Introduction: Revelation 12 through 14 is a photo album inserted into the middle of the book of Revelation giving us a series of snapshots of the Conflict of the Ages. It’s a series of visual descriptions that tell the story from the birth of Christ to the rise of the antichrist and the harvest of the world at the Second Coming. We’ve already looked at pictures of the birth of Christ, the attack of Satan on heaven and on the Jewish people (ch 12), the rise of the antichrist, and the emergence of the false prophet (ch 13). Now the scene shifts to heaven where we see the reception of the 144,000.
Verses 1-5: This multitude of 144,000 seems to be the same 144,000 we saw in chapter 7. They were an army of Jewish evangelists who preached the Gospel during the Tribulation. They are like 144,000 apostle Pauls and they spearhead the evangelist endeavors of the Tribulation. Now they appear to be in heaven, in the heavenly Mount Zion. Their task is done. The tribulation has progressed and these 144,000 have been in some way received into the heavenly Zion. They are singing and playing instruments. They’re there with the four living creatures, which are angels (probably cherubim). They’re there with the 24 elders, who represent the redeemed of all the ages. I don’t know how these 144,000 got to heaven, but there they are around the throne, their work on earth finished.
Verse 6-7: This is the last proclamation of the Gospel to the earth before the end of history, and it is done by a flying angel. There is one final appeal, an angel flying in midair to proclaim to those who live on the earth, to every nation, tribe, language, and people. It was a final appeal to fear God, to turn to Him, to worship Him who made the heavens, the earth, the seas, and the springs of water.
Verse 8: Now another angel appears with another declaration, announcing the fall of Babylon, which is the subject of chapters 17 and 18.
Verses 9-12: A third angel makes a third declaration warning everyone against following the antichrist.
Verse 13: A voice from heaven acknowledges that those who decide to follow Christ will face almost certain martyrdom at the hands of the antichrist. But they will be blessed for they will die in the Lord, they will rest from their labors, and their deeds will follow them. This verse refers especially to those who will die for Christ during the Great Tribulation; but what it says about death is applicable for Christians of all ages. There are three things we can learn here about dying.
- Death is actually a blessing for the Christian.
- Death represents a resting from our earthly labors and concerns.
- Our works will follow us. The good we’ve done on earth will continue to accrue. Our influence is not going to heaven with us. It will stay here and have a pass-along effect, a ripple effect. The full results of our lives will not be able to be calculated until the dawn of eternity.
Verse 14-16: Now our series of snapshots comes to a close with two separate and distinct harvests. The first is the harvest of the righteous, the wheat.
Verses 17-20: This is the harvest of the tares or the weeds, and it anticipates the final battle of Armageddon where blood will be splattered to the height of horses’ bridles for a distance of 180 miles.
Conclusion: So in chapters 12-14, we simply have a series of snapshots of the last part of the Great Tribulation. We have the assault of the devil on heaven and his defeat (ch 12). We have his assault on the earth and the appearance of the diabolical trinity (ch 13). We have the final victory of the 144,000 Jewish evangelists and their reception into heaven. We have the final presentation of the Gospel on earth and the final warning to humanity (ch 14). And then we’re told that the harvest is about to begin—both of the wheat and of the tares. And with that, we’re ready for the final series of plagues—the seven bowls of wrath in chapters 15 and 16.