Studies In The Book of Revelation
Chapter Fourteen
By Jonathan Mitchell

1. Later I saw this – so consider! The little Lamb [is; was] standing (or: having made a stand) upon Mount Zion (or: the mountain, Zion), and with Him [are] one hundred forty-four thousand: folks continuously having His Name, and (or: even) His Father's Name, having been written upon their foreheads.

2. Then I heard a voice (or: sound) out of the atmosphere (or: sky; heaven), as a voice (or: sound) of many waters, and as a voice (or: sound) of a great thunder. And the voice (sound) which I heard [was] as lyre-singers, continuously playing their lyres (or: harps).

3. And they repeatedly sing a new song (or: ode) before the throne, and in the presence of the four living ones and the old folks (or: elders). And no one was able to learn the song (or: ode) except the one hundred forty-four thousand – those having been bought from the Land (or: earth).

4. These are those who were (or: are) not stained (polluted, contaminated) with women, for they are (or: exist being) virgins. These are the folks continuously following The little Lamb wherever He progressively leads [other MSS: wherever He may habitually depart]. These were (or: are) bought from humanity, a first-fruit in God (for God; to God; by God), even in (for; to; by) the little Lamb.

5. And falsehood was (or: is) not found within their mouth, for they are (or: exist being) without blemish (are flawless, blameless, without defect).

Here we have either another vision, or another scene in the larger vision which preceded this scene. The figure that opens this chapter is Jesus (the little Lamb) and His followers – His body. These 144,000 are undoubtedly the same figure as those that were sealed in ch. 6. They are overcomers, since they have His Name and His Father's Name (which is either the same Name, or they have a double identity) written upon their foreheads (see ch. 3:12). Perhaps it signifies that they have both the character of a Savior and of a Father. We also see in vs. 5 that they are without blemish – they have Christ's righteousness (the Lamb without blemish), and the process of growth has been completed; they are a new creation with nothing of the old estranged creation left.

They are disciples (followers – vs. 4) and have come to Him outside the camp (Heb. 13:13), outside the city, and are thus not contaminated with women (a figure for "churches" of ch's. 2-3, and the contamination would come from participation in the prostitution with Babylon [seen below, in vs. 8] or any of her daughters). The contamination could involve the leaving of their first love (e.g., like those in Ephesus, ch. 2:4), or could refer to the prostitution with Jezebel in Thyatira (ch. 2:20-22), or it could speak of Judaizing with the Jews which were a synagogue of satan in Smyrna (ch. 2:9) – all this would be contamination.

Consider again their location: Mt. Zion. Yet their voice is heard from out of the atmosphere/heaven, and they sing an ode before the throne and in the presence of the 4 living ones and the elders – an echo of the scene in ch. 4, and thus what we have is another view, or picture, of the same situation: the little Lamb on Zion is also the slain Lamb on the throne (5:6). That these singers are the 144K is made clear in vs. 3 where we are told that they are the only ones able to learn to sing it. I suggest that here in 14:1-5 we have another picture of those singing a new song in ch. 5:8-11.

So if they are on Mt. Zion, yet their voice was heard as the sound of many waters (= the voice of many agents of ch. 5:11; see also ch. 1:15 for another picture of this corporate Lamb – they have His Name, they have His voice) out of heaven, then I think that we can conclude that this is also a "figurative Mt. Zion" and not a geographic location on earth. In Heb. 12:22-23 we see another description of this group, and here too is has said,

22. But to the contrary, you folks have approached so that you are now at Mount Zion – even in a city of a continuously living God; in "Jerusalem upon heaven" (or: in a Jerusalem pertaining to and having the character and qualities of a superior, or added, heaven and atmosphere; or: in Jerusalem [situated] upon, and comparable to, the atmosphere) – also among ten-thousands (or: myriads) of agents and messengers:

23. [that is] in (or: to) an assembly of an entire people (or: an assembly of all; a universal convocation) and in (or: to) a summoning forth (or: a called-out and gathered community) of firstborn folks having been copied (from-written, as from a pattern; or: enrolled; registered), within [the; or: various] atmospheres, (or: heavens), and in (or: to; with) God, a Judge (a Decider; a Separator) of all mankind, even among (or: to; with) spirits of just folks (or: breath-effects of those who are fair and equitable and in right relationship within the Way pointed out) having been brought to the goal (perfected; finished; matured; made complete),

24. and in (or: to) Jesus, a Medium (or: an agency; an intervening substance; a middle state; one in a middle position; a go-between; an Umpire; a Mediator) of a new and fresh (young; recently-born) arrangement (covenant; settlement; a deposit which moves throughout in every direction; a placing through the midst; a will and testament), and to (or: in) blood of sprinkling, and to One continuously speaking something superior to (or: stronger and better than) Abel.

Zion is associated with being the location of the Temple (figure of the body of Christ), e.g., Ps. 2:6, "I will pour a libation on My King, on Zion, My holy mountain." Also Ps. 132:13, "For Yahweh has chosen Zion; He yearns for it as His dwelling place." It is a symbol for the destination of God's people as they seek Him, "They go from rampart to rampart till each appears before God in Zion" (Ps. 84:7). It is associated with Jerusalem in Ps. 48:1-2, "Great is Yahweh... in the city of our God, His holy mountain; lovely of undulation, the elation of the entire earth is Mt. Zion... the town of the great King." Then there is Obad. 17, "Yet in Mt. Zion deliverance shall come to be, and it will be holy." And vs. 21 promises, "And SAVIORS shall come up in Mt. Zion, to judge the mount of Esau, and the kingdom shall become Yahweh's" (a phrase similar to Rev. 11:15). Is this picture in ch. 14: 1-5 a picture of "Saviors" on Mt. Zion?

Zion was also used as a figure for Israel as a people, e.g., "Zion shall be redeemed with judgment, and her converts with righteousness" (Isa. 1:27). And Isa 33:5, "... He has filled Zion with judgment and righteousness." In Isa. 28:16 it says, "I lay in Zion, for a foundation, A STONE, a tried stone, a precious corner, a sure foundation..." – an obvious reference to Christ, the little Lamb.

But let us consider another key to their identity: "These were (or: are) bought from humanity, a first-fruit in God (for God; to God; by God)..." (vs. 4). This takes us to Jacob (James) 1:18, "Being purposed (intended; willed), from pregnancy He brought us forth by a Word (collected thought; message) of Truth and Reality – [placed] into us – to be (or: to continuously exist being) a specific firstfruit of His created beings (or: of the effects of His act of creating; or: of the results of the creation which is Himself)."

Also, the "little flock" (Lu. 12:32) of 144,000 who are associated with the little Lamb are termed "without blemish." This is a qualification for a lamb that can be used as a sacrifice. These have are those who would lay down their lives for their friends. Of them it is said that "falsehood is not found in their mouth," what they speak is the true "good news." It was prophesied of their Lord, "nor was deceit in His mouth" (Isa. 53:9). These have been conformed to His image.

6. Next I saw an agent (or: messenger) continuously flying within mid-heaven, having eonian good news (or: a message of goodness and well-being pertaining to the ages and having the character and quality of the Age), to proclaim the good news upon those situated (or: habitually sitting down) upon the Land (or: earth), and upon every multitude (nation; ethnic group), tribe, tongue, and people, 7. repeatedly saying in a great (loud) voice,

"You should by habit fear (or: Be continually fearing) God, and give glory to Him (or: grant Him a reputation; give a good opinion in Him), because the hour of His deciding (judging; judicial process; making-distinction-between) came (or: went; comes), and you must worship the One making (the Maker; the One constructing and forming) the atmosphere (or: sky; heaven) and the earth (or: land) and the sea and springs of water."

As Jesus used parable after parable to describe the same subject, e.g. the kingdom, or the coming judgment upon the scribes and Pharisees, so here we see the Lord using different pictures to describe the same thing, just from different views. I suggest that vs. 6 is describing the 144,000 as agents, messengers, preaching "good news pertaining to the ages." They are evangelists, pictured as "an agent/messenger flying within mid-heaven (in the realm of spirit and within the midst of the atmospheres of the world)." And this message goes to "every multitude (nation; ethnic group), tribe, tongue, and people." This gospel was not just for the Jews, it included all peoples, as both Peter and Paul discovered. This is the message of goodness which the true church was given to spread into the whole world.

The message began with "the fear of the Lord," which is "the beginning of Wisdom." Giving glory to Him has been characteristic of those surrounding His throne in the previous visions, but now we also see that one of the reasons for giving this glory is because "the hour of His deciding (judging; judicial process; making-distinction-between) came (or: went; comes)." We will see in vs. 8 that the focus of His decisions is the fall of Babylon the Great.

8. And then another, a second agent (or: messenger), followed, repeatedly saying, "It fell (It falls)! Babylon the Great fell (falls), because it has caused all nations (all ethnic groups and multitudes) to drink out of the wine of the strong passion (violent breathing) of her prostitution."

This was a word to that 1st century generation that the destruction of Jerusalem was about to happen. The good news to us is that no matter what oppressive, controlling, corrupt system, organization or government arises to make us captive, the Word of the Lord is "It falls! Babylon the Great falls!" Once again, when His judgments are in the earth the peoples learn righteousness (which is Christ).

Vs. 7 ended with an admonition to worship The Creator (The Word, Jesus, Who is Lord of All). This is the gospel's answer to the worship of the beast-system, spoken of in ch. 13, within which vs. 8 explains that this Babylon system "has caused all nations (all ethnic groups and multitudes) to drink out of the wine of the strong passion (violent breathing) of her prostitution." This seems to be an all-inclusive statement. Babylon is a figure for the spirit of idolatry and the spirit of that which is in place of God and Christ, which has been, or is, upon every culture and in every age. In our local study of this, Mark Austin pointed out that in their drinking (participating) of her prostitution, they were really drinking wrath (God's inherent fervor and swelling passion) to themselves, thus the phrase, "the wine of the strong passion (violent breathing; also: = wrath) of her prostitution."

Another thought in the translation "strong passion" is the emphasis on the seduction of the system's passions which entangle the fool, "For the lips of a strange woman [= one that is not the true wife] drop as an honeycomb, and her mouth is smoother than oil; but her end is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword" (Prov. 5:3-4).

Isa. 1:21 reveals, "How is the Faithful City become an harlot! – it was full of judgment; righteousness lodged in it; but now murderers." Vs. 1 of that same chapter states "The vision of Isaiah the son of Amos, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem." In vs. 10 he goes so far as to call them Sodom and Gomorrah (recall the phrase used of Jerusalem in Rev. 11:8). Ezk. 23 speaks of the whoredoms of Samaria and Jerusalem who were sisters (vs. 2 & 4). Vs. 30 refers to "whoring after the heathen [nations], and because thou are polluted with their IDOLS!" Basically, the prostitution involved departing from God's law and covenant, to take up the ways of the world and become involved in their religions and idols. As to the "wine," in Rev. 17:6, John was given a picture of the same woman which Isaiah and Ezk. described, and he sees her "drunken with the blood [i.e., they were now murderers, as in Isa. 1:21] of the saints, and with the blood of the witnesses of Jesus." Then Jesus, in Matt. 23:35, speaking to the Jews says, "That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the Land (or: earth; soil), from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias..."

The Christians of the 1st century could well have seen these figures in this Unveiling as referring to the leaders of the Jews, and thus, to Jerusalem. Today, we can see that since that time the history of the institutional church has been a parallel to both Israel of the OT and the Jewish leadership in the NT. The call in Rev. 18:4 to "come out of her, My people" applied physically to the Christians needing to flee Jerusalem before AD 70, but I suggest it has applied in the spirit to Christians ever since, in their spirits and in their thinking – if not physically, at times – to come out of whatever situation or environment could be symbolized as Babylon. To participate in prostitution involves cohabiting with a spirit other than God – be it a spirit of religion, or any other spirit of the world. "Adulterers and adulteresses (= Folks unfaithful to Christ or God as your husband)! Have you not seen, and are you not aware, that the System's friendship (the affection whose source is this world of religion, culture, economy and government) is a source of enmity with God (or: hostility and hatred with regard to God; [Aleph reads: exists being alienation to God])?" (Jas. 4:4).

The phrase, "It fell (it falls)! Babylon the Great fell (falls)," in vs. 8, was spoken of literal Babylon in Isa. 21:9, "Fallen! Fallen! is Babylon, and all the images of her gods are smashed to the ground!" In Isa. 13:19 he prophesied of ancient Babylon, "And Babylon, glory of kingdoms, proud splendor of the Chaldeans, shall become like Sodom and Gomorrah: overturned by God" (Tanakh). Jeremiah devotes ch's. 50 & 51 to Babylon, and there we see many parallels to the figurative use of the name Babylon in this Unveiling. In 51:6-8 it is described as "a cup of gold... in the hand of Yahweh, making drunk all the earth.." In Zech. 2:7 we see, "Ho! Zion deliver yourself – you that dwell with the daughter of Babylon" – an echo seen in Rev. 18:4.

9. And another, a third agent (or: messenger), followed them, repeatedly saying in a great voice, "If any one is continuously worshiping the little wild animal, and its image, and is continuously receiving an imprinted mark upon his forehead or upon his hand,

10. “he will also drink out of the wine of God's rushing emotion (strong passion; anger) – of the one having been mixed undiluted within the cup of His inherent fervor (natural bent; impulse; indignation; wrath). And he will be examined (scrutinized with the touchstone to test his "mettle") within Fire and Deity (Divine qualities) in the presence of (before; in the sight of) the set-apart agents, and in the presence of (before) the little Lamb.”

11. And so the smoke of their examination and testing by the touchstone continually ascends on into ages of the ages. And those continually worshiping the little animal and its image – and if any one continually receives the imprinted mark of its name – they, continually, are not having rest day and night [note: day and night are representations of time elapsing on earth].

In vs. 9 we see another message, and this one ties in with ch. 13: the worship of the little wild animal, its image and its mark. Those who become involved with such will now have to drink a different wine: "the wine of God's rushing emotion (strong passion; wrath)" (vs. 10). Vs. 10 & 11 figuratively describe what God's indignation, anger and strong passion are. In a book of symbols and figurative language there is no reason to suddenly assume that this passage is literal. In the books of the prophets in old covenant times, the wrath and anger were expressed literally, and we saw people killed, cities destroyed, God's people judged by heathen nations and taken into captivity. We saw literal destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, and the burning of the temple, in AD 70. But those who were killed, died. Unless we want to say that the smoke of their testing arising "on into ages of the ages" was really for those 3 & ½ years that Jerusalem was under siege, I think that we need to seek the Lord for a "spirit of wisdom and unveiling within His full knowledge (or: within a full knowledge of Him)" (Eph. 1:17). So let us examine the words and phrases in these verses.

The figure of "drinking of the wine" speaks of participating in something that has an effect upon you. In vs. 8, it signified participating in the strong passion of her prostitution (idolatry), which effected a departure from God and an entering into her sins. It caused a drunkenness, a stupor, to come upon the peoples – they could not think clearly, and were led astray like the fool.

In vs. 10 this figure speaks of participating in His judgment. The "mixed undiluted" signifies a severe dealing. Ps. 75:7-10 describes His judgment as "a cup full of foaming wine mixed with spices; He pours it out, and all the wicked of the land (or: earth) drink down to its very dregs..." Isa. 51:1-19 describes this as calamities: "... ruin and destruction, famine and sword."

But in Isa. 51, does it end with this destruction? Consider vs. 20-23, "Your sons have fainted.... they are filled with the wrath of Yahweh... therefore hear this, you afflicted one, made drunk – but not with wine: This is what your Sovereign Yahweh, says, your God who defends His people, 'See, I HAVE TAKEN OUT OF YOUR HAND the cup that made you stagger; from that cup, THE GOBLET OF MY WRATH, you will NEVER DRINK AGAIN...'"

So, with this example, we see that God's cup of wrath here in ch. 14 also will not last forever, but there comes an end, never to be repeated.

In Jer. 25:15-38, the "cup filled with the wine of My wrath" was specified as "the sword I will send among them" in vs. 16. Jerusalem and the towns of Judah was the first of "the nations" who was to drink of this of this cup. His wrath was death and captivity (not endless torment!). This was fulfilled, and came to an end.

It happened again, to another generation, with the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70. His judgments have always happened in this life. Recall John 3:36, regarding those disobedient (or: unpersuaded; incompliant) to the Son: "the WRATH of God is presently and continuously remaining (abiding; dwelling) upon him." Even now, we can look around us at those not yet persuaded or obedient to the Son, and observe how His wrath (really, a swelling passion of His love) is continuously dwelling upon them, and they do not see His Life, at this time. Is it now the sword? Sometimes. Sometimes it is the bondage to drugs, alcohol, abuse, inward strongholds, etc.

10. “he will also drink out of the wine of God's rushing emotion (strong passion; anger) – of the one having been mixed undiluted within the cup of His inherent fervor (natural bent; impulse; indignation; wrath). And he will be examined (scrutinized with the touchstone to test his "mettle") within Fire and Deity (Divine qualities) in the presence of (before; in the sight of) the set-apart agents, and in the presence of (before) the little Lamb.”

11. And so the smoke of their examination and testing by the touchstone continually ascends on into ages of the ages. And those continually worshiping the little animal and its image – and if any one continually receives the imprinted mark of its name – they, continually, are not having rest day and night [note: day and night are representations of time elapsing on earth].

So just what is this picture of being "examined (scrutinized with the touchstone to test his "mettle")"? This is a word which the common translations render "tormented." The Greek word is "basanidzo": to apply the lapis Lydius, or touchstone; thus: to test, examine closely, scrutinize; to try the genuineness of a thing; to rub metal on the touchstone.

The idea of examination by torture is an invention of man, not God. But the most accurate determination of the meaning of a word is from it use, so let us examine some NT contexts: Matt. 8:6, "Lord, my boy is prostrate in the house, a paralytic, terribly suffering (basanidzo)." The boy was discomforted by the ailment. Here, the KJV renders this word "tormented."

Matt. 14:24, "... in the midst of the sea, being slammed (NIV: buffeted; KJV: tossed – basanidzo) by the waves, for the wind was contrary." Here the disciples are being put to the proof by a contrary storm, and it is within this trying situation that Jesus comes to them, walking upon and being an overcomer over, the lake. The Lamb is in our situation, here, as well, presenting Himself to those within this hard situation. The same situation is recorded in Mark 6:48 where the KJV says that they were "toiling" (basanidzo) in rowing.

2 Pet. 2:8, speaking of Lot being distressed by the filthy lives of lawless people, it "tormented (basanidzo) his righteous soul" (NIV; KJV reads "vexed"). This was a mental and an emotional stress and discomfort, not what we would call torture, as folks often paint the picture here in Rev. 14:10-11.

In Rev. 9:5 we saw that this word was used of the pain of a scorpion sting. In ch. 11:10, the preaching of the two prophets brought irritation (basanidzo) to those hearing them. And in ch. 12:2 we saw the pregnant woman "tormented" (basanidzo) by the pain of childbirth – and as with the disciples, it is a Godly one that is being tried and tested. In all of these instances, it is the ordinary hassles and discomforts or pains of our daily lives that are used to try, test, examine and scrutinize or "mettle." Why do we imagine it to be more for those in this situation. It will be severe, but will it necessarily be more severe than how God's wrath was poured out in the past?

Now let us examine the phrase "Fire and Deity." God manifested Himself as fire to Moses in the burning bush (note: the bush was not destroyed, but the ground was MADE HOLY). He was a pillar of fire to lead Israel by night in the wilderness. He appeared as tongues of fire on the Day of Pentecost.
"For even OUR GOD [is] a consuming FIRE" (Heb. 12:29).
"He will immerse (baptize) you within Holy Spirit and FIRE!" (Matt. 3:11).
I suggest that the figure of fie in this verse is a symbol for God Himself.

Deity? The Greek word is "theion," the neuter form of "theios," which means Divine, Deity, the Divine Nature, or of and from God. Now the physical element is sulphur, "that is, divine incense, since burning brimstone was regarded a having power to purify and to avert contagion" (Vincent).

The picture is one of Divine cleansing and purification. This is judgment, a decision regarding those who need the cleansing from the mark, the character and identity, of the beast system in all its manifestations. Some tie this in with the judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah in Gen. 19:28, or like Edom in Isa. 34:8-10, but neither of these areas are still burning, and Jude 7 uses the former as an example of eonian judgment (or: "fire pertaining to the Age [i.e., the Age of Messiah]).

In Ezk. 16:53 God speaks of "bring[ing] back their captivity, the captivity of Sodom and her daughters, " and in vs. 55, speaking to Jerusalem, "When your sisters Sodom and her daughters shall return to their former estate, then you and your daughters shall return to your former estate." Jerusalem was restored after her Babylonian captivity. She stands as a witness for others.

Returning to the Unveiling, ch. 14:10, note the environment of this examination – "in the presence of (or: before; in the sight of) the set-apart agents, and in the presence of (before) the Little Lamb." Who do these "agents" represent? Heb. 1:7 says, "And then, on the one hand, to the agents (messengers) He is saying, 'He is the One making His agents (messengers) spirits (or: Breath-effects), and His public servants a flame of fire." [Ps. 104:4] [comment: this is an example of Hebrew parallelism – the second line being a restatement of the first, but in a different figure; the figure is a reference both to the priests, as "public servants," and to the called-out community, figured as the lampstand in the Tabernacle in Rev. 1:20, and referencing Acts 2:3 – there being "tongues as if of fire" burning on the lamps in the one case, and upon the people in the second case; the agents speak a message of words that are "spirit," the effect of the Breath] Recall that fire proceeds out of the mouths of the two witnesses in ch. 11:5 of this book.

Obadiah 17 speaks of deliverance on Mt. Zion, and then vs. 18 says that "the house of Jacob SHALL BE A FIRE, and the house of Joseph A FLAME, and the house of Esau [figure of the flesh] for stubble, and they shall kindle in them and devour them." This is a figure of the work of the set-apart agents in Rev. 14:10. We see them spoken of again in Jude,

23. yet on the other hand, be continuously delivering (or: repeatedly rescuing and saving, restoring to health and wholeness) others, in fear and reverence snatching them from out of the midst of the Fire, while hating even the garment having been stained (or: spotted) from the flesh (= the alienated human nature; = the self that was formed and controlled by the System).

But some of these agents will "deliver such a one unto satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that the spirit would be saved in the Day of the Lord Jesus" (1 Cor. 5:5). Another example is 1 Cor. 3:13-15 where we see that God's fire does not destroy a person,

13. each one's work will make itself to be visible in clear light (or: will become apparent), for the Day will make [it] evident (show [it] plainly). Because it is being progressively unveiled (continually revealed) within the midst of Fire, and the Fire, Itself, will test, examine and put to the proof (or: prove by testing) what sort of work each one's exists being.

14. If anyone's work which he built upon [it] will remain, he will receive wages (pay; compensation).

15. If anyone's work will be burned down, he will incur a loss (sustain the damage; forfeit [it]), yet he, himself, will be saved (rescued and delivered; healed and restored to health; returned to his original state and condition), and as in this way – through Fire!

Another aspect of the environment of the "Fire and Deity" (later seen as the "lake of Fire and Deity" in Rev. 20:10) is the presence of the Little Lamb (Who is the Anointed Savior, "Jesus Christ: the same yesterday and today and on into the ages" – Heb. 13:8). Consider that it does not say that they are before "the judge," or in the presence of "the king," but that they are with the Lamb. As with the serpent on the pole in the wilderness (Num. 21:9), all they will have to do is look to the Lamb that paid the price for their sins, and they will be healed. This experience in the Fire and Deity is Christ dragging them to Himself.

Vs. 11 speaks of this going on "DAY and NIGHT." This phrase speaks of the situation on earth, and the ages speak of time. The rotation of the earth also creates the sense of time. It is the earth itself that is the location and the environment of their judgment. In Mal. 3:1 we see that "the Lord, Whom you seek, shall suddenly come to His temple." Remember that these visions in the Unveiling have corresponded to the Tabernacle/Temple shadow. Mal. 3:2,3 says,

"for He is like A REFINER'S FIRE, and like fuller' soap; and He shall sit AS A REFINER and purifier of silver: and He shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver.... And I will come near to you to (for) judgment" (vs. 5).

The point of the fire is purification and refining. He will burn out our pride and our wickedness, they "shall be stubble: and the day that comes shall burn them up" (Mal. 4:1).

12. Here (or: In this place) exists (or: is) the persistent and patient endurance (the steadfast, humble remaining under for support) of the set-apart folks (or: from the saints) – the people continually keeping watch upon (guarding, observing, having custody over) God's implanted goals (impartations of the finished product within; inward directives) and the faith of Jesus (or: the trust pertaining to Jesus; the loyalty belonging to Jesus; the faith which belongs to and comes from Jesus; the conviction which is Jesus).

So in this environment of Fire and Deity is the place for the persistent and patient endurance of His saints – as we deal with these folks and rescue them, when the work is done. Peter refers to these situations and says that we should not be surprised "at the burning within and among you..." (1 Pet. 4:12), and Paul says that no trial comes to us "except those which are part of the human situation" (1 Cor. 10:13, Barclay).

We are all the same – none are righteous, no, not one – all have gone astray. We all need the same purifications. All souls (= people) are God's (Ezk. 18:4); Christ paid for the sins of the whole world. Therefore, we must be baptized in Holy Spirit an Fire now, or be tried with Fire and Deity later.

13. Next I heard a voice out of the atmosphere (or: sky; heaven), saying, "Write: 'From the present moment (from this time; from now; henceforth) the dead ones [are] blessed (happy) folks – those continuously dying within the Lord!'" "Yes, indeed," the Spirit continues saying, "to the end that they may rest themselves from out of their wearisome labor (travail; toilsome exhaustion), for their works (acts; deeds) are continually following together with them." [Sinaiticus & p47 omit "nai," "yes, indeed," so an alternate rendering would be: Happy {are} the dead ones – those continuously dying in the Lord! Henceforth, the Spirit says that they may rest, for their actions follow with them.”]

Vs. 13 speaks of those dying within the Lord as being blessed and happy. Depending upon which text we follow, one could say wither that this blessed and happy condition, or state, originated in that "present moment," and we can assume that this is a result of the work of the Little Lamb (either His death and resurrection, or as some preterists [e.g., John Bray] say, His return and "the resurrection" circa AD 70), or that the dead folks which are dying in the Lord are happy, and henceforth the Spirit says that they may rest. Whichever, if the "dead folks" are "happy ones" it indicates a state of feeling, of awareness, no longer a state of sleep such as some would believe. If these may "rest," I suggest that they have entered a sabbath condition, into the promised rest of Heb. 4:1-11.

That "their works are continually following together with them," I would suggest that these works have survived the fire and must be of the quality of gold, silver or precious stones (1 Cor. 3:12).

14. And I saw, and look, a bright, white cloud. And upon the cloud One like a son of man (= a human) continually sitting, having a golden wreath upon His head and a sharp sickle (instrument for cutting off, cropping and harvesting) in his hand.

15. Then another agent (or: messenger) came forth out of the Temple, repeatedly crying out in a great voice to the One sitting upon the cloud, "You must send Your sickle and You must reap (gather in the harvest), because the hour to reap comes (came), because the harvest of the Land (earth) is dried (parched; withered; thus: = ripened)."

16. And the One continuously sitting upon the cloud cast (or: thrusts) His sickle upon the Land (or: earth) – and the Land (or: earth) was reaped!

17. Next another agent came out of the Temple [which is] resident within the atmosphere (or: within the midst of the heaven), he, too, having a sharp sickle.

18. Then another agent, having authority upon the Fire, came forth out of the altar and uttered (or: utters) a sound by a great outcry to the one continuously holding the sharp sickle, "You must send your sharp sickle and you must gather (pick) the clusters of the Land's (or: earth's) vineyard (grapevine), because her grapes are in their prime (are at the peak of ripeness)."

19. And so the agent cast (or: thrusts) his sickle into the Land (earth), and picks (gathers) the vineyard of the Land and he casts [it; them] into the great wine-press (trough; tub) of God's strong passion (rushing emotion; or: anger).

20. Then the wine-press (or: trough) was trodden (or: is trod as a path) outside of the City, and blood came (or: comes; goes) forth from out of the trough (or: wine-press) up to the horses' bridle – from a thousand six hundred stadia (a fixed standard of measure; a racecourse; a stadium).

Here we have a two-part sign: two harvests which happen on earth, but are done from the atmosphere above the earth, among the clouds. The temple is also involved, so this second agent from the temple would be a figure representing Christ's body – the One on the cloud, like a son of man, representing Christ Himself, the Overcomer (having the golden wreath).

From a Preterist viewpoint, we could see that "the harvest is the end (sun-teleia: 'denoting the joining of two age-times, i.e., the closing time of one leading on to the other' – Bullinger; or: the conjunction) of THIS age, and the reapers are agents/messengers" (Matt. 13:39). Jesus spoke this before the conclusion of the Jewish age. With this view in mind, we can also see that "the good SEED are the sons of the kingdom" (Matt. 13:38), and this would fit the situation of the first harvest (vs. 14-16, above), for it is a dry, grain crop and it is the figure of Christ, "coming in the clouds," who is in charge of this reaping of the Land (or: earth) in vs. 16. This would be Christ protecting His called-out folks, calling them to go out of Jerusalem before the coming destruction.

The vineyard was a symbol of Israel, God's people. Thus, with the wine-press being "of God's strong passion," and that it was "trodden outside of the City [i.e., Jerusalem]," and that this is a huge harvest of the vine with this "vine" producing such a vast amount of "blood," the Preterist sees this figure being applied to the judgment which God brought upon the Jews at the close of that age. By this vision the church of the 1st century would have been warned about what was coming: a good harvest for them; bad news for the Jews. "The treading of grapes was a common OT figure for the execution of divine wrath (see Isa. 63:3; La. 1:15; Joel 3:13)" (NIV Study Bible).

But let's consider Joel 3. It follows Joel 2:32, "And it come that everyone who shall call on the name of Yahweh shall escape, for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem deliverance shall come to be, just as Yahweh says; and among the survivors are those whom Yahweh is calling." Then ch. 3 begins:

"For behold, in those days and in that season, when I shall TURN BACK the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem, I will also convene ALL THE NATIONS, and bring them down to the vale of Jehoshaphat. And I enter into judgment with them there concerning My people, even My allotment Israel, whom they disperse among the nations..." (vs. 1-2 CVOT).

Then in vs. 12-17,

"All the nations shall rouse and ascend to the vale of Jehoshaphat (the valley where Yah judges), for there will I sit to judge all the nations from round about. Send for the sickle, for the harvest is ripe, come, tread, for the wine trough is full, the wine vats run over, for great is their evil. Throngs, throngs in the vale of decision! For near is the day of Yahweh in the vale of decision! Sun and moon are somber, and stars gather their brightness, and Yahweh shall roar from Zion, and from Jerusalem shall He give forth His voice, and heavens and earth shall quake. Yet Yahweh is a refuge for His people, and a stronghold for the sons of Israel. And you shall know that I am Yahweh, your Elohim, tabernacling in Zion, My holy mountain, and Jerusalem shall come to be a holy city, and aliens shall pass in her no longer" (CVOT).

The language and figures are similar to those here in this chapter, but Joel's passage speaks of Jerusalem's restoration and the judgment of the nations, which was apparently fulfilled literally after Joel spoke the above, and Jerusalem was restored. Now here in the Unveiling we see Jerusalem once again in a judgment cycle in the time of the early church. We also now see the reality of Joel's shadow: it is the heavenly Zion, the spiritual Jerusalem, from which Christ roars as the Lion of the tribe of Judah, and gives forth His voice, shaking both heaven and earth (Heb. 12:26). Now He is a stronghold for "the Israel of God" (Gal. 6:16), now we are His tabernacle/temple, and "the heavenly Jerusalem" IS a "holy city." Will the multitudes (nations) yet be judged in a figurative "valley of decision"? I think that this has periodically been happening.

Again, "these things happened to them [in AD 66-70] as types and were written for OUR admonition" (1 Cor. 10:11), into whom, I suggest, the end of our age arrives. When any one of us reaches our ripe, mature age in Christ, I suspect that He comes and harvests us – either figuratively or literally. The Land is a figure of Israel, God's people, and is still a figure for we who have been grafted into their olive tree.

The vineyard is still a figure of His people. The grape harvest was at another time of the year from the barley and wheat harvests. To get wine, grapes must be crushed. We receive the wine of the new covenant in His blood because He was "bruised for our iniquities," and "Yet Yahweh purposed to bruise Him" (Isa. 53:10). He drank the cup that the Father gave Him to drink (Matt. 26:29, 42). But recall that Jesus said to His disciple, "You shall indeed drink of the cup that I drink of; and with the baptism that I am baptized with shall you be baptized" (Mark 10:39). Those figures spoke of His cross. His disciples are to also take up their crosses. Judgment BEGINS at the house of God (His temple; His people).

In vs. 20, the wine-press is OUTSIDE the city. In ch. 11 it IS the city that is trodden. Does this indicate "phase two" of His judgment process? Each in their own order? It was literally outside the city where He suffered. Ray Prinzing wrote, "First it was written of our Redeemer, 'I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me' (Isa. 63:3). And then He apprehends unto Himself an 'election of grace,' a firstfruits, who are drawn 'forth therefore unto Him without the camp, bearing His reproach' (Heb. 13:13). And now the great 'winepress experience' faces all creation – warring fiercely against all impurity, treading out the self-will and rebellion of man."

"Now all the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the Lord: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before You. For the kingdom is the Lord's: and He is Governor among the nations." (Ps. 22:27-28)

"For God has allowed us to know the secret of His plan, and it is this: He purposed in His sovereign will THAT ALL HUMAN HISTORY shall be CONSUMMATED IN CHRIST, that everything that exists in Heaven or earth shall find its perfection and fulfillment in Him" (Eph. 1:9-10, Phillips)

It has been pointed out that 1600 stadia is the approximate length of Palestine, from north to south. This would be a figure that all of God's people must eventually drink of His cup.

Note in vs. 18 that we have an agent from the altar (which was outside the temple), who has the "authority upon the Fire." Is this fire the same fire that we saw earlier in this chapter – the Fire and Deity? Does this symbol represent the cooperation in God's economy between the crushing and the fiery purging? This "authority" concerning fire was seen with the gifting of the two witnesses, and their use of this fire, in ch. 11.

In our local study, Mark Austin saw in this chapter a correlation with Ps. 1. In vs. 1-3 we have the description of the righteous: those 144K on Mt. Zion with the Lamb. In vs. 4-6 we have a picture of the judgment of the unrighteous (those not yet in Christ): like chaff, driven by the wind (spirit); unable to stand in the judgment; sinners (those missing the mark) not yet able to be part of the congregation on Mt. Zion with the sprits of just folks having been perfected in Christ. Mark also pointed out that in Ps. 1:6 that it is the WAY of the ungodly, their PATH, their way of life, that shall perish.

Something to remember, when considering both of these harvests, is that these harvests are the intended goal of both crops. We plant and cultivate in order to harvest. So does God.

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