Monday, February 8, 2010

#Revelation 14> Things Which Shall Be Hereafter> Trumpet Judgments

3. The things which shall be hereafter (4-22) 
     A. Judgment on the inhabitants of the earth (4 - 19) 
          5. The trumpet judgments (8b, 9, 11) 
          Summary of the final victory of the saints and
          punishment of the wicked 
              1.Victory of the saints 
              2.Punishment of the wicked 

1.Victory of the saints 

Chapter 14 concludes the more detailed overview of the last half of the tribulation. In chapter 15, the time line of events resumes with the continuation of the trumpet judgments. This chapter looks forward to the victory of God and his people, and the final judgment upon the inhabitants of the earth. 

First, John sees the victory of the Lamb and His people. Christ stood on the mount Sion, with the hundred and forty four thousand of chapter seven. Does this vision anticipate heaven, the millennial kingdom on earth, or the New Jerusalem? It appears difficult to tell beyond any doubt, but seems to refer to heaven. 

Those who believe this previews the scene of the millennial kingdom on earth say that the 144,000 were sealed in chapter seven. This leads them to believe that the 144,000 cannot be hurt. The angel says not to hurt the earth, sea, or trees until they seal the 144,000. But why must this mean that they could not be killed after they were sealed? Chapter seven seems to indicate only that the 144,000 must be sealed before the earth is hurt, and not necessarily from hurt. The context, of chapter, 14 appears to indicate that the seal speaks more of a moral, or spiritual sealing. 

Whether on earth, in the millennial kingdom, or New Jerusalem (Hebrews 12:22), the 144,000 will sing a new song before the throne, the four beasts, and the elders. They have been kept from the spiritual impurity of worshiping the anti-christ, and of taking his mark. This shows the victory of God's people. 

2. Punishment of the wicked 

Next, John saw visions about final judgment on the inhabitants of the earth. Another angel flew in the midst of heaven, preaching the "everlasting gospel" to them that dwell on the earth. What is this gospel? In verse seven, the angel says to "fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters". 

Since anti-christ and the false prophet will force people to worship the image of the beast, and to take its number, the gospel warns of judgment for those who do, and instructs people to worship the true creator-God. 

Another angel follows the first, proclaiming the fall of "Babylon". Chapters 17 and 18 give more detail on this, and seem to refer to a false world religion ("she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication".), as well as a political empire. That Babylon is "fallen, is fallen", may note that this system is completely and utterly destroyed. 

Next, a third angel pronounces doom on those who worship the beast and its image, and who receive its mark. The word worship is in the present tense, and seems to refer to those who continue worshiping the beast. They "shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation". They will be tormented with "fire and brimstone", in the presence of the holy angels and the Lamb. This will be an eternal punishment, as "the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever", and they will "have no rest, day or night". 

By contrast, those who are saints (identified as those who keep God's commands and the faith of Jesus), receive reason for patience. If they die in the Lord, they will rest from their labours and receive reward. Rather than an angel, this revelation comes directly from the voice of God. 

In the next vision, John sees two harvests. First, is the harvest of the "ripe" earth. Is this a harvest of the good or bad? The word "ripe" means "to become dry or withered", like an overly ripe vegetable (cf. Matthew 21:19-20; Mark 3:1, 3; 11:20; Luke 8:6; Revelation 16:12). 

In Matthew, the word is used to describe a fig tree which Christ cursed, and which then withered away. In Mark, it tells of a man whose hand was withered. In Luke, it refers to seed without root, which springs up, but then withers away. Revelation 16:12 pictures a great river which dries up. Thus, the first harvest may generally refer to that of the morally rotten, who worship the beast. 

Some, however, see this as a reference to the harvest of the righteous. They point to the fact that Christ, rather than an angel, thrusts in the sickle, and ask where the contrast would be if both harvests refer to the wicked. 

The book of Joel (3:13), refers to judgments which will occur at the end times. This passage pictures a harvest of the ripe, who are wicked. It says, "Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe: come, get you down; for the press is full, the vats overflow; for their wickedness is great...". It seems difficult to be sure whether the first harvest is that of the good or bad, but the evidence may favour a judgment on the wicked. 

After this, "another angel" came out of the temple in heaven, with a sickle. The angel which has the power over fire (which may bear a connection with the prayers of the saints) came out from the altar, and told the angel with the sharp sickle to thrust in, "and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe". 

This certainly speaks of judgment upon the wicked. After harvest, the angel throws the vine into "the great winepress of the wrath of God". The picture is of someone stomping on juicy grapes, causing the wine to fly out. The wine pictures the blood and life of the wicked, which will come out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles (about four and a half feet high), by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs. This is a distance of about 200 miles. 

It would be difficult to imagine enough blood to flood 200 miles of land to a depth of four and a half feet, but this does not place a limit on God's abilities. One possible explanation, is that the blood, as it is crushed out of the wicked, will fly as high as the horses bridles, throughout the area (200 miles) where they are being stomped. This would be in keeping with the image of a winepress, and someone trampling on grapes. 

Chapter 14 concludes the more detailed narrative of events which will occur throughout the last half of the tribulation. It points to the final victory of the righteous and judgment of the wicked.

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