Revelation Chapter 14, "The Lamb with His Fair Army"
The middle section of Revelation is what I call "The Short History of the World - 0 B.C. to the END". This covers chapters 6 to 20. The nature of the book is history in images and symbols, so the best way to understand it is to ask "what do these symbols mean?". My own study of the book convinces me that we have a series of image sets that make up a single "collage". Each set, more or less, covers this same period, starting with Jesus appearing and ending with His return.
The 3rd image set is in chapters 12 to 14. It begins unmistakably with the birth of Jesus and introduces the arch-enemy Satan (the old dragon) and his henchmen who persecute Jesus' people.
Chapter 14 finishes this 3rd image set.
The Key Characters
As I have come to expect now, the most important symbols are usually persons, or represent persons. I don't think this is accidental. Every object in the universe has its worth & gives glory to its Maker in some way, but it is supremely seen in man, made in the God's image to think and communicate & love. Here are immortal sons & daughters of God, gods & goddesses before whom we fall on our faces if ever we met them. Or else here are immortal horrors, endlessly decaying, endlessly tormented by being shut out from all good: hunger without food, greed without pleasure, hatred without release, tears without comfort, self-hood without God, misery without hope. (1 John 3:2, Mt 25:34, Isaiah 14:3-11, Jude 13)
By comparison with man, everything else is as short-lived as a butterfly - worlds, nations, stars, galaxies - all will fade away.
Here we have
- The Lamb
- The 144,000 people
- The Man on the Cloud
- The Grapes
The "Story-line" in Brief
- The Lamb appears on Mt Zion with 144,000 followers.
- Angels are sent out with messages for all who live on the earth.
- A Man appears on a Cloud with a Sickle, and the Harvest begins, harvesting the whole earth.
The Chapter Explained
The Lamb v1
- this is Jesus, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). We have seen Him often in chapters 5, 6, 7, 8, 12 & 13.
- He is the Saviour (that's what being the Lamb means)
- He is standing, silent and unruffled by the roarings of the Dragon and his henchmen (ch. 12 & 13). See Psalm 2:4-6
- He is standing on Mount Zion. Note: this, as much as the Lamb, is a symbol. It is not literally Jerusalem. Rather it is the heavenly Jerusalem, the City of God, which will replace the rebel kingdoms of this world. See Hebrews 12:22, Psalm 2:6. Here is the KING!
- ch. 12-14 begins and ends with Jesus, just like all of world history.
- they are WITH Jesus, v1
- they bear Jesus' name and the Father's name, v1, on their foreheads. They are therefore the same 144,000 we saw in Ch. 7. Who were they? What does the symbol mean there? All of Jesus' redeemed people, not one is missing, the number is sure and known to God.
- they are part of the scene we saw in Ch. 4 & 5, the Control (Throne) Room of Heaven. They are with not only the Lamb but the 4 living creatures (Cherubim) and the 24 Elders (Old Testament & New Testament church).
- they sing with a loud voice - v2; same again as ch.7:10
- they sing a new song (only those with new heart can sing this new song). What song? Ch.5 tells us - v9-14 "Worthy is the LAMB Who was slain", as does ch.7:10-12.
- they are pure - no sexual sin - literally "virgins"
- "What, all unmarried, and all men!?" - no, remember these are symbols!```
- They are the church, the Bride of Christ. Primary meaning is found in 2 Corinthians. 11:2 "I feel a divine jealousy for you, for I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ." This is what the O.T. means when it so often talks about Israel's failures as a wife being unfaithful to her husband (God). Here at last is the faithful bride, and she is made so my Christ, the Lamb Who redeems (buys back with His blood) her.
- but, secondary meaning is clear too - those who name Christ's name are called to sexual purity. Revelation is full of this call, as is whole of N.T.
- sex & marriage are not bad - God invented both, and said they were GOOD. Gen.2, and Hebrews 13:4
- celibacy is not required (though God's gift to some) but purity and faithfulness are required.
- thank God there is forgiveness for those who fall - sexual sin is also under the blood of Jesus, and can be forgiven and erased - they ARE (present tense) pure in His eyes.
- they follow the Lamb wherever He goes - He went to death, and on to life.
- they are the "first-fruits", that is, an offering to God, as first-fruits of harvest were given to God and used as food for the priests and Levite assistants, who had no tribal land in Israel. Here is God's portion chosen out of the world.
- they are honest, truthful people
- they are counted as "blameless" by God, for they are purchased with Jesus' blood.
- 3 angels sent from the Control Room with messages for all the people of earth (every tribe, language and people - this is what missionary work is all about)
- 1st, with the eternal gospel v7 "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." This is still Gospel. Jesus is the only way anyone can fulfill this command. This is where we all are now - not yet with Jesus, not yet come to the end of all things (for this life and this world). Still in the time of MERCY & HOPE.
- 2nd, "Fallen is Babylon the Great" - we meet Babylon later (ch. 17ff). For now, here is the final overthrow of the rebel kingdoms of this world, which had there origin in Gen 11 at the construction of the city of Babel, with its great tower trying to reach to heaven. Ruined, fallen as Baradur in LOTR.
- 3rd, judgment on all who worship the beast, and go along with his way. It is a way that leads to death and misery. It is the way of rejecting the true King Jesus, and following the imitation king, Satan's puppet.
- Really only 2 ways
- "Give me Jesus!" or
- "Let him go - I'm too busy (but will have eternity to regret it), I can run my own life (for a little while), I've got a family to feed, a job to do, pleasures to enjoy (all good gifts, but what of the Giver?)"
- torment forever - "Eternity, O eternity, how shall I face eternity"
- Tough Times Coming - v12 - repeats 13:10. Christians need to be patient and to endure - stick with it! "Obey God and remain faithful to Jesus" is John's definition of a Christian. Even to death for Jesus sake. v13. But see what comfort is given:-
- Blessed (not cursed, as world thinks)
- their good works will follow them (not go before to open the door - Jesus only has done that); they will not be lost (1 Co. 15:58)
The Man on the Cloud
- Who is this?
- some think just another angel (he gets commands from an angel, and has no great and glorious description here)
- many think it is Jesus again.
- Ps 104:3 "he makes the clouds his chariot"
- Ezekiel ch.1 - here we see one like a son of man upon a cloud above the glory of the Almighty. A striking passage!
- Dan. 7:13 - one like son of man coming with clouds of heaven
- Rev 1:7 "behold, he is coming with the clouds"
- he wears a crown of victory (no angel ever does)
- I think it is Jesus
- But it is Jesus as the Lion here, not the Lamb.
- Ch5:5 "The Lion of the tribe of Judah .. has conquered". He has the Victor's crown (the "stephanos", the wreath given to winners at the Games, and to victorious military leaders
- he has a sharp sickle - the old tool for reaping the wheat.
- he takes his orders to reap not from an angel, but via an angel ("messenger") from the Control Room, from the Father. This is what Jesus said Mt 25:36 "But concerning the day and hour the last no one know, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only."
- the angels reap with Him, the harvest of the grapes of the earth
- all those people who rejected Jesus, and His offer of salvation, forgiveness (I don't need it!)
- nice people, many - blessed with good-natured personality. But unbending - "Who will be King?" - I will!
- "good" people - that is, self-righteous "I'm not like other men...", yet prostitutes and thieves repented and followed Jesus - Matt 21:31-32
- What happens to them?
- to all of them - this is the END - none escape
- fire in v10ff
- wine-press of God's anger here in v 20
- blackness of darkness forever in Jude 13 (NOTE: fire and utter darkness don't make sense together - remember, only symbols! - reality will be as awful as all of them)
- God is just - if you follow the rebel Satan and the revel Self, you must end up where all rebellion does - cast out in torment. The soul is immortal (made in God's image) and must go somewhere. If not to heaven, then to hell.
- Jesus is both Lamb and Lion.
- Come to Him as the saving Lamb now - what holds you back? He invites you to come.
- Or go from Him as the conquering Lion, cast out into ruin and horror for ever.
- There ARE only 2 ways. Why not take the first? Take it now, while there is time.
Click here for the next Revelation article Revelation Chapters 15 & 16 - The Last Battle
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published: 26 July 2008
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