In this chapter, which continues our study on how God will war against evil in these last days, it will include (1) a description of the 144,000, (2) the Three Angels’ Messages, and (3) the Harvest.
Let us start by looking at the parallels between chapters ten and fourteen, which are on opposite sides of chapter twelve.
In chapter ten we have the description of the Advent Movement and in chapter fourteen the Advent Message. Clearly these two chapters are tied together especially by their reference to the 2300 day prophesy and the worship of the Creator. This Advent Movement is part of God’s war against evil. While the world will wonder after the first beast, the Papacy, God has raised up a people to call them out of spiritual Babylon. Perhaps the greatest fruit borne by the Advent Movement is the 144,000. These men and women found from every nation, tongue, and people will follow the Lamb wherever He goes and reflect the image of Jesus perfectly.
Let us now consider one of the most encouraging chapters in Revelation. After all, after viewing the tragic apostasy in chapter thirteen, we need these encouraging words found in chapter fourteen.
Verses 1–5: The 144,000
The 144,000 on Mount Zion: The vision opens with the 144,000 seen with Jesus on Mount Zion, representing their triumph over the beast and his image. Earlier John had seen God’s people faced with privation and a death decree. See Revelation 13:15–17. But during the great time of trouble, the Lamb had delivered them.
The 144,000 bear the character of God: The 144,000 have the Father’s name written on their foreheads, signifying the impartation of God’s character in their lives.
The 144,000 sing their song of victory: The 144,000 will form a special choir and sing a new song based on their experience living in the greatest time of trouble.
The 144,000 gained the victory over sin: They are called virgins. See 2 Corinthians 11:2; Matthew 25:1. Virginity is symbolic of both physical and spiritual purity in life and conduct. The 144,000 have the name of the Father, they keep the commandments of God, and are spiritual virgins. They are victorious over every impure thought and impulse.
During the reign of the harlot (17:1, 5, 18), the 144,000 remain faithful to God. Those who worship the beast and his image become daughters of the Mother of Harlots, while God’s commandment-keeping people become His chaste virgins.
No guile in their mouth: In their mouth was found no guile; for they are without fault before God. “Guile” has the meaning of craft and trickery. The person with guile in his mouth is a liar and deceiver. He can be such by both his life and words.
The word guile also carries the meaning of ferment or fermentation. A person with guile in his mouth has a defiling influence on others. In contrast, purity of speech is closely related to purity of heart, pure lives, and a pure language free from deceit, malice, gossip, filthy words, and crude jesting.
The 144,000 do not see death: There will be a group alive when Jesus returns. See 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17. While the vast majority of believers will be resurrected from the grave, the 144,000 live through the whole period of the seven last plagues without seeing death.
Verses 6–12: The Three Angels
The three symbolic angels: The three angels or three messengers of this threefold message represent God’s faithful people.
The everlasting gospel: The good news from all eternity is God’s story in saving man from his sinful condition. The Son of God became the Son of man, lived a perfect life in fallen human flesh, thereby condemning sin in the flesh, that the righteousness of God might be manifest in our mortal bodies. See Romans 8:3, 4. It is the eternal good news of how God took imperfect people and made them saints through the perfection of Christ.
A message for the whole world: Jesus said, “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all generations; and then shall the end come.” Matthew 24:14. These verses also express universality. We begin with an angel flying in the midst of heaven, representing the necessity for this threefold message to go to all the world. Then there is a fourfold enumeration, “to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people,” indicating that all men and women no matter their current creed or position in any church or religion, must receive this light.
The first angel’s message: The message of the first angel gives the reason for all three. We are to fear God and give Him glory. The inhabitants of the earth cannot glorify God while they worship the beast and his image.
The investigative judgment has begun: The urgency of these three messages is because the hour of His judgment is come. The main judgment will take place during the millennium when “the saints shall judge the world” and “shall judge angels.” At that time “judgment shall be given to the saints of the most High.” See 1 Corinthians 6:2, 3; Daniel 7:22. But there are several texts that indicate clearly that an investigative judgment of the heavenly records must be made before Christ’s return. See Daniel 12:1, 2; Luke 20:35; Revelation 20:15. The first judgment involves all who profess to be followers of Christ. This judgment indicates whether he/she remained faithful or not. This is the work that is currently going on in heaven. When each case is decided, then Christ will return the second time and receive those who were found faithful.
The Sabbath and the worship of our Creator: While the apostate churches lead the world to worship the beast and his image, God’s faithful remnant must proclaim the worship of the Creator. In a time when people are punished for not worshiping the beast and his image, God’s faithful must remain strong in the Lord and declare the Sabbath truth.
Because the Sabbath is both the memorial of creation and the sign of sanctification and re-creation, Sabbath observance is an important part of the everlasting gospel in all ages.
The second angel’s message: Babylon is the great counterfeit to God’s kingdom. It exemplifies a counterfeit gospel of salvation by works. The city was itself built in defiance to the authority of God. It was built soon after the Flood, and became the center of rebellion, immorality, and idolatry. See Genesis 8:8–10.
Inspiration identifies Satan’s last-day counterfeit as “Babylon the Great.” See Revelation 17:5. Spiritual Babylon is a confusing system mixing truth and error together. It is a combination of both Christian and pagan beliefs. It presents itself as if it were the gate to God. But Inspiration clearly says it is fallen morally, spiritually, and doctrinally.
We will discover that “MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATION OF THE EARTH,” is the Papacy. Revelation 17:5. However, since she is a “mother,” she must have daughters. Therefore, the second angel’s message must refer to more than the Roman Church. The Church of Rome had fallen from its inception in the early centuries of Christianity. If the proclamation of this second angel’s message is an end time message, then it must have reference to the many fallen churches of Protestantism.
Tragically, Protestantism stopped protesting against the errors of Romanism, and had failed to embrace all the truths that came streaming forth from the Word. Some of the truths rejected by the various Protestants denominations were: the fulfillment of many prophecies, especially the judgment hour message of Daniel 8:14 and Revelation 14:7; the seventh-day Sabbath; the mediatorial work of Jesus in the heavenly Sanctuary; the Biblical understanding of the nature of man; the binding claims of God’s Law; and the message of righteousness by faith. In part or in whole, the Protestant churches rejected the above foundational truths of the Bible.
Tragically, spiritual Babylon would make or compel all nations to drink of the wine of her fornication. Fornication is an expression of an illicit relationship between two parties that should not be together. The union of church and state is such an illicit relationship. It not only shows a lack of faith in God, but leads to the persecution of the righteous.
The falsehood that will unite the church with the state is the National Sunday Law. People are made to drink it, in hopes that it will bring peace, but instead it brings wrath.
Verses 9–11: The Third Angel’s Message
The first angel’s message calls upon every man, woman, and child to worship the Creator and give Him glory. The third angel identifies the object of creature worship or idolatry and tells us the terrible consequences of such worship. In Romans 1:25, idolatry is defined as exchanging the truth of God for a lie and worshiping and serving the creature rather than the Creator. While this warning is world-embracing, it appeals to every individual, saying, “If any man worship the beast…” Revelation 14:9.
Our responsibility to God is personal. We are free moral agents. Therefore, no national law or international decree can relieve us from the worship of God alone. We must choose whom we will serve. Do not rest your eternal salvation upon the opinions of the majority. Do not be afraid to stand for the right when her champions are few. You have an individual responsibility to exercise the power of choice. No excuses will be accepted.
Verse 12: The Persevering Saints
The words patience, endurance, and steadfastness indicate that those who proclaim the threefold message will pass through a period of persecution that will test their patience, commandment-keeping, and faith in Jesus. But it will be their faith in Jesus that will see them through and make them strong witnesses against the overwhelming apostasy. Their faith in Jesus is so strong because the law of God has been written on their hearts and minds. They have indeed received the faith of Jesus, which represents all the words of Jesus.
Verse 13: Special Resurrection
Those who have died during the time of the three angels’ messages: The saints throughout the ages will have the blessing of being resurrected at Christ’s second coming. See 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17. This is what is referred to as the first resurrection. Revelation 20:4–6. However, there seems to be a special emphasis on those who die during the proclamation of the three angels’ messages, Revelation 14:6–12. The emphasis is upon those who die from this hour on.
This special resurrection is described in Daniel 12:2, where a few of the righteous and wicked are raised together to witness the return of Jesus. We know that the wicked here mentioned, are those individuals responsible for the piercing or crucifying of Jesus. See Revelation 1:7. This includes people like the high priest Caiaphas, whom Jesus told would see the Son of God coming in the clouds of glory. The saints referred to in Daniel 12:2 are living in the end of time. The saints of Revelation 14:13 are also living in the end of time. These end time saints will have the glorious privilege of being raised in a special resurrection, so that they may witness the second coming of Christ.
Verse 14: The Harvest
It is at Christ’s second coming that the saints from all the ages are resurrected. This is what is referred to as the harvest. Christ is the sower. See Matthew 13:37. He is the “Lord of the harvest.” Matthew 9:38. Jesus said that “the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels.” Matthew 13:39. He said that the tares would be gathered “and burned in the fire.” The harvest is the time when the wicked are separated from the righteous. Until then they grow together. But when Jesus comes the second time He will raise His sleeping saints from their dusty graves. They shall then always be with the Lord.
Verses 15, 16: The Maturity of the Saints
The concept of a harvest implies that God’s people are maturing over time. There comes a time when the precious wheat is ready. It has fully matured. This is when Christ will come. He will have a people that have fully matured. They are ripe for harvest. The early and latter rains have fallen and accomplished their mission of bringing the spiritual harvest to perfection. Perfect ripeness calls for action. As Jesus said, but when the harvest is ripe, “immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come.” Mark 4:29.
Our great need is to receive fresh supplies of grace to bring about perfection in Christ. The Holy Spirit working upon receptive hearts makes this process possible.
The harvest of the wicked: While cooperation with the work of the Holy Spirit brings about Christian perfection, rejection of the Holy Spirit and God’s last day message brings about rebellion. In the end, rebellion will ripen and mature also. Sin will fully develop and there will be a time of trouble as never before.
The command to reap: It is Jesus that sends His angels to gather the saints. See Matthew 13:38–42. Christ created the angels, and therefore is Commander and Chief over the angels. It is none other than Christ, referred as a messenger, that commands that the harvest of the wicked be gathered and “cast into the great winepress of the wrath of God.”
Verses 19, 20: The Winepress
We know that grapes are placed in a vat and the juice is pressed out by men treading them with their feet. The figure is suitable since the juice of grapes resembles that of blood. The “wrath of God” most likely has reference to the seven last plagues that will destroy all of the wicked, numbering in the billions. The winepress of God’s wrath is trodden “without the city,” indicating the victory God and His people will have over the wicked. History will be repeated in a literal sense when Satan and the wicked try to capture the New Jerusalem after the millennium. Fire comes down out of heaven and devours them. See Revelation 20:7–9.
The horses bridle and blood: Every commentator is challenged by the reference to 1600 furlongs. A furlong is about an eighth of a mile, and 1600 furlongs would be 200 miles. So how could the blood of six billion people reach to this level?
By comparing scripture with scripture, we find other passages commenting with similar language on the same event. In the book of Isaiah, we read:
“Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah?…Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the winefat? I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me: for I will tread them in Mine anger, and trample them in My fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon My garments, and I will stain all My raiment. For the day of vengeance is Mine heart, and the year of My redeemed is come.” Isaiah 63:1–4.
In this passage we have (1) a winepress, (2) the wicked, (3) Jesus, (4) treading, and (5) blood on Christ’s garments. In Revelation 19, we are told Christ is “clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and His name is called The Word of God.” Revelation 19:13.
It is evident that there will be a worldwide slaughter of the wicked during the seven last plagues. So what does 1600 furlongs or 200 miles have to do with Isaiah 63:1–4 and Revelation 14:20; 19:13?
It is interesting to note that the distance from Bozrah (Isaiah 63:1) to Megiddo (the root word for Armageddon) is 200 miles. The Bible is not so much drawing our attention to the amount of blood, but when the slaughter takes place. Billions will perish during the time of the seven last plagues; especially during the time of the Battle of Armageddon.
This is an amazing chapter. We have the 144,000 again described; we have God’s last warning message to the world known as the Three Angels’ Messages; we have the judgment and the harvest and the destruction of the wicked. The question is, How do I relate to these important items?
1. We should seriously strive to be among the 144,000. They are not defiled by apostate teachings because they hold to the truths of God’s Word. They have given themselves to Christ and they recognize His authority over their lives. They follow Jesus wherever He goes. They study His life point by point. Then they pray to the Father to receive that beautiful life. God grants their request as they allow self to die, that Christ may reign in their hearts by faith. In their mouth is found no guile because there is none in the heart.
When an evil thought comes to mind, they surrender it to God and replace it with the thoughts of Jesus. They do not procrastinate. They do not entertain evil and immoral thoughts. By prayer, by His Word, by steadfastness, by the Spirit, by choice—they overcome every impure thought and deed.
To be among them, we must have a plan to grow in Jesus every day. Begin with prayer and the study of His Word. Then commit yourself to Him and walk in the presence of Jesus all day long. Think often of Him and pray to Him throughout the day. Know that you need Him and rely on Him for strength. Through the Holy Spirit He is there.
2. Take the time to understand the Three Angels’ Messages. Begin by reading these messages over and over again. Even commit them to memory. But that is not enough.
We must understand what we read. Look up key words and phrases. Look for the principles in the text. “Own” the text by understanding the text. Then apply the text to your life. For example, begin to keep the seventh-day Sabbath from sunset Friday to sunset Saturday. Take the time to learn more and more about Sabbath-keeping. Learn what you can about the judgment, especially the investigative judgment that is going on right now. Of course, all of this would be senseless if we did not understand the everlasting gospel.
3. The judgment is real. The harvest is real. Life isn’t simply a matter of being entertained and making a buck. We are all involved in a struggle between the forces of good and the forces of evil. We must choose what side we are on. Because in the end, we will either be part of the harvest of the saints or the harvest of the wicked. One receives eternal life; the other, eternal death. Do not simply desire to be on God’s side. You must choose to be on God’s side. Having made that decision you must realize your helplessness to do all that God requires. We all need divine help to fight against our fallen natures. But He who made the heavens and the earth, He who set the stars in their perfect course, is more than able to help us overcome our evil ways. Then by faith we must follow Him. Cooperate with the Holy Spirit and He will lead you to heaven.