We recap the first half of The Book of Revelation. The overarching message of Revelation is to be a faithful witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ, to overcome fear and death. We are to read, understand, and obey God’s word. We will explore the imagery of the 144,000, the Father’s name written on their foreheads, and the preaching of the everlasting gospel.
Last time we saw the seventh angel sound in Revelation 11:15. And when the seventh angel sounded, the “Hallelujah Chorus” broke out. And the kingdom was proclaimed, the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ is now.
And then we got this interlude before we went on to the next judgment, because when the seventh angel sounds, within the judgment of the seventh angel, we’re going to get to the seven bowl judgments.
But as we got with the seventh seal and before the seven trumpets, and we got an interlude and some explanation, we began to get the explanation.
And the first thing we got was this historical overview. We got this drama of a woman bearing a child, and a dragon falling and a third of his angels coming down, and so forth. And basically it was the historical overview of the battle of Satan versus God.
In act 1, Satan tries to ascend to the most high and become like God, and he’s cast out. But he still has access to heaven. He’s deposed, but still with access. This is a theme that will continue on. And a third of the angels fall with him.
In the next scene, in act 2, there’s the dragon trying to eat the child who’s being born by the woman, who is Israel. And, of course, he fails even though he kills the Messiah. The Messiah is resurrected and ascends back to God. So he fails in act 2. He fails in act 1, and he fails in act 2.
In act 3, we’re in the tribulation, and the dragon’s trying to eat the woman. He’s trying to eat Israel. He’s trying to destroy Israel.
In each case it seems that what’s going on is Satan believes if he can destroy Israel, he can keep King David—the Davidic line—from ascending to the throne and taking his place.
This whole thing is, who has the right to reign? That’s the overarching question in all of human history and even angelic history. Who has the right to reign?
Revelation is telling us who has the right to reign is God. Who has the right to reign on earth is Jesus who overcame. And who has the right to reign on earth is the overcomers that he invites to share his throne with him.
And the overarching message to us in Revelation—which is a very simple book with a simple message if we approach it from the standpoint of—what does it have to tell us to do? What’s it telling us to do? Very simple. If we approach Revelation from the standpoint of asking what is going to happen, then it’s incomprehensible. Because it doesn’t really tell us what’s going to happen. It tells us a few things that are going to happen.
But the overriding message to us is, be an overcomer. Be a great witness and not fear death, any kind of death. And then you too are an overcomer, just like Jesus is an overcomer. And in doing so, you’re part of this grand drama of supplanting Satan from being the ruler of this world, which apparently was his first job. He said, “That’s not good enough. I want to be ruler of everything.” And then what’s going to happen is he’s going to end up being ruler of nothing. We saw that last episode.
Then we saw Satan cast out of heaven because even though he has been thrown down, he has continued to have access to heaven. And now Satan is thrown out of heaven, and he comes to the earth having great wrath. Isn’t that interesting? Because Satan’s whole focus is to deceive people; but his purpose is to destroy us because we are his competition. We are who God has appointed to take his place.
He promises people everything and gives them nothing. He promises them life and gives them death. He promises them benefit and reward and gives them corruption and loss. And when he gets thrown out of heaven and comes to earth, he gets even more passionate about destruction.
Furthermore, we saw the rise of the beast last week. We saw this creature come out of the sea. And this creature was like the animals that we saw in Daniel 7. In Daniel 7, we saw a lion, which is Babylon. That was followed by a bear, which is Persia. Each are individual creatures. Which was followed by a leopard, which was Greece, lightening fast conquering. Which was followed by this monster that was like nothing other, with these jaws of iron that just crushed stuff, which is Rome.
These are the same four kingdoms we had seen in Daniel 2 with the statue. The head of gold was Babylon. The breast of silver was Persia. The stomach of bronze was Greece. And the legs of partly iron partly clay, Rome, the eastern and western Roman empires.
We saw these things. And Daniel has four different things, but now when the beast comes up in Revelation, it’s more like the statue except instead of metals, it’s animals. It has a head like a lion and a body partly like a bear and partly like a leopard. And this is the beast.
And the beast also has seven heads and ten horns which represents Rome. So, we’ve got this king of Rome, this Roman emperor who has all the characteristics of Babylon. It’s got the majesty and authority of Babylon through Daniel. God told Nebuchadnezzar, “You’re king of kings. You’re greater than every king. You’re like the gold kingdom.” Massive authority, the beast has it.
It’s got the bureaucracy and the vast expansion of government that Persia had. It’s got the lightning fast ability to act that Greece had. And the brute power and force of Rome, all in one.
The last thing we saw last episode was the beast had a number. The number means more than this, but it’s important to note that the number is the number of a man because everything we learned about the beast, you couldn’t really tell for sure if it’s a man; but it will be. It will be a man.
However, the beast in Revelation 11:7 came out of the bottomless pit. We’re going to see in future lessons that the beast is said to be him who was and is not and is to come.
We also saw last week we have an unholy trinity. We’ve got the dragon, the dragon-man, and the false prophet. Just like the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. So we’ve got the dragon, the dragon-man, and the false prophet.
And this beast ascends out of the bottomless pit. And he was and is not and is to come. It’s really fascinating.
I asked myself, “What is that?” One thought I came up with is it might be one of those mighty men of old talked about in Genesis. You know where the angels interacted with women and created these mighty men. And then in Jude it tells us that these angels left their proper domain and were put in the bottomless pit because they had broken the rules.
I wonder if these Titan people, if these mighty people were put in the bottomless pit, one of them’s let out, sort of like Elijah and Enoch or Moses and Elijah, whichever it is, the two witnesses. Wouldn’t that be interesting? You would have this was-is not because they’re in the bottomless pit, then let out to be again. And it’s a man and a demon, partly angelic. That would be an interesting outcome. I don’t want to be around that person. But, that could be what’s going on.
We saw in Revelation 13 that the beast derives power from Satan. We’ll see in Revelation 16, demons come from out of the mouth of the beast. There’s a very direct demonic influence that’s going on with the beast.
But one of the big questions that surrounds this beast is—where does he come from? Of course we know he comes from the bottomless pit, so there’s definitely a demonic influence there.
Dr. Anderson has an interesting observation from Micah. Let’s just turn there real quick. Micah 5:5 says, And this One shall be peace.
When the Assyrian comes into our land,
And when he treads in our palaces,
Then we will raise against him
Seven shepherds and eight princely men.
Dr. Anderson believes that this verse is telling us that the beast will be an Assyrian. Assyria is an ancient empire that mainly constitutes modern Iraq and some parts of Iran and some other places around in the vicinity, but it’s mainly modern Iraq.
If you want to look from the perspective of could this be on the verge, could we be on the verge of these things happening, I would tell you, yes. Of course, the people in 70 AD when Rome came in and destroyed Jerusalem could have looked at that and said, “This is on the verge of happening!” too. So this is certainly always imminent.
We also see the rise of technology. They already have the ability to put a chip in your hand so you can just wave it under the wand at the grocery store and buy and sell. You can easily see a government coming in and saying, you know, all of our drug problems come about because of cash. So we’re going to eliminate cash so we can track all this activity. Because your safety is at stake. Peace and safety, they say, and then destruction will come.
So, yes, absolutely we could see these things happening.
Of course when they saw World War 2 happen and the rise of Hitler, and Hitler had a very definitive program to have a thousand year reign and to have world domination, people looked at that and said maybe this is it. For good reason.
So just because it looks like it could be happening doesn’t mean it’s happening. But it might. The Bible uses the term birth pains, that all creation groans and wants redemption.
And birth pains—as most of you know, I think—get closer and closer together and then the birth comes. Get more and more severe.
We don’t know if we’re in a birth pain or whether we’re on the verge. What we do know is that the outcome is certain.
The one hundred and forty-four thousand
In this episode we’ll look at chapter 14. Then I looked, and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His Father’s name written on their foreheads.
And I heard a voice from heaven, like the voice of many waters, and like the voice of loud thunder. And I heard the sound of harpists playing their harps.
They sang as it were a new song before the throne, before the four living creatures, and the elders; and no one could learn that song except the hundred and forty-four thousand who were redeemed from the earth.
These are the ones who were not defiled with women, for they are virgins. These are the ones who followed the Lamb wherever he goes. These were redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb.
And in their mouth was found no deceit, for they are without fault before the throne of God.
I’m going to start here with an admission that the last time we saw harps, and I did Revelation 5:8, I said there’s absolutely no place in the Bible where people are sitting around mindlessly playing harps, And this is the only place in Revelation where there’s a harp. I was wrong. It was the only place in Revelation where the word harp appears, but I did not put in my search engine harps and harpists. My mistake. There are actually harps and harpists, and here they are.
And literally what this says is I heard the sound of harpists harping their harps is actually what the Greek word says.
So I was wrong. I’m sorry I missed that. However, the point remains because they’re singing a song, so every place we will see harps, it’s an accompaniment to music. It’s not mindless staring off into space and strumming, which is the Greek notion.
I missed that, but we have these harpists, and what are they doing? We start here with a Lamb standing on Mount Zion with the one hundred and forty-four thousand. We saw the one hundred and forty-four thousand in Revelation 7 that were chosen, 12 thousand from each tribe. And here they are now standing on Mount Zion.
Mount Zion is, in the Old Testament, the place of the city of David. You can go to Israel today and go to Jerusalem, and they’ve rediscovered the city of David, and it’s just kind of across the street from the temple mount, so that’s Mount Zion. And it’s a symbol of Jewish authority. It’s a symbol of Jewish kingship.
Here is the Lamb on Mount Zion with the one hundred and forty-four thousand. Now while they’re there, they hear the sounds of this choir, this accompanied choir, the orchestra and music chorale, singing. And what they’re doing is singing a new song before the throne. So I’m not sure exactly how this works, whether they’re on the Mount and heaven is—what?—serenading them, or whether they are on the mount ascending. It doesn’t really tell us that.
But what it does tell us is this new song that’s being sung is a song that only these one hundred forty-four thousand can learn.
I tried to think about, what is that like? What is a song that only applies to certain people. And I thought of walk-up songs. You go to a baseball game. They announce a certain batter, and they play just a song, a walk-up song for that batter. Or if the closer comes out, they play a song for just that person.
I thought of some famous people from my generation, back when TV was something everybody watched. There were three channels, and we all watched, kind of, the same things.
And these figures would have theme songs. So if you hear “Moon river, wider than a mile…” you’d immediately know that’s Andy Williams. That’s his song. Or if you hear “Everybody loves somebody sometime…” Nobody sings that song but Dean Martin. That’s his song. When his show’s over he sings that song, and you know that’s the theme song.
Today we have something like that. It’s not sung. But we have “Hail to the Chief.” That song’s only for the President, and that’s his walk-up song.
Maybe it’s something like that. When you hear that song you know here’s the one hundred and forty-four thousand walking up. Or there’s the one hundred and forty-four thousand arriving. Or maybe it’s something that they just share with each other.
But in any event, there’s special recognition is what all those songs associate with. Maybe in heaven there’ll be music playing all the time. We’re going to get some instance of this, where I think is a little hint, that it might be that you walk up to somebody, and they just break out in song. “The sun’ll come out tomorrow!” That maybe what’s going on. And it may be that everywhere these guys go, you hear this music, this background music.
You know movies are like that, right? The minute you hear, “Dum dum dum dum dum dum” you know who’s about to come on the scene. You know that. Or Jaws. “Bum bum” Uh oh. You know who’s close by. “Bum bum bum bum bum bum.”
Maybe that’s the way life’s going to be then. I kind of think it will be. It’s going to be like music going along. It will be really interesting to see what your walk-up song will be.
So these are the ones that are not defiled with women, for they’re virgins. Now there are two ways not to be defiled with women. One is to be married to one woman and not to experience sexual immorality because according to Hebrews 13, the marriage bed is undefiled. But the other way is to just to be a virgin. These guys are that way, apparently.
And these are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever he goes. And I think this is kind of the key thing: This hundred and forty four thousand, they are an example of what God wants us to do. He wants us to follow him and not the world’s system all the time. This is what being a faithful witness looks like.
And these were redeemed from among men. This word redeemed just means to buy. When Jesus says I sent the men to go buy some food, same word. Or buy from me gold refined in the fire—we saw in Revelation 3. Same word. They’re purchased from among men. And probably from among Israel because it says these were redeemed from among men being first fruits to God and to the Lamb. Firstfruits is just the first of something.
In the Old Testament, it was the first part of the harvest. It was a lot that was surrounding the first part of the harvest because God wanted people to take the first part of their harvest, and give from that. And be generous with that. Because if you can be generous with the first part, you can be generous with the rest of it.
And, of course, as we’ve experienced, if you can’t give, then the money’s going to own you, or your possessions are going to own you. You can either have your possessions work for you, or you can work for your possessions. And one of the key things to keep your possessions from owning you is to give.
Also firstfruits is just first of other things. The Holy Spirit is called firstfruit. It’s the first installment on this new life that God has given us. Jesus is called the firstfruit because he was the first one to be resurrected. And Paul calls his first converts in an area firstfruits.
So these are first of some kind. Perhaps they’re the first ones to become redeemed believers in this tribulation period. That could be it.
Perhaps they’re the first ones in Israel to really get it and start being faithful witnesses. Don’t know what that is exactly. But we do know that being someone who follows the Lamb wherever he goes, and then this next verse, And in their mouth was found no deceit, for they are without fault before the throne of God.
This is a good thing. And, of course, you know that when we’re justified, we’re without fault before the throne of God from the standpoint of being in his family just because of Jesus. So that’s not at issue.
But when judgment comes—and we’re going to see this—when judgment comes, it is our works that are evaluated. And why are they evaluated? To see what our rewards are. And only the overcomers get to reign. Which in the scripture, is the ultimate reward—to reign and rule in intimate fellowship with Christ over the entire earth. Not just Christ, but also all the other overcomers. That’s the main thing we’re going for.
It’s really hard for us to fathom. But that is the thing that God says, you can’t get any more fulfillment than this. And the way to get there is be a faithful witness in what I give you to do in this life.
An angel preaches the everlasting gospel
Verse 6, Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven—we’re still in this interlude between seventh trumpet blowing and the bowls starting to be poured out. Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth—to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people—saying with a loud voice—the gospel. Now here’s the gospel, the everlasting gospel.
Let’s just dwell on this for a second. This is an angel flying, and the angel has one of those old trucks that has the speakers at the top that goes through the town…The angel is broadcasting to the whole world the everlasting gospel. OK, do you get that? This is not Billy Graham. It’s not a radio. It’s an angel broadcasting.
—to preach to those who dwell on the earth—to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people—And here’s the everlasting gospel: “Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water.” That’s the everlasting gospel.
The everlasting gospel made no mention of Jesus
Now this would be confusing to most of us because if we had someone come today and say, “I’m going to share the gospel. Here’s the gospel: Fear God, give glory to him, for the hour of his judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water,” we would all say—what? Well that’s nice. Thank you for that. But you left some things out! You left out a lot of historical information. You left out the most important thing which is Jesus! Because you have to believe in Jesus, and that’s not here in this everlasting gospel.
So how do we unpack this? How do we understand this?
Let’s first look at this phrase everlasting gospel. The word everlasting probably would be better translated the gospel of the age. This is the word aionios. The phrase here is aionios euaggelion. Aionios is often translated eternal, like eternal life, aionios.
But Young’s translation—which is kind of like the Yoda translation, but I like it a lot because he just takes a phrase out of Greek and doesn’t rearrange it to make it sound like English. So it’s a lot of “old am I” sort of thing. He always translates it something like to the age, which is, I think, a better translation.
I’ll show you a couple of things that illustrate that.
Romans 16:25 says, Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began—Since the world aionios. Since the age of the world. It’s just a time period.
Another place that illustrates it is 2 Timothy 1:9. Who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began—Before this age started. Before this age.
Aionios is just age. We’re going to see in a minute an instance where aionios, I think, does mean eternity and forever. But, most of the time, it’s better to think of it as just an age.
The gospel of this age makes a little more sense because in this age, do we need to know that Jesus is real? We do not. Why? Because we saw the people see this judgment and they say, “Who can escape the wrath of the Lamb?”
The whole thing about whether Jesus is real or not is out the window. That’s not a question anymore. And this is always the case. God always asks us to believe him by grace through faith. That’s always been the case.
But the historicity of Jesus is an important part for part of the age; but, you know, that wasn’t even part of it in the Old Testament because there was not historicity of Jesus. There was the promise of the coming Messiah.
So here what we’re saying is: Look! You’ve got the world falling down around you. Believe what’s happening and worship God because he’s the one who made all this.
It’s interesting he says the sea and the springs of water. What has happened to the sea and the springs of water? They’re turned bitter. The waters have turned bitter, and the sea has turned to blood.
So they’re actually pretty important at this point in time. People are noticing it.
“Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him—This is the gospel of the age. God always just asks people to meet him where he is.
Jesus said if you don’t think what I told you is credible, then just believe me because of the miracles I did. That would have been good enough. Just respond to what you have! That’s all I’m asking you to do.
It’s also interesting that preach the gospel is the phrase euaggelizo the euaggelion, which is sort of like “preach the preaching,” or “good news the good newsing,” or “share the sharing.” Because euaggelion just means good newsing. So what we’re doing is good newsing the good news. We’re sharing the good news. Gospel is not a limited phrase that means this certain part of conversion. It’s the good news: who Jesus is, who God is, and how he’s going to redeem people in the world. It’s the whole ball of wax. And we see it here being proclaimed.
Now there’s another thing here. We know it’s proclaimed that the gospel must spread through the earth, and sometimes you’ll hear people say it’s up to us to do this, and once we get done with it, Jesus will come back.
Well, Jesus did ask us to go and share with the earth. He did say the harvest is ripe, so go because the laborers are few. We’re going to see a different kind of harvest here in just a minute.
So it is our job to go and share. But it’s not on us to get this done. God can use a rock or a jackass if he needs to. And here he’s going to use an angel just to make sure everybody’s covered. And he’s going to share the gospel to every nation and every person.