Revelation 14 takes a turn from the gloom of the Antichrist and the False Prophet and refocuses on the reward for the readers for their endurance by giving them a glimpse of the final blessings. Chapter 13 is a somber reminder of the impending doom of what lays ahead for the immediate future, thus a little encouragement is for the recipients of this letter. John now sees the vision of triumph for the followers of the Lamb, Jesus Christ.
Vs 1: This scene is intended to be an apparent difference of the vision of the beasts in the previous chapter. The followers in chapter 13 are stamped or marked with the mark of the Beast (666 or 616) on the right hand or forehead. It is in this new vision John sees the Lamb standing on Mt. Zion.
This is appropriate because Mt. Zion has long been associated with divine deliverance. In this passage Mt. Zion represents
The 144,000 have been interpreted many ways, some have suggested that if we look forward to verse 4 it appears as though they are a select group of saints that are consecrated to God. But others have suggested the 144,000 is the complete body of the all the redeemed. Once again, the number is not necessarily exactly or literally 144,000 but both most likely represent the complete number of redeemed throughout history.
There is a mark or names on the foreheads of the 144,000 symbolize loyalty and allegiance to the lamb, who is Jesus Christ. Those who are sealed or marked have committed themselves or are in allegiance to the Lamb. They are the overcomers whom Jesus has written his own name on them.
Vs 2 – 3: John hears a great voice that sounds like the roar of rushing waters, thunder, and a harp and the 144,000 are singing a new song. One would think this is a singular voice, but we find that it is the choir of the 144,000 singing the anthem of redemption. The voice is many voices because John writes that “they were singing”. This song is the new song of Revelation 5:9 and it is sung by those who have been purchased by the Lamb. This is a song reserved only for those who have are followers of the Lamb, they are the only ones who are able to sing it.
These 144,000 have been redeemed from the world. This does not necessarily mean that they were taken physically out of the world but instead they were detached from the evil ways of the world and its false beliefs.
Vs 4 – 5: Who are the 144,000? They can be described as three characters.
In their mouth was no deceit because they are blameless. Romans 1:25 tells us that the pagan world has “exchanged the truth about God for a lie.” These 144,000 have not compromised their faithfulness and allegiance to the claims of the Antichrist.
Vs 6 - 11: The Lamb and his followers are standing victorious on the heavenly Mt. Zion is then followed by three angelic decrees.
Vs 12: John encourages the believer to endure and keep faith in Jesus Christ.
Vs 13: Another voice from heaven proclaims a blessing to those who are going to be martyred from this point on. The command to write emphasizes the importance of the message that follows. A blessing is upon those who faithfully give their lives for God will enter victorious into their rest.
Vs 14: “one like a son of man” is none other than the risen Lord Jesus Christ returning in judgment. On his head he has a “golden crown”, and this crown assigns the risen Lord as the conqueror and thereby has the right to act in judgment.
He has a “sharp sickle in his hand.” This is a tool of harvest and would signify the Messiah is prepared to reap the harvest of the earth in righteous reckoning.
Vs 15 - 16: Yet again, another angel comes from the temple and gives the divine command to the one sitting on the cloud to begin the harvest. This harvest, however, is not limited to the gathering of the elect. Because we see in the parable of the Wheat and Tares, it involves the gathering of the wicked for burning as well (Matt 13:30, 40–42). In the OT the harvest was a regular symbol of divine judgment. Thus, the harvest of vv. 14–16 is likely a general picture of the coming judgment.
The time to reap has been determined by God and the time for judgment and remuneration has come. The harvest of the earth is fully ripe.
Vs 18: Another angel (the 6th one in Ch. 14) comes out from the altar. If you recall the altar contained the prayers of the righteous (6:8) and we can conclude that the prayers of the righteous saints play a significant part in bringing God’s judgment upon the wicked. This angel has authority over fire and fire in the NT is often connected to judgment. Just as the grain is ready for reaping the grapes are ripe and the time for judgment has come.
Vs 19: The angel is God’s instrument for executing the judgment upon the unrighteous. The angel swings the sickle and gathers the vintage and throws it into the winepress of the wrath of God. The grapes of the earth are a collection of all who refuse to embrace the righteousness of God and have instead become His enemies.
Vs 20: The city outside is probably Jerusalem. John now graphically describes the judgment of God as he states the judgment is a bloodbath and flows as deep as a horse’s bridle for 1600 stadia which equals 184 miles. This most likely translates as the judgment of God is extended to all men everywhere who are not under divine protection.
The Kingdom: Recap
We need to keep in mind that the events of this chapter, and ultimately this apocalypse letter to the seven churches point to Jesus and the coming Kingdom of God. I talked at length last Sunday about this Kingdom and should recall that Jesus’ Kingdom was not a single event (His first Advent), but it came and continues in stages; it started with his public life, his death, resurrection, and anticipate his future consummation. When we talk about the Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of heaven we are not talking about a place as much as the reality of God being King in and through Jesus and his achievements. Jesus has possession of the Kingdom through his deeds; He is waiting to hand it over finally to the Father. (1 Corinthians 15:23 -28).
Jeff has been in ministry for well over two decades. He currently serves as Campus Pastor at West Bradenton Baptist Southside Campus in Bradenton, Florida.
Jeff Has authored an Advent Devotional (The Advent of Jesus) and a devotional on the book of James (James: Where Faith and Life Meet). Both are available on Amazon.
He is married to Carrie and they have four children, Micaiah, Gabe, Simon, and Berea.
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