Gaebelein's Annotated Bible
And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father's name written in their foreheads.CHAPTER 14
1. The Lamb and the 144,000 (Revelation 14:1-5) 2. The everlasting gospel (Revelation 14:6-7) 3. Fall of Babylon anticipated (Revelation 14:8) 4. Wrath for the worshippers of the beast (Revelation 14:9-11) 5. The blessed dead (Revelation 14:12-13) 6. The harvest and the vintage (Revelation 14:14-20)
2. The everlasting gospel (Revelation 14:6-7)
3. Fall of Babylon anticipated (Revelation 14:8)
4. Wrath for the worshippers of the beast (Revelation 14:9-11)
5. The blessed dead (Revelation 14:12-13)
6. The harvest and the vintage (Revelation 14:14-20)
A series of visions follow the dark scenes in chapter 13. The conditions under the domineering power of the two beasts are going to be changed. The Lord will answer the prayers of the persecuted Jewish people and deliver them by His personal coming out of the opened heaven. This glorious manifestation is fully revealed in the nineteenth chapter. Here it is anticipated. There is much said about this intervention in behalf of the suffering godly remnant in the Old Testament. As an illustration we call attention to Psalm 44:1-26; Psalm 45:1-17. In the Forty-fourth Psalm we find a description of their suffering and the cry to heaven: “Arise for our help, and redeem us for Thy mercies’ sake.” In the Forty-fifth Psalm the answer to this prayer is recorded. The King riding in majesty, dealing with His enemies, surrounded by redeemed companies, is beheld in that Psalm. The entire book of Psalms should be studied from the viewpoint of prophecy; it will shed much light upon these events of this portion of Revelation.
But who are the 144,000 standing with the Lamb upon Mount Zion, having His Name and His Father’s Name written on their foreheads? In the previous chapter we saw a company on earth who have the mark of the beast on their foreheads; but here is a company who have His Name and the Father’s Name on the forehead. A good many have made of this company a portion of the Church, as first-fruits, who, according to this theory, have lived separated lives and are caught up into heaven, while the other believers, who did not live as near to God as they did, will have to suffer in the great tribulation.
The reader who has followed the unfolding of this book will see at once that such an interpretation is impossible. These 144,000 have nothing to do whatever with the Church. And the 144,000 learn to sing this new song. Who then are the harpers? They are the martyred company seen in connection with the fifth seal and they also include now their brethren which were slain during the great tribulation. The characteristics of the 144,000 are next given. Revelation 14:4 must not be interpreted in a literal sense. Those who apply it to a first-fruits of the Church have done so, and it has led to much confusion and even worse things. Literal impurity is not in view. If it had a literal meaning this company would consist of men only. The woman, the great harlot Babylon and her daughters, the godless and christless religious world-systems (chapter 17) are then on earth. They did not defile themselves with the corruptions and idolatries prevalent on the earth. They kept themselves from spiritual fornication. They are the first-fruits and the earnest of the blessings soon in store for the earth. They were devoted to the Lamb and no lie (not guile) was in their mouth. The lie and delusion of the end-time were utterly repudiated by them.
This has nothing to do with the preaching of the gospel during this church-age. The angel must not be taken as a literal angel. The preaching of any gospel to those who dwell on earth is never committed to angels, but to men. This is true of the gospel of grace which redeemed sinners are privileged to proclaim during this age, and of the everlasting gospel during the end of the age. The gospel preached is the gospel of the kingdom and the preachers are this faithful remnant of God’s earthly people. Nothing of this preaching was said in chapter 7, though the result, the gathered multitude coming out of the great tribulation is seen there. But here, where the moral and spiritual characteristics of the remnant of Israel are seen, their testimony also comes into view. What this everlasting gospel is we need not explain, for Revelation 14:7 gives us the information. It is everlasting because it concerns the Creator as the only object of worship. And it will sound the loudest and go forth in no uncertain sound at the time when pandemonium reigns on earth, and heaven is about to open to manifest the King of glory. How great is God’s mercy! And the nations who hear and turn to God will enter the coming kingdom. Read in connection with Revelation 14:6-7 Psalm 96:1-13. It will give you a great deal of light on this portion of Revelation.
This is an anticipative announcement of what will also happen as the great tribulation nears its close. The particulars are not given here. These and what Babylon is and how Babylon the great (city must be omitted in this verse) falls, we shall find in chapters 17 and 18. God’s intervention in judgment upon the great whore is simply mentioned here.
Here we have a third angelic announcement. It concerns the worshipers of the beast. They drink of the wrath of God. It is “without mixture,” that is, no mercy is found in the cup of His indignation. It serves as a solemn warning. Babylon falls prior to the glorious appearing of the King, and the beast will afterward manifest his power as never before. Therefore, the warning concerning the inevitable fate of those who worship the beast and take its mark.
It is a voice which proclaims this. It refers especially to those who are martyrs at that time. Certainly all our loved ones who fall asleep in Jesus are blessed. They are absent from the body and consciously present with the Lord. But here is the comfort for those who faithfully resist the worship of the beast, who refuse to take the mark. They become martyrs. The book of Revelation will be read and studied during the great tribulation. Satan through the beasts, will try to annihilate it and the rest of the Bible. But it will be a failure as all former attempts to get the Bible out of the world have failed. Here then, is first the warning. If they worship the beast they will be lost forever. Then there is the alternative to resist the beast and be killed as to the body, but die in the Lord. “From henceforth” means during the tribulation when the great persecution goes on.
This brings now the coming of the Son of Man with judgment power into view. The harvest and the vintage have come. The sickle is put in. The reapers used will be angels (Matthew 13:41). The day of vengeance has come. Read Isaiah 63:1-6; Joel 3:1-21; Zechariah 12:1-14; Zechariah 13:1-9; Zechariah 14:1-21. This will greatly help to a better understanding of the harvest and the vintage. The nations and their armies will be in the land; the Assyrian from the north, foreshadowed by the wicked work of Antiochus Epiphanes (Daniel 8:1-27) will do his awful work, the false prophet, the second beast is in Jerusalem. But then the judgment clouds break. The battle of Armageddon comes into view for the first time in Revelation 14:20. How we ought to praise Him for His infinite grace which has separated us from these awful judgments of vengeance and wrath. His people will be at home when these things come to pass.