CHAPTER 14: HARVEST OF THE GOSPEL MESSAGE
In chapter 14, we see a vision looking back to Jerusalem’s Judgement around 70 AD forward to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. This is a broad vision. Think in terms of “harvest” of the Gospel Message.” We find in the beginning of this chapter a transition to repeat or associate the vision with the seal and trumpet judgments.
Verse 1: This vision takes place on Mount Zion (see Hebrews 12:22) where we have the “firstfruits” or “the 144,000.” They are those with Father’s Name written on their forehead to indicate to Whom they belong. As the “firstfruit,” they alone know the new song.
Verses 6-7: Angel #1 proclaims the Gospel over the Earth.
Verse 8: Angel #2 proclaims Babylon is fallen. This is symbolic for apostate Israel or if you prefer the part of Israel… that became like Babylon. This fall is the reason for the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. Israel had become far from God and rejected the Messiah.
NOTE: Rest is important. Rest, in the Old Testament, is reserved for those in God’s Land (Israel). There is unfinished work and toil outside God’s Land. In the New Testament, rest is reserved for those in Christ. All those in Christ who accept His finished work are no longer under the curse proclaimed after the sin in the Garden of Eden outside of God’s Land. One can now never enter into God’s Land to rest without Christ.
There is torment for those outside of Christ as God’s enemies because Christ begins His kingdom reign worldwide through His holy (set apart) people. The ‘angels’ in this passage are human ‘messengers’ of the Gospel. ‘Angel’ and ‘messenger’ are the same word and denote a job description, not the type of being.
Christ has authority in heaven and earth, but it is by human agency that the New Covenant is proclaimed to the world. In time, His holy people are to teach the nations to follow all Christ commands. As a rule, this means: to love as He loves us. When people accept Christ, they enter God rest.
Verses 9-11: Angel #3 proclaims the message of warning “what is about to happen will happen to you in the age to follow if you worship the beast or take the mark of the beast when final judgement comes.” This will happen at the end of the beast permitted time frame.
This vision speaks to the ultimate demise of beast worshipers. Allusions are made to Sodom and Gomorrah (fire and brimstone and smoke going up forever). Abraham saw this after that judgement in Genesis which is the example of final judgement.
NOTE: The verses include the circumstance of lives without rest because they are resistant to Christ.
The “holy” ones are holy because the LORD is holy (see Leviticus 19:2) and presents them as 1 Peter 1:13-16 teaches. They are bringing God’s holy messages which Christ speaks of in Mark 13:27. He sends them out to harvest the land/earth with the Gospel. This is a torment for some in the nations since they reject the Gospel. Remember, Revelation 11:10 tells us it is the witnesses (followers) of Christ that cause torment. This witness ultimately purifies and destroys Christ’s opposition in the nations. This identification with torment will justify the desolation that will be eternal destruction when Christ comes with His mighty angels in the power of flaming fire.
The message going out through human beings (His saints) and the “heavenly angels” are combined in Revelation because they are both “holy ones.” The scope of time being Gospel presented to the world. When the presence of Christ and his Angels torments them, and I think the word for angels is here used as a double antandra. Since the people are both tormented with fire and sulfur (the Greek word thi’on- though to have power to purify). Hence, the language about in the presence of Christ and his angels and destroyed because they never have rest.
Therefore, holy human messengers bring the Gospel to the world and the harvest is concluded by angles enforcing judgement with fire from heaven on those who worship beast and carry his image. This is the teaching of the New Testament about this period of time found in Mark 13:27. Also, in Matthew and Luke, parallel passages to Mark, talk about this same period of time as the “Gospel going out.” Then ultimately Christ coming with his mighty angel is flaming fire (see 2 Tess. 1:7) to render justice on the unrepeated. The effort of both Christ earthly and heaven angels combined here symbolically.
Verse 11: This verse alludes to the destruction of Edom, stated in this same type of language in the book of Isaiah 34:9-10 stating, “its streams will be turned into pitch, And its loose earth into brimstone, and its land will become burning pitch. It will not be quenched night nor day its smoke will go up forever from generation to generation it will be desolate none will pass through it forever and ever.” (NASB)
This is referring to a judgment that will not be quenched… not the means of the judgment. (see Isaiah 34::9-10 the context being, Edom ceased to be a nation. Therefore, in verse 11 we are told those who take the mark will suffer a judgment that has no recovery. “Edom” in Hebrew means “human” in terms of Gentiles as in Amos 9:11-12 or as James uses the parallel word in Greek in Acts 15.
Verse 12: The vision again calls for endurance for Christ’s purifying agents on earth. They are to endure wickedness in order to love enemies who mistreat them. It is like those who do good works toward their enemies (as in Proverbs 25:21) or as the Apostle Paul teaches in Romans 12:20, “If your enemy is hungry feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink. For in so doing, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Thus, these that endure are rewarded to enter the Lord’s rest, because like their Lord, they finish the good fight faithfully (see Luke 21:19).
Verse 13: These are those who die in the Lord like the two witnesses who ascended to heaven (chapter 11). Everyone who is in Christ, will participate with Christ in His Kingdom. The world will be against the faithful, but they look forward to the restoration of all things.
.Verse 14: This is judgment on apostate Israel in 70 A.D. They are the nation first harvested of faithful people to God for Christ’s eternal Kingdom.
Verses 15-16: The One seated on the cloud (language of Judgement) like Son of Man is Jesus seeing how in the symbolism He has a golden crown and harvests the land. So then, the first believers in Jesus are reaped. This is first fruits from Israel/Jews.
Verses 17-19: These verses emphasize that God’s vineyard is harvested. This is an Old Testament way from the prophets to talk about God’s Land.
Verse 20: “From Dan to Beersheba” is a phrase meaning “the length of Israel’s land.”
1600 stadia is said to be length of Palestine (from George Ladd, a commentary of Revelation of John Grand Rapids: Eerdman, 1972) indicating place of Judgment.