Sun, Sep 03, 2000

The Grace of God: Revelation 14:1-13

Ministry of Pastor Joe Guglielmo teachings through the Bible, verse by verse for a better understanding of Gods Word.
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THE GRACE OF GOD!

REVELATION 14:1-13

As we study chapter 14 of the book of Revelation, you will notice a broad view of the tribulation period within these verses. John is giving us much information that will take place during the last 3½ years of the 7 year tribulation period, which is known as the Great Tribulation!

Thus, before John begins talking about the bowl judgments in chapter 16, he is going to once again fill in some of the details which will come to pass during this period of time. And as we shall see, this chapter brings us into the harvest judgment of the earth.

So before we begin, I felt it would be helpful to outline this chapter, to divide it up into sections so that we can put it into perspective and understand when these things will take place and who is involved with them.

VERSES 1-5: Deals with the 144,000 Jewish Believers that were sealed in Revelation chapter 7.

VERSES 6-7: Deals with an angel proclaiming the everlasting Gospel, giving everyone a chance to hear and obey.

VERSE 8: Deals with the destruction of both the commercial and the religious Babylon.

VERSES 9-11: Deals with the eternal doom for all those who worship the beast, for all those who receive his mark.

VERSES 12-13: Deals with the blessings given to those who die in the Lord during the tribulation period.

VERSES 14-20: Deals with the final judgment upon the earth before the kingdom of God is established and is illustrated by these two pictures that John gives to us. Verses 14-16 illustrate to us the harvest judgment. And in verses 17- 20 we see the judgment of the winepress. Two illustrations that make the same point, that the judgment will come and it will be complete and it will be severe!

Again, to put this chapter into perspective, I believe that these events occur after the first 3½ years of the 7 year tribulation period, which takes us into the Great Tribulation or the last 3½ years of this period of time. It is a time when all hell breaks lose on the earth and unless the Lord stepped in, the inhabitants of the earth would have utterly wiped themselves out! But we do know the end of the story and it is glorious as Jesus Christ establishes His kingdom here on the earth and the land will be filled with His righteousness. True peace will permeate the land, as the Prince of Peace rules and reigns from Jerusalem! And we must remember that God is still on the throne, He is still in control no matter how dark things may look now, no matter how hopeless they may seem He is allowing this to occur to purge the land of its wickedness and to prepare for His coming!

REVELATION 14

VERSE 1

The last part of this verse should read, "Having His name and His Father’s name written on their foreheads." It speaks of a seal, but who is being sealed? John tells us that it is the 144,000 that are sealed. And to me, it is very easy to figure out who these 144,00 are. But many try to make them out to be the tribulation saints, and even the church, but they are wrong, the Scriptures don’t support those views.

These 144,000 are the same people we read about in Revelation chapter 7, as I have said. They are Jewish servants of God who were raised up and sent out to preach the Gospel of Christ during the tribulation period. We see 12,000 from each of the 12 tribes of Israel. Revelation 7:4 tells us "And I heard the number of those who were sealed. One hundred and forty-fourthousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel were sealed." And John goes on to list the 12 tribes of Israel from which these people come from!

In Revelation chapter 13 we see the mark of the beast given to all who worship the beast and reject Jesus. It is a counterfeit mark that will only led to eternal death as opposed to God’s mark placed upon the 144,000 that will give them true life. And in this verse we see Jesus standing on Mount Zion with the 144,000 around Him.

Thus, I believe this is speaking of the end of the tribulation period, when Jesus Christ comes back to set-up His kingdom. And thus, we see the 144,000 standing around Him. Remember in Revelation 7:3 we were told, "...‘Do not harm the earth, the sea, or the trees till we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads." These 144,000 have passed through the fiery judgments unharmed and now are standing before the Lamb on Mount Zion. And I want you to notice that there were not 139,999 standing before the Lamb, but 144,000. Not one was lost!

It is as Jesus said in John 17, "And all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine, and I amglorified in them. Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I cometo You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that theymay be one as We are. While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name.Those whom You gave Me I have kept; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition,that the Scripture might be fulfilled." John 17:10-12.

And once we come to Christ we are sealed and we can never be lost! We are His! That should comfort our hearts. Still unsure, listen then to what Jesus said in John 10:27-30, "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of MyFather's hand. I and My Father are one." God is the one who not only saved me, but He also keeps me saved, He will not let me go! I am His and so are you!

As Christians, we too are sealed by God and His promise to us is that He will keep us and finish the work that He has started in us. As Paul said in II Corinthians 1:20-22, "For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us. Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee." The Holy Spirit has been given to us and He is likened to an engagement ring which tells us that our Bridegroom, Jesus Christ, is coming back for us. The Holy Spirit is likened to earnest money which tells us that the Lord has paid the price for us and He will come back for us! What joy that should bring to each of us who are a child of God. He not only began the good work in us, He will finish it!

The same is true of the 144,00, as they are sealed by God. As the fifth trumpet sounded we read in Revelation 9:4, "They were commanded not to harm the grass of the earth, or any green thing, or any tree, but only those men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads."

It is as one writer pointed out, "Their identification with the Father is their mark of being saved Jews; their identification with the Lamb reveals their salvation through faith in Christ; their position on Mount Zion a place of security, blessing, and glory in the earthly Jerusalem in the millennial kingdom."

I must also point out that some believe that these 144,000 are persecuted and killed for their faith in Christ, and are before the throne of God singing their new song. Personally, I feel that these 144,00 witnesses pass through till the end of the tribulation period as they are the ones sharing Christ to a lost world and I think the Scriptures support that.

VERSES 2-3

This is not the song of the church but of the 144,000. The song of the church is found in Revelation 5:9-10, which says "...‘You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, And have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth." The 24 elders, who represent the church, sang this song, a song of redemption.

But now these 144,000 sing this new song, and not the 24 elders who represent the church. Why could no one else learn this song? Because no other group went through this trial, and thus, this is their song because they have experienced this period of judgment. The church has not seen this, even though there has been persecution upon the church since it began, this is far different.

For us today, I think the lesson we can learn from this is that we should recount in our mind the victories that God has given to us. As you do your faith will grow for you will believe Him for the victory in the battles ahead. The Psalmist did this in Psalm 42 when he said, "Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God." Psalm 42:11. Have a correct perspective of God and His love for us, remembering all He has done to help us in the present and to look ahead to the future. Also, David said in Psalm 143:5-6, "I remember the days ofold; I meditate on all Your works; I muse on the work of Your hands. I spread out myhands to You; my soul longs for You like a thirsty land." David looked to the past workings of God for strength in the present situations he was going through. The 144,000 saw God’s hand upon their lives and it gave them strength to endure to the end, and not one was lost!

VERSES 4-5

In These two verses I see five characteristics of the 144,000. First of all they are spoken of as being virgins. I take this both spiritually and literally. Paul, in II Corinthians 11:2, speaks of the spiritual virginity believers are to have. He said "For I am jealous for you with godlyjealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chastevirgin to Christ." You see, you can’t serve the Lord and seek after another, that is spiritual adultery. This group here in Revelation were able to separate themselves from the worship of the beast and his image. They worshiped the Lord, and thus were spiritual virgins unto Him.

I also believe that the work that these 144,000 are sent out to do will make it very difficult for them to be married. And so I do believe that they will also by virgins literally. As Paul said in I Corinthians 7:26 in regards to remaining single, "I suppose therefore that this is good because of the present distress-- that it is good for a man to remain as he is." Their focus during these 3½ years will be to spread the Gospel and their message is very effective as you can read in Revelation chapter 7 of the great multitude that are saved out of the tribulation period, the fruit of their ministry.

Secondly, they will follow the Lamb wherever He goes. They are one with Christ and are sold out to Him. They do not follow the beast or his false prophet, but only God. Now understand that this is a different position than the church. The church is the bride of Christ. And in a Jewish wedding ceremony the bride and the groom where carried on a carriage and the virgins followed behind this carriage, celebrating the marriage. The song of the church spoke of the church being kings and priests, reigning on this earth with Christ. The 144,000 will follow after Him.

The third characteristic of the 144,000 is that they are the firstfruits of the tribulation period. They were the first part of the harvest, which spoke of a even more bountiful harvest that was to come. That is the 144,000 were just the beginning of those who would be saved during the tribulation period. Remember in Revelation chapter 7, after God tells us of the 144,000, He then tells us of the fruit of their ministry, and in verse 9 we read "After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with whiterobes...‘These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robesand made them white in the blood of the Lamb." Revelation 7:9, 14.

The fourth characteristic of this group is that they speak the truth. There was no deceit in their words. This is in stark contrast to what comes from the mouth of the Antichrist, which are lies from the pit of hell. We as Christians should speak the truth, that is what should come flowing from our lips, for lies are of the Devil, as Jesus said.

The fifth characteristic of this group is that they are without fault or blemish. It speaks of a animal used in sacrifice that was without flaw and thus fitting to offer to God. This, of course, can only be accomplished through Christ as was evident by this group. It is His righteousness that has been imputed into our lives that makes us clean, makes us as white as snow. Listen to what Zephaniah 3:13 says regarding the remnant of Israel. We read "The remnant of Israelshall do no unrighteousness and speak no lies, nor shall a deceitful tongue be found in theirmouth; for they shall feed their flocks and lie down, and no one shall make them afraid."

Thus, as Jude said, which not only applies to the church, but to those even during the tribulation period that have given their heart to Christ, "Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, To God our Savior, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen." Jude 24-25.

Now we move from the 144,00 to an angel who is proclaiming the everlasting Gospel in verses 6 and 7.

VERSES 6-7

This angel has a message that is universal in scope. It is the "everlasting Gospel" (the adjective is AIONION in the Greek, that is, "constantly befitting, everlasting applicable"). The Gospel means good news, and for there to be good news there must be bad things happening, there must be bad news. The bad news is man’s sinful condition and God’s righteous judgment against those that are outside of Jesus Christ, and we are seeing that unfold during the tribulation period. But, again, the good news still remains, that there is true life in Christ!

Even in the tribulation period, the world will be exposed to the good news of Christ. Matthew 24:14 says "And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come." And many outreaches have used this verse as their motivational verse as they send missionaries out into the world. And as they do, and the Gospel is spread throughout the world, then Christ will return. I don’t think that is what this verse is speaking of. I’m not saying we should not reach out the good news of Christ but we will never get it out to the entire world.

Let me explain what I mean. In 1925 there was 37% of the people of this world who had heard of Jesus Christ. And when you think of that, that is not too bad. But by 1975 only 25% of the population of this world have heard of Christ. And that number continues to decrease not increase! You see, if it was up to us, at this rate, Christ would never return. But it is not up to us for we see an angelic messenger who will spread the good news to all the inhabitants of the earth. No one will have an excuse for rejecting Christ. That is what Jesus was speaking of in Matthew 24:14, and here in Revelation 14:6-7 we see the fulfillment of that prophecy. Again, that should not stop us from going out into all the world and spreading the good news of Jesus Christ, but we do need to understand that our efforts are not going to bring the return of Jesus Christ!

In Romans 1:22-23 we read of those who refuse to receive the Lord, "Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man-- and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things." If they refuse to receive the truth of God, then God will give them over to the worship of the creation rather than the Creator! And we see that today, how man who rejects the Creator is worshiping the creation itself! And if you think about it, it would be like giving praise to the paintbrush for a beautiful painting instead of the artist who created the painting.

This angel is trying to awaken the people from their spiritual darkness and focus them back on the true God instead of worshiping man! "God’s judgment is here, chose whom you will serve!" is what the angel is saying to those living during the time of the tribulation period. They are and we are to worship the Creator and not the things He has created! We as Christians are to try to awaken people from the spiritual darkness they are in by pointing them to Jesus Christ!

VERSE 8

This second angel speaks of the destruction of Babylon. We will cover this more as we get to Revelation chapters 17 & 18, but understand that Babylon speaks of both a religious system and a commercial empire!

Babylon has been a corrupting force ever since the time of Nimrod and the tower of Babel and into the Babylonian empire, it was the center of occultic worship. Even then it was a religious and commercial center. And John is telling us that her influence has lured the nations into immorality, in which we see running rampant today and only will grow more and more intense as the Lord’s return draws near. We see here of a prostitute persuading a man into immorality by filling him full of wine so that he could no longer resist her ways.

In Jeremiah 51:7-10 we read, "Babylon was a golden cup in the LORD'S hand, that made all the earth drunk. The nations drank her wine; therefore the nations are deranged. Babylon has suddenly fallen and been destroyed. Wail for her! Take balm for her pain; perhaps she may be healed. We would have healed Babylon, but she is not healed. Forsake her, and let us go everyone to his own country; for her judgment reaches to heaven and is lifted up to the skies. The LORD has revealed our righteousness. Come and let us declare in Zion the work of the LORD our God."

And notice that judgment is complete for this religious and commercial system. Psalm 75:7-8 says "But God is the Judge: he puts down one, and exalts another. For in the hand of the LORD there is a cup, and the wine is red; it is fully mixed, and He pours it out; surely its dregs shall all the wicked of the earth Drain and drink down."

You see, the nations, having drunk the wine of the fornication of Babylon, have in reality drunk of the wine of the wrath of God! And don’t think we are so much better as a nation. We can re-elect a president who not only lied under oath, but has committed adultery! And the reason we can do that is because the economy is doing well, we are doing well, so why change, even though this man has committed these evil things! We are being prepared to embrace both the commercial and religious Babylon as they are brought into power by the Antichrist and the false prophet! And the reality is, this system is going down, and yet the world is ready to embrace it!

VERSES 9-11

The third angel comes with a warning of eternal doom to all those who will worship the beast and receive his mark. You see, it won’t be an accident that people take this mark. It will be a blatant statement against the true God. Revelation 13:16 implies in the Greek that each person will place the mark on themselves. They will allow this into their life, they won’t be forced, but if you refuse, it will cost you your life! But if you receive the mark it will also cost you your life, spiritually speaking you will be cast into outer darkness, never to see the light of God again!

Now when you hear things like that, you may wonder what happened to the love of God? Where did it go? He is still the God of love but He is also a holy God and must therefore deal with sin. God gets no joy in sending people to hell and the reality is, God does not send anyone to hell, man goes there themselves, by their own choice. God has provided every way possible for man not to go to hell. In fact it is very difficult to get there, but if you work hard enough, if you try hard enough, you will make it there and end up in the lake of fire, outer darkness! But you can’t blame God, it is your choice!

Listen to the heart of God as He cries out to the nation of Israel, and today, to a world in rebellion against Him. In Ezekiel 33:11 we are told, "...‘As I live,’ says the Lord GOD, ‘I haveno pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live.Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?" You see, God gets no pleasure in the death of the wicked. But He will deal with man’s rebellion and sin by placing them in a place where they want to be, eternally separated from Him! God will never force anyone into heaven! But He will continue to patiently and lovingly knock on the door of their hearts, that they may open them and receive Him into their lives!

VERSES 12-13

Things will be so bad during the tribulation period that the blessing will be seen in death. The death of the physical body but eternity with Christ. You see, those who die during the tribulation period will now be able to rest. In Hebrews 6:9-12 we read "But, beloved, we are confident of better things concerning you, yes, things that accompany salvation, though we speak in this manner. For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister. And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises."

We today, as Christians, are to push on, to forge ahead, for there is coming a day of rest. But while there is work to be done we must be out doing it, not sitting back, for the day of the Lord’s return is fast approaching. As I begin to rap this up this morning, listen to these words from William Barclay. He said: "When you leave this earth, all that you can take with you is yourself. If you come to the end of this life still one with Christ, you will take with you a character tried and tested like gold, which has something of His reflection in it; and, if you take with you to the world beyond a character like that, blessed are you."

God extends His arms to the world, even during the tribulation period, to receive His gift of life that is found in Jesus Christ! God’s grace and His mercy are awesome, which is a understatement to say the least! But the age of grace is coming to an end and for those who refuse it, they will miss the opportunity to come to Him, for today is the day of salvation, as Paul said. In Ezekiel 18:32 the Lord tells us, "‘For I have no pleasure in the death of one whodies,’ says the Lord GOD. ‘Therefore turn and live!" Won’t you do that this morning, come to Him and receive Him into your life as Lord and Savior for He died for you! TURN ANDLIVE!

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