Revelation chapters 14 through 19, Part 1
by Karl Kemp
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"Scripture Quotations taken from the New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, by the Lockman Foundation. Used by permission." (www.Lockman.org)
This paper was originally published January, 1999. The first part of the paper was done using a word processor that didn't permit me to use italics, footnotes, different fonts, etc. The second half of the paper was done using a PC, with Word 97. I'm making some modifications at the time I put the paper into Word 2002 format to upload to the internet (2007). I am making further modifications at the time I split this paper up into several parts to put on this Christian article site.
Every verse of the book of Revelation, which is extremely important, is discussed in papers on my internet site, except for Rev. 11:1-14:5, which are discussed in a thorough verse-by-verse manner in my book, "The Mid-Week Rapture." For a condensed version, see my paper titled "Twenty-Four Articles on the Mid-Week Rapture" that is available on my internet site. Those twenty-four articles are available individually on this Christian article site: "The Mid-Week Rapture, Part 1," and so on. Those twenty-four articles serve as a good introduction for my book and for the mid-week rapture viewpoint, that Christ will return and the rapture will take place right in the middle of the seven-year period that is sometimes called Daniel's 70th week.
Verse-by-verse discussions of Revelation chapters 1-10 are available on this Christian article site. (If you click on my name beside any of my articles it will take you to a listing of all my articles on this site.) This present paper covers all of Revelation chapters 14-19, except for Rev. 14:1-5. Before long verse-by-verse discussions of Revelation chapters 20-22 will be available on this site too.
I always use the New American Standard Bible, 1977 edition, in this paper unless I mention otherwise. Sometimes I use double brackets [[ ]] and (( )) to make them more obvious.
A DISCUSSION DEALING WITH THE SUPREME IMPORTANCE OF THE BOOK OF REVELATION:
The book of Revelation is of key importance on God's end-time plans to save and to judge, and on His plans for the eternal state that follows the millennial kingdom. The more I study this book, the more I'm impressed with it; it is a very special book of the Bible. I'll take a couple of pages to illustrate this point. It was written relatively late, about AD 95.
The book of Revelation (especially chapters 11-13) shows that all true Christians will be raptured from the earth at essentially the same time that the devil (and his angels), having great wrath, is thrown down to the earth in the middle of the seven-year period (Rev. 12: 4, 7-9, 12-17) and just before the super-evil reign of Antichrist begins in the middle of Daniel's 70th week (cf. Rev. 3:10; 7:9-17; 11:11, 12; 12:5; 13:1-5; and 17:14). If we didn't have the book of Revelation, I would teach that the rapture will probably take place near the end of Daniel's 70th week (the end-of-the-week rapture viewpoint), but because of this super-important prophetic book, I'm confident of the mid-week rapture. Daniel chapter 12 is the second most important passage (along with Revelation chapters 11-13) to show that the Lord Jesus will return right in the middle of Daniel's 70th week. (Daniel chapter 12 is discussed in detail in my book, "The Mid-Week Rapture.")
It is significant that the book of Revelation shows that the rapture will take place right in the middle of Daniel's 70th week, right after the short great tribulation. The warfare of the short great tribulation will take place under the sixth trumpet (Rev. 9:13-21), and the Lord Jesus will return and the rapture will take place at the sounding of the seventh and last trumpet (Rev. 11:15-18), right in the middle of Daniel's 70th week. We already knew that the Lord Jesus would return right after the short great tribulation from Matt. 24:21, 22, 29-31. The sixth trumpet will sound about a month before the seventh trumpet, about the time of the abomination of desolation (cf. Matt. 24:15; Dan. 12:11). It is significant that the trumpet of Rev. 11:15 is the same trumpet as the ones we already knew about from Matt. 24:29-31; 1 Cor. 15:50-52 [note "at the last trumpet"]; and 1 Thess. 4:16, 17.
Without the book of Revelation, we wouldn't know that the gospel will still be proclaimed on the earth after Christ has returned and the rapture has taken place (Rev. 14:6, 7), and that many (including the end-time remnant of the nation Israel) will submit to the gospel after the rapture (e.g., Rev. 11:13, 19; 12:17; 13:5, 7 [with Dan. 7:21, 25], 10; 14:12, 13; 15:2; and 20:4).
Even though the Old Testament has much to say about God's ultimate salvation plans for the nations (the nations being distinct from true Israel), I couldn't be sure that these prophecies are to be fulfilled in a literal sense if it weren't for the confirmation of the book of Revelation. Apart from the book of Revelation, the New Testament has very little to say regarding God's salvation plans for the nations. If it weren't for the book of Revelation, I might have been persuaded by the idea of many Christians that such prophecies are to be interpreted in a non-literal sense, that these prophecies speak only of Gentiles receiving Christ during this present age (before Christ returns).
Without the book of Revelation, we wouldn't know about the very important ministry of the two witnesses/prophets of Rev. 11:1-13, and we wouldn't have the important confirmation of the fact that the temple will be rebuilt in Jerusalem (Rev. 11:1, 2). We wouldn't know about the seven trumpets (Rev. 8:1-9:21; 11:15) or the seven bowls of wrath (Rev. 15:1-16:21); and we wouldn't know of God's judgment of Babylon the great harlot. Many of the details regarding Antichrist we wouldn't know, including knowing of his coming back from the dead; and we wouldn't know of the false prophet, or of the image of the beast, or of the mark/number of the beast (666).
We could know something of an intermediate kingdom that will take place before the eternal kingdom/state from several Old Testament verses (e.g., Isa. 65:20-22; Dan. 7:12). We wouldn't know enough, however, to understand the millennial kingdom without the book of Revelation. For one thing, this is the only book of the Bible that mentions the thousand year duration of this kingdom. We wouldn't have known that the devil will be temporarily bound in the abyss throughout the millennium (Rev. 20:2, 3), and we certainly wouldn't have anticipated a major revolt by a multitude from the nations at the end of the millennium (Rev. 20:7-9). And we wouldn't have known that the resurrection of "the rest of the dead" (Rev. 20:5), which is the resurrection of the dead who aren't part of true Israel, won't take place until it's time for the great-white-throne judgment at the end of the millennium (Rev. 20:11-15).
The seven letters to the seven churches of Revelation chapters 2, 3 are very important. For one thing, several verses of key prophetic significance are included in these chapters (e.g., Rev. 2:26, 27; 3:10, and 21). But the most important feature of these letters to the seven churches which existed at that time (about AD 95) - it's a somewhat shocking feature - is the powerful call to repent or forfeit their salvation by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself to many of these Christians. And we must understand that the things that the Lord Jesus said to those Christians (both positive and negative things) are applicable for all Christians of all generations who are in the same situation. The words were apparently chosen to address many of the needs of the universal church throughout this entire age. Five of the seven churches are called to repentance, and in three of the five there was a call for very serious repentance on the part of all, or at least many/most, of the Christians there. He warns them that they are on the brink of ceasing to be His people - they must quickly repent.
The most shocking feature is that the first church Christ spoke to, the church at Ephesus (see Rev. 2:1-7), was doing so much right. But Christ told them that they had left their first love (the love they formerly had for God and His Son [Rev. 2:4]) and if they didn't repent and do the works they did at first (Rev. 2:5), He would remove their lampstand. In other words, they would cease being His church/people. It is very clear that Christ was speaking (for the most part at least) to born again Christians in the church at Ephesus. For one thing, He couldn't have said the positive things He said about them if they hadn't become born-again Christians, and they wouldn't have had a lampstand to begin with if this wasn't a genuine Christian church (see Rev. 1:20).
These two chapters of the book of Revelation (chapters 2, 3), taken seriously, will help bring some balance, some desperately needed balance, to many Christians of our day. Many are far from the Scriptural balance through errors like minimizing, or totally skipping, God's call to repent, both at the time of conversion, and afterward, when repentance is required (the word repent, and the concept of repenting, have seemingly disappeared from many churches; we don't want to offend anybody); errors like minimizing the call for Christians to be righteous and holy, doing the works that are required of us (by God's enabling grace in Christ/by the Holy Spirit); errors like overstating the Christian's right standing (no matter what they believe, or what they do), and errors like overstating God's unconditional love (while failing to take seriously all that the Bible says about His wrath) and denying the possibility for Christians to ever fall away from Christ and be rejected by Him (no matter what they believe or how they live). Revelation chapters 2, 3 make it clear to me (as does much other Scripture) that Christ has different ideas on these topics than many Christians do. He will have the last word, so where we disagree with Him, we had better change with a high priority.
Yes, it is the will of God for Christians to be secure in Christ, and to know that they are, but we shouldn't feel secure while we are in obvious violation of our covenant with God - the fear of God that the Bible (including the New Testament) frequently speaks of is more appropriate. We are supposed to be afraid to sin against God. We must make it top priority to get things straightened out (to repent) if we're in sin, by God's grace. It's a very positive thing (a blessing) if Christ is dealing with us to repent. Why does Christ call His people to repent? In Rev. 3:19 (where the Lord Jesus was speaking to Christians at Laodicea, who had a very serious sin problem, but were not aware of it) He says it is because He still loves them. Of course forgiveness is provided for us in Christ, but the primary thing Christ demanded in these chapters was repentance, not asking for forgiveness. Those who are saying that God doesn't even see it when Christians sin because He looks at us through the blood of Christ, or that He doesn't take our sin seriously, had better read these two chapters (and many other chapters) again. I recommend reading my papers, "Once Saved, Always Saved?"; "A Paper on Faith"; "The Christian, the Law, and Legalism"; and my book, "Holiness and Victory Over Sin: Full Salvation Through the Atoning Death of Lord Jesus Christ."
One spectacular feature of the book of Revelation is the prominent roles of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. One thing they do is testify to the importance, authenticity, and truthfulness of this revelation, which I'll demonstrate as we continue. Christ Himself appeared to the apostle John, as reported in chapter 1, directing him to write these things (Rev. 1:19). The revelation was given by God the Father to Christ to show to His bond-servants (Christians); it was sent by Christ through His angel to (the apostle) John (Rev. 1:1). In Rev. 1:3 a blessing is pronounced on "those who [read] and those who hear the words of the prophecy and heed the things which are written in it...."
Christ also came on the scene and spoke in the last chapter of this book, chapter 22 (but this time John apparently didn't see Him), which further established and confirmed the truthfulness and importance of this revelation. In Rev. 22:7 Christ said, "And behold I am coming quickly. Blessed is he who heeds the words of the prophecy of this book," which includes the powerful calls to repent where repentance is required. Also see Rev. 22:12-16, where Christ also spoke. In 22:16 He mentioned that He had sent His angel to testify these things for the churches (which apparently includes testifying to the authenticity and truthfulness of this revelation). Then in 22:20 Christ is referred to as "He who testifies to these things."
In Rev. 14:13b the Holy Spirit spoke, confirming a word that had just been spoken from heaven in 14:13a. In Rev. 21:5-8 God the Father spoke, including the words of 21:5b, "Write, for these words are faithful and true." "These words" apparently refer to the words just spoken in 21:1-5a, but His words have the effect of confirming the entire revelation. In Rev. 19:9 a mighty angel said, "These are true words of God." He was apparently referring to the revelation just given in Rev. 17:1-19:9a. In 22:6 a mighty angel said, "These words are trustworthy and true. The Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, sent his angel to show his servants the things that must soon take place" (NIV). He was apparently referring to the entire revelation of the book of Revelation. Also see 22:9. On God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, and the Trinity, I recommend reading my papers, "Who Do We Worship"; "Who Do We Pray To?"; "The Name Yahweh and God the Father and God the Son"; and "More on the Trinity."
Lastly, in closing this somewhat brief discussion on the spectacular value of the book of Revelation, I'll mention the significance and the glory of the last two chapters, which give a glorious picture of the eternal state (with its new heaven and new earth and its new Jerusalem), which is prepared for God's people, true Israel (the bride of Christ, the bond-servants of God, who will reign forever [Rev. 22:5]) and for the elect of the nations (Rev. 15:3, 4; 20:3; 21:3, 4; and 21:24-22:3).
A FEW COMMENTS DEALING WITH THIS STUDY OF REVELATION 14:6-19:21:
Most of these verses deal with God's judgment and total removal of Babylon the great harlot and of Antichrist and his forces who are gathered to Armageddon. In these verses we learn of the seven bowls of God's wrath. Quite a few of these verses mention the glorified saints who are with Christ throughout the second half of Daniel's 70th week as He carries out these judgments (the glorified saints begin to reign with the Lord Jesus at the time of His mid-week return and the rapture), and we also read of the victorious outcome for the saints who will live on the earth during the second half of Daniel's 70th week (who will be converted after the rapture). A few of these verses also deal with God's ultimate salvation of the remnant of the nations (the nations being distinct from God's true Israel). True Israel will reign with God for one thing.
Many of the verses we are studying in this paper deal with God's judgment of Babylon the great harlot: Rev. 14:8, 14-16; 16:18, 19; and 17:1-19:3. I find this topic quite interesting, quite important, and quite relevant for our daily lives. This topic, which includes defining Babylon, isn't easy, and the interpretations given by Christians vary greatly, but I believe we can understand the meaning of these verses, even if we're not sure of every little detail. It probably wasn't intended for us to understand every little detail of verses that are so full of figurative/symbolic language. The realities spoken of behind the figurative/symbolic language are extremely important.
We will start with Rev. 14:6. (Revelation 14:1-5 are discussed in some detail, along with Revelation chapters 11-13, in chapters 20-23 of my book, "The Mid-Week Rapture.")
"And I saw another angel flying in midheaven [[Compare Rev. 8:13. From this location this angel can be seen (and heard) by all. (It specifically mentions that this angel and the third angel of Rev. 14:9 speak "with a loud voice." The second angel of Rev. 14:8 undoubtedly also speaks with a loud voice.) The two following angels of Rev. 14:8 and 9 undoubtedly are in the same general location as the first angel. God obviously considers it important that all the people living on the earth hear the messages of these three angels. For one thing, all the messages contain strong warnings of imminent destruction, now that judgment day has come - the seventh and last trumpet has already sounded. But all isn't negative; even though Christ has returned (right in the middle of Daniel's 70th week) and judgment day has begun, there still is time (but very limited time) for people to repent and respond to God and His Word.
If God is dealing with us to repent now, we had better repent now. It is very dangerous to put off repenting for a later time. For one thing, it will be very difficult to submit to God, His Son, and His gospel during the second half of Daniel's 70th week.]], having an eternal gospel [[The NIV has "the eternal gospel"; the KJV and NKJV have "the everlasting gospel"; the definite article is not included in the Greek, but this doesn't mean that the definite article shouldn't be included in the English translation. We'll discuss the meaning of the eternal/everlasting gospel as we continue.]] to preach to those who live on the earth, and [It would be better to translate the Greek conjunction "kai" as "even" here, instead of "and." The NIV and NKJV just have a dash here, which is quite acceptable.] to every nation and tribe and tongue and people [Compare Matt. 24:14; Mark 13:10. See on Matt. 24:14 in my paper on Matthew chapters 24, 25 on my internet site.]; (7) and he said with a loud voice, 'Fear God, and give Him glory [On these words, starting with "Fear God," see under Rev. 11:13 in my book, "The Mid-Week Rapture" (pages 288, 289).], because the hour [The word "hour" is sometimes used in the book of Revelation to refer to the three and one-half years of the second half of Daniel's 70th week. Especially see Rev. 17:12; 3:10. The word hour is apparently also used this way here in 14:7, and in 14:15; 18:10, 17, and 19.] of His judgment has come [cf. Rev. 6:17; 11:15-18; and 12:10]; and worship Him who made the heaven and the earth and sea and springs of waters.' [[I don't believe this "eternal gospel" is substantially different than the gospel being preached in our day, but because of the time setting and circumstances, the message will have a definite urgent appeal and some special emphases appropriate for that time. The time setting of these verses is right after the mid-week return of Christ. The rapture has just taken place (Rev. 11:11, 12; 12:5; 14:1-5; and 7:9-17), and judgment day has just begun - "the hour of His judgment has come."
Those who heed the call to "fear God, and give Him glory" and to "worship Him who made the heaven and the earth and sea and springs of waters" will repent and submit to the "eternal gospel" in faith. Those who submit to the gospel after the rapture can be called the end-time elect remnant of God's true Israel, which centers in the end-time remnant of the nation Israel (and undoubtedly other Jews) and (apparently) many Gentiles, even as the Christian church of our day includes Jews and Gentiles. Significantly, those who submit to the gospel after the rapture constitute the rest of the offspring/seed of true Israel spoken of in Rev. 12:17. (Those taken in the rapture were only "first fruits" [Rev. 14:4] of God's end-time harvest.) I assume they will be Christians in the same sense we are Christians. The difference will be that they won't be converted in time to be taken in the rapture, and they will be living on the earth during the very difficult three and one-half year "hour of testing" (Rev. 3:10).
Those who become Christians in that day/hour, which will cover the second half of Daniel's 70th week, will know much travail (e.g., Rev. 12:13-13:17), and there will be many martyrs (e.g., Rev. 20:4), but they will also know something of God's special provision and protection (Rev. 12:6, 14-16). I'm confident that those Christians who are converted after the rapture will have a special gratitude, knowing that they were saved at the last minute, in some ways even after the last minute in that the Lord Jesus will have already returned and judgment day will have begun. Those believers will fear God with a reverent, obedient fear, and they will give Him glory by submitting to Him and His Word (as is required of all true believers), and by living for Him, even in very difficult times. Revelation 14:12 shows that these believers will need perseverance. All true Christians know something of the need for perseverance, and of suffering for Christ (by His sufficient grace).
It seems that those people who will be left alive on the earth to enter the millennial kingdom (the remnant of the nations, who are called "the nations" in Rev. 20:3) will not be ready to fully submit to God and worship Him until after His end-time judgments, which will continue to the end of Daniel's 70th week. (See Rev. 15:3, 4. Note that 15:4 includes the ideas of fearing God and giving Him glory, which are mentioned in Rev. 14:7.) They will, however, one way or another, refrain from worshiping Antichrist and taking his mark: If they worship him and his image and take his mark they are doomed (Rev. 14:9-11). At this point in the book of Revelation, it hasn't been clearly revealed yet that God has special plans for the salvation of the nations (as it is rather clearly revealed in Rev. 15:3, 4; 20:3; and 21:1-22:3 and in a large number of prophecies in the Old Testament).]] (8) And another angel, a second one, followed, saying, 'Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great [[Compare Rev. 18:2. These words build on Isa. 21:9; Jer. 51:8. Apparently (in this context) this angel will speak these words in the middle of Daniel's 70th week, not long after the rapture. There's widespread agreement that they are spoken in anticipation of the judgment and removal of Babylon the great during the second half of this seven-year period. An early aspect of the judgment of Babylon will have apparently already taken place during the one-month period that precedes the return of Christ. That early judgment, which will take place during the days of the short great tribulation that will take place during the one-month period that precedes the rapture, will greatly affect the nation Israel. (See under Rev. 16:17, 18, and 19 in this paper.)
Knowing that Babylon is to be destroyed as part of God's end-time judgment of the world, God's people (all believers) must flee from Babylon and her sin (cf. Rev. 18:4). All mankind will be warned that Babylon is on the brink of total destruction (Rev. 14:8), and that all who worship Antichrist and take his mark are destined for eternal torment (Rev. 14:9-11). I assume Babylon will be progressively destroyed throughout the second half of Daniel's 70th week, but there probably will be something of a climactic end to her destruction too (see under Rev. 16:17, 18, and 19; and see Rev. 17:1-19:3).
This is the first mention of Babylon the great in the book of Revelation. The judgment and removal of Babylon constitutes a major part of God's end-time judgment of the world. Revelation 17:1-19:3 deal with the identity of, and the judgment and total removal of, Babylon, the great harlot, who (for one thing) has been seducing mankind from knowing, serving, and worshiping God. Revelation 14:14-16 apparently also deal with God's judgment of Babylon. Also see Rev. 16:18, 19.
For one thing, Babylon is a symbol for the world, whose god is the devil (2 Cor. 4:4). I'll quote from Leon Morris on the meaning of Babylon the great ("Revelation," revised edition, [Inter-Varsity Press, 1987], under Rev. 14:8). "The first time the Bible mentions Babylon (Gen. 11:9; but cf. Gen. 10:10) we read that after the Flood people tried to scale the heights of heaven by building a mighty tower. The name thus stands for the pride of mankind and for the heathen city-empire. For John, Babylon is the great city, the symbol of mankind in community opposed to the things of God. Sometimes in other writings Babylon means Rome (2 Bar. 11:1; Sib. Or. 5:143,159,434; possibly 1 Pet. 5:13). John does not go as far as this, though doubtless to first century people there was no better illustration of what Babylon means than contemporary Rome. John is looking forward to the overthrow of all the evil that Babylon stands for."
God's kingdom can't come forth in any full sense until Babylon the harlot has been totally removed, along with Antichrist and his followers, and, most importantly, along with Satan and his hosts.]], she who has made all the nations drink of the wine of the passion of her immorality.' [[Compare Rev. 17:2, 4; 18:3. We'll discuss Babylon the great harlot as we discuss Rev. 16:17-19 and 17:1-19:3. To "drink of the wine of the passion of her immorality" apparently includes being seduced by Babylon (the devil is behind this seducing) in any of the many ways she seduces people from being faithful to God. This includes all false religion, very much including apostate Christianity, and all the other things (idols) that people can be enticed with that take the place of God, including money, power, fame, sexual sins, occupations, arts, sports, and living in (excessive) luxury.]] (9) And another angel, a third one, followed them, saying with a loud voice, 'If anyone worships the beast [Antichrist; cf. Rev. 13:1-18] and his image [cf. Rev. 13:14, 15], and receives a mark on his forehead or upon his hand [cf. Rev. 13:16-18], (10) he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength [it isn't diluted] in the cup of His anger [[Cf. Psalm 75:8; Isa. 51:17; Jer. 25:15-38; and Rev. 16:19. I'll quote part of what George E. Ladd said regarding God's wrath under Rev. 14:9, 10 ("Revelation of John" [Eerdmans, 1972]), "...God's wrath is not a human emotion; it is the settled reaction of his holiness to man's sinfulness and rebellion. Unless God in his wrath finally purges the world of all evil and rebellion, his Kingdom cannot come. Therefore, in the largest sense of God's redemptive purpose for men, his wrath is a necessary correlative to his love and mercy. Two of the main themes of the Revelation are the recalcitrance of men against God's salvation, manifested in their subservience to the beast; and the judgment of God which must fall upon them. In Revelation John emphasizes God's wrath as does no other book in the New Testament.... Yet it is no inconsequential matter that his [John's] Gospel, which more than any other expresses the love of God, also insists, 'He who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God rests upon him' (John 3:36)."]]; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone [cf. Rev. 19:20; 20:10, 14, 15; 21:8; Gen. 19:24; Psalm 11:6; and Ezek. 38:22] in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. (11) And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever [cf. Isa. 34:9, 10; Rev. 18:9, 18; 19:3, 19; 20:10, 14, 15]; and they have no rest day and night [Contrast the unending rest for the persecuted saints mentioned in Rev. 14:13.], those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.' [[This powerful warning of the third angel (Rev. 14:9) is given about the same time that Antichrist begins his three and one-half year super-evil reign in the middle of Daniel's 70th week (e.g., Rev. 13:1-18). It seems clear that those who worship Antichrist and his image and take his mark have sealed their destiny. These verses clearly teach eternal torment for the wicked, not annihilation, and they certainly aren't compatible with universalism (everybody will be saved).
It seems that Rev. 14:17-20 build on Rev. 14:9-11 and deal with God's judgment of Antichrist and his followers at the end of Daniel's 70th week (cf. Rev. 19:19-21). It also seems that Rev. 14:14-16 build on Rev. 14:8 and deal with the judgment and destruction of Babylon, the great harlot.]]
We will continue this verse-by-verse study of Rev. 14:6 through chapter 19 in Part 2, starting with Rev. 14:12.
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