Back In Heaven Revelation 14
Revelation 14:1-5 NLTse (1) Then I saw the Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with him were 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 mighty ocean waves or the rolling of loud thunder. It was like the sound of many harpists playing together. (3) This great choir sang a wonderful new song in front of the throne of God and before the four living beings and the twenty-four elders. No one could learn this song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth. (4) They have kept themselves as pure as virgins, following the Lamb wherever he goes. They have been purchased from among the people on the earth as a special offering to God and to the Lamb. (5) They have told no lies; they are without blame.
As soon as John saw a vision of the world and those beasts, God immediately switched the scene back to Heaven. What a contrast between Revelation chapter 13 and 14. Which is in fact another rule God used in scripture, contrasts. Contracts may be one of the most difficult things for people to see, but they are used throughout the Bible. In this case, the previous chapter ended with the mark of the beast, while chapter 14 begins with the Lamb standing on Mount Zion. The previous chapter showed visions originating on earth, and from the earth. John is then taken to a vision of 144,000 with His Father’s name in their foreheads. If that isn’t a contrast, I don’t know what one is.
The first word in chapter 14 pointed us back to the previous chapter. The word, “then,” tells us, we can’t hope to understand this chapter unless we review the previous chapter. As soon as we do, there is no mistake, John is shown a series of contrasts.
Angels don’t have trouble seeing contrasts. They see them everyday. They see the splendor and peace in Heaven, then they look at this world to see what is going on. In this world, angels see people running around trying to solve problems. In Heaven, there are no problems. That leaves plenty of time to praise God. There is a lesson there we should pay attention to.
People also waste a lot of time trying to explain what the number 144,000 is, and who those people actually are. Is it a literal or symbolic number? As usual, people go to the world for answers. I don’t know any two numbers in the Bible that have received more attention than the numbers 666 and 144,000. The Bible shows those numbers are a contrast. 666 points us to the rule of repetition. Comparing the number 666 found at the end of chapter 13 to the number 144,000 at the beginning of chapter 14, tells us to use the rule of contracts.
The rule of contracts is an extension of the rule of repetition. Words can be the same, similar, related, or contracts. Contracts have something in common with other related words.
It is relatively simple to see contrasts on the surface between Revelation chapter 13 and 14. Chapter 13 is all about this world, is viewed from this world, and takes place in this world. Revelation 14 suddenly shifted to Heaven, a good place to split John’s letter into a new chapter. Beginning a new chapter does not mean it is no longer related to the previous chapter. John wrote one long letter that was broken into chapters generations later.
We also need the end of chapter 12 to show us who those beasts on Revelation 13 follow, the devil. It is evident who the 144,000 in chapter 14 follow, the Lamb, used to symbolize Christ. That is one of the most vivid contracts in the Bible. The mark of the beast and seal of God is another contrast. It seems rather strange when we look at the Christian world to see which one receives more attention. By far, the mark of the beast receives much more attention, has more people teaching about that mark and beast, has more radio programs, Internet videos, TV shows, and sells more books. If you searched the mark of the beast or 666 on the Internet, you would find thousands of links, some having hundreds of thousands of viewers visiting the site. Now we know what John meant when he wrote, “And all the people who belong to this world worshiped the beast. They are the ones whose names were not written in the Book of Life before the world was made–the Book that belongs to the Lamb who was slaughtered.” (Revelation 13:8 NLTse).
We have one group that worships God in Heaven, and another group dedicated to hunting down people like that and killing them. The contrasts we are given are designed to examine is a war.
It’s not by mistake or chance Jesus used music and song as a symbol here. Music contains both order and repetition. John tells us, “No one could learn this song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth.” Music and song are a contrast to words coming from the beast, and his barbaric, warlike features.”Then the beast was allowed to speak great blasphemies against God. And he was given authority to do whatever he wanted for forty-two months. And he spoke terrible words of blasphemy against God, slandering his name and his temple–that is, those who live in heaven. And the beast was allowed to wage war against God’s holy people and to conquer them. And he was given authority to rule over every tribe and people and language and nation.” (Revelation 13:5-7 NLTse).
People learn by repetition. People will either learn those warlike features the beast is teaching, or the song Jesus teaches. Is the number 144,000 symbolic? Is the beast symbolic? Is the song Jesus teaches symbolic?
When we look at the rhythm of the visions John wrote, we can see a distinct pattern of symbols. Instead of using Christ’s name, John introduced Jesus in symbolic form. To complete the pattern, information following the symbol of the Lamb would also be symbolic. That makes Mount Zion, God’s name written in their foreheads, the new song, and the number 144,000 all symbols.
The roar of the waves and thunder are descriptive words adding to the flavor of the scene John is describing.
John’s description of the people who follow Jesus is a contrast to the people following the beast. Jesus’ followers are compared to virgins. Satan’s followers build monuments to the beast, which is a form of spiritual idolatry.
Those who follow Jesus stay close to Him, and have one leader. Those who follow Satan follow a series of beasts and images, a type of prelude to Babylon, meaning confusion. Jesus’ leadership follows the consistency and order of a song. Easy to learn, soothing to the ears., and something difficult to forget once you learn. Songs have a tendency to create a safe haven. A subject covered in previous chapters by examples that included promises directly from Jesus. On the other hand, the devil uses force and broken promises, seen consistently throughout scripture. Other stories show us the way demons possess people, holding them in spiritual chains.
That leads us up to another concept in the introduction to Revelation 14. The term redeemed and purchased is introduced at this point. We see how Jesus had to pay a price for His followers. Remember the story of the woman who poured oil on Jesus’ feet?
You didn’t greet me with a kiss, but from the time I first came in, she has not stopped kissing my feet. You neglected the courtesy of olive oil to anoint my head, but she has anointed my feet with rare perfume. “I tell you, her sins–and they are many–have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.” Then Jesus said to the woman, “Your sins are forgiven.” (Luke 7:45-48 NLTse).
Those who have been forgiven a lot, are thankful beyond all comprehension. Those who have been forgiven little should be just as thankful. All are a special offering to God and the Lamb.
Revelation 14:6-7 NLTse (6) And I saw another angel flying through the sky, carrying the eternal Good News to proclaim to the people who belong to this world–to every nation, tribe, language, and people. (7) “Fear God,” he shouted. “Give glory to him. For the time has come when he will sit as judge. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and all the springs of water.”
John introduced this angel, some people refer to as the first angle, as another angel. That means, this angel follows another angel. Who was that first angel? A simple search using the word angel in the Book of Revelation shows us who that other angel is.
Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices shouting in heaven: “The world has now become the Kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign forever and ever.” The twenty-four elders sitting on their thrones before God fell with their faces to the ground and worshiped him. And they said, “We give thanks to you, Lord God, the Almighty, the one who is and who always was, for now you have assumed your great power and have begun to reign. The nations were filled with wrath, but now the time of your wrath has come. It is time to judge the dead and reward your servants the prophets, as well as your holy people, and all who fear your name, from the least to the greatest. It is time to destroy all who have caused destruction on the earth.” Then, in heaven, the Temple of God was opened and the Ark of his covenant could be seen inside the Temple. Lightning flashed, thunder crashed and roared, and there was an earthquake and a terrible hailstorm. (Revelation 11:15-19 NLTse).
John just gave us a time line to deal with. The actual first angel is the seventh angel to blow a trumpet, making a vital announcement, the judgment process began in Heaven. Then John added details about events leading up to the day the judgment process will begin. That leads to a point in time mentioned later in Revelation chapter 14, which is the end of the judgment period. In other words, a short overview of earth;s history from the beginning to the end of the judgment period.
Many people shun the judgment period, even frowning on any study of the judgment period. Other books in the Bible deal with the judgment process in more detail, and a collection of related prophecies tell us the beginning of the judgment period. John explained how the Judgment period began with the Sanctuary doors opening, the Ark is seen, and Jesus in the form of a slain Lamb is before God. All that is pretty basic information. Jesus is the High Priest, one of the main themes explained in the Book of Hebrews.
That is why Christ did not honor himself by assuming he could become High Priest. No, he was chosen by God, who said to him, “You are my Son. Today I have become your Father.” And in another passage God said to him, “You are a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.” While Jesus was here on earth, he offered prayers and pleadings, with a loud cry and tears, to the one who could rescue him from death. And God heard his prayers because of his deep reverence for God. Even though Jesus was God’s Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered. In this way, God qualified him as a perfect High Priest, and he became the source of eternal salvation for all those who obey him. And God designated him to be a High Priest in the order of Melchizedek. There is much more we would like to say about this, but it is difficult to explain, especially since you are spiritually dull and don’t seem to listen. You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food. For someone who lives on milk is still an infant and doesn’t know how to do what is right. Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong. (Hebrews 5:5-14 NLTse).
Jesus as High Priest is something we are supposed to know and teach. That’s why is seems rather odd to hear and see so many people teaching about the mark of the beast when we see instructions telling us what to teach go ignored.
Looking at this with a view from Heaven, we know angels are close to Jesus. Angels watch His every move. They know what Jesus is working on as well as what Jesus had to go through in Heaven and on earth. Angels and the elders in Heaven seated next to God’s throne are another contrast we can learn from. A subject far more important than studying who the devil is and what he is doing on earth.
The first announcement in Revelation 14 is the beginning of the judgment period. What can we tell the world about the judgment period, the trial in Heaven? The angel who followed the seventh trumpet has a message, the eternal Good News. When you think about is, that is a relatively long message. That message is supposed to go out to the whole world. The question is, has it, and was the right message delivered?
The first angel in Revelation 14 has a direct connection to the angel with the seventh trumpet. Both announcements concern the judgment period. Does the world know it is being judged at this very moment, and your name could come up at any minute? What is gong to happen when your name comes up? Is Jesus going to be able to stand up before His Father and tell God about the relationship you have? Or is Jesus going to have to say, he doesn’t know you? How much have you shared with Jesus, and how much does He know about you? How much do you know about Jesus and His role as High Priest?
Second and Third Angels
Revelation 14:8-13 NLTse (8) Then another angel followed him through the sky, shouting, “Babylon is fallen–that great city is fallen–because she made all the nations of the world drink the wine of her passionate immorality.” (9) Then a third angel followed them, shouting, “Anyone who worships the beast and his statue or who accepts his mark on the forehead or on the hand (10) must drink the wine of God’s anger. It has been poured full strength into God’s cup of wrath. And they will be tormented with fire and burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and the Lamb. (11) The smoke of their torment will rise forever and ever, and they will have no relief day or night, for they have worshiped the beast and his statue and have accepted the mark of his name.” (12) This means that God’s holy people must endure persecution patiently, obeying his commands and maintaining their faith in Jesus. (13) And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this down: Blessed are those who die in the Lord from now on. Yes, says the Spirit, they are blessed indeed, for they will rest from their hard work; for their good deeds follow them!”
After the announcement about the beginning of the judgment, another angel followed in what appears to be quick succession, and introduced Babylon as a new symbol. John heard the announcement in his vision, but didn’t see the physical city fall. Based on the study rule of looking back in scripture for an answer, the word immorality points us back to only one place, the dragon in Revelation 12, and the beasts that follow him in Revelation 13. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist or theologian with countless degrees and titles to see what side of the war Babylon is on.
The link to consider is the one between the beginning of the judgment period and the city Babylon falling down. Where does that lead us to? Then there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon and his angels. And the dragon lost the battle, and he and his angels were forced out of heaven. This great dragon–the ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, the one deceiving the whole world–was thrown down to the earth with all his angels. Then I heard a loud voice shouting across the heavens, “It has come at last– salvation and power and the Kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters has been thrown down to earth– the one who accuses them before our God day and night. (Revelation 12:7-10 NLTse).
Satan and his angels were cast down to earth. The city Babylon also fell. Babylon was the first world power identified by Daniel. Babylon was represented by the head of gold on the statue in the dream. What does that tell us when the head falls off? The figure still had arms, legs, and feet, and can still cause damage, but it is an idol showing it cannot think, see, hear, or talk. That is very close to another story in the Bible. But the next morning the same thing happened–Dagon had fallen face down before the Ark of the LORD again. This time his head and hands had broken off and were lying in the doorway. Only the trunk of his body was left intact. (1 Samuel 5:4 NLTse).
Israel misused the Ark and lost it to the Philistines, who had no idea what it was, and treated it like any other battle trophy. The Philistines were smart enough to know a powerful God was inside that Ark, and decided to get rid of the Ark before encoring any more damage. The problem was, not many people in Israel actually understood the Ark.
We see the same problem here in Revelation. People don’t understand the Ark, what it represents, or the judgment process involving the Ark. But God is sending angels with perfect understanding to help us. Jesus’ followers explain the details, but are we doing our job?
The third angel added to the first two messages and expounded on the message Jesus’ followers take out to the world, this time with a warning. The message shows, we can’t understand the warning to the world unless we follow basic Bible Study concepts and look back at that beast and the image he made. Does that mean we are supposed to spend countless hours and money studying and telling people all about that beast , his image, the mark, and what the forehead and hand represent? A warning is a warning. A road sign before a sharp curve tells people to slow down to a safe speed. No one posts a sign explaining all the details about that curve, or what would happen if they didn’t slow down. It would take so long to read, people would miss the warning, or face the danger when it was too late.
Babylon has its wine, and so does God. God has a cup of wrath and anger. Why do you think God is angry? Is it because He gave this world a message about His son, the Son who came to this world to explain the plan of salvation, only to see so many people go crazy over details about the beast, its image, and that mark?
We can see a connection between the second angel’s message and the first. That relationship established a connection between the beast and Babylon. When we look at the second message and apply a simple rule of context, seeing, Babylon is fallen, that great city is fallen, we know the information is repeated for a reason. That is a flag telling us to pray about that detail.
There were two Babylons that fell in the Bible. One was the Babylonian world empire that fell to the Medes and Persians that Daniel wrote about. In that story king Belshazzar had a feast.
Many years later King Belshazzar gave a great feast for 1,000 of his nobles, and he drank wine with them. While Belshazzar was drinking the wine, he gave orders to bring in the gold and silver cups that his predecessor, Nebuchadnezzar, had taken from the Temple in Jerusalem. He wanted to drink from them with his nobles, his wives, and his concubines. So they brought these gold cups taken from the Temple, the house of God in Jerusalem, and the king and his nobles, his wives, and his concubines drank from them. While they drank from them they praised their idols made of gold, silver, bronze, iron, wood, and stone. Suddenly, they saw the fingers of a human hand writing on the plaster wall of the king’s palace, near the lampstand. The king himself saw the hand as it wrote, and his face turned pale with fright. His knees knocked together in fear and his legs gave way beneath him. (Daniel 5:1-6 NLTse).
King Belshazzar threw a party, and decided to challenge God by praising all kinds of false gods and idols. He did this while a huge army was camped outside the city gates. It was like saying, “I don’t need you God.” The other fall of Babylon was when it was called Babel.
At one time all the people of the world spoke the same language and used the same words. As the people migrated to the east, they found a plain in the land of Babylonia and settled there. They began saying to each other, “Let’s make bricks and harden them with fire.” (In this region bricks were used instead of stone, and tar was used for mortar.) Then they said, “Come, let’s build a great city for ourselves with a tower that reaches into the sky. This will make us famous and keep us from being scattered all over the world.” But the LORD came down to look at the city and the tower the people were building. “Look!” he said. “The people are united, and they all speak the same language. After this, nothing they set out to do will be impossible for them! Come, let’s go down and confuse the people with different languages. Then they won’t be able to understand each other.” In that way, the LORD scattered them all over the world, and they stopped building the city. That is why the city was called Babel, because that is where the LORD confused the people with different languages. In this way he scattered them all over the world. (Genesis 11:1-9 NLTse).
Those people chose to challenge God by building a huge tower just in case God decided to flood the world again. They didn’t believe God’s promise anymore than Belshazzar believed promises God gave to his grandfather, Nebuchadnezzar.
What do those stories have in common? People wanted to trust in their own power, wisdom, and judgment. They wanted to live free from God and all His commands. That began in the garden with Adam and Eve. They wanted to go beyond what God gave them, the entire world. Where did all that come from? The devil.
The devil tempted Eve in the garden. The devil tempted Cain when he made his own from of worship. The devil tempted the people in Babel, and those in Babylon. All of Satan’s temptations led people away from God, leading them to a promise Satan made about a better life, free from God’s restraints. People are still making that mistake today.
People want to come up with a better, more powerful, and more interesting worship service. None of those worship services are in the Bible. Enoch didn’t need any of those services to meet with God. Enoch simply met God, and God appreciated the time and effort. Think about that. Isn’t that what we do when we study scripture with God’s Spirit? We are spending time with God outside of this world. Not wasting time inside this world looking for answers the world has to offer.
The penalty for following after that beast is rather sever. The beast as we know goes right back to the devil and his suggestions. People have to choose to honor and worship God in the prescribed way, or follow the world and their altered suggestions. Is there a proper way to worship God, and if there is a wrong way, what is it?
The Bible contains a lot of information about the Levitical laws, how worship and sacrifices were conducted in the Tabernacle. Kings and priests changed the laws given to Moses, added to them, and at times completely ignored them. That brought on Jerusalem’s fall. Finally Jesus came, died, and reintroduced God’s original plan A, the end of the Levitical priesthood on earth with direct communication and worship of God on His holy mountain, a symbol for Heaven.
“Sir,” the woman said, “you must be a prophet. So tell me, why is it that you Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place of worship, while we Samaritans claim it is here at Mount Gerizim, where our ancestors worshiped?” Jesus replied, “Believe me, dear woman, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem. You Samaritans know very little about the one you worship, while we Jews know all about him, for salvation comes through the Jews. But the time is coming–indeed it’s here now–when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:19-24 NLTse).
How do people worship God through or in the Spirit if they insist on using updated versions of the Levitical priesthood placing someone, a human between themselves and God? It cannot happen that way. It was not what Jesus told that woman was coming.
Jesus died to gain the role of High Priest. We have all been given the role of priest, and there is no middle man here in earth in any way, shape, or form. Worship is worship. On the other hand, collecting and distributing funds for ministries is another issue. That involves organization to a certain degree. The apostles saw a need for organization, but that organized committee never had any control over who would minister, how they would minister, or who they would minister to. That was the role of the Holy Spirit. Any variation on that is a man made concept we have to learn to overcome.
But as the believers rapidly multiplied, there were rumblings of discontent. The Greek-speaking believers complained about the Hebrew-speaking believers, saying that their widows were being discriminated against in the daily distribution of food. So the Twelve called a meeting of all the believers. They said, “We apostles should spend our time teaching the word of God, not running a food program. And so, brothers, select seven men who are well respected and are full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will give them this responsibility. Then we apostles can spend our time in prayer and teaching the word.” (Acts 6:1-4 NLTse).
The job was not going to be easy. People who lived to follow the Spirit would often die serving the LORD. Jesus followed the Spirit. People accused Him of taking orders from the devil. Jesus had something they didn’t, a direct connection with God’s throne, and religious leaders didn’t like that. There was too much Jesus could and did expose. Religious leaders looked at the situation and two choices. They could either change, accept Jesus, or get Him out of the way. They soon found out they couldn’t challenge Jesus. So they killed Him.
Son of Man
Revelation 14:14-20 NLTse (14) Then I saw a white cloud, and seated on the cloud was someone like the Son of Man. He had a gold crown on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand. (15) Then another angel came from the Temple and shouted to the one sitting on the cloud, “Swing the sickle, for the time of harvest has come; the crop on earth is ripe.” (16) So the one sitting on the cloud swung his sickle over the earth, and the whole earth was harvested. (17) After that, another angel came from the Temple in heaven, and he also had a sharp sickle. (18) Then another angel, who had power to destroy with fire, came from the altar. He shouted to the angel with the sharp sickle, “Swing your sickle now to gather the clusters of grapes from the vines of the earth, for they are ripe for judgment.” (19) So the angel swung his sickle over the earth and loaded the grapes into the great winepress of God’s wrath. (20) The grapes were trampled in the winepress outside the city, and blood flowed from the winepress in a stream about 180 miles long and as high as a horse’s bridle.
For John the scene quickly changed from watching angels flying over the earth with messages to a vision of Jesus, and another angel coming out of the Holy Sanctuary in Heaven. What a dramatic change. What were all those angels thinking when they saw that sudden change? It was easy for angels to relate to the three angels and their messages. Angels can and have seen everything that happens on this planet, and are capable of telling us when things are about to go bad. Angels in Heaven can see Satan and his angels working in the back ground, and at a moments notice, come to this world to warn or save people. That’s been their role for countless generations, and they are more than happy to do it. One word from God and they are here in a flash with powers we cannot imagine.
The question is, why does Jesus have a crown and a sickle? We have to look back at the last time John saw an image of Jesus in Heaven to understand why this scene changed so quickly. Then I saw a Lamb that looked as if it had been slaughtered, but it was now standing between the throne and the four living beings and among the twenty-four elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which represent the sevenfold Spirit of God that is sent out into every part of the earth. He stepped forward and took the scroll from the right hand of the one sitting on the throne. (Revelation 5:6-7 NLTse).
John saw a lot happen between Jesus presenting Himself to God, opening the scrolls, and coming out of the Holy Sanctuary wearing His crown. Seven seals were opened. Seven trumpets sounded. The earth was attacked, trampled, Satan and his angels were cast down to earth. John saw Jesus’ birth and persecution. We would have to cover a lot of ground to get a complete story of what happened, and everything that led to it. All of that led up to the judgment, which led to Jesus leaving the Sanctuary, crowned as KING of kings.
John saw Jesus on a cloud. It looked like a cloud. It looked like Jesus needed something to support Him and His throne. Millions of angels were around Jesus. It was one of the most important events in Heaven. Something we all should be looking for, and trying to understand. John’s attention was focused on Heaven, and the scene he saw. All Heaven was present, and knew exactly what that scene meant.
The harvest was ripe. Judgment was finished. The High Priest has left the Sanctuary. Satan was a million miles away wondering this world, knowing his time was short. He had little time to make his last stand, or convince the Universe, his ideas would work. The Universe saw what Satan did to God’s Son, and what Satan would do to them if he was in charge and they refused to fall in line. The Universe witnessed what Satan did to this planet, one of God’s perfect creations. How Satan used leaders, then cast them aside the moment they served their purpose. Fill that leader in with new leader easier to control. Satan was full of greed and knew how to push the right buttons in every human being driven by greed. Violence seemed to be the the only way to resolve issues. Dying was a way of life on this planet, something the angels in Heaven never saw before Cain slew his brother. Angels witnessed one scene after another, each more surprising and horrific than the one before it. Angels saw how leaders chose to kill hundreds of thousands of people to sway the thoughts of one man. Angels saw how none of that effected Satan and how he lost all feelings, all respect for life, and the breath of God.
Now it was time to deal with Satan and his followers. Judgment was finished. Every case has been decided. There are no do overs that this world loves to teach about. No final test or examinations. The last generation in this world will not be treated any differently that any other. All the books, movies, and radio shows in the world will not change the judgment process or a single decision made in Heaven. The courtroom scene is over and the plan of salvation enters its next phase.