LESSON XXXV (Revelation 14:1-5) With the Lamb on Mount Zion
(On the whole the text of the Revised Version is better here than that of the King James Version; hence, it is followed in these notes.)
1. Vs. 1. The Lamb on Mount Zion and the 144,000.
a) This vision stands in contrast to the preceding in so far as
1) There the church was pictured as oppressed in the world by the anti-christian powers of darkness.
2) Here the same church appears as safe and secure, and as reigning with Christ on Mount Zion.
b) Mount Zion is not heaven, nor is it represented in the vision as being in heaven. In the O.T. it is the royal mount of David on which was established the theocratic throne. On this mount God has set His king to reign. Ps. 2;6. Hence, the mountain is symbol of the royal rule of God’s Anointed.
c) On the mount stands the Lamb.
1) That Christ appears here as the Lamb denotes that He attained to His royal dominion at the head of His people in the way of suffering.
2) That He stands on Mount Zion represents that He exercises His royal power as God’s king, and that, too, in spite of all the fury and raging of the devil and the antichrist as pictured in the preceding chapters. From Mount Zion He rules over His own and over all the world.
d) The 144,000 are the same as those mentioned in ch. 7:3, 4: for which see the notes on that passage. Hence, they are
1) Not the glorified church in heaven, nor the saved out of Israel, nor a special group of glorified saints.
2) But they represent the complete number of the elect as they are in the world at any period of the new dispensation.
3) That they are represented as being with the Lamb or Mount Zion signifies that even while they are in the world believers have the victory in their Lord and reign with Him.
4) On their forehead they have the name of Christ (a sign and seal that they belong to Him as His brethren), and of His Father (a sign and seal of their belongings to God as His children). No one can separate them from Christ and from the Father. Cfr. The seal in ch 7:3ff.
2. Vss. 2, 3. The song of victory. “And I heard a voice from heaven” etc.
a) This voice does not proceed from the 144,000.
1) These are represented in the vision as being on the earth, on Mount Zion, but the voice proceeds from heaven.
2) A distinction is plainly made between the 144,000 and them that sing this song for it is said that the former may learn it.
b) The voice is described as the voice of many waters (as of a great multitude): as the voice of a great thunder (very powerful): and as the voice of harpers harping on their harps, i.e., their song is accompanied by playing on the harps (signifying victory and joy). It is the voice of the glorified saints in heaven. Cf. ch. VII: 9-17.
c) And they sing a new song. The song is new because it is the song of complete redemption and final victory; the viewpoint of the singers is heavenly. They see no longer “as in a glass darkly,” but face to face. And they sing before the throne of God (in His presence, as His servants, to His glory); and before the elders (the representatives of the church of all ages); and before the four living creatures representatives of brute creation. See ch. IV.
d) And only the 144,000 could learn that song, i.e., they cannot only understand it, but appropriate it and by faith sing it, even while they are still in the midst of an oppressing world. For they reign with Christ and by faith they have the victory.
3. Vss. 4, 5. The description of the 144,000
a) They are not defiled with women, for they are virgins.
1) The original word for “virgins” was frequently applied to men.
2) The expression does not intend to extol the special sanctity of celibacy, as some would have it. (Some explain that these 144,000 represent a special group of saints that were never married!).
3) The meaning is that they are virgins in relation to the world, and are not defiled with its lust. They kept their garments clean, and had no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness.
b) They follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth; i.e., not in glory, as a kind of special retinue in heaven, but here, in this world. In their confession and walk they are the disciples of the Lamb; they follow where He leads by His Word and Spirit, and that, too, regardless of the sufferings they may have to bear because they keep His word.
c) They are those that are purchased, redeemed by the precious blood of the Lamb, from among men, i.e., out of all nations; and that for the purpose of being a first fruits unto God.
1) First fruits of the full and final harvest: the regeneration of all things in the new creation.
2) And consecrated to God cf. Jas. 1:18.
d) In their mouth was found no lie, which means that positively they confessed the truth of God.
e) And they are without fault or blemish, i.e., in Christ they are holy in the spiritual ethical sense of the word. They are described, of course, from their ideal spiritual viewpoint, in their relation to the Lamb.
LESSON XXXVI (Revelation 14: 6-8) The Gospel of Babylon’s Fall
1. The angel proclaiming an everlasting gospel, vss. 6,7.
a) “And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven.”
1) Another vision here, as is evident from “and I saw”; yet the vision is closely related to the preceding one.
2) “Another angel” in distinction from angels that were mentioned before in the book of Revelation.
3) He is flying in the midst of heaven, i.e., of the firmament, because the whole world must hear his message.
b) “Having the (or better ‘an’) everlasting gospel (the R.V. has ‘eternal good tidings’) to preach unto them that dwell on the earth,’ etc.
1) The angel must proclaim a gospel (the original does not have the definite article) i.e., good tidings, just as the angel preached good tidings to the shepherds of Bethlehem.
2) This gospel is called “everlasting” because it is determined in God’s immutable decree.
3) It is proclaimed to them that dwell on the earth, and that, too, universally: “to every nation, and kindred and tongue, and people.” This does not imply that the message of the angel contains “good tidings” for all. Not, for instance, for the worshippers of the beast, cf. vs. 9ff. But it does mean that those for whom this particular message is “gospel” are among all nations.
4) The contents of this gospel: “Fear God and give glory to him,” etc. (vs. 7):
a) Notice that God is here presented as the Creator and Lord of the universe: “that made heaven and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters,”
b) He must be feared, and glorified, and worshipped. The meaning is evidently: Fear and glorify and worship not the beast, but God.
5) And the particular reason and ground for this :gospel” is that the hour of God’s judgment is come,. Final judgment is about to take place. There is no more delay.
Note. The significance of this vision is not that towards the end of this dispensation there will be a special preaching of the gospel to all nations once more; nor that men will be given a special period of repentance, for
1) The contents of the message is not Christ and redemption, but very specifically judgment.
2) It is very definitely proclaimed that the hour of God’s judgment is already come.
3) The two angels that follow proclaim this judgment upon the wicked as an accomplished fact. Rather does it proclaim that which is “good tidings” to the faithful, that the time is come when all must confess that God is God, and the worship of the beast shall have an end.
2. The Fall of Babylon announced, vs. 8.
a) “And there followed another (a second, R.V.) angel, saying, Babylon is fallen,” etc. The second angel announces the fall of Babylon, and that, too, emphatically as an accomplished fact.
1) This is the first time we read of Babylon in the book of Revelation, yet the text presupposes that it is well known what is meant by Babylon. In Scripture Babylon occurs:
a) As the capital of the country of Shinar, founded by Nimrod (Babel), Gen. 10:10.
b) As the capital of the Chaldean empire of which Nebuchadnezzar was the great head. It was a great city (cf. Jer.51:31,32), 60 miles in circumference. Its walls were 350 feet high, 87 feet thick and in it were 100 gates of brass. cf. Isa. 45:1, 2; Jer. 51:58.
c) As the enemy of Jerusalem, Kings 24:1-17; 25:1,2; I Chron. 6:15; I Chron. 36:6, 7; Jer. 24:1; 29:1, 2; 52:28ff.
d) As the head of gold on the image of the world power, Dan. 2:32, 37, 38; the lion, Dan 7:4, a great naval power, Isa. 43:14; a great military power, Jer. 5:16;
e) As glorious, mighty, arrogant, oppressive, careless, pleasure-loving, boastful, self-confident. Isa. 13; 14:4ff; Isa. 47:7, 8.
f) As destroyed in the day of the Lord, Isa. 13; 14:4ff; 21:1, 2; 47:1ff; Jer. 25:12-14; 5) (:my people go ye out of the midst of her,” vs. 45).
2) In the book of Revelation it occurs (besides in our passage) in ch. 16: 19; 17:5; 18.
3) And a clear reference to Babylon there is in II Cor. 6:17; cf. Isa. 52:11; Jer. 51:45.
4) From all this (especially, too, from the passage in II Cor. 6) it should be evident that Babylon in the N.T. is
a) Not that ancient city rebuilt in the future, as some would have it; neither the city of Rome, though it is a phase of it; nor papal Rome; nor the false church.
b) But the antichristian empire considered from the viewpoint of its center of government, proud, boastful, rich and mighty, cruel and ungodly and oppressing the people of God, the Jerusalem of the new dispensation, the mighty world-power of Rev. 13. She is here presented as fallen.
b) The ground of her judgment: “she made all nations drink of the wine of wrath of her fornication.”
1) The wine of her fornication: fornication is, as often in Scripture, to be taken in the sense of spiritual fornication, apostasy from the living God, idolatry, ungodliness. With this she filled the nations, made them drunk; all nations, for the antichristian kingdom is universal.
2) And “the wrath of her fornication,” because in this antichristian wine there is the wrath of God!