This Preaching in Shorts Bible study is on Revelation. Each chapter is read verse by verse with the major points highlighted and discussed.
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Revelation 14:1-20 (NIV)
1 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. 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. 3 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. 4 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. 5 No lie was found in their mouths; they are blameless. 6 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. 7 He 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.” 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.” 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, 10 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. 11 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.” 12 This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God’s commandments and remain faithful to Jesus. 13 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.” 14 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. 15 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.” 16 So he who was seated on the cloud swung his sickle over the earth, and the earth was harvested. 17 Another angel came out of the temple in heaven, and he too had a sharp sickle. 18 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.” 19 The angel swung his sickle on the earth, gathered its grapes and threw them into the great winepress of God’s wrath. 20 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.
In Chapter 13 we saw the evil that occurs when the evil one and his unholy trinity are fully unleashed on the world. Chapter 14 gives us a look into eternity to remind the believers what awaits them as they patiently endure. The 144,000 are symbolic of those believers who have dealt faithfully with the persecutions that have taken place during the tribulation period.
Their being pure as virgins is also a symbolic idea, referring to their remaining spiritually pure during the rampant idolatries that had been taking place in the pagan world system. They resisted the seduction of money, power and sexual immorality that marks an ungodly society. They would now receive the eternal blessing and benefits that come with an eternal life with God. Staying pure requires living by trying to do the next right thing.
Some believe that these verses serve as the final worldwide appeal for people to respond to the Good News of the gospel.
Others believe that this is actually an announcement of judgment that the people on earth at that time had rejected the message and would now receive the full consequences of their choice.
Babylon represents the evil empire that had destroyed Jerusalem and taken the people of Israel into exile. John was probably using Babylon to represent the Roman empire which had risen up to attempt to destroy Christians.
Those people who had accepted the mark and worshiped the beast would face the judgment of God. The ultimate judgment is an unending separation from God. This will be the ultimate misery because each of us has an inborn desire to fellowship with God. Sin has destroyed our relationship with God, but we each have the choice to repent and have our relationship with God restored and reconciled.
These verses are an image of judgment. Christ is separating the faithful from the unfaithful. For the believer it is a time of great joy, for the unbeliever a time of sorrow.
The vivid descriptions of judgment are difficult to comprehend. But they make known the reality of the depth of sin and evil. We must understand our desperate need for the grace and mercy of God in order to repent. If we are deluded into thinking that we just need to be good enough, or better than other people, we are eternally lost.