A Study of Revelation

Chapter 14

Chapter 14 should be viewed as a continuation of Chapter 13 which described two great beasts that control the people of the world.

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Verses 1 through 5 describe those who do not worship these beasts. They are the ones who follow the Lamb, in other words, these are Christians, the 144,000. Verses 8 through 11 show that this beast, or as it is referred to in this chapter, Babylon, will eventually fall. Its powers will cease, and this beast, along with those who have followed it, will be destroyed.

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The last section of this chapter (vss. 14-20) provides another look at judgment. This section can also be divided into two parts. Verses 14 through 16 picture Christ harvesting the earth or taking the faithful home to heaven. This will be the final gathering of the 144,000 who were described in verses 1 through 5 as following Christ instead of the beast. Verses 17 through 20 picture the “reaping” or gathering of those who have opposed God. This will be the final gathering of those who worshiped the beast or were a part of Babylon (vv. 8-11). Chapter 14 once again takes us through the Christian dispensation and into eternity.

14:1* ¶ Then 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.

In chapter 7 we learned that the 144,000 are the servants of God who are sealed on their foreheads. Here they are described as having the Father’s name written on their foreheads. Both descriptions show that they are followers of Christ and have given their allegiance to him. To have the Father’s name written on one’s forehead means that they belong to God. This is in direct contrast to those in 13:16 who had the mark of the beast on their hands or foreheads. They worshiped or served something other than the true God. Everyone in the world today bears a mark on their foreheads. Christians have their Father’s name written on their foreheads, and everyone else bears the mark of the beast. This is not a literal mark, it is figurative and defines whom we serve. Everyone must decide whom he will serve or whose mark he will wear, God’s or Satan’s.

This multitude of 144,000 is standing on Mt. Zion with the Lamb (Christ). This shows that the the 144,000 are those who are obedient to the law of Christ. In Micah we read the following prophecy:

Mic. 4:2
2 Many nations will come and say, “Come and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD And to the house of the God of Jacob, That He may teach us about His ways And that we may walk in His paths.” For from Zion will go forth the law, Even the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

Revelation shows us that Christ is giving his law on Mt. Zion, which is a likeness to the giving of the law of Moses on Mt. Sinai. Because Christ gave his law on Mt. Zion, his word went forth from Jerusalem, and therefore it became possible for the 144,000 to be redeemed to God. The Hebrew writer says:

Heb. 12:22
22* But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels,

When one obeys the gospel, he comes to Mt. Zion and becomes a part of the 144,000.

2* 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.

John hears two voices here, one from heaven and one from those who stand before the throne singing. The voice from heaven like the sound of many waters shows that this message was a life-sustaining message. Just as water is a necessary life-sustaining substance, this message is one which is necessary to sustain spiritual life. The voice like the sound of loud thunder indicates that this message is of tremendous importance.

The other voice John heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps. This is a reference to the 144,000 mentioned in the next verse who were singing a new song before the throne.

Some suggest that this verse authorizes the use of instrumental music in our worship services because these harps are used in heaven, and if it is acceptable to God to have harps used in heaven in worship to him then surely we are permitted to use them in worship here on earth. This viewpoint does not take into consideration the context of this passage or the symbolic language used.

Let me remind you. We are in Revelation. We are dealing with symbolic language which uses a symbol to represent and describe another item. In this case the harp is the symbol, and it is used to represent and describe the voices of Christians. It shows how God views the voices of Christians as they sing praises to him. God considers the voices of Christians beautiful as they sing to him.

The context of this passage is not worship in our heavenly abode. John is describing a vision he saw in heaven which, in turn, describes events that take place on earth. This passage is describing the actions of Christians as they worship God in the church. When one obeys the gospel, he becomes part of the 144,000. He then uses his “harp” or voice, to sing the new song of redemption. He follows the Lamb wherever he goes (vs.4) and stands without fault in the sight of God (v.5).

In the Book of Revelation the word “harp” is used in three passages, the first passage we examined in chapter 5. Let me remind you that there the “twenty-four elders” which represent God ordained religion are “each one holding a harp” (Rev. 5:8) which the next verse clarifies is singing when it says “they sang a new song.” The place they were offering this worship is before the throne which represents the church in worship during the Christian age.

In Chapter 14 we have the “144,000” which represents Christians offering worship before the throne and John says “the voice I heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps.”

Again, we have the symbol of the “harp” defined by the next verse which tells us “they sang a new song.”

In Chapter 15 we find “those who have been victorious” “holding harps of God” which John explains is the singing of “the song of Moses.” They are singing this song in “heaven” which in Revelation represents the church.

This simply means that God considers the voices of the saints to be beautiful as they worship him.

It is wrong to add to the worship of our God before the throne. Those who attempt to justify the use of instruments of music as an addition to the worship of the New Testament church by citing this passage have added to the Word of God and are subject to the plagues described in this book.

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These plagues will be described in detail in chapter 16. God will pour out his wrath in judgment upon those who add to his Word. This is why the Lord’s church must be extremely careful never to allow the polluted waters that flow from the beast to affect the teaching in the church.

Art used by permission by Pat Marvenko Smith, copyright 1992.
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3* 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.

The 144,000 are singing a new song that only they could sing. Since the 144,000 are those “who had been purchased from the earth” this song is the song of the “purchased” or the “redeemed” or Christians. There is no literal song which Christians can learn but non-Christians cannot learn. Therefore, this song must be a representation of some difference between Christians and non-Christians. This, of course, is spiritual life or salvation. This song they were singing could be called the song of salvation. This is why it is a new song. Before Christ figuratively stood on Mt. Zion giving his life as an atonement for man’s sins and bringing the new law which was the gospel, there was no salvation. Man could not sing the song of salvation before Christ died on the cross. When he died, he redeemed man to God and gave him a new song to sing. It is also a “new” song in the sense that when a sinner becomes a Christian, he has a new song to sing. As the gospel is taught throughout the world today sinners render obedience to it, they learn the new song of salvation, become a part of the 144,000, and have the name of the father written on their foreheads.

4* 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.

These are additional characteristics of the 144,000, or Christians of all ages. Christians are chaste and have not been defiled with women in the sense that they have not committed spiritual adultery. True Christians remain true to God. In Rev. 14:8, 17:2 and 18:3 we have this same symbolism. The image of the beast in 13:14, 15 is referred to as the “great harlot” in 17:1. Those who worshiped the image of the beast were said to be committing fornication with this “great harlot.” To worship anything other than God is to commit spiritual fornication. The 144,000 are Christians who remain faithful to God. Christians also are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever he goes.

John 12:26
26* “If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.

Christians are “purchased” from among men as the first fruits of God.

James 1:18
18* In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures.

Christians are again represented as the 144,000.

5* And no lie was found in their mouth; they are blameless.

Another characteristic of a Christian is that they teach only the truth and they are without blemish. To be “blameless” means that Christians keep their garments white by remaining faithful to Christ and being continually cleansed from their sins by his blood. The 144,000 are continually faithful to Christ thereby keeping themselves blameless. Christians stand without blame before the throne of God.

6* ¶ 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;

We should not come to the conclusion by reading this verse that there will come a time when an angel will actually appear and preach the gospel from heaven. This verse, using symbolic language, shows that the gospel is to be preached to all men of all nations. Obedience to this gospel redeems us to God and makes us a part of the 144,000. It is available to anyone who will accept it.

7* and he said with a loud voice, “Fear God, and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgment has come; worship Him who made the heaven and the earth and sea and springs of waters.”

We are admonished to worship God and give him glory because he made all things. We are to do this because the hour of his judgment has come. This is a reference not to the final judgment but the giving of God’s law which he will use to judge all men. Before Christ died on the cross only one nation (Israel) was subject to the old law which God gave through Moses. After Christ died, all nations were subject to his new law. All nations came to worship before him. The words which Jesus spoke will be used to judge men, Jesus said:

John 12:48,49
48* “He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day.
49* “For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak.

Jesus gave the gospel to all nations and when he did so he made his judgment known to all men. The gospel is to be preached to all men of all nations and they will be judged by that same gospel.

Verses 1 through 7 describe the 144,000. They are the purchased or redeemed of the earth. They are the ones who are obedient to the gospel which is being preached to all nations. The way we distinguish the 144,000 from those who follow the devil today is by the Word of God. If we desire to know the judgment of God all we have to do is open the pages of the New Testament. Jesus said:

Matthew 19:28
28* And Jesus said to them, “Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

The twelve apostles spoke the law of Christ as he revealed it to them through the Holy Spirit. The law which they spoke will be used to judge mankind. In that sense the twelve apostles are sitting on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes (the church) today. Christ is also judging men by the same law as he sits on his throne in heaven.

8* 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.”

This angel announces the fall of Babylon the great which causes all nations to drink of the passion of her immorality. The “passion” refers to spiritual fornication committed by those who follow the apostate church. Chapter 17 describes a great harlot who committed fornication with the kings of the earth (verses 1,2). The “kings of the earth” are the same as “all nations” because they represent the leaders of all nations on this earth. Part of the name written upon the forehead of this woman is “Babylon the great” (17:5). According to 17:18 this woman is a representation of the “great city.” In 18:2, this woman is also referred to as “Babylon the great.” Therefore, “Babylon” and the “woman” of chapter 17 are both symbolic of the same forces which operate on this earth.

This great harlot (Babylon), which commits fornication and causes all nations to participate with here in spiritual fornication is symbolic of all types of false religious organizations which cause nations to forsake God by worshiping according to the ways of man. This would be spiritual fornication. Therefore, “Babylon” represents all who seek to worship God by following man’s laws instead of God’s.

This announcement is proclaimed as if we are past the end of time looking back on
events which took place on the earth. The point of verse 8 is that Babylon will fall and those who become residents of Babylon by committing spiritual fornication will have no hope. The only people who will have hope at the end of time will be the 144,000 who have followed the lamb (v.4), they have not committed spiritual fornication.

9* Then 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 on his hand,
10* 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.

This angel warns that those who worship the beast and his image will receive the wrath of God. Worship of the beast and his image is the subject of chapter 13. Anyone who worships anything other than the true God will be subject to the wrath of God. Many people in the world today would have us believe that because God is a God of love he could not possibly send anyone to hell for all eternity. Verse 10 completely contradicts this concept. God is a God of love, but he is also a just God.

Those who become his children by obedience to his laws will inherit all things (1 Pet. 1:3,4) and those who worship anything else will receive the wrath of God.

Art used by permission by Pat Marvenko Smith, copyright 1992.
To order prints visit:
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Those who worship the beast will drink of the wine of the wrath of God and be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the Lamb. This same punishment is spoken of in 18:1-7 which describes Babylon as receiving the torment of God. We should not understand the fire and brimstone literally. This is a figurative description of a torment which will be so severe it would be impossible for man to completely comprehend. For that reason, it is described in terms which would cause severe pain to our physical bodies. This warning should be sufficient to cause man to desire to avoid the wrath of God in the only way possible–by being obedient to his will.

To receive this punishment in the presence of the holy angels and the lamb means that they give approval of the punishment which is to take place.

11* “And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.”

The punishment for those who worship the beast and his image is eternal torment. This torment will be constant. There will be no periods of rest or relief. It will be a punishment so horrible that we cannot possibly begin to comprehend it now. It is described as eternal fire because that would be one of the most painful physical torments we could imagine. The knowledge of this eternal torment should be enough to cause us to strive to worship the true God in a way he has designated and not according to man’s designs.

12* Here is the perseverance of the saints who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.

A child of God should have patience because he knows that eventually those who oppose God and persecute Christians will be punished by God.

13* ¶ And I heard a voice from heaven, saying, “Write, ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on!’” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “so that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow with them.”

A blessing is pronounced on those who die in the Lord which refers to Christians. They are promised rest from their labors. This is in direct contrast to those who worship the beast and his image. They will be tormented forever with no rest (v.11). This again points to the patience of the saints. Times may be hard for us now, but eventually, we will have eternal rest if we remain faithful.

The work of the Lord is to lead others to Christ. Those who are converted to Christ are the “deeds” that will follow them.

14* Then 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.

“One like a son of man” is a reference to Jesus, the same expression is used in 1:13. He has a golden crown on his head to denote his authority as a king. The sickle he holds indicates that he has the power and authority to execute the judgment which is about to take place. Jesus was take up in a cloud (Acts 1:9-11) and this vision tells us that he will return in the same way. This cloud was white to represent the holiness and righteousness of Jesus.

Verses 14 through 16 picture the gathering of the righteous to be taken home to heaven. The second picture of the judgment scene (verses 17-20) is a description of the gathering of the unrighteous. They will be punished with everlasting punishment which is described in verse 20. All of these events happen at the same time. John 5:28, 29 says:

John 5:28, 29
28* “Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice,
29* and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.

There will be one resurrection in which all people will come forth to receive their final judgment.

15* 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, for the hour to reap has come, because the harvest of the earth is ripe.”

Matthew 24:36 says of the second coming:”But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.”

Therefore, we have an angel coming out of the dwelling place of God, bringing Christ the message that the time to harvest the earth has arrived. We know that Christ dwells with God in heaven and they are not separated to the extent of needing angels to carry messages. This is simply a figurative representation of the second coming showing that Christ will come when God says the time is right. Verse 14 describes the one who will harvest the earth; verse 15 tells who will make the decision that the time has arrived; verse 16 shows that Christ will carry out the will of God by reaping the harvest of the earth, the saved.

The harvest of the earth being ripe indicates that the time is right for Jesus to claim the redeemed. Just as grain is harvested when it has matured, the redeemed of this earth will be harvested when it is fully matured.

16* Then He who sat on the cloud swung His sickle over the earth, and the earth was reaped.

Here we have a figurative description of the second coming of Christ. In John’s day the sickle was the tool used to harvest grain. It is used here to show that Jesus possesses the authority and power necessary to harvest the earth. This verse concludes the description of Christ’s second coming for the saints. Verse 17 begins a description of the end of time as it concerns the gathering and punishment of the wicked.

17* And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, and he also had a sharp sickle.

Verses 17 through 20 tell of the gathering of the wicked to be punished for their deeds. Like the angel in verse 14 this angel comes out of the temple, indicating he is also sent from God. This angel also possesses a sharp sickle which shows that he has the power to carry out the will of God.

The exact order of events of the second coming are not given here, but this seems to indicate that Jesus will take the righteous from this earth to their eternal home in heaven and the angels of God will deliver the wicked to be punished in hell. Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17:

1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17
16* For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.
17* Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.

When God determines it is time for judgment, the righteous will go home with Jesus to dwell forever in his presence and the wicked will be cast into eternal punishment.

18* Then 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.”

At the end of time the unjust will be gathered together to receive their punishment. That’s the meaning of the expression “gather the clusters from the vine of the earth.” The angel takes the fire from the altar, from the presence of God, with his authority, and sends punishment upon those who disobey God.

19* So 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.

“The clusters from the vine of the earth,” or all who disobey God will be gathered together on the last day. Eternal punishment is pictured here as being like a great winepress. Just as the grapes are trodden underfoot in order to remove the juice, all sinners will be trodden underfoot by God. This punishment will be extremely severe because verse 20 says the blood of those people will reach the depth of a horse’s bridle.

Let me remind you again, we are in the book of Revelation. The language we are dealing with is symbolic. These people will not be placed in a literal winepress. This figuratively shows the severity of their punishment. It also shows that just as many of these people had persecuted and trodden underfoot those who follow Christ, when the final judgment is pronounced, those roles will be switched. Those who persecute Christians on this earth will be tormented forever.

20* 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.

Again we have a symbolic description of the severe torment that those who are disobedient to God will suffer. The wine press is trodden outside the city because Jesus was crucified “outside the gate” (Heb. 13:12). Just as Jesus suffered outside the city of God under the law of Moses, these people will suffer outside the spiritual city of God which is the church. The church will spend eternity in heaven while those outside it will be punished forever.

The blood that comes out of the wine press flows for a distance of two hundred miles. The horse is used in the series of the seven seals to describe the many types of physical persecutions which Christians will have to suffer while on earth.

After judgment those who have ridden these horses of persecution against Christians will find themselves in extreme torment.

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