Revelation: Chapter 14
As seen in the chronology of Revelation, John is viewing all of the events from the vantage point in heaven and the effects on earth.
Though most of this chapter is self-explanatory, the beginning of this chapter does raise up controversy concerning the identity of the 144,000. There is a second section in this chapter whose interpretation is also debated, which concerns the identity of the man seated on the clouds with a sickle. Both subjects will be discussed on this web page.
In Revelation 14:1, John observes before him the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion. The Lamb is Christ as seen in Revelation 5:6-7. There two references to Mount Zion, one which is Jerusalem, 2Samuel 5:6-7, and the second is in heaven, Hebrews 12:22-24. The latter is what will descend on earth after the great white throne judgment and remain on earth for eternity future, Revelation 21:1-4. John views a 144,000 who are identified with the Lamb. They all have the Lord's and the Father's name written on their foreheads. The identity of this group has been argued to be the same group found in Revelation 7:2-8, who were sealed on their foreheads. However, others have argued that this represents the tribulation saints since more details are given to describe this group than the previous group in Revelation 7:2-8. This may be similar to when Christ rose from the dead, there were many Old Testament saints who were dead, that were also resurrected with Jesus, andy they appeared to many in Jerusalem, Matthew 27:52-53. They were the wave offering of Christ Jesus before the throne of God, in celebration of the feast of first fruits, even though the Lord had already chosen His apostles. In a similar way, the first 144,000 in revelation 7:3-8 were chosen, but since there is a special blessings for those who die in the second half, or as Jesus called it, the great tribulation, Matthew 24:21. This 144,000 that comes from that time is like those where were the wave offering, being set apart for God's glory.
The group in Revelation 7:1-17 was sealed before the opening of the 7th seal, and was to be spared from the impending judgments from God. Their numbers were composed of 12,000 individuals taken from 12 tribes of Israel, and they were sent out to spread the gospel as inferred by the innumerable multitude before the throne which is immediately referenced after the sealing of the 144,000. The only requirement to be in this group, besides being a believer in Christ, is that there were from one of the named 12 tribes; see the link on the 144,000. The result of their efforts is inferred by the innumerable multitude before the throne which is immediately referenced after the sealing of the 144,000. The only requirement to be in this group was to be in one of the identified twelve tribes.
The group identified in this chapter of Revelation 14 is similar to the first group in Revelation 7 because of two reasons; their total number is the same, and they have the Father's name on their forehead. The identity of this group is tied to Mount Zion, which could either be the earthly Jerusalem or the heavenly Zion.
In Revelation 14:2, John heard a sound from heaven like the roar of rushing waters and the peal of thunder. This is what John reports that he heard in Revelation 19:5-7, which is associated with the multitude before the throne of God, and he also heard the sound of harp playing, which occurred earlier before the throne of God with the four living creatures and the 24 elders fell before His throne with harps and bowls filled with the prayers of the Saints singing a new song, Revelation 5:8-10.
In Revelation 14:3, John identifies the source of the sound in this chapter, as before the throne of God, and before the four living creatures, and the 24 elders. The only groups left not accounted for are the Old Testament saints and the tribulation saints, the latter being the most likely source singing the new song since it is current to the existing situation on earth. No one could learn the song except the 144,000, which would imply that this group is not present in heaven, but still on earth at the beginning of the Millennial reign of Jesus Christ. This group is identified as having been redeemed from the earth. Their song was new as were other new songs in scripture that were sung to mark their deliverance and acknowledge the work of the Lord toward those whom He loves:
- The song of Moses after the destruction of Pharaoh's chariots in the Red Sea, Exodus 15:1-21
- When God gave them water during their wilderness journey, Numbers 21:17-18
- Future deliverance of Israel, Deuteronomy 32:1-43, Isaiah 42:10-13
- Deborah and Barak, Judges 5
- David from his enemies, Psalms 144:9-15
Having gone through the tribulation and ever before the Lord, they may well be the singers in the millennial temple as David had assigned singers for Solomon's Temple, as J.Vernon McGee stated, there is harmony between heaven and earth. The Tribulation Saints are to serve the Lord in His temple forever, Revelation 7:14-17.
In Revelation 14:4-5, the characteristics of this group are given as:
- Not defiled by women (during the tribulation, there will be even greater immorality than we experience now), related to spiritual not physical (i.e., succumbing to the wiles of Satan and the Antichrist)
- They are virgins (or pure in heart to Christ and have His righteousness)
- They follow the Lamb wherever he goes
- They are identified as the first fruits to God and the Lamb (which is related to the innumerable multitude before the throne with the palms in their hands)
- In their mouth was found no deceit, Romans 1:25
- They are blameless
The characteristics of this group are given as the first fruits to God and the Lamb. After the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, that many other holy people were raised from the dead as the first fruits of the resurrection, Jesus being the first fruit, Matthew 27:52-53, 1Corinthians 15:20. Following the resurrection the Disciples had received the breath of Christ over them in advance of the Holy Spirit and continued to serve the Lord in their own earthly ministries, John 20:19-23. Both groups were drawn from the same pool of people. Likewise, the 144,000 were two groups both drawn from the tribulation era. If the 144,000 are in the heavenly Zion, they it would be likely that they are composed of the tribulation saints, but if they are still on earth, then they are the same group as identified in Revelation 7. If they are they are the former, there would be a strong parallel with the experience of Israel as they were borne by the Lord during the Exodus.
- Israel was redeemed from Egypt, Exodus 6:6
- They were protected from Pharaoh's armies at the Red Sea, never to see them again, and provided for during the entire 40 years of wondering in the desert
- The Lord will preserve and provide for the 144,000 during the tribulation entire tribulation period
- The Lord will reward those nations at the beginning of His millennial reign who feed, shelter and cloth His witnesses, Matthew 25:31-46
- Being Jews, they will be the few to survive the tribulation period and will ever be before the Lord, going wherever he goes
- Since the temple of the Lord will be in Jerusalem, and they are of the nation of Israel, Jerusalem will be their home for the millennium
- They are offered to God and the Lord as the first fruit Ezekiel 44:9 into the Kingdom of God during the Lord's millennial reign, Leviticus 23:9-14
- There is no deceit found in them, Zechariah 14:20-21
- They were blameless, as their righteousness comes from the one they believe in, Jesus Christ, and they did not succumb to the lies or deceits of Satan, the Antichrist, nor the false prophet
The following table provides a summary of the remainder of the chapter, listing the seven angels that have significant missions during the last half of the tribulation period.
|declaring||The first angel||Proclaiming the everlasting gospel||Revelation 14:6-7|
|declaring||The second angel||The announcement that Babylon is fallen||Revelation 14:8|
|declaring||The third angel||Warning against following the beast||Revelation 14:9-11|
|Reaping||Another angel (Jesus Christ?)||Reaping the world||Revelation 14:14,
|Reaping||Another angel||Calls out to reap||Revelation 14:15|
|Reaping||Another angel||Another sharp sickle||Revelation 14:17,
|Reaping||Another angel||Calls out to the 6th angel to gather the cluster of grapes||Revelation 14:18|
In Revelation 14:6-7, John observes and hears an angel flying in the "atmosphere" proclaiming the eternal gospel. This is the time that the Lord referred to as being the worst of all human history, Matthew 24:21-22, and a time when Daniel prophesied that the Antichrist would prevail against the saints, Daniel 7:20-21. God will not be without His witness in the world, and now angels will appear to present the word of God and warnings to those still alive on earth; they will see and hear these things. Again, this is during the full reign of the Antichrist and the false prophet during the last half of the tribulation period, and commerce, communication and livelihood are now under their control.
The eternal gospel announced throughout the world by the first angel is:
- Fear God and give Him glory
- The hour of His judgment has come
- Worship Him who made the heavens, earth, sea, and springs of water
This will be an encouragement to those still living on earth during this terrible time in the tribulation, Revelation 7:9-14, Luke 21:28; Psalms 96:11-13; Isaiah 35:4-10.
In Revelation 14:8, John observes and hears another angel following, so it is assumed that this angel is flying in the "atmosphere" calling out its proclamation that "Babylon is fallen", similar to Revelation 8:13. Some assume that this is allegorical to Rome, but a literal view would be that Babylon will be rebuilt, occupied and fully functioning during the tribulation era. Other references to the fall of Babylon as the religious, commercial center of the world, and its rapid extinction are seen in Revelation 16:1-21, Revelation 17:1-18, Revelation chapter 17, Revelation 18:1-24 and Revelation chapter 18. The complete fall of Babylon is also seen in Isaiah 21:9, and Jeremiah 25:15-16.
In Revelation 14:9-11, John now observes and hears a third angel, who is assumed to be flying in the "atmosphere" calling out its warning to earth's inhabitants. The warning is directed to those that have not yet worshiped or taken the number of the beast and warns against either:
- Worshiping the beast, or
- Worshiping the image of the beast, or
- Receiving the mark of the beast on the forehead or hand
The warnings explain that the judgment against those who do, will drink from God's full strength of His wrath, and it will not be diluted for respect of any person, and those who do any of the three above are destined to be tormented with burning sulfur, where the worm will not die, Isaiah 66:24, Mark 9:48-49. This judgment will be in the presence of the angels and the Lamb. There is no indication that the saints will observe this, but the torment of those who do the things that they were warned of, will last for eternity.
This is a very sobering message to all mankind. First the message of judgment was announced, and later the message of damnation for those rejecting Christ.Accepting the mark of the beast or worshipping the beast is a fatal decision for eternity. There is no forgiveness once this decision is made. The emphasis in the previous chapter was that those whose names were not written in the Lamb's book of life before the foundation of the earth were condemned. It is also interesting to note that this view is visible to the angels and the Lamb, but no mention is made of the elders, and other representatives in heaven such as the church. This may have to do with the angels and the Lamb having witnessed all this sin that has occurred in this world since Abel's death, and now see the testimony of Christ's long awaited righteous judgment which will ever be before them.
In Revelation 14:12-13, the saints are called upon to exercise patient endurance, those who obey God's commandments and remain faithful to Jesus, Exodus 20:3-17, Mark 12:29-31. This is not the time if one faced either their own death or the death of loved ones, to succumb to the decision and take the mark of the beast or worship him. They are not to fear things they will suffer, but to hold fast to their faith as did the saints in the church of Smyrna, Revelation 2:10-11. The decisions made at this time are eternal, and judgments based on those decisions are irreversible. One cannot expect to placate the enemy and think that once out of danger that the decision can be washed away; it cannot be based on the previous warnings by the angels! There is no way to compromise out of the physical danger and enjoy eternity with Christ, 1Peter 4:1-5.
John hears another voice from heaven, and is told to write down the blessing to the tribulation saints. Again, these are the worst of times that Jesus spoke about in His Olivet Discourse, Matthew 24:21-22, but the Holy Spirit responds and states that they will rest from their labor and they will be rewarded. This and the other seven blessings found in the book of Revelation are listed in the following table. The blessing described in this chapter is highlighted in yellow.
|1||Revelation 1:3||Blessed are those who read, hear, and do what is written in this prophecy|
|2||Revelation 14:13||Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on|
|3||Revelation 16:15||Blessed is he who stays awake and keeps his clothes on him|
|4||Revelation 19:9||Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb|
|5||Revelation 20:6||Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection|
|6||Revelation 22:7||Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy in this book|
|7||Revelation 22:7||Blessed are those who wash their robes that they may have the right to the tree of life and go through the gates into the city|
In Revelation 14:14-16, a series of events are introduced. These events involve four more angelic introductions that occur in rapid succession. It is apparent that the events on earth parallel the events in heaven as seen in the previous chapters during this pause, (Revelation 10-14). As before, these events describe what is to occur in heaven during the last half of tribulation including Armageddon. The next person introduced is argued by some to be Jesus Christ, since the description in verse 14 is the same as given in Revelation 1:13, Daniel 7:13-14, and Mark 8:31-32. The person is viewed with a crown of gold on his head, a sharp sickle in his hand, and he is seated on the cloud.
Revelation 14:15 provides further details that may shed light on this one person some claim is Jesus Christ, and others, another angel. When another angel came out of the temple, he called to the person to reap because the harvest time has come and all is ripe. Having an angel call out to the Lord, or any other created being calling out or commanding the Lord to reap is problematic to definitively declare that person being called upon to be the Christ. This person may be like the mighty angel in Revelation 10, who reflects the characteristics of Christ because of his proximity to the throne, but he is not the Lord Jesus Christ. To further provide background to suggest strongly that this is not the Lord, consider the parable in Matthew, where the owner of the field said that he would send out reapers, not that he would join them, Matthew 13:30, 36-39.
Similar to what has already occurred, all of the judgments commence from the temple. An angel with the censor threw it with the fire from the altar. Here, the picture shows the angel emerging from the temple with his orders to commence the judgment for which they are prepared to execute. The point here is that this angel is sent directly from the temple of God to execute judgment and it cannot be the Lord. When the Lord returns, He will be seen coming on a white horse as described in Revelation 19:1-21. So, at the command, the angel with the sickle reaped the world, Revelation 14:16.
In Revelation 14:17-19, the events are similar to the pattern of the previous two individuals, another angel came out of the temple, Revelation 14:18, and this time he had a sharp sickle. Still another angel in charge of the fire came from the altar and called to the one with the sickle to gather the cluster of grapes from earth's vine. Once reaped, the grapes were thrown into the great winepress of God's wrath, Revelation 14:19. These grapes are the fruit of the whole world’s wickedness and is being judged by the Lord, Hosea 10:13. Note that one angel is charged with fire, suggesting the roles of angels in maintaining God's physical creation and governments, Daniel 10:1-21. In Revelation 7:1-4, four angels held back the winds and the angels associated with kingdoms. In Revelation 16:1-21 there is an angel in charge of the waters. These angelic activities precede the bowl judgments that are poured out by seven angels, Revelation 16:1-21.
Also in Revelation 14:20 events surrounding the battle Armageddon are described, with more material being provided in other pages in this web site in Revelation 16:1-21 and Revelation 19:1-21. The battle of Armageddon is graphically described as the grapes being trampled "OUTSIDE" of the city, which is Jerusalem. The result of the tremendous carnage is that blood flowed out as if from a press and rose as high as a horses' bridle. The length of these phenomena will be about 180 miles, which is about the length from Megiddo to Petra. There are many other scriptural passages exist that describe this most horrific time, such as, Psalms 2:1-12, Isaiah 34:1-15, Isaiah 63:1-6, Joel 3:1-17, Zechariah 12:1-15, and Malachi 4:1-5. To illustrate the magnitude of the horrors that will be experienced at the battle of Armageddon, since the forces from the East number 200 million, it is likely that the Beast's forces will at least be of equivalent strength if not greater in man-power. The net result is that approximately 1/2 billion men and women will be meeting in this battlefield and will be slaughtered. There will be no survivors. There will be no prisoners of war. This is the time spoken of in the book of Daniel that defines the end of the gentile era, Daniel 2:44-45.