Title: VOICES OF VICTORY FINALLY RING FROM HEAVEN
Text: Revelation 14:1-20
As the Antichrist does the bidding work of Satan against the beloved, Heaven can remain silent for only so long. Chapters 14-16 reveal God’s greatest wrath being poured out upon the earth. The world is moving into its last hours of judgment…and Heaven cannot remain silent! The earth below is ripe in its wickedness, and deserves what it is about to receive.
Three angels are dispatched with messages from God. They are testimonies to God’s pure righteousness. In the midst of the wicked rule of the Antichrist and the False Prophet, God still calls everyone to repent and refuse the beast’s mark. No one will take the mark of the beast in ignorance. God warns us what it means to choose the beast over Him. Those standing true and faithful to God will be comforted by what the angels declare. It is that God will prevail and their faithfulness will be rewarded. Read Text.
1. Chapter 14 opens with a vision of the Lamb standing on Mount Zion. Who is the Lamb? (Jesus.) What is Mount Zion that is referred to in this passage? (Heaven – 14:3)
2. Standing with the Lamb is 144,000. Who are they? (Unmarried male Jews.) Rev. 7:4; 14:4 What does it mean when it says they were purchased as first fruits? (They are the first fruits of an entire harvest that belongs to God.) What is there about their character that makes them different than anyone else on the earth at that time? (They did not lie or deceive, but were blameless. 14:5)
Insight: At a time when they are trying to hide from the Antichrist and his evil workers, to not lie or deceive and remain blameless is a character trait that could result in death. This is character at the highest level.
3. What do the 144,000 do in Heaven? (They sing a song that no one else knows.)
Insight: Does it encourage you to know that one day sorrows will be transformed into songs? No matter how wicked the world will become, God has always had a faithful remnant that will declare His faithfulness. The song this massive group of male voices sings is reserved only for them. Their faithfulness to the Lord has earned them the right to sing an exclusive song of praise to their Lord.
4. Six different angels bring messages from God throughout this chapter. What is the mission of the first angel? (To proclaim an eternal Gospel to fear God and give Him glory. 14:7) Do angels have the privilege to preach the Gospel currently? (No.) Who is God using to preach it at this time? (Us.)
5. During this period of the Tribulation, who are people fearing and giving glory to? (The beast. 13:4) Who does this angel summon people to fear and honor? (God alone.) Isn’t worshipping God one of the basic of the Christian life? Do you need frequent reminders to call you back to the basics?
Insight: From the days of Solomon we have heard what is the beginning of wisdom. It’s to fear the Lord. (Prov. 9:10) The man who worships anyone other than his Creator is doomed to consequences of folly.
6. What is the message of the second angel? (Babylon is fallen.) What is Babylon? (A corrupt system that causes people to fall into immorality like that of a prostitute. Babylon’s primary occupation is seducing others into fornication, the worship of false gods.) Rev. 14:8; 17:1, 5, 18
Insight: Its interesting to note that after the Antichrist is through with the Great Harlot, he will destroy her. It’s just like Satan to use people and discard them like trash when he’s through with them. Rev. 17:16-17
7. What does the third angel say will happen to those who take the mark of the best or worship him? (14:9-10)
Insight: Notice how the tables are turned here. The beast causes the world to become intoxicated with the wine of passion (14:8), but now God will have the last word and force the Antichrist-worshippers to drink God’s kind of wine…judgment! What a contrast here: The true vine is Christ and the branches are His followers. The grapes of the vine of the earth are mature with wickedness and their wine is the poison of serpents. Deut. 32:32-33
What do you think is meant by the phrase, “torment in the presence of the holy angels and the Lamb”? (Lk. 16:25-27)
Insight: People in that day will be deceived to think the easy way out of tribulation is to worship the beast and take his mark. In actuality, its not the easy way…it ends with eternal destruction. Oh that man could learn now that it is better to endure persecution now than to escape it and suffer throughout eternity!
8. Now to wrestle with a question as old as debate itself: How can a God of love put people under eternal destruction? (Pure love comes from absolute righteousness – and both of them have to deal justly with sin.) 2 Thess. 2:8-12
Insight: The first angel told the people to repent. The second angel warned that Babylon would be destroyed. The third angel brings judgment. If people persist in sin even after God sends warnings and judgment, then they have only themselves to blame for the destruction that will come to their soul.
9. Is there any rest for the wicked? (No. 14:11 This is contrasted by the eternal rest that the righteous shall enter into.) What special blessing do you suppose God has reserved (v.13) for those who die from this point on? Rev. 20:4
10. Who is the person on the white cloud? (Jesus.) Dan. 7:13-14; 2 Thes. 1:6-8
11. What brings perseverance to the saints in a time like this? (Even though God permits the seeds of iniquity to grow up with the righteous side-by-side, when the harvest is ripe, He will bring about His judgment.) Matt. 13:24-30
Insight: Though its not customary for angels to order Christ around, they, too, sense that the Father’s judgment is just and that it is time for it to be executed.
12. What are the ripe grapes of verse 18 symbolic of? (That God’s tolerance of corruption is over and He is going to send down judgment.)
Insight: The corrupt and wicked Babylon that intoxicated people with the wine of lust will one day be cut down with God’s sickle and thrown into His winepress of wrath. If there’s one winepress that you want to avoid…its God’s!
13. The blood that flows from the winepress is obviously a figure of speech, but what do you think it is in reference to? (The battle of Armageddon, when all of Satan’s host are destroyed.) Rev. 16:12-16; 19:17-21
Insight: When the Romans destroyed Jerusalem, so great was the bloodshed that Josephus says the whole city ran with blood to such a degree that the fires of many houses were quenched by it. When Sylla took Athens, Plutarch says the blood that was shed in the market place alone covered all the ceramics as far as Dipylus, and some testified that it ran through the gates and overflowed the suburbs. These historical events are no match for Armageddon!
A more particular description of this gathering of the hosts of the Antichrist into the winepress is given in chapter 19, which we will study later. It is in reality a war scene, the gathering of armies to the battle of the great day of God Almighty. It is for war that they come, but they are seduced and drawn by an unclean spirit that comes out of the mouth of the dragon (Satan), out of the mouth of the beast (the Antichrist) and out of the mouth of the False Prophet. The region of their assembly is the Holy Land. It, too, is known for its grapes, but the wine that flows in the last day is that of the blood of justice. What strength does a grape have against the weight and power of a winepress? The riper the grape…the more helpless it is to resist. In that final day no weapon sinful man can raise against the Lord will succeed. The beast that was once hailed as invincible is no longer (Rev. 13:4). The false prophet could make fire come down from heaven in the presence of men, but he can command no forces to withstand the lightning of this angry Judge. The heavy foot of Omnipotence will crush these rebellious grapes. They can only break and sink beneath it.
Today a God of grace rules us. He is calling the hearts of man with a gospel of peace. In light of this lesson, our hearts should be burdened for those who do not embrace Him, for a day is coming when His justice must be satisfied against sin. Those who reject Him and the Gospel will find a terrifying winepress awaiting them. 2 Thess. 1:5-10