Revelation 14 is a chapter of contrasts, the Bible never offers a third option there are only two. The narrower way that leads to life eternal and the wider road leading to destruction and death.
In Revelation 14 John introduces two more scenes that anticipate what will happen in the story of the Tribulation. The first focuses on the believers who will survive the Tribulation; the second focuses on the unbelievers who won’t survive.
In the first part of the chapter we see Jesus standing in victory with the 144,000 (v 1-5).
John sees Jesus (the Lamb) standing not in heaven but on Mount Zion the site of the temple in Jerusalem surrounded by the 144,000 from the twelve tribes (introduced in 7: 1-8) who are protected by God during the tribulation. Here in chapter14 John reveals that these Jewish believers are commissioned to do a great work and are marked as servants of God:
- They are sealed with Jesus name (v1)
- They sing a song no one else can sing (v3)
- They are sexually celibate and spiritually pure (v4)
- They are fully committed followers of Jesus (v4)
- They are purchased as a first fruits offering to God and to the Lamb (v4)
- They are blameless (not sinless) and will speak God’s truth during a time when satanic deception will deceive virtually the whole world (v5)
In the second half of Revelation 14 we have a preview of God’s judgement on the earth (v6-20) that features 6 angels:
The Preaching Angel (v 6-7) – while angels usually appear in scripture as messages or agents of judgement, God in his grace and mercy commissions this angel to preach a final message about repentance to humankind.
The Predicting Angel (v 8) – looks ahead in time and sees the destruction of Babylon the Great (refer Revelation 17 & 18) – the political, religious and economic system ruled by the Antichrist.
The Warning Angel (v 9-12) – brings a warning that God’s wrath on sin will be poured out in full against those who worship the beast or his image or who receive his mark. They will be condemned by their choice to hell and eternal punishment. Words of comfort to the faithful about the assurance of heaven are added to the angel’s solemn warning “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on … they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them.”
The Pronouncing Angel (v 15-16) – announces the time for the Son of man to take his sickle and commence the harvest.
The Reaping Angel (v 17-19) – who joins the Son of man in the harvest gathering the grapes from the earth’s vine and throwing them into the great winepress of God’s wrath.
The Attendant Angel (v18) – who is stationed at the altar and instructs the Reaping Angel to “Take your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of grapes from the earth’s vine, because its grapes are ripe.”
These verses are a disturbing picture that has inspired art, literature and song throughout the ages – one that should inspire us to seek to bring the life saving message of salvation to those around us travelling on the road away from God.
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 has loosed the fateful lightening
Of His terrible swift sword
His truth is marching on