Revelation 14

The cosmic confrontation continues there is still no break in the narrative. John sees again the Lamb and 144,000 servants that have been sealed. He see the Lamb who was slain standing on Mt Zion, the Lamb has come to earth as promised. John revives the picture of the Day of the Lord from Zechariah 14, when the Lord goes into battle against the nations aligned against God Almighty. On that day the LORD stands with His feet on the Mount of Olives, a great earthquake shakes Jerusalem then the LORD comes with His holy ones to do battle. John pictures this day with the Lamb and the 144,000 who have the Father’s name on their foreheads. The Lamb and the 144,000 marked servants stand in stark contrast to the trinity of evil – the dragon, the beast and the fake lamb and their followers who have the mark of the beast.
The followers of the Lamb, the redeemed of the earth, are singing a new song, the song of salvation, before the throne, the four living creatures and the twenty four elders.
John describes the 144,000 as a holy army, they have remained spiritually pure even under the temptation of the dragon, and they are the first offering of the redeemed. No lie is found in their mouths, they are blameless and they follow the Lamb wherever He goes.
As the Holy Army led by the Lamb stands ready, three angels come with a three-point message. The first flying in mid-air proclaims the eternal gospel – the good news; there’s still time to repent but the opportunity is closing fast. It is time to worship Him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of living waters. The second angel declares that Babylon has fallen, the confederation of evil that lures nations into sin is judged. The third angel declares that anyone who worships the Beast and its image and receives the mark on his forehead or his hand will suffer God’s wrath, full strength wrath described as torment of fire and sulfur forever.
The saints are called again to endurance, to keep God’s commands and their faith in Jesus. John is told to write down the second beatitude, “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on. Blessed indeed, says the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors for their deeds follow them!” The followers of the Beast are warned, their time is very short and the followers of the Lamb are told they are blessed as they endure.
John sees the great harvest of the earth; the Old Testament refers to two harvests first the grain harvest followed by the grape harvest. John also sees two harvests the first harvest of the righteous followed by second harvest of the wicked. The timing lines up with the 7th trumpet of Revelation 11 and 1 Corinthians 15. John’s vision is similar to Jesus’ parable of the weeds from Matthew 13. John sees one like a Son of Man seated on a white cloud with a crown on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand. An angel appears from the temple and tells the Son of Man to use his sickle and start to reap, because the earth’s harvest is ripe! Then the earth was reaped. John sees another angel with a smaller grape sickle – a sharp knife used to cut the clusters of grapes from the vine. Another angel with charge over the fire from the altar of heaven instructs the angel to use the sickle to gather the clusters of grapes of the earth, because they are now ripe. The angel cuts the grapes and throws them into the great winepress of the wrath of God. These grapes are stomped and pressed outside the city and out pours blood from the winepress for a distance of almost two hundred miles.
God in His love must deal with sin and rebellion. If He indulged mankind and allowed the sin and rebellion to go on forever, then all the cruelty, injustice, hatred, pain and death that now prevail on earth would go on forever, too.

Revelation 13

The story continues, there is no break in John’s account of the great war in the heavens – the Christ child is born, Satan immediately attempts to kill the promise seed, but God snatches him from the dragon’s claws to God and His throne. Christmas and Easter in one glorious moment! Satan has been defeated, it is D-day, but he doesn’t admit his defeat, in his fury he turns all his evil power on the people of God, the persecuted church through the ages.
Satan calls forth his minions to do evil, out of the sea comes a horrific beast, with ten horns, seven heads, ten crowns and blasphemy written on each head. This beast is a compilation of the first three beasts from Daniels prophecy. Daniel’s beasts represented the conquering empires with increasing evil that would overcome the Middle East: Babylon, Medo–Persia, and Greece. The combined evil of those empires are compressed in this great and horrible beast from the sea. This beast is described in Revelation 17 again; the seven heads are the seven mountains and they are also the seven kings and the beast himself is the eighth king. This beast represents a succession of tyrannical regimes that persecute the saints. The seven mountains points to Rome, the city of seven hills, but this beast surpasses the evil of all his predecessors combined.
The dragon gives the beast his power, his throne and his authority to rule, the whole world followed the beast in amazement of his power and they worshiped the dragon because he gave authority to the beast. The beast spoke blasphemy against God, and went to war against the saints and conquered them for 3 ½ years.
Everyone on earth worshiped the beast; that is everyone except the followers of the Lamb whose names are written in the book of Life. Then John sees another beast that comes up from the earth – this beast looks like a lamb but speaks like a dragon. This is the counterfeit lamb, he appears gentle and harmless but he is a wolf, in sheep’s clothing. This fake lamb used his authority to force the people of the earth to worship the beast, the lamb was able to perform signs and wonders and he deceived those who live on the earth. Everyone on earth who did not worship the image of the beast was killed and everyone who worshiped the beast was marked with the beast’s sign on their forehead or their right hand. Therefore no one was allowed to buy or sell unless they bore the Mark of the Beast – his name or his number.
This trinity of evil, the dragon, the beast and the fake lamb waged war against the saints, they conquered them and killed them. The message to the saints is the same, Stand Firm, it will require endurance and faith, but continue to stand against the dragon, his evil forces and the deception of the counterfeit lamb.
Clothe yourselves with the full armor of God so that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens. For this reason, take up the full armor of God so that you may be able to stand your ground on the evil day, and having done everything, to stand. Stand firm therefore, by fastening the belt of truth around your waist, by putting on the breastplate of righteousness, by fitting your feet with the preparation that comes from the good news of peace, and in all of this, by taking up the shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. With every prayer and petition, pray at all times in the Spirit, and to this end be alert, with all perseverance and requests for all the saints. Ephesian 6:11-18

Revelation 12

The seventh trumpet has sounded, God’s temple is opened in heaven and the kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ! “Then a great and wondrous sign appears in heaven:” John sees a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head.
The apostle John used the word “sign” in his gospel to record the miracles that Jesus did while on earth so this too is a God act, a miracle. We are reminded of the miracle of Jesus’ birth and all that the promised seed will accomplish, John gives a glimpse of the supernatural backstory to our salvation history. The woman is representative of faithful believers in all ages, from Eve who begins the lineage of the promised seed that will crush the head of the serpent, to Mary the first disciple and faithful servant of God to the Bride of Christ, the church, at the marriage supper of the Lamb.
John gives us a descriptive narrative of Jesus’ birth, the woman is pregnant and screaming with labor pains struggling to give birth. The promised seed about to be born into a world where a “huge red dragon with seven heads and ten horns is waiting for the birth so that he might devour her child as soon as it was born”. The dragon’s identity is clear, he is the one called the devil and Satan, who deceives that whole world. Remember that the forces of evil have always tried to destroy the promised seed, which will become our salvation. Pharaoh ordered that all male Israelite children be killed as soon as they were born, the evil Haman planned to kill every Jew in the Babylonian Empire and Herod the Great slaughtered all the male children under age two in Bethlehem after Jesus’ birth. Finally, the forces of evil crucified Jesus, the promised seed, thinking that would nullify his divinity. But God raised Jesus from the dead and secured for us our salvation, by the blood of the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.
God caught the child up to his throne and the woman fled to a place prepared for her safety for 3 ½ years. The red dragon is angry, and a great war breaks out in heaven between the minions of Satan and God’s angels, led by the Archangel Michael. God wins! Satan’s eternal destiny is sealed, the dragon is hurled down from heaven, he is defeated, but yet he fights on. The accuser has been hurled down; God’s forces “have overcome him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony”. The great dragon knows he is defeated and is filled with fury because he knows that his time is short. He turns his evil intentions on the woman’s offspring – those who obey God’s commands and hold to the testimony of Jesus. But the woman’s offspring are sealed by living God; they have washed their robes and made them clean in the blood of the Lamb.
To those who have overcome God will give the right to eat from the tree of life which is the paradise of God (2:7), they will not be hurt at all by the second death (2:11), they will be given a white stone with a new name (2:17), they will be given authority over the nations (2:26), they will be dressed in white with their name written in the Book of Life (3:5), they will be made a pillar in the Temple of God (3:12) and they will be given the right to sit with Jesus on his throne, just as He overcame and sat down with the Father on His throne.
Praise God, the Lamb has overcome!