Visions of Assurance
Chapter fourteen is a continuations of this lengthy interlude that we have been looking at for some time now.
In chapter ten the seventh trumpet brought us right up to the time of the end.
But before that time begins John is given visions of the lengthy struggle that has existed from the beginning between the Kingdom of God and the power of Satan.
In chapter twelve we saw the spiritual reality of this battle that has rages unseen all around us.
But, in the final days when the last and most powerful of the antichrists rises that spiritual battle will break forth into human history in ways that has never been seen before.
And the Antichrist will use every possible means to subdue the saints and demand their worship.
Chapter fourteen was given to John as a way to bring assurance to the saints that all that occurs during the end times is all within the hands of God.
Part of the assurance that God wants us to see is that the godless civilization under the control of the beast will fall under divine judgment.
And in contrast to that judgment we, the saints, will experience eternal salvation with Christ Jesus.
This chapter actually isn’t a single vision, but rather it appears to be a series of disconnected short visions.
So let’s look at each of these brief visions that John is given.
The first of these is found in verses one through five where we read.
The Lamb Upon Mount Zion
This first vision is actually about the final salvation of the saints, which doesn’t occur until chapters twenty through twenty-two.
This vision is given in anticipation of what is yet to be for the people of God.
So as to help God’s people stand firm in the midst of whatever trials and tribulations may come, either today or in the time of the end.
I feel like I keep saying this over and over throughout this series.
But I believe it just shows how quickly we can lose focus on the eternal and only see what is right before us.
And God realizes this so what he does is repeats this truth over and over just in different ways with the hope that we might start to see the truth that lies just out of sight behind the vale in the spiritual realm all around us at all times.
In the first verse John sees Jesus standing atop Mount Zion surrounded by 140,000 saints who bear the mark of God.
And this is the first thing that God wants us to see.
Because if we remember from last week we saw those that take part in the worship of the beast will take the mark of the beast.
And so we are presented with this contrast by God and his assurance that those who are sealed by the Holy Spirit will most certainly experience victory even in the face of martyrdom at the hands of the beast.
That is who these 140,000 are they are martyrs for Christ Jesus and His gospel.
Mount Zion in this passage is not a reference to an actual mountain.
In the book of Hebrews chapter twelve verse twenty-two we are told that Mount Zion is the city of the living God, it is the New Jerusalem.
So, this is a reference to the heavenly dwelling place of God.
And when we get to the last few chapters of Revelation we will find that the heavenly Jerusalem will descend and the dwelling place of God will be among men.
And so this is simply a spiritualized reference we might say to the dwelling place at the present time of Jesus.
The 140,000 were those whom we read about in chapter seven.
And what we see is that those saints who are still yet to be martyred during the Great Tribulation will definitely stand redeemed with Christ Jesus.
And then in verse two John hears a voice from the heavens.
This voice appears based on verse three to be an angelic host that is singing.
In verse three we are told that they sing a new song before the throne of God.
Verse three mentions several groups who are present.
We have the angels who are singing this new song, as well as the four living creatures, the twenty-four elders, and the 140,000.
But that among all of those that are present only the 140,000 can learn this new song.
Because it is a song of redemption and so only the 140,000 can learn the song from the angels because they are the only ones present who have or could experience redemption.
Verse four presents us with some difficulties primarily in that these 140,000 are described as being chaste or virgins.
This leads many to believe that this is a special group of believers who have sworn off marriage or sexual relations in order to serve only the Lord.
What makes this difficult is that in 1 Corinthians 7 Paul does suggest that people remain chaste and unmarried if possible in order to serve the Lord because of the responsibilities that a family naturally brings.
However, It is not because sex is meant to be viewed as some defiling act in some way.
Which is where we can end up if we follow this line of thinking.
I believe that this is speaking more about ones spiritual state more than ones sexual life.
And as such what it is speaking about I believe spiritual purity more than sexual virginity.
We see this idea in second Corinthians chapter eleven verse two where Paul says that his goal is to present the church to Jesus as a virgin bride.
He’s obviously not stating that no one in the church should have sex.
In fact in first corinthians chapter seven he says that married couples should not choose to abstain from sex for an extended period because it can give way to lustful acts outside of marriage.
And so I think in reference here to the 140,000 I believe that this is saying that they have remained spiritually pure by refusing to worship the beast and as a result they were martyred.
They are said to follow Jesus wherever He goes and they are said to be the first fruits for God and the Lamb.
This simply means that they are to be the first to experience the resurrection.
First fruits is an agricultural term that simply means the first that is harvested.
Finally this first vision says that the 140,000 were spotless.
Meaning that now that they have experienced the resurrection and stand with Christ and that they now know life as sinless humans.
Just as the first fruits of the flock that were without blemish were to be offered as a sacrifice to the Lord in the Old Testament sacrificial system.
These saints offered their lives as a sacrifice to the Lord and they were martyred at the hands of the beast all the while serving and worship the one true savior, Jesus Christ.
And as a result of both their spiritual and physical sacrifice for Christ Jesus at the hands of the beast they will be rewarded.
And that reward is that they will be the first among humanity to experience the resurrection and as a result the first to know the glorified Christ.
Then in verses six and seven we have the next vision.
and we read.
The Good News
Remember this chapter contains several different visions that are all loosely connected.
And so after John is given a vision of those to first be redeemed and resurrected to Jesus he now hears an angel calling all men to repent of their sin while there is still time to believe in Christ Jesus.
The word that we translate here as gospel actually means good news.
In the end times when everything seems beyond repair and nothing good could ever come of the havoc and mayhem.
There is the good news of Jesus.
And this is an eternal truth, it has been true from the beginning of time and will continue to be true until the end of time.
And so no matter what you or I are going through at any point in our lives.
In fact no matter what anyone in this world is going through in their lives the one thing that they need to give them the hope to get through is the good news of Jesus Christ.
This is why we need to continually remind ourselves of the great truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
First because we constantly need the grace that flows from the gospel in our lives.
And second because then we will be intimately familiar with the Gospel and when the Holy Spirit needs us to speak.
We will be capable to speak with certainty and boldness.
Then in verse eight we read about the fall of Babylon
The Fall of Babylon
The first angel called for repentance and acceptance of the gospel.
This angel now speaks of what happens to those who do not repent.
Babylon in the Old Testament was always seen as like this arch-nemesis to Israel.
And so we should see this reference to Babylon as all of human society that chooses to follow after the beast and war against the people of God.
And so Babylon is presented here as offering wine in order to intoxicate and then seduce the nations.
That wine can be anything that draws our hearts from God. Wealth, luxuries, popularity, friendship, you name it.
Anything that Babylon might use to entice you from the Kingdom of God and to the power of Satan.
But this cup of wine will be turned around upon the seductress and it will become the cup of the wrath of God.
And in verses nine through twelve we read about the downfall of those who worship the beast.
John has a vision of a third angel who cries out concerning the downfall of those who worship the beast
Doom and Destruction
This is not a pretty picture that is being painted concerning the end that is one day going to take place.
But in the midst of the doom and the destruction we need to remember that the purpose of all of this is not doom and destruction.
We need to remember that behind the seven trumpets and the seven bowls that are about to take place is the mercy and grace of God.
The goal of the wrath is discipline to repentance - while there is still time to repent.
But unfortunately there is the eternal truth that those who choose hostility towards God must become objects of divine wrath.
But why must it be this way?
Because it is simply inconceivable that a perfectly righteous God would allow any who hate his one and only son Jesus to enter into the Kingdom of God.
And here’s the thing you have to choose and one will either choose to love God and thus Jesus with all of their heart, mind, and soul.
Or they unwittingly choose hate.
There is no middle ground.