Scripture Focus- Revelation 14
Revelation is a prediction about the future, and a promise, of what still remains unfulfilled but which will come to pass.
Ch 1:1 The revelation of Jesus Christ that God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place.
Why is prophecy in the Bible so important?
Prophecy is all through the Bible. Prophecy keeps us focused on a kingdom agenda. Prophecy keeps us from being deceived. Prophecy prepares us for what is to come. Prophecy encourages godly living. Prophecy reminds us our God is faithful and can be trusted. Prophecy gives us hope.
We are in the middle of Chapters 6-19, which focuses on the time of the Tribulation in the future, which will take place before the Second Coming of Jesus. John the Apostle saw in the right hand of God a scroll with writing on both sides, sealed with seven seals. The scroll is perhaps symbolic of the title deed of the earth, and most certainly represents the events to come in the judgment during the time of the Great Tribulation. The triumphant Lamb of God steps forward and takes the scroll. There are seven seals in the scroll. Seals 1-4 cover the first half of the Tribulation. Seal 5 bridges to the second half of the Tribulation.
The first five seals-false peace, war, famine, death, and vengeance describe the preliminary judgments leading to the full outpouring of the wrath of God. As bad as these judgments are, they are not nearly as intense as the terrors of the sixth seal. Seals 6-7 describe the intensity of the Great Tribulation. The 7th seal contains the 7 Trumpet Judgments and 7 Bowl Judgments. This is the last of the seven seals marking the prophetic judgments of God to come in the Tribulation. Chapter 11 v15 tells of the sounding of the seventh trumpet, but the judgments associated with it will not unfold until Chapter 15. Chapters 12-13 tell of Satan, Antichrist, the false prophet, idolatry, and the mark of the beast.
We come to Chapter 14. This is in a parenthetical section. This section began in chapter 10 and runs through chapter 15. These chapters do not move forward chronologically. Instead John sees visions of peoples and events that encompass the tribulation period. Revelation 14 serves as a timeout to provide encouragement by telling of the ultimate triumph for those who refuse the beast’s mark and to predict the doom of those who do receive it. Chapter 14 contains three visions that are a preview of judgments to come leading up to the return of Jesus. We will read about the Lamb of God, redemption, worship, those sealed by God, and judgment.
The imagery is that of the harvest. For us, harvest time is not of great importance because we are so far removed from our food supply. But in the days of the Bible, and as in any agricultural area today, the harvest was and is an important season. In the Gospels, Jesus used the imagery spiritually and referred to the harvest of souls. He said in Matthew 13:39 The harvest is the end of the age.
There are servants in the harvest. Vv1-5
The Lamb-John sees a vision of the Lamb standing on Mt. Zion. The Lamb in Revelation is said to have been slain and exalted, and is the Redeemer of the lost, the Shepherd of His people, and the Lord of Lords and King of Kings.
The 144,000-This is the same group identified in Ch 7:4-8, with 12,000 Jewish believers from each of the twelve tribes of Israel, who are Jewish Evangelists. Some believe the number is symbolic of Tribulation saints in general and not a specific number but that is not the case.
The 144,000 have the name of the Lamb and His Father’s name written on their foreheads. Unbelievers will have received the mark of the beast. The 144,000 will have the mark of God for their protection. God will not allow them to be harmed. The 144,000 will survive Satan’s wrath, persecution, and will be kept through the judgments on the earth. When Jesus returns and stands on Mt. Zion, they will be there with him in victory. Additionally, a large number of Jews and Gentiles will come to Christ during the Tribulation.
There is a sound from heaven like the sound of cascading waters and like the rumbling of loud thunder. John says it is like harpists playing on their harps. They sang a new song before the throne and four living creatures, and the elders. The new song is a song of redemption for those who have been saved by the blood of the Lamb.
Notice the characteristics of the servants:
The servants are pure in their service to God. They have not defiled themselves. The tribulation time will be incredibly evil. Sexual sin, which these evangelists have avoided, is symbolic of the corrupt and sinful world system.
1 Thessalonians 4:3 For this is God’s will, your sanctification: that you keep away from sexual immorality.
The servants follow the Lamb wherever he goes.
John 10:27 My sheep hear my voice, I know them, and they follow me.
The servants speak truth.
Ephesians 4:25 Therefore, putting away lying, speak the truth, each one to his neighbor.
The servants are blameless.
Colossians 1:22 But now he has reconciled you by his physical body through his death, to present you holy, faultless, and blameless before him.
The lives of these servants is a pattern for us to live as faithful servants to Christ. Our character matters in service to Christ in the harvest.
There is a proclamation in the harvest. Vv6-13
The proclamation is about the eternal gospel, the message of forgiveness and eternal life in Jesus.
The first angel is depicted as flying high overhead with the eternal gospel to announce to every nation, tribe, language and people. People are told to fear God and give him glory. Worship the one who made heaven and earth!
The proclamation includes the certainty of judgment.
The second angel pronounces judgment. Babylon has always been a symbol of evil and rebellion against God. Babylon’s fall will be complete and devastating.
The Antichrist’s empire, which seemed so overwhelmingly powerful, will be defeated in judgment. This is representative not only of a city but of a worldwide religious, political, and economic rule.
The proclamation includes what follows judgment.
The third angelwill deliver his message loudly for all to hear. All who spend eternity in hell will do so because they have rejected God. The warning is given to anyone who worships the beast and his image and has received a mark on their forehead or hand.
All who drink the wine of Babylon, will also drink of God’s wrath. God’s wrath is said to be poured full strength into the cup of his anger. The person who drinks of the wrath of God will be tormented with fire and sulfur.
The three angels proclaim the last hope, the last opportunity to repent and believe before Jesus returns. Most will ignore the warnings.
Our proclamation matters in service to Christ in the harvest.
There is fruit in the harvest. Vv14-20
The fruit here is the fruit of judgment. The Lord Jesus is seen coming to establish his kingdom. The white cloud represents his glory. The phrase, “one like a son of man” is from Daniel’s OT prophecy.
The crown on his head is the victor’s crown and he has a sickle in his hand. A sickle was a sharp iron blade in a curved shape, with a handle on it, and was used to harvest grain by hand.
The grain harvest- An angel came out of the temple and said with a loud voice to Jesus, Use your sickle and reap, for the time to reap has come, since the harvest of the earth is ripe. The one on the throne swung his sickle over the earth and the earth was harvested. The time for God’s judgment will have come.
In the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares, the Son of Man is said to sow good seed in the world, children of the kingdom. The devil sows weeds. The harvest comes at the end of the age. The weeds are gathered and burned in the fire. The righteous will be gathered to God. (Matthew 13)
The grain harvest also symbolizes the seven bowl judgments.
The grape harvest- Another angel also with a sickle came out of the temple. Another angel with authority over fire came from the altar and cried out to the other one to use his sickle and gather the grapes, so he did. The grapes were thrown into the great winepress of God’s wrath.
The enemies of God who make it through the seven bowl judgments will be gathered like clusters of grapes from the vine and put into the wine press. The wine press was two stone basins connected by a trough. Grapes would be trampled in one basin, and juice would be collected in the lower one.
The grape harvest represents the judgment of Armageddon. The battle of Armageddon will happen in the northern part of Israel near Mount Megiddo (60 miles north of Jerusalem). It will be a bloodbath with millions of people involved as the nations gather to oppose the Lord Jesus Christ. The battle will be so intense that the blood will be up to the bridles of the horses for 180 miles. We will see more about this in Revelation 19. When Jesus returns, Antichrist, the false prophet, demonic forces, and all human enemies will be destroyed.
The fruit in the harvest are those who belong to God, and also judgment on those who do not.
V13 Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on. Yes, says the Spirit, so they will rest from their labors, since their works follow them.
Those who had died, and all who will die, have this promise of blessing when dying in the Lord.
Those who die in the Lord will rest from their labors-Labors= difficult, exhausting work.
Those who die in the Lord will have their works follow them and will be rewarded for their labors- God will reward service to him.
How do we get to v13? Look back to v12-Endure, keep God’s commands, keep your faith in Jesus.