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.

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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 3:1-6 mean to me?

Veneer is a thin facing of “finishing material” such as a fine layer of quality wood, a fraction of an inch thick, that is adhered to the surface of a cheaper substrate, such as in furniture making. So, a much cheaper piece of wood is used for 99% of the project, and then it is covered with this veneer. It looks good for a time, but it will not last, eventually falling apart. On the other hand, a quality piece of furniture that is made from solid, quality wood lasts for decades, perhaps even centuries. It may be good to use veneer in our woodworking, but it must not be used in building a church. A church that has a faith made from veneer, without depth or meaning, is deceptive. It “covers” the bad or low quality, and it gives false hope and no substance to those who are in need and who want to be sincere in their faith. This can be a Mormon Church with all the hospitality, welcoming, friendship, and camaraderie, and where you feel at home. You are appreciated, feel at home and cared for, yet, beneath the picture of seeming health and vitality is emptiness and deception. There is no real purpose for such a church, no spiritual formation in Christ, no authentic faith or discipleship in the real precepts of the Lord. Rather, it disgorges false teaching that leads a person nowhere except further away from our Lord. We can expect this in a cult, but what about in your church? A church must be real. When we practice hospitality, it must come from a heart that wants people there and wants them to grow in Him. If not, it is veneer; it is fake, and it dishonors our Lord!

Questions to Ponder:

1. How does a church become a fake or a façade? What are some of the things that hinder our purity in our faith and devotion to Christ?

2. Why would a dead church refuse to repent and turn themselves back to Christ? What are some of the things that such a church would worship and/or focus on instead? How does Christ feel when He is neglected?

3. How does a church exhibit faithfulness and point to the reputation of Christ? How does yours? How should it? What can you do to make His reputation better in your work, school, and community?

4. What more can you do to show that you are devoted to Christ in sincerity and with authenticity? What can you do to better please Christ with persistent obedience regardless of the past or what you will face in the future?

5. Have you ever considered that you represent Christ, and your faith and obedience are your clothing? How is your “clothing?” What can you do to have better clothing? What can your church do to be more proactive with opportunities and collective faith? What specific things need to be put into action?

© 2006 R. J. Krejcir Ph.D. Into Thy Word Ministries http://www.intothyword.org

Exegetical look into Revelation 3:4-6

There were people in this church of Sardis who remained faithful, who took what Christ gave them and made it grow as they were called to do. Jesus says we are worthy because He gave us grace and anointment for our sins; we are dressed in “white,” as being pure in Him before God. But we can easily “soil” our purity before Him when we keep sinning and refuse to acknowledge our sins and repent from them. When we have the maturity to repent and seek Him and follow Him and not our pride or the world’s ways, we become victorious. Our faith will be firm and we will never be erased from His Book of Life! We must listen to Him and remove anything that hinders our purity in our faith and devotion to Christ.

· People in Sardis. Jesus knows who are His own; He wants us to be His own (John 10:3).

· Not soiled their clothes. Pagan temples would not let worshipers in if they had on old or dirty clothes, as it was an insult to the god. This means we must seek to be our best for His glory; if not, we are insulting the real God-Christ!

· Dressed in white referred to the robes that the priests who represented a god wore. We represent Christ, and our faith and obedience is our clothing (Rev. 3:18; 6:11; 7:9, 13; 4:4; 19:14). How is yours?

· Worthy. Even though we were deeply loved even before the cross or our faith in Him, we will be accountable for our actions and where our trust, faith, and heart have been placed. Will it be in Christ, or in the world?

· The Book of Life is basically the heavenly roster of the saints who have been found by Christ as faithful, who received their election, and who persevered. All ancient cities had rosters of who lived there and those added and expelled, like a census. Like a city roster, the Book of Life contains the names of all the people who are currently living. When a person dies, those who have claimed Jesus as Lord, who have received their election, let it become rooted in them, and have been faithful and obedient remain in this book. All others are blotted out. Once our names are in His book and we are saved by His grace, we are secure in our faith and in eternal security (Ex. 32:32-33; Psalm 69:28; Dan. 12:1; Phil. 4:3; Rev. 13:8; 17:8; 20:12-15; 21:19, 27).

· Acknowledge/I will confess means accepting Christ, being saved, receiving His election, and confessing Him. When we receive His grace, we confess Him and then He will make us good and acceptable before the Father (Matt. 10:32; Luke 12:8).

Exegetical look into Revelation 3:1-3

Sardis is in Turkey, and is the modern-day Sart. It was founded in the 8th century BC, and was the former capital of the ancient Kingdom of Lydia, famous for red dyes, wool, and, of course, immorality. They worshiped many pagan gods including Artemis and Kore and the goddesses Cybele and Demeter. It was a natural, seemingly invulnerable citadel that was famous for its great wealth. An “acropolis” was built there (similar to the one in Athens Greece), on Mount Tmolus. It stood 1,500 feet above the valley. A large, wealthy Jewish community was there, too. These people were respected amongst the Gentiles for their commercial prowess. What sets this city off from Thyatira and the others is that there is no indication of persecution there. The early Christians had it good, with no significant problems with the Jews, guilds, or government. They became wealthy and comfortable; because of this, they were set up for complacency. The biggest danger to a person’s faith and the health of a church is complacency, which results in the lack of growth! Wealth, in and of itself, is not wrong or bad; however, it is our prideful thinking that we do not need God but can do life and our church by ourselves and by our own efforts that is a slap in the face of our Lord.

· Holds the seven spirits of God is a title for Christ, referring to His fullness and importance that is beyond measure. The meaning of seven is not numerical but rather denotes completeness. The Holy Spirit attests to this by His various roles as Counselor, Bearer of Wisdom, and Fruit, etc. (Isa. 11:2; Rev. 1:1-8).

· Seven stars. Jewish texts often display angels as stars. In contrast, pagans saw stars as the rulers of their destiny. It is, in fact, God, who is LORD, who is that Ruler (Rev. 1:12-20).

· I know your deeds. Their prosperity was meant to be a blessing and a tool, but they turned it into greed and self-satisfaction.

· A reputation. Sardis and this church had a good reputation that was, perhaps, overrated. Both were sinking from their former glory because they were not constant in their efforts. In the Christian life, it is not about proving ourselves so we can then take it easy; rather, it is our persistent obedience that pleases Him, regardless of the past or the future. We can never take a reputation for granted; it must be fueled with consistency and fervency.

· Being alive meant that at one time, this church was doing well. This implies that the spiritual life is like an organism that must be fed and cared for if it is to grow. Our Christianity must be nurtured or it will wither.

· You are dead meant that spiritual life, faith in Christ, and growth in Him were all absent. If we are not growing, we are dying, or perhaps are already dead.

· Wake up/be watchful meant we must be on guard against sin, temptations, and for anything else that would diminish our character or conquer our church. This is a call to realize what we are doing wrong and to get it right. It is more of a challenge to be pure when everyone else is in sin.

· Deeds complete/perfect before God possibly infers that no Fruit or love was found (Rom. 7:4-6; 1 Cor. 13:1-3; Gal. 5:6, 22-23; Col. 1:3-10; James 3:17).

· Remember indicates that we should never forget who Christ is and what He has done for us! Don’t do life or His church on your own; He wants to be involved as LORD, not consultant or contributor, and He is not to be ignored, either.

· I will come like a thief means “stealth,” as to be surprised when you think you are invulnerable and safe. Sardis was a fortress that many saw as impenetrable, yet it was easily conquered twice by people sneaking in through the water caverns and sewers at night while the men who were guarding the city were drunk. This meaning here does not refer to the image of the End Times as it does in Matthew, 2 Peter, and later on in Revelation. Here, it means to “break in,” as to dig into the clay and brick sides to get inside the home or sneak into the fortress like the Trojan Horse. Here, it is a metaphor, and does not refer to a literal thief who would rob us, but that Christ’s judgment will come if a church refuses to repent. This judgment will not be predicted or expected. It will be a surprise and a shock (Ex. 22:2-3; Matt. 24:42-44; Luke 12:39-40; 1 Thess. 5:2; 2 Pet. 3:10; Rev. 16:1-5)!

This is a call for us to be vigilant and ready, and not to slack off from our spiritual formation or become complacent. Does Jesus need to cry out to your church to wake up and get it right?