- ABOUT US
- Calendar and News
- READING PLAN
- The Chosen
The Book of Revelation
Years ago, I use to love watching “The Wide World of Sports.”
What always got my attention though was the opening, especially when it illustrated the words, “And the agony of defeat” with a ski jumper crashing and burning on the ski ramp.
What I never knew until later is that he chose to fall rather than finish the jump. Now to us that seems a little or a lot stupid, but to him it was the smart move. You see, the surface on the ski ramp had become too fast, and midway down he realized that if he completed the jump, he would land on level ground and not the landing slope, and that could have been fatal.
Deciding to bail, the skier only suffered a headache, which is absolutely remarkable considering it looked like he would have been seriously injured.
The point I’m trying to make is that to change your course in life can be just as dramatic, and sometimes a painful undertaking, but change is infinitely better than a fatal landing at the end.
What we’ll see today is that it’s decision time for all those left upon the earth.
This chapter is basically an outline of God’s dealings with humanity during these last 3½ years as Jesus gives to John in rapid succession six events and statements that literally stagger the imagination.
Read Revelation 14: 1-5
We see the same 144,000 we discussed earlier in chapter seven. To review, these are 144,000 Jewish male virgins, 12,000 from each of the twelve tribes of Israel, who believe in Jesus Christ during this time of Tribulation. Each have been specially sealed by God with God’s name upon their foreheads to keep them safe from the Antichrist and God’s judgments upon the earth and her inhabitants.
They’re now standing on Mount Zion with Jesus Christ. There are varying views of this event.
Some view this as these 144,000 are now in heaven with Jesus. This is seen in that Mount Zion often refers to heavenly Jerusalem, and this is where Jesus resides during the Tribulation. Further they hear the voice of God and heavenly music and are given a new song to sing.
However, to accomplish this would mean that a separate Rapture has taken place, something that the Scriptures never contemplate, and it would seem to negate the special sealing God places upon them keeping them from the horrors of the Tribulation.
Others see it as a scene from the ultimate triumph of Jesus at His second coming where He is joined on Mount Zion with these 144,000 who had been kept through the Tribulation and who will begin with Jesus in His millennial reign.
Whichever view is taken, it’s probably best to view this scene as the preservation and triumph of these Jewish believers because of their faith and commitment to their Savior and Lord Jesus Christ.
There’s a lot to talk about in this section, like when you come into that saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, like these 144,000, you also are sealed by God, not just with His name, but with the Holy Spirit that God gives as that foretaste of what to expect in heaven with Him.
“In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.” (Ephesian 1:13-14 NKJV)
There’s also the voice of God like many waters, as mighty and powerful as Niagara Falls many times over, or as soothing and peaceful as many quiet brooks bringing comfort and solace.
Yet, no matter what the sound is like, we need to be attentive to it, whether it’s though outward circumstances, inward promptings, an audible voice, or His word. The point is we need to be listening, something most of us aren’t very good at doing, especially with all the busyness in our lives.
However, what I believe the Lord would like for us to concentrate upon is these men’s commitment.
First they are virgins, that is, they will never marry.
Horror after horror fills these last days known as the Tribulation as natural catastrophes and violence engulf the earth, along with the worst holocaust the world has ever witnessed as millions upon millions will be killed for their belief in Jesus Christ.
Only a special and sincere commitment to Jesus Christ will be needed in order to stand up for Him during these times. Something these 144,000 Jewish believers do as they make this vow to commit their lives wholly to Jesus, and never involve themselves in the affairs of this world and deny Him.
Further, they’ll stand and speak only the truth, as no guile is found in their speech.
What a contrast this will be to those who are left behind and follow the Antichrist. We are told they’ll be boasters, proud, blasphemers, and slanderers. Also, they will love evil and not good, and love themselves more than God, 2 Timothy 3:2.
Untruthfulness, lying, and deception will be the norm, and is it any wonder since they’ll be following Satan through the Antichrist and False Prophet, and Satan is the father of lies.
And finally, they’re so committed to holy living they’re without fault before God. They are blameless, undefiled, and unpolluted by the world.
Can you imagine being blameless before God? To live a life that is undefiled and unpolluted by the world. Now most of us don’t believe that this is possible.
But such a life can be lived through God’s grace and mercy through the Holy Spirit whom God has given us. It’s a challenge to be sure, but one that must be undertaken, because the world today desperately needs men and women who will commit themselves fully and wholly to Jesus Christ.
We live in a world where lying and deception are second nature and today God needs men and women who are willing to change their direction, men and women who are willing to make a commitment to holy living and to the truth.
Today, God is calling us to make that same kind of commitment, that is, a commitment to follow Jesus Christ wholly and completely, that we’ll follow Him no matter where He leads, and no matter how difficult the path may be.
Today we need men and women who’ll either commit and recommit their lives, wholly sold out to Jesus Christ and to be those followers He desires.
“If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” (Luke 9:23 NKJV)
Next, we see the Gospel being preached to the whole world
Read Rev. 14:6-7
During these last 3½ years evil will run rampant. Jews and believers will be scattered throughout the earth, hiding and scratching for food, because they’ll be fleeing the Antichrist’s holocaust.
Further, earth’s population and landmass will be devastated. Over half the population will be destroyed and whole areas of the earth will become uninhabitable.
It’s to this world that God again uses angels to proclaim His messages just as He did during the Old Testament period.
“Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard … For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation.” (Hebrews 2:1-3a NKJV)
The words given by God for His angels to proclaim proved sure and steadfast. The writer of Hebrews then contrasts that time with the present, in that now that we have the words of Jesus Himself, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, how shall we escape judgment if we neglect the Gospel message.
The point I’m trying to make, however, is that at this time God reverts back to angelic messengers to get the gospel preached throughout the world, as Jesus foretold.
“And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14 NKJV)
An evangelist walked into a country store and asked the clerk
In America, where there are churches, Christian TV, radio stations, and bookstores people take Christianity and the Gospel message for granted. They yawn saying, “Oh yes, its nice that Christ died for my sins, and thanks a lot, but if you don’t mind, I’ve got other plans.”
The fear of God and the judgment to come is missing, only a few people actually fear Him.
Today we’re living in what’s referred to as the Day of Grace, a time where God reaches out in love to a lost world. But the Day of Judgment is coming, and this is the message of the book of Revelation.
Now to fear God and give Him glory implies repentance, where it’s necessary to repent from our sins and from following after the ways and practices of the world, and to start following the Lord.
The message for us is then to repent while we still live in these Days of Grace, so that we can escape the coming Day of Judgment.
For now, God tolerates our rebellion giving us a chance to be saved. But this is not going to last forever. Here in Revelation this is God’s last change message for those left upon the earth to repent and turn to God before His wrath is poured out upon them.
Next we see the fall of Babylon
Read Rev. 14:8
In the Old Testament, Babylon was Israel’s great enemy, and it came to stand for a corrupt political, economic, and religious system. Babylon symbolizes the political, economic, and religious center of a godless society that defies God.
An angel now pronounces its fall, because she seduces and entices all to join in her corruption. We will study this in more detail when we get to chapters 17 and 18.
Next we see one of the most terrifying passages and one of the most horrifying word pictures in all the Bible, and that is, Gods judgment upon those who refuse to listen, and who follow the Antichrist and receive his mark.
Read Revelation 14:9-12
Those who do not repent and turn to God in the end times will have the wrath of God, His divine justice fall upon them. By receiving the mark it shows they’re giving their first loyalty and allegiance to the Antichrist, and not to God.
What’s sad is that this belief runs throughout our society today. It’s the belief that humanity can control its own destiny, that all we need is a better government, better education, better medicine, and better social services. And while these are all good and necessary making life more comfortable and perhaps extend it a little longer, they cannot help anyone beyond this life, only God can.
This isn’t, however, saying we shouldn’t work toward making our society the best it can be, but rather we shouldn’t be doing this at the expense of our honor, worship, and trust in God.
This is where so many fail throughout the generations and where it will also fail in the end times. People will always make the mistake and look to and worship man and government instead of God.
God has given man every chance and has done everything needed for mankind’s salvation. He has sent prophet after prophet to get men to turn. He’s revealed His way through His word, the Bible. But most of all He’s given His Son, Jesus Christ, so that we can be saved.
What we need to know, however, and what we must never forget is that God is not only perfect love, but also He’s also perfect justice. In His perfect love He sent His son, Jesus Christ, to die for our sins and reconcile us back unto Himself. But in His perfect justice He will pour out His wrath upon those who refuse to believe and repent.
If you would, notice something about this wrath. God’s not watering it down. Those who refuse to believe will drink the wine of His wrath without any mixture. In other words, nothing will be mixed into His wrath, no love, no feeling of sympathy, no regret, or no compassion. The full wrath of God will fall upon them.
Now a common complaint about such judgment is that it somehow seems unjust, but it isn’t. God has given everyone every opportunity to turn, even sending His angel to proclaim the good news and what must be done.
God has warned them as he warns us today. People choose hell. God doesn’t destine anyone there, because God made hell for Satan and his angels, not humanity.
Adding to the misery quotient is that they’ll suffer it in His presence. Every eye of these who reject Him and refuse to believe will see Him as they’re cast into hell and punished with everlasting torment.
But there are those who will escape, and the Bible calls them saints.
The word saint means someone who is set apart and separated unto God, one who dedicates and commits his or her life, that is, all they are and all they have to God. They are those who believe in and love God, therefore they endure the hostility, trials, and difficulties of life and obey God’s word.
Next we see the blessings of those who die in the Lord as compared to the torment of those who die in unbelief
Read Revelation 14:13
It’s in these blessings that believers are willing to separate themselves from the world and live for Jesus Christ. It’s the reason why they’re willing to give their all to Christ. It’s the reason why they refuse to deny Christ even if it means suffering and persecutions: the ridicule, abuse, mockery, sneers, cursing, even imprisonment and death.
It’s because believers know that like all of humanity they have a date with death. And the greatest of all promises is that we’ll live forever with God and in His presence in heaven, rather than in His presence in hell’s torment.
Next we see the rewards
First is to rest from labor
The picture here is of strenuous, exhausting, and fatiguing work, where one is utterly exhausted and worn out. To rest means they’ll be forever refreshed, revitalized, recharged, and rejuvenated.
Note how this is opposite of those who worship the Antichrist, how they will have no rest day or night.
Second is that their works will follow them.
Please understand it’s what a person is inwardly that determines what he or she does outwardly, good or bad. Not only do our deeds follow us, but also our attitude towards them, our steadfastness to the faith, and obedience to God’s commands.
No one can separate a person from who they are or what they have done, even after death. So what we do here on earth for the Lord is not in vain, but rather it will be remembered and rewarded by God.
And finally the judgment of God’s harvest
Read Rev. 14:14-20
Some look upon this first harvest as God’s harvest of His elect prior to the judgment of the ungodly. This has merit in that Jesus talks about a similar harvest.
“So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come forth, separate the wicked from among the just, and cast them into the furnace of fire, there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.” (Mt. 13:49-50)
Others view it as two pictures of the same judgment emphasizing the absolute terror of this time. I believe that this fits best with the context, which is one of the judgment that will come upon unbelievers.
The angel uses the words, “the harvest of the earth is ripe.” This doesn’t mean that the believers are ready to be taken, this goes against earlier Scriptures that speak of God’s divine providence allowing the Antichrist to war and overcome the believer.
This word, “is ripe,” implies that the judgment is overdue. It means to become dry and withered. The picture is of fruit that has become beyond ripe and is drying up and withering, something that believers are not.
In fact, the idea of this being a dual harvest of judgment coincides with the prophet Joel’s prophesy of these end times.
“Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, go down; for the winepress is full, the vats overflow for their wickedness is great.” (Joel 3:13 NKJV)
The second angel then reaps grapes fully ripe and has reached their prime and bursting with juices. This is a picture of Gods judgment as he treads the winepress of His wrath against the Antichrist and his followers at Jesus’ second coming. This is the same picture given by the prophet Isaiah
“I have trodden the winepress alone, and from the peoples no one was with Me. For I have trodden them in My anger, and trampled them in My fury; their blood is sprinkled upon My garments, and I have stained all My robes. For the day of vengeance is in My heart, and the year of My redeemed has come.” (Isaiah 63:3-4 NKJV)
The idea that the blood comes up to the horse’s bridal, literally two feet, is a hyperbole, that is an obvious and intentional exaggeration of the massive slaughter and loss of life that’ll occur. The area of 1600 furlongs is roughly 200 miles, which corresponds to the area of Israel.
Therefore this last battle, which we’ll see later on in our study, will happen within Israel, right outside the walls of Jerusalem, and the carnage will be great.
The reason this message is entitled “Decision Time,” actually comes from Joel’s prophecy that we just read.
“Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, go down; for the winepress is full, the vats overflow for their wickedness is great.” (Joel 3:13 NKJV)
Now look at the next verse
“Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision. For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision.” (Joel 3:14)
Multitudes are in the valley of decision. This means that the decision has already been determined. Those who come against Jesus Christ at the end, those who are followers of the Antichrist, they’ve already made their decision, and their fate is sealed.
Today you have a choice of which vine you will hang from: the vine of Jesus Christ, or the vine of worldliness, which is Satan’s vine, and whose end is everlasting torment.
It’s your choice, and your destiny. Your decision determines your destiny, and no decision is a decision against God and Jesus Christ.
Yes, the choice you make may be a little painful, but it sure beats a fatal landing in the end.
Wednesday Evening Bible Study