Revelation
1-6 The Song of the One Hundred and Forty-four Thousand 7-13 Messages from Three Angels 14-20 The Two Harvests of the Earth
The Song of the One Hundred and Forty-four Thousand

1Then I looked, and behold, the Lamb [was] standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His name and the name of His Father written on their foreheads. 2And I heard a voice from heaven, like the sound of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder, and the voice which I heard [was] like [the sound] of harpists playing on their harps. 3And they *sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders; and no one could learn the song except the one hundred and forty-four thousand who had been purchased from the earth. 4These are the ones who have not been defiled with women, for they have kept themselves chaste. These [are] the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These have been purchased from among men as first fruits to God and to the Lamb. 5And no lie was found in their mouth; they are blameless. 6And I saw another angel flying in midheaven, having an eternal gospel to preach to those who live on the earth, and to every nation and tribe and tongue and people;

V11Then I looked, and behold, the Lamb [was] standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His name and the name of His Father written on their foreheads.. A new scene is shown to John and he invites you with the regularly reoccurring “behold”, to watch together with him. He taps, as it were, on your shoulder and points with his finger to a certain direction and says: Look at that! If you are still thinking about the horrible developments of the previous chapter, you immediately come to rest here. Both beasts with their blasphemous, murderous performance make room for “the Lamb” and His righteous and benevolent performance. In the Lamb you see how God exceeds beyond all rages of hatred, violence and lie and calmly does His own work in those who are His.

For the first time in the book of Revelation you do not see the Lamb in heaven, but on earth, “on Mount Zion”, and particularly in relation to the remnant from the two tribes. Zion is the mountain in Jerusalem that God has chosen to place His sanctuary there (Psa 78:6868But chose the tribe of Judah,
Mount Zion which He loved.
). He will also establish the throne of the kingdom of David there. That mountain represents the grace in contrast to Mount Sinai that represents the law (Heb 12:2222But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels,; Psa 125:11A Song of Ascents.
Those who trust in the LORD
Are as Mount Zion, which cannot be moved but abides forever.
, 27; 126:11A Song of Ascents.
When the LORD brought back the captive ones of Zion,
We were like those who dream.
).

Together with the Lord Jesus you see one hundred and forty-four thousand people standing. This number symbolically indicates a fullness. In chapter 7 this number is also mentioned (Rev 7:4-84And I heard the number of those who were sealed, one hundred and forty-four thousand sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel:5from the tribe of Judah, twelve thousand [were] sealed, from the tribe of Reuben twelve thousand, from the tribe of Gad twelve thousand,6from the tribe of Asher twelve thousand, from the tribe of Naphtali twelve thousand, from the tribe of Manasseh twelve thousand,7from the tribe of Simeon twelve thousand, from the tribe of Levi twelve thousand, from the tribe of Issachar twelve thousand,8from the tribe of Zebulun twelve thousand, from the tribe of Joseph twelve thousand, from the tribe of Benjamin, twelve thousand [were] sealed.). There it refers to a fullness of people from all twelve tribes and are seen before the great tribulation (Rev 7:1-31After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth, so that no wind would blow on the earth or on the sea or on any tree.2And I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, having the seal of the living God; and he cried out with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea,3saying, “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees until we have sealed the bond-servants of our God on their foreheads.”). Here it is about a fullness of the two tribes in the land, although with this hundred and forty-four thousand there are certainly also some believers from the ten tribes, who however as a whole are still in the dispersion. This group comes from the great tribulation. They have remained faithful to the Lord. They have refused the mark of the beast on their forehead. Now on their forehead is written, as a special distinction, the name of the Lamb and the name of His Father.

V22And I heard a voice from heaven, like the sound of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder, and the voice which I heard [was] like [the sound] of harpists playing on their harps.. While the Lamb is standing on Mount Zion with the faithful remnant, John hears “a voice from heaven”. It is a mighty, awesome voice. At the same time it is also a lovely and melodic voice. What a contrast to the bragging and boasting of the beast. This voice and this music are intended for the faithful remnant that has gone through so much suffering. It is heavenly music, played by heavenly saints for the saints on earth. Heaven and earth are brought together in harmony.

V33And they *sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders; and no one could learn the song except the one hundred and forty-four thousand who had been purchased from the earth.. John does not hear just music, but he also hears something that looks like “a new song”. It is sung by people in heaven. These singers are not the elders, the believers of the Old Testament and that of the church (Rev 4:44Around the throne [were] twenty-four thrones; and upon the thrones [I saw] twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white garments, and golden crowns on their heads.). The song is not sung by them, but before them. It is also sung “before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders”. It is a song that is heard in agreement by the symbols of the kingdom of God (throne and living creatures). The singers of the song are believers who after the rapture of the church were killed because of their faithfulness to the Lord and who have a part in the first resurrection (Rev 20:4-64Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I [saw] the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.5The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection.6Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.).

They teach those who are on earth to sing the song. The saints in heaven and the saints on earth from Israel are clearly related to one another. The saints on earth are indicated even more clearly as “who had been purchased from the earth” which indicates the contrast to ‘those who dwell on the earth’. They do not stand beside the Lamb on Mount Zion on the basis of their own merits, but on the ground of the redemption work of the Lamb. The same goes for those who are in heaven. They too do not owe it to themselves that they have come there, but also because of what the Lamb has accomplished on the cross of Golgotha.

The Lamb is on earth, but the Lamb is also in heaven. From heaven, where the Lamb stands as though it had been slain (Rev 5:66And I saw between the throne (with the four living creatures) and the elders a Lamb standing, as if slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth.), the new song is being taught. Could that new song possibly have another content than the Lamb? In heaven and on earth it is sung what the Lamb has accomplished. The relation between heaven and earth has been made possible by the Lamb alone and His work on the cross.

V44These are the ones who have not been defiled with women, for they have kept themselves chaste. These [are] the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These have been purchased from among men as first fruits to God and to the Lamb.. There comes a more extensive description of the one hundred and forty-four thousand. Some features and characteristics of them are mentioned. The first is that these faithful ones are “chaste”, which is applied to both men and women. It means that they have not awarded their love to anyone else than Him alone. They have not allowed themselves to be seduced by attractive people or enticing ideas that would cause them to be unfaithful towards the Lord.

During the time of the great tribulation, a time that is full of temptations, they have kept themselves clean from literal and spiritual fornication (cf. 2Cor 11:22For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you [as] a pure virgin.). It is the time in which the roman-catholic church will expose herself as the great harlot (Rev 17:1-61Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and spoke with me, saying, “Come here, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters,2with whom the kings of the earth committed [acts of] immorality, and those who dwell on the earth were made drunk with the wine of her immorality.”3And he carried me away in spirit into a wilderness; and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast, full of blasphemous names, having seven heads and ten horns.4The woman was clothed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a gold cup full of abominations and of the unclean things of her immorality,5and on her forehead a name [was] written, a mystery, “BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.”6And I saw the woman drunk with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the witnesses of Jesus. When I saw her, I wondered greatly.). It will take a huge effort to remain clean, because the world is full of uncleanness. It is already now like that of course, but at that time it will be a lot more abundant.

The second characteristic is that they “follow the Lamb” right through the great tribulation “wherever He goes”. And the secret which makes them to be virgins is: their eyes are continuously focused on the Lamb. This is a great example of how you can keep yourself to be clean. Loving the Lamb determines where they go and what they do. Where He goes and is, there they go and are. That is rewarded by the Lamb. They were with Him in the tribulation, now they are allowed to be with Him in His glory. This reward is also waiting for you if you stay with the Lamb.

The third characteristic is their advanced position. They are “first fruits to God and to the Lamb”. ‘First fruits’ have got to do with the harvest. First fruits are the first collection, while the great harvest is yet to be reaped. This is the case with this company. Together with many others they are bought from among men by the blood of the Lamb. Among those who were bought, these one hundred and forty-four thousand are the first fruits that are allowed to have a share in the blessings. Shortly after that a great harvest will follow, from Israel and from the nations as well (cf. 1Cor 15:2323But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming,; Jam 1:1818In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures.).

V55And no lie was found in their mouth; they are blameless.. The last characteristic that is mentioned is that “no lie was found in their mouth” (Zep 3:1313“The remnant of Israel will do no wrong
And tell no lies,
Nor will a deceitful tongue
Be found in their mouths;
For they will feed and lie down
With no one to make them tremble.”
; cf. 1Pet 2:22b22who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth;). Humanly speaking they have delivered a supernatural performance in this way. They could do that only because of their attachment to Christ alone as the truth (Jn 14:66Jesus *said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.). They lived in a time that was full of lies and deceit. It was not possible to survive without lying and deceiving. But they kept standing and did not allow themselves to be dragged by the gushing floods of lies that were poured out over the world by the beast and his henchmen.

The biggest lie is the denial of the Father and the Son (1Jn 2:21-2321I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie is of the truth.22Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son.23Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also.). But they have testified uncompromisingly of the truth concerning the Father and the Son. It is the joy of the Spirit to testify of them that “they are blameless”.

V66And I saw another angel flying in midheaven, having an eternal gospel to preach to those who live on the earth, and to every nation and tribe and tongue and people;. In verses 1-51Then I looked, and behold, the Lamb [was] standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His name and the name of His Father written on their foreheads.2And I heard a voice from heaven, like the sound of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder, and the voice which I heard [was] like [the sound] of harpists playing on their harps.3And they *sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders; and no one could learn the song except the one hundred and forty-four thousand who had been purchased from the earth.4These are the ones who have not been defiled with women, for they have kept themselves chaste. These [are] the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These have been purchased from among men as first fruits to God and to the Lamb.5And no lie was found in their mouth; they are blameless. we watched the scene that will be after the great tribulation. Now we turn back to the time of the great tribulation. Several scenes of that time are highlighted in the rest of this chapter. In total there are six angels related to those scenes. The last angel you have seen was the seventh and last trumpet angel (Rev 11:1515Then the seventh angel sounded; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become [the kingdom] of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.”). The first angel here is not a new trumpet angel, but “another angel”, the first of a new group of angels.

This angel is flying in the midst of heaven. In that position he is visible and audible for everyone on the earth. He has a special assignment and that is to preach the “everlasting gospel”. This shows how great the love and grace of God are. Also in that special serious time God makes a good news (for that is the meaning of the word ‘gospel’) to be proclaimed.

The everlasting gospel is a gospel that is not related to a certain period. It has always been valid for everyone. It reaches out to “those who live on the earth” for the last time, whatever group they belong to, so that they may repent before God’s judgments break loose. An angel has no part in the redemption, but he can surely pass on a good news of general scope (cf. Lk 2:1010But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people;).

When it comes down to the gospel of grace, then an angel is to take a step backwards. You see that in the history of Philip and the Ethiopian. An angel led Philip to the Ethiopian, but it was Philip who preached the gospel of grace to the Ethiopian (Acts 8:26,3526But an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip saying, “Get up and go south to the road that descends from Jerusalem to Gaza.” (This is a desert [road].)35Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture he preached Jesus to him.).

Now read Revelation 14:1-6 again.

Reflection: Which characteristics of those who follow the Lamb can be applied to you?


Messages from Three Angels

7and he said with a loud voice, “Fear God, and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgment has come; worship Him who made the heaven and the earth and sea and springs of waters.” 8And another angel, a second one, followed, saying, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, she who has made all the nations drink of the wine of the passion of her immorality.” 9Then another angel, a third one, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, 10he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. 11And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.” 12Here is the perseverance of the saints who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus. 13And I heard a voice from heaven, saying, “Write, ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on!’” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “so that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow with them.”

V77and he said with a loud voice, “Fear God, and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgment has come; worship Him who made the heaven and the earth and sea and springs of waters.”. The everlasting gospel is not mumbled inarticulately, but it is preached “with a loud voice”. It goes beyond all noise on the earth. The content of this everlasting gospel is simply: fear God, give Him the glory and worship Him. The necessity of this gospel is just as simple, namely, that the hour of God’s judgment has come. Repentance begins with the fear of God (Lk 23:4040But the other answered, and rebuking him said, “Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation?). God is an awesome God Who will punish every sin, disobedience and rebellion.

As soon as a person realizes that he has sinned against God, he becomes afraid, for he discovers that God is angry about that. Then the soul that is convicted of his sins will give glory to God. He will certainly acknowledge that God would be righteous if He would condemn him to hell and if He would cause disasters and plagues to the world with His visitations. Each person who acknowledges that will not be condemned, but he will be transferred from death to life (Jn 5:2424“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.). Finally such a person becomes a worshiper of God Who gave him such a great grace.

God is presented here as the Creator. As the Creator He has the right to the adoration of His creatures. That worship will be claimed by the beast in that time on earth. But God will never give up His rights. He appeals to us to honor those rights, though without coercion (yet).

V88And another angel, a second one, followed, saying, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, she who has made all the nations drink of the wine of the passion of her immorality.”. Then “another angel, a second one”, appears. Because in verse 99Then another angel, a third one, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, there is mention of “a third one”, it indicates that there is a rank order in the events. What this angel announces is an emphasis on the necessity to heed the call of the first angel. The hour of God’s judgment is heralded with the judgment over Babylon. It is “Babylon the great”, because it had great thoughts about itself and also because it had great influence on the nations. But God brings an end to that (Rev 17-18).

In the words “fallen, fallen” you hear the echo of the prophecy of Isaiah (Isa 21:99“Now behold, here comes a troop of riders, horsemen in pairs.”
And one said, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon;
And all the images of her gods are shattered on the ground.”
). The cry of the angel means a warning for the judgment that will come and of which the result is made known here. God never judges without any warning. It should keep people from throwing themselves in the arms of “the mother of harlots” (Rev 17:55and on her forehead a name [was] written, a mystery, “BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.”) and to be overwhelmed by her tempting religious beauty and splendor.

The overwhelming wealth and worldly charm have made Babylon a desired partner of all nations. World leaders eagerly make contact with the Vatican. They eagerly join in a social glass of the wine of her fornication. They thought they were enriching themselves by having chummed up with this harlot. It was a harlot whom you did not have to pay, but who paid herself for the fornication that she committed.

But they will have to pay a high price for their flirtations. They do not realize that by joining her with this social glass of wine they expose themselves to the wrath of God (Rev 16:1919The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. Babylon the great was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of His fierce wrath.; 17:22with whom the kings of the earth committed [acts of] immorality, and those who dwell on the earth were made drunk with the wine of her immorality.”; Jer 51:7-87Babylon has been a golden cup in the hand of the LORD,
Intoxicating all the earth.
The nations have drunk of her wine;
Therefore the nations are going mad.
8Suddenly Babylon has fallen and been broken;
Wail over her!
Bring balm for her pain;
Perhaps she may be healed.
). Just like they wanted to participate in her luxury, they will participate in her fall. Everyone who does not withdraw himself from the great Babylon will receive of her plagues (Rev 18:3-43For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the passion of her immorality, and the kings of the earth have committed [acts of] immorality with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich by the wealth of her sensuality.”4I heard another voice from heaven, saying, “Come out of her, my people, so that you will not participate in her sins and receive of her plagues;).

V99Then another angel, a third one, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand,. “Then another angel, a third one” appears. He announces with a loud voice a message to those who have related themselves with the beast by worshiping him and by applying his mark on their forehead or hand. You have come across these people in chapter 13 (Rev 13:12,1612He exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence. And he makes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose fatal wound was healed.16And he causes all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free men and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hand or on their forehead,). Those who have not yet allowed themselves to do that, get a last chance here to repent. The warning is that they should not accept that mark. That means that they must face the great pressure of being abandoned from the society.

V1010he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb.. Whoever, despite this last appeal, sticks to his choice for the beast chooses for an indescribable and endless torture. There will be no softening of God’s wrath for those who are attached to the beast. The torment will happen “in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb” (cf. Lk 16:23-2623In Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and *saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom.24And he cried out and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame.’25But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony.26And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, so that those who wish to come over from here to you will not be able, and [that] none may cross over from there to us.’), for they have been horribly provoked by these inventors and executors of the greatest godliness. This will not cause any feeling of delight to the holy angels and the Lamb.

Whoever has lived in rebellion against heaven will, beside the physical torment “with fire and brimstone”, be tormented by something else. While suffering those terrible pains, the remorse that he could have been in the atmosphere of the heavenly angels and in the presence of the Lamb, will continually gnaw at him.

V1111And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.”. To the unspeakably physical and mental torture another torment is added of which the gravity is not to be expressed in words. This torment is that there will never come an end to this torture. Also the absence of any moment of rest, a short respite in that torment is an indescribable increase of this horrible and unchangeable situation. Beside the deep seriousness that this verse contains, it is also a simple and adequate proof that the universal atonement is a harsh lie.

V1212Here is the perseverance of the saints who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.. The impressive previous warnings addressed to the unbelievers, are an exhortation for the saints to persevere. It will ensure them that it is better to be temporarily tortured by the beast than to be eternally tortured with the beast. Instead of participating with the general worship of the beast they live in obedience to “the commandments of God”. They also keep “the faith in Jesus”, that is the trust in Him Who was once on earth the Rejected. The authority of the Word of God and the love for the Son determine their lives in the midst of the circumstances controlled by satan.

There is mention of ‘Jesus’ and not of ‘the Lord Jesus’ or ‘Jesus Christ’. ‘Jesus’ is the name that recalls the life of the Lord in humiliation on earth. These saints draw strength from the example of His life on earth. He has suffered under the predecessors of both the political and the religious beast. You recognize the representative of the Roman empire in Pilate and that of the apostate Judaism in Herod (Lk 23:1212Now Herod and Pilate became friends with one another that very day; for before they had been enemies with each other.). By looking upon Jesus they will be able to suffer the greatest trials with perseverance and not fail (Heb 12:1-31Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,2fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.3For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.; Mt 24:1313But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.).

V1313And I heard a voice from heaven, saying, “Write, ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on!’” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “so that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow with them.”. God orders John to write down that the saints who have lost their lives because of the murderous beast, will lose nothing of the happiness that was promised to them. The earth found that they deserved nothing more than death. Heaven contrarily calls them happy.

They died “in the Lord”. They have acknowledged and served Him Who was rejected on earth, as their Lord. In that way they have given Him the place that God had already given to Him with His return to heaven after the accomplishment of the redemption work (Acts 2:3636Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ—this Jesus whom you crucified.”; Phil 2:1111and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.). Their tribute to Him for which they had to pay with their lives, is rewarded by God by giving them a place with Him. The expression “from now on” makes clear that it is about believers who were killed because of their testimony.

With an emphatic “yes” the Spirit confirms what John has to write down concerning the happiness of the dead in the Lord. The voice from heaven is the voice of the Spirit, Who is also God. At that time the Spirit does not dwell on earth anymore, for with the rapture of the church the Spirit also left the earth. Wherever the church dwells the Spirit also dwells (Jn 14:1616I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever;; 1Cor 3:1616Do you not know that you are a temple of God and [that] the Spirit of God dwells in you?; 2Thes 2:7b7For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains [will do so] until he is taken out of the way.). The situation will then be like it was before the church was on earth. Then the Spirit did not dwell on earth, but He was working on earth.

After His confirmation the Spirit points to the results of their death. “They may rest.” After they have gone through all uproar and persecution, they now experience a beneficial rest. What a contrast to the endless restlessness of those who are in the everlasting torment (verse 1111And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.”)! It will take a little while before the saints that were killed will also be rewarded for their works.

Their works of faith were not left on the earth, but they “follow with them”. The works of all who have been killed after the rapture will be remembered by God. Nothing will be forgotten. They will receive the reward out of the hand of the Lord Jesus. It consists of being allowed to reign with Him in the kingdom of peace. For that reason it sounds: “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” They are blessed indeed. Aren’t they?

Now read Revelation 14:7-13 again.

Reflection: Which persons or groups of people are addressed here?


The Two Harvests of the Earth

14Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and sitting on the cloud [was] one like a son of man, having a golden crown on His head and a sharp sickle in His hand. 15And another angel came out of the temple, crying out with a loud voice to Him who sat on the cloud, “Put in your sickle and reap, for the hour to reap has come, because the harvest of the earth is ripe.” 16Then He who sat on the cloud swung His sickle over the earth, and the earth was reaped. 17And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, and he also had a sharp sickle. 18Then another angel, the one who has power over fire, came out from the altar; 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.” 19So the angel swung his sickle to the earth and gathered [the clusters from] the vine of the earth, and threw them into the great wine press of the wrath of God. 20And the wine press was trodden outside the city, and blood came out from the wine press, up to the horses’ bridles, for a distance of two hundred miles.

In the last verses of this chapter we see two scenes that both deal with judgment. Both scenes represent the judgment in the picture of a harvest. The first scene (verses 14-1614Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and sitting on the cloud [was] one like a son of man, having a golden crown on His head and a sharp sickle in His hand.15And another angel came out of the temple, crying out with a loud voice to Him who sat on the cloud, “Put in your sickle and reap, for the hour to reap has come, because the harvest of the earth is ripe.”16Then He who sat on the cloud swung His sickle over the earth, and the earth was reaped.) shows the judgment in the metaphor of a wheat harvest. The second scene (verses 17-2017And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, and he also had a sharp sickle.18Then another angel, the one who has power over fire, came out from the altar; 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.”19So the angel swung his sickle to the earth and gathered [the clusters from] the vine of the earth, and threw them into the great wine press of the wrath of God.20And the wine press was trodden outside the city, and blood came out from the wine press, up to the horses’ bridles, for a distance of two hundred miles.) shows the judgment in the metaphor of a wine harvest. That two metaphors are used here therefore means that the judgment has different aspects. Both scenes are in connection with the coming of the Lord Jesus.

V1414Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and sitting on the cloud [was] one like a son of man, having a golden crown on His head and a sharp sickle in His hand.. Together with John we look at the first metaphor. He sees “a white cloud”. ‘White’ speaks of cleanness, purity. There is also mention of a white horse (Rev 19:1111And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it [is] called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war.) and a great white throne (Rev 20:1111Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them.). The cloud makes us think of the glory in which God was in the midst of His people Israel. That cloud led the people through the wilderness and dwelled in the tabernacle and later in the temple (Exo 40:3535Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.; 1Kgs 8:10-1110It happened that when the priests came from the holy place, the cloud filled the house of the LORD,11so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled the house of the LORD.; Mt 17:55While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!”).

Then John notices a person, One like “a son of man” (Rev 1:1313and in the middle of the lampstands [I saw] one like a son of man, clothed in a robe reaching to the feet, and girded across His chest with a golden sash.; Dan 7:1313“I kept looking in the night visions,
And behold, with the clouds of heaven
One like a Son of Man was coming,
And He came up to the Ancient of Days
And was presented before Him.
). That is the Lord Jesus. He sits on the white cloud like He sits on the white horse and on the great white throne. Absolute purity is one of His features in exercising the judgment. He appears in Divine, royal glory, presented in the “golden crown” that He wears “on His head”. What a contrast to the crown of thorns that He once wore on His head on earth. “In His hand” He has “a sharp sickle”. The instrument for the harvest has been sharpened, ready to cut the harvest in one smooth movement.

V1515And another angel came out of the temple, crying out with a loud voice to Him who sat on the cloud, “Put in your sickle and reap, for the hour to reap has come, because the harvest of the earth is ripe.”. The picture of the Lord Jesus on the cloud radiates rest. He waits for the time to come into action. The judgment is given to Him because He is the Son of Man (Jn 5:2727and He gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is [the] Son of Man.). Then another angel comes out from God’s holy presence to announce that the hour of the judgment has come. This is the hour which the Lord Jesus did not know of as Man, an hour that was only known by the Father (Mk 13:3232But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father [alone].).

The reason for the judgment is also given and is clear. An end has come to all patience. Actually “the harvest of the earth is ripe”. ‘Ripe’ possibly has the meaning of ‘rot’, which therefore indicates the incorrigible corrupt moral condition of the earth, so that the judgment that will be executed will be fully justified. ‘Ripe’ also indicates that God has shown an excess of patience before He makes that judgment to be executed.

V1616Then He who sat on the cloud swung His sickle over the earth, and the earth was reaped.. When it has been announced that the hour has come, the Lord Jesus comes into action. He swings His sickle over the earth and reaps the earth. Now what’s going on here? In order to get a better picture of it you should take a look at the parable of the weeds (or tares) among the wheat in the gospel according to Matthew (Mt 13:24-30,36-4324Jesus presented another parable to them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field.25But while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went away.26But when the wheat sprouted and bore grain, then the tares became evident also.27The slaves of the landowner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’28And he said to them, ‘An enemy has done this!’ The slaves *said to him, ‘Do you want us, then, to go and gather them up?’29But he *said, ‘No; for while you are gathering up the tares, you may uproot the wheat with them.30Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn.”‘“36Then He left the crowds and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field.”37And He said, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man,38and the field is the world; and [as for] the good seed, these are the sons of the kingdom; and the tares are the sons of the evil [one];39and the enemy who sowed them is the devil, and the harvest is the end of the age; and the reapers are angels.40So just as the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at the end of the age.41The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness,42and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.43Then THE RIGHTEOUS WILL SHINE FORTH AS THE SUN in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.). There you see that with the wheat harvest a distinction is made between tares (a weed that looks very much like wheat) and wheat. When the harvest time has come – which is the moment that the Lord Jesus swings His sickle over the earth – the Son of Man says to His angels that they must gather all things that offend and all who practice lawlessness and cast them into the furnace of fire.

In the parable you see some things that clarify the scene of the reaping of the earth. The Lord Jesus accomplishes the judgment, but He does that through the means of His angels. The wheat harvest is a picture of the separation between good and evil (cf. Mt 3:1212His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor; and He will gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”), but here the emphasis lies on the judgment over the evil. In the end time the judgments are not accomplished at the same time, but they take place in the total period of the great tribulation of three and a half year. During all those different judgments the angels go out to reap away the unbelievers through the judgment. They gather the weeds (the unbelievers who are judged) in bundles. The great Director, He Who directs everything, is the Man Jesus Christ.

V1717And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, and he also had a sharp sickle.. After these actions you become a witness of another scene that deals with the execution of the judgment. You can derive that from the “sharp sickle” that, just like in the previous scene, also plays a major role here. As the harbinger of this judgment another angel came out “of the temple which is in heaven”, which means from the holy presence of God. Here it is not the Lord Jesus Who has the sharp sickle, but the angel. Just like the Son of Man he waits for a command to come into action. That command comes from another angel that comes after him.

V1818Then another angel, the one who has power over fire, came out from the altar; 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.”. The second angel that appears in this scene does not come out from the temple, but “from the altar”. That makes the altar to be the starting point of this judgment. The thought of judgment is empowered because it is said of this angel that he “has power over fire”. Fire has to do with the exercise of judgment. You have come across the altar already. In chapter 6 you have seen under the altar the souls of martyrs and you have heard them calling for vengeance (Rev 6:9-109When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained;10and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”). Their cry for vengeance is answered now. Also in chapter 8 you have seen the altar in relation with the judgment (Rev 8:55Then the angel took the censer and filled it with the fire of the altar, and threw it to the earth; and there followed peals of thunder and sounds and flashes of lightning and an earthquake.).

The altar in the Old Testament is the place where the sacrifices were brought as a picture of the true sacrifice of the Lord Jesus. The fire consumed the sacrifice. In this way the Lord Jesus has been in the fire of God’s judgment for each who believes in Him. However, he who rejects His sacrifice will have to undergo the fire of God’s judgment himself (Jn 3:3636He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”).

The angel from the altar with the power over the fire commands the angel with the sharp sickle to come into action for the harvest of “the clusters from the vine of the earth”. God presents His people Israel in the Old Testament amongst others as a vine (Psa 80:9,15-169You cleared [the ground] before it,
And it took deep root and filled the land.
15Even the shoot which Your right hand has planted,
And on the son whom You have strengthened for Yourself.
16It is burned with fire, it is cut down;
They perish at the rebuke of Your countenance.
; Isa 5:2-72He dug it all around, removed its stones,
And planted it with the choicest vine.
And He built a tower in the middle of it
And also hewed out a wine vat in it;
Then He expected [it] to produce [good] grapes,
But it produced [only] worthless ones.
3“And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah,
Judge between Me and My vineyard.
4“What more was there to do for My vineyard that I have not done in it?
Why, when I expected [it] to produce [good] grapes did it produce worthless ones?
5“So now let Me tell you what I am going to do to My vineyard:
I will remove its hedge and it will be consumed;
I will break down its wall and it will become trampled ground.
6“I will lay it waste;
It will not be pruned or hoed,
But briars and thorns will come up.
I will also charge the clouds to rain no rain on it.”
7For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel
And the men of Judah His delightful plant.
Thus He looked for justice, but behold, bloodshed;
For righteousness, but behold, a cry of distress.
; Jer 2:2121“Yet I planted you a choice vine,
A completely faithful seed.
How then have you turned yourself before Me
Into the degenerate shoots of a foreign vine?
). In this picture He shows that He expected of His people that they would testify of Him in a way that He was going to receive fruit from it. That fruit would consist of the joy (of which the wine is a picture) that He would find in His people. He did everything that could cause the people to deliver that fruit. But His people have used the fruit for themselves. They have thought only of their own joy and not of what God expected of them. They even rejected and killed the Owner (Mt 21:33-3933“Listen to another parable. There was a landowner who PLANTED A VINEYARD AND PUT A WALL AROUND IT AND DUG A WINE PRESS IN IT, AND BUILT A TOWER, and rented it out to vine-growers and went on a journey.34When the harvest time approached, he sent his slaves to the vine-growers to receive his produce.35The vine-growers took his slaves and beat one, and killed another, and stoned a third.36Again he sent another group of slaves larger than the first; and they did the same thing to them.37But afterward he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’38But when the vine-growers saw the son, they said among themselves, ‘This is the heir; come, let us kill him and seize his inheritance.’39They took him, and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.).

When the Lord Jesus came to earth, He as the true vine (Jn 15:11“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.) took the place of this depraved vine. He was rejected by His people. After He was rejected a new testimony was established, Christianity. The purpose of this new testimony was also that it was to deliver fruit for God, that God would find His joy in it. All who are related with the true vine, the Lord Jesus and have life from Him, bear fruit for God.

There are also some who are related with Him, but do not bear fruit, because they have no life from Him (Jn 15:2a,62Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every [branch] that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.6If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.). Their connection with Him is an apparent connection. They confess to be God’s witness on earth and confess to give Him fruit, but it is an illusion, untrue, false. They bring forth stinking fruit, just like Israel did in the past.

When the church will be raptured, only a false Christian testimony will be left on earth. This false Christian testimony will be cut off from the earth by the sharp sickle together with the apostate Jewish testimony. The Lord Jesus will judge every false confession when the false confessor has fully shown his apostasy.

V1919So the angel swung his sickle to the earth and gathered [the clusters from] the vine of the earth, and threw them into the great wine press of the wrath of God.. This judgment is different from the judgment that is represented by the picture of the wheat harvest. Actually there is no distinction here. The whole harvest is thrown into the great wine press. The seriousness of this judgment is even more underlined by the addition “the wrath of God”. Especially what is put in relation to Him, but in reality denies Him (2Tim 3:55holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these.), arouses His wrath. There is nothing else that God hates so much as hypocrisy. Therefore He doesn’t wait until the grapes are overripe as with the wheat harvest. If the harvest is ripe, judgment comes.

The wickedness of the apostate testimony is great (Joel 3:1313Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe.
Come, tread, for the wine press is full;
The vats overflow, for their wickedness is great.
). Therefore the place of the judgment, where God will have His fierce wrath to be broken loose (Isa 63:1-61Who is this who comes from Edom,
With garments of glowing colors from Bozrah,
This One who is majestic in His apparel,
Marching in the greatness of His strength?
“It is I who speak in righteousness, mighty to save.”
2Why is Your apparel red,
And Your garments like the one who treads in the wine press?
3“I have trodden the wine trough alone,
And from the peoples there was no man with Me.
I also trod them in My anger
And trampled them in My wrath;
And their lifeblood is sprinkled on My garments,
And I stained all My raiment.
4“For the day of vengeance was in My heart,
And My year of redemption has come.
5“I looked, and there was no one to help,
And I was astonished and there was no one to uphold;
So My own arm brought salvation to Me,
And My wrath upheld Me.
6“I trod down the peoples in My anger
And made them drunk in My wrath,
And I poured out their lifeblood on the earth.”
), will be great (“the great wine press”). The great wine press is the valley of Armageddon (Rev 16:1616And they gathered them together to the place which in Hebrew is called Har-Magedon.), where the nations are gathered to fight against God and His Anointed (Psa 2:22The kings of the earth take their stand
And the rulers take counsel together
Against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying,
).

V2020And the wine press was trodden outside the city, and blood came out from the wine press, up to the horses’ bridles, for a distance of two hundred miles.. The wine press lies “outside the city”. That means that the judgment takes place outside Jerusalem. To give you an impression of how horrible that judgment is, it is said how high the blood reaches and to how far it reaches. The blood of those who are killed will splash up to the bridles of the horses. The blood of those who are killed fills the whole land. The “distance of two hundred miles”, which is approximately three hundred kilometers, is the length of the land Israel from Dan in the North to Beersheba in the South.

This judgment is also the fulfillment of the cry: “His blood shall be on us and on our children” (Mt 27:2525And all the people said, “His blood shall be on us and on our children!”). At the same time this judgment means the purification of the land of the blood of the Lord Jesus Who was killed by them (Num 35:3333So you shall not pollute the land in which you are; for blood pollutes the land and no expiation can be made for the land for the blood that is shed on it, except by the blood of him who shed it.). God fulfills His Word, both where it concerns His promises and where it concerns the foretelling of judgment.

Now read Revelation 14:14-20 again.

Reflection: What are the differences between both harvests?


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