"Kiss the Son, lest he be angry and you be destroyed in your way, for his wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in him." Psalm 2:12                                                                    

From fortune cookies to horoscopes to hot tips about the stock market people want to know what the future holds for them. The book of Revelation tells us about the only future that is sure to happen and the only one that matters. When we read and grasp Revelation we have to conclude that the sin and rebellion of Satan and his angels, the Antichrist and false prophet and all unrepentant people is ultimately "stupid" as created beings (man and fallen angels) disobey and even mock God and think they can get by with it. Revelation gives us the most REALISTIC perspective on all of life, that a holy God will one day vindicate Himself and punish the unrepentant and reward His people. "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." (Rev. 14:13) "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." The angel swung his sickle on the earth, gathered its grapes and threw them into the great winepress of God's wrath." (Rev. 14:18-19)

Both chapter 13 which is filled with darkness and evil and chapter 14 which is filled with the light of Christ's victory are not a part of the chronology of events but provide parenthetical material. Portions of chapter 14 fit between chapter 19 and chapters 20-22 and other verses anticipate the bowl judgments (ch.16) and the final conflagration in chapter 19 (Armageddon). Christ is seen judging the sheep and the goats (Matt. 25) or as pictured in Matthew 13, the wheat and the tares, and establishing His Millennial kingdom. After the thousand year reign of Christ on a renewed earth, God will purge the earth with fire and create a new heaven and a new earth which is the eternal state seen in chapters 20-22.

"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."  These are the 144,000 Jewish men (evangelists) we saw in chapter 7 and whom God sealed for protection for the entire seven years of the tribulation. They are seen here with the Lord after his return to earth standing on Mount Zion (Jerusalem). As seen in verse 4 they are the first of the people of Israel (firstfruits) who were saved in the tribulation and who, in their physical bodies (yet resurrected bodies), inhabit the Millennial kingdom.

"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." Here is an awesome sound of rushing water, thunder and heavenly music. "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."  Some commentators think this is the sound of praise as seen in chapters 4, 5, 7 and is even described as the roar of rushing waters and thunder in Revelation19:6.  "Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: "Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns."  Now the 144,000 join with the twenty-four elders, the four living creatures, the angelic host and the martyred tribulation saints in praise to God and the Lamb. The new song could mean that these Jews who only knew the song of Moses have been saved and they now know a new song, the song of the Lamb (Rev. 15:3) as do the 144, 000.

"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 firstfruits to God and the Lamb. No lie was found in their mouths; they are blameless."  This describes the character and commitment of these men. Though they may have never married due to the intensity of the tribulation, Scripture clearly states that married men can remain undefiled (Heb 13:4 NASB) and 2 Cor. 11:2 calls believers "virgins" if they are wholeheartedly devoted to Jesus as His bride. Furthermore, idolatry (worshiping created things instead of the Creator – Rom.1:25) as many were doing in these times (i.e., worshiping the Antichrist) is referred to as spiritual adultery many times in Scripture (Hosea, James 4:4-5). The phrase "follow the Lamb" (an unusual phrase versus follow the Shepherd) is true because Jesus is the Lamb and the Shepherd (as well as prophet, priest and king).  This is the essence of worship and discipleship, to follow Jesus wherever He goes. By being with Him (fellowship and intimacy) He can empower us and direct us where to go (to serve). If we put service for Him before intimacy with Him we can often be misled and spiritually impotent. (John 15:5) And in a time of lies and deception perpetrated by Satan and the Antichrist, they avoid all deception and lying. They are also blameless. This does not mean sinless perfection but it does mean living "above reproach" (1 Tim 3:2) among people. At salvation, God both imputes His righteousness to us and empowers us to live righteously. To do this we must follow the Lamb wherever He goes – i.e., stay close to and committed to the Lord Jesus. As seen in Jesus' rebukes of the churches in chapters 2 & 3, the character exhibited by these men is what he calls all of His people to live out.

"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 (as spoken of in Matt. 24:14). He said in a loud voice, "Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him (not Antichrist) who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water."  God continues to offer salvation (the eternal gospel) but the opportunity is quickly coming to an end (the hour of His judgment has come). No one can say they never heard it because they heard it loud and clear and even through an angel.

"A second angel followed and said, "Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great, which made all the nations drink the maddening wine of her adulteries." Chapter 17 describes the fall of religious Babylon (apostate religion called the prostitute or harlot) and chapter 18 describes the fall of commercial and political Babylon. Babylon is seen in Scripture as both a real city (which is being rebuilt) and the antichristian world city or empire, which is named ‘Babylon the Great' after the Old Testament Babylon, the great enemy of Israel.

"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, 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."  This pronouncement of judgment seems to occur at the midpoint of the tribulation (or Great Tribulation). It is a warning to all who may choose to worship the Antichrist of incurring the wrath of God both on earth in the tribulation (ch.16) but more so the torment of an eternal hell.

 "This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God's commandments and remain faithful to Jesus. 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." {"The eventual doom of the wicked (vv. 9-11) serves to encourage the faithful to endure. Everything done for Christ and in His name for others will be richly rewarded-every kindness, sacrificial gift, prayer, tear, word of testimony."  MacDonald, William ; Farstad, Arthur: Believer's Bible Commentary : Old and New Testaments. Nashville : Thomas Nelson}  

"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. 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 (over-ripe, rotten)" So he who was seated on the cloud swung his sickle over the earth, and the earth was harvested. Another angel came out of the temple in heaven, and he too had a sharp sickle. 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." The angel swung his sickle on the earth, 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 of the press, rising as high as the horses' bridles for a distance of 1,600 stadia."  This parallels the passages in Matthew 13:39-43 and 25:31-46, where we see the harvest of the earth occurring at the Second coming of Christ.  Both Christ and the angels do the reaping. Some commentators (Steve Griffith, Henry Alford) believe this event includes the gathering of the saints (wheat, sheep) and the judgment of the lost (tares, goats) and may even be a picture of the Rapture (Christ on a cloud).

                       QUESTIONS FOR APPLICATION AND QUESTIONS FROM STEVE GRIFFITH'S COMMENTARY                                          1) What is your main take away from today's message and table discussion and how can you apply it to your life this week?

2) What character qualities of the 144.000 strike you the most and why?                                                   

3) Where is God calling you to patient endurance, and does knowing that He will reward your faithful obedience motivate you to endure to the end?                                                                                                

4) Read Acts 1:9-11. When will the Lamb (Jesus Christ) once again stand on Mt. Zion (Rev. 14:1) and who is mentioned (v.1) as being  with Him?     

5) What sobering warning is given in vv.9-11?                                                                                                    

6) In contrast, what good news is given to Tribulation martyrs in vv.12? 

 7) What phrase or phrases in Rev. 14:17-20 indicate that this reaping is a judgment of the wicked?  Which city is in view here in the expression "outside the city" (v.20)?

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord;
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword;
His truth is marching on.

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