Sunday, May 24, 2009

Revelation 14

In Revelation 7, John witnessed the sealing of these 144,000. Now, in Revelation 14, John witnesses the martyrdom of this multitude of Jewish Christians.

“Then I looked, and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His Father’s name written on their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven, like the voice of many waters, and like the voice of loud thunder. And I heard the sound of harpists playing their harps. They sang as it were a new song before the throne, before the four living creatures, and the elders; and no one could learn that song except the hundred and forty-four thousand who were redeemed from the earth. These are the ones who were not defiled with women, for they are virgins. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These were redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb. And in their mouth was found no deceit, for they are without fault before the throne of God” (Revelation 14:1-5).

These 144,000 are the firstfruits of the New Covenant, as well as the final harvest from the Old Covenant.

Next, three angels make pronouncements.

“Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth--to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people – saying with a loud voice, ‘Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water’” (Revelation 14:6-7).

The first angel commands that these martyrs are to preach the gospel to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people.

“And another angel followed, saying, ‘Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she has made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication’” (Revelation 14:8).

The second angel announces that Babylon has fallen. Babylon is a symbolic name for Jerusalem, who has become apostate. God will later describe Jerusalem as a great harlot who is guilty of fornicating with the nations.

“Then a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, ‘If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. 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 ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name. Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.’

Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, ‘Write: “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.”’

‘Yes,’ says the Spirit, ‘that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them’” (Revelation 14:9-13).

Whoever worships the sea beast (Nero) will suffer the wrath of God forever. Conversely, the saints who are martyred will receive eternal comfort.

“Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and on the cloud sat One like 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 who sat on the cloud, ‘Thrust in Your sickle and reap, for the time has come for You to reap, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.’ So He who sat on the cloud thrust in His sickle on the earth, and the earth was reaped” (Revelation 14:14-16).

Jesus is the One like the Son of Man with a golden crown. He thrusts his sickle into the earth and reaps. This is the salvation and martyrdom of the 144,000. Jesus said that the fields were ripe for the harvest, and now he reaps his harvest. This is the grain harvest.

“Then 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, who had power over fire, and he cried with a loud cry to him who had the sharp sickle, saying, ‘Thrust in your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth, for her grapes are fully ripe.’ So the angel thrust his sickle into the earth and gathered the vine of the earth, and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. And the winepress was trampled outside the city, and blood came out of the winepress, up to the horses’ bridles, for one thousand six hundred furlongs” (Revelation 14:17-20).

Another angel cries out for another harvest, the grape harvest. Grain and grapes produce bread and wine. This is a sacramental harvest of the church.

The saints (symbolically grapes) are martyred outside the city (Jerusalem), just as Jesus was. The blood from their martyrdom fuels the winepress of the wrath of God. The blood of the martyrs covers the land and cries out for vengeance. This vengeance comes with the pouring out of the bowls of wrath.

1 comment:

Frontier Forest said...

In reading this chapter on God’s wrath and righteous anger, my mind quickens to what He has in store for the millions of radical Muslims whose sole purpose in life is to murder, steel and plunder any and every person who would dare disagree with them. I wonder how Jesus will address those on His left? What will He say to each of them? I just think the “goat” dialog of Matthew 25:41-45 is far too soft of punishment! But then, if it weren’t for His grace, and forgiving mercy, I deserve the same death too.