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Bible Study: The Book of the Revelation – LESSON 13

Calvary Bible Church Bible Study

The Book of the Revelation

 

LESSON 13:  Chapter 14

Chapter 14 is the sequel (and God’s answer) to the wickedness of the persons in chapter 13. God intervenes in grace and judgment. As stated earlier, chapters 12–14 form a series of their own and are placed between the trumpet and vial judgments, intending to emphasize the individuals who are prominent in the end time.

The Lamb and the 144,000

Vrs     1–5               “And, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Zion.”  All the persons mentioned in verse 1 have appeared before in the book. The Lamb is Christ, so designated by John as the favorite description for the Savior.  “A hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads.”  The Father needs no explanation. The 144,000 are undoubtedly those of chapter 7, the godly witnesses, sealed and marked out for God.  Mount Zion, is the literal city of David (Jerusalem).

The scene in verses 2 and 3 changes to heaven, from which comes forth a remarkable voice which sounds like many waters, … great thunder: and … harps.  Who are the harpists and singers; the 144,000.   First, they are noted for their testimony; in their witness they were not ashamed to bear the name of their God on their foreheads. Second, they kept themselves separated from the defilement of the world. The virgins of the AV (Greek parthenoi) is a correct, literal translation; but the connotation is misleading. There seems to be no intent to advocate celibacy over against marriage (cf. Heb 13:4), but only to emphasize their chastity in life as virgins are. They have kept themselves from the idolatry so blatantly fostered by the beast and the false prophet (ch. 13).  Repeatedly in the Old Testament, idolatry is likened to fornication and adultery (cf. the book of Hosea for an extended example). Third, they have chosen the highest fellowship in the universe; they are constantly in the company of the spotless Lamb of God. Fourth, they are honored to be first fruits to God and Christ. The Lord Jesus is the first fruits in resurrection (cf. 1st Corinthians 15:20); the church is the “firstfruits of his creatures” (cf. James 1:18); here are the first fruits of the coming kingdom age. Finally, in a day of wholesale falsehood and deception perpetrated by Satan and the Antichrist, these will keep themselves unblemished (not sinlessly perfect) by avoiding all lying.

The Angel With The Everlasting Gospel

Vrs     6–7               In the next seven verses of the chapter, three angels with different announcements are introduced. If voices are silenced on earth by devilish agents, God is not stopped in His purposes to send forth His message to men.  It is specifically “good news” (Greek euangelion) of an eternal character intended for those who inhabit the earth from all nations. Verse 7 seems to contradict the concept of good news, for the contents appear to announce only judgment. This is a hasty conclusion. The dual appeal in the message is to reverence God, giving Him glory, and to worship Him as Creator of the universe (cf. Romans 1:20 with Psalm 19:1–6). This gospel proclaims that God is the sovereign Maker, and blessing is only in obedience to His will. It is everlasting because it has abided through the ages.  It is a call to come from the worship of the Beast, a creature, to God the Creator. But the element of good news is definitely here: the declaration of soon-coming judgment is made in view of the time still granted to turn to God. If the die were already cast, then the element of good tidings would be absent; but such is not the case here.

The Fall Of Babylon Is Announced

Vrs     8                  “Babylon is fallen.”  This next angel has an announcement unrelated to any offer of grace. In broad outlines, it states the fall of Babylon the Great, who has seduced all the nations with her immorality.  Drawing on many Old Testament passages, the reader is able to transfer the figure of physical uncleanness to that of spiritual defection from God to idolatry (cf. Jeremiah 51:8).  A commentator named Scott holds: “But what is before us now is the mystic Babylon, that huge system of spiritual adultery and corruption which holds sway over the whole prophetic scene. It is scarcely possible to conceive of a huge system of wickedness eagerly embraced by the nations once called Christian. It will nevertheless be so. Babylon here is the full development of the state of things under the Thyatiran condition of the Church (chap. 2:18–23)”.  This is the first mention of Babylon in the Revelation, but already her widespread influence and her wickedness are clearly set forth.

The Judgment On Those Who Have The Mark

Vrs     9–12             “They have no rest day nor night.”  The third angel has a message of unrelenting judgment. Both verses 9 and 11 designate the objects of the divine message to be the worshipers of the beast and his image and the recipients of his mark. The judgment depicted is horrendous indeed. It will be intoxication with the unmitigated wine of the wrath of God, torment in the presence of the holy angels, and … the Lamb, and unceasing restlessness, namely, eternal torment.  Their trust in the power and authority of the beasts (ch. 13) will not stand them in good stead in that coming day. Finally, as in 13:10 (last clause), perseverance and faith will be called for in the days when believers on earth are undergoing affliction and trials.

The Blessedness Of Those Who Die In The Lord

Vrs     13                “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord.”  It must be remembered that not all will share the experience of the 144,000 sealed witnesses. Many will suffer martyrdom in the period under consideration. Although it is always blessed to die in Christ (cf. Philippians 1:21 with 2nd Corinthians 5:6, 8), it will be peculiarly so in this time; for the blessedness will be near.  God will take full notice of their faithful works; their rewards are assured.

 

 

The Reaping Of The Earth

Vrs     14–16           God’s judgment of the ungodly on earth is now is now seen. Careful consideration of the scene will reveal that the Great White Throne judgment is not in view here, but rather the judgment of the nations of Matthew 25:31–46, the tribunal at the end of Israel’s age referred to in Matthew 13:40. The Judge is the Lord Jesus Christ, as the portrayal indicates (cf. 1:13; 10:1). The designation “a (not “the,” as in the AV, for the Greek text does not have the definite article) son of man” identifies Him with the events of Daniel 7:13–14, and all the references to Son of Man in the New Testament.   The golden crown speaks of His royal prerogative to judge. The sharp sickle can only remind us of reaping activity. The sickle is mentioned only twelve times in the Bible, and seven occurrences are in this portion of the Revelation.   Apparently, the angel conveys the signal of God the Father to the Son of Man to begin the work of harvesting. No sooner is the will of the Father declared than the Son performs it with obedience and power. The earth was ripe for judgment.

Vrs     17–20                     In verse 17 another angel is seen leaving the temple in heaven, and he is equipped with a sharp sickle.   In Scripture, fire is a common figure for purifying by fire as a means of judgment (cf. 20:10, 15, the lake of fire; God in His purity is likened to fire, Hebrews 12:29). The reference to altar has already been found in 6:9 and 8:3.  Again, an angel conveys the message to begin the work of judgment; but this time it is not a reaping of a harvest, but the gathering of the vintage into the winepress of the wrath of God. Just as the harvest was ripe (vs. 15), so it is with the vine (vs. 19). Though the judgment in this chapter includes both Jews and Gentiles, verse 20 indicates where the center of events will be. The city is unquestionably Jerusalem. Instead of grape juice flowing from the winepress, it will be the blood of men. But the fearful picture is even more explicit; and blood came out … unto the horse bridles, estimated to be about four or five feet. Yet more, this river will stretch for two hundred miles (Greek stadia, i.e., the total of 1,600 stadia or furlongs). This is the distance from the valley of Jezreel (immediately below the Mount of Megiddo) to the Gulf of Eilat at the sea to the south (see map).  It is generally conceived that Armageddon will be a battle; this stems from the translation in AV, RSV, NIV, and NEB of “battle” for the Greek polemos. This gives too simplified a picture of the conflict. The rendering in ASV and NASB of war is correct, because the first meaning of the word is war. Thus, Armageddon is not an isolated battle, but part of a larger picture of encounters in different parts of the land. The name of the war is called Armageddon, because the terrain there is better suited for warfare than anywhere else in the land. However, the climax of the War of Armageddon is at Jerusalem (cf. Zecheriah 14:1–5, 12–15) with the visible appearing of the Lord Jesus.