt many "sheep" will die   during the thirty-day period following the Seventieth Week of Daniel as   Antichrist attempts to put together his final army to prevent the reign of the   Male-Son on earth (Rev 20:4).

Scripture Reading  Revelation 14:14

(1) Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and (2) sitting on the cloud was one like a son of man, (3) having a golden crown on His head and (4) a sharp sickle in His hand.

1. Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud =   introduces a fourth event. It is not introduced by a horizontal moving angelic   being.

The purpose of Revelation 14:14-20 is to preview   the final judgment of God against the wicked earth-dwellers. This section will   be expanded in chapters 15-19. Revelation 15-16 will expand Revelation   14:14-20. Revelation 17-18 will expand Revelation 14:8-13. Revelation 20   expands Revelation 14:6-7.

2. Sitting on the cloud was one like a son of man   = identifies the rider of heaven’s unique transportation. One like a son of   man is clearly reminiscent of Daniel 7:13.

However, this is not Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus   would hardly need an angelic exhortation to begin the earthly harvest (Rev   14:15). The one thing that can be dogmatically asserted is the fact that this   is a unique heavenly being.

3. Having a golden crown on His head = is one   indication of the uniqueness of this person. A golden crown is worn by the   each of the twenty-four elders as mentioned in Revelation 4:4 and 10.  

Revelation 6:2 indicates that the rider on a white   horse wears a golden crown. Revelation 9:7 depicts the locust cavalry wearing   golden crowns. Golden crowns obviously depict authority and status.  

4. A sharp sickle in His hand = is the second   descriptive item enumerated by John. A sickle is an ancient instrument of the   harvest. A sharp sickle suggests the beginning of the harvest with an   instrument in prime condition.

Scripture Reading  Revelation 14:15

(1) And another angel came out of the temple, (2) crying out with a loud voice to Him who sat on the cloud, (3) "Put in your sickle and reap, for the hour to reap has come, (4) because the harvest of the earth is ripe."

1. And another angel came out of the temple =   supports the conclusion that the rider on the white cloud is an angelic being.   Another angel suggests a previous angel. The immediate context suggests that   the rider is the focus. This angel’s job is to deliver a   message.

2. Crying out with a loud voice to Him who sat on   the cloud = expresses the recipient of the angel’s message. Emerging from the   temple, this angel undoubtedly is under the authority of God. The fact that an   angel commands the cloud-rider to begin argues against the identity of the   rider as the Lord Jesus.

That the aspect of sitting on the cloud is   emphasized suggests that the identity of the cloud-rider is not paramount. The   Lord Jesus stated in Matthew 13:39 that "the reapers are angels" at the end of   the age. This argues strongly that the identity of the rider is an angelic   being.

3. Put in your sickle and reap, for the hour to   reap has come = is the content of the angel’s message to the cloud-rider.  

The command to put in the sickle is an allusion to   Joel 3:13. Joel 3:13 states, "Put in the sickle, for the   harvest is ripe. Come, tread, for the wine press is full; the vats overflow,   for their wickedness is great."

Joel 3:13 combines both the wheat and wine   harvests. However, they are separated into two events in the Revelation. The   first harvest mentioned is the wheat harvest. The reason the sickle can be put   forth is that "the hour to reap has come." That God is in control of this   situation is suggested by the fact that "the hour" or time of harvest has   arrived.

4. Because the harvest of the earth is ripe =   explains why the time of harvest begins at this point. A ripe earth continues   the metaphor of the wheat harvest. Literally, wickedness has run its course   and demands punishment. As indicated in Joel 3:13,   wickedness overflows.

Scripture Reading Revelation 14:16

(1) And He who sat on the cloud swung His sickle over the earth, and (2) the earth was reaped.

1. And He who sat on the cloud swung His sickle   over the earth = may indicate the nature of this harvest. The reader should   ignore the interpretive decision made by the translators of the NASB. The fact   that they capitalized He indicates their opinion that the one sitting on the   cloud is a Divine Being. It is a heavenly being, but there is nothing in the   text that demands that the cloud-rider is Jesus   Christ.

2. The earth was reaped = is generalized. There is   no clear indication what is reaped. The fact that the wheat harvest is   followed by the grape harvest similar to Joel 3:13 argues for the conclusion   that this is a preview of the bowl judgments to be unleashed in Revelation   15-16.

Scripture Reading  Revelation 14:17

(1) And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, and he also had a sharp sickle.

1. And another angel came out of the temple =   indicates a second angelic being with a sharp sickle. That this angel came out   of the temple indicates that the cloud-rider mentioned in Revelation 14:14   also came out of the temple. This argues against the cloud-rider’s identity as   that of Jesus. This angelic being also has a "sharp sickle," in good condition   for a harvest.

Scripture Reading  Revelation 14:18

(1) Then another angel, the one who has power over fire, came out from the altar; and he called with a loud voice to him who had the sharp sickle, saying (2) "Put in your sharp sickle and gather the clusters from the vine of the earth, (3) because her grapes are ripe."

1. Then another angel, the one who has power over   fire = expresses similarity with the wheat harvest. The first angel who   commanded the cloud-rider to harvest the earth is not uniquely identified as   with this second angel. This angel "has authority over fire." Exactly what   this angel does is not explicitly stated. Here he simply instructs the second   sickle-carrying angel to harvest the earth.

2. Put in your sharp sickle and gather the   clusters from the vine of the earth = expresses the second harvest depicted   from Joel 3:13. This is the grape harvest. The metaphor is carried forward,   but the literal idea is that the wicked get their deserved   punishment.

Scripture Reading  Revelation 14:19

(1) So the angel swung his sickle to the earth and gathered the clusters from the vine of the earth, and (2) threw them into the great winepress of the wrath of God.

1. So the angel swung his sickle to the earth and   gathered the clusters from the vine of the earth = continues the metaphor of   the vintage harvest. This is clearly a summary statement. It would be   impossible for one angel to reap the whole earth in a single swing. This   angel’s job is to gather the wicked of the earth.

2. Threw them into the great winepress of the   wrath of God = defines the goal of the angel’s harvesting. The angel gathers   the wicked to a place where God’s wrath will be administered. This overview   will be expanded in Revelation 16:12-16 (the sixth bowl) and Revelation 19   (the actual battle of Armageddon).

As in Joel 3:13, the vintage harvest depicts the   eschatological harvest of the wicked. A winepress is the place where the   grapes were pressed to separate the juice from the pulp. God’s literal   winepress will be on the plains of Magedo.

Scripture Reading  Revelation 14:20

(1) And the wine press was trodden outside the city, (2) and blood came out from the wine press, up to the horses’ bridles, for a distance of two hundred miles.

1. And the wine press was trodden outside the city   = indicates the place of God’s punishment of the wicked. The Greek indicates   that outside the city is God’s place of punishment. This can be no other city   but Jerusalem. The exact location of God’s judgment will be specified in   Revelation 16:16.

2. Blood came out from the wine press, up to the   horses’ bridles = describes the outcome of God’s wrath. That this description   is figurative can be stated with certainty. The figurative language of a   winepress naturally supports the concept of flowing juice.  

Blood running three to four feet deep for a   distance of two hundred miles even with figurative language indicates a great   slaughter.

Next week we will   continue with:

CHAPTER FIFTEEN -   THE  BOWL JUDGMENTS

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