ALL THE GOOD WE’VE DONE FOR GOD WILL FOLLOW US UNTO ETERNITY

(cf. Rev. 14:9-20)

In verse 9 it says, a third angel followed them and said in a loud voice, “If anyone worships (present tense, meaning continues to worship) the beast and its image (cf. chapter 13) and receives its mark on their forehead or on their hand, they too, will drink the wine of God’s anger,…” – the word is ‘thymos’ (anger) here again, but there’s another Greek word “orge” which is God’s settled opposition against sin. There’s a play on these two words. They seem to be synonymous because they’re both used in chapter 19. This line of ‘God’s anger’ as mentioned in Revelation 16:19; 19:15 is where ‘thymos’ and ‘orge are used together again. Now this ‘wine of God’s anger is mentioned in the Old Testament; Isaiah 51:17; Jeremiah 25:15-16, for all of John’s allusions have an Old Testament precedent – a Jewish apocalyptic development, a historical fulfillment in Rome, and an ultimate fulfillment in the anti-Christ.

Now notice where it mentions, “…has been poured…” – is the idea of ‘mixed’ without mixing, sounds funny mixed without mixing. Well, ‘mixed’ means you add things to it to make it more stronger, like spices to make it more intoxicating. ‘Unmixed’ means it’s not diluted with water. It’s going to be full strength. Now, “…into the cup of his wrath.” – the word cup in the Old Testament is a way of talking about the destiny of men. It’s usually used of God’s judgment, you might well see Isaiah 51:17, 22; Jeremiah 25:15-17, 22-29, and Psalms 75:8. Psalms 75:8 is quoted in Mark 14:36 where Jesus said, “let this cup pass…”. The great truth of the Gospel is that Jesus has already drank the cup of God’s judgment. Jesus has already died for the sins of the world. If these people will just turn to Jesus, but they won’t, and so they’re going to experience the wrath of God for themselves. God help them! Notice as it mentions, “They will be tormented with…” – this fire and brimstone later on is going to be their abode. It’s the lake of fire that’s going to be the abode of the two beasts in chapter 19:20. And finally the abode of satan himself (cf. Rev. 20:10). Hell was not prepared for man. It was prepared for the devil and his angels, but men who refused to worship God’s Messiah, those who refused to accept God’s Way of salvation will share this eternal place with the angelic rebels.

Now notice where it mentions, “…in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb.” – this phrase seems to be a circumlocution for God, I don’t know, Psalms 139:8 seems to imply that God is in Hades, and God’s present maybe in Gehenna. We’re just not sure. We don’t understand all of that. It hasn’t been chosen that we should know that, but i want to tell you this – we know enough that we don’t want to go to that place. It says the smoke of them tortured will go up forever and ever. I wish to God i could believe in universalism. I wish i could believe in a second chance, but i want to tell you the Bible as we have it says, the same word ‘forever’ that’s used for heaven , is the same word that’s used of hell. You might want to compare Mark 9:48 and Matthew 25:46, it’s the temporary suffering of the saints versus the permanent suffering of the rebels. Now notice as it says, “…There will be no rest day or night…” – this may be another comparison with verse 13 where it says the saints do rest, and here there will be no rest “for those who worship the beast and its image, or for anyone who receives the mark of its name.” What that mark is, we’re not certain, but if it’s visible or spiritual, we’re not certain.

Notice as it continue, “This calls for patient endurance on the part of the people of God…” – this has been the emphasis to show you that what God’s people are like in the face of suffering (cf. Rev. 1:9; 2:2; 2:19; 3:10; 13:10). The people of God have patient endurance while suffering; …”who keep his commands and remain faithful to Jesus.” You might want to compare this with chapter 12:11, 17. I think it’s comparable with Luke 6:46 where Jesus said, “why do you call me Lord, Lord and do not the things i tell you to do. Faith commitment will issue in obedience. “Then I heard a voice from heaven say, “Write this: Blessed are the dead…” – this is the second blessing. There are seven blessings, seven beatitudes mentioned in the book of Revelation: Chapter 1:3 is the first, this is the second, then we have five more, 16:15; 19:9; 20:6; 22:7; 22:14. It’s a way of encouraging people of God amidst times of great tribulation. Notice as it says, “…are the dead..” – this seems to be the martyrs, but it could be any believers who have died. “…in the Lord…” – as Christians. “…from now on.” – has been greatly confused. Is that from the time that John wrote, or from the time of the end-time martyrdom? I must admit we cannot be certain, and i’m not sure we can know, but we know that “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his faithful servants. (i.e. Psalms 116:15). He knows about it. He cares about it. They are special to Him. That’s a real encouragement for persecuted Christians facing death. And then it says, “Yes,” says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them.” – Someone has said “the evil that men do lives long after them”, but it is no truer than the fact that all the things we’ve done for God will follow after us unto eternity. You might want to see Ephesians 2:10, yes indeed we will be rewarded for our faith and our service to the Father in gratitude, not in merit.

The Reapers

In verse 14 and following is the same sight we had back in chapter 6:1 and in chapter 10. Some people see this as an angel, some see it as Christ. I want to admit to you that the terms used to describe this angel are magnificent just like the terms in chapter 10, and to some extent the white horse in chapter 6:1. But i really think because we’re in a series of angels, because he’s called an angel, because another angel commands him, because Matthew 13:39 talks about the angels reaping the earth in the end-time, that this is an angel who stands for Jesus, but is still an angel. Now there is much controversy because he’s going to be called “likened to a Son of man” which is used in the Gospels for the Messiah, and earlier in Revelation for the Messiah, but i do believe it is an angel for the reasons that i mentioned to you. Some see two different judgments, here two different reapings. Reaping of course is an Old Testament metaphor for God’s judgment usually, but it seems that verses 14-15 are a grain harvest and then in verse 17 following is a grape harvest. Grape harvest was often used of judgment, but in the New Testament the grain harvest may be used for God reaping His people to Himself. You might want to compare Matthew 13:30 & 38; Mark 4:26-29; Matthew 9:37-38; Luke 10:2; John 4:35-39 for what i think, it’s a grain harvest of the elect, not of the wicked that’s going to follow into the grapes harvest. Now notice this one sitting on a bright cloud, sounds like Daniel 7:13 to me, “like unto a son of man with a crown of gold” – the Greek translation means ‘a son of man’ and not ‘the son of man’, which is the form used of Christ in the Gospels. Some translations capitalizes it which makes it assume it’s deity, but an angel (vs. 15) commanding Jesus doesn’t sound right to me, “Put in your sickle and reap, for the hour to reap has come, because the harvest of the earth is ripe.” – It is unlikely that John would depict the glorious Christ as doing essentially the same thing as an angel does (vs. 19). Also, if this were Christ, we would have six angels in the series, which is not in keeping with the style of John. Now, “the hour” is literal meaning, the end of the world. Because the harvest of the earth is ripe, and he who had been sitting on the cloud (mentioned 3rd time for emphasis) swung his sickle over the earth, and the earth was reaped, and i think it’s the harvest of believers.

Verse 17, “And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven,…” – several of these have come out from the temple shows God’s power behind them. This i think is the spiritual temple of Hebrew 9:23. “…and he also had a sharp sickle. Then another angel, the one who has power over fire, came out from the altar;…” – which altar is it, incense or sacrifice? It seems to me it’s associated with the prayers of God’s people and with judgment. Judgment is God’s final answer to the prayers of His suffering saints. This angel was in charge over the fire, fire and judgment are often closely connected. “and he called with a loud voice to him who had the sharp sickle, saying, “Put in your sharp sickle and gather the clusters from the vine of the earth, because her grapes are ripe.” – this grape harvest is always used of judgment the Old Testament. You might want to see Isaiah 63:2 & 3; Jeremiah 51:33; Joel:3:13; and lamentations 1:15, the same picture is use in Revelation 19:15 for Jesus treading the wine-press of God. Verse, 20, “And the wine-press was trodden outside the city,…” – Some see this as an allusion to the crucifixion of Christ being outside the gate (cf. Heb. 13:12). Some say it’s just the idea of the Old Testament laws of purification, the unclean thing being taken outside the holy city. Others see it as eschatological battleground outside the city of Jerusalem (cf. Dan. 11:45; Joel 3:12-14; and Zech. 14:1-4. Then it says, “…and blood came out from the wine press, up to the horses’ bridles, for a distance of two hundred miles. Other translators say it’s 184 miles, some says it’s just 165 miles, but i guess John’s interest is rather in the number than in the precise distance it represents. Perhaps the number simply stands for the complete judgment of the whole earth and the destruction of all the wicked. Many say this is an end-time battle -Armageddon, Gog and Magog, or perhaps it could imply an end-time battle between the forces of this world, satanically inspired, and the forces of our Christ and His kingdom, exactly how that’s going to work out, i’m just not sure at this point, but I know this: we know from chapter 14 that God’s people in the face of the evil one of chapter 12; and the two beasts of chapter 13, are still protected and sealed. They may be killed by the unbelievers, but ultimately they’re secured in the hand of God. Hallelujah! Isn’t it good for a group of persecuted Christians to know that God knows their name? God knows what they’re going through. God cares about them, that all history is in His hand, and that the evil ones are going to come to their end, and the unbelievers who hurt them so badly are going to stand before God in judgment.