New Defender's Study Bible Notes
14:1 looked. Before the resumption of his account of the chronological events of the successive judgments, John is given another parenthetical insight to the background of these events. In this case, he is translated forward in time to the end of the tribulation period, when the triumphant Lamb will assemble with His 144,000 chosen Israelites on Mount Zion in Jerusalem. It is even possible that this will be the same assembly (or a precursive type thereof) as described in Hebrews 12:22-23. With the beast setting out to kill all Jews and all Christians, it is good for the Lord to give John (and us) a quick foretaste of the outcome of such Satanic fury. The Lamb indeed not only has the right to open the great title deed, but also the power to expel all the false pretenders to His rule, and all those redeemed by His blood will eventually stand with Him in triumph on Mt. Zion.
14:1 an hundred forty and four thousand. The 144,000 are not the “chosen few” (as some cults claim) or any others except the sealed Israelites, 12,000 from each tribe, as listed in Revelation 7:4-8. The seal placed in their foreheads, here revealed to have been simply the name of the heavenly Father, will indeed preserve them safe through all the judgments and persecutions of the tribulation period as they carry out their ministry of witness and teaching during those terrible years.
14:4 virgins. These will all apparently be young Israelite men, not yet married and having maintained their sexual purity throughout their young lives. They will have been specially chosen and prepared by God for this special ministry, presumably being raised in Orthodox Jewish homes, with deep respect for the Old Testament Scriptures, especially the Mosaic laws. Somehow, after the rapture of all believers shortly before the tribulation begins, they will have been led to recognize Jesus as their Messiah and Savior, resolving to dedicate their whole lives to Him at all costs. It will then be that God will have them sealed for their future service (Revelation 7:3).
14:4 firstfruits. These will be the “firstfruits” of the future Israel. At the end of the tribulation, no doubt in large measure through their witness, “all Israel shall be saved” (Romans 11:26; see also Zechariah 12:10).
14:6 everlasting gospel. This is the final, climactic, reference to the gospel in the Bible. It is called “everlasting,” so it can be no different from the gospel preached by Paul. In fact, it will be proclaimed by an angel from heaven, and Paul had specifically warned against any gospel preached by an angel if it was different from the gospel he preached (Galatians 1:8).
14:7 loud voice. Evidently the angel will be flying from nation to nation, shouting it loudly enough so that everyone on earth can hear, so that all will hear the gospel one last time before it is too late.
14:7 worship him that made heaven. The angel thus recognizes, and so should we, that supernatural creation of all things by Jesus Christ (John 1:1-3) is the very foundation of His gospel. The gospel also includes His redeeming death and resurrection (I Corinthians 15:1-4), plus His coming kingdom (Matthew 4:23), but these are meaningless and impossible without His prior work of creation (see also Colossians 1:16-20). Creationism is not simply a peripheral doctrine, but is foundational to everything else, and it will be absolutely essential in this coming time when evolutionary pantheistic humanism dominates the world.
14:8 Babylon. This is the first mention of the city of Babylon by name in Revelation, but its revived existence as the capital of the beast has been intimated (Revelation 13:3). For further discussion on this important question, see the notes on Revelation 16:19–18:24. Although her fall will be 3½ years still in the future, this second angel (following the first, who is proclaiming the gospel) appropriately proclaims the certain destruction of the great enemy of the gospel.
14:8 fornication. See Isaiah 14:4-9 and Jeremiah 51:7.
14:11 for ever and ever. A third angel quickly follows the first two, warning against receiving the mark of the beast. The doctrine of eternal punishment may be harsh, but it is true and it is reasonable as the just outcome for those who all their lives have spurned the grace and love of Christ, and His offer of free salvation.
14:12 patience of the saints. Compare Revelation 13:10. Revelation 14:12-13 and Revelation 13:9-10 are both interjections in the narrative account to provide comfort and strength to the persecuted saints, many of whom may soon be slain by the agents of the beast.
14:14 Son of man. The Lord Jesus has appeared to John in many different aspects of His person and work (Lamb, Rider, Angel), but here He returns to the first (and eternal) aspect, as the Son of man (Revelation 1:13). He is ready to reap the harvest of the earth, separating the few remaining stalks of wheat from the great mass of tares, and this is a judgment committed to the Son of man (Matthew 13:41; John 5:27).
14:15 out of the temple. The temple here is probably the Jerusalem temple. The angel has seen the abomination in the holy place and so pleads with the Son of man to proceed with His reaping. This reaping probably correlates with the ensuing bowl judgments.
14:18 from the altar. This angel apparently calls out from the altar of the earthly temple, urging that the vintage of the earth be trampled in the divine winepress. See also Joel 3:13; Revelation 19:15. This time the sickle of judgment is used not to reap a harvest of grain but rather to gather the vintage of grapes of the earth for the winepress of God.
14:20 unto the horse bridles. The scene here looks forward to the final slaughter of the armies of the beast at Armageddon. There may well be a multitude of perhaps two hundred million (compare Revelation 9:16) men (and maybe women also) clustered together, with many horses and various items of military equipment, all massed in a great phalanx extending from below Bozrah, deep in Edom, up beyond Megiddo and the plain of Armageddon, through the valley of Jezreel, with its center in the Judaean wilderness opposite Jerusalem, in what has been called “the valley of Jehoshaphat.” The distance of sixteen hundred “furlongs” (Greek stadion) corresponds to 180 miles. If the phalanx averages a mile in width, the assumed two hundred million in the massed armies of the beast, with many animals as well, would barely have room to move. If the vast armies were to “explode” suddenly, the blood gushing out from man and beast would create a great trough of blood, draining up to the horse bridles in the valley center, like a great vat of grapes in a winepress bursting all at once. This same incredible scene was apparently seen in vision by some of the ancient prophets (note Isaiah 34:6; 63:1-4; Joel 3:12-13; Psalm 110:5,6). These armies of the beast, gathered together to battle the returning Christ, will be instantly slain simply with the “sword” of His mouth. “And He was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood:…and He treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God” (Revelation 19:13, 15). (On the invincible power of His Word, like a mighty sword, see also Isaiah 11:4; II Thessalonians 2:8 and Hebrews 4:12. On the massing of the world’s armies to fight the Lord, see Revelation 16:13-16. On the final battle and their destruction, see Revelation 19:17-21.)