#352. Now, in chapter fourteen, a series of angels make their appearance, each with a different assignment. The first angel announces “the hour of judgment has come, so fear The God the Creator.” This injunction to fear God at this moment may indicate that there is opportunity to survive the coming Day of Wrath with all of its plagues.
And I saw another angel flying in the atmosphere having everlasting good news to declare as glad news to those sitting upon the earth and to every nation and tribe and tongue and people RV14:7 saying in a great voice: “Fear The God and give to Him glory because the hour of the judgment has arrived and so worship The One who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and fountains of waters.” [NCMM]
#353. The second angel announces the collapse of Babylon the Great. This subject is greatly expanded in chapters 17 and 18 where the details are given.
And another angel, a second, followed, saying: “She fell, she fell, Babylon the Great! She made all nations to drink out of the angry wine of her fornication.” [NCMM]
#354. A third angel announces the outcome to those who would worship the wild Sea Beast and its Image, by accepting the engraving on their forehead or hand. These all suffer “torment” before the celestial angels and the Lamb. Those who receive this economic mark will end up in what is later called the Second Death. Would it be fair to give this warning, if, in fact, all had already done so? Does it seem fair to say that these announcements are made at the critical moment when mankind is about to be forced into this kind of worship. Here they are warned and given an opportunity to refuse and “fear God and give him glory.”
And another angel, a third, followed the first two, saying in a great voice:
“If anyone worships the wild Sea Beast and its Image and accepts an engraving upon his forehead or hand RV14:10 he also will drink out of the cup of the undiluted wine of God’s anger, the cup of His wrath. Such ones will be tormented in fire and sulfur in sight of holy angels and in sight of the Lamb. RV14:11 And the smoke of their torment is ascending into Age after Age. Those who worship the wild Sea Beast and its Image have no rest day and night, anyone who accepts the engraving of the Name of the wild Sea Beast. RV14:12 Here is the endurance of the Saints those who observe the commandments of The God and keep the Faith of Jesus. [NCMM]
#355. Verse 12 again cautions the 144,000-Saints regarding their endurance in observing God’s commandments and the faith of Jesus. This may be a parenthetical warning much like Revelation 16:15; or, the whole angelic warnings and announcements may be contemporary with that moment just before the Rapture. This is indicated by verse 13 which is still in the context of this third angel. Some of the Saints will be executed during the period of the Great Oppression (Revelation 6:11; 13:10) and here is assurance for those who endure (verse 12) to the death. (Revelation 2:10) They will rest in death until that moment of the resurrection foretold at 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17.
And I heard a voice out of the heaven, saying: “Write: Happy those who die in the Lord, those dying from right now. Yes, the (prophetic) spirit is saying that they will rest from their labors, for their works follow them.” [NCMM]
#356. The Nazarene draws on Daniel 12:1, 2 twice in his teachings about the resurrection. (John 5:28, 29; 11:25, 26) We may summarize the teachings of Jesus as: a) the resurrection is future during what he calls “the last day” (John 6:39, 40, 44, 54; 11:24; Daniel 12:13); b) there will be two groups: 1] dead believers who will rise; and, 2] living believers who will not die; 3) the dead will be judged upon their resurrection with two outcomes: a] everlasting life for the good; and, b] judgment and thus reproach to the vile. [John 5:29; 2 Corinthians 5:10; 1 John 2:28]
#357. It is Paul who draws from these teachings at 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 and outlines the same scenario: a group of dead Saints who are raised at the Arrival of the Lord; and, a living group who are snatched from the earth in what can be called a Rapture. He makes it clear both of these, the resurrection and the Rapture, all occur “at the same time.” Writing some time after his epistle to the Thessalonians, Paul includes thoughts from a special revelation in a “mystery” in which he again discusses these two groups: the living Saints and the dead Saints. (1 Corinthians 15:23, 50-53) Here he describes a “change” and teaches “all will be changed . . . in an (atomic) moment, or blink of the eye.” [For details see notes in Nazarene Commentary 2000© on 1 Corinthians 15.]
#358. So, as explained by Paul above, the Christian dead can hope to rise only when the Lord returns. “In his Presence,” Paul puts it, even as does John. (1 Corinthians 15:23; 1 John 2:28) That is, “at his Arrival.” None of the Christian dead are raised, resurrected or wakened from their sleep before this Parousia, or the Second Coming. Verse 13 above is one of the Seven Apocalyptic Beatitudes which encourage the faithful Saints forward in their endurance as they face the Great Oppression. That this encouragement is given before Christ returns (verse 14) is shown in the context.
#359. Still part of the third angel’s announcements, there is a vision of Daniel 7:13 in reverse. That is, having once ascended to heaven in clouds in the year 33 AD, the Son of man now returns in that “same manner” as the Apostles had seen him vanish into heaven. (Acts 1:9-11) Consider:
And I saw and look! a white cloud and upon the cloud sat someone like a Son of Humankind having a golden crown upon his head and in his hand a sharp sickle. [NCMM]
#360. The first harvest is of the Christian “wheat” and the second the grape harvest thrown into the angry winepress of God Almighty. (Matthew 13:39; 24:31) The “firstfruits” of the harvest are the sealed and confirmed 144,000-Saints who come out of the Great Oppression having faithfully endured the program of the wild Sea Beast and Image worship. Before they are raptured, however, the Christian dead rise first, as Paul wrote. They then must undergo their judgment before the Judge, Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:10; Matthew 25:31) After this the “righteous” inherit the Kingdom and stand ready to receive that special group called the “firstfruits,” the 144,000-Saints, as they rise in the Rapture to a general assembly with their celestial Lord, Jesus Christ the Nazarene. This “harvest” continues:
RV14:15 And another angel went forth out of the Divine Habitat crying out in a great voice to the One sitting upon the cloud: “Send your sickle and harvest for the hour to harvest has arrived for the harvest of the earth has dried up.” RV14:16 And the One sitting upon the cloud threw his sickle upon the earth and the earth was harvested. [NCMM]
#361. The final “harvest” is one unto death! It is likened to gathering grapes for the winepress, only this one is that of “the anger of the wrath of God Almighty.” Consider:
And another angel went forth out of the Divine Habitat this heavenly one also had a sharp sickle. [NCMM]
And another angel went forth out of the Altar (this one with authority over the fire) and he cried with a great voice to the One having the sharp sickle, saying: “Send your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of the earth’s vine because the grapes are ripe. RV14:19 And the angel threw his sickle into the earth and gathered the vine of the earth and threw the vine into the Press of the Great Anger of The God. RV14:20 And the Winepress was trampled outside of the City and the blood came out of the Winepress up to the horses’ bridles for 1,600 stadia. [NCMM]
#362. This trampling of the winepress is described as “outside the (Holy) City” of New Jerusalem. This idea of “outside” the New Jerusalem also occurs at Revelation 22:15. When exactly this City descends to the earth will be discussed later, but it is possible that the City has already descended with its glorious inhabitants, including God Almighty, the Lamb, the holy angels, and the glorified Church. (Hebrews 12:23, 24) Let us propose that after the Saints have ascended to meet their Lord, and the marriage of the Lamb has occurred, with the Church safely inside the Holy City, the great Cubic City, glistening like gold, begins to return to the earth. Imagine this enormous “extra-terrestrial” cube approaching the earth, passing the moon and entering the atmosphere. When would earth’s nations with their defensive radar and satellite communications first pick up the blip of this approaching phenomenon? How will earth’s inhabitants react to this vision, this visit by true aliens?
#363. This winepress is the same as the unleashing of the “four winds” mentioned earlier. (Revelation 7:1-3) It will result in Armageddon (Revelation 16:14, 16) and the death of one-third of earth’s inhabitants. (Revelation 9:15, 16) Much of the images of this winepress are taken from the apocalyptic Book of Joel:
‘For the day of Jehovah is coming, for it is near! It is a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick gloom, like light of dawn spread out upon the mountains. ... Before it [the] land has become agitated, [the] heavens have rocked. Sun and moon themselves have become dark, and the very stars have withdrawn their brightness. And Jehovah himself will certainly give forth his voice before his military force, for his camp is very numerous. For he who is carrying out his word is mighty; for the day of Jehovah is great and very fear-inspiring, and who can hold up under it?" ... And rip apart your hearts, and not your garments; and come back to Jehovah your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abundant in loving-kindness, and he will certainly feel regret on account of the calamity. Who is there knowing whether he will turn back and actually feel regret and let remain after it a blessing, a grain offering and a drink offering for Jehovah your God? ... "And I will give portents in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. The sun itself will be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and fear-inspiring day of Jehovah. And it must occur that everyone who calls on the name of Jehovah will get away safe; for in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will prove to be the escaped ones, just as Jehovah has said, and in among the survivors, whom Jehovah is calling." ... "Thrust in a sickle, for harvest has grown ripe. Come, descend, for [the] winepress has become full. The press vats actually overflow; for their badness has become abundant. Crowds, crowds are in the low plain of the decision, for the day of Jehovah is near in the low plain of the decision. Sun and moon themselves will certainly become dark, and the very stars will actually withdraw their brightness. And out of Zion Jehovah himself will roar, and out of Jerusalem he will give forth his voice. And heaven and earth certainly will rock; but Jehovah will be a refuge for his people, and a fortress for the sons of Israel. And you people will have to know that I am Jehovah your God, residing in Zion my holy mountain. And Jerusalem must become a holy place; and as regards strangers, they will no more pass through her.’ (Joel 2:2-3.17 NWT)
#364. What follows now in the Apocalypse are details of this winepress period with the pouring out of various plagues upon the earth. The time has come to “ruin those who ruined the earth.” (Revelation 11:18) This all occurs after the 144,000-Saints have been raptured off this earth to begin their around the clock service in the Celestial Temple before the Throne of God Almighty. (Revelation 7:15-17; 15:1-3; 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17)
#365. Chapters 15 through 19 recount the horrors of this period on earth absent of all true Christians. What is to happen?
Nazarene Commentary 2000© by Mark Heber Miller
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