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Revelation Fourteen

by Dr. Henry M. Morris

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

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Revelation 14:1 And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father's name written in their foreheads.

looked. Before the resumption of his account of the chronological events of the successive judgments, John is given another parenthetical insight to the background of these events. In this case, he is translated forward in time to the end of the tribulation period, when the triumphant Lamb will assemble with His 144,000 chosen Israelites on Mount Zion in Jerusalem. It is even possible that this will be the same assembly (or a precursive type thereof) as described in Hebrews 12:22-23. With the beast setting out to kill all Jews and all Christians, it is good for the Lord to give John (and us) a quick foretaste of the outcome of such Satanic fury. The Lamb indeed not only has the right to open the great title deed, but also the power to expel all the false pretenders to His rule, and all those redeemed by His blood will eventually stand with Him in triumph on Mt. Zion.

an hundred forty and four thousand. The 144,000 are not the “chosen few” (as some cults claim) or any others except the sealed Israelites, 12,000 from each tribe, as listed in Revelation 7:4-8. The seal placed in their foreheads, here revealed to have been simply the name of the heavenly Father, will indeed preserve them safe through all the judgments and persecutions of the tribulation period as they carry out their ministry of witness and teaching during those terrible years.

Revelation 14:2 And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps:

Revelation 14:3 And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth.

Revelation 14:4 These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb.

virgins. These will all apparently be young Israelite men, not yet married and having maintained their sexual purity throughout their young lives. They will have been specially chosen and prepared by God for this special ministry, presumably being raised in Orthodox Jewish homes, with deep respect for the Old Testament Scriptures, especially the Mosaic laws. Somehow, after the rapture of all believers shortly before the tribulation begins, they will have been led to recognize Jesus as their Messiah and Savior, resolving to dedicate their whole lives to Him at all costs. It will then be that God will have them sealed for their future service (Revelation 7:3).

firstfruits. These will be the “firstfruits” of the future Israel. At the end of the tribulation, no doubt in large measure through their witness, “all Israel shall be saved” (Romans 11:26; see also Zechariah 12:10).

Revelation 14:5 And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God.

Revelation 14:6 And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people,

everlasting gospel. This is the final, climactic, reference to the gospel in the Bible. It is called “everlasting,” so it can be no different from the gospel preached by Paul. In fact, it will be proclaimed by an angel from heaven, and Paul had specifically warned against any gospel preached by an angel if it was different from the gospel he preached (Galatians 1:8).

Revelation 14:7 Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.

loud voice. Evidently the angel will be flying from nation to nation, shouting it loudly enough so that everyone on earth can hear, so that all will hear the gospel one last time before it is too late.

worship him that made heaven. The angel thus recognizes, and so should we, that supernatural creation of all things by Jesus Christ (John 1:1-3) is the very foundation of His gospel. The gospel also includes His redeeming death and resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:1-4), plus His coming kingdom (Matthew 4:23), but these are meaningless and impossible without His prior work of creation (see also Colossians 1:16-20). Creationism is not simply a peripheral doctrine, but is foundational to everything else, and it will be absolutely essential in this coming time when evolutionary pantheistic humanism dominates the world.

Revelation 14:8 And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.

Babylon. This is the first mention of the city of Babylon by name in Revelation, but its revived existence as the capital of the beast has been intimated (Revelation 13:3). For further discussion on this important question, see the notes on Revelation 16:19-18:24. Although her fall will be 3½ years still in the future, this second angel (following the first, who is proclaiming the gospel) appropriately proclaims the certain destruction of the great enemy of the gospel.

fornication. See Isaiah 14:4-9 and Jeremiah 51:7.

Revelation 14:9 And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand,

Revelation 14:10 The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb:

Revelation 14:11 And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.

for ever and ever. A third angel quickly follows the first two, warning against receiving the mark of the beast. The doctrine of eternal punishment may be harsh, but it is true and it is reasonable as the just outcome for those who all their lives have spurned the grace and love of Christ, and His offer of free salvation.

Revelation 14:12 Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.

patience of the saints. Compare Revelation 13:10. Revelation 14:12-13 and Revelation 13:9-10 are both interjections in the narrative account to provide comfort and strength to the persecuted saints, many of whom may soon be slain by the agents of the beast.

Revelation 14:13 And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.

Revelation 14:14 And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle.

Son of man. The Lord Jesus has appeared to John in many different aspects of His person and work (Lamb, Rider, Angel), but here He returns to the first (and eternal) aspect, as the Son of man (Revelation 1:13). He is ready to reap the harvest of the earth, separating the few remaining stalks of wheat from the great mass of tares, and this is a judgment committed to the Son of man (Matthew 13:41; John 5:27).

Revelation 14:15 And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe.

out of the temple. The temple here is probably the Jerusalem temple. The angel has seen the abomination in the holy place and so pleads with the Son of man to proceed with His reaping. This reaping probably correlates with the ensuing bowl judgments.

Revelation 14:16 And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped.

Revelation 14:17 And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle.

Revelation 14:18 And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire; and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe.

from the altar. This angel apparently calls out from the altar of the earthly temple, urging that the vintage of the earth be trampled in the divine winepress. See also Joel 3:13; Revelation 19:15. This time the sickle of judgment is used not to reap a harvest of grain but rather to gather the vintage of grapes of the earth for the winepress of God.

Revelation 14:19 And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God.

Revelation 14:20 And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs.

unto the horse bridles. The scene here looks forward to the final slaughter of the armies of the beast at Armageddon. There may well be a multitude of perhaps two hundred million (compare Revelation 9:16) men (and maybe women also) clustered together, with many horses and various items of military equipment, all massed in a great phalanx extending from below Bozrah, deep in Edom, up beyond Megiddo and the plain of Armageddon, through the valley of Jezreel, with its center in the Judaean wilderness opposite Jerusalem, in what has been called “the valley of Jehoshaphat.” The distance of six hundred “furlongs” (Greek stadion) corresponds to 180 miles. If the phalanx averages a mile in width, the assumed two hundred million in the massed armies of the beast, with many animals as well, would barely have room to move. If the vast armies were to “explode” suddenly, the blood gushing out from man and beast would create a great trough of blood, draining up to the horse bridles in the valley center, like a great vat of grapes in a winepress bursting all at once. This same incredible scene was apparently seen in vision by some of the ancient prophets (note Isaiah 34:6; 63:1-4; Joel 3:12-13; Psalm 110:5, 6). These armies of the beast, gathered together to battle the returning Christ, will be instantly slain simply with the “sword” of His mouth. “And He was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: … and He treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God” (Revelation 19:13, 15). (On the invincible power of His Word, like a mighty sword, see also Isaiah 11:4; 2 Thessalonians 2:8 and Hebrews 4:12. On the massing of the world's armies to fight the Lord, see Revelation 16:13-16. On the final battle and their destruction, see Revelation 19:17-21.)