Revelation 14

The Word Made Fresh

Then I saw the lamb standing on Mt. Zion. There were one hundred forty-four thousand with him who had his name and his father’s name written on their foreheads. 2And I heard a voice from heaven, like roaring waters and the sound of thunder. The voice sounded like musicians playing their harps, 3and they sing a new song before the throne and the four living creatures and the elders. No one could learn the song except the one hundred forty-four thousand who have been redeemed from the earth. 4These are the ones who have not polluted themselves with women. They are virgins. They follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They have been restored from humanity as first fruits for God and the Lamb, 5and there were no lies found in their mouths. They are without blame.

6Then I saw another angel flying above with a never-ending gospel to deliver to the earth’s inhabitants – every nation and tribe and language and people. 7In a loud voice he proclaimed, “Fear God! Give him the glory, for the hour has come for his judgment. Worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea, and every spring of water.”

8Then a third angel followed and cried out with a loud voice, “Everyone who worships the beast and its image and has its mark on their foreheads or hands, 10will drink the wine of God’s wrath unmixed in the cup of God’s anger. They will be afflicted with fire and sulfur in full view of the holy angels and in the Lamb’s presence. 11The smoke from their punishment rises forever and ever. Those who worship the beast and its image and those who are marked with its name will have no rest day or night.” 12This is a call for the saints to endure and keep God’s commandments and hold onto their faith in Jesus.

13Then I heard a voice from heaven say, “Write this down: from now on, those who die in the Lord will be blessed. They will certainly rest from their labors, and they will be known by their deeds.”

14Then I saw a white cloud, and someone like the Son of Man seated on it. A golden crown was on his head, and a sharp sickle in his hand. 15Another angel emerged from the temple and called out loudly to the one sitting on the cloud, “The hour has come to reap with your sickle. The earth’s harvest is ripe!” 16Then the one seated on the cloud swung his sickle and reaped the earth.

17Then another angel came from the temple in heaven, and he also had a sharp sickle. 18And yet another angel came out from the altar. This is the angel who rules over fire. He called with a loud voice to the one who held the sharp sickle, saying, “Use your sickle to gather the clusters of grapes from the earth’s vines, for the grapes are ripe.”

19Then the angel swung his sickle over the earth and gathered the grapes and threw them into the huge winepress of God’s wrath. 20Then the winepress was trodden outside the city, and blood as high as a horse’s bridle flowed from it for nearly two hundred miles.


1: The Lamb, a figure of Christ, was first pictured in the heavenly temple before God’s throne (5:6). In this new image John sees the Lamb on Mt. Zion, the location of God’s temple on earth. This verse is the only place where God is called the Father of the Lamb. The 144,000 believers accompanying the Lamb are the same as the 144,000 from the 12 tribes of Israel mentioned earlier (7:4-8). There it was announced that the angels holding back the winds at the four corners of the earth would continue to do so until the 144,000 had been marked “with a seal on their foreheads” (7:3). The marking of their foreheads thus signals that the four angels might now be unleashed. A little later the command was given that the locusts released from the bottomless pit were to harm only those not marked with the seal of God on their foreheads (9:3-4). In the last chapter we saw that the second “beast” (Rome?) branded its minions on the wrist or forehead with its mark. Here, the followers of Christ are marked with God’s name on their foreheads to distinguish them from those who have the mark of the “beast.”

2-5: Now John hears the voices of the 144,000 singing a new song that only they could learn; that seems to be the purpose of setting aside these specific believers from the 12 tribes: to sing God’s song. He further specifies that they have not “defiled themselves with women,” a reflection of Old Testament laws concerning the division of the holy and the profane. The idea is not that women or sex are evil. In John’s day there was genuine reverence for the fact that the act of sexual intercourse has the power to produce life. Therefore, persons who had special responsibilities in the temple to make sacrifices to God, or in the army fighting battles for God, were to refrain from sex for a specified time to keep their sacred service separate from other, earthly, powers. Note that it is clearly stated that these 144,000 are to be regarded not as the only people saved, but merely as the “first fruits for God and the Lamb.”

6-7: An angel, the first of three messengers, offers all the people remaining on earth the opportunity to believe; to fear God and worship him.

8: The second angel declares that Rome is doomed, along with all the nations that have fallen under its sway.

9-11: The third angel announces that all those who bear the mark of the “beast” are doomed to eternal torment. Now that’s motivation.

12: So, the saints, the believers left on earth, have reason to endure the suffering ahead by holding “fast to the faith of Jesus.”

13: But someone might ask, what of those who have already died by the time all this happens? The Spirit says they are blessed. This verse is a familiar part of the Church’s funeral liturgy for believers.

14-16: Now Christ as the Son of Man appears crowned and seated on a white cloud with a sickle in his hand. Another angel emerges from the temple and gives the order to Christ (the order obviously must come from God’s throne, not from the angel) to use the sickle to harvest the earth. The angel’s words are almost a quote from the prophet Joel (Joel 3:13). The Son of Man goes into action.

17-20: John pictures a fifth angel emerging from the temple, this one also holding a sickle. Yet another angel orders that one to reap the harvest of souls that would suffer God’s wrath. Obviously only God can give that order; neither Christ nor the angels can wield God’s wrath without God’s specific instructions. John sees the “harvest” gathered into a great wine press which produces an inordinate amount of blood when the “grapes” are trodden.


God’s victory over sin and death will require believers to suffer being punished and mistreated. This is the hard stuff of true faith.