Revelation Series #21
Victory in Sight
We are going to see three things in Chapter 14 … The Lamb with his Firstfruits; 3 Angelic Messages; and The Harvest of the Earth
With the dark picture painted for us in Chapters 12 and 13, the unholy trinity of the Satan, the Antichrist, and the False Prophet, we need a break, we need a glimpse of glory, we need to see our hope and That's what Chapter 14 is. Dr. Criswell calls it the other side of the picture of Chapters 12 and 13.
Let's Read Chapter 14
Alright let's break these down into three sections and try to move through them quickly yet as thoroughly as we can.
1. The Lamb and his Firstfruits
OTHER views -
Historicist - believe the 144,000 to be representative of the entire church standing triumphant with Christ on Mt. Zion. --- hence the name "firstfruits" because they are just representative of all the saved
Preterist - This is a 7 fold disclosure of victory. The powers of heaven are stronger than those of the earth. This is a duplicate scene of chapter 7 for the purpose of encouragement. All creation must listen to this song because only the redeemed can sing it. Virginity spoken of speaks of purity but not necessarily that those included were never married but were never defiled by impure relationships
Futurist - This is a full outline of the remainder of the latter days is the view of some. Others see it as a parenthetical chapter not intended to be seen chronologically but as a glimpse of various parts of the conflict. Many agree that the 144,000 are the same as chapter 7 they would also seem them as symbolizing the entirety of the Jewish Remnant. Wlater Scott and others seen them as being separate groups in chs 7 and 14. Identifying them as the same Seems to be more likely. Also Mt Zion as Heaven or on Earth is also disputed. Many would see this as a prophetic vision of the ultimate triumph of the Lamb at the 2nd Coming and beginning of the millennium. Ryrie sees it in Heaven since they are before the throne
Spiritual / Idealist - Whether "Mt. Zion" is in heaven or on earth is up for discussion. Alford sees the 144,000 on earth and the harpists in heaven.
The heavenly venue seems most likely since they "were redeemed from the earth"
Let's look back at what the scripture describes in verses 1-5
A. The Lamb standing on Mt. Zion -
1. I would tend to lean toward those that would see this as a picture or prophesy of the coming victory hence my study title "Victory in Sight"
2. The picture is so vivid that I believe John sees it and it is on earth
3. This chapter then is a rainbow of promise in the darkened skies of the Tribulation. Blue skies are just on the other side of the storm
4. remembering that these days are controlled and shortened for the sake of God's people, his elect
B. 144,000 With Him
1. some would say these are the Church or they are some special group of believers … but they are introduced to us rather "matter of factly", or rather they are NOT introduced to us they are just pointed out. WHY? Could it be that we have seen them before, so they do not need introduction?
2. Chapter 7 … who is in Chapter 7 ….
a. 144,000 (12,000 from each tribe)
b. 4 creatures
c. 24 elders
d. a great multitude of believers
3. All of these people can't be the Church or WHY would they be distinquished
4. the 24 elders we've seen as the church- raptured, rewarded, crowned, and seated on thrones
5. the 4 creatures are angelic
6. the 144,000 are marked by God before the beginning of the Tribulation judgments … they are special witnesses to the World … they are Jewish
7. the multitude believers who come to Christ during the tribulation
8. In chapter 14, they sang a NEW SONG … BEFORE the throne, BEFORE the 4 creatures, AND before the Elders. So, they can't be part of the church because the church is watching the proceedings.
9. These 144,000 have been the martyrs by which a great revival on earth will have been wrought. The Cause of Christ grows by the blood of martyrs.
10. They are FIRST FRUITS … Now the CHURCH is the firstfruits of Christ after his resurrection … but THESE are now Firstfruits of those who come to God through Christ in the Tribulation, this new harvesting as the Elders, the Church have already been harvested. They are the firstfruits of a new beginning a restoration of all things
C. Sound From Heaven
1. the voice as of many waters … The Voice of God or the Voice of the Myriads of Worshippers in Heaven
2. the voice of thunders … Judgment that now follows the 2nd coming of Christ
D. Presented as Firstfruits
1. not only were these the firstfruits but in many ways they were the first plantings of the Tribulation as Jesus in chapter 7 numbered them and set them apart
2. Dr. Criswell points out the beautiful picture. He chose and redeemed 144,000 in chapter 7 and now in Chapter 14 he PRESENTS 144,000. NOT 143,999 or any other number. John 12:28 says "I give to them eternal life; and they will never perish" … John 17 Jesus said "of all those you have given me … not one is lost …" When we are written in the Lamb's book of life, we are SAFE there. Faithful is he who called us who will also able to keep it. I know whom I have believed in and am CONVINCED thoroughly that he is ABLE to keep what I have committed to him for that coming day!
E. Sang a New Song … Lived a Separate Life … Got a New Job
1. They sang their own song, no one had been through what they had been through and they sang their own song
2. we all have our own song and some we share with those with shared experience
3. don't desire someone else's song about Christ, sing YOUR song …
4. They lived lives set apart … I take this literally to mean they were virgins and single … Others would say they could be married but faithful in their marriages, but I just take it for what it says.
5. They are given a unique opportunity in service to the Lamb in going everywhere he goes
6. There is REST in heaven but there is work, and organization, government in Heaven. All have our place and NONE is neglected. The martyrs served in the Temple they were also under the altar, the Elders received Thrones and Crowns and are Seated; the 144,000 are standing will follow Christ wherever he goes. It is almost like these 144,000 are like heavenly Eunuchs denying themselves and serving their Master completely
7. They were honest and blameless - not perfect, but perfected, and blameless
Now let's move on to the next scene
2. Three Angels
vv 6 - 13
other views -
They are, we could say … a Preacher, a Proclaimer, and a Pronouncer
A. The Preacher -
1. Had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth (every group, nation, tribe, language)
2. The Gospel he proclaimed
a. Fear God - recognize who he is and what he can do
b. Give Him Glory - Confess Sin before Judgment comes
c. Worship Him - Live out what you believe … he is creator of All
Isn't that the heart of the Gospel … God is good, creator and ruler of all … we are a sinner and need to confess … upon confession we live lives of worship because he IS good, creator and ruler of all.
3. There will be 144,000 messengers, but the world is vast and God will NOT leave the world without a witness and with an excuse. This angel will see to it that whether by supernatural revelation or the voice of men, the gospel of Christ will be preached to all one last time.
4. Paul said "I am bound but the Word of God is NOT bound." We know from scripture that the grass will fade but the Word of God is eternal.
B. The Proclaimer -
1. 2nd angel … Message of collapse for Babylon
2. Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great --- pipto /pip-to/ - to descend from a higher place to a lower … to be thrust down … to go from erect to prostrate
3. Babylon, this commercial headquarters of the world, will Fall from it's lofty position, it will be thrust down by Christ our Redeemer and Every knee will bow and tongue confess the Lordship of Jesus Christ
4. because they have led the world system astray in worship, in provision, in protection
5. a New system is coming
C. The Pronouncer - he pronounces Judgment before the fact
1. there are people who still have a choice … mark of the beast or mark of God …
2. perhaps this one goes in behind the first angel and follows his message with this one
3. If anyone worships / is marked by the Beast … God's fury will come on him … FULL STRENGTH … that is an eternal consequence NOT a reprimand or correction that is a punishment a judgment
4. judgment --- eternal torment, in full view of God and the Angels, day and night, forever and ever … Life goes ON for Eternity, in Forever and EVER is for all depending on your choice will be IN God's Blessing or In God's Punishment
5. A word for the Saints - --- Patience will be needed … THEN as well as For NOW … How do we remain patient? How do we stay strong
a. Obedience - follow his commands and direction
b. Faithfulness - Keep your heart stayed on his pleasure and loving him …
c. when we are under the attack of difficult times … FOCUS on following and loving God and you will get through … you will have the peace and patience of God
D. a Voice from Heaven a Message of Hope for the Fallen in Christ
1. Blessed with Life … BLESSED are the dead who die in the Lord … from now on … for those in the Tribulation … Death will be a blessing if they know Christ.
a. We have our thinking backwards sometimes … we think THIS is the best life … this life is a blessing … and it is … but ONLY as we can use it to serve him, use it to prepare for the next life … But the grave is nothing to fear …
b. For the Believer LIVING is not BETTER than the alternative … We were NEVER intended to die, but sin brought death, and death brings a sting, death is Satan's victory of God's intention of life without death. But because of Christ … God reminds us here … WHERE O Death is your sting … When I die, I'm going to say "if this is the sting of death, kill me again … If this is DEFEAT … Let me be a loser for Eternity … Christ has taken the sting and the victory away from Death and defeated death that we might walk in the Victory of Life eternal.
c. To be absent from the Body, Paul said is to be present with the Lord … Blessed …. When we overcome we have access to the tree of life … we will receive a crown of life … Jesus told the thief on the cross … TODAY you will be with me in paradise, NOT SOME TIME LATER at the End of All things … TODAY … Paul said for me to Live is CHRIST but to DIE that is GAIN … why? Because it is Blessed
2. Busy --- They will have REST from their LABOR … Rest is a word anapauo /an-ap-ow-o/ - to permit one to cease from movement or labor to recover and collect strength … to refresh --- Labor means - kopos /kop-os/ a beating … work … toil
a. Heaven is a place where we are rejuvenated to further serve the Lord
b. we are released from the toil that is on our back because of Sin … Adam was to work the Garden, it didn't become hard work until after he sinned
3. Blessed in Reward - their deeds follow them - Our work and faithfulness in heart, our obedience in action will not go unnoticed or unrewarded … we are never unseen by our Father … Rewards will follow us … STOP CHASING rewards … Serve God and REWARDS will Follow you … perhaps Not here but in his presence without a doubt
3. The Harvest of the Earth
Again as we look forward to what is coming and get a glimpse of the Victory that is in Christ Jesus
A. Son of Man Seated on a White Cloud - Harvests his Own
1. Crown of Gold on his Head --- Crown = stephanos - that is the victors crown, this is Jesus Christ, Son of Man, our sacrifice, and substitute, victorious at the cross so he has the right now to REAP his ripened harvest that is still on the earth
2. the Church is in Heaven, the Martyrs are in Heaven, but there are still believers on earth … the Father sends word through an angel from the Temple --- HARVEST TIME ---
a. Jesus said no one knows the times or the seasons … that's multiple events, and this harvest time … Jesus is waiting for word from the Father to go and get the rest of his ripened harvest …
3. The Bible says that There will be a Reaping and it will take two forms … Wheat and Tares, in this case God's planting and the Earth's vine …
a. Matthew 13:24-31 - A farmer sowed seed and it grew but someone came in at night and sowed weeds and the both grew, but the sower told his servants let them grow together … then at harvest time collect the weeds in bundles to be burned and the wheat can be gathered and brought to my barn …
b. Explanation 13:37-43 - the sower is the Son of Man (Jesus) the field is the world, good seed is the children of the kingdom and the weeds children of the evil one. The devil sowed the weeds. The Harvest is the end of the age and the harvesters are angels. The son of man will send angels to weed out his kingdom and those of the evil one will be burned in a fiery furnace with weeping and gnashing of teeth, but the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of the Father …
4. Some interesting things about WHEAT and Weeds ---
a. When they grow they BOTH grow UP … but when wheat has it's FULL mature, ripened Head on it, it BOWS low to the earth. But when Weeds ripen, they stand TALL and PROUD. As we grow in God's grace, we should become MORE convinced and impressed by the presence and goodness of God and bow in reverence and humility before him, his purposes and his plans. But a Church member who stands tall and full of pride, is self serving and self sufficient, is at the least an immature Christian and perhaps is a weed and not wheat at all.
b. When Isaiah saw the Lord he bowed down as did Joshua in Christ's presence. Peter fell at the Lords feet when he realized "I'm a sinful man" "Saul had to be humbled before he could be used"
c. Wheat Ripens UPWARD but DIES Downward … That is as it grows toward God … everything TOWARD the earth dies … a Beautiful quote on this point from Dr. Criswell … "as we grow godward and heavenward, and as we draw near the end of our pilgrimage, more and more there will be the relaxing of our hold upon this earth and this life until finally, when we are near the gates of heaven, the things of this present earth fade away" … another called it the "sanctity of relaxing the grasp"
d. wheat ripens in the burning sun of summer --- suffering, difficulty, struggle, hardships, serve to ripen us for the Lord's harvest
B. Another Angel with a Sharp Sickle
1. this is IT … the final hour of God's permissive will for evil … This is the beginning of the end of all … the final battle … More will be revealed to us in later chapters but see what it says here
2. this is the VINE of the EARTH … this is NOT God's Vine, this is those who have chosen to follow the evil one.
3. Gather them the grapes are FULL / RIPE … they were trampled outside the City and blood flowed as high as the horses bridles for 1600 stadia which is about 180 miles
4. An Angel who comes from the Altar in Charge of the Fire … Said NOW … Swing the Sickle --- The Lord's gotten his now it is time for the Tares to be harvested … This angel from the Altar has the prayers of the Martyrs … and he is fueled by the Righteousness of God Almighty … the cry of the innocents from Abel until the Martyrs under the altar has not gone unheard
5. This will be a great bloody battle … it says that the blood will flow as high as 4 feet …. Experts say that the area of Megiddo flows out into the Jordan system and with it's twists and turns more than covers the 180 miles that make a stadia. But we will see more on this battle later …
for NOW … know this
6. Evil will NOT last forever …
Joel 3:12+ ?12? 'Let the nations be roused;
let them advance into the Valley of Jehoshaphat,
for there I will sit
to judge all the nations on every side.
?13? Swing the sickle,
for the harvest is ripe.
Come, trample the grapes,
for the winepress is full
and the vats overflow-
so great is their wickedness!'
?14? Multitudes, multitudes
in the valley of decision!
For the day of the Lord is near
in the valley of decision.
?15? The sun and moon will be darkened,
and the stars no longer shine.
?16? The Lord will roar from Zion
and thunder from Jerusalem;
the earth and the sky will tremble.
But the Lord will be a refuge for his people,
a stronghold for the people of Israel.
As an Obedient Follower
Fear Not man for he has nothing you need and has no eternal power
Fear God and God alone
Fear Not Death for it is but a door into God's Presence
Worship God and God Alone
Fear not being forgotten or unnoticed for what you do in secret the Lord will reward in the open. Your deeds of faith, love and duty have already reached the Father's ears and follow you into his gracious reward
Receive From Him Reward
And Rise Up
Even so Come Lord Jesus
Wednesday Night Bible study Fall 2005-Spring 2006
The following resources were used among others in preparation
Revelation Four Views: A Parallel Commentary – Steve Gregg
W.A. Criswell Expository Sermons on Revelation
Dr. J.A. Seiss Expositions on Revelations
MacArthur Bible Studies: Revelation – John MacArthur
Dr. David Jeremiah Expositions on Revelation
The Pulpit Commentary: Revelation
Wiersbe: The Bible Exposition Commentary