Revelation 14:13

Sunday, 11 April 2021

Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’”
“Yes,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them.” Revelation 14:13

The previous verse brought to our ears the words, “Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.” This was stated at a time when destruction has been mentioned (Babylon is fallen), and when a warning concerning taking the mark of the beast has been made. In calling for patience, it is an obvious indication that hard times lay ahead. With that implicitly understood, John tells what next comes, saying, “Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me.”

The Greek is more exacting – “Then I heard a voice from out of the heaven.” It isn’t just a voice of another angel in the midst of heaven like the three that preceded this. Rather, it is a voice separate from and above them. And the words of the voice are, “Write.”

In other words, make sure this is quoted directly and recorded in the book. And the message – “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.”

There is a particular note of comfort to those who will have to face what the previous angels warned about. The times ahead will be of deprivation, alienation, and looming disaster for any who will not comply with taking the mark of the beast. But it is either take it and live, or refuse it and face death.

Because of the stark contrast, those who must choose are told they will be blessed, but this only applies to those “who die in the Lord.” There may be people all over the world who refuse the mark who are not in the Lord. They may have whatever personal reason to refuse the mark. But for those “in the Lord,” death will not be the end of the story for them. That is seen in the next words, “Yes,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors.”

Death for these will actually be a relief. The results of not taking the mark are actually considered labor. It is the labors of staying alive that will be miserable. To die during this time will become a welcome relief, and it is to be considered a time of rest. It is reminiscent of what Paul says concerning believers who die in the Lord –

“For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 4:14

The labor of life ends for the believer, and a state of rest is the result. This is the same comforting thought for those who die in the Lord during the tribulation period. In this event, John writes the final words of the verse, noting that their labors will not be forgotten, saying, “and their works follow them.”

The martyrdom they will face will be remembered, and they will receive their just reward for having been faithful to the death. That reward is found in Revelation 20 –

“And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.” Revelation 20:4-6

This, then, is what it means that their labors will follow them. They will be raised to eternal life, and they will also literally reign with Christ for a thousand years. In other words, the system that took their lives will be replaced with a new government, one in which their lives are to be restored. Further, they will be active participants in that new system.

Life application: The word blessed is the same one that is used in the beatitudes in Matthew 5 and at other key times in the New Testament. It is reflective of great joy that doesn’t depend on any external circumstances of our own making. Rather, it comes from the peace and wholeness of the Lord; true contentment. Those who die in the Lord during the tribulation will receive this.

Scholars who teach that the church has replaced Israel see this blessing as one extended to anyone who dies in the Lord from the time of John writing Revelation. In other words, all believers of the church age. Although it is true that church-age believers are so blessed, this is an incorrect analysis.

First, what about those who died between the Resurrection of Christ and the receiving of Revelation? Secondly, the context is very clear that these events are occurring during the Tribulation period; a time directed specifically to the nation of Israel and those who accept Christ from both Israel and the gentile world during this period.

There will be no rest for them in their time of trial, but they will receive a great and blessed reward for their patience, endurance, and faithfulness.

Endurance through the Tribulation will bring a great reward because of the very nature of the suffering, deprivation, and even death that they are willing to endure for the name of Jesus. For those willing to put aside the temporary and look to the eternal, they will be resurrected at the end of the tribulation to eternal life, never to face death again.

It is always a good idea to have something prepared for those who have not yet received Christ in case the rapture occurs before they do. A note of explanation of what lies ahead and the warning of what should and should not be done should be made.

The main thing is to tell them not to take the mark of the beast, but to trust wholly on the provision of God in Christ. He will restore to them, and more, if they are willing to give up the temporary relief by taking the mark. We can know this is true because He has given the world that restoration already. He has sent JESUS.

Lord, it is wonderful to know that You have secured all the redeemed from all ages and have given them the rest which was available at the beginning when Adam dwelt with You in Eden. Though man lost the right to that rest, it is restored by simple faith in You and Your great work on our behalf. Thank You for restoring that which was lost! Hallelujah and Amen.

 

 

Revelation 14:12

Saturday, 10 April 2021

Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. Revelation 14:12

The three angels have called out their messages. With that complete, John next writes, “Here is the patience of the saints.” Those who are alive during the tribulation period will have to endure life in a world completely at odds with them. They will be shunned, persecuted, and even put to death. These things are coming upon the whole world, and the saints will need to be patient through these times of woe.

This period is described in Daniel 12 in relation to the saints of Israel –

“At that time Michael shall stand up,
The great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people;
And there shall be a time of trouble,
Such as never was since there was a nation,
Even to that time.
And at that time your people shall be delivered,
Every one who is found written in the book.” Daniel 12:1

And again, in Daniel 12:10, it says, “Many shall be purified, made white, and refined, but the wicked shall do wickedly; and none of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand.” Those who “understand” are the same group being referred to by John here in Revelation. Again, he says, “here are those who keep the commandments of God.”

Some manuscripts do not have the words “here are those.” Instead, it simply says –

“Here is the perseverance of the saints who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.” NASB 1995

Either way, the focus of the patience is on those “who keep the commandments of God.” The commandments of God, as has already been noted in the Revelation commentary, are not referring to the Mosaic law. Rather, it refers to faith in Christ Jesus. The theme is referred to several times in John’s epistles. The law of Moses is set aside through the work of Christ. Adherence to God’s provision, as found in the giving of His Son, is alone what is pleasing to God. That is then restated for emphasis with the words, “and the faith of Jesus.”

This is a faith where Jesus is the object of it. He is the Prize. He is the Goal. He is the One to whom the people are to anticipate and hope for, even when it means rejecting the mark of the beast and facing certain death. This is patience of the saints.

Life application: The three messages of the three angels are summarized as –

1) The everlasting gospel.
2) Babylon is fallen.
3) Anyone who worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark, will receive eternal torment.

It might seem backwards to put the falling of Babylon before the worship of the beast, but it is done this way to show that what is coming to Babylon is assured. Its judgment is coming, and it will be final. Those who have joined Babylon through false worship and in the taking of the mark will receive the same sentence, and it will be carried out with the same finality.

Placing direction about the mark last is intended to keep it fresh on the minds of those who hear the word. As people, the consequences of our decisions affect our lives, and some of them will affect our eternal destiny as well. Therefore, the word has been given through John in the pages of Revelation, not only for the tribulation world, but for all people during the church age.

During John’s time, the Roman Empire exacted a high toll on Christians through martyrdom. During the Inquisition and much of the church age, the church itself has murdered the faithful – executing those who stood on God’s word and not on church traditions. Today, Christians around the world are being martyred by adherents to various false religions with numbers of dead in the millions. They are also being martyred by communist and dictatorial leaders.

For much of the world, the choice of following Jesus Christ means facing a life-or-death choice, but what Revelation is telling us is that such a mortal choice is insignificant in comparison to the eternal choice of rejecting the gospel. Truly, “here is the patience of the saints.”

Let us be faithful to the call and faithful to the proclamation. Let us hold fast to our faith in JESUS.

Lord Jesus, no amount of security in this life is worth the loss of eternal life in Your presence. Please help those who are facing the great and terrible decision of life or death for the sake of the gospel to be strong in their convictions and to be obedient to Your message. And should they face death because of the choice, may their reward be great when they come before You. Amen.

 

 

Revelation 14:11

Friday, 9 April 2021

And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.” Revelation 14:11

This verse provides the results of those who will be tormented with fire and brimstone that were mentioned in the previous verse. Not only will they be tormented, but it now says, “And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever.”

As noted in the previous verse, the symbolism here goes back to the Genesis account of Sodom and Gomorrah. But more, the words follow directly after Isaiah 34 –

“For it is the day of the Lord’s vengeance,
The year of recompense for the cause of Zion.
Its streams shall be turned into pitch,
And its dust into brimstone;
Its land shall become burning pitch.
10 It shall not be quenched night or day;
Its smoke shall ascend forever.
From generation to generation it shall lie waste;
No one shall pass through it forever and ever.” Isaiah 34:8-10

So far, the words could be referring to torture followed by the extinguishment of the person, but the smoke of their burning continues on. However, such a thought is negated by the next words, which say, “and they have no rest day or night.”

In other words, this is not speaking of simply being burnt up, but of a constant burning. It reveals that the punishment of those who reject God does not eventually end in annihilation, but it is eternal in nature. The term “day or night” is an idiom signifying something that is unceasing in nature. This is seen again in Isaiah 66 –

“And they shall go forth and look
Upon the corpses of the men
Who have transgressed against Me.
For their worm does not die,
And their fire is not quenched.
They shall be an abhorrence to all flesh.” Isaiah 66:24

Jesus uses the same terminology from Isaiah 66 in Mark 9. Revelation 20 will, again, show the eternal nature of punishment for those who are not saved through the work of Jesus Christ. This includes those “who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.”

As hard as it may be for us to grasp the meaning of, and reason for, eternal punishment, it is a truth that is clearly laid out in Scripture. In the end, a finite offense against the infinite God will result in eternal punishment.

It is not uncommon for teachers of the word to claim that taking the mark can be forgiven, but this is not in accord with Scripture. Those who worship the beast and his image will not be spared. Those who receive the mark of his name will bear their guilt. This verse clearly reveals this.

Life application: The subject of hell is frightening and terrible stuff. This verse is rather clear – anyone who receives the mark of the beast and whoever worships the beast will be tormented forever and ever.

There are other views about the eternal nature of the torment that is coming. One view is that it brings about an immediate destruction (annihilationism). However, this fails to line up with verses, such as those cited above, which clearly state torment is eternal. It also fails to measure up to Jesus’ own words about the subject. Annihilationism is false.

A second view says that the punishment will result in the purification of the lost – burning away their sins – and so they will be saved after this torture (purification by fire). This negates the very reason for the cross. If there were another way to be purified, then Christ died in vain. Purification by fire is false.

There is one penalty for those who die apart from Christ. The sight of God at the final judgment is an eternal judgment because the memory of seeing God’s glory apart from the covering of Jesus Christ will destroy them infinitely. Such is the holiness of God. But Jesus speaks of greater punishment for some than others –

“And that servant who knew his master’s will, and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. 48 But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few. For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.” Luke 12:47, 48.

Those who willingly receive the mark of the beast are really in for it. They will worship that which is less than God voluntarily, and they will receive the just punishment for their actions. For any who read this before that time comes, it is hoped that you will demonstrate wisdom and call out to God for salvation now. Call out to Him through JESUS.

O God, we know perfectly well what we deserve. We have lied, stolen, cheated, and been perverse in our hearts and in our words. We have thought wicked things, and we have been at strife with our fellow man. Our punishment is deserved… and yet You sent Jesus to the cross to pay our infinitely large debt. Thank You for restoration and reconciliation because of His shed blood. Amen.

 

 

Revelation 14:10

Thursday, 8 April 2021

he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. Revelation 14:10

In the previous verse, the third angel began to issue forth the warning concerning worshiping the beast and his image, and of receiving the beast’s identifying mark. The verse now provides details if the warning is not heeded, saying, “he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God.”

The words are reminiscent of those of Isaiah 51 –

“Awake, awake!
Stand up, O Jerusalem,
You who have drunk at the hand of the Lord
The cup of His fury;
You have drunk the dregs of the cup of trembling,
And drained it out.” Isaiah 51:17

The idea is that God is angry at the disobedience of man. The cup symbolizes that state, and the contents are the resulting actions of that wrath. It is a metaphor used by Jeremiah concerning the judgment of the nations –

“Therefore you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: “Drink, be drunk, and vomit! Fall and rise no more, because of the sword which I will send among you.”’ 28 And it shall be, if they refuse to take the cup from your hand to drink, then you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts: “You shall certainly drink! 29 For behold, I begin to bring calamity on the city which is called by My name, and should you be utterly unpunished? You shall not be unpunished, for I will call for a sword on all the inhabitants of the earth,” says the Lord of hosts.’” Jeremiah 25:27-29

It is this idea that is being conveyed now in Revelation. To take the mark of the beast is to openly stand in opposition to the Lord and to the gospel of salvation. There can only be one result because of doing so. That person will drink the cup of God’s wrath. This is something that would have been understood by those at John’s time.

In the Greek culture, a condemned person would be handed a mixture of poison and would have to drink it. It was the manner in which Socrates was executed. For those being referred to by the angel, John next says of this cup, “which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation.”

This is not unlike the words of Isaiah –

“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.” Psalm 75:8

The Greek words, translated as “full strength,” are literally “mingled unmingled.” In other words, no water would be added to dilute the mixture when it was poured out. It would be full strength, signifying unmitigated punishment. There would be a full measure of the indignation of God (no possibility of leniency) until that person had received his full punishment. With that in mind, the angel’s terrifying words of warning continue, saying, “He shall be tormented.”

The word “torment” refers to torture. This person has made a stand against God, and God will punish him in a manner fitting of his crime, which is “with fire and brimstone.” Brimstone means sulfur. The Greek word is theion, coming from theios, meaning “divine.” Thus, it looks to the fire of heaven coming down in divine judgment with an unstoppable power. Just as sulfur burns without ceasing, so will the fire and brimstone of God be unquenchable.

The thought goes all the way back to Genesis and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah –

“Then the Lord rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from the Lord out of the heavens. 25 So He overthrew those cities, all the plain, all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground.” Genesis 19:24, 25

For those who take the mark, the punishment will be without mercy, and God will bring total destruction upon them. Of this punishment, the angel says it will be “in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb.”

The magnitude and force of these words cannot be diminished. People might say, “Oh, Jesus would never allow this.” But He is the same Lord who brought the destruction upon Sodom and Gomorrah, consigning it to its fate. The angels of destruction were not restrained. Instead, they were given their orders, and the fire and brimstone came.

The same thought permeates Scripture. Those who see Jesus as a cosmic pushover who will never punish sin have failed to understand what the cross signifies: “God’s wrath for your sin will be poured out on Me, or it will be poured out on you. The choice is yours.”

Life application: This verse sees the fulfillment of what is deserved for all people of the earth. God is the Creator – perfect and holy, and also infinite. We are finite and, therefore, one sin infinitely separates us from God. It is worthy of eternal punishment.

Although the subject of the cup of God’s wrath is reflected throughout the Bible, the example on which all commentaries must hinge is the cup which Jesus accepted –

“And He was withdrawn from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and prayed, 42 saying, ‘Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.’ 43 Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. 44 And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” Luke 22:41-44

In the greatest act of love and tenderness toward His creatures, God united with human flesh and dwelt among us – fully God and fully Man. He never sinned and yet He offered His life in exchange for ours. He offered His perfection for our imperfection; His righteousness for our unrighteousness; His sinless state for our sins.

After this eternal act of love, all He has asked for is that we simply, by faith, accept His work and trust in it for our cleansing and restoration. The full cup of God’s wrath was poured out upon Him. It was drained by Jesus on our behalf. But for those who don’t accept Jesus, the only option left is to drink the same cup that He drank. The difference is great though. Because Jesus is sinless, after His suffering He was resurrected to eternal life.

For those who reject this, they must face God’s wrath full strength – an infinite punishment against an infinite God. The wrath has no end because God is endless. What a tragic and horrible thought – that we would stand bare and exposed without the covering of the righteousness of Christ… such is the wrath awaiting all who reject His offer.

Surely, we need to look to God’s offering now. And we must be sure to tell others about this Gift of love as well. The offer stands as the greatest testament to the love of God – an exchange that brings about eternal joy and peace with the Creator. The offering is JESUS.

Heavenly Father, I stand in awe of the love You have displayed in the Gift of the giving of Your Son and the splendor of His cross. I have nothing to offer that is worthy of this great deed, and so I come before You with empty hands and an open heart, receiving the grace and mercy of His work on my behalf. Thank You, O God, for the cross of Jesus. Amen.

 

 

Revelation 14:9

Wednesday, 7 April 2021

Then a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, Revelation 14:9

This is now the third angel flying in the midst of the heavens, following the first two. The first called out, “Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water.” The second angel brought words of destruction concerning the great city of harlotry and enmity with God – “Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she has made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.”

Now this third angel will give a strong warning. John begins with, “Then a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice.” This is the same thing that was said of the first angel. It called out in a loud voice that God is to be worshiped. This one now calls out in a loud voice, a notion that complements the cry of the first angel, saying, “If anyone worships the beast and his image.”

God is to be worshiped. In worshiping any other, there will be consequences. The warning has been called out in a loud voice. Allegiance to the beasts and its image is considered idolatry. The thought continues with, “and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand.”

The word translated as “receives” is lambanó. It signifies to take, or lay hold of. HELPS Word Studies notes that it “emphasizes the volition (assertiveness) of the receiver.” Thus, it is a voluntary allegiance to the authority and rule of the beast. The mark can be either on the right hand or on the forehead. This is repeated from verse 13:16. Whether the mark is actually visible or not, it signifies either an oath of allegiance (right hand) or a mental assertion (forehead) of the authority of the beast.

The warning has been given. The consequences for ignoring the warning are forthcoming.

Life application: We can see the progression of thought concerning the pronouncement of the three angels –

1) A note to follow the true God.
2) A proclamation that the enemies of the true God are defeated. And finally,
3) A warning to anyone who would follow the enemies of the true God.

What do you think the warning will include? Certainly not rewards of candy and pleasantries! Instead, there will be the just reward of the Creator who has given every possible chance for the people of the world to acknowledge Him and His greatness and to, by faith, call out to Him, trusting in His eternal promises which were validated in the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Worshiping the beast and his image means worshiping that which is less than God. Receiving the mark on the forehead means making a mental assertion that following the beast is worth the price of the bread one eats. Receiving the mark on one’s hand is the sworn allegiance to the beast and his image, and it means that allegiance to God has been rejected.

What will be gained by temporary relief will be regretted in everlasting destruction. What can man do to us but harm our temporary, physical life? But what great blessings God can bestow upon us when we place our eternal souls in His mighty hands. Be sure to make the right choice. Call out to God today. Call out to JESUS!

Here we are Lord, all people of the earth are facing eternal decisions. Shall we walk with You, hold to Your word, and call on the name of Jesus? Or shall we walk according to the dictates of our own minds, reject the truth You have given us, and turn away from the only sacrifice which can reconcile us to You? May we be wise and choose life. May we choose Jesus. Amen.