Understanding The Apocalypse

Revelation 14:1-7
Chapter 23

Beginning with Chapter 12, the Revelation is a parenthetical odyssey through history focusing on Israel, the fall of Satan, the birth of Christ and the persecution of Israel during the Great Tribulation.

In Revelation 13, the rise of the Antichrist and his anti-kingdom through Satanic power is detailed, as are the demands of the Antichrist on humanity and the resulting conditions on earth as he seeks to destroy Israel.

Revelation 14, is the final chapter in this particular parenthetic. It records the redemption of the Remnant of Israel that will not worship the Antichrist and of the doom awaiting those who do worship the beast.

I. The Redemption of the Remnant

"And I looked and, lo, a Lamb stood on Mount Zion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father's name written in their foreheads" (Revelation 14:1).

You may recall in Revelation 13:11, John described the "beast out of the earth" as having "two horns like a lamb, and he spoke like a dragon." This speaks of the initial presentation of the beast to Israel, like a lamb bringing peace. However, we know that after they make their agreement with him, he will begin to speak like a dragon, demanding they worship him as god.

Surely, the beast out of the earth is an anti-Lamb, an anti-Messiah, an anti-Christ, but the Lamb John sees in Revelation 14:1, is the true Lamb of God, the true Messiah, the true Christ. Notice, He is standing on Mount Zion with 144,000. We know the 144,000 are the Remnant of Israel that God will protect from the Antichrist and preserve for Himself. These are Jews from the twelve tribes who were sealed in Revelation 7. They are supernaturally preserved to be subjects of the Lord Jesus Christ in His Millennial Kingdom.

Also in this verse, Mount Zion is Jerusalem, the seat of the Kingdom of David and the throne promised to our Lord. Listen to the words of Micah 4:6-7.

"In that day, saith the Lord, will I assemble her that is lame, and I will gather her that is driven out, and her that I have afflicted; And I will make her that was lame a remnant, and her that was cast far off a strong nation; and the Lord shall reign over them in Mount Zion from henceforth, even forever."
John's vision in Revelation 14:1, is the future fulfillment of the prophecy of Micah who said our Lord would reign over the Remnant in Mount Zion, forever. This is a vision of the Kingdom of Heaven, come to earth.

Next, in Revelation 14:2, John records he heard voices from heaven. "And I heard a voice from heaven, like the voice of many waters, and like the voice of a great thunder; and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps."

As befitting the appearance of a potentate, there is an announcement of our Lord's arrival in Mount Zion but this is not an ordinary announcement, for this is not an ordinary King. This is the King of kings and Lord of lords and only a heavenly chorus is suitable for His entrance.

We must also remember that this announcement is to be made in a hostile world, a world immersed in immorality and worship of Satan and his Antichrist. Perhaps, this is the reason John describes the voices like many waters and great thunder.

If you have heard the sound of rushing water you know it produces a din that suppresses all other sounds in the vicinity. It is nearly impossible to hear anything other than the sound of the water. Somewhat different is the sound of thunder. It is a sharp and booming sound that shakes the earth and immediately captures one's attention.

We understand the heavenly chorus and their accompanists on the harps will be like the surrounding sound of rushing water and yet, penetrating like the thunder, so their message cannot be suppressed or ignored by those on the earth.

Now, John turns attention to the song being sung in Revelation 14:3.

"And they sang, as it were, a new song before the throne, and before the four living creatures and the elders; and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, who were redeemed from the earth."
His description contains several facts that provide information about the entire scene he witnessed, as well as the song itself.
(1) It is a new song. A new song indicates the revealing of a new or different experience. Certainly, the establishment of the Kingdom of Heaven on earth is very different from the kingdom established by the Antichrist.

(2) They sing before the throne. This fortifies the viewpoint that this vision is a glimpse of the Millennial Kingdom. Christ's second advent will be to sit on the throne of His Glory.

(3) The four living creatures and the twenty-four elders are present. We know from our studies in Revelation 4, the four living creatures are representative of the Cherubim who are associated with God's judgments and the Seraphim who are associated with God's grace.

These are always in attendance to the throne of God. Therefore, we know by their presence the throne mentioned is the throne of God. It is the throne of the King of kings and Lord of lords. It is the throne of our Lord Jesus Christ.

We also believe that the twenty-four elders in Revelation 4, are representatives of the Church, the Bride of Christ. We also know from Zechariah 14:5, when Christ returns in Glory to establish his Millennial Kingdom He will bring His Saints, including the Church, with Him. Their presence is more proof this is a vision of the Millennial Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ.

(4) No one can learn the new song, save for the 144,000 who were redeemed from the earth. Because this song or experience is restricted to people on the earth, only those Israelites who have not worshipped the beast can participate. Therefore, only the 144,000 from the Twelve Tribes of Israel qualify because they did not take the mark of the beast and worship him. That the 144,000 did not worshipped the beast is plain in Revelation 14:4-5.

"These are they who were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they who follow the Lamb wherever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, the first fruits unto God and to the Lamb. And in their mouth was found no guile; for they are without fault before the throne of God."
These two verses detail the faithfulness of the believing remnant during the Great Tribulation along with the results of their faithfulness.
(1) They were not defiled with women. In Revelation 17, the apostate church is described as a harlot who is full of abominations and filthiness. She is called "Mystery, Babylon the great, the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth." Because this apostate church is called the "mother of harlots" it can be safely assumed she spawned other harlots or apostate churches to lure people into idolatry and worship of the Antichrist.

These harlots are the women with their defilement the 144,000 avoided. The result of not being defiled with these women is they are virgins. Virginity always speaks of purity, self-restraint, faithfulness and like virtues.

The 144,000 did not defile themselves with the great harlot, the apostate church and thereby, retained their faithfulness to their long-awaited Messiah.

(2) They follow the Lamb wherever He goes. As in every dispensation, it is believing God that saves people and it is faith that will save the remnant of Israel. Their faith in Him is demonstrated by their following Him. Because they believe Jesus is their Messiah and reject the Antichrist, God will preserve them through the Great Tribulation and give them the privilege of welcoming their King.

The result is they are "redeemed from among men." They are purchased by the blood of Christ, just as all who believe God, in all ages. In contrast, to those who forever doom themselves by worshipping the beast, the believing remnant is purchased to become "the first fruits unto God and to the Lamb." This means they will be first among the great Kingdom that God will establish on the earth for Israel.

(3) In their mouth was found no guile. Unlike the great Harlot that professed to worship and serve God but was in truth, full of abominations, the remnants' professions of faith are true. These not only "Talk the talk, they walk the walk." This is why John says, "They are without fault before the throne of God."

The 144,000 are true believers in Christ and as all who place their trust in Him, they stand before His throne, faultless. Not because of their own righteousness, but because the righteousness of Christ has been imputed to them through faith.

Next, John's vision turns to,

II. The Gentile Nations of the Earth and Their Responsibilities in the Millennial Kingdom.

"And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people" (Revelation 14:6).

For many, the reference to the "everlasting gospel" has caused confusion because they believe this is the gospel Jesus said must be preached to all the nations before the end of the world. In support of their position they reference Matthew 24:14, which says, "And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come."

Notice, carefully, in Matthew 24:14, it is the "gospel of the kingdom" Jesus says will be preached. The "good news" Christ is coming to establish His Kingdom is the gospel preached BEFORE His coming at the end of the age.

The "everlasting gospel" in our text is preached AFTER the establishment of the Kingdom. In addition to the fact Jesus said the "gospel of the kingdom" would be preached BEFORE its arrival, there is no need to preach good news of the COMING Kingdom AFTER its arrival.

The "gospel of the kingdom" Jesus said must be preached in all the world before the end of the age is part of the ministry of the two prophets in Revelation 11, it is not the "everlasting gospel" in our text.

Others have said this is the "everlasting gospel" of Jesus Christ, meaning, the good news, Christ died for our sins and rose from the grave that the Church is commissioned to preach today. The problem with this view is the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ has been committed to the Church, not to angels.

Notice, in our text, it is an angel flying in the midst of heaven who proclaims the "everlasting gospel." This cannot be the gospel of Jesus Christ for it is not the responsibility, neither is it the privilege of angels, to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ. Angels cannot and will not experience salvation by grace through faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Therefore, they are not qualified to proclaim the gospel of Christ. It is solely the responsibility of God's people to tell other people about our Savior, because Jesus became a human to to save humans.

To understand this "gospel" in Revelation 14:6-7, it is helpful to consider Zechariah 14:16-17.

"And it shall come to pass that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles. And it shall be that whoever will not come up of all the families of the earth unto Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, even upon them shall be no rain."
The "good news" the angel will proclaim to the surviving Gentile nations is the Kingdom has been established. The King of kings and Lord of lords is sitting on His throne and they have the privilege and responsibility to come worship Him.

Look at the content of the angel's message in Revelation 14:7: "Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come; and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters."

It is mankind's responsibility to fear, glorify and worship the Creator of heaven and earth. According to Zechariah, those nations who reject this message will have no rain, while those who respond will have righteousness and peace.

From "Understanding The Apocalypse"
A book of sermons by Pastor Jim McColloch, Th.M., Th.D.
© Copyright 1994, 1999, 2006