STUDY: PART 45
V. 1-5 – “I saw” in verse 1 indicates that John is still in the vision. He’s still disclosing the revelation the Spirit of God is giving him.
Jesus the Christ, the “Lamb who was slain” (Revelation 5:12) now appears on the top of Mount Zion, or Sion according to your translation. There are many explanations of what and where this mountain is. The New Unger’s Dictionary says that there are three significant designations for Mount Zion. The first name is the City of David, or Jerusalem, after David conquered it and made it the capital of Israel (I Chronicles 11:5, “And the inhabitants of Jebus said to David, Thou shalt not come hither. Nevertheless David took the castle of Zion, which is the city of David.)
The second name is the Millennial City of Jerusalem during the kingdom age (Isaiah 1:27, “Zion shall be redeemed with judgment and her converts with righteousness.)
The third name is the Heavenly City, or the New Jerusalem, that is to come at the end of the Millennium which will be the everlasting eternal city for the redeemed of Christ (Hebrews 12:22-24, “But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.)
I believe that Zion in verse 1 refers to the Millennial City. God said, “Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.” This is the throne of David in Jerusalem which God said He would give to Jesus (Luke 1:32, “He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David…”)
The 144,000 here is not only the 144,000 from the twelve tribes of Israel. We established in a previous study that those men are the Messianic Jews who will keep themselves pure in God’s sight. They are the ones who will be sealed on their foreheads as will all who accept Jesus as Savior during the Tribulation. I know some religions tell you that the 144,000 are the men of their cult whom God chose to rule with Him throughout eternity and the rest of their congregants will be servants tilling the earth and doing the menial tasks. This is absolutely untrue. Since God is “not a man that He should lie, nor the son of man the He should repent:” (Numbers 23:19), He can’t break His word. Only those born of the water and the blood will be in heaven as soon as they die. That’s why Jesus went to hell to preach the word and take captivity captive (Ephesians 4:8). That is, the Old Testament saints who were in “paradise” awaiting the redemption of their spirits and souls. Jesus caught them up to heaven with Him when He ascended to the Father after His visit to hell. It’s the only way they could have made it to heaven.
The 144,000 are included with the redeemed of the earth. They are all the ones who have kept themselves from idol worship and degenerate worship practices. Remember that the worship of idols in the Old Testament included sexual practices. Women came dressed as men and men as women. The people danced naked before the idols and then an orgy would break out (whoredom). (Read Ezekiel 16 for more on that.) The idols they worshipped may have had different names than the ones people now worship, but accomplished the same results, they glorified satan. We see mothers like Susan Smith killing their children for love’s sake, which honors jealousy. We see parents selling their children into sexual slavery for the cost of a fix. This is a spirit of bondage. We see men and women jumping from one bed to another, not always with the opposite gender either, which demonstrates a perverse spirit. That’s what’s meant by verse 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 (James 1:18) unto God and to the Lamb.” These are the saints who have not sacrificed to idols once they were redeemed by Jesus. They are, in the case of the 144,000, actually physical virgins and all are spiritual virgins who have not become prostitutes to the idols of this world. These will be the ones who did not worship the beast or his image.
Another way we can know that the teaching above is false is by reading what God’s Spirit wrote. God has made His born-again children kings and priests, not slaves. Let’s see that in Revelation 1:6, “And hath made us kings and priests unto God his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” And Revelation 5:10, “And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.” So, if the saved are to have dominion and are to reign, they surely won’t be plowing the land. Consider the Scripture and let it speak for itself. There will be none of that labor in heaven or in the New Jerusalem. God said there will be fruit-bearing trees of life that will produce a fruit for each month (Revelation 22:2) beside the river of living water (Revelation 22:1). God will be the Light of the new world so we won’t require the sun for the growing of the fruits (Revelation 22:5).
In verses 2, 3 John tells us he’s hearing as well as seeing what’s going on in heaven and on earth. Once again he describes the voice of Jesus as “many rushing waters” (Revelation 1:15). John is hearing harpists and voices lifted in songs of praise.
There are churches that do not allow music as part of their worship and praise. In verses 2, 3, it’s made very clear that music is not only allowed, it’s part of heaven’s practice. In heaven the harpists will play their harps in praise and worship. On earth, the 144,000 and the redeemed will sing the new song only they know (Revelation 5:9, 10). Why can’t all those on earth and the angels of heaven know the song? It’s because they are not blood-washed! This is the song of the redeemed. Psalm 107:2, “Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy.” Angels can’t accept salvation and many people won’t accept it so they won’t be allowed to learn the “new song” which joyfully expresses that God is good!
In the mouths of those who will sing this “new song” is no deceit (deceiving or misleading). Psalm 32:2, “Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.” They are blameless before the Lord, I Corinthians 1:4-9, “I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ; That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge; Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.”
STUDY: PART 46
V. 6, 7 – There will be six angels mentioned in chapter 14. This one, in verse six, is the first. The others are in verses 8-9, 15, and 17-18.
Watch this, now. This angel is flying in the midst, or middle, or heaven. This is said to be the area of heaven where the sun reaches its highest point during the day. What does it say he’s carrying? It is the “everlasting gospel”. There is a controversy about what this “gospel” is. Some say that because angels can’t be saved, they can’t preach the gospel. Others say they are preaching the truth of the salvation of Jesus. Look at Luke 24:23, “And when they found not his body, they came, saying, that they had also seen a vision of angels, which said that he was alive.” The good news of the gospel is that Jesus is alive and angels proclaimed His life first before men.
Some others say the angels are only telling of the judgment and condemnation of God. In my opinion for judgment to mean anything to people, they have to know who’s judging them and what they are being judged for. We know that God gave judgment into the hands of Jesus (John 5:22). What this “angel” is proclaiming in verse 6 is the Old Testament good news that God is to be reverenced, feared, if you will and honored. In Proverbs 9:10, Solomon tells us, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.” To step out further, let me say that I believe as some commentators do, that the angel spoken of here is the ministers of the gospel who will be working on earth before Jesus takes His final position as Zion’s King. These will be the “watchmen of Zion” and will definitely proclaim the truth of salvation. They are the ones who will be standing at the highest point of Christianity before Jesus returns, or in the highest heaven. How will this be accomplished? The same way as it is now, with satellite feeds all over the world.
Let’s read Revelation 1:20, “The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.” Remember in our lesson in Revelation 1, I explained, “V. 20- The mystery, or hidden truth of the stars in Jesus’ right hand is not hard to understand. They are symbolic of messengers, or pastors of the seven churches of the Lycos Valley: Ephesus: Smyrna: Pergamos: Thyatira: Sardis: Philadelphia and Laodicea. Angels are ministering spirits, messengers for God, and pastors are messengers of the Gospel for Jesus‘ sake.”
The gospel of salvation has been given unto men to preach. Angels cannot proclaim that part of the truth. That’s why I believe this “angel” is those pastors who will come up strong after the rapture of the church under the ministry of the 144,000 and the two witnesses. We have to understand that for the entire gospel to be taught, pastors must preach the judgment and vengeance of God as well as His mercy and grace. This is not a “feel good” religion. This is an all-encompassing message of truth, judgment, vengeance, reward, grace, and mercy. You can’t take half the leaven and expect a full loaf.
Let’s read Nehemiah 9:6, “Thou, even thou, art LORD alone; thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth, and all things that are therein, the seas, and all that is therein, and thou preservest them all; and the host of heaven worshippeth thee.” And Revelation 5:13, “And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.” “Every creature”, or created being that God speaks forth, praises and glorifies Jesus. Everything that’s named must bow to Jesus. Philippians 2:10, “That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth…” So the ministering spirits, angels of heaven, can’t proclaim the gospel, but they sure know Who it is.
Jesus appointed and sent the “angel” to the churches to call people to fear God and give Him the glory while there is still today. God’s judgment is about to fall, and this is their last hope for salvation. Because it is pastors speaking, they will also issue a reminder that this is the last chance to make the right choice for eternity with Jesus in heaven.
Matthew 13:49, “So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.” This can be seen as the fishermen with their nets. They bring the nets to shore where they sit and divide the fish. The good healthy fish go into one basket. The dead or sickly looking fish are tossed out for the seagulls. Think about it this way. We now, and the people then, are living in the net of humanity. Our choices for or against God decide where we will be set down at the judgment: We’ll either be in heaven with Christ for eternal reward or in hell with satan for eternal damnation. It’s our choice to make now before Jesus returns for the church, and it will be the choice of those in the Tribulation to make before the second coming of the Lord.
I want to stop here tonight because verse 8 really needs a study all its own. We’re going to dig into history next week. God bless you all.
STUDY: PART 47
As I mentioned last week, this study is more a history lesson, but with the Scriptures well in use. This will help us understand a bit better why God will destroy Babylon and what her historic position once was and will be again.
V. 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” Revelation 14:8). Here’s the second angel. The proclamation this angel is making is not what’s happened already. It is spoken of as already finished because, if God said it, it is done, and He did say it. Babylon is a fallen city. It’s the center of satan’s rule, his headquarters, so to speak. Babylon is the place where idolatry took root.
The following is an excerpt from J. Vernon McGee’s Thru The Bible Commentary. It will give you the historical significance of Babel to Babylon and idol worship.
“Semiramis was the wife of Nimrod; some scholars think she was his mother and that she married her own son. She was queen of Babel, which later became Babylon, and she devised a nice little story (beginning a whole system of idolatry) in which she came out of an egg in the Euphrates River- she cracked the shell and stepped out fully grown. The worship of Semiramis introduced the female principle in the deity. This reveals that Babylon was the fountainhead of false religions.”
Other scholars cast her as a harlot who owned a brothel where Nimrod used to visit. He fell in love with her, and together they devised the story of her egg existence to give her credibility and suitability to sit as queen. Samiramis was instrumental in creating devil worship. She set up priests and priestesses to instruct the people in worshipping the devil and becoming demon-possessed.
It was during their new year’s celebration when, traditionally, a lamb was torn to pieces while still alive then eaten uncooked that Semiramis stole the throne from Nimrod. She got all the family and the priests and priestesses high on drugs and had them replace the lamb with Nimrod. He was torn to pieces while still alive and eaten raw! She then gave the throne to her illegitimate son Damu (meaning blood). Because her son was still an infant, Semiramis took the seat and controlled Babylon for 42 years. In order not to lose who reign, she had herself and her son set up as gods. She then became "The Queen of Heaven" pictured in the constellation Cassiopeia.
Bryce Self, author, tells up how Semiramis died. “In spite of her cleverness, though, she also sowed the seeds of her own destruction. As she raised her son, she imbued him with divinity in the eyes of the priests and people as the means of retaining control as the divine mother without seeming to aggrandize herself. As Damu grew he became used to having every whim instantly gratified by a subservient, indeed groveling, populace. For safety's sake he had a personal bodyguard/companion group which he was never without, and which formed an elite corps of soldiery loyal and accountable to him alone. Upon coming to maturity and demanding of his mother to be installed as king, she not only refused him this--but, seeing him now as a challenge to her rule, slated him for the same death she had meted to his father. Damu caught on to her scheme, and pre-empted his "assumption" by slaying his mother with his own sword, and putting down any priestly protests by purging the hierarchy of all who would not vow allegiance to him. Thus Semiramis died after reigning as queen over Babylon for 102 years.”
Babylon was the first great world power. Nebuchadnezzar, one of her kings, is the head of gold spoken of in Daniel’s prophesy (Daniel 2:32).
The first city of Babylon began as the Tower of Babel which men built top magnify themselves and to preserve the unity of man. At the time of its building, humanity had “one language and one form of speech” or dialect. It didn’t matter where in the world you traveled; everyone could understand what you were saying. The architectural plans for the tower were to build the tower so high it would reach into heaven. We know now how impossible that venture was to accomplish – but the people doggedly believed it could be done. This tower would supplant God as the Unifier of families. This new tower built by Noah’s descendants would become the god they would worship.
Now look, what we have always been taught is, God confused their language because of their rebellion. But that’s not what Scripture says. Read Genesis 11:7 with me, “Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech.” God and Jesus created man together. Man turned against both of them, and they would both come back to confound their language.
Sidetrack: At Babel God gave new tongues to the people to divide the nations. At Pentecost God gave the people new tongues to give them the opportunity to be reunified, this time under God in Christ Jesus.
God will raise up and sanctify political, religious Babylon during the Tribulation, but it will be to serve His purpose. Isaiah 13:3, “I have commanded my sanctified ones; I have also called my mighty ones for mine anger, even them that rejoice in my highness.” (To be sanctified is to be set apart.)
Remember that God once used Babylon as a tool of punishment against Israel. It will be so again in the Tribulation. The rebellious Jews will run to Babylon and be destroyed with her.
Let’s read Isaiah 13:6-11, “Howl ye; for the day of the LORD is at hand; it shall come as a destruction from the Almighty. Therefore shall all hands be faint, and every man's heart shall melt: And they shall be afraid: pangs and sorrows shall take hold of them; they shall be in pain as a woman that travaileth: they shall be amazed one at another; their faces shall be as flames. Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it. For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine. And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible.”
The first destruction of Babylon was complete. The ruins of this once great city still remain in evidence against it today. That destruction was merciful compared with what God has coming to the second Babylon during Tribulation. God said the first Babylon would remain desolate forever and that only animals will dwell there, and that’s how it is even today. Let’s read this in Isaiah 13:20-22, “It shall never be inhabited, neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation: neither shall the Arabian pitch tent there; neither shall the shepherds make their fold there. But wild beasts of the desert shall lie there; and their houses shall be full of doleful creatures; and owls shall dwell there, and satyrs shall dance there.”
Cities that have been destroyed by man have been rebuilt, like Jerusalem, Rome, and Frankfurt, Germany. But the one annihilated by God has never been, nor will it ever be rebuilt. That’s why I believe that, although God will cause Babylon to be built, it will not be on the original construction site, but perhaps somewhere close by.
As with the first Babylon, this second will be the seat of religious, political, financial, and educational power. As with the first Babylon the second will be the seat from which satan rules. He will use the antichrist and the beast to accomplish his deeds as he one did Semiramis and many others. As with the first Babylon, the destruction of the second will be total. As with the first Babylon, the destruction of the second will be a fulfillment of prophecy. This is what our second angel is declaring. God said it; that settles it; it is finished in word and will soon be finished in deed.
We have had many generations since Jesus in which to teach the unchangeable Word of God. Instead, for centuries church leaders stole God’s thunder by watering down the Word and taking away the Power of both Jesus and the Holy Spirit. They began first by questioning the validity of the translations of the Bible. They then used that to formulate a new theology which teaches that Jesus and the Holy Spirit are powerless to affect and transform lives now that Jesus returned to Heaven. Pastors and teachers now claim that we are not saved by Jesus Himself, but only by His Blood.
Let’s read Hebrews 1:1-3, “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high…” “He” by “Himself” purged our sins. To purge is to cleanse from impurities; to purify.
How does Jesus accomplish our cleansing? Let’s read Titus 3:4-7, “But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” So we are saved by His mercy with the washing of regeneration (renewing our hearts toward God and His Word) and the renewing of the Holy Spirit (the changes that take place in us as we grow).
Where does the Blood come into play? Let’s read I Peter 1:17-19, “And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear: Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” In other words, the Blood was the ransom price which bought us back for God. By all this we know that Jesus saves by His mercy and by paying the price for our eternity by spilling His Blood. We also know that the Holy Spirit still has the power to change lives.
During the Tribulation every living person will have access to the mercy of Jesus and His atoning Blood. Even the rulers of the second Babylon will have access to these gifts; not the antichrist or the beast, but the people they will use, and will be able to accept salvation till the second coming to earth of Christ.
Why do you suppose God had the Bible authors record all this information about Babylon? It is for the benefit of every generation that, by seeing the record of the prophesied destruction of the first Babylon in God’s Word, and having the results of it available to see even now if we travel to the Middle East, we can know the prophecy about the second Babylon will also come to pass.
Another reason for God’s record in the entire Bible is to motivate us to action so that all will be saved and none will perish. According to what we are taught from the Bible, this can’t happen, right? Why not? It is because Christians, for the most part, are a weak, kneed bunch. We are afraid to offend friends or family with talking religion that they don’t believe in. We are afraid to speak the name of Jesus in public because someone might turn on us and embarrass. We are afraid that family, friends, and neighbor will label us lunatics, even as Jesus’ own family did Him, and sever our relationships. People don’t want to have fun poked at them and they surely don’t want to be persecuted.
STUDY: PART 48
V. 9 – This third angel came as the first one did, shouting a command to wake up the nations. By this time, if they are still on the fence, they are probably against God. But this angel gives the final warning. You carry one mark or the other. You can’t serve two masters. In verse 8, Babylon was proclaimed fallen, although it had not yet happened. This cry continues in the same vein. Babylon will fall, and all idolaters who worship the beast will drink from the cup of wrath of God that has been building throughout all the previous generations since the flood.
V. 10 – Let’s read Psalm 75:8, “For in the hand of the LORD there is a cup, and the wine is red; it is full of mixture; and he poureth out of the same: but the dregs thereof, all the wicked of the earth shall wring them out, and drink them.” This is the cup from which the “pagans” will drink. Indignation here is God’s vexation, His anger, and it will be terrible. These things will be poured out for the world to drink undiluted in any way. They will drink of God’s fury without mercy. Psalm 11:6, “Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup.”
If any you wonder why God is allowing sin to fester in this world, I believe II Peter 2:9 will answer the question well. “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.“ God wants everyone to have the same opportunity to repent and declare their allegiance to the Savior. Please remember that 1,000 years is as a day to God. We see the progression of sin in increments of years or days; God sees them in millennia. Our Father’s patience will run out as it did for Sodom and Gomorrah. He won’t allow sin to continue forever. Sodom and Gomorrah was a temporary hell on earth and a display of the power of what is waiting for all unrepentant sinners. The real hell will be worse than what befell Sodom and Gomorrah. John uses the example of fire and brimstone for lack of better understanding of how horrible will be the hell of satan.
We also know that this is true because there are countless witnesses to it. It says, “…in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb…” God’s angels who were not cast down with Lucifer will see the punishment those who were must endure forever along with all the people they were able to hoodwink and drag to hell with them.
V.11 – I have heard people say that hell is only for a time, like 10,000 years, or 100,000 years and then God will do away with it and will vaporize all those He was punishing there. I don’t mean purgatory; I mean they say this about hell. Wrong! Hell is described as the place of everlasting fire (Matthew 25:41), everlasting punishment (Matthew 25:46), and everlasting destruction (II Thessalonians 1:9). Let me write out verse 11 of our study chapter here so that you can see the Spirit made it plain that forever is forever, not for a length of time.
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.” They will have a jolly time of abundance here as they participate in every act of uncleanness, but when the Lord reaps the harvest, they will be cast down into the fire and never will again have a peaceful moment. This makes me realize how vital it is to be strong in the Lord right now. We need to make absolutely sure we are saved so that we will not suffer the same torment.
V. 12 – The “patience of the saints” refers to their faith, endurance, and courage while waiting for the Lord to bring His judgment to pass. It was their faithfulness in spreading the Word of salvation throughout the world and for standing together encouraging each other in the same faith. It includes the martyrs we saw earlier who sit under the altar.
Let’s read that again in Revelation 6:9,10, “And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?”
Let’s read Hebrews 6: 9-12, “But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak. For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister. And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end: That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.”
Let’s also read II Thessalonians 1: 3-10. “We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth; So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure: Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer: Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.”
These are they who have kept the commandments, both God’s commandments in the Old Testament, and Christ’s commandments in the New Testament. They’ve remained faithful and not taken on the mark of the beast or the ways of the world. That’s why things like homosexuality and adultery, etc… have to be preached against. Those who walk in the sins of the world have no chance to see heaven.
Let’s remember also that Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).
V. 13 – We are reminded here that John is still in his vision. He heard a voice! What voice? The voice of the Holy Ghost who signified, or swore to, what John was writing. He made sure John was writing down exactly as it was revealed to Him.
“Those who die in the Lord” here is not a reference to martyrs. It’s to all who will die in the knowledge of and relationship with Christ. I believe martyrs will receive a special blessing, but it’s my opinion that this verse is about all those in the Tribulation at the time John sees this. They have shared their faith, been persecuted, for it, and still persevered. Remember what Jesus said in Matthew 10:22? “And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.”
Now watch. In this portion of the verse we are introduced to the Voice. “Yes,” says the Spirit…“ By this we know for sure this is the Holy Spirit of God.
What is the Voice saying? “…that they (Christians) may rest from their labors, and their works follow them,” God rested on the seventh day from all His labors. Heaven has the connotation of rest. When our labors here are complete we will go to meet Jesus. We know for sure this is the Holy Spirit of God. He’s making it clear that all the things Christians do for the Living God do not perish, but follow them to heaven where they are rewarded. Our works do not save us, but they will follow us and will commend us to the Savior. What a marvelous incentive for all of us!
STUDY: PART 49
V. 14 – Writing is a craft that uses the senses to communicate information. In this chapter, John used two of those senses several times, sight and hearing. He takes us from seeing to hearing what’s going on and back again. A good writer can lead us to form in our minds pictures of the scenes he’s describing and cause us to hear what’s being said, or the sounds taking place. This is to keep our focus on the fact that this is a vision and that John is not controlling what’s taking place, he’s just recounting it for everyone’s benefit. Verses 14-20 are a flash ahead in John’s vision of what will come later on in Revelation 19:17-21 when the final judgment will occur.
In this verse, John “looked” and “saw” a white cloud. His focus had been taken from hearing the voice in verse 13 to seeing the white cloud in verse 14. The cloud is what we are to look for when Jesus returns to earth.
“And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory (Matthew 24:30).
“And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory (Luke 21:27).
“And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven (Acts 1:9-11).
Jesus is coming in the Shekinah glory cloud! Recall that God went before Israel in a cloud by day. If God was in that cloud, you can bet it was bright. The brightness was God’s own glory that caused Moses to glow so brightly he had to wear a covering over his head around the people. This same is true of the cloud Jesus went up in and will come back in. Jesus is God and His glory light is just as bright. Jesus bore the crown of thorns, but when He returns, He’ll be wearing the golden crown of His kingship ready to pass judgment.
V. 15, 16 - “A sharp sickle” reminds us of the sword that divides spirit from soul and bone from its marrow. “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart (Hebrews 4:12).
Let’s get a visual about this dividing. Have you all seen a soup bone with its marrow? Did you know that the marrow is attached so firmly to the bone that if you scrapped it out with your sharpest knife, you would leave some marrow behind on the bone and that you would scrape off some of the bone? The Word of God is so sharp it removes every speck of that marrow without harming the bone. The sickle Jesus is carrying is that sharp.
John 1:1 tells us that Jesus is the Word. So, Jesus, the Word of God, will come and divide the chaff from the wheat, or the saved from the unregenerate. He will thrust (the Greek meaning “cast”) the sickle in at the request of the accompanying angels. The way this verse reads makes it sound like the angel came out of the temple and, crying in a loud voice, told Jesus to reap the harvest of the earth. The angel, whether you believe like some, refers to a real angel from the temple of God in heaven (Revelation 11:19), or believe like others that this refers to the pastors of the churches during the Tribulation, does not give Jesus commands. Jesus is the Supreme King of kings, the righteous Judge (II Timothy 4:8). Told in this case is actually asking. They want Jesus to grab the harvest of the earth, the elect of the Tribulation church, and take them to heaven. Jesus will do as they ask, cast in the sickle, and separate His righteous elect from the rest of the world.
V. 17, 20 – “For thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; The daughter of Babylon is like a threshingfloor, it is time to thresh her: yet a little while, and the time of her harvest shall come (Jeremiah 51:33).
“Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe: come, get you down; for the press is full, the fats overflow; for their wickedness is great (Joel 3:13).
“And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne (Revelation 8:3).
The sixth and seventh angels now appear. The one comes out of the temple of God and has a sharp sickle like Jesus; the other comes out of the altar and has power over fire. The altar is the place where the martyrs stood asking God how long it would be before He punished their killers. The angel who comes from the altar asks the Lord to gather the clusters of evil ones and toss them into the wine press. The wine press is what they used to crush grapes. Men would get into the vats barefooted and stomp the grapes so that the juice was released and could pour out of the vat into a holding tank below.
The angel announces that the grapes are fully ripe. Some have speculated that “fully ripe” means they have been on the vine so long they are turning to raisins. I disagree as that would not allow juice (blood) to spurt out under the vengeance of God and flow to fill Israel for 184 miles and 4 ½ feet deep. Dried fruit is just that. Their liquid has turned to sugar and they are no longer juicy. That’s not the image being portrayed here.
Isaiah gives us an account of this pressing time. “Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this that is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength? I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save. Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the winefat? I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me: for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment. For the day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come. And I looked, and there was none to help; and I wondered that there was none to uphold: therefore mine own arm brought salvation unto me; and my fury, it upheld me. And I will tread down the people in mine anger, and make them drunk in my fury, and I will bring down their strength to the earth (Isaiah 63:1-6).
As with the Scroll in Revelation 5:5, Jesus is the only One righteous and true who can step into the wine press and squash those who have given themselves to the beasts and satan. Remember the Scripture in Romans 12 that says, Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” He knows in His heart that the time of God’s vengeance has come, and that time on earth is finished as they know it. His beautiful garment of righteousness will be splattered with the blood.
This scene is the beginning of the final war on earth that will eventually end with the Battle of Armageddon when Jesus returns to the earth. It takes place outside the city, or outside Jerusalem, the Holy City. Just as the Romans made Jesus die outside of the city, so will Jesus make the sinner die outside that same city.