Revelation 14

The 144,000

In this chapter, the Revelation continues to add more information to the events that were previously shown to John, beginning with a description of the 144,000 from all the Tribes of Israel who were first described in Chapter 8.

Then I looked, and there before me was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads. Rev. 14:1

As we will discover in later chapters, whenever we read about the Lord ruling from Mount Zion; we are reading about a future event known as the 1,000 Year Reign of Christ. Accordingly, when John saw the 144,000 standing with the Lamb on Mount Zion, it tells us that the 144,000 From all the Tribes of Israel will live through the judgments of God and will rule with Christ on earth. In the following passages, we are given more details concerning the 144,000.

And I heard a sound from heaven like the roar of rushing waters and like a loud peal of thunder. The sound I heard was like that of harpists playing their harps. And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders. No one could learn the song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth. These are those who did not defile themselves with women, for they remained virgins. They follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They were purchased from among mankind and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb. No lie was found in their mouths; they are blameless. Rev. 14:2-5

When the 144,000 are pictured as singing a new song, before the throne, and before the four living creatures and the elders, it is a reference back to the events of Chapter 4 when John was first taken up to Heaven where he saw four living creatures and the 24 elders worshiping the Lord. In this account, John sees the throne again, with the addition of the 144,000 From all the Tribes of Israel, who are singing a song that no one could learn. This tells us that that the timeline of events have moved from the period before the events of the Last Days to the time when the events of the Last Days will have come to an end, including the events of the Reign of Christ on earth. From this place, the 144,000 are described as those who served the Lord blamelessly during the reign of Christ and who remained virgins.

The Two Witnesses

After being shown the 144,000 who will reign with Christ on Mount Zion, John was given another description of the Two Witnesses who will call down the Plagues on the Land, the Sea, and the Trees as a warning to the Inhabitants of the Earth. (The Two Witnesses were first introduced in chapter 11.)

Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth—to every nation, tribe, language, and people. He said in a loud voice, “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.” Rev 14: 6-7

The elements that are described in the above passages, namely, the heavens, the earth, the sea, and the springs of water, are the same elements that are mentioned in the previous account of the two prophets, who will be given power over the heavens, the earth, the sea, and the springs of water.

And I will appoint my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth.” They are “the two olive trees” and the two lampstands, and “they stand before the Lord of the earth.” They have power to shut up the heavens so that it will not rain during the time they are prophesying; and they have power to turn the waters into blood and to strike the earth with every kind of plague as often as they want. Rev. 11:3-6

These same events were also described in the sounding of the First Three Trumpets, which correspond with the plagues of the Two Witnesses as follows:

1. When the First Trumpet is sounded the Two Witnesses will shut up the heavens so that it will not rain causing a world-wide drought, and a third of the earth will be burned up.

The first angel sounded his trumpet, and there came hail and fire mixed with blood, and it was hurled down on the earth. A third of the earth was burned up, a third of the trees were burned up, and all the green grass was burned up. Rev. 8:7

2. When the Second Trumpet is sounded, the Two Witnesses will turn the waters into blood and a third of the sea will become blood.

The second angel sounded his trumpet, and something like a huge mountain, all ablaze, was thrown into the sea. A third of the sea turned into blood, a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed. Rev. 8:8-9

3. When the Third Trumpet is sounded the springs of water will become bitter, which corresponds with how the Two Witnesses will be given the power to strike the earth with every kind of plague as often as they want.  

The third angel sounded his trumpet, and a great star, blazing like a torch, fell from the sky on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water— the name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters turned bitter, and many people died from the waters that had become bitter. Rev. 8:10-11

Following the announcement of the first angle, who will warn the Inhabitants of the Earth concerning the Hour of God’s Judgment, John heard a second angel call out concerning the fallen city known as Babylon the Great.

Babylon the Great

In the next passage, Babylon the Great is described as the fallen city that will lead the nations in her adulteries.

A second angel followed and said, “‘Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great,’ which made all the nations drink the maddening wine of her adulteries.” Rev. 14:8

In the Scriptures, when a city is symbolically referred to as Babylon, it is a reference to the ancient city of Babylon where man first organized a collective rebellion against God.[1] When the fallen city is called Babylon the Great, it tells us that this rebellious city will eclipse the sin of the first Babylon and will serve as the culmination of all other rebellions that have occurred against God. The actual identity of the city is made known to us when we read that the city will commit the sin of adultery with the nations. As the only nation that has been married to God,[2] only the nation of Israel and the city of Jerusalem can commit the sin of adultery against Him, which would make Jerusalem the city known as Babylon the Great. The transformation of Jerusalem into Babylon the Great will take place after the Attack on Jerusalem, when the Two Witnesses will be killed and the beast (the antichrist) will occupy the city as described in the previous chapters. Following the Attack on Jerusalem, the beast will rule his kingdom from the fallen city known as Babylon the Great, and the Great Tribulation will begin. During the Great Tribulation, all those who refuse to worship the beast will be killed. The eventual destruction of the beast and his kingdom will be announced by the angel who will call out “Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great”. (We will read more about Babylon the Great in later chapters.)

Those who Take the Mark of the Beast

The description of Babylon the Great is followed by the warning from a third angel concerning the Inhabitants of the Earth, who will worship the Beast and receive his mark.

A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice: “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives its mark on their forehead or on their hand, they, too, will drink the wine of God’s fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. They will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment will rise for ever and ever. There will be no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and its image, or for anyone who receives the mark of its name.” Rev. 14:9-11

In these verses, we are given a description of those who will take the Mark of the Beast, and who will drink the cup of God’s Wrath. The mention of the burning sulfur that will torment those who take the Mark of the Beast is a reference to the Lake of Fire, which is also Hell, which is described as the Second Death.

But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.” Rev. 21:8

Those who Refuse to Take the Mark of the Beast

In contrast to those who will be tormented forever and ever in the Lake of Fire, those who refuse to take the Mark of the Beast will be blessed and their deeds will follow them.

This calls for patient endurance on the part of the people of God who keep his commands and remain faithful to Jesus. Then I heard a voice from heaven say, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them.” Rev. 14:12-13

As in the previous chapter, we are told that those who remain faithful to Jesus will have to exercise patient endurance during the Great Tribulation. Accordingly, the reference to those who will be killed from now on is a description of those who will be killed once the Great Tribulation begins. In a later chapter, we will read how the above blessing will take place during the 1,000 Year Reign of Christ, when the Martyrs of the Great Tribulation will be resurrected to reign with Christ, along with the 144,000 from all the Tribes of Israel.

The Harvesting of the Earth

Following the warning of the third angel, John heard another angel call out to the Son of God to take His sickle and reap.

I looked, and there before me was a white cloud, and seated on the cloud was one like a son of man with a crown of gold on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand. Then another angel came out of the temple and called in a loud voice to him who was sitting on the cloud, “Take your sickle and reap, because the time to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.” So he who was seated on the cloud swung his sickle over the earth, and the earth was harvested. Rev. 14:14-16

In the above verses, the judgments that will follow the Great Tribulation are described as the Son of Man swinging of a sharp sickle through the harvest. We are told that the harvest will be ripe, meaning the escalating sin of mankind will reach its height before the Son of Man cuts down the wicked just as a sickle cuts through ripened grain.

The Battle of Armageddon

In addition to the harvest of the Lamb, another angel with a sharp sickle will cut down the wicked like grapes in a harvest, and they will be trampled in the winepress of God’s Wrath.

Another angel came out of the temple in heaven, and he too had a sharp sickle. Still another angel, who had charge of the fire, came from the altar and called in a loud voice to him who had the sharp sickle, “Take your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of grapes from the earth’s vine, because its grapes are ripe.” The angel swung his sickle on the earth, gathered its grapes and threw them into the great winepress of God’s wrath. They were trampled in the winepress outside the city, and blood flowed out of the press, rising as high as the horses’ bridles for a distance of 1,600 stadia. Rev. 14:17-20

In the above verses, the mention of the blood that will rise as high as the horses’ bridles tells us that the above events will take place during a great battle when the nations will be gathered together and crushed like grapes in a winepress. The same events will be described in later chapters when we read about the Seven Bowls that will pour out seven additional plagues, including the Battle of Armageddon.

The Order of Events of the Last Days

1. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ
2. Wars, Rumors of Wars, Earthquakes, and Famines (Seals 1-4)
3. The Martyrs Pray for Judgment and Revenge (5th. Seal)
4. The Hour of Trial when the Inhabitants of the Earth will be Tested
– A third of the earth is burned up (1st. Trumpet)
– A third of the sea turns to blood (2nd. Trumpet)
– A third of the waters turn bitter (3rd Trumpet)
5. The Attack on Jerusalem (4th. Trumpet)
6. The Great Tribulation when the Full Number of Brothers and Sisters will be Killed
7. The Wrath of God is Poured Out (6th. Seal)
– The Plague of Locusts (5th. Trumpet)
– The Plague of Fire, Smoke, and Sulfur (6th. Trumpet)
– To be announced (7th. Trumpet)
8. The Silence in Heaven (7th. Seal)

Footnotes:

[1] Gen. 11:1-9

[2] Is. 54:5; Ezek. 16:8; Jer. 2:1-2, 3:20

Revelation Chapter 13
Revelation Chapter 15

Questions and comments may be sent to: RevelationStudyGuide@gmail.com
Bryan Coray is the author of Keep Watch: The Order of Events of the Last Days, available on Amazon.