REVELATION CHAPTER 14
KEY EVENTS DURING THE DAY OF THE LORD
Revelation Chapter 14 is the final of the four "flashback" chapters, where John interrupts his linear account of Daniel's 70th Week in order to provide us with additional information concerning key End Times events. In Revelation 12 and 13, John gave us additional information on the events of the Great Tribulation. Now, in Revelation 14, it seems we are given additional visions concerning the Day of the Lord. Recall, the Day of the Lord is synonymous with the Second Coming of Jesus, and includes God’s trumpet and bowl judgments.
Revelation 14 describes three key events that will occur during the Day of the Lord: (1) The 144,000 "first fruits" of Israel will meet the Lord Jesus on Mount Zion; (2) three angelic proclamations will be delivered to the world; and (3) the Judgment Angels will harvest the wicked for His judgment. This is a time of unparalleled angelic activity, and sets the stage for the supernatural battle to come. Revelation 14 also introduces us to the key End Times concept of Mystery Babylon.
THE 144,000 "FIRST FRUITS" OF ISRAEL
John further explains the role of the 144,000 "first fruits" of Israel, first discussed in Revelation Chapter 7. Remember, we learned in Chapter 12 that God has a special relationship with the nation Israel; Israel ("The Woman") was to bring forth the Messiah who would save the world from its sins. Israel fulfilled this role when Christ was born. We also learned that Satan ("The Great Dragon"), has been trying to destroy the nation Israel since the time he was cast out of Heaven in order to prevent the Messiah from being born, and later, to punish the Woman for birthing the Messiah. Thus, while Israel enjoys special favor in the eyes of God, it has endured inordinate amounts of satanic persecution. This persecution will reach its height during Antichrist's reign; Antichrist, as the agent of Satan, will try to wipe the Jews off the face of the Earth during the Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord.
Immediately following the Rapture, at the beginning of the Day of the Lord, Christ will meet the 144,000 on Mount Zion, perhaps the site of His ascension. Remember, Christ will return to Earth at the time of the Rapture, and will physically remain on the Earth through the Day of the Lord. We learned in Revelation Chapter 7 that these 144,00 Jews are the "first fruits" of Israel. They are both representative of the historic nation Israel and the forerunners of a larger group of Jews who will be converted in the Day of the Lord. (See Revelation 10 discussion of the Mystery of God.) The 144,000 were supernaturally sealed and protected from the wrath of Antichrist during the Great Tribulation. Although they did not believe in Christ (otherwise, they would have been raptured to Heaven as a part of the Church), they recognized the evil of Antichrist and refused to follow him. When the 144,000 witness the Rapture of the Church, they immediately become believers in Christ. Think of the spiritual epiphany Saul of Tarsus, who became Paul, experienced in Acts 9:4-9. As the 144,000 gather with Christ on Mount Zion, the Raptured Church in Heaven will sing a song of victory. The 144,000 will respond with their own song of praise.
1Then I (John) looked, and there before me was the Lamb (Jesus), standing on Mount Zion, and with him 144,000 (the 144,000 first fruits will meet Jesus on Mount Zion) who had his name and his Father's name written on their foreheads.
When the Great Tribulation ends and the Rapture occurs, the spiritual battle of which many people were previously unaware will become obvious to everyone. All people remaining on Earth will choose a side and a champion, either Christ or Satan. Just as sports teams wear jerseys and street gangs display colors to indicate their affiliations, so too will men be marked during this time. Here, we learn that the 144,000 will have a literal seal on their foreheads - the Mark of God. The Mark of God stands in direct contrast to the Mark of the Beast, "666." Although we are not told what the Mark of God will be, it is perhaps "777," the number of spiritual perfection.
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. (In Revelation 15:2, we learn that, after the Rapture occurs, the victorious Church in Heaven, holding harps, sing two songs of victory, the “Song of Moses” and the “Song of the Lamb”) 3And they (the 144,000) sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders. (The 144,000 will hear the songs of the Raptured Church and will respond to the Church in Heaven by singing their own song.) No one could learn the song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth.
4 These (the 144,000) are those who did not defile themselves with women for they kept themselves pure. (Here, John describes the 144,000. John explains that the 144,000 will be spiritually chaste; they will not have committed spiritual adultery by worshiping Antichrist or taking his mark. See Rev. 17) They follow the Lamb wherever he goes. (the 144,000 will be totally identified with Jesus. They will follow Jesus both spiritually and literally, as did the Apostles during Christ's first appearance on this Earth.) They were purchased from among men and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb. (They follow the Lamb because they have been purchased, bought for God by the blood of the Lamb. See Rev 5:9. The 144,000 represent a small sampling of the nation Israel, which will be redeemed to Christ on the Day of the Lord.) 5No lie was found in their mouths; they are blameless. (See Zephaniah 3:13, "The remnant of Israel will do no wrong; they will speak no lies, nor will deceit be found in their mouths.")
THE FIRST ANGEL: REPENT, FOR THE END IS NEAR!
John then sees three angels, each of which makes an angelic proclamation. Remember, this is a time of intense spiritual warfare, and even though the Church has been raptured up to Heaven, God and Satan are still battling for those few souls who have not yet allied with either good or evil, for it is not God's will that any of His children should perish. See 2 Peter 3:9. The first angel, or the "gospel angel," will proclaim the Good News of salvation, and the punishment of the wicked that is to come. In the words of John the Baptist, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” See Matthew 3:2.
6 Then I saw another angel (This is an angel like the eagle of Rev 8:13) 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. (This gospel angel proclaims God's truth to the world one final time. This is the last call to salvation described in Matthew 24:14.)
Matthew 24:14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
7 He (the gospel angel) 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." (This is the classic call to repent. However, the gospel angel expresses a sense of urgency in this final appeal. Time is very short - it is literally a matter of months before Armageddon and the Final Judgment of God.)
THE SECOND ANGEL: MYSTERY BABYLON HAS FALLEN!
The Second Angel introduces us for the first time to the important End Times concept of Mystery Babylon. In Biblical times, Babylon was a city synonymous with evil, immorality, and idolatry. Historical Babylon was also the great enemy of Israel. See Isaiah 21:9, Jer. 50:2, 51:8. The End Times incarnation of Historical Babylon, also called Mystery Babylon, is described in greater detail in Revelation 17 & 18. For now, it is enough to know that Mystery Babylon will oppose the purposes of God and support the Antichrist in his persecution of Israel and the Church. Mystery Babylon will be judged and destroyed for her sins. The destruction of Mystery Babylon will be a phenomenal end-times judgment during the Day of the Lord, and will involve the annihilation of an entire nation.
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." (Mystery Babylon will direct people to the Antichrist and will legitimize behaviors that would otherwise be considered enormously evil. The nations of the world, like drunkards, will give in to their basest of instincts and engage in immoral and truly abominable behavior. See Rev 17 & 18. Think of the psychology at play during the Holocaust; the acceptance of evil in Nazi Germany allowed otherwise ordinary people to indulge in abominable sin. See “Hitler’s Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust” by Daniel Jonah Goldhagen. This "Group Sin" mentality also afflicted the Israelites at Mount Sinai and allowed them to justify their idolatrous worship of the Golden Calf. See Exodus 32.)
THE THIRD ANGEL: WARNING -- DO NOT TAKE THE MARK OF THE BEAST (666)!
The entire world has witnessed the Second Coming of Jesus and the Rapture of the Church. But those who are left behind must still reject the Mark of the Beast if they are to receive eternal salvation. The Third Angel proclaims that anyone who takes the Mark of the Beast will be condemned to endure the wrath of God during the Trumpet and the Bowl Judgments and suffer eternal separation and torment in Hell. This proclamation is not aimed at those who have already taken the Mark of the Beast and sided with Antichrist - they are forever lost to God - but rather as a final warning to the undecided.
9 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, 10he, too, will drink of the wine of God's fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. (The wrath of God is a major topic in the Book of Revelation, but the word "wrath" is only used to describe the Day of the Lord.) He (who takes the mark) will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. (Those who take the mark are condemned to Hell). 11And the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever. (The physical pain of the faithful is temporary but the suffering of the damned is eternal.) 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." (Those who believe in God will spend at eternity at rest with the Lord, but those who reject Him will be tormented forever.)
A SPECIAL BLESSING FOR THOSE MARTYRED DURING THE DAY OF THE LORD
John departs from his graphic depiction of the torments of Hell to encourage those who choose to follow Jesus during the Day of the Lord. Remember, there will be a large group of people, including the 144,000, who will recognize the power and truth of God immediately following the Rapture. John is encouraging these new believers as well as those who will come to Christ prior to the Final Judgment. Additionally, a voice from Heaven explains that believers who are martyred for their faith during the Day of the Lord will receive a special blessing - their deeds will be rewarded in Heaven.
12 This (time of great peril and judgment) calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God's commandments and remain faithful to Jesus. (Remain patient and don't turn away from God - this Day of Wrath has begun.) 13Then I heard a voice from heaven say, "Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on." (Blessed are those who are martyred during the Day of the Lord. Remember, although some believers will be protected and survive this time period, including the 144,000 Jews, others will be martyred for their faith. The Lord gives a special blessing to those saints who are martyred during this most hostile period in the history of the world.) "Yes," (Blessed indeed!) says the Spirit, "they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them." (The suffering experienced by new believers during these final days will continue, until Armageddon. This suffering warrants special encouragement from the Holy Spirit to remain faithful, for the deeds of these martyrs will follow them into Heaven.)
THE JUDGMENT ANGELS:
THE HARVEST OF THE WICKED & THE JUDGMENT OF THE GRAPES at ARMAGEDDON
The parenthetical section of Revelation 11-14, which was given to provide us with additional details about the events of Daniel’s 70th week, closes with a vision of God’s final judgment event on this world. The exact location of is specified in Revelation 16:16 – Armageddon!
Rev. 16:16 Then they gathered the kings together to the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon.
John fast-forwards through to the very final event - Armageddon is a time of harvesting the wicked. This is a passage talking about the ultimate Divine judgment, one conducted by the angels, acting under God’s orders. The harvesting of grapes and casting them into a winepress is the illustration to help us better understand the magnitude of this destruction.
14 I looked, and there before me was a white cloud, and seated on the cloud was one "like a son of man" (Another “Strong Angel.” See Rev 10:1-3, Dan 7:13) with a crown of gold on his head and a sharp sickle (an instrument of harvest) in his hand. (This is the "Harvest Angel") 15Then another angel (a second angel appears) came out of the temple and called in a loud voice to him who was sitting on the cloud (the Harvest Angel"), "Take your sickle and reap, because the time to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is ripe." (Joel 3:13 "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." Many wicked men will receive God’s judgment during the Day of the Lord. It will be a time of God’s fury. His angels will cut the wicked down and throw them into his crushing winepress of judgment.)
16 So he who was seated on the cloud swung his sickle over the earth, and the earth was harvested. (In Mt. 13:39, Jesus said "The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.") 17Another angel (a third angel appears) came out of the temple in heaven, and he too had a sharp sickle. 18Still another angel (a fourth angel appears), 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." (The harvest of grapes is a symbol of judgment and the final harvest of the wicked, no salvation here. See Isa 63:2,3.) 19The angel swung his sickle on the earth, gathered its grapes and threw them into the great winepress of God's wrath. (The winepress is the goal of the angel’s ministry. A winepress separates juice from the pulp. Blood will come out of this winepress.)
20 They were trampled in the winepress outside the city, and blood flowed out of the press (The flow of blood in this final battle is incredible as we see the ultimate in raw slaughter, a slaughter so intense that all previous wars seem tame by comparison. The entire land is saturated with blood.), rising as high as the horses' bridles (An earth so saturated with men’s blood that it splashes, like grape being trampled in a winepress, 4 ½ feet high) for a distance of 1,600 stadia (for ~200 miles, approximately the length of Israel from North to South. The battle of Armageddon concludes the Day of the Lord and will occur at the end of the 30-day period following Daniel’s 70th week.)
OLD TESTAMENT VERSES CONCERNING JESUS MINISTRY ON EARTH DURING THE DAY OF THE LORD
While we are not specifically given all the details of His Second Coming ministry on this earth (See Rev 10:4 – the 7 thunders), it seems He will be executing divine judgment on the wicked through His angels. (Keep in mind that Jesus will have a resurrection body that will possess abilities we don’t fully understand. He will appear human, and while he will be able to be touched and to eat, He will also be able to walk through walls. He will possess multi-dimensional capabilities, allowing him to minister to both the saints in heaven and the saints on earth. See Luke 24.)
Isaiah 63:1-3  Who is this coming from Edom (where the 144,000 are protected), from Bozrah (a city in Edom), with his garments stained crimson? (Jesus is described as a martyr, having died on the cross for the sins of the world) Who is this, robed in splendor, striding forward in the greatness of his strength? (Jesus is described as the magnificent King of the Earth) "It is I, speaking in righteousness, mighty to save." (Jesus is eager to save His nation, and He begins with the first fruits, the 144,000)  Why are your garments red, like those of one treading the winepress? (Jesus' garments are bloodstained)  "I have trodden the winepress alone (Jesus alone is the salvation of the world); from the nations no one was with me. I trampled them (the unrighteous) in my anger and trod them down in my wrath (Jesus is about vanquish Antichrist and his followers); their blood spattered my garments and I stained all my clothing (the blood of the wicked stained the clothing of Jesus. Note Isaiah describes Jesus in His dual roles as humble savior and mighty King. Isaiah then uses blood as a metaphor to explain this paradox that is at the heart of the mystery of salvation; Jesus the Savior offers his own blood to save the world, but during the End Times, King Jesus, full of righteous anger, will spill the blood of the unrepentant who have refused to accept His gift of salvation.)
Isaiah 59:20-21  "The Redeemer (Jesus the Messiah) will come to Zion (He will return to Israel), to those in Jacob (Jews, the descendants of Jacob) who repent of their sins," declares the Lord. (Christ will come to gather the 144,000 Jews who have accepted Christ as Lord. He will literally meet the 144,000 on Mount Zion)  "As for me, this is my covenant with them," says the Lord. "My Spirit, who is on you, and my words that I have put in your mouth will not depart from your mouth, or from the mouths of your children, or from the mouths of their descendants from this time on and forever," says the Lord. (He will inaugurate the new Covenant with the nation Israel, pouring His Spirit on those who believe.)
Hosea 11:10-11  They (the 144,000) will follow the Lord; he will roar like a lion. (It will be clear to anyone who witnesses this event that Jesus is at last about to vanquish Antichrist) When he roars, his children (believers) will come trembling from the west. (His lion-like roar indicates judgment. His followers will see him and come out from their hiding places to join their triumphant King)  They will come trembling like birds from Egypt, like doves from Assyria. "I will settle them (believers) in their homes," declares the Lord. (This is a reference both to the physical home of God's people - Israel and Jerusalem - as well as the eternal home that Jesus will establish for all of His believers here on Earth.)
Isaiah 6:13 And though a tenth remains in the land (1/10th of the Jewish population in Israel. Note that only one in ten Jews living in Israel will have survived the Day of the Lord and Antichrist's assault upon Jerusalem. To put that number into perspective, Israel's current population is approximately 5 million Jews.), it will again be laid waste (the land and the people, excluding the 144,000). But as the terebinth and oak leave stumps when they are cut down, so the holy seed will be the stump in the land. (The 144,000 are filled with the Holy Spirit.)
Zech. 12:10 And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. (The nation Israel is given one more chance to repent) They will look on me, the one they have pierced (referencing the crucifixion of Christ), and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son. (During this time, many Jews will come to realize that Christ is indeed the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies, and they will grieve with regret for failing to embrace Jesus as the King and first born son of Israel.)
Zech. 14:2-5  I will gather all the nations to Jerusalem to fight against it (During the Day of the Lord); the city will be captured, the houses ransacked, and the women raped. Half of the city will go into exile, but the rest of the people will not be taken from the city.  Then the Lord will go out and fight against those nations, as he fights in the day of battle.  On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south.  You will flee by my mountain valley, for it will extend to Azel. You will flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the Lord my God will come, and all the holy ones with him. WHO
Isaiah 66:8  Who has ever heard of such a thing? Who has ever seen such things? Can a country be born in a day or a nation be brought forth in a moment? Yet no sooner is Zion in labor than she gives birth to her children. (Daniel's 70th Week is a metaphor for childbirth, and the result of this labor, in part, is the salvation of the nation Israel.)
Isaiah 26:20-21  Go, my people, enter your rooms and shut the doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until his wrath (God's trumpet and bowl judgments) has passed by.  See, the Lord is coming out of his dwelling (out of heaven) to punish the people of the earth for their sins. The earth will disclose the blood shed upon her; she will conceal her slain no longer.