The Lamb and His 144,000
1Then I looked, and behold—there was the young Lamb # 14:1 Nothing but the Lamb must draw our attention when we gaze into the heavenly realm. standing on Mount Zion # 14:1 Mount Zion is not merely a place, but a realm where God’s people are clothed with glory and beauty. See Pss. 2:6; 50:2; 87:5; 110:2; Heb. 12:22. and with him 144,000 # 14:1 It does not say 144,000 men. The Greek construction indicates that it is in fact 144,000 lambs! The Lambkin has become many lambs. who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads. 2And I heard a tremendous sound coming out of heaven, like the roar of a waterfall and like the earsplitting sound of a thunderclap. The sound of music that I heard was like the sound of many harpists playing their harps. 3And they were singing a wonderful new song before the throne, in front of the four living creatures, and in front of the twenty-four elders.
4No one could learn that song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed and who have not defiled themselves with women, # 14:4 These women become a metaphor for the daughters of the harlot of Babylon, with its false religious system (Rev. 17:5). for they are virgins, # 14:4 See 2 Cor. 11:2. Like Mary the virgin, these are pure, obedient, and willing to do the will of God and will bring forth an expression of Christ to the earth. and they join themselves to the Lamb wherever he goes. They have been purchased from humanity and brought forth as the firstfruits # 14:4 That is, they are the first parts of the harvest of Christ’s life within the believer. Set apart for God and the Lamb, they become examples for all others to follow. for God and the Lamb. 5Their words are always true; # 14:5 Or “Falsehood was not found in their mouths.” they are without flaw. # 14:5 See Song. 4:7.
The Message of the Three Angels
6Then I witnessed another angel flying in the sky, carrying a message of eternal good news # 14:6 Or “having a message of goodness for eternal ages.” The Aramaic can be translated “carrying a message with blood, for he had the everlasting good news to proclaim.” to announce to the earth—to every tribe, language, people, and nation. 7With a loud voice he shouted, “You must reverence God and glorify him, for the time has come for him to judge. # 14:7 Or “the time of his deciding came.” Worship at the feet of the Creator of heaven, earth, sea, and springs of water.”
8Then a second angel followed, declaring, “She fell! She fell! Babylon the great is fallen! She once seduced the nations and made them all drink the wine of the passion of her harlotry!” # 14:8 As translated from the Aramaic. The Greek is “immorality,” which becomes a metaphor for idolatry. See also Isa. 21:9, where the reference is to Babylon’s idolatry.
9Then a third angel followed them, shouting with a mighty voice, “Whoever worships the wild beast and its image, and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, 10will also drink the wine of God’s wrath. This wine has been poured out # 14:10 Or “undiluted.” and mixed in the cup of his indignation. They will be tormented # 14:10 Although the Greek word basanizō can be translated “tormented” (tortured), its primary meaning is “to test,” “to scrutinize with the touchstone,” “to examine or test its mettle” and is used for testing the purity of gold or silver. with sulfur # 14:10 The Greek word for sulfur, theion, comes from the word theios, which means “divine in character” or “godlike,” and is believed to originate from a word meaning “flashing” (like the flashing of burning incense). An alternate translation of this could be “in union with divine qualities and with fire.” and fire in the presence of holy angels and of the Lamb. 11And the smoke of their severe suffering ascends into ages upon ages. Those who worship the wild beast and its image and receive the mark of its name will have no rest day or night.” 12This is a call for the endurance and faithfulness of the holy believers—those who follow God’s commands and cling to the faith of Jesus.
13Then I heard a voice from the heavenly realm, saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead—the ones dying in the Lord # 14:13 The Aramaic can be translated “Master Yahweh.” from now on.”
“Yes,” says the Holy Spirit, # 14:13 The Holy Spirit speaks twelve times in Revelation (1:10; 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22; 4:2; 14:13; 17:3; 21:10; 22:17). “they will rest from their trouble, # 14:13 Or “hard work.” for their deeds will live on!” # 14:13 Or “Their good deeds will follow [accompany] them.”
The Harvest of the Earth
14I looked and behold—I saw a white cloud, and sitting upon it was one like the Son of Man, wearing a golden crown and holding a sharp sickle. 15Another angel came out of the temple, shouting out to the one sitting upon the cloud, “Take your sickle and reap, for the time of reaping the harvest has come and the harvest of the earth is ripe!” 16So the one sitting upon the white cloud gave his sickle a mighty swing over the earth and reaped its harvest.
17Then another angel came out of the heavenly temple, and he too had a sharp sickle. 18And another angel came out from the altar of incense—the angel with authority over fire. He shouted out with a loud voice to the one who had the sharp sickle, saying, “Take now your sharp sickle and harvest the clusters of the vine of the earth, for its grapes are ripe.”
19So the angel gave his sickle a mighty swing over the earth and gathered the grapes from the vine of the earth and threw them into the great winepress of the wrath # 14:19 Or “strong passion.” of God. 20And the winepress was trodden outside the city # 14:20 That is, the New Jerusalem. until blood poured out of the winepress as high as the horse’s bridle # 14:20 This would be about five feet high. for a distance of one thousand six hundred stadia. # 14:20 There is variation over the exact measurement of a “stade.” Some calculate it to be about 600 feet, which would make it over 180 miles. But in the Aramaic, a stadia (race track) is measured at about 1/8 of a mile, which would make nearly 140 miles. It is impossible to view this as literal, for that much blood of human beings would be over ten thousand times the population of earth. The number forty is the number of testing/trial and 1,600 is forty squared. It becomes a picture of severe testing, even to the point of blood, for the people of God.