Revelation Episode 14

Beth's Notes

I want to remind all of you that I am doing my best to seek discernment through the Holy Spirit when I study to teach Revelation. I try to be careful to let you know why I believe what I believe. To be as clear as I can and as applicable as I can. All of God’s Word is Truth and we can stand firm in it.  There are many differing opinions of very bright committed believers on several timing and location matters of Revelation. Yet, regardless of the differing interpretations of prophecy there are not to be any differences of the practical applications of His revealed will through His Word and how we are to live our lives in the way He has clearly shown us. He is crystal on that. The Bible is as inexhaustible as He is – we will never get to the end of its teaching. Also, I teach Scripture with Scripture and to the best of my ability my leanings are backed by Scripture. God’s Word is Truth and He does not vary from it and we can stand firm in it. He has given us everything we need to know.

O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go
George Matheson, the writer of this hymn, went through many “toils and snares” in his lifetime including becoming blind, rejection of his fiancé and dejection over the lack of congregates in his church after much preparation. Nevertheless, he did his best not knowing that in his congregation was a visitor from a much larger church seeking a pastor.  As a result he was called to Saint Bernard’s Church in Edinburgh and he became one of Scotland’s favorite preachers. He writes regarding God’s love: “God’s love is never limited, never conditional, never withdrawn, and never uncertain”. 

Jeremiah 31:3 (NIV) tells us:
3 The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.” 

Hosea adds in Hosea 11:4 (NIV):
4 I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love; I lifted the yoke from their neck and bent down to feed them. 

John 3:16-19 (NIV) also tells us:
16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 

God’s love permeates the pages of Scripture. His motivation towards all people is love. His love is not limited to a few or to any one group of people. Rather, He desires for none to perish but all to come to repentance – even, and perhaps especially, the prodigal in the pigpen. His love never gives up on us as long as we have breath in our lungs, His mercy is running after us, just as the song goes. Turn, turn, turn is His mantra. Ezekiel 33:10-11 (NIV) tell us:
10 “Son of man, say to the house of Israel, ‘This is what you are saying: Our offenses and sins weigh us down, and we are wasting away because of them. How then can we live?’ 11 Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, O house of Israel?’” 

The gift of His Son was for the whole world – for whomever would believe in His Name. That is why God is so zealous for us to share this very good news with others. He uses us as His mouthpieces, His hands, His feet.  God’s love for the whole world was expressed through the giving of His most priceless gift – His Son. In one of the most amazing verses in Scripture, Paul pens in 2 Corinthians 5:21 (NIV):
21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

I am a gift giver. I love to give gifts and I am excited to see if what I give delights the one I give it to. It brings me much joy to see their joy. If I am that way, how much more so our Jesus, Who paid the price of His blood to give us heaven with Him. I envision Him at the right hand of God, asking is it time to go get my bride, the Church, is it time to go get her  -  as only the Father knows the hour. As if it were Christmas morning! He cannot wait for us to see what is in store for us – I think that is one reason He comes down in the sky to meet us as we are ascending in the air heading to heaven to be with Him forever. Oh such love that won’t let go!

When God looks down at a believer in Christ He sees the perfect life of Jesus. Incredibly, He has clothed us in the righteousness of Christ.  Believers now stand robed in His righteousness. It has never been Jesus plus something else, it is Jesus Christ alone that saves us. The words to the lyrics “O The Deep Deep Love of Jesus” written by Samuel Trevor Francis, expresses Christ’s love for us so beautifully:  
“O the deep, deep love of Jesus, vast, unmeasured, boundless, free!  Rolling as a mighty ocean in its fullness over me! Underneath me, all around me, is the current of Thy love Leading onward, leading homeward to Thy glorious rest above! O the deep, deep love of Jesus, spread His praise from shore to shore!
How He loveth, ever loveth, changeth never, nevermore!  How He watches o’er His loved ones, died to call them all His own; How for them He intercedeth, watcheth o’er them from the throne!  O the deep, deep love of Jesus, love of every love the best! ’Tis an ocean full of blessing, ’tis a haven giving rest!  O the deep, deep love of Jesus, ’tis a heav’n of heav’ns to me;
And it lifts me up to glory, for it lifts me up to Thee!”  

How then shall we live as believers? We are not to be oblivious to the importance of this great call of being conformed into the image of His Son – through the power of the Holy Spirit for His glory, Amen?  Rather, we are to be about “building our temples” for the Lord, manifesting His presence – His life - for the world to see and to come to Him as well. As Ezra did, whom Scripture stated in Ezra 8:10 (NIV):
10 For Ezra had devoted himself to the study and observance of the Law of the LORD, and to teaching its decrees and laws in Israel.

We cannot give what we do not own, right? We are to be a prepared people. Indeed, we are all teachers in our spheres of influence – and we each have them - whether we realize it or not. It matters greatly how we live this one life we are given. We do not want to waste it. A life is a terrible thing to waste, Amen? Jesus gives us our marching orders in the Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20(NIV):
18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Paul adds in 2 Timothy 2:15 (NIV):
14 Keep reminding them of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen. 15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. 

It is good to be reminded of what we already know to be true, Amen?  Repetition, repetition, repetition is key to ingraining Truth in our lives.  Like Vince Lombardi once said when asked why he was such a successful coach.  His reply, “I go over the basics, and I go over the basics, and I go over the basics.”  

Just as Jesus was with the original disciples, He is with us. He has not left us as orphans. He has come to us through the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit. He is with us to empower and strengthen us to do His bidding. Yet, that does not alleviate our responsibility to be a prepared people.

Prayer: Lord, if you do not teach us nothing worthwhile will be taught.  We desperately need you Holy Spirit to open our eyes to rightly discern Your Truth—both for your glory and for our ultimate good.

Chapter 14
1 Then I looked, and there before me was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads. 2 And I heard a sound from heaven like the roar of rushing waters and like a loud peal of thunder. The sound I heard was like that of harpists playing their harps. 3 And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders. No one could learn the song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth. 4 These are those who did not defile themselves with women, for they kept themselves pure. They follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They were purchased from among men and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb. 5 No lie was found in their mouths; they are blameless. 6 Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth--to every nation, tribe, language and people. 7 He said in a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water.” 8 A second angel followed and said, “Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great, which made all the nations drink the maddening wine of her adulteries.” 9 A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice: “If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives his mark on the forehead or on the hand, 10 he, too, will drink of the wine of God’s fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. He will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or for anyone who receives the mark of his name.” 12 This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God’s commandments and remain faithful to Jesus. 13 Then I heard a voice from heaven say, “Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them.” 14 I looked, and there before me was a white cloud, and seated on the cloud was one “like a son of man” with a crown of gold on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand. 15 Then another angel came out of the temple and called in a loud voice to him who was sitting on the cloud, “Take your sickle and reap, because the time to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.” 16 So he who was seated on the cloud swung his sickle over the earth, and the earth was harvested. 17 Another angel came out of the temple in heaven, and he too had a sharp sickle. 18 Still another angel, who had charge of the fire, came from the altar and called in a loud voice to him who had the sharp sickle, “Take your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of grapes from the earth’s vine, because its grapes are ripe.”  19 The angel swung his sickle on the earth, gathered its grapes and threw them into the great winepress of God’s wrath. 20 They were trampled in the winepress outside the city, and blood flowed out of the press, rising as high as the horses’ bridles for a distance of 1,600 stadia.”

Prayer: Open our eyes that we might see wonderful truth’s in your Law Oh Lord. Make the Word come alive to us Holy Spirit and teach us Your Truth, for Your glory alone and our ultimate good.

Chapter Fourteen deals with the ultimate triumph of Christ Jesus. As in Chapters 12 and 13, Chapter 14 does not advance the narrative rather prepares the way for this definitive climax, giving us a glimpse ahead of what is sure to take place as well as demonstrating God’s love for the lost in giving them a world-wide final warning. In Chapters 14 and 15 various other details of the world scene in heaven and on earth are introduced in preparation for the final series of the seven bowl judgments occurring in Chapter 16 as well as the judgments in Chapters 17-18.
It serves as a series of pronouncements and visions assuring the reader of Christ’s ultimate triumph and that the judgment of evil is sealed. God has stated it and it will most assuredly come to pass. Much in Chapter 14 are prophetic of events that have not yet taken place but in the context are now impending.

Chapter fourteen opens on earth with the Lamb (Jesus) on Mount Zion accompanied by the 144,000 Jewish - Apostle Paul-like - sealed witnesses. They are protected by God throughout the whole Tribulation.  These are the Jewish evangelists whose job is to announce the Gospel worldwide during the Great Tribulation to lead many more to faith in Christ Jesus.  They prepare the way for the return of the Savior. Just as Isaiah stated in Isaiah 40:3-5 (NIV) – initially referring to John the Baptist but also applying to these 144,000 as well:
3 A voice of one calling: “In the desert prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God. 4 Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. 5 And the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it. For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” 

These 144,000 Jews had Jesus’ Name and the Father’s Name written on their foreheads. The scene is chronologically taking place right before the Millennial reign of Jesus on the earth. These stellar saints have fought the good fight and have finished the race as Paul writes in 2 Timothy 4:7-8:
7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day--and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. 

Oh, that we too will be found faithful to the finish! These did so even amidst the horror of the Great Tribulation. We would do well to remind ourselves that Heaven is our home and earth is our sojourn there - particularly in our times of troubles and travails. These saints had not defiled themselves – they had kept themselves pure. It is reasonable to conclude that this is the same group mentioned in Chapter 7:4-8. Yet here, they are in the 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 at His Second Coming. They had been sealed by God for such a time as this – just like Esther. In contrast with many others who become martyrs, these people were selected and protected by God to live through this tumultuous period.  Yet, they are certainly not the only ones that will survive, as many Gentiles and other Jews will turn to Christ in the end more than likely from the testimony and witness of the 144,000. Somehow these Gentile and Jewish converts will be able to escape martyrdom and be honored to welcome Christ at His return.

John next switches from earth to a dramatic scene in heaven. He writes that he hears a great sound from heaven, accompanied with a loud noise similar to that of rushing waters and like a loud peal of thunder. John also mentions he heard a sound like harpists playing their harps. These descriptions should not be unusual to us as they are mentioned several times in Revelation. A few examples would be Revelation 4:5 (NIV): 5 From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. Before the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God. 

And again in Revelation 8:5 (NIV):
5 Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and hurled it on the earth; and there came peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning and an earthquake. 

And lastly, Revelation  11:19 (NIV):
19 Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and within his temple was seen the ark of his covenant. And there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake and a great hailstorm. 

John hears this singing sound from heaven like the roar of rushing waters and like a loud peal of thunder, the sound was like that of harpists playing their harps. They were singing a new song before the throne and the four living creatures and elders. They sang a song that only the 144,000 can learn. These 144,000 have been preserved by God through the fearful days of persecution and now stand triumphantly with the Lamb at the beginning of His millennial reign. This is a prophetic vision of the ultimate triumph of the Lamb. The 144,000 identifying with the Lord Jesus reveals their salvation through faith in Him. Again, it is the preferable view that these are the same 144,000 mentioned in Chapter Seven when they were first sealed.  

The two key characteristics of the 144,000 were their moral purity and their status as “firstfruits” of God’s saving work during the tribulation. It does us well to remember that God’s heart is for none to perish but all to come to repentance. Their purity is evident from their description as having not defiled themselves with women and from the fact that no lie was found in their mouths. They are described as those who, while living in a period of great satanic deception, were free from deceit. The passage as a whole is a prophetic fore view of the triumph of the 144,000 when Christ returns. Indeed, they are called blameless in Verse Five. They follow the Lamb both morally and spiritually wherever He goes. Just as Jesus was the firstfruits of the resurrection as Paul stated in 1 Corinthians 15:22-23 (NIV), these 144,000 Jewish evangelists are the “firstfruits” of those to be saved during the Tribulation. These 144,00 were redeemed from the earth as firstfruits for God and the Lamb. In 1 Corinthians 15:22-23 (NIV) Paul writes:
22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him.

The word “firstfruits” suggests that these converted Israelites precede many others who at the Lord’s second coming will turn to Him. There will be a multitude saved during the Tribulation period but these 144,000 are presented to God the Father and God the Son as the initial harvest of those redeemed from humanity.

Their description closes in Verse Five with the statement that they were blameless in contrast to apostates who are described as “blots” or “blemishes” in 2 Peter 2:13-15 (NIV):
13 They will be paid back with harm for the harm they have done. Their idea of pleasure is to carouse in broad daylight. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their pleasures while they feast with you. 14 With eyes full of adultery, they never stop sinning; they seduce the unstable; they are experts in greed--an accursed brood! 15 They have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of Balaam son of Beor, who loved the wages of wickedness. 

How very important this makes the life and testimony of any believer who seeks to emulate these who in this most trying time do not compromise with error or defile themselves with impurity. Christians are exhorted to be “holy and blameless before Him” as Paul tells us in Ephesians 1:4 (NIV):
4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. 

As well as “Holy and without blemish” as Paul states in Ephesians 5:27 (NIV):
27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 

And Peter adds in 1 Peter 1:17-19 (NIV):
17 Since you call on a Father who judges each man’s work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear. 18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 

Lastly, Paul states in Colossians 1:22 (NIV):
22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation—

It matters greatly how we live our lives. We are not to blend with the world rather shine like stars in the universe as we hold out the Word of life. Just as the 144,000 had a calling on their lives to shine forth, so too, we.

Paul tells us in Ephesians 5:15 (NIV):
15 Be very careful, then, how you live--not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. 

Next we discover in Revelation 14:6-7 John given the vision of another angel flying overhead proclaiming an eternal Gospel to those who dwell on earth –  every nation, tribe, language and people. To every people group on earth. How like our loving Father. Again, it is not too late to turn.  Jesus tells us in Matthew 24:3-14 (NIV):
3 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” 4 Jesus answered:  “Watch out that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. 6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 7 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of birth pains. 9 “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” 

Jesus states similar words in Mark 13:10 (NIV):  
10 “And the gospel must first be preached to all nations.” 

John’s vision was that of an angel carrying the sweet message of the eternal Gospel to the whole earth warning of the coming judgment and condemnation for those who do not turn. Even though judgment and persecution are being presently poured out on the earth, widespread evangelism will also be occurring. Multitudes will persist in their great rebellion against God but multitudes will also heed the call to fear God and give Him glory as well. Again, if we live and breathe it is never too late to turn to the Lord. The worship of God Who created the heaven’s and the earth, the sea and the springs of water stands as a great contrast to Satan and the Anti-Christ who do not create rather destroy.

In Revelation 14:8 a second angel is introduced who proclaims the fall of Babylon the Great. The repetition of the phrase “fallen” is for emphasis.    Prophetically, Babylon sometimes refers to a physical city, sometimes to a religious system, and sometimes to a political system, all stemming from the evil character of historic Babylon.  It stands for a debased, corrupt and evil filled world system filled with promiscuity and defilement  –  think Sodom and Gomorrah think Noah’s time pre-flood. It encompasses all that God is against. 

Since the context here seems to deal primarily with the end of the Great Tribulation and the beginning of the millennial kingdom, this reference seems to be to the literal city that will be coming to her ruin in Chapter 18. The fall of Babylon is due to “the maddening wine of her adulteries”. Her sexual immoralities caused the wine of God’s wrath to be upon her. The resultant meaning is that the nations who participate in the spiritual corruption induced by Babylon ultimately share in her divine condemnation and judgment. Like the pronouncement of the previous angel and the other prophesies of Chapter 14, the promise of judgment upon the evil Babylonian system is designed to bring comfort to those in the throes of the trials of the Great Tribulation and a final opportunity for those who have not yet accepted the Lord. God will right every wrong.

“Babylon the Great” depicts the system of false religion and rebellion against God which  Satan and the two beasts established. Unlike the worship of God, which will forever endure, this false world view, religion, and evil government will prove temporary. Nevertheless, it will entice all the nations to indulge fleshly lusts such as the craving for sexual immorality, pride and greed which will unavoidably bring forth God’s wrath.   

In Revelation 14:9-12 John introduces a third angel who immediately adds to the pronouncement of the previous angel. The third angel proclaims the certain and sad doom for those who worship the beast and his image and who receive his mark on the forehead or on the hand. In so doing they have positioned themselves against God and thus will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of His anger. The mark of the beast - 666 – may appear to be a harmless formality to enable commerce but it is anything but that. It designates its recipients for God’s judgment at full strength in hell – a place of everlasting torment.

Those who reject God’s offer of mercy in Christ Jesus will not simply die and pass into unconsciousness. Rather, their conscious torment will go on eternally - forever and ever. One aspect of that torment is the lack of rest both day and night. Hell is the separation from God and God is the One Who gives rest, peace and life in abundance. While hell is the place of no rest heaven is the place of eternal rest.

Some want to deny the reality of hell and the idea of eternal punishment for those who reject Christ. Yet Jesus referred to hell in eleven out of its twelve occurrences in the New Testament, and He made twelve out of the nineteen  references to hell fire. Our Savior used such expressions more than any other person in the New Testament. Also, the same Scripture that assures all Christians of the love and grace of God extended to those who trust in Christ is indisputable in its statements of judgment upon evil.  The righteousness of God is as relentless as the love of God is infinite.  Those who spurn Jesus forfeit the love of God. The word fire points to the awful consequences and comprehensive nature of God’s judgment. I am reminded of God’s words in Deuteronomy 32:18-22 (NIV):
18 You deserted the Rock, who fathered you; you forgot the God who gave you birth. 19 The LORD saw this and rejected them because he was angered by his sons and daughters. 20 “I will hide my face from them,” he said, “and see what their end will be; for they are a perverse generation, children who are unfaithful. 21 They made me jealous by what is no god and angered me with their worthless idols. I will make them envious by those who are not a people;
I will make them angry by a nation that has no understanding. 22 For a fire has been kindled by my wrath, one that burns to the realm of death below.
It will devour the earth and its harvests and set afire the foundations of the mountains. 
Again, the torment of the lost is not a momentary one. Indeed, the Greek wording described in Verse 11 is the strongest expression of eternity of which the Greek is capable. To emphasize the idea of continued suffering those there are declared to have no rest from the horror – day or night – for ever and ever. How very dangerous it is for people to trifle with false religions which dishonor the incarnate Word and contradict the written Word.      

Certainly this reality should motivate those who love the Lord Jesus to persevere in their trials and tribulations and draw nearer and nearer to the Savior. While this is a stern warning for those who continue to reject Jesus it remains as an encouragement for those who put their trust and faith in Christ Jesus, particularly in the perilous times of the Great Tribulation.  While most assuredly some will be martyred for their faith and others must go into hiding their lot is far more preferable than those who seem to take the easy way out. This will call for the patient endurance of the saints as Scripture tells us.  

There is a proper link between works and faith represented here in Verse 12, which is necessary for all ages but most especially during the Great Tribulation. It is not our works that save us, rather they are proof that we are saved. Ephesians 2:8-10 tells us:
8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-- 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. 
In Verse 13 we are told that those who die in the Lord during the Great Tribulation are blessed as they rest from their labors. They have undergone much persecution, trials and torments and are now experiencing the perfect peace, joy and rest from the horror they have walked through. Certainly this is a fate quite opposite of those who willingly receive the mark of the beast.

Interestingly, in Verse 13 John hears a voice from heaven pronouncing a  blessing upon those who die in the Lord Jesus as martyrs for their faith during this period. It appears to be a direct  communication from God as contrasted with communication with an angel. The implication of this is that it is an unusually important announcement. The blessing is repeated by the Holy Spirit reinforcing this divine pronouncement. 

This passage is often quoted in regard to God’s general blessings on all Christians, but the context indicates that the blessing is especially true for those who die during the Great Tribulation. For them, it is a blessed release from the persecution, torture, and trials that they walked through as well as a sweet deliverance into the glorious presence of the Lord Jesus Christ.  
In Revelation 14 Verses 14-20 we see the end of His-story rapidly approaching.  Verse Fourteen opens with Jesus (the Son of Man) seated on a white cloud with a golden crown on His head and a sharp sickle in His hand. The sickle in His hand suggests impending judgment. And this is supported by the messages of the three angels. The sickle represents the instrument to be used to inflict this judgment and death on those who have rejected God. It is mentioned six times in five verses (Verses 14-18).  It underscores the impending doom coming to those who willingly and persistently reject God and His Provision for Salvation, the Lord Jesus Christ. Since the sickle is a tool used to harvest crops it makes it an appropriate metaphor for divine judgment because a harvest of the people’s deeds throughout their earthly lifetime is now in view. The One seated on the cloud swung His sickle over the earth and it was harvested (Verse 16).    
In Verse 17 we are told another angel came out of the temple in heaven and he too had a sharp sickle. The use of angels to assist in the harvest of the earth is now stated explicitly. This angel also has a sharp sickle indicating the severity of the judgment and is exhorted by another angel to begin reaping. Yet another angel comes who is said to have power over fire, perhaps indicating the purging judgment of which he is capable. The ripe grapes picture grapes fully grown in their prime and bursting with juice. The time has come for the final harvest. The angel swings his sickle across the earth and throws the harvested clusters into “the great winepress of the wrath of God.” This is a picture of ultimate judgment of unbelievers at the second coming of Christ. The passage speaks prophetically of that which will chronologically follow the return of Christ to the earth.  
The spurting of the grape juice from under the bare feet of those treading the grapes in the winepress is compared to the spurting of blood and speaks of the awful human carnage. This blood flow is a tremendous outpouring of God’s final judgment on evil mankind. The bloodletting will be so severe it is said to splatter up the level of a horse’s bridal for approximately 180 miles.       
Revelation Chapter Fourteen emphasizes first the protection of the 144,000 Jewish evangelists throughout the tribulation period. They will be preserved and protected by the mighty hand of God triumphantly through it all. Secondly, the rest of the chapter is devoted to various pronouncements of divine judgments upon a very evil world – reassuring the tribulation saints  that though they may suffer greatly and may even be martyred, God’s ultimate justice will prevail and triumph, evil will be judged and they will be rewarded. One never outgives God.  
The implications for us today are plain. We are presently in the day of Grace but what is true of the tribulation is also true today in that God will ultimately judge all people. The invitation continues to be open to receive the grace of God by trusting in Christ Jesus for the cleansing of our sins.  Only those who are in Christ will be able to stand in the judgment. But also Paul tells believers that God will test the quality of each man’s work and we are to careful how we build on the foundation of Jesus in 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 (NIV):
10 By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. 11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work. 14 If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. 15 If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.  

This addresses rewards for the believer’s works. Fire will test the quality of each man’s work. This is not a judgment for salvation, rather a judgment of our works. Believers are sealed with the blood of Jesus Who covers all our sins. It is a call to all to build rightly and not to waste our lives. Be very careful then how you live. Praise Him!

These are Beth’s personal notes, due to this fact sources are not often stated.

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