INDUCTIVE STUDIES ON REVELATION
A Sweeping History of the Conflict Between God and Satan
Part Four: Ultimate Victory
Up to this point, John has first shown us the major characters in this sweeping conflict which started at the beginning of time: the Celestial Woman, the Dragon, the angels of heaven, and the Woman's Son. Next, John shifted the scene from heaven to the earth. Now that the Dragon has failed to take out the Woman and Her Son, he focuses attention on the followers of the Son, Jesus. The Dragon summons his main human associate in his conflict with heaven: the Beast (Antichrist, the Roman emperor Domitian of John's day) and his associate, the False Prophet (the priesthood of the emperor cult). This Beast is supported by none other than the evil city of Babylon (Rome) and the 10 kings. For a period of 42 months (3 1/2 years) they will be successful in their attempts to destroy the followers of Jesus. A period of forty-two months though is not eternity. It has a definite beginning and a definite ending. With chapter 14 we see that the 42 months are over. Christ now finishes the conflict.
THE TRIUMPHANT PEOPLE OF GOD (14:1-5)
Up to this point in chapters 12 and 13, the Dragon and his associates, the Beast and the False Prophet, have been waging war against the followers of Jesus Christ. As stated earlier, although the Beast is successful for 42 months (which might seem an eternity to those undergoing persecution), it is still a limited amount of time--42 months. The 42 months (3 1/2 years) are over. The Beast has not been successful in his attempt to wipe out the followers of Jesus Christ. Where are the followers of Christ and who is standing with them (14:1)?
What are these followers of Christ (the Lamb) doing (14:2)?
Who can sing this song of triumph (14:3)?
How does John describe these followers of Jesus in verses 4 and 5?
The Puritans took very seriously the statement that liars do not enter the kingdom of heaven. They claimed that if you lied, you went to hell. For this reason many innocent Puritans when accused of witchcraft claimed to be innocent (thereby costing them their lives) even though if they had "admitted" to be witches they would have lived. The claim that if you lie you go to hell might be true; however, you cannot base that statement upon these verses. The word "lie" in v. 5 refers to the lie about the Beast, the lie that he (the Beast) is divine and invincible and that all should follow and worship him (see 1 John 2:22). The abomination they do not commit is the abomination of worshiping the Beast as God.
This passage raises up the issue of the 144,000. We shall look at this concept of the 144,000 later in the next lesson on Rev. 7.
THE THREE ANGELS AND THEIR PRONOUNCEMENTS OF THE END (14:6-11)
In order to assure us that the end is almost here, each of the three following angels makes a pronouncement. What pronouncement does the first angel make (14:6-7)?
What pronouncement does the second angel make (14:8)?
What pronouncement does the third angel make (14:9-11)?
BEATITUDE UPON THE FAITHFUL FOLLOWERS OF JESUS (14:12-13)
Not all will worship the Beast and his image at the end of history. What people do not worship the Beast (14:12)?
John pronounces a blessing upon this second group of people. Why are these people blessed according to John (14:13)?
FINAL JUDGMENT (14:14-20)
The Salvation of the Followers of Jesus (14:14-16)
Now comes the end. John sees one like a son of man sitting on a cloud, wearing a golden crown, having a sharp sickle in his hand. According to Mark 9:31 who is this son of man?
This idea of the son of man is based upon a famous passage (Daniel 7:13). According to Daniel, this son of man who is a divine figure will come to judge, first to judge positively His people and second to judge negatively those who are against Him.
Why is this son of man destined to judge all mankind? Whereas in the Daniel 7 passage, the son of man is a divine figure, Jesus who is the divine son of man is also a human son of man. He is God-man. Because Jesus is God [the Son], He is perfect and can make perfect judgments. Because Jesus is also Man, He is qualified to judge. God the Father and God the Holy Spirit are perfect, but in a real sense they are unqualified to judge because they have never "walked in our shoes." We could always make excuses up to them for our sinning: "God, You just don't understand how hard it was to live for You on earth!" However, you can't make that excuse to Jesus because He experienced our situation perfectly here on earth AND not once sinned.
What does the Son of Man do with the sickle in His hand?
Although John does not claim that this is a reaping for salvation, when you compare this passage with the next section, that is exactly what it appears to be. This appears to be a reaping ("rapture") for salvation, whereas the next section definitely presents a reaping for damnation.
The Condemnation of the Wicked--The Beast and His Followers (14:17-20)
In this passage John presents us with 2 angels. The first angel holds a sharp sickle in his hand, whereas the second angel with power over fire comes from the altar before God and instructs the first angel to gather the clusters from the earth's vine because the grapes are ripe. After the first angel reaps the grapes from the earth's cluster, what does he do with the grapes?
It is from this verse and Rev. 19:15 that we get the famous words in the Battle Hymn of the Republic:
"Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord:
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored . . ."
The reaping of the righteous for salvation and the reaping of the wicked for damnation conclude this panoramic view of history. It began with the great rebellion in heaven and concludes with the final judgment of all people.