Revelation 14 - Outline of Revelation (Book Notes menu page)
14:1 And I looked, and, lo,
John sees a new vision. The reader is invited to "see for yourself":
a Lamb stood on the mount Sion,
and with him an hundred forty [and] four thousand,
{lit., his name and} his Father's name written in their foreheads. {cf. 13:16-18}
Ch. 13 described the unholy trinity prevailing in war against the saints on earth.
What will become of those who refuse identification with the Beast, because they belong to Christ?
In v.1-5, we are given a glimpse into the future, to an event on earth shortly after the reign of the beast.
When the Lord Jesus Christ establishes His Kingdom in Jerusalem (Mt. Zion), the 144,000 will stand with Him. These, who were sealed at the opening of the tribulation (see 7:2-4), will still be alive, at its conclusion, when Christ returns to earth. The Lamb, who is also the Great Shepherd of the Sheep, has lost not one. cp. 2Tim 2:19; Jude 1:24
on the mount Sion... 144,000...- Is this scene earthly or heavenly?
(Some interpreters allegorize this passage as depicting the church in heaven, or in the eternal Kingdom. Therefore, the following points are offered to counter that view.)
  1. The identity of the 144,000, as a specific group of Jewish men (from the 12 tribes of Israel), and as distinct from the church, was shown in the Book Notes on Rev. ch.7.
  2. The identity of mount Zion is shown by comparison with other passages.
         In the OT, 'Zion' {meaning: 'castle'} almost always refers to the earthly city (Jerusalem) where the LORD God chose to place His Name and visible glory in the Temple (Psa 48:2; 78:68; 132:11-14). In a few passages, 'Zion' may refer to the Lord's dwelling place in heaven, or in the earthly Temple, or both (eg., Psa 14:7; 134:3; Joel 3:16).
         In the NT, 'Zion' {Sion} occurs in seven passages. Five of those passages quote the OT, with reference to the earthly city. The other two include v.1 and Heb 12:22, where 'mount Zion' depicts the present heavenly spiritual position of the Church of Christ. However, the present standing, of Church age believers, neither fulfills nor displaces God's long standing promises to Israel of future restoration of the Davidic Kingdom in Jerusalem. Consider...
    • The church has present access to the heavenly Zion.
      Believers are already spiritually present with the Lord in "the heavenly Jerusalem" (Heb 12:22-24). Those who are born again, through faith in Christ, are under the New Covenant in His blood, which the passage contrasts with the former Covenant (the OT Law) which was given at Mt. Sinai (Heb 12:18-21). Therefore, believers can face death with confidence, knowing that "to be absent from the body" is "to be present with the Lord" (2Cor 5:8). Yet, even while they in the flesh, the redeemed are already seated with Him in the heavenlies (Eph 2:6), where Christ is seated at the right hand of God the Father.
    • In the future, when the time is right, Christ will come out of the heavenly Zion,
      to deliver His people (the believing remnant of Israel) from their enemies, and to rule the earth from His throne on the earthly mount Zion (Psa 110:1-3; Rom 11:26,27; Joel 2:30-32).
      At His return, He will regather His people, and restore Israel as the dominant nation among earth's nations. He will rule His earthly Kingdom with a rod of iron, exercising true justice upon all forms of sin. (In contrast, His eternal Kingdom will be completely free of corruption. Rev 21:27) See Psa 2:6-9; Mic 4:1-8 (Isa 2:1-5 is parallel); Zech 1:14-17; 2:7-13; 8:2,3
    Thus, verses 1-5 look forward to the end of the Tribulation and the beginning of Christ's Millennial Kingdom, with specific application to 144,000 Jewish believers, who will stand with Christ on the earthly mount Zion, at that time.
having "His Name and His Father's Name" in their foreheads - cf. "the seal of the living God" (7:2).
It may be that, at the time of their sealing, these Jewish men have a sincere faith in God, but have not yet recognized Christ as their Messiah. However, as the firstfruits among their brethren (v.4), they will turn to Christ early in Israel's Tribulation (the Time of Jacob's Trouble). Through their witness many Jews and Gentiles will come to faith in the Savior (7:9,10).
14:2 And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters,
and as the voice of a great thunder:
The voices of several choirs may mingle here:
-- First, the OT and Church saints in heaven, in harmony with the voice of the Lord. cp. 1:15; 19:6,11,14
and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps:
-- Second, the martyred tribulation saints (also in heaven). cp. 15:2; 6:9-11; 7:9-17
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.
they- (refers back to v.1)
-- The third choir is the 144,000.
before the throne...- before- GK= enopion, lit., in the sight of (often translated 'in the presence of')
Based on this word, some believe the 144,000 must be in heaven as they sing. The word does not require it. John says he saw them standing with the Lord, on Mount Zion, which is on the earth.
a new song- the GK without the definite article emphasizes the newness of the song. cp. Rev 5:9
no one could learn- The experience of the 144,000 is unique.
14:4 These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins.
these are they- the repetition of this phrase (twice in this verse)
sets them apart from others in honor & character.
not defiled... virgins- Shows their moral & spiritual purity.
During a time of moral corruption & spiritual fornication (cf. 9:21; 17:2; 19:2),
they were not seduced by "another Jesus... another spirit... another gospel." 2Cor 11:2-4
virgins- implies they were unmarried, perhaps due to the distress of the time,
and also to dedicate themselves fully to the Lord's service.
cp. 1Cor 7:25-28,32-33; Jer 16:1-4; Mat 19:12; 24:19
These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth.
They had not shrunk back from suffering for Christ's sake, in the time of trouble.
In His Kingdom, they will experience the refreshing of His Presence. (cp. 7:17)
These were redeemed from among men,
[being] the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb.
firstfruits- the beginnings of a greater harvest.
Christ is called "the firstfruits of them that slept" being the first of many to rise from the dead. So, during the tribulation (after the close of the Church Age), the 144,000 are the first Jewish people to repent and receive their Messiah. But in the end, "all Israel shall be saved."
1Cor 15:20,23; Rom 11:15-16,25-26; Zech 12:9,10; 13:1
14:5 And in their mouth was found no guile:
guile- GK= 'dolos', bait, snare, deceit. (Some MSS have "lie.")
no guile-
  • Being sincere in heart, they were receptive to the Truth.
    Compare the experience of Nathanael, "an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile" (cp. Joh 1:45-51).
    • Hearing that Jesus is Israel's Messiah, he had sincere doubts (Joh 1:45,46).
      [Likewise, the 144,000 may hear, but question the claims of Christ, prior to the Rapture of the true church.]
    • Personally confronted by Jesus, he believed (Joh 1:47-49).
      [Following the Rapture, as prophetic events unfold, the 144,000 will recognize and receive Jesus as their Messiah.]
    • Thereafter, he came to see that, upon Jesus, the covenant promises, of God toward Israel, would be fulfilled (Joh 1:50-51).
      Note Nathanael's declaration: "Thou art the Son of God; Thou art the King of Israel" (Joh 1:49).
           The 144,000 will share this absolute certainty concerning the identity of Jesus. While the world worships the false christ, the 144,000 will proclaim the Gospel of Christ's Kingdom (Mat 24:14). The Gospel of the Kingdom was proclaimed by Christ, during His earthly ministry. But following the King's rejection, crucifixion and resurrection, the Gospel of Grace was proclaimed to all people (eg., Rom 1:16; 10:9-10). The 144,000, who are themselves among the "redeemed" (v.3,4), will declare the necessity of faith in Christ for redemption from sin (Rom 3:23-26), and also the imminence of His return as Judge and King.
  • Being sincere in speech, they bore witness to the Truth, in stark contrast to the deceptive signs & lying wonders of the beasts. cp. 2Cor 4:1-4
for they are without fault before the throne of God.
Redeemed by Christ, they are like Him, not only in speech, but also in heart.
1Pet 2:21-25; Col 1:21,22
From this point to the end of ch. 14, we see 7 persons:
3 angels (v.6-13), Christ (v.14,16), 3 angels (v.15,17-20).
This section describes events immediately preceding and including the final judgment of the ungodly world. (Vs.1-5 looked beyond that judgment, to the start of the Millennial Kingdom.)
14:6 And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven {lit., in mid-heaven},
A previous angel, so described, announced the 3 woes. (8:13)
having the everlasting gospel {lit., having everlasting gospel} to preach
The lack of an article emphasizes the everlasting character of the gospel.
"Gospel" means "good tidings."
unto them that dwell on the earth,
and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people,
The tribulation has taken its toll. Human voices have been silenced from proclaiming the gospel. God sends out a final call by an indestructible messenger. (McGee)
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- The message is urgent.
The first angel's message -
  • Announces the imminency of the hour of judgment. The long foretold time has come.
  • Urges men to fear & worship the true God, rather than the beast.
The essence of the message is that the God, who is the Creator of all, is about to exercise judgment.
  • His authority over creation has been shown by prior judgments, which affected the 4 areas of creation mentioned (eg., Trumpet judgments #1-4, 8:7-12).
    In contrast, what basis is there for worship of the beast? (None, but lies.)
  • The Judge has rendered His 'judgment' {GK= krisis, sentence, decision, verdict}, which will be executed without further delay.
The Hour of Judgment is a terrible event for the unbelieving world.
Yet, it is "good news" to suffering saints whose salvation rests on God's righteous judgment of sin.
Luk 21:25-28; Psa 96:11-13; Isa 35:4-10
14:8 And there followed another angel, saying, {angel #2 in this chapter}
Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city,
because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.
The second angel announces judgment upon the world system.
Babylon- The ancient city which was the beginning of idolatry & self-deification (note at 2:20),
is symbolic of the godless political & religious systems which grew out of her. The name Babylon (meaning "confusion") describes a system built by, for, and upon man who rejects the only true foundation (cp. Rom 1:18-23; Col 1:16,17). (The characteristics of this system are discussed in ch.17-18.)
is fallen, is fallen...-
  • Her destruction is stated as accomplished fact.
    The statement is prophetic of what MUST occur, and anticipates the outpouring of the seventh Bowl of Wrath (ch. 16).
  • The repetition is emphatic of the utter ruin of the city & the system.
    The utter destruction prophesied upon Babylon (cp. Isa 13:19-22; 21:9), has partial historic fulfillment, because the ancient city was reduced to uninhabited ruins, for several centuries following the Muslim conquest of the region (c. 650 AD). However, in the 18th century AD, archaeologists began to explore the ruins. In recent years portions of the city have been restored and preserved as a World Heritage Site. The formerly fallen and broken gods of antiquity are being raised from the dust, for the world's admiration.
    Still uninhabited, the ancient "great city" is symbolic of the godless religious (ch. 17) and political (ch. 18) system called "Babylon," which will rise near the close of the times of the Gentiles. No doubt, the modern system and the ancient city will descend into oblivion, together.
the wine of the wrath- All nations will drink God's wrath upon the moral & spiritual fornication
promoted by Babylon (in all its forms). cp. Psa 75:7,8
This announcement also appears to be meant as encouragement to the saints.
14:9 And the third angel followed them,
The 3 angels of vs.6-12 follow one another quickly without delay.
saying with a loud voice,
If any man
{lit., any one} worship the beast and his image,
and receive [his] mark in his forehead, or in his hand,
14:10 The same {lit., he himself} shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God,
which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation;
he himself shall drink...- The wrath of God is not only for nations, but for individuals.
The third angel announces judgment upon individuals.
if any man receive- Who will refuse?
The mark & worship of the beast will seem a small price for access to life's necessities, including food & drink (13:15-17).
But God, in wrath, remembers mercy and warns of the ultimate price:
wrath...without mixture {ie., without dilution}...- There is not a drop of mercy in it. [JBS]
Undiluted Wrath (without mixture with water) is poured out upon men who rejected the freely available fountain of living waters (v.7) and thirsted for the intoxication of polluted religious streams (v.8; cp. Jer 2:13). God gives them the full measure of the corruption which they desired. Psa 75:7,8
Two GK words are used here to express God's anger:
  • wrath- GK= thumos, hot anger, rising to a peak of passion.
  • indignation- GK= orge, wrath. This is the strongest form of anger, which does not heat and cool, but is set on active vengeance.
and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone
Some would dilute this wrath by making these words figurative.
But that which fell upon Sodom & Gomorah was literal enough. [McGee]
If the language is symbolic, it is no doubt an understatement -- as gasoline fumes merely smell of danger, until ignited by a spark.
in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb:
in the presence- GK= enopion, in the sight of, before. This suggests that:
14:11 And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever:
forever and ever- Is used elsewhere of the ceaseless existence of God (eg., Rev 15:7).
Here it describes torment that is equally without end. Since there is no torment without conscious existence, their conscious existence must also be without end.
and they have no rest day nor night,
no rest- implies unbroken continuance. The tormented receive no breaks.
who worship the beast and his image,
and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.
Those who idolize the beast, identifying themselves with him and his system,
will join him (and his comrades) in the lake of fire (Rev 20:10; Mat 25:41).
Some, who are unable to reconcile God's love with His wrath,
would remove passages like this from the Book.
But to do so, is to reserve a place for oneself in the lake of fire. cp. Rev 22:19; 20:15
14:12 Here is the patience {ie., endurance} of the saints:
Even the warning of wrath (delivered by the third angel, v.9-11) is meant to encourage the suffering saints.
here [are] they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.
Those, who watchfully heed the Word of God, entrusting themselves to Jesus Christ, will endure, for His Name (ie., His personal authority and character) is far superior to that of the beast. (cf. 'name' in v.11; Joh 20:31)
14:13 And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write,
a voice from heaven- apparently the Spirit of God, as later in the verse.
write- This command implies that the message is important, not to be forgotten, nor miss-stated.
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.
blessed- Contrast the cursedness of those who die with the mark of the beast (v.9-11).
This verse is often misused at funerals. It applies to a specific time:
from henceforth- ie., from now on. The time reference is late in the Tribulation period.
During the Great Tribulation, death will provide a welcome escape for saints from the beast's relentless war against them. At that time, believers will have no ambiguity about whether it is better to go or to stay. cp. Php 1:23-26
that they may rest- cf. "no rest" in v.11.
from their labors- GK= kopos, toils to weariness, laborious toil, trouble.
their works follow with them- The things they have done,
their faithful patient witness, will not be forgotten by the Lord. Mat 10:39-42
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.
behold- Look for yourself. Consider this sight with the eyes of tribulation saints:
"Look ye saints, the sight is glorious:
See the man of sorrows now;
From the fight returned victorious;
Every knee to Him shall bow:
Crown Him! Crown Him!
Crowns become the Victor's brow." [Thomas Kelly]
white cloud- As Christ ascended, so shall He return. cp. Acts 1:9-11; Mat 24:30
son of man- Refers to Christ with dual significance:
His humanity & His right to judge. Joh 5:22,27; Dan 7:13,14
on his head a golden crown- His time to reign has come.
(This implies the uncrowning of the Dragon's heads & horns. cp. ch. 12,13.)
in his hand a sharp sickle-
-- "Sharp" denotes severity of judgment.
-- "Sickle" implies the cutting off of something.
Neither of these terms can be applied to the true Church, which must remain in "the vine" (Joh 15:5,6) and which He will personally call into His presence by His voice (1The 4:15-17; Rev 4:1,2).
His sharp sword will penetrate the apostate church and ungodly nations. Rev 2:12,16; Rev 19:15
His sickle will reap the unbelieving nations at Armageddon. Joel 3:12-15
14:15 And another angel came out of the temple,
another angel- ie., like the first three in this chapter.
temple- GK= naos, holy place. This is the temple in heaven (as in v.17).
God's judgment proceeds out of His holiness.
At this time, the temple on earth will contain the abomination of desolation.
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.
thrust in- GK= pempo, to send forth.
ripe- GK= xeraino, dried up, withered, overripe.
cp. this word in: Mat 21:19,20; Luk 8:6; Joh 15:6; cp. Isa 40:23,24
the harvest- is of the 'tares' to judgment. Jer 51:33; Mat 13:30,38-43
The 'wheat' from the 'good seed' remains to enter the Kingdom.
14:16 And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth;
and the earth was reaped.
thrust in- GK= eballo, to throw in, to cast in.
the earth was reaped- The GK verb is in a passive tense.
This reaping is accomplished, not directly by Christ, but at His command, by the angels whom He "sends forth" (cp. Mat 13:40-42,49-50). In Mat 13:41, "send forth" is GK= apostello. However, the sense is very similar to the use of "pempo" in v.15 above.
     In Mat 13:42, "cast" is GK= eballo. Compare the use of this word in Joh 15:6; Rev 8:5; 14:19; 18:21; 20:14,15. In the NT, "eballo" is never used in a way that could be associated with the gathering of the redeemed.
14:17 And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven,
he also having a sharp sickle.
another angel- the fifth in this chapter.
out of the temple {GK= naos, holy place}- Again, God's holiness requires judgment.
His judgment is not vindictive, but rather vindicative of His holiness. [JBS]
14:18 And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire;
another angel- the sixth in this chapter.
power over fire- cp. 16:8
from the altar- the altar of incense (which speaks of prayer). (cp. 6:9,10; 8:3,5)
The judgment comes in answer to the prayers of the saints.
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.
thrust in- GK= pempo, send forth. (as in v.15)
gather- Some have attempted to separate the gathering of the harvest (v.15)
from the gathering of the vine (v.18), in order to fit the rapture of the saints into this chapter.
However, there is no basis for this.
  • The harvest, the wine press and wine vats, together, depict the same event (the battle of Armageddon), in Joel 3:12-16.
  • The last three angels in this chapter implement the judgment which the first three angels announced. The Son of Man, the central figure in the chapter, presides over it all, for He is the righteous Judge.
the vine of the earth- This unholy vine is the planting of Satan,
consisting of all nations who would destroy God's vine and its Planter. [JBS]
Compare/Contrast with: Deut 32:31-43
The "vine of the earth" is to be distinguished from:
  1. Israel, God's planting.
    Because Israel wandered after other gods and because they rejected Christ, the Lord allowed His vineyard (Israel) to be trampled (Isa 5:1-7; Mat 21:33-44).
         But His vineyard will be restored, through the work of Christ, when they turn to Him in faith at His second coming (Isa 60:21; 61:1-4).
  2. Jesus Christ, "the true vine," whose life flows in those who are in vital union with Him, causing them to live and bear fruit to God's glory. Joh 15:1-8
fully ripe- GK= akmazo (the root word is "akme"), at the peak, prime
(ie., 'The vine of the earth' is ready for judgment.)
14:19 And the angel thrust in {GK= eballo, cast 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.
The nations are gathered to the place of judgment.
When God planted Israel in their land, He "also made a winepress therein" (Isa 5:2). God's wrath upon the godless world will be exercised finally in this land, including the environs of Armageddon & Jerusalem. Joel 3:9-16
14:20 And the winepress was trodden without the city, {ie., outside of Jerusalem}
cp. Zech 14:1-4; Isa 63:1-6; Rev 19:15
and blood came out of the winepress,
even unto the horse bridles,
{ie., about 4 feet deep}
by the space of a thousand [and] six hundred furlongs.
furlong- a measure of about 660 feet (1/8 mile).
The total area involved is about 200 miles long (the N-S dimension of Israel).
Based on Psa 29, JBSmith suggests that the valley formed by the earthquake at Christ's return may extend, from Lebanon and Sirion {ie., Mt. Hermon} in the north, to the wilderness of Kadesh in the south. This valley may collect & contain the drainage of blood from the battle of Armageddon.
This chapter has brought us up to the coming of the Lord in judgment
"immediately after the tribulation of those days" (Mat 24:29,30).
This judgment is not a pretty sight. But it shows us that sin is an awful thing, and that God will deal with it according to His righteousness.
The Great Tribulation is an expression of God's wrath upon sinful men who have rejected the Savior.
This period is not meant to purify the Church, or to make her worthy for Christ's return. While God may use 'light afflictions' to mature His children, it is only by the blood of Christ that they are made fit for His presence (2Cor 4:17,18; 5:17,18). These judgments, upon the earth, will not affect the true Church, which will have been taken to heaven, in the Rapture, before the Tribulation (4:1).
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