Section: Chapter Thirteen - The Beginning of the End
FOURTEEN - THE END OF THE BEGINNING
(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.
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 Daniels Seventieth Week. With the announcement
that Gods 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
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 Gods judgment against the living earth-dwellers
(Revelation 14) prior to a detailed description of Gods 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 Gods 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 Gods
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 Gods 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.
(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.
(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
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, i.e. salvation. The earth refers to the
geographical nature of the redeemed. Taken from the twelve tribes
of Israel, these redeemed folk are Gods first fruits of Israels
(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. Molunein (literally, to make dirty) is used
in a figurative sense here to mean to defile or stain (Louw-Nida,
§ 53.34). Louw and Nida add the following comment, "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 Daniels 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
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. Gods 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 (Rom 8:23; 11:16; 16:5; 1 Cor 15:20,
23; 16:15; 2 Thess 2:13; Ja 1:18; Rev 14:4). In Romans 16:5, 1 Corinthians
16:15, 2 Thessalonians 2:13, and James 1:18 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 (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
tell no lies, nor will a deceitful tongue be found in their
." 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 (Eph 1:4; 5:27; Col 1:22;
(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 midheaven = begins the second short story about a flying
angel preaching in the sky. John indicates that this is "another
angel flying in midheaven." 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 midheaven"
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 midheaven
is not explicitly stated. Scripture no where indicates that angels
have wings. This is the third angelic announcement given in midheaven.
The first announcement occurred in Revelation 8:13. Revelation 8:13
states, "Then I looked, and I heard an eagle flying in midheaven
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 midheaven 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.
Euaggelion (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 angels
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 Gods 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
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 Gods sovereignty over the
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 angels 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 angels 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 angels 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 Gods 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 Gods 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
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; i.e.,
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
Peters 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 Gods final wrath. Worship Him
describes the result of fear and recognition of Gods 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.
(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 futurists
have argued for the literal city of Babylon. Preterists have argued
for Jerusalem. Others argue for Rome. This issue will be discussed
in Revelation 17 and 18 at great 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.
(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
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 in Azal (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 Gods 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 Lords 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
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 Babylons actions, Gods 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 Gods
wrath. Gods wrath will come upon the beast-marked worshipers
with full strength. Unlike the Greeks who mixed their wine with water
to soften its potency, Gods wrath will come in full strength,
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
(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.
(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 Godthe 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. Gods 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.
(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
1. And I heard a voice
from heaven, saying, = is marked off from verse 12 in NASB, but it
completes the thought of verse 12. Again, the 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 themmartyrs.
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
." 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 Pauls 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 Gods program with man. However, the application of Gods
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 believers 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 Adams descendants rests on his disobedience. The outcome
of Adams 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 Christs death is limited to those who
believe after the event. If the fruit of Adams choice contaminates
every man, women, boy and girl born on the earth throughout human
history, then Christs 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
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 Spirits 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).
(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
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.
Clouds are a transportation
mechanism used to carry heavenly individuals various places in heaven
and on earth.
2. Sitting on the cloud
was one like a son of man = identifies the rider of heavens
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.
(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 angels 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
angels 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 angels
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.
(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.
(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-riders identity as that of Jesus.
This angelic being also has a "sharp sickle," in good condition
for a harvest.
(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.
(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
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 angels 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 angels
harvesting. The angel gathers the wicked to a place where Gods
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. Gods literal winepress
will be on the plains of Magedo.
(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 Gods punishment
of the wicked. The Greek indicates that outside the city is
Gods place of punishment. This can be no other city but Jerusalem.
The exact location of Gods judgment will be specified in Revelation
2. Blood came out from
the wine press, up to the horses bridles = describes the outcome
of Gods 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.
Section: Chapter Fifteen - Prelude to Bowl Judgments