Evangelical Community Chapel at Liberal: a Molalla, Oregon Church

Molalla, Oregon

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Revelation 14-15

October 9th, 2010 by Vic

“God’s Story is seen another way”

October 10, 2010

Last week chapters 12 and 13 pictured the rise of Satan, the dragon.  He calls up from among humanity a beast pretending to be Christ and then a false prophet similar to the Holy Spirit.  The false Christ imitates the resurrection of Christ by doing miracles.  The false prophet imitates the Holy Spirit by placing a mark or a seal on all his followers.  Today in chapter 14, Babylon is introduced, hears the gospel, but rejects it.

In chapter 16 the fall a Babylon is pictured, followed by the fall of the prophet, the beast, and the dragon in reverse order.  This again suggests the lack of concern for chronological sequence in Revelation.  We will see the 4 foes are actually eliminated simultaneously as evidenced by the repeated phrase “gather together for battle”.  Today we see the saints in heaven and also see some of the suffering they have on earth.

14:1  All God’s children are singing in heaven.  The chapter is not chronological.  1-5 depicts our eternal reward.  Verse 8 announces judgment at the end of history.  9-11 explain the consequences of judgment.  12-13 call for saints to be faithful.  14-20 tell more about judgment at the end of history.

We have seen that this group of 144,000 represents all the people of God of all time.  We are part of this group.  The 144,000 were given power by God to witness as Israel was supposed to do.

The Lamb stands victorious with all the people of God.  Not one is missing.  The children of God have made it safely to heaven.  John has not told us how we get to heaven, but we are with the Lamb.

Zion was understood in the OT as the end time city where God dwells and provides security for the faithful.  Zion was also identified as the earthly city of the New Jerusalem.

Our label says we belong to God.  The label is our lifestyle.  We act just like our Father.

14:2‑4  This vision has 3 points of comfort.  The first is that all God’s children are safe.  No one is missing.

The second point of comfort is the voice of God.  The voice has majesty and impact like thunder.  It is tender, calming, and soothing like the sound of harps.  God is speaking.  Are we listening?

The third point of comfort is a new song.  Those who endure the anger of Satan and remain faithful will know a song that no one else will know.  They are new song singers.  They have an inner joy and peace that overflows in song.

In the OT the new song was always an expression of praise for God’s victory over the enemy.  We have the same reason to sing.

The children of God are described as redeemed (3) celibates and virgins (4).  As the people of God they have kept themselves from the adultery and fornication of idol worship.  They have not defiled themselves with the materialistic world system.  They followed the Lamb (4) not the way of the world.  They are the bride of Christ not just another service organization.

In the OT Israel’s idolatries and political and economic practices are called harlotry.  Virgin is a metaphor of all true saints who have not compromised in various ways with the world, but have remained loyal to Christ (4).  Babylon (the world’s political, social, and economic system) is the harlot.  The Church is the bride.

A second characteristic of virgins is that they follow the Lamb wherever he goes.  They follow Jesus’ teaching, his ministry and imitate his faithfulness in the midst of unjust suffering.

Firstfruits were offered to the Lord with an awareness that the whole belonged to God.  The firstfruits here at the end of the age are the beginning of the rest of the new creation.  All believers (the redeemed) from all of history are called firstfruits at the end of the age.

14:5  These saints are faithful witnesses.  No deceit is found in their mouth.

14:6‑7  Three angels now come with messages to warn the world to worship God or perish.  Jesus had said that the gospel had to be preached to all nations and it looks like this first angel will make sure that is fulfilled.  The eternal gospel was preached in the OT, the NT and will be preached at the end of the age.  God’s mercy still calls men to repent.  The gospel is preached to all nations before Christ returns.

This is the last time the gospel is mentioned in Scripture.  This is the last call for the sinners to repent and give God the glory.  Notice whom it is preached to, “those who sit”, the easy going, the indifferent, the apathetic, the pew warmers, or those playing church.  These need a special angel to warn them.  But the warning is not heeded.

14:8  The second angel brings a message of judgment including shortages and a stock market crash.  He proclaims that this world’s system is going to fall and crumble.  We need to be reminded of that.  Things you trust in this world will fail.  Materialism has an end.  Humanism has an end.  Time has an end.  Our struggle for security can never be assured in this world.  There will be a gas shortage, an electricity shortage, a water shortage, a pension shortage, and a bread shortage.

Rome was called Babylon because they had destroyed the temple in Jerusalem like Babylon had done.  Our world system tries to destroy the temple in our hearts and takes us captive with the assumption that we too will compromise and go with the flow.  Babylon represents all wicked world systems.

The wine is the promise of material prosperity.  When one drinks, he looses a desire to resist.  He forgets that his real security is in Christ.  The intoxicating influence of promised security robs us of our simple trust in God.

14:9‑10  This is the 3rd angel that has appeared in this vision.  He also announces judgement.

Burning sulphur is brimstone.  It symbolizes suffering.  We are hearing about hell, fire, and brimstone.  They will suffer God’s wrath and be tormented in the presence of peace, holiness, abundance, and bliss of the righteous.  Those who have denied the Lamb will be forced to acknowledge Him.

14:11‑13  Not just for a short time, but forever.  This warning is intended to encourage true believers to remain faithful.  This is the message of the whole book.

In contrast to eternal punishment of sinners is the rest for the saints.  These saints are the ones who keep the commandments and believe in Jesus.  They do not trust materialism and the world’s value system.  They have learned to say, “though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.”

For some, death is a blessing.  And God has a special blessing for those who die in the Lord.  Their deeds follow them.  Faith is rewarded when accompanied by works.  Faithfulness to Christ involves suffering.  Are you willing to die to follow in Jesus steps?  Compromise is fatal.

The rest that we receive in heaven is not a rest from activity, but a rest from our war with Satan.  The Bible says they rest from work, but their work goes with them, an interesting paradox.  Restful security is not in this life, but in the next.  Our work is to believe in Jesus and resist Satan.

14:14‑20  Wickedness is ripe.  The hour has come.  The judgment is not described.  God will use a cloud for a combine and Jesus is doing the driving.  Wickedness will be reaped like grapes at a great gathering and all will be crushed.

The heavenly figure has a crown that identifies him as king and a sharp sickle, which is a metaphor of judgment.  Another commanding angel comes from the altar in 14:18.  The imagery of harvest in 14:15-16 is expanded in 17-20.  Some say these are 2 separate judgments or harvests.  Joel is the only OT writer speaking of a sickle and harvest figuratively in the same context of a winepress.  Both images connote judgment.  Both figures infer the thoroughness and definitive judgment of sinners by God.

1600 stadia (184 miles) is the approximate length of Palestine, but it is probably symbolic (20).  It stands for complete judgment of the whole earth and all the wicked.  When the wicked don’t repent, they receive judgment.

The overthrow of the nations implicitly takes place outside the holy city.  Outside Zion there will be only destruction.  Deep blood is hyperbolic for severe judgment.

Now in chapter 15, we see 7 angels go into the temple and come out ready to pour out God’s wrath.  The bowls are an unfolding of the 7th trumpet like the trumpets were an expansion of the 7th seal.  But before the golden vials or bowls are poured out, there is a praise service around the throne.  A great choir of believers is standing on the sea of glass singing a song of praise.  These are the children of God who would not bow down to worship the beast.  Their faithfulness to Christ brought death, but those who die in the Lord have eternal blessedness.  These had kept themselves pure from the deceit of sin.

When Jesus came to earth as a man, the choirs of heaven sang.  When Jesus comes to earth again as King of Kings, we who have eyes to see will get to join in the praise.

15:1  God’s wrath will be complete in the 7 bowls.  What does ‘last’ mean?  We say to our kids, “For the last time I’m warning you.”

The final judgment has already been described as happening at the end of the seals (6:12-17; 8:1) and the trumpets (11:15-19) and in 14:14-20.  The bowls are parallel with the seals and trumpets, but they are full and bring completion.

15:2  In 4:6 the sea of glass was like crystal.  Here it is mixed with fire.  Fire always refers to judgment.  The saints are standing.  They have come through the battle victorious.  (The warning in the last chapter was to those sitting.)

Notice here that John does not tell us when the rapture occurred; the fact is that all God’s children are in His presence before the bowls of wrath are poured.  Christians do not suffer the wrath of God.

15:3‑4  The song of Moses (Ex 15) was praise for triumph over Pharaoh and his armies.  The song of the Lamb is praise for triumph over satan and his armies.

The old covenant and the gospel are really the same song.  Jesus came that we might give glory to God in all we do.  The Exodus in the OT brought God’s children into the Promised Land.  Deliverance in Christ brings God’s children into His kingdom.

The phrase “great and marvellous works” is an allusion to Deut 28:59 and 32:3 which predict that Israel’s future judgment will be patterned after the Egyptian plagues.

The word Almighty is made up of 2 words that mean “all grip, all hold, all strength, all force”.  The word does not emphasise the activity but the supremacy of God.  God is Almighty while remaining seated.  This word Almighty is used 10 times in the NT and 9 of those are in Revelation.  Revelation is God’s story.  God is on the throne in Revelation.

Notice the singers sing about “Your deeds, Your ways, and Your name.”  They say nothing about their victory or themselves.  The overcomers have fixed their attention on God.

15:5  The introduction of the bowls began in verse one and is now resumed.  God has an open door policy until the very end.

The testimony referred to is the Ten Commandments, which Moses placed in the ark.  The tabernacle with the ark represented the mercy of God.

15:6  We’ve seen similar clothing before.  It was worn both by priests and kings.

15:7  The bowls were those used to carry out the ashes and fat of sacrifices.  In 5:8 the golden bowls were full of incense that represented the saints’ prayers for justice.  The saints participate in the justice of God.  The justice of God proceeds from worship.  The Holy Spirit convicts of sin, righteousness, and judgment.  Now the bowls are full and in the next chapter they are poured out on Babylon and its inhabitants.

15:8  The temple fills with smoke.  The smoke represents the fullness and power of His presence.  We are assured of God’s presence.  The weight of glory is heavy.  When God’s glory comes, no one can stand.

There is coming a day when sinners will no longer be able to confess their sin before God.  There is coming a day when sinners will be punished for their sins.  There is coming a day when God closes heaven’s doors.  God’s mercy toward sinners will be withdrawn.  God’s children will be standing with Him in heaven.

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