Rev.14 is a preview of the judgement God intends for the Beast-antiChrist and his beast-marked worshippers. Here, God shows He is able to protect His people who bear His mark, whilst the Beast-King cannot protect his beast-marked worshippers. He warns everyone not to take the mark of the Beast, his name or worship the beast. Finally, He shows how He would destroy the Beast-King and his beast-marked worshippers at Armageddon.
The Lamb On Mount Zion With The 144,000 (1-5)
“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. And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps: And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth. These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb. And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God.”
And I looked, and, lo, a lamb stood on mount Zion. I looked, and, lo is a phrase that John the revelator uses to introduce a new unit of vision. A lamb stood on Mount Zion. This is the Lord Jesus the Christ, the Lamb of God that took away the sin of the World. He stood on Mount Zion with the 144,000. Jesus descended from the heavenly Mount Zion(Heb.11:26) en route to the earthly Mount Zion(Is.59:20), to the general area of Mount Paran in the Edomite wilderness to gather the remnant of Israel, the woman, who do not have the mark of the beast prior to the final outpouring of the wrath of God. This group of 144,000 have the Fathers name written on their foreheads. This is the same 144,000 who were sealed in Rev.7 with the seal of God prior to the beginning of the outpouring of the wrath of God. They have already been protected from the trumpet judgements. They will now be given greater protection from the bowl judgements which are more extensive and devastating. The seal is for the purpose of protection, ownership, authenticity and identification. Here it is revealed that the seal is the Father’s name. Whatever that name is , we are not told. It may be the Hebrew Tetragrammaton YHWH revealed to Moses as the name of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob which was inscribed on the holy crown upon the mitre of Aaron the High Priest(Exod.3:13, 29:6,28,31). Jesus gathered them from the general area of Petra across the Jordan River where they have been hiding: from the Judean wilderness, and from Egypt and Assyria, and from Jerusalem itself and its environs to the earthly mount Zion. The 144,000 were probably not the only ones gathered. But they were the ones who have the seal of God on their foreheads. The seal of God culminated in their salvation.
When Jesus ascended into heaven after the resurrection, He did so from this same location on the Mount of olives. He promised to return in the same manner as the disciples saw Him go into heaven. This coming is not to rapture the Church: that has already been accomplished prior to the breaking of the seventh seal. This coming is to reclaim God’s rule over the Earth at the blowing of the seventh trumpet on day 5 of the 30-day reclamation period. This event occurred on the 2nd day of the 30-day reclamation period before the two witnesses were raised from the dead and taken to heaven. They are from the twelve tribes of Israel. They appeared with The Lamb on Mount Zion where He reclaimed God’s rule over the Earth, and later were taken to Azel in protective custody(Zech.14:5). Azel is an unknown location. There is no place in ancient Israel so named. This is for security reasons.
verse 2, the revelator heard a voice from heaven. It was like the voice of many waters, and the voice of a great thunder. There was the voice of harpers harping with their harps. This is an heavenly orchestra. It consists of an innumerable multitude of redeemed humanity who stand in the presence of the Father in the throne room of the temple of the tabernacle in heaven. Verse 3 says they sang a new song before the throne, before the four beasts and the twenty and four elders. The usual orchestra in heaven includes the four beasts, the four and twenty elders and an innumerable company of angels. Here the four living creatures and the four and twenty elders are not part of the choir, since the orchestra performs in front of them and the throne and God the Father who is the occupant of the throne. On Earth, no man could learn this song, but the 144,000 who were redeemed from the Earth. This is so because it is the song of the redeemed. This innumerable multitude, standing on the crystal sea, with harps in hand harping away, singing with one voice are the redeemed of all ages gathered before the throne of God in heaven. The 144,000 are also redeemed. So they too could sing the song here on Earth being in their natural bodies. But the rest of the living earth-dwellers who were not redeemed could neither learn nor sing this song, not even the unbranded remnants of Israel because they have not yet been reconciled to the God of Israel. Therefore this event must occur before the mystery of God is finished on the 3rd day of the 30-day reclamation period. This song was sung in heaven but heard on Earth. Those who were not redeemed could hear this song but could not learn nor sing it. Anyone who could learn and sing this song must be redeemed with the blood of the Lamb.
In verse 4, the characteristics of the 144,000 are enumerated. They were not defiled with women, they are virgins. The reference to virginity here may not be figurative and symbolic as some affirm and teach. They did not have sexual intercourse with women. They are Jewish celibates. Celibacy as a form of purity and dedication to God is an ancient Jewish practice. Our Lord Jesus said some have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake(Matt.19:12). These Jewish men have vows of celibacy which they jealously kept. The Greek word used is Parthenoi which usually describes a woman who has not known a man. They did not worship the beast or his image. They follow the Lamb wherever He goes. They followed Him from Petra through the Judean wilderness to Mount Zion in Jerusalem. They were the ones qualified to do this because they not only did not worship the Sea-beast nor take his mark nor bowed to his image but were sealed with the name of the Father. There are others on Earth at this time who did not worship the Beast or his image but were not marked with the seal of God on the their foreheads unlike the unbranded Jewish remnants and the unbranded Gentiles. They were redeemed from amongst men being the firstfruits unto God and the Lamb, of those who were to be redeemed after the rapture of the church from the nation of Israel. When Christ appears to them in the Edomite wilderness, they will see that the Messiah of Israel in whom they believed, and have been waiting for has nail-pierced hands. They embrace Him as their personal Lord and Saviour and are washed with the blood of the Lamb by the Holy Spirit. Because they are the first from the household of Israel and the whole Earth to receive Jesus as their personal Lord and Saviour after the rapture of the saints, they are the firstfruits of those who will be redeemed from the Earth, both from Israel and the rest of mankind who will enter the Millennium in their natural bodies to repopulate the Earth.
God will never leave Himself without a witness on Earth. It is like the handing over of a baton in a relay race from the Church to Israel. These men were not witnesses in the sense they went about proclaiming the gospels as some affirm . They were not evangelists as some have suggested. They were in protective custody in Petra and Judean wilderness and in cellars, sewers, basements and underground bunkers in the city of Jerusalem. Like the church they needed to be rescued. Verse 5 continued their characteristics. In their mouth was found no guile. They would not lie. They would not dissemble. The remnant of Israel will not tell lies(Zeph.3:13). These men were not hypocrites. They did not say one thing and do another. They stood for what they believed. They were not beast-marked worshippers. Therefore, they were without fault before the throne of God. These are the reasons why they could learn and sing the song of the redeemed.
The Three Angelic Announcements(6-13).
“And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters. 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. And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of 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: 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. Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus. 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.”
In terms of chronology of end time events, this section is difficult to locate. By the time The Lamb appeared on Mount Zion with the 144,000, only the seventh trumpet remaineth to be blown. And from the time the seventh trumpet is sounded, God Almighty reclaims His rule over the Earth and the mystery of God is finished, there remaineth but twenty and fours days to Armageddon, the last act in the final wrath of God. Is this the time to give this warnig to the inhabitants of the Earth? Some biblical scholars and interpreters see it as a parenthesis, a flashback and a recapitulation of an earlier warning. There are some who believe that this warning is given at this time to those who have not yet taken the mark of the beast, that is, the sheep of the sheep and goat judgment, in order that they may not do so between now and Armageddon. The condition on Earth at this time, after the breaking of the sixth seal, earthly and celestial disturbances, after the rapture of the church is such that the Beast-antichrist and his beast-marked worshippers could not actively be enforcing the mark of the beast, inasmuch as they themselves are in hiding, inviting the rocks and the mountains to fall upon them and hide from the face of Him that sitteth on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb. The sun and moon are darkened, though temporarily, earthquakes in diverse places, meteorites are falling from the sky and impinging on the Earth, and perhaps also comets, and asteroids. And there are earthquakes. The Beast-antiChrist is paralyzed and cannot enforce his programme anymore. It is most probably that this is a periscope, a recap of earlier warnings rather than fresh ones. At this time the sixth trumpet and the second woe are over. The 7th trumpet has no judgement of its own but opens in the seven bowls which are more devastating in scope but poured out over a shorter period.
The First Angelic Announcement: The Everlasting Gospel(6 & 7).
The revalator saw another angel. This angel is not one of the ones he has seen before. This angel was flying through the heavens or sky, moving horizontally through the midst of heaven. We are not told who he is. He has the everlasting gospel to preach to the earth-dwellers, of every nation, kindred, tongue and people. This message is universal in scope. This message is proclaimed with a loud voice, so everyone could hear. The content of this everlasting gospel does appear to be different from the gospel of our Lord Jesus the Christ. However, there is no mention of Jesus or His finished work on the cross of Calvary. The content of the message is fear God, and give glory to Him; for the hour of His judgment is come: worship Him that made heaven, and the earth, and the sea, and the fountains of Waters. What is in view is not salvation as we know it but a recognition of the sovereignty of God Almighty over the heavens, the earth and seas and fountains of waters, and that the day of judgement is come. So the content of the gospel is not salvific, but rather aimed at urging the hearers to recognize God’s sovereignty over the the heavens, the earth and the seas and fountains of waters in order that one would not worship false gods. The message here is the message of the kingdom: it is the message of wrath. It was given before the wrath of God begins, most probably in the heat of the Great Tribulation. We know also that the gospel of our Lord Jesus the Christ is also preached at the same time. “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.”(Matt.24:14 ).
The Second Angelic Announcement: The Fall Of Babylon (8)
The second angel was moving horizontally over the heavens saying: Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of her fornication. The repetition of is fallen, is a literary device employed to emphasize the inevitability of that which is spoken. There are some who argue that Babylon is the holy city of Jerusalem but I beg to differ. I route for literary Babylon and the religious institution of the antiChrist headed by the Second Beast, the False Prophet. This message also was given in the midst of the Great Tribulation, to warn the inhabitants of the Earth not to put their trust in the antiChrist and his bankrupt false religious system headquartered in literal Babylon.
The Third Angelic Announcement: Beast-marked Worshippers Doomed (9-12)
The third angelic announcement is a warning to the living earth-dwellers not to take the mark of the beast, the number of his name or worship his image or statue. If anyone became a beast-marked worshipper, the one shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without dilution 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. The wine of His wrath which is poured out without mixture is a figure of speech indicating the severity of His wrath on the beast-marked adorers and worshippers of the Dragon-Beast. The smoke of their torment shall ascend for ever and ever signals the everlasting nature of their torment. And they shall have no rest day nor night who worship the Beast and his image, and whosoever receive the mark of his name. Verse 12 is very interesting in that it speaks about those who keep the commandments, and the faith of Jesus. This implies that the remnant of Israel and believers were probably present here on earth at the time this instruction was given, and that what we have here is a periscope and a recap or flashback. Here is the patience of the saints implies that those who endure to the end shall be exempt from the wrath of God which is directed towards the living wicked beast-marked worshippers and adorers of the Dragon-Beast. It is therefore most probable this warning occurred in the midst of the heat of the Great Tribulation when the inhabitants of the Earth are under immense pressure to capitulate to the authority of the Beast and submit themselves to be branded with the mark of the Beast or the number of his name. And the revelator heard a voice from Heaven saying unto him , “write, blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from henceforth: yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours ; and their works do follow them.” It would be hard for anyone to prove that this message was not directed at believers in Jesus the Christ. Here the Holy Spirit is addressing the believers in Jesus the Christ. I therefore concur that the proper timing of this message would be at the middle of the reign of the Beast-antiChrist, when he initiates the great tribulation, and that what we have here is a recapitulation.
For someone to die in the Lord, the one must believe in Jesus then be killed for one’s faith in Him. And for one to believe, one must hear the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ. For one to hear, the message of the gospel must be preached. And for one to preach, the one must be sent(Isa.52:7,8; Rom.10:14,15). There are some that believe in God, but do not believe that Jesus is God nor accept Him as the Saviour of all mankind. On this basis some reject the Mark of the Beast. Therefore, I submit that the everlasting gospel is the same as the gospel of the kingdom. However, in the everlasting gospel, the emphasis is on the sovereignty of God over all creation, the heavens and the Earth, and the rejection of the Mark of the Beast. In the gospel of the kingdom, the emphasis is on the apostolic kerugma, the substitutionary and the soterioloigical works of Christ on the Cross of Calvary.
The Final Harvest: Overview Of Armageddon (14-20)
“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. And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe. And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped. And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle. And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire; and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe. And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs.”
The purpose of Rev.14:14-20 is a preview of the final judgement of God against the wicked earth-dwellers. In Rev.14:14-16, the saints, the real wheat are harvested to keep them away from the scene of the wrath of God. The final wrath of God occurs in Rev.14:17-20 will be expanded in chapters 15-20.
And I looked and behold a white cloud. Cloud signals the glory of God, and white His righteousness. Clouds are also transportation mechanism used to transport heavenly brings to various places in heaven and on earth. This indicates that the one sitting in the cloud is righteous and is enveloped in glory. He is like unto the Son Of Man. This is reminiscent of Dan.7:13. This is the favourite appellation by which Jesus designates Himself in the gospels(Matt.8:20, 9:6, 10:23, 11:19, 12:8,32,40, 13:37,41, 16:13,27,28, 17:9,12,22, 18:11,28, 20:18,28, 24:27,30,37,39, 44, 25:13,31, 26:2,24,45,64; Mk.228, 8:31,38, 9:9,12,31, 10:33,45, 13:26,34,41, 14:62; Luk.5:24, 6:5, 734, 9:22,26,44,56,58, 11:30, 12:10,40, 17:22,24,26,30, 18:8,31, 19:10, 21:27,36, 22:22,48, 24:7; Jon.3:13,14,6:62, 8:28, 13:31). That he is the Son Of Man implies He is of Adam’s descent and therefore has right to the title deed of the Earth. For one to rule on Earth, one must have physical body with which to relate to the external physical environment. Jesus is the only one of the three persons of the Godhead that has a physical body. Angels do not have physical bodies. Just as the Father and the Holy Spirit can assume a body that may be comparable to the the physical body of man and become visible to the optical eyes, so also may the angels at the behest of the Almighty. Some biblical scholars are agreed that the identity of this person is that of Jesus. This is based on the fact that he is like the son of man. But would the Son of man be commanded by angel to thrust in His sickle? The Lord Jesus would hardly need an exhortation from an angel to begin the earthly harvest(Rev.14:15). Or else the angel would be God the Father. But our Lord Jesus said explicitly in Matt.13:39 that the reapers are the angels. This would cast great doubt on the above analysis. The one thing that can be dogmatically asserted is the fact that this is a unique heavenly being. He has on His head a golden crown. Both gold and crown are symbols of royalty. Gold also signifies royalty and wealth. Angels also wear crowns. The twenty and four elders mentioned in Rev.4:4,10 wore golden crowns, so also the horse and rider in Rev.6:2. The locust cavalry wore golden crowns(Rev.9:7). Golden crowns obviously depict authority and status. He has in hand a sharp sickle. The sickle is the instrument of harvest in the ancient Neareast. Jesus has right to execute judgement because the Father has committed all judgement unto The Son(Jon.5:22). And Jesus has an army of angels at his beck and call.
And another angel came out of the temple crying to Him that sitteth on the cloud, trust in thy sickle and reap; for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe. Who is this other angel that came out of the temple, that cried unto Jesus to trust in His sickle and reap, for the time for thee to reap us come, and the harvest of earth is ripe. We are not told who this angel is. He is most probably the Father, considering the fact that he came out of the temple and had the audacity to command the Son to reap. In the OT, it is not unusual to refer to any of the three persons of the Trinity as an angel. That God is in control of the situation is suggested by the fact that the hour or time of harvest has arrived. In verse 16, the Son obeyed, and trust in His sickle on the Earth and the Earth was reaped. Reaping the earth is a metaphor. The time of judgement is come because the Earth is ripe. Literally, wickedness has run its course and demands punishment. It means to execute judgement. Only the Father who has committed all judgement to the Son could command Him to do so. But in the light of the fact that the reapers are the angels, am inclined to believe that the two personalities involved are angels of high rank if not the Son and the Father.
Another angel supports the conclusion that the rider on the white cloud is an angelic being. Emerging from the temple, this angel is undoubtedly under the authority of God. The fact that an angel commands the cloud-rider to begin the harvest argues against the identity of the cloud-rider as Our Lord Jesus the Christ. The fact that the reapers are the angels at the end of age, argues strongly in favour of the fact that the identity of the cloud-rider is an angelic being. The duty of the angels is to gather in the harvest. There are two harvests in ancient Israel, the wheat harvest and the wine harvest. The command to put in the sickle is an allusion to Joel 3:13. Both of them are in view here. Therefore this is a metaphorical preview of Armageddon. Verse 17 says another angel came out of the temple, he also having a sharp sickle. We are not told the identity of this angel. There is no consensus of opinion as to his identity. In verse 18, another angel came out from the altar who has power over fire. This implies that not all angels have power over fire. Therefore he must be a high ranking angel. He too cried to the angel with the sickle to trust in his sickle into the Earth and gather the clusters of the vine of the Earth, for the grapes are fully ripe. The angel with the sickle also obeyed and thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great wine press of the wrath of God.
The second set of two angels are most probably high ranking angels. The angel who came out from the altar is probably the angel that comforted the martyred saints until the time God avenged their death at the hands of the beast-marked worshippers. In the parable of the seed and the sower, the harvest is the end of the ages and the reapers are the angels. But the actual threading of the winepress is done by Jesus Himself who is the judge of the whole Earth. And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the city unto the horse bridle, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs. A winepress is the place where the grapes are pressed to separate the juice from the pulp. God’s literal winepress will be on the plains of Megiddo. The angel gathers the wicked earth-dwellers to the place where God’s wrath will be administered. What is presented here is an overview, a panarama of sort. This overview will be expanded in Rev.16:12-16, and Rev.19, the actual battle of Armageddon. The final threading occurs at Armageddon. The war begins in the general area of Jerusalem and moves over to the Jezreel valley or the valley of Esdraelon where Mount Megiddo is located. The carnage would be so great that the level of spilled blood shall reach unto the horse bridle, about 5 feet deep or 1.5 meters and cover a distance of about 180-200 miles or 288-320 kms.