The Four Main Views of Revelation 14:6-13

 

The Preterist view: They see this passage as the theme of the prophecy concerning the fall of Rome, and that we can trust God. The eternal gospel is the importance of solid biblical preaching. Preaching is not done by the angels; rather, they represent and show the call to us as well as the announcement of doom for those who fail to bring the salvation message. In addition, they announce doom to those who are evil and wicked and who refuse God. Babylon refers to Jerusalem and its wickedness, its unfaithfulness, and its betrayal to God and to Christ, refusing to allow the Gospel to be proclaimed; hence, the reason for Rome being used as the judgment tool. Some in this camp see Babylon as a cryptic reference to Rome or only referring to Rome after the fall of Jerusalem. Drink of the wine of God’s fury is seen as an image of hell and suffering for the wicked. Smoke of their torment is seen as the example of Sodom and Gomorrah and God’s vengeance. Blessed are the dead is seen as the righteous being taken care of and blessed and/or the eternal bliss of heaven.

The Futurist view: They see the eternal gospel as two different gospels—one of John the Baptist and one of Christ. Or, they see the Gospel as being a different one from the Church Age proclaimed after the Church has been raptured. Most believe the angels are figurative because, in their view, angels do not evangelize. Others see this as the Good News for the faithful as God unleashes His judgment and vengeance. It is extraordinary that they can come up with so many views of the Gospel or that there are many types of gospels, when the Bible only teaches one. Others in this camp see this as a summons to repent, which it is. Babylon is viewed as the great tribulation or that it is close. Others see it as literal city to be rebuilt, the rise of a persecuting political power, or the character of evil and a symbol of ungodliness as depicted by that ancient city. Others see it as a false church rising in the future. The drink of the wine of God’s fury is God’s judgment on those who take the “mark of the beast.” Full strength, referring to His judgment and wrath, is not to be tampered with. Blessed are the dead is seen as the martyrs receiving their reward and/or to die for Christ is our gain from Phil 1:21. Others see it as a term for faithfulness and the rewards thereof. 

The Idealist view: They see the angels as symbolic and the eternal gospel not the gospel of the New Testament but a last call for repentance and the call of judgment just before the end of days. Others see it as the Gospel of the New Testament being offered because of the term everlasting. Babylon is a symbol for humanity in rebellion and opposition to God, its seduction and ungodliness and/or governments which trick people away from God. Drink of the wine of God’s fury is a warning of the seductions of evil and judgment to those who do not heed God’s love and plan. And, His plan will be on full force without opposition, so get with it or else. Smoke of their torment is a symbol for the fires of hell and punishment. Blessed are the dead and patience are the rewards for staying loyal to God who gives us strength and answers our faithfulness with affirmation. 

The Historicist view: They see this passage as symbolic of the rise and fall of the anti-Christian governments and powers over time. Thus, the eternal gospel is not thwarted by men because it is powered by God. The angels represent the various mission movements and/or the Great Awakenings and rise of evangelism. As well as the destruction of Babylon, Babylon as this time in Revelation is seen as evil Papal Rome and judgment to those whose allegiance is to them or to any form of fornication to God. The smoke of their torment is seen as hell and the results of judgment, and its people having no regret or remorse for their life choices or where they ended up. Blessed are the dead is seen as the resting place of the faithful and something we can look forward to.

Advertisements

Exegetical look into Revelation 14:9-13

 

  • Worships the beast and his image and receives his mark refer to Chapter 13; will it be our loyalty to Christ or our loyalty to evil?
  • He, too, will drink of the wine of God’s fury. The image here is that God will judge the infidelity and betrayal of faith; you can bank on it (Ezek. 23:31; 38:22; Jer. 49:12; Hab. 23:16; Zech. 12:2; Rev. 2:21)!
  • God’s fury… wrath refers to God’s passion, as His Wrath is just, and His fervent anger at sin.
  • Cup of his wrath. This means God’s right to be angry at sin and those who disobey Him and refuse righteousness, those who fight against the righteous and refuse Christ’s love and grace. Wine was given to condemned criminals. This was also a connection to Isaiah and his prophecy of Edom’s downfall—how sin cases us to fall (Psalm 75:8; Is. 34:10; 51:17; Jer. 25:15; Mark 15:35).
  • Tormented. This is a reference that those who are evil judge themselves by knowingly refusing God and His offer of grace. This may also show that the wicked will not be annihilated (Rev.19:20; 20:10). 
  • Burning sulfur…smoke means desolation, a reference to Sodom and Gomorrah and the evil they represented, and the fate of those who are wicked. This is also a picture of God’s right to judge and His vengeance (Gen.19; Psalm 11:6; Is. 34:8-10; Rev. 4:8; 12:10; 19:20; 20:10; 21:8).
  • Patience/Patient endurance/perseverance refers to our assurance and the resolve of our faith. If we are not patient, we will never see how God indeed cares for us. Endurance is a call to remain faithful and keep our trust in Christ no matter what comes our way in sufferings or temptations. We are to focus on His Way, even in persecution and stress. This is a prominent theme in Revelation (Rev. 1:9; 2:2-3, 13, 19; 3:10; 6:11; 13:10; 14:12; 16:15; 18:4; 20:4; 22:7,11,14).
  • Obey God’s commandments refers to people who think God does not have the right to judge, who think judgment will not come about or apply to them, or who think that since God is about love and mercy, He will not judge. Thus, a warning is given to the Christian against apathy and complacency as well as against liberalism and relativism; it will be severely judged as it is a disgrace to a Holy God of Truth! If you force your ideas as God’s or manipulate others away from solid biblical precepts, judgment and grace are at your door. To open the door of grace, we have to repent; to open the judgment door, all we have to do is just remain in our pride!
  • Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord. This is where we get our phrase, “rest in peace,” a common funeral saying; it comes from the extra biblical texts of 1 Enoch 99:13-14; 103:3 and refers to the hope that suffering is for a purpose, as it is. Our sufferings and toils will end; our great reward awaits us, literally, in eternity. This also means we should be joyful and happy being in the Lord no matter what we face. In contrast, the wicked will not have rest (Phil. 1:21; Rev. 13:10; 22:12).
  • Their deeds will follow them. This refers to what we take with us into eternity. It is not material possessions; rather, our faith and character, who we are in Christ, our growth in Him, and what we did with what He gave us is what will resonate to God and will be the basis of our reward. Thus, what the wicked chase in their sensational self-gratification will end up as meaningless and of no true lasting value (Matt. 6:20-21; James 5:2).

Exegetical look into Revelation 14: 6-8

 

  • Eternal gospel refers to the “good news” of Christ and a summons to repent as clearly stated in verse seven (7): fear God and give him glory…Worship him. Fear God (Prov. 3:5; Luke 1:50; 12:5; Acts 10:35; 14:15), give Him Glory (Matt. 5:16; 9:8; 15:31), judgment is coming (John 12:23-32; 16:8-11), and worship Him (Acts 14:15; 17:24-31) are the basic applications of the Gospel, which is the work of Christ on our behalf, the Good News of reconciliation to God for those who are sinners (Hab. 2:4; Rom.10 1; John 17:17; Cor.15:1-4).
  • Every nation… Refers to the theme of the passage—allegiance; our allegiance is to Christ by His sacrificial work, not to political power, or people’s agendas. Being in Christ means we are a part of a greater Kingdom (Matt. 28: 18-20; Rev. 5:9).
  • Him who made the heavens refers to God who is Sovereign and Creator and Who is in charge—meaning command and control—a God we can indeed trust and resound to with our love and faith (Ex. 20:11; Psalm 146:6).
  • Springs of water, an image of great comfort. In context, this assures the Faithful of who God is and what He can do. This contains the images of a God who is forever faithful, remains true, is worthy of praise, and whose  love endures forever so we can realize and grasp that our help comes from the LORD (Psalm 33:6; 89:11-13; 96:4-5; 104:2-9; 124:8; 134:3; 136:4-9; 146:6)!
  • Babylon the Great refers to Isaiah’s mockery of sin and those who follow it as a “harlot” follows sin. This is about the bad character of evil that is depicted by that ancient city. It is a contrast of evil governments in antagonism to God and God’s Kingdom, the captivity of the Jews under Babylon and its moral decadence, and the early Christians under Rome, which was also steeped in immorality. This is also a reference to how people are led into captivity to sin. This was also a metaphor that meant to sin and fall into seduction, what lures us away from faith and what replaces faith. The application of seduction is corruption and this can range from pagan worship and atheism to following what is fruitless and meaningless, all while ignoring our Lord. This is not necessarily referring to one specific specious person or entity or political system, but to what evil is in general. It does not mean that Babylon will be rebuilt or restored in some way. This theme is about enmity to God and people’s participation in it, which is in direct contrast to what Christ offers and is—Pure and Holy (Is. 21:9; Jer. 51:7-8; Dan. 2:35, 4:30; 44; Rev. 13:1-18; 16:19; 17:1-5; 18:3; 18:2, 10, 21, also 4 Ezra).
  • Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great refers to Jeremiah’s prediction of the fall of historical Babylon and how God is in control of evil and the powers of people and governments, and that their judgment is upon them. Babylon, who sacked Israel, carried away the treasures and the best people as a part of God’s judgment for Israel’s unfaithfulness; the restoration was about God’s grace and faithfulness. This theme of hope, victory and grace for the faithful and judgment for the wicked is predominating in the last days (Dan. 2:35-44). 
  • Made all the nations drink means intoxication, and is referring to being lured and tempted. Adultery with shrine prostitutes and pagan worship were the biggest temptations to the Early Church. Their society said this was OK and it was beyond fun, but the consequences were as grave as they are to us today (Judges 17:6; James 2: 14-26). Our call is to stay away from the influence of evil, to be self-controlled, and to never portray evil as being good as the pagans do (Rom. 6:1-2; 14-15; 13:8, 10; Gal. 5:14; 6:2; Gal. 5:22-25; Jude 4). 
  • Maddening wine means drunkenness and the shame that results. What seems fun has consequences and causes disgrace to us and all who see and know about it. This is spiritual adultery against God by seeking to replace Him with our whims and plans, and/or following others who are evil. The chastisement comes when we are willing participants, faithfully and deliberately seeking evil and thus ignoring, and consequently forfeiting Christ’s love and redemption. This is classic relativism in the face of a world that is not really relative. We are in a society that loves and teaches relativism, yet when a CEO of a company practices what he or she learned in higher education, he or she is put in jail for fraud. Relativism and sin are contradictory to each other and only cause havoc.
  • Adulteries means the effect of sexual immorality, and chasing what is wrong and false because of spiritual deceitfulness and betrayal. Immorality produces foolishness and shame for everyone involved, even when they refuse to admit to it, choosing rather to remain in sin. This also involves harboring sin and iniquity in our hearts and minds while thinking we are OK (Prov. 9:13-18; Jer. 51:7).

Revelation 14:6-13

Introduction 

The Three Angels 

John now sees more angels flying around and about in Heaven; such a scene could not be expressed in mere words. These angels were conveying the Good News of God, the salvation that is offered by the work of Christ through the proclamation of the Spirit. They are challenging the people who bow to the world’s ways to look to God, reverence Him, and get away from sin; it is a message of hope and grace to those who do not deserve it. Then, another angel appears to warn of judgments to those who refuse God’s love, judgments from their own hand and actions. Then a third angel appears and gives even more dire warnings against sin and disloyalty to God. God is patient but He will not always keep His patience and will eventually, in His good time, condemn those whose hearts seek sin rather than seeking Him. God is patient, but He is also jealous and will not tolerate sin and blasphemy. All of humanity is called to Him so there is no excuse to reject His election and salvation. We are called to accept and worship Christ and His Way, yet most will only accept and worship sin and evil ways. The end of the road can either be incredible bliss and wonder or eternal struggle and toil; we are given the choice and the Spirit to lead us to the correct choice—even God who pays our way. 

This passage is about vindication. The Hebrew and other ancient cultures believed that what angels in heaven did reflected events on earth. Thus, this imagery is common, but not necessarily literal although it certainly could be; it is an illustration to make a grand point. These angelic messengers proclaim hope for the faithful and fear for the wicked. All those who suffered and were faithful will see those who were evil and connived against them face judgment. The judgment is also merciful as God keeps offering His love and grace even though they do not deserve it, yet evil seeks its own and refuses Him and His Way. This passage brings comfort, as we will see that what we went through in life had a reason and purpose to it. Those of faith do not toil in vain; our lives have meaning and reason (Is. 21:9; Nahum1:15; Matt. 24:14; Rev. 12:7)! 

When you are facing a crisis or just need a boost, what can be done to give you comfort and reassurance?

What does Revelation 1: 1-8 mean to me and you?

Our call is to be blessed so the character qualities we receive from the Spirit come from the inward love we have for our Lord and we will desire to spill them upon others around us (Psalm 1).

John begins His book by reminding his readers of whom and what Christ is, His supremacy, and His role of Redeemer and Judge. He then gives us a glimpse of end-time events. We must never forget who we are in Christ. If we do, we will quickly fall to pride and apostasy, buying lies and living in our depravity. God is beyond time and space, and beyond our comprehension other that what He has clearly revealed to us. He has a plan; let’s face Him, not our fears or our doubts or other’s misgivings. Let us swim in His living waters (Jer. 2:13; 17:13; John 4:10-11; 7:38; Rev. 7:17). God may seem to be slow, taking His time, but He does this for good reason. Life is about learning and growing, about becoming faithful, infused with His Spirit, spiritually responsible and character-driven. It is not about how we feel or what we want.

Questions to Ponder:

1. One of the main themes of Revelation is the call for us to stand firm and grow further in our faith. Does this surprise you? What did you expect to find from Revelation?

2. Why do you suppose most people see Revelation as an ominous apocalypse of chaos and catastrophe? How do you see it?

3. What is your take on the word and theme of soon? Does it mean the sudden nature of the Christian era and the unexpected return of Christ, or is it a time reference? This has been the crux of the debate for theologians since the 1840’s. How would this affect how you view Revelation?

4. Most people see Revelation as only about future events. What does it mean to you that it is actually more about how we should conduct ourselves in times of distress and the strength of faith to endure and learn from those times?

5. What needs to take place to better connect your relationship with Christ more firmly? How would this help you receive hope and encouragement?

Exegetical look into Revelation 1: 4-8

John is proclaiming an important fact we must all agree upon, that God is Sovereign and in control! He gave us grace that we did not deserve and a precious plan that will unfold. We have hope both now and in the future.

Grace and peace is an ancient greeting, as John sends his blessings.

· Seven churches. The principle theme is the seven churches which all were real, actual churches in Asia Minor with real, actual problems. These are not allegories; rather, they are relevant to your church now and symbolize the various ages of the Church in history and also represent how each individual church is, through all times and places, in its operation and faith (Phil. 2:15; Matt. 5:14-16; Rev. 1:1-3; 2:1-3:22; 22:7-21).

· Him who is, and who was, and who is to come. The Lord’s Supremacy echoes the words of God given to Moses in the burning bush. This is a Divine Name of Christ meaning Eternal Deity and Authority (Ex. 3:14-16).

· Seven spirits. The word, seven, means its importance is compounded. This is a name for the Holy Spirit referring to His Fullness, not a split personality. Some believe this is referring to the seven celestial beings (Rev. 8:2). However, context and word meaning attest of the Holy Spirit and His various roles as Counselor, bearer of Wisdom, Fruit… (Isa. 11:2) etc., just as this passage gives several titles for Christ. It also testifies to the profundity (depth and reality) of the Trinity (Zech. 4:2-6; 2 Cor. 13:14; 1 Pet. 1:1-2; Rev. 4:5; 5:14).

· Faithful witness, the firstborn… ruler means reliable. It sets Jesus as Divine and Lord over all the living and the dead. This also refers to the roles of Christ in His Church. As He is faithful to us, we are called to be faithful to Him, too (Psalm 2:7; 89:27; Prov. 14:5, 25; Isa. 8:2; Acts 13:33; Rom. 8:29; 1 Cor. 15:20-23; Col. 1:15-18; 1 Tim. 6:13; Rev. 2:10-13; 3:14).

· Him be glory…To him. Christ is the quintessential subject and prominent theme of Revelation. This is a doxology of praise, used to wholeheartedly worship and praise Christ as exalted and worthy because of His Sovereignty and the redemption He gives us. Praise is also our frontline weapon against spiritual warfare (Rev. 4:8, 11; 5:9-14; 7:12; 11:15-17; 12:10-12; 15:3-4; 19:1-8).

· Kingdom and priests in the O.T. meant that all God’s people were holy to Him. Under law, there were specific roles in the priesthood that people were called and ordained to fill. Priests were to be bridges from God to man. Now, through Christ, we have direct, intimate access to Him, and in the future, each of us will reign with Him. Each of us is a royal priest as a representative of Christ (doctrine of the priesthood of all believers) on earth, and as ministers, we model His character and thus have no need for a Temple. God’s Kingdom is now; those who say the Temple must be reconstructed before Christ returns do not get this vital point (Ex. 19:1-6; 20:6; Lev. 10:10-11; Isa. 66:20; Matt. 21:43; 28:19-20; Rom. 15:16; 2 Cor. 5:20; Eph. 2:1-10; Heb. 7; 10:19-22; 1 Pet. 2:1-10; Rev. 2:26-27; 3:21; 5:9-10; 20:4-6).

· He is coming is one of the main themes of this epistle, the announcement that Christ is coming back. This is comfort for the suffering Christians and chastisement for those who are evil and reject Him (Deut. 33:2; Isa. 19:1; Zech. 1:16; Mal. 3:1-2; Matt. 10:23; Rev. 2:5; 3:20).

· The clouds means a spectacular event, such as numbers of angels testifying to God’s glory. It could also mean an extraordinary storm of clouds. This also means judgment (Ezek. 30:3; Dan. 7:13; Zech. 12:10; Matt. 16:28; 24:30, 34; 26:64).

· Peoples of the earth. This means Jesus loves us and has washed our sins away from God’s presence. Not just the Israelites, but also all people in Him are those elected ones and have courage, comfort, and faith in Christ. He rules over all (Prov. 21:1; Dan. 2:21; 4:17; Zech. 12:12).

· Mourn points to the distress of Christ’s Second Coming. Those who refuse Him will be judged. The realization will come that our will is not in control and our desires and sin have gotten us a raw deal. What comfort to those in persecution at the hands of such people to know that they will get what is coming (Zech. 12:10)!

· I am refers to God the Father testifying that the Son, Christ, is God (Heb. 13:8).

· Alpha and the Omega means God is eternal and rules over all places and time. He is omnipotent, all-powerful. Referring to the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet meaning His Sovereignty, Christ is all in all; He is LORD of all that is past, present, and is to come. His will and purpose will come true, and ours will not; so, to grow, we must surrender to Him (Isa. 41:4; 44:6; Rom. 8:18-25; Gal. 2:20-21; Rev. 22:12-16).

· Who is to come. Christ is coming and all will consummate His will and purpose. Justice and His Kingdom will be fulfilled, and every knee will bow (Isa. 45:23; Rom. 14:11; Phil. 2:10; Rev. 21:1-22:5)!

Exegetical look into Revelation 1: 1-3

What does Revelation mean?

Another key word is what does soon mean? This will affect how we look at this passage!

· The word, Revelation, is from the Greek title word “apokalypsis.” This means “discourser of events,” as opposed to secret or hidden. Thus, even though Revelation is symbolic in places, it is not hidden to us when we take an honest look and compare it to other Scriptures rather than trends or newspapers. It also means an uncovering, an unveiling or, as we have it in the English, a Revelation. The other title that has been used is “The Apocalypse.” Thus, Revelation is a book of disclosure of John’s seven visions and God’s exhortations; hence, this is why sometimes it is rendered in the plural, Revelations (Judges 6:11-23; Dan. 7:16; 10:5-21).

· Him…John was John the Apostle, the son of Zebedee (Matt. 10:2), a prophetic witness and disciple of Jesus, and the writer of the Gospel of John (John 1:1; Rev. 1:1, 3-4, 9; 22:6-10, 18-19). He was exiled to the Island of Patmos around 95 A.D. during the writing of this Epistle (Matt. 20: 20-23; John 21:24; Acts 12:1-2).

· Show is the hope in the midst of the reality of life and suffering. Being in Christ is eternal security, but dangerous in the world in which we live; we may experience martyrdom (Rev. 12:11).

· His servants suggests that there is no special elite class in the Kingdom of God. We all are His servants; we are all special and anointed to serve.

· Soon/swift/shortly (Greek “Tachos”) means quickness and speed. The events that will happen suddenly and unexpectedly (Matt 24:32; 2 Pet. 3:8-18) refer to God’s divine providence and the final phase. The time of waiting is over, for Christ is here. The time is near for God who lives outside of space and time, but not necessarily near for us. This is similar to the last days, referring in context to the sudden nature of the Christian era, not necessarily a time reference (2 Pet. 3:3). Many Christians took this to mean that it would happen soon. We need to understand God’s perspective, not our desires. This word is critical to which approach and view of Revelation one takes. If we take this word as it is in English and do not pay attention to the Greek or the context, we will jump to the conclusion of immediate fulfillment. This also suggests that we will see spiritual warfare. Our battle with Satan is real and will engage us in conflict and strife with one another until the end of the age (Acts 2:16-17; 1 John 2:18; Rev. 22:6-12, 20).

· Testifies/witness are legal terms. In contrast to the early Christians who were being betrayed and prosecuted in courts by false witnesses and fake evidences, nothing is fake in Christ. He is our hope and light (Isa. 43:8-12; 44:8-9).

· The testimony of Jesus Christ indicates that even though an Angel delivered this message to John, Jesus is the principle and prime Witness we look to so we can have strength of faith and perseverance, and so our testimony is strengthened (Rev. 3:14; 19:10-11; 22:6, 16-20).

· Blessed. Those who are faithful in Christ will receive the good will of God as blessings from Christ; those who reject Him will be judged. Being blessed also refers to the emotional states of satisfaction, well-being, and contentment that result from being approved by God and by the fulfilling of our duty. It is enjoying God’s special favor and His Grace working in us. It is like being told by parents that they are proud of us (Matt. 5:1-12; Rev. 14:13; 16:15; 19:9; 20:6; 22:7-14). This is a book more of blessings than of just predictions, as there are also seven beatitudes in Revelation (Rev. 1:3; 14:13; 16:15; 19:9; 20:6; 22:7, 14).

· Prophecy points toward Revelation, which contains visions of future events meant to help us fortify our faith and remain faithful (Isa. 1:1; Jer. 1:1; Hosea 1:1; Rev. 19:10; 22:7-19).

· Take to heart/keep. The purpose of this epistle is to strengthen our spiritual formation, not to seek melodramatic theories or sensationalistic ideas.

· The time is near. God is ushering in the last days and revealing to us His previously hidden agenda and plans. The concern is not just for future events, but also how we conduct ourselves in them. Whatever unfolds is irrelevant if we do not have the strength of faith to endure and learn from it (Heb. 1:1-2; Rev. 22:10).