Revelation 13 introduced us to the arrogant Antichrist, and to the supernatural false prophet. We saw death, destruction, signs and wonders, the mark of the beast on the forehead or hand, the number 666, and the forced worship of the Antichrist, and Satan. Evil will be dark and powerful then, and men and women will helplessly die. The supernatural demonic forces will be without mercy towards anyone who does not cooperate. That was the message of Revelation 13. When we come to Revelation 14, we see our just and faithful God preparing to put an end to evil. This is an awesome chapter!
The first verse of Revelation 14 gives us the last scene in heaven. It is all about His faithfulness to us.
And I looked, and behold, the Lamb was standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His name and the name of His Father written on their foreheads. Revelation 14:1 (NASB)
The Lamb is Jesus Christ and we are told that He is standing on Mount Zion. Mount Zion is the largest hill on which the city of Jerusalem was built. It is on the south side of the city above the Valley of Hinnom. It was the first place on which buildings of the city of Jerusalem were built. From there the city expanded outward. As a result, the name Zion came to include the entire city of Jerusalem along with the temple. It is here that King David built his palace. In the Psalms God tells us that He installed the king of Israel upon Zion, built up the city, and glorified Himself. God highly values Zion.
But as for Me, I have installed My King upon Zion, My holy mountain Psalm 2:6 (NASB)
For the LORD has built up Zion; He has appeared in His glory. Psalm 102:16 (NASB)
May the LORD bless you from Zion, He who made heaven and earth. Psalm 134:3 (NASB)
This is where our Lord will come when the Tribulation ends. It is a special place to Him. It will also be a special place to the Antichrist, since he will sit down in Zion’s temple and declare himself to be God. 2 Thessalonians tells us that the Antichrist will be revealed when he . . .
. . . exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God. 2 Thessalonians 2:4 (NASB)
The Antichrist will sit down in the temple in Zion and force the world to worship him. The world will be forced to have marks on their foreheads or hands. But it is God who along with the 144,000 witnesses will enter Zion and defeat him. We first saw these witnesses in Revelation 7:4-8. They were Jewish men who were sealed and protected by God. Here we discover that the seal is the names of both Jesus and the Father written on the foreheads of the witnesses. God will have His own mark and in the end He will rule Zion.
As the Apostle John watched, he heard the 144,000 singing a song that they had learned from someone who is not described. It appears a group of angels are singing in unison and verse two says that they sound like a harp. The literal Greek says they sounded like “harpists harping on harps.” The music in heaven is going to be wonderful.
And I heard a voice from heaven, like the sound of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder, and the voice which I heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps. And they *sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders; and no one could learn the song except the one hundred and forty-four thousand who had been purchased from the earth. Revelation 14:2-3 (NASB)
But the four living creatures, who are Seraphim, and twenty-four elders could not learn the song. It is amazing that the four living creatures who stand before the throne of God will not be able to learn the song. This tells us that angels do not know everything nor are they able to know or do everything.
We are also told that the 144,000 men will be purchased from the earth. The tense of the Greek word for purchased is a perfect passive participle. This means that God selected them long ago and that He continued to own them. The Antichrist will want to own everyone on the earth. God is making it clear that He will keep those who belong to Himself. The Antichrist will not be able to take them away.
These are the ones who have not been defiled with women, for they have kept themselves chaste. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These have been purchased from among men as first fruits to God and to the Lamb. And no lie was found in their mouth; they are blameless. Revelation 14:4-5 (NASB)
These men will not get married. They will be virgins. What a contrast to the way many think today. Many believe that marriage is not essential and that men even need to have sex with different women in order to prove that they are men. But these 144,000 men will be single and will not defile themselves by having sex outside of marriage. Having sex outside of marriage defiles both the man and the woman. This is a serious message for us today. There is no such thing as sexual freedom. Sex within marriage is pure otherwise it is defilement. These men will be very unusual. They will not lie, and their pattern of life is godly.
The Call and Warnings
The scene changes when we come to verse six. We see the first of a series of six angels. The first three angels are calling people to fear God and give Him glory and to flee the Antichrist. God will be encouraging men and women to come to Himself through these angels.
We are told that the first angel will be flying in midheaven while he is preaching the eternal gospel.
And I saw another angel flying in midheaven, having an eternal gospel to preach to those who live on the earth, and to every nation and tribe and tongue and people; and he said with a loud voice, “Fear God, and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made the heaven and the earth and sea and springs of waters.” Revelation 14:6-7 (NASB)
Just imagine what people will see and hear. Some people will hear the angel while they are running, working outside, or while they are at the beach. He must have a loud voice in order for everyone to hear him. These people will have a personal encounter with an angel! They will hear that God wants to have a personal relationship with them. God will be calling them. He will be seeking them even in the final hour. Will they listen?
Fallen, Fire & Smoke
Then the apostle saw another angel following the first one. The second one will also have a message. He will be warning them that their great city of Babylon is doomed and judgment is coming.
And another angel, a second one, followed, saying, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, she who has made all the nations drink of the wine of the passion of her immorality” Revelation 14:8 (NASB)
As the apostle continued watching, he saw one more angel following the first two angels. This one warns men and women to reject the Antichrist.
And another angel, a third one, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives a mark on his forehead or upon his hand, he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; and they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.” Revelation 14:9-11 (NASB)
Now we are told that the mark is the name of the beast. Anyone who takes the mark will belong to the Antichrist. The Antichrist is in a struggle against God, but he will lose.
Our Faithful God
What happens to those who become Christians during the tribulation? The next verse tells us that true Christians will remain faithful just as God will be showing Himself to be faithful.
Here is the perseverance of the saints who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus. Revelation 14:12 (NASB)
The mark of true Christians is that they remain. They are obedient and continue to trust Jesus. This is true today too! James 2:19 says that true Christians will never leave God, and those who leave were never really Christians from the beginning. That is the message here. Christians continue! Why do they continue? They continue because Jesus promised that He would lose none. Jesus has promised not to cast anyone away and has promised to raise them up on the last day (John 6:37, 44). Now that means the only way persons “lose their salvation” is if they never had it in the first place. Or, Jesus is a liar or very weak. But Jesus is not like us. He does not lie, and He is the Creator of the universe.
Judgment Is Here
The vision is interrupted by a glimpse of Jesus Christ.
And I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and sitting on the cloud was one like a son of man, having a golden crown on His head, and a sharp sickle in His hand. Revelation 14:14 (NASB)
As we have already said, the one sitting on the white cloud is Jesus Christ. He was called the son of man early in Revelation (Revelation 1:13) and this passage confirms that He is the one on the cloud. Three angels will appear in the following verses to bring judgment on the people who follow the Antichrist, the Antichrist himself, and the false prophet. Jesus will start the final stages of judgment, and the angels will join Him. His angels will now execute the final steps of judgment, except for the final victory at the end of the world.
The prophet Joel predicted that the end of the world would come during one final great battle (Joel 3:21) The sickle has been a sign of God’s judgment since the Old Testament. Listen to the prophet’s prediction.
Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, tread, for the wine press is full; The vats overflow, for their wickedness is great. Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision. The sun and moon grow dark, And the stars lose their brightness. And the LORD roars from Zion and utters His voice from Jerusalem, and the heavens and the earth tremble. But the LORD is a refuge for His people and a stronghold to the sons of Israel. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God, dwelling in Zion My holy mountain. So Jerusalem will be holy, And strangers will pass through it no more. Joel 3:13-17 (NASB)
A fourth angel comes out of the temple in heaven with a message from God the Father to Jesus, who is on Mt. Zion along with the 144,000. The message is simple. Start the judgment.
And another angel came out of the temple, crying out with a loud voice to Him who sat on the cloud, “Put in your sickle and reap, because the hour to reap has come, because the harvest of the earth is ripe.” And He who sat on the cloud swung His sickle over the earth; and the earth was reaped. Revelation 14:15-16 (NASB)
And Jesus will do so. This judgment is the seven bowl judgements which are introduced in the next chapter (Revelation 15), and are described in Revelation 16. When this point is reached, the end will be near and it will be horrible.
Fifth and Sixth Angels
Another angel, the fifth one, will come out of the temple in heaven with another sickle.
And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, and he also had a sharp sickle. And another angel, the one who has power over fire, came out from the altar; and he called with a loud voice to him who had the sharp sickle, saying, “Put in your sharp sickle, and gather the clusters from the vine of the earth, because her grapes are ripe.” Revelation 14:17-18 (NASB)
But it is the sixth angel who calls out for his sickle to cause death. Just as the fourth angel let Jesus know that the time for the seven bowl judgment had come, this angel tells the fifth angel that the time for the last great battle of the Tribulation had come. He will cause a great battle called Armageddon to start.
The next two verses give us an idea as to how horrible the battle will be.
And the angel swung his sickle to the earth, and gathered the clusters from the vine of the earth, and threw them into the great wine press of the wrath of God. And the wine press was trodden outside the city, and blood came out from the wine press, up to the horses’ bridles, for a distance of two hundred miles. Revelation 14:19-20 (NASB)
Joel’s battle of Armageddon will occur from the Plain of Esdraelon to Bozrah in the southern part of Israel (Isaiah 63:1). Jesus and the 144,000 will be in the middle at Zion. Millions will die from many different nations. The best explanation for blood coming up to the horses bridles is that there will be so much blood that it will splatter up to the horses’ bridles. The slaughter will be the worst in human history. We will see more about Armageddon in Revelation 19. The end is coming . . .
Our God is faithful. He promised to bring the Israelites our of Egypt and He did. He promised to send Israel into captivity if they rejected Him. They did and He fulfilled His promise. He promised to bring them back to the land of Israel and it occurred. He promised to send Jesus to die for our sins and He sent His Son and orchestrated His death. Jesus promised the destruction of Jerusalem and it occurred. Israel returned to the land in 1948 just as God had promised.
God has also promised that one day He will end evil and bring Armageddon. He will fulfill the prophecy of Joel and those events are coming.
The Israelites in Malachi 2:13-14 complained that God seemed to favor those who did not remain faithful to Him. They said it was pointless to serve God. They said the wicked enjoyed doing evil and God did nothing. So God responded by telling them that a day was coming when he would bring judgment against the one who does not serve Him (Malachi 3:17-18). The end is coming. We do not know when, but it is coming. Our God is faithful. He will cause it to happen. The end of evil is coming and the glory of the Lord will shine some day for all to see. Come quickly Lord Jesus . . . Amen!