Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Revelation 14

The book of Revelation speaks to suffering believers.  It was written from a suffering place, by John who was suffering, and to suffering people.  Sin is the reason all suffer, but all suffering in not from sin.  The suffering in the world can be traced back to sin and its curse with the fall of mankind in the book of Genesis.  No suffering can separate us from God’s love.  Believers identify with Christ’s suffering and through our suffering we are brought closer to Him.  Peter called for all believers to rejoice in their suffering, because through it we are identified with Christ.  One day there will be no more suffering.  Until then He holds us in His hands.

How have you suffered?
How are you using your suffering?
Are you allowing Him to come closer to you or are you shutting Him out?
Do you trust God’s purposes in your suffering even though you don’t understand?

Revelation 14 is a preview of the harvesting of the earth.  The believers are separated from the unbelievers and then the unbelievers are destroyed.  It’s a fast forward of what will happen in the end, which we will see in the following chapters. 

Revelation 14:1-5 – The Lamb and the 144,000

John saw the Lamb standing on Mount Zion.  He had the 144,000 with Him.  John heard a roar of like rushing waters and a loud peal of thunder.  He also heard a sound like harpists singing a new song before the throne and before the 4 living creatures and elders.  No one could learn the song except the 144,000 who were redeemed from the earth.  They didn’t defile themselves with women and followed the Lamb wherever He goes.  No lie was found in them and they are blameless.   (Rev. 14:1-5)

Who are these 144,000?  I think they are the same as in chapter 7.   If they weren’t, I think scripture would tell us so.  John is describing them in more detail here.  They were sealed with God’s name on their foreheads and in their hearts and minds.  They have victory over the beast and his mark.  They are redeemed from the earth.  They are God’s people who have withstood the attack of Satan.  The church is often referred to as a woman.  Not defiled with women means they did not accept the doctrines of the corrupt church.  God often speaks of the purity of His people in terms of sexual immorality.  These 144,000 have not been compromised by the world, but remain loyal as a virgin bride to the future groom.  They remain pure toward Christ.

How are you loyal to Christ?
Do you have God’s seal?
Do you follow Him wherever He leads you?

Revelation 14:6-13 – The 3 Angels

John saw 3 angels who have 3 important declarations from God.

The 1st angel was flying and proclaiming the eternal gospel to all the people of the earth.  “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come.  Worship him who made the havens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water.” Rev. 14:7  He is warning people to fear or respect God instead of the Antichrist and to give God the glory, not the Antichrist.  This is good news to those who receive and obey it, but bad news to those who reject it.  This seems to be God’s last offer to proclaim Jesus as Lord before the final wrath to come.

The 2nd angel followed, “Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great, which made all the nations drink the maddening wine of her adulteries.”Rev. 14:8  I think the Babylon here may not be a literal city, but a world system that opposes the church and Christians.  Babylon is symbolic of the world and its evil system.

The 3rd angel followed, “If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives his mark on the forehead or on the hand, he, too, will drink of the wine of God’s fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath.  He will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb.  And the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever.  There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or for anyone who receives the mark of his name.”Rev. 14:9-11  As we studied before those who have the mark on their forehead belong to the beast.  Just as the 144,000 belong to God by His name being on their foreheads, these who take to mark are sealed for Satan.  There will be torment that will not last for a short time, but forever.  There will be no end!  This forever is just as heaven is forever for believers.  They will drink God’s wrath undiluted.  His judgment is not going to be watered down.  They will receive the full force of God’s anger.  There will be people who will be deceived and take the mark.  The angel is pointing out the consequences of those who do so.

“This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God’s commandments and remain faithful to Jesus.”Rev. 14:12  He is giving believers another call for endurance.  They are not to give in to the temptation to worship the beast, but to remain faithful even to death.  “Write:  blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” – Rev. 14:13  John was told to write that those who die during the Tribulation as martyrs will be blessed and reign with Christ during the Millennium (Rev. 20:4).

What things of this world do you worship?
What in this world defiles you?
Do you follow the Lamb wherever He goes?
Is your faith strong enough to endure to the end?

Revelation 14:14-20 – The Harvest

John saw a white cloud with one like a son of man sitting on it.  He had a golden crown and a sharp sickle. (Rev. 14:14) Then another angel came out of the temple and called out, “Take your sickle and reap, because the time to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.” – Rev. 14:15 
The angel coming out of the temple shows he has the authority and is speaking directly from God.  So he swung his sickle over the earth, and gathered God’s people.  The crown on the one like a son of man shows his authority.  I think this is a representative of Jesus.  In the verses 15 and 17 it says another angel suggests a previous angel so I don’t think this is Jesus, but His angel.  Jesus would not need someone to tell Him it was time for the harvest.  Also Matt. 13:39 says at the end of the age the reapers are angels.

Another angel came out of the temple with a sickle.  Then another angel called in a loud voice, “Take your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of grapes from the earth’s vine, because its grapes are ripe.”Rev. 14:18    Again the angle is speaking directly from God.  The angel swung his sickle and gathered its grapes and threw them into the great winepress of God’s wrath.  They were trampled in the winepress outside the city, and blood flowed out, rising as high as horses’ bridles for 200 miles. 

The sickle is judgment.  The wine press is God’s wrath.  The clusters of the vine or grapes represent the unbelievers of the earth, those who have followed and worshipped the Beast.  It was outside the city that Jesus died so God will punish the people outside the city.  The city was Jerusalem.

With which group do you identify?
Sounds like a horrible sight and place to be.  Only the Lamb can rescue you from God’s wrath.  We all deserve God’s wrath and we all need the gospel.  The Lamb offers escape from His wrath that will last forever.  If you are a believer, thank God for His grace and mercy He has given you that you will not have to endure this.  If you have not yet become a follower of Christ, I hope this wakes you up.  See the bottom of this blog page for the plan of God’s salvation.

 Next week we will study Revelation 15-16.  Hope to see you here.

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