Sometimes It Is Too Late [8-14-22]



Jesus had humble beginnings. He was born in a backwater village of little repute. His family were typical Middle Eastern peasants. Most of his short, three year ministry was spent as an itinerant preacher/teacher, treating most people with dignity and respect. He also was a worker of miracles, though they were of secondary import. He was neither afraid of nor subservient to earthly powers. Jesus served with humility.


As we're already been promised throughout the first thirteen chapters of The Revelation to John, Jesus will return in glorious majesty and splendor.


In his three years of ministry, Jesus said he came to seek and save the lost. That's us. And to that we say, "Amen."


Throughout his three years of ministry, and here in The Revelation to John, Jesus said he will come again to judge and sentence the lost. Those who bear the mark of the beast will not be spared. To put it another way, the first time Jesus came he came as the sower. The second time he will come as the reaper. First time, grace and mercy. Second time, judgment and wrath.


Here's something you might want to write down:

THE FIRST COMING AND THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST ARE IN PERFECT HARMONY.


Let's now look at Revelation 14:1-5:

Then I looked, and behold, on Mount Zion stood the Lamb, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father's name written on their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven like the roar of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder. The voice I heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps, and they were singing a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and before the elders. No one could learn that song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth. It is these who have not defiled themselves with women, for they are virgins. It is these who follow the Lamb wherever he

goes. These have been redeemed from mankind as firstfruits for God and

the Lamb, and in their mouth no lie was found, for they are blameless.


As we move toward the final reaping of the earth, John begins with a note of encouragement. This is beautiful heavenly worship. The reference to the ones who have not defiled themselves with women, means that those whose names were written down in the Lamb's Book of Life never succumbed to emperor worship or other temptations from the beast. Here we have playing out before us a scene of glorious praise before the throne of heaven. That is an encouraging way to start.


These first verses sing a song of deliverance from sin and death. Don't get hung up on the number 144,000. It simply indicates the large number of those whose lives have been purchased by the blood of the Lamb. They held fast to the faith that was given them. As Paul says in Romans 1:25, about those who compromised with the truth:

They exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

These 144,000 followed Christ without wavering or compromising.

This first vision assures us that, as difficult as the world can be, we share

the joyful prospect of standing in the presence of Jesus Christ. We will sing a new song of salvation. These visions strengthen us to endure the reality of any difficulty in life. Amen?


Let's now break down 14:6-13:

Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people. And he said with a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come, and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.”

Another angel, a second, followed, saying, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, she who made all nations drink the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality.”

And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he also will drink the wine of God's wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name.”

Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.*

And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!”


These verses mean, in order:

  • The eternal gospel {verse 6} sets forth the eternal purpose of God for His people. Either judgment or salvation are coming in the new, eternal age.

  • As verse seven makes clear, this is a last call for getting right with God. I love how Acts 14:15 captures it, "Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men, of like nature with you, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them." We worship the Creator, not His creation.

  • Sometimes it seems as if we've seen everything. But then some new abomination pops up. We should never be surprised. Human sin and wickedness are creative beasts. As verse eight says, the spirit of godlessness lures people away from the worship of the One, True, and Holy God. Wrath will fall.

  • The Greek word for anger used in verse 10 refers to anger that is passionate and vehement. Imagine not only willingly rebelling against God, but also rejecting His expression of love seen in His grace and mercy.

  • The horribleness about to happen is indicated by the allusion to sulfur. Sulfur burns with an intense heat and leaves an awful smell.

  • Notice verse ten says the angels and the Lamb will witness the torment of the ungodly. Nowhere in Revelation is it ever suggested that the suffering of the damned takes place in the presence of those whose names were written in the Lamb's Book of Life. Believers are too caught up in heavenly worship to pay the least bit of attention to what is happening to unbelievers. Who would want it any other way?

  • Verse eleven makes explicit that punishment is not temporary. It is eternal. The notion of eternal suffering is offensive to many, both inside and outside the Christian faith. But the eternal consequence of willfully rejecting the love of God made visible in the death of Christ for our sins is eternal punishment. Whether people like it or not… agree with it or not…is irrelevant to God's expressed purpose in Scripture.

  • Did you know that Jesus spoke more of the fires of hell than anyone else? Here's Jesus in Mark 9:43-44 - "And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire." And again in Luke 16:22-24 - "The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’" Jesus spoke of the terrible reality awaiting those who persist in following Antichrist. God's wrath will be poured out.

  • We'll close this section out with an observation from Megan Dobbins, a young Christian writer: "I hope today you find rest, knowing that your acceptance by God is not based on your performance but is based on the perfect righteousness of Christ that has been credited to you freely. Be joyfully obedient, not enslaved in the futility of works-based acceptance."


Finally, verses fourteen through twenty:

Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and seated on the cloud one like a son of man, with a golden crown on his head, and a sharp sickle in his hand. And another angel came out of the temple, calling with a loud voice to him who sat on the cloud, “Put in your sickle, and reap, for the hour to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is fully ripe.” So he who sat on the cloud swung his sickle across the earth, and the earth was reaped.

Then another angel came out of the temple in heaven, and he too had a sharp sickle. And another angel came out from the altar, the angel who has authority over the fire, and he called with a loud voice to the one who had the sharp sickle, “Put in your sickle and gather the clusters from the vine of the earth, for its grapes are ripe.” So the angel swung his sickle across the earth and gathered the grape harvest of the earth and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. And the winepress was trodden outside the city, and blood flowed from the winepress, as high as a

horse's bridle, for 1,600 stadia.


Let's get right to the lyrics of a tried-and-true hymn:

Mine eyes have seen the glory Of the coming of the Lord; He is trampling out the vintage Where the grapes of wrath are stored; He hath loosed the fateful lightning Of His terrible swift sword; His truth is marching on. Chorus Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! His truth is marching on.

How many of you knew that some of the lyrics to "Battle Hymn of the Republic" were from Revelation 14? I didn't, either.

Our attention is now drawn to the violent carnage of the judgment of the

wicked. Here's something you might want to write down:

THE STAMPING OUT OF GRAPES IN A WINEPRESS IS SYMBOLIC OF GOD CRUSHING OUT THE LIFE OF THE UNGODLY.


Make no mistake. John is not hesitant to share his vision from God about Jesus, the Son, the Lamb who was Slain, being part of the execution of judgment. Again, Jesus spoke powerfully and frequently about hell and judgment:

So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

- Matthew 13:49-50

The time for judgment is now. Those who reject the Lordship of Jesus Christ are now eternal enemies of God.


But there is another judgment taking place, as well. Judgment isn't limited solely for the wicked. Those whose names have been written in the Lamb's Book of Life will be judged worthy to enjoy the immediate presence of God.

The difference between the two is quite simple. I love how Psalm 51:4

spells it out:

Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment.

There it is. There are those who humbly throw themselves at the foot of the cross and those who turn away.


Finally, chapter fourteen gives us two great truths. The first is captured by this observation from Alistair Begg:

"Our world is desperately ill. Our world is diseased. Our world is searching for a cure - a cure that is only found in the gospel."

Look again at verse fifteen…the earth is fully ripe. The Greek used here means something that is overripe. More than that, overripe to have passed beyond the point of usefulness. It means literally to become dry, withered, or rotten. Sometimes, in spite of my wife's gracious and merciful baking skills, bananas have to get tossed. It's too late to serve any purpose whatsoever.

Here, the rotten, fetid world is going to be dealt with because it is overripe.


The second great truth is one of joy. Again, from Alistair Begg:

"The unfolding of God's goodness to us must produce in us not self-aggrandizement and self-assertiveness but the sense of wonder."

In other words, in this life we are not arrogant or boastful or rude. We persevere in hardship. We don't give in or give up when things don't go our way. We remain steadfast in the truth of God's Word. And we know that no matter what we experience or go through in life, all is well because Jesus Christ is Lord.


In the end, the wrath poured out on the wicked will be unseen and unknown to us, because we will be too caught up worshiping the Lamb who was Slain. Let's pray:

FATHER, WE THANK YOU FOR GIVING US THIS TRUTH. WE ALSO THANK YOU FOR GIVING US THE RESPONSIBILITY TO PASS IT ON. HELP US TO BE FAITHFUL. THE WORLD ISN'T GOING TO GET BETTER…IT'S GOING TO GET WORSE. YET, THROUGH CHRIST, WE ARE HAPPY AND JOYFUL IN THIS LIFE. THANK YOU FOR KEEPING US FAITHFUL. FOR JESUS' SAKE. AMEN.


*ALWAYS…ALWAYS…ALWAYS BE RESOLUTE IN YOUR FAITH.













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As we launch into this disruptive chapter, we need to remember two ways to read apocalyptic narrative: PREDICTIVE - Using information to determine precisely what will happen in the future. DESCRIPTIVE