Revelation

CHAPTER 14

   

The first verse of chapter 14 speaks of an exceedingly glorious time that immediately followed a most disheartening event for Christendom.

Rev 14

14:1 Then I looked, and there before me was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father's name written on their foreheads. NIV

Mount Zion here represents the heavenly Jerusalem as predicted in

Ps 2:6

"I have installed my King on Zion, my holy hill." NIV

The scene painted by these words, in this chapter’s first verse, is depicting the beginning of the kingdom of heaven starting with the king along with the first fruits of the resurrected body of Christ who make up part of the bride of Christ.

We all know that Christ was resurrected after three days in the tomb, but most people do not know that the Bible also tells us of those that were resurrected with Him, or we should say right after Him. Something that happened almost two thousand years ago and heralded in Christ taking over of the kingdom of heaven, a job Christ took on the moment he was resurrected from the tomb.  Matthew told us of this when he was relating the events that took place at the instant of the death of Jesus here on earth.

Matt 27:51-53

51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split.

 

The curtain referred to in verse 51 was used to separate the Holy of Holies from the rest of the temple.  God, when instructing Solomon on building the temple, ordered this curtain.

Ex 26:31-33

31 "Make a curtain of blue, purple and scarlet yarn and finely twisted linen, with cherubim worked into it by a skilled craftsman. 32 Hang it with gold hooks on four posts of acacia wood overlaid with gold and standing on four silver bases. 33 Hang the curtain from the clasps and place the ark of the Testimony behind the curtain. The curtain will separate the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place. NIV

The Holy Place was the temple.  The Most Holy Place was this area sitting in the center of the temple. This small enclosure separated by the curtain was where the presence of God was on the mercy seat between the two cherub angels that rested atop the Ark of the Covenant.  This is where sacrifice for the complete host of Israel was made once a year by the high priest.

When the curtain was rent or torn in two from top to bottom it signified that God had not only accepted the sacrifice of His Son, but that the way to heaven was open with no further sacrifices required by God. There were no further sacrifices required because nothing man could do or offer would come anywhere near matching the sacrifice made by Christ.  Now when the curtain was torn in two, what else is Matthew telling us happened?

 52 The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life.

This appears to be hard for people to accept.  I don’t know why because it is exactly what Christ preached and promised while He walked the earth. He promised a resurrection and eternal life at His side for those that believed and followed Him.  If you doubt this, go back to the seven letters to the seven churches and you will see that these are the promises Christ gave to all His body, or church, that overcame.  Christ instructed his apostles to go forth and preach…the kingdom of heaven is at hand. 

Matt 10:7

As you go, preach this message: “The kingdom of heaven is near.” NIV

Notice that Matthew speaks of the beginning of the resurrection of the body of Christ, almost casually, as part of his narrative of the events of that hour.  This is because that is what Christ said would happen, and Matthew is simply verifying that, indeed, that was exactly what did happen.  When Christ had his apostles preach that the kingdom of heaven was near… that is precisely what He meant.  When Christ was resurrected, the time for the new heavens had come about.  Did the old heaven disappear?  Of course not, but now Christ took complete command and control of that heaven and that is what was new. 

53 They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus' resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people. NIV

Who came out of the tombs?  We have already been told who these people that came out of the tombs where… in verse 52

The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life.

Notice these bodies were raised to life.  That is what resurrection means.  “Holy people who had died were raised to life.”  Do we find this phrase elsewhere in the Bible?  We not only find that phrase, but it is God Almighty using it and in a manner related to exactly the same thing: resurrection. 

Rev 20:4-6

4 I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. 5(The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years. NIV

Was it time for that to happen?  Oh most assuredly!  Even John the Baptist preached that the kingdom of heaven was near:

Matt 3:1-2

3:1 In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Desert of Judea 2 and saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near."  NIV

Of course this is exactly what God's Son, Jesus, preached also.

Matt 4:17

From that time on Jesus began to preach, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near." NIV

This was, in fact, precisely what Christ told His disciples to preach.

Matt 10:5-7

5 These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: "Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. 6 Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. 7 As you go, preach this message: `The kingdom of heaven is near.' NIV

When John the Baptist preached that the kingdom of heaven was near… it was, in fact, only 3 and half years away. To get around this fact, one would have to assume that Christ, John the Baptist, and the 12 disciples were all lying when they said the kingdom of heaven was near.

Even pagans at the time, with no knowledge of the family of God, understood this… that is why the Roman soldiers present during this fateful day when Christ was killed exclaimed:

Matt 27:54

When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, "Surely he was the Son of God!"  NIV

Now verse 1 of this chapter is symbolically portraying the picture of not only Christ but also his body of followers, up to that time, all presenting themselves before God.  The 144,000 spoken of in chapter seven of Revelation represents that body of Christ.  We have discussed this 144,000 before.  The Jehovah’s Witnesses believe this is the total amount of those that will receive the heavenly hope held out by the Son of God who is our king and high priest Jesus Christ. They believe this… because they take this number as a literal number or amount. 

Yet, Revelations is symbolic, written in the language of symbolism. It was written in this manner because John was told to write what he saw… and what he saw were mental pictures representing things other than what the pictures literally were.  Let us prove that with this chapter. 

In the next verse we are told of a sound of harpists playing on harps.  Are there actually harps in heaven along with a group that spend all their time playing them?   In verse four we are told that the 144,000 never defiled themselves with women and therefore were pure.  Does that mean that when you marry and have children that you somehow have defiled yourself in spite of the command by God, to mankind, to be fruitful and multiply? (Gen 1:28)  Does the Son of God actually sit on a cloud with a sickle in his hand with which he harvests mankind from the earth?  (Verse 14, 15 of this chapter) Is Christ actually a lamb with seven horns and seven eyes as we are told in Rev 5:6? Look at all of this chapter or any other chapter of Revelation and you will see that there is nothing that defines anything in it as being literal while separating other things and defining them as being symbolic.  This whole chapter, like the rest of the chapters of Revelation, is clearly symbolic from beginning to end! 

All these mental images given to John represent, foreshadow or foretell actual events that have already happened, or are happening now, or will happen in the future. In other words they are describing events in symbolic terms. Why then, in this symbolic language, would one suddenly give a literal meaning to a number that is clearly part of this symbolic language, which actually concerns a small part of the family of God?  Particularly when Revelation, as well as the rest of the Bible, are full of symbolic numbers such as seven, ten, twelve, forty etc. all of which usually represent something larger than stated by the literal number.  We all know that the earth was subjected to forty days of rain when the flood came but that forty days of rain brought on a flood that lasted a year. Or, as an example of numbers not meaning a sum described in Rev 2:10, God tells us…

Rev 2:10

Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life. NIV

The number ten in the above scripture, in Hebrew writing, was used to accent or represent an indefinite period of time which could last for ten minutes, ten hours, ten days, ten months, ten years or all of ones life.  The number 10 is a symbolic number, so to the 12,000 from each of the tribes which make up this symbolic number of 144,000 in chapter seven of Revelation.  Either that or we must assume that God set it up so that exactly 12,000 of each tribe were to be selected as part of the bride of Christ (Rev 7) which takes free will and throws it out the window, and attempts to make God a liar. 

There is something else to the concept of a literal 144,000 being the only ones to receive this heavenly hope.  If this were so, then when Armageddon is over and the earth is part of the kingdom of God in the future age when death does not exist anymore, the earth would have to have a finite amount of occupants simply because it has a limited amount of space. The Witnesses claim at that time when the earth is full, reproduction among mankind will cease.  However, there is no evidence for this anywhere in God's word; there is not even a hint of this in the Bible. In fact, just the opposite is stated in

Isaiah 9:7

Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this. NIV

The government of God's kingdom is made up of people adopted from the earth as we are told in the scriptures:

Rom 8:23

Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. NIV

God is saying in the scriptures above that His government of adopted people from the earth will never stop increasing but will continue to grow forever. That would not work too well if reproduction were stopped on the earth.  Someone is wrong here, and we can be absolutely positive that it is NOT God that is wrong.

Paul has told us of a mystery revealed that people would be changed in a twinkling of an eye into spiritual brothers of Christ.  Since we know that mankind will continue to reproduce forever we can be sure that changing from physical to spiritual will also go on forever as each person becomes worthy of that event learning to sing that song from their heart.  This makes the earth capable of reproducing a limitless number of children for God.

Therefore, this 144,000 number, far from being the total amount of anything, is emblematic of the whole spiritual family of God; in fact as we shall see this chapter is referring to them, in verse 4, as first fruits of this heavenly family.  First fruits imply more to follow but if this were the final number, then more would not be able to follow. 

You might also recall that in chapter seven there was a great crowd behind the group of 144,000 that no one could number.  Since the 144,000 in chapter seven and in this chapter are clearly spiritual children of God, so too would the great crowd or multitude that God says no one could count, which are standing behind them, all be in heaven. This great crowd would also have to be spiritual, or they would not be in heaven with the 144,000, and if they cannot be counted it is because that number never ceases to grow, never reaches a final total.  We can count anything but if the number never stops growing than it cannot be known what its total would be.

Just the same, this chapter starts by highlighting this group of 144,000 and for good reason, for they are the beginning, the first fruits, of the predestined heavenly family of God.  The creator predestined this family to exist before the universe was begun.  However, God chooses the individuals that make up that family through the process of free will that God Himself established for each person who ever was or ever will be born on this earth.

Gen 2:16-17

16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: 17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. KJV 

In other words, man was free to eat from any tree except one, which means he had a choice. Interestingly, the choice you and I have is exactly the same as it was for Adam and Eve.  Follow what God tells us to do… or do what we or someone else wants us to do.          

Now, the first verse of chapter 14 in Revelation has let us know this glorious event-- the resurrection of the first fruits of God's spiritual family-- has already happened, and that we now have a new heaven.  Who is telling us this?  The next verse makes it very clear that it is none other than the Almighty Himself.

Rev 14:2

And I heard a sound from heaven like the roar of rushing waters and like a loud peal of thunder. The sound I heard was like that of harpists playing their harps.

The roar of rushing water like Niagara Falls is not something that one can ignore, which is also true of a loud peal of thunder.  We have also learned in former chapters of Revelation that thunder is associated with the voice of God.  Yet this roaring sound that was heard was very pleasant like the harpists playing their harps.  Notice it is not saying there are harpists in heaven but that the sound was like that of harpists playing their harps.  A harp has such a distinct sound to it, that it cannot be confused with any other instrument in an orchestra and is recognized instantly as a harp.  What is being said in this verse is that it is God Himself, who cannot be confused with any other being in heaven, who is personally speaking out the praise He wishes to give this group.

In other words verse 2 is telling us The Almighty Himself is here declaring something special about this 144,000 or emblematic spiritual group, which is amplified on in the next two verses.

Rev 14:3

And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders. No one could learn the song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth. NIV

Notice that the creator is saying, “ They sang” spoken of in the past tense.  God Himself is declaring to all, what it was they had done before they were resurrected. This new song is the gospel of the good news of the spiritual kingdom of heaven that Christ brought to the earth when his ministry began. That is the reason that the four living creatures and the elders are spoken of here… because that song has to do with the earth and the inhabitants that live on it.  We know this from verse 6 in this chapter.  What this scripture above is saying is that one does not join the ranks of the 144,000, whatever that total is at the moment, until they know that song completely by heart. And heart here is the focal point behind this understanding of the teachings of Christ.  It is not enough to just know the words one must be able to live by those words in his heart day and night before God considers one singing it from his heart. Notice also that the 144,000 are spiritual sons because it is declaring that they have already been redeemed from the earth.  In fact the next verse confirms that these spiritual sons of God were already purchased from among men.

Rev 14:4

These are those who did not defile themselves with women, for they kept themselves pure. They follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They were purchased from among men and offered as first fruits to God and the Lamb.

“…Purchased from among men and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb”

To begin with the 144,000 is not an exclusive men’s club.  There are women who are just as much a part of that emblematic number of saints as are men. Remember the word men can be used symbolically also.  How do we know that… because we were told:

Acts 8:12

But when they believed Philip as he preached the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. NIV 

Acts 5:12-15

12 The apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon's Colonnade. 13 No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people. 14 Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number. NIV

 

What number? The number the 144,000 symbolically represents.

Finally whenever the Bible speaks of men in the family of God it is not excluding women and we know this from…

Gal 3:26-29

26 You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.  NIV

 

Notice neither male nor female… God does not see a difference in His children because of the sex of the individual.

 

Now, that the 144,000 had not defiled themselves with women is not speaking of sex.  IT IS SPEAKING OF IDOLATRY. God has associated idolatry and the worship of pagan gods with prostitutes throughout the Bible.  Revelation refers to it as the Harlot of Babylon.  The reason for this is that God referred to Himself as the husband and Israel as a wife who prostituted herself before the gods of pagan nations.

Isa 1:21

21 See how the faithful city has become a harlot!

She once was full of justice; righteousness used to dwell in her--but now murderers! NIV

Nah 3:4-5

4 all because of the wanton lust of a harlot, alluring, the mistress of sorceries, who enslaved nations by her prostitution and peoples by her witchcraft. KJV

 

5 "I am against you," declares the LORD Almighty. "I will lift your skirts over your face. I will show the nations your nakedness and the kingdoms your shame. NIV

 

It might also be noted that whenever the Bible speaks of nakedness it is not always referring to physical nakedness but to spiritual nakedness using the unclothed body to illustrate it.  This is because when Adam and Eve sinned against the command of God their physical nakedness became their outward sign of their inner failing.  Their physical nakedness did not bother either God or them before their sin.

 

What has just been said in the verses above is verified in this chapter in verse 8

Rev 8

A second angel followed and said, "Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great, which made all the nations drink the maddening wine of her adulteries." NIV

 

Adulteries, which came in the form of lying men who, for their own gain, manufactured and taught false gods to others and enticed others to worship these worthless things.  But of the 144,000…

Rev 14:5

No lie was found in their mouths; they are blameless.

 

The word blameless is used often in the Bible meaning without sin.  But remember this group sang a song no one else could learn.  That song was the truth of the gospel of the kingdom of heaven and that is why no lie was found in their mouths because they spoke only the word of God.  But the 144,000 had already left the physical confines of the earth and were now spiritual brothers of Christ and full spiritual sons of God so what happens to the song they sang.  There now comes another messenger to tell us about that:

Rev 14:6

Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth-to every nation, tribe, language and people. NIV

 

If the 144,000 were a finite number as some claim than there would be no need to continue proclaiming or singing the song, only they could learn, for the number would be complete and finished. Yet we are being told this message is an eternal message.  This angel above is delivering the same ETERNAL gospel of the good news of the kingdom of heaven that Christ proclaimed, load and clear, during His three and half year ministry on earth.  This means that the gospel will continue to be taught to all inhabitants of the earth.  Isaiah gives us a good idea of what it will be like when Satan and his followers are destroyed.  Isaiah begins by predicting the second coming of Christ…

Isa 11:1-10

A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.

Jesse was king David’s father.  Jesus came through the line of Judah just as king David did.  Now Isaiah tells us that Jesus, as a descendant through the line of Jesse, will be very special in the eyes of the Almighty…

 

Isaiah 11:2 The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him--the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD— NIV

 

Does Christ have a fear of the LORD?  That is answered in Rev 3:12 in which Christ is saying to his church in Sardis.

Rev 3:12

Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name. NIV

 

If He is the Almighty as some claim than does he fear himself for we are told in the next verse in? 

Isaiah 11:3

“And he will delight in the fear of the LORD. He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears;” NIV

 

If you had any doubt that this was Christ that Isaiah is speaking of look again at verse three. Christ does not judge by what he hears or sees but by what is in one’s heart.

 

Isaiah 11:4 but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked. NIV

 

How does Christ do this…He does it by bringing truth to the foreground of the world and forcing all to listen to the word?

Isaiah 11:5 Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist.  NIV

 

In the very first chapter of Revelation in verse 18 we were told that Christ was wearing a golden girdle or sash about him.  Later in Revelation we will learn that Isaiah was here talking about what the conditions on earth will be like during the thousand-year reign of Christ. 

 

Isaiah 11:6 The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. NIV

 

Isaiah 11:7 The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. NIV

 

Isaiah 11:8 The infant will play near the hole of the cobra, and the young child put his hand into the viper's nest. NIV

 

Isaiah 11:9 They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea. NIV

 

We know that the holy mountain symbolizes Gods government and we are told in verse 9 above concerning that government that it…“Will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.”

 

Isaiah 11:10 In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his place of rest will be glorious. NIV

 

Jesse was the father of king David.  The root of Jesse is here referring to Christ not king David.

Rev 22:16

"I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star."   NIV  (see also Rev 5:5)

 

Now we will leave this wondrous time in the future and return to Revelation chapter 14 which is heralding the very beginning of that future time spoken of by Isaiah, as well as so many other prophets of the word of God, and this angel also bellows out…

 

Rev 14:7

He said in a loud voice, "Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water." NIV

 

The word judge is used in two different ways in the word.  One is the judge we normally associate with the word who administers fines and penalties according to law.  The other use of the word means to teach and instruct as the voice of God.  If you recall the leaders of Israel, as originally set up by God, was through Judges.  God instructed the judges and the judges instructed the people.  Kings were something people wanted and when the people told Samuel that they wanted a king he went to God and said the people have rejected me.  Wherein God corrected him saying “No they have not rejected you they have rejected me.

 

1 Sam 8:6-9

6 But when they said, "Give us a king to lead us," this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the LORD. 7 And the LORD told him: "Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. 8 As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. 9 Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will do." NIV

 

In effect God told them one king would be worse than the next as time progressed and that is exactly what happened. But what is important about all this is that an earthly king is not what will rule the kingdom of God, in the end that is to be the job of our Lord and high priest Jesus Christ. 

 

Now to repeat verse 8 of this chapter another angel follows behind the one we just heard from with a warning to those that do not heed the first angels declaration.

Rev 14:8

A second angel followed and said, "Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great, which made all the nations drink the maddening wine of her adulteries." NIV

 

Now notice also chapter 14 has again taken us back in time to the beginning of the message of Revelation by taking us to the resurrection of Christ and his body three days after Gods Son was slain.  The reason for this is that Revelation is a repeated message reiterated over and over, each time adding more information to the last explanation.  This chapter, or retelling, is focusing on what follows after our Lord took over command of heaven, which, in the order of things most important, is the wrath of God.

Rev 14:9-10

A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice: "If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives his mark on the forehead or on the hand, 10 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.

 

This is one of the scriptures used by hell fire advocates that claim God is telling us here that hellfire exists.  This is because they mistakenly place a literal meaning to a symbolic statement.  We will not be sidetracked here with a discussion of hellfire but you can learn what God means by this in the article in the Bible Probe on “Hell.”  However, we will note that the wrath of God is poured out on the earth and its inhabitants, not somewhere inside it.

Rev 6:15-17

15 Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and every slave and every free man hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. 16 They called to the mountains and the rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! 17 For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?"  NIV

 

As a sidebar to what we are talking about notice in verses 16 and 17 above that it is the Son of God, Christ, who delivers this wrath of his father and this confirmed in verse 17 by it saying it is THEIR wrath being spoken of, this is why Christ is the first of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse spoken of in chapter six of Revelation.

Rev 14:11

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."  NIV

 

Smoke rising forever means there is no end of the separation from God that disobedience brings about.  That being the case there is no way one in that condition could enter into the peace offered by God, which is confirmed by God Himself.

Heb 3:10-11

10 That is why I was angry with that generation, and I said, `their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways.' 11 So I declared on oath in my anger, “They shall never enter my rest.”  NIV

 

The next verse is a preamble to the two events that are to take place in the remaining scriptures of this chapter.

Rev 14:12

This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God's commandments and remain faithful to Jesus. NIV

 

In other words this cannot be rushed what takes place has to have the time required for it to play itself out.

Rev 14:13

Then I heard a voice from heaven say, "Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on." "Yes," says the Spirit, "they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them." NIV

 

How do they rest?  By being resurrected and becoming spiritual brothers of Christ and entering Gods rest.  To briefly explain Gods rest we all know that God created the universe and all that was in it in six days.  On the seventh day God rested.  Well, those days are calculated by God in His way of viewing time, not ours, consequently we are still in the seventh day or Gods day of rest.  Why are they resting in Gods heavenly kingdom?  They are in the kingdom of heaven because of their actions or deeds while they were here on earth, which is what “Their deeds will follow them” means.

          Now we come to the two events that were alluded to before.  The first event is Christ watching over his body of church for the proscribed time allotted by God.

Rev 14:14

I looked, and there before me was a white cloud, and seated on the cloud was one "like a son of man" with a crown of gold on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand. NIV

 

Now Christ doesn’t actually sit on a cloud with a sickle in his hand.  However, the metaphor is enough for us to identify Christ who is referred to this way in the Old Testament.  Also we have learned that clouds of heaven are often used to identify Gods power.

Dan 7:13

"In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence.  NIV

 

The ancient of days referred to in Dan 7:13 is the Almighty… Christ’s Father and God.  Again if you don’t think that Christ’s  Father is also Christ’s God look at what is being said by Christ in:

Rev 3:12

Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.  KJV

Rev 14:15

Then another angel came out of the temple and called in a loud voice to him who was sitting on the cloud, "Take your sickle and reap, because the time to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is ripe."

 

The time to reap is referring to the period allotted by God to select those that would become part of the 144,000 or the spiritual brothers and sisters of Christ.  This time is when Christ spiritually baptizes those that want the free waters of life offered by Christ.  This is why the next verse is telling us that’s exactly what Christ is doing.

Rev 14:16

So he who was seated on the cloud swung his sickle over the earth, and the earth was harvested. NIV

By the way we have already learned that the harvest mentioned above will never cease or stop, but new members of the family of God will continue to be selected forever.  Nonetheless, that does not mean that other things will not take place at the same time such as the second event these last verses are talking about.

Rev 14:17

Another angel came out of the temple in heaven, and he too had a sharp sickle.  NIV

By now it should be obvious that sickles, in these verses, are being used to represent or symbolize a harvest of human beings which relate to the wheat and tares mentioned by Christ.  Christ is harvesting or collecting the wheat while this angel spoken of in verse 17-19 is to cut out the tares.

Rev 14:18

Still another angel, who had charge of the fire, came from the altar and called in a loud voice to him who had the sharp sickle, "Take your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of grapes from the earth's vine, because its grapes are ripe." NIV

That the grapes were ripe symbolizes that there was no more time given to the world from that moment on and Armageddon, the finality of all this, was about to commence.

Rev 14:19

The angel swung his sickle on the earth, gathered its grapes and threw them into the great winepress of God's wrath.

However, before the thousand-year reign of Christ can begin, the wrath of God has to be fulfilled.

That thousand year reign of Christ is calculated in the manner that God sees time in relation to us

Which means Armageddon is a long way down the road but that wrath issued by Christ for his father has already begun. Just the same, Armageddon is what was being referred to here and the outcome of that is as follows.

Rev 14:20

They were trampled in the winepress outside the city, and blood flowed out of the press, rising as high as the horses' bridles for a distance of 1,600 stadia.  NIV

Does blood flow out of a winepress?  No, but blood and wine are both red and that is why the symbolism of a wine press is being used.  Wine presses were usually outside the city and the city here is depicting the holy city of New Jerusalem, which is really the bride of Christ spoken of later in Revelation. Now again verse 14 above is speaking of the final days of Armageddon and in depicting that blood would be as high as horses bridles and cover a distance equal to 200 miles mean the slaughter of the enemies of God will be so great as to appear to make a lake of blood.

How do we know this? Because it has been told to us before.

Isaiah 63:6

I trampled the nations in my anger; in my wrath I made them drunk and poured their blood on the ground."  NIV

 

In fact, prophets of God such as Isaiah, in past times, have told all of what has just been said in Revelation concerning Armageddon.

Isaiah 63:2-4

2 Why are your garments red, like those of one treading the winepress?  3 "I have trodden the winepress alone; from the nations no one was with me. I trampled them in my anger and trod them down in my wrath; their blood spattered my garments, and I stained all my clothing. 4 For the day of vengeance was in my heart, and the year of my redemption has come. NIV

 

But the message of chapter 14 in Revelation is that the Kingdom of heaven was established the moment Christ was resurrected from the tomb of death.  That the first half of the kingdom, the kingdom of heaven, was taken command of by our Lord, king, and eternal high priest Jesus Christ the moment he was resurrected.  It is also telling us that we are living in the time that the second half of that kingdom will be established and taken command of by Christ right… here on earth.  



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