Book of Revelation – a series presented by pastor Michael Walker
Lesson #16 – Revelation, chapter 14
To our world immersed in bad news, the “everlasting gospel” brings good news. It undergirds God’s last warning message to inhabitants of a planet in rebellion at an hour when the day of Judgement has begun. Redemptive love still reaches out in compassion to save this world before it is too late. In contrast to Satan’s method in the Great Controversy to gain victory by deception, fear and threat, Christ’s method stands out in stark contrast. He offers reconciliation and restoration to all who respond to accept His offer of mercy.
In the final events of the Great Controversy between Christ and Satan, the apostle John is shown the closing drama between these two opposing forces. The scene is set in the vision of Revelation 12 where the dragon (Satan) is warring against the Lamb (Jesus Christ). In his effort to usurp the throne of God, Satan found himself cast out of Heaven, he failed to destroy Christ, then continued with the conflict by attacking the woman (Christ’s true Church). Finally, he directs his anger against the faithful, last-day remnant of Christ’s Church: Revelation 12:17.
Revelation 13 unfolds the events that occupy Satan’s forces in his final onslaught against Christ’s remnant people; but Revelation 14 portrays how Christ achieves the victory that will be given to His saints.
This apocalyptic drama is seen by a series of contrasts because Satan, who still aspires to take over the throne, works by deception; and so seeks to replace the truth about God and His authority through a series of counterfeit measures. All the great doctrines of the Bible are counterfeited by Satan to replace the truth. Prophecy reveals that even the Holy Trinity will be replicated by a three-fold union of Roman Catholicism, apostate Protestantism and Spiritism. That confederacy of evil will be united in Satan’s attempt to take over the world and force God’s remnant to reject their loyalty to Christ. One side will be pitted against the other, as detailed below, but it should not be forgotten that through Calvary’s cross Christ has won the victory in this cosmic battle: Revelation 12:11; John 12:31,32; Colossians 2:13-15. However, before the struggle is brought to its conclusion, everyone will be challenged to choose whom they will serve – i.e. Christ or Satan.
The scene therefore follows on from the conflict portrayed in Revelation 13, with the opening words of Revelation 14, “Then I looked …” as the prophet John is now catapulted into the future to witness the faithful remnant, standing on Mount Zion with the Lamb of God. He is the One Who took their destiny in His hands by His redeeming blood (Revelation 5:6). He conquered the dragon! The saints are now safely in His Kingdom. Their ordeal is now forever in the past. The victory is theirs!
The 144,000 have come through “great tribulation” (Revelation 7:14) – i.e. the Time of Trouble and have got the victory over the ‘beast and his image’ (Revelation 15:2). They have been sealed in their foreheads (Revelation 7:3,4). [For the significance of the sealing of this group, c.f. Lesson 6, The Sealing of God’s Faithful People].
“His Father’s name” – textual evidence attests they have the name of Christ and His Father in their foreheads. This means that they not only belong to Him but also reflect His character.
“They sang … a new song” – this is the song of their own experience as they came through the Time of Trouble, reinforced by the grace of their Redeemer. This is an experience that only they can share.
vs 4, 5
“Not defiled” – Greek: molunw (molunõ), “to defile”, “to stain”, “to soil” – e.g. staining the conscience (1 Corinthians 8:7), or the garments (Revelation 3:4). The word in this context is with reference to not being defiled by an immoral relationship because they are “virgins” – Gk: parqenoi (parthenoi), it can refer to men or women. The tense of the Greek verb connects the action to a specific period of time – no doubt, in this case, to the time when they were under duress to submit to the Mark of the Beast, but they refused to ‘fornicate’ with apostate religion. They are the true remnant of Christ’s pure Church. Unlike the whoredoms of Babylon’s daughters (Revelation 17:5), they remained true to Christ.
“No deceit in their mouths” – unlike fallen Christendom that has defiled itself with pagan practices and beliefs, the faithful remnant only practiced the truth (Zephaniah 3:13). They followed the Bible and rejected false doctrines. They “keep the Commandments of God and the faith of Jesus” – Revelation 14:12. They remain undefiled in life and doctrine. Their faith is pure: it is “the faith of Jesus”.
“The first fruits for God and the Lamb” – i.e. the first portion of the larger harvest is special to God (see Revelation 14:14-16). Therefore, “they follow the Lamb wherever He goes” – what a privilege.
“Without fault before the throne of God” – they are clothed in white – i.e. Christ’s righteousness (Revelation 7:9, 13,14; 19:8) and so do not come under condemnation but are accepted as though they have never sinned (Romans 8:1; 1 John 3:2,3; 4:17).
Thus it is, that Revelation 14 is a continuation of the unfolding drama in the conflict between Christ and Satan; but its opening focus is on the ultimate victory of His faithful. Christ did not fail them. He brought them safely through the Time of Trouble. As James Russell Lowell composed:
“Careless seems the Great Avenger; history’s pages but record
One death grapple in the darkness ‘twixt old systems and the Word;
Truth forever on the scaffold, wrong forever on the throne, –
Yet that scaffold sways the future, and, behind the dim unknown,
Standeth God within the shadow, keeping watch above His Own”
How Christ handles the enemy forces . . . (vs 6-12)
The scene now turns our attention to three angels flying in mid-heaven with a message for the entire world. The word “angel” in the Greek is aggeloV (angelos), which can also refer to a ‘messenger’. We understand this section of the apocalyptic prophecy to refer to God’s Last Warning Message to the world in the raising up of the Seventh-day Adventist Movement as a continuation of the Great Protestant Reformation through which God restored the great truths of the Bible that had been lost or distorted by apostate Christendom. [c.f. Lesson 10, The Arrival of God’s Last-day Prophetic Movement].
The First Angel’s Message: enfolds “the everlasting gospel”. This is the good news of Salvation. It is everlasting because it never changes the goal posts; and has eternal benefit for all who receive it. This message is for the whole world: John 3:16; Matthew 24:14. It is important to note that God does not impose His ‘Gift of Salvation’ upon people but offers it to them by invitation: Isaiah 45:22; John 6:37. He also wants us to obey Him because we love Him: John 14:15. This is so different to the method of Satan who seeks to enforce people to follow and obey him by sanctions or by threatening to kill them: Revelation 13:15-17. Satan’s method is to put fear into people in order to get their support. God loves everyone to the uttermost and proved it by dying for them! God’s methods are different in their entirety: Isaiah 55:8,9; Romans 5:8. God woos individuals through love: John 12:32; 1 John 4:19. Wow! What a way to win a war! But that’s how He does it.
God’s Plan of Redemption is not a shallow gospel but it goes deeper than just being forgiven. It embraces the “ministry of reconciliation”: Colossians 1:19-22; 2 Corinthians 5:18,19. That also makes it a work of restoration: 2 Corinthians 5:17. God’s Plan of Salvation is to restore a meaningful relationship between us and Himself: John 17:3. This tremendously good news is important in order that we escape the judgements that are soon to fall upon this wicked world. To show how serious and urgent this message is, it is proclaimed with “a loud voice”.
“Fear God” – Gk: fobew (phobeõ), meaning “to fear” or “to reverence”. It is this latter meaning of revering God out of a sense of awe and respect that is meant here. It is a call into a right relationship with God, especially following the time when antichrist had wrought so much disrespect for God by its blasphemous claims and activities. The context of this urgent call to “fear God” is echoed by the wise man in the Old Testament Scriptures: Ecclesiastes 12:13,14. God’s people were to teach their children how to revere their Maker: Deuteronomy 4:10; 6:2; see also Psalms 119:72-77.
“Give Glory to Him” – our love and reverence for God, will motivate our desire to bring glory to God more than ourselves: Psalms 115:1. He is the only true God Who deserves all the glory, honour and praise: Jude 25. He deserves all the glory, first because He is our Maker, and secondly because He is our Redeemer: Revelation 4:8-11; 5:9-13. Christ-centred lives will glorify Him by their lifestyle and what they do: Matthew 5:16; 1 Corinthians 6:20; 10:31.
“Hour of His judgment has come” – It was at the time when the Investigative Judgement began that God raised His last-day Movement [c.f. Lesson 10], at the time of the Great Advent Awakening. This final message is to prepare people for Jesus’ return. The prophecy of Daniel 8:14 found its fulfilment in the arrival of the Judgment in 1844.The confirmation of that prophecy was in the fulfilment of the 490-year prophetic period concerning the Jewish nation in Daniel 9:24-27 to the coming of the Messiah.
NB. In Daniel’s day, 6th century BC, the 2,300-yr prophecy was way into the future. It was for an “appointed time of the end”: Daniel 8:19; Acts17:30,31. In the 1st century AD, the apostle Paul spoke of the future judgement: Acts 24:25. Since 1844, the divine announcement is that judgement has come. It is because of this fact that we can be sure that this is God’s Last Warning Message to this world
“Worship Him Who made” – as the Creator, God is the only One worthy and entitled to receive worship. To worship anyone or anything else is a violation of the 2nd Commandment (Exodus 20:4-6). The Church of Rome has meddled with this very principle by tampering with the 10 Commandments, while at the same time encouraging homage to Mary, popes, images, bones and various relics. The 4th Commandment says, remember” to keep the 7th Day (Saturday) holy as the Sabbath; and it reminds us that God is the Maker of Heaven and Earth. The Sabbath is God’s Seal of Authority [c.f. Lesson 6, The Sealing of God’s Faithful People]. Yet the Church of Rome claims she has the authority to transfer the sanctity of God’s Holy Sabbath to Sunday, the 1st day of the week. She also claims that Sunday is the mark of her authority. Prophecy reveals that she will eventually, under the auspices of the 3-fold confederacy of evil, enforce the observance of Sunday. In other words, when the Mark of the Beast is enforced, everyone in the world will be faced with the choice to whom they render allegiance – to Christ or to Satan
If we are to reverence and glorify God, giving Him genuine worship, then we can only do so by entering into a true, loving and meaningful relationship with Him. By such a relationship we shall offer our full allegiance to Him. The test of that relationship will come to the fore when we are faced with the political enforcement of Sunday observance in place of God’s holy Sabbath day. We can rest assured, that if we are faithful to God, He will sustain us through the persecution that will come and we shall stand amongst the 144,000 with the Lamb of God on Mount Zion sharing in the eternal victory over Satan and his hosts.
The next lesson will examine the Second and Third Angels Messages of Revelation 14.
The full video presentation is available below: