My study of chapter 14 has been emotional. I mentioned to a friend that it has been one of the hardest studies so far.
It opens with the 144,000 young, virgin, Jewish men, first mentioned in chapter 7, standing before Jesus on Mount Zion. I believe this is in heaven since the final bowls are yet to be unleashed. These young men were witnesses for Christ after the rapture of the church. Verse four tells us they remained faithful to Jesus and that they were blameless, without lies found in their mouths. They followed Jesus wherever he went.
They were purchased among mankind and offered as first fruits. Some commentaries say they are the first to be saved during the Tribulation. God sealed them in chapter 7 so that they could do their ministry without harm. However, like the Two Witnesses, once their commission had been fulfilled, they are allowed to be killed.
Then we see three angels and their assignments. The first proclaims the gospel and the second announces the fall of Babylon and the world systems. The third announces the consequences of worshipping the beast and taking his mark. The verse that caught my attention was verse 10.
“they too will drink of God’s fury which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath”
I cannot imagine facing God’s fury in full strength!
The passage goes on to explain the everlasting torment. What John saw prompted him to write that this period of time will require patient endurance by God’s people who keep his commands and stay faithful to Jesus (v12). The next verse caught my attention too.
“Then I heard a voice from heaven say, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.”
They too, will be martyred.
In my wrestling with this chapter, I wasn’t doubting God, His Goodness, His Holiness, or His love for mankind. I was struggling with what sin and rejecting God has caused. The Tribulation will be the most horrific time ever to be living on earth. My heart was aching for those that will suffer and die. I was wrestling with how to put my feelings on paper. How do I write about this awful period and express my trust in the Sovereignty of Almighty God at the same time?
Those of us who believe in Jesus now, accept Him as Lord and Savior and confess that he died and rose again, will not experience the Tribulation. But so many people won’t accept Him, or they accept Him after the Tribulation begins (I don’t recommend waiting!).
I wanted to say something about this emotional chapter, but I just didn’t know how.
So, I decided to move on to chapter 15. Then a wonderful thing happened this morning. Holy Spirit nudged me go back and read chapter 14 again, only this time, write down everything I see.
Here are a couple of things that relate to the troubling verses above.
- The 144,000 young evangelists stand before Jesus.
- They are anything but sad! They are singing a song so loud that it sounds like the roaring of mighty waters. Only they can sing this song.
- The first angel is proclaiming the gospel to all those living on earth. Every nation, tribe and tongue will hear him. God is giving them another opportunity before its too late or they make a really bad decision.
- The third angel warns the people about the consequences of worshipping the beast and taking his mark. God warns them BEFOREHAND. It says “if anyone takes”…..it doesn’t say. “if anyone took.” There are no surprises. God gives them yet another opportunity.
- Although the Spirit tells us that God’s people who keep his commands will more than likely die, He also tells us that He will give them rest and they will be rewarded for their deeds.
God keeps calling…. God keeps encouraging and strengthening His own, all the way to the end.
I was so focused on the circumstances; I missed God in the chapter. I think there is a lesson that statement 😊
Does my heart still ache for those living during the Tribulation? Oh yes. But my prayer for them has changed. I pray they hear the words of the angels and what the Spirit says! I pray for strength and patient endurance for God’s people.
I did finish the chapter and writing down what I saw. I also began Chapter 15.
Guess what? Chapter 15 starts with seven angles and the completion of God’s wrath. I also see a whole bunch of people singing praises God. Those that had been victorious over the beast, it’s image and the number of its name were singing the song of Moses and of the Lamb! God’s acts are Righteous!
“Great and marvelous are your deeds,
Lord God Almighty.
Just and true are your ways,
King of the nations.
Who will not fear you, Lord,
and bring glory to your name?
For you alone are holy.
All nations will come
and worship before you,
for your righteous acts have been revealed.”