REVELATION CHAPTER 14
I) [Rev 14:1-2]:
(Rev 14:1 NKJV) "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.
(Rev 14:2 NKJV) 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"
[BKC: Bible Knowledge Commenatary, Walvoord & Zuck Eds., 1988, Victor Books, USA, pp. 963-965]:
"THE RESULTING SCENE IN EARTH AND HEAVEN (CHAPS 14-15)
a. The 144,000 on Mount Zion (14:1-5)
In chapters 15 and 15 various other details of the world scene in heaven and earth are introduced in preparation for the final series of seven bowl judgments in chapter 16 and the judgments in chapters 17-18.
14:1-2. First, another view is given of the 144,000 who were standing on Mount Zion with the Lamb. It is reasonable to conclude that this is the same group mentioned in 7:4-8, except that here they are in a later period of the Tribulation. Chronologically the vision anticipates the triumph of the 144,000 still intact at the time of Jesus Christ's return from heaven to earth. In contrast with many others who become martyrs, these people live through the period. But they are not the only ones to survive, as many Gentiles and Jews will turn to Christ in the end time and somehow escape martyrdom and be honored to welcome Christ at His return.
Again the scene in heaven is dramatic with a loud noise similar to rushing waters.. thunder, and harpists (cf. 'thunder' in 4:5; 6:1; 8:5; 11:19; 16:18; 19:6).
II) [Rev 14:3-5]:
(Rev 14:3 NKJV) "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.
(Rev 14:4 NKJV) 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.
(Rev 14:5 NKJV) And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God."
"14:3-5. John wrote, And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders. These singers were apparently a heavenly group. They could be the multitude in white robes mentioned in 7:9-17. But there is no justification here for symbolizing Mount Zion as heaven. It is better to take the chorus as the 144,000 (cf. 14:1) who had not yet died and would still be on earth at the literal Mount Zion.
Reference to the purity of the 144,000 could be recognition that during the difficult times of the Tribulation they could not have led normal married lives. Or it may refer to spiritual purity, often symbolized by virginity...
Some people believe that the 144,000 will be evangelists in the Great Tribulation. But there is no indication that the 144,000 were preachers or prophets; their testimony was largely from their moral purity and the fact that they were not martyred like many others. They follow the Lamb wherever He goes. John further stated, They were purchased from among men and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb. The word 'firstfruits' suggests that these converted Israelites precede many others who at the LORD's Second Coming will turn to Him.... They were also described as blameless (amOmoi, a word used of sacrificial animals without defect) and as those who, living in a period of great satanic deception, were free from lying. The passage as a whole is a prophetic foreview of the triumph of the 144,000 when Christ returns.
b. The Message of the three angels (14:6-12)
III) [Rev 14:6-8]:
(Rev 14:6 NKJV) "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,
(Rev 14:7 NKJV) 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.
(Rev 14:8 NKJV) 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."
"14:6-8. John was then given a vision of an angel carrying a message called the eternal gospel. The angel was commisssioned to bring his message to every group of people on the earth. Because of the word 'gospel,' some have felt that this was a message of salvation or the good news of the coming Kingdom. The context, however, seems to indicate otherwise, for the message is one of judgment and condemnation. The angel announced, Fear God and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgment has come. So the 'eternal' message seems to be a message of God's Righteousness and Judgment rather than a message of salvation.
The first angel was followed by a second angel who announced that Babylon the Great, which intoxicated others with her adulteries, has fallen. This apparently is in anticipation of the description of that city..."
IV) [Rev 14:9-12]:
(Rev 14:9 NKJV) "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,
(Rev 14:10 NKJV) The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb:
(Rev 14:11 NKJV) And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever 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.
(Rev 14:12 NKJV) Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus."
[Bob Wilkin, GRACE EVANGELICAL SOCIETY]:
"These verses deal with the Tribulation. That is a coming seven-year time of tremendous trouble on the earth. The wrath of God will at that time be poured out in full measure upon sinful man.
Satan will be allowed by God to install his man as world dictator. This man, called the beast in the Book of Revelation, will demand that everyone worship him and his god, Satan. To enforce this worship he will link commerce with religion. He will require that anyone who buys or sells anything must have a mark placed on his forehead or hand. This mark is called the mark of the beast.
The technology is already in place for such a system. Today debit cards are already widely in use. No check is written. No cash is exchanged. The buyer's account is simply debited and the seller's credited. The beast will give each person a code for doing business and stamp that on their hand or forehead.
The verses under consideration say that anyone who takes the mark of the beast will spend eternity in hell. In v 11 we learn that their torment will be unending. While some evangelicals and fundamentalists today are saying that God will annihilate the unsaved, there is no room for such a view in light of this passage.
There are three possible ways to interpret the fact that everyone who takes the mark of the beast will go to hell. First, one could argue that eternal security is not operative in the Tribulation. There is, of course, no biblical or logical support for this. Eternal security is consistently taught in Scripture (e.g., John 5:24; Rom 8:38-39). No exceptions are given.
To suggest that eternal security is not operative in the Tribulation--or at any other time for that matter--is to subvert the sufficiency of the Cross. Eternal security is an integral part of the Gospel. Thus this view is wholly untenable.
Second, one could argue that this passage teaches that all true believers will persist in obedience and holiness during the Tribulation. However, the context shows that this view is also untenable.
Verses 9-11 are not even about believers. They are about unbelievers. At the very moment an unbeliever takes the mark of the beast he is sealed in a state of unbelief. He will surely spend eternity in hell. (Of course, believers can rightly infer from these verses that God would never allow them to take the mark since they know themselves to be eternally secure. Yet that is certainly not the main point here).
Why would the Lord tell Tribulation believers this? Tribulation saints will suffer great persecution for refusing to take the mark. They will see unbelievers who take the mark avoid the persecution they are experiencing. This would be discouraging for any believer who was shortsighted. Verses 9-11 are thus designed to give the Tribulation saints (and believers of all ages) the big picture.
We might paraphrase v 12 in this way: This [knowing the fate of those who take the mark] is a motivation for believers to endure the persecutions and to persist in obeying God's commands and in keeping the faith.
Nowhere does v 12 say that all Tribulation saints will persevere in obeying God's commands and in keeping the faith. Rather, it says that one of the reasons those who persevere will do so is because they know that the unsaved have a devastating destiny.
It goes without saying that as Tribulation saints reflect on the fearful future of the lost, they will be moved to contemplate their own futures as well. They will be reminded that if they endure they will reign with Christ (2 Tim 2:12; Rev 2:26; 3:21) and will have other eternal rewards as well (Matt 5:11-12; 6:19-21; Rev 22:12).
Note that the tone of Rev 14:9-12 is clearly hortatory, i.e., one of encouragement to be faithful in order to motivate Tribulation believers to persevere. The view which suggests instead that these verses are promising that all believers will persevere wholly misses the point.
Matt 24:12 confirms the fact that some, actually many, Tribulation saints will fail to endure. The love of many believers will grow cold during that terrible time.
Third, one is left with only one viable alternative. Implicit in these verses is a guarantee that God will not allow any Tribulation saint to take the mark. As He does now, so then He will give special grace in times of testing. He will not allow any believer to be tempted beyond his ability to withstand the test (1 Cor 10:13).
Of course, it is indeed conceivable that a believer might fail to utilize the special grace which God will give him. In such cases we can be sure that God will remove him from the tempting situation--quite possibly by taking him home, through early physical death.A third angel followed with another judgment that worshipers of the beast and his image who receive his mark will be objects of God's wrath and will be destined for eternal torment along with Satan, the demon world, and all unsaved people. The everlasting character of this judgment is stated plainly in verse 11: The smoke of their torment rises forever and ever, and they will have no rest... The doctrine of eternal punishment, though unpopular and difficult to accept by many, is nevertheless clearly taught here and throughout Scripture.
V) [Rev 14:13]:
(Rev 14:13 NKJV) "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 labours; and their works do follow them."
"c. The Blessing Of The Faithful Saints
14:13. After the solemn pronouncement of the third angel John heard a voice fromheaven commanding him, Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the LORD from now on. To this the Holy Spirit added the promise, they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them.
This passage is often quoted in regard to God's general blessings on all Christians, but the context indicates that the blessing is especially for those who die in the Great Tribulation. For them it is a blessed release from persecution, torture, and tial and a deliverance into the glorious presence of the LORD.
VI) [Rev 14:14-16]:
(Rev 14:14 NKJV) "And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle.
(Rev 14:15 NKJV) 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.
(Rev 14:16 NKJV) And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped."
"14:14-16. John in his vision next saw seated on a white cloud one like a Son of Man wearing a crown of gold and holding a sharp sicle. Though some have identified 'a Son of Man' as an angel, it is more probable that it is Christ Himself Who is frequently called 'the Son of Man' (cf. 1:13)... The sickle in His hand suggests judgment. And this is supported by the messages of the three angels (Rev 14:15-20).
An angel called out to Christ to reap, because the harvest of the earth is ripe. The ripeness is in the sense of withered or overribe (exEranthE). What follows is judgment as the sickle is swung... over the earth...
VII) [Rev 14:17-20]:
(Rev 14:17 NKJV) "And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle.
(Rev 14:18 NKJV) 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 sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe.
(Rev 14:19 NKJV) 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.
(Rev 14:20 NKJV) 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."
"14:17-20. Another angel had a sharp sickle, and a fellow angel commanded him to gather... clusters of grapes from the earth's vine, because its grapes are ripe. Here a different word is used for ripe (Ekmasan), meaning 'to be fully grown' or 'in prime condition.' The grapes were full of juice and ready for harvest. In obedience the angel gathered the grapes and trew them into the great winepress of God's wrath. They were trampled there outside the city, probably Jerusalem (cf. 'the great city' in 11:8).
The custom was to produce grape juice by trampling on grapes in a winepress. The result here, however, is different. Blood flowed out of the press rising as high as the horses' bridles for a distance of 1,600 stadia, about 180 miles. While this distance may be literal and may designate the area of judgment as around the city of Jerusalem, it is of course impossible for the blood to reach a height were it would toudch horses' bridles. What this affirms is a tremendous bloodletting in which blood is spattered as high as the bridles of horses. This is a graphic picture of a great slaughter..... Taken as a whole, Rev 14 on the one hand refers to the preservation of the 144,000 through the Great Tribulation. And on the other hand it graphically declares some of the terrible judgments that will be inflicted on the world which rejects Christ and follows Satan's substitute for the LORD.
One may regard this chapter as an outline of major events at the end of the Age:
(1) The appearance of the godly remnant of Israel;
(2) A testimony to Gentiles;
(3) The fall of Babylon;
(4) The doom of the worshipers of the beast;
(5) The blessedness of saints who are martyred;
(6) The harvest;
(7) The wrath of God on the world."