Revelation 14:6-13 Seven Messages of Hope for Today
When we look around the world today, we might not see much hope for us. What we see in Revelation 14 can speak to us today. Just as then, we need to hear about hope. This chapter presents seven messages of hope for us today.
THE ETERNAL GOSPEL
“Then I saw another angel flying high overhead, having the eternal gospel to announce to the inhabitants of the earth—to every nation, tribe, language, and people.” (Revelation 14:6, HCSB)
First, we need to make a distinction between the Good News of Jesus Christ, and the “eternal gospel.”
This is the only place in the Book of Revelation where the word “gospel” appears, and its use here is decisive.1 The angel’s message is called “the eternal gospel.” It is not the gospel of God’s redeeming grace in Christ Jesus but, as the following verse shows, a summons to fear, honor, and worship the Creator. It is an eternal gospel in that it sets forth the eternal purpose of God for people. It relates to judgment and salvation in the coming eternal age. Those who dwell on the earth are further specified as every nation, tribe, tongue, and people.2
It probably does not imply spreading the saving gospel to all the nations before the end. That is the work of the church (Matthew 24:14; Revelation 6:9–11). Another sense of “gospel” is perhaps more likely here, however. In context, this angel announces impending judgment (14:7).3
The first part of the message is: ‘Recognize God as Creator and Judge, the Beginning and End of your existence, and all will be well.’4
While there will come a day when no one else will be able to respond to the gospel even in the eternal state, the good news of salvation in Christ will be a perpetual reminder of the love of God in the hearts of those who live with him in the eternal city. The universality of the availability of the gospel is here stated and is to be proclaimed to all who live on the earth irrespective of national entity, tribe, language, or people group.
However, the eternal gospel of Revelation 14:6 must be understood in light of Revelation 14:7. The urgency of this final appeal of the eternal gospel is based on the need for men to fear God and give him the glory, and that is particularly true because the hour of God’s judgment has come.5
The reason why this is important is that the people who hear this message in Revelation 14 will not listen to the messengers. They will ignore the message of hope at that time. There will be a time of repentance. However, they will refuse to believe it. For us today, these seven messages are messages of hope. Even in the midst of the difficulties which you and I will encounter, we can receive hope from God.
SEVEN MESSAGES OF HOPE FOR TODAY
1. Give God glory (Revelation 14:7)
“He spoke with a loud voice: “Fear God and give Him glory…” (Revelation 14:7, HCSB)
We need to give God the glory due to Him. We “fear” God when we respect Him. The best way to respect God is to give Him glory about everything He has done in my life.
2. Judgment has come (Revelation 14:7)
“…because the hour of His judgment has come…” (Revelation 14:7, HCSB)
During the present age, the angels are not privileged to preach the Gospel. That responsibility has been given to God’s people. While the nations will fear “the beast” and give honor to him, this heavenly messenger will summon them to fear and honor God alone. It is a reminder that God is the Creator and He alone deserves worship. It is what theologians call “natural theology.”
All creation bears witness to God’s existence as well as to His power and wisdom. Nonetheless, “the beast” will convince men that he is in charge of the world, and that their destinies are in his hands. The message of the angel calls men back to basics: God is Creator—worship and serve Him. The fear of the Lord, not the fear of “the beast,” is the source of wisdom.6
3. Babylon has fallen (Revelation 14:8)
“A second angel followed, saying: “It has fallen, Babylon the Great has fallen, who made all nations drink the wine of her sexual immorality, which brings wrath.”” (Revelation 14:8, HCSB)
This is the first mention of Babylon in Revelation7 Two Babylons are spoken of in Revelation: religious Babylon and commercial Babylon—the false religious system and the oppressive economic system. The second angel declares both are powerless.8 God’s gospel announces not only the end of evil’s reign, but the renewal of Israel’s worship of God through the exalted Christ9
4. Escape God’s wrath (Revelation 14:9-11)
“And a third angel followed them and spoke with a loud voice: “If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he will also drink the wine of God’s wrath, which is mixed full strength in the cup of His anger. He will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the sight of the holy angels and in the sight of the Lamb, and the smoke of their torment will go up forever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or anyone who receives the mark of his name.” (Revelation 14:9–11, HCSB)
The third message is directed especially to those who are deciding about following “the beast.” It is a warning that “the easy way” is really the hard way, that to “go along with the world” means to go away from God. The Greek text reads, “If any man continues to worship the beast,” suggesting that there is still opportunity for repentance and salvation.10 The third angel says, “Don’t take the mark of the beast.” But the world, by and large, will buy into Antichrist’s diabolical plan.11
In the ancient world, wine was usually diluted with two or three parts water to one part wine. The only reason not to dilute the wine was to get drunk. Here God will make those who worship the beast drink the wine of his wrath undiluted. In other words, they will face the full force of God’s judgment.12
The wrath of God will be the judgment that these people will receive for following Antichrist. Because they have followed the wrong Christ, and not Jesus Christ, God will pour out judgment. This judgment is based on their own decision and commitment.
FOR FOLLOWING THE ANTICHRIST, YOU GET:13
- Torment will be painful, with fire and brimstone.
- The torment will be in the presence of everyone, including Christ.
- The torment will be eternal.
This is the Book of Revelation’s description of Hell.
5. Keep the faith (Revelation 14:12)
“This demands the perseverance of the saints, who keep God’s commands and their faith in Jesus.”” (Revelation 14:12, HCSB)
“Be patient” is the word given to those who become Christians during the Tribulation—to those who respond to the evangelism of the 144,000, the message of the angels, the powerful testimony of the two witnesses in Jerusalem.14 Again, these Christians are defined as saints, which suggests that the followers of Jesus will exist in a different form of community than it does today.
6. Death does not have a hold on you (Revelation 14:13)
…“Write: The dead who die in the Lord from now on are blessed.”… (Revelation 14:13, HCSB)
The exhortation to endure earthly suffering gives way to a promise of a future heavenly reward. The second of seven beatitudes in Revelation spells out what God has in store for his faithful people. To “die in the Lord” doesn’t necessitate martyrdom, but depicts dying as a faithful follower of Christ and applies to any Christ follower, from the first century on.15
Dietrich Bonhoeffer defines the importance of those who are blessed at death:
“but not all the dead are blessed—only those “who die in the Lord”—those who at the proper time learned how to die, those who kept faith, those who held fast to Jesus even into that final hour whether amid the sufferings of public martyrdom or of the martyrdom of a quiet solitude of enduring life.”16
Yet, even if a Christian does die, it is the not the end of the existence of a Christian. In contrast to the end result for those who follow Antichrist (Revelation 14:9-11), the saints will experience happiness.
7. Your good works are worth the effort (Revelation 14:13)
…“Yes,” says the Spirit, “let them rest from their labors, for their works follow them!”” (Revelation 14:13, HCSB)
If Revelation 14:12 was negative encouragement, Revelation 14:13 is positive.17 Our works will follow our faith. As we continue in the faith, we work in sharing the Gospel. We have the assurance that everything that we do for Jesus is worth the effort. Jesus will reward us for our work for His Kingdom. Just as He reminds people in Matthew 25, we will be rewarded as He says: “Well done, faithful servant.”
1 Earl F. Palmer and Lloyd J. Ogilvie, 1, 2 & 3 John / Revelation, vol. 35, The Preacher’s Commentary Series (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc, 1982), 200–201.
2 Robert H. Mounce, The Book of Revelation, The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1997), 270–271.
3 Craig S. Keener, Revelation, The NIV Application Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1999), 372.
4 Michael Wilcock, The Message of Revelation: I Saw Heaven Opened, The Bible Speaks Today (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1986), 134.
5 Paige Patterson, Revelation, ed. E. Ray Clendenen, vol. 39, The New American Commentary (Nashville, TN: B&H, 2012), 290.
6 Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 607.
7 Robert W. Wall, Revelation, Understanding the Bible Commentary Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2011), 184.
8 Jon Courson, Jon Courson’s Application Commentary (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2003), 1746.
9 Robert W. Wall, Revelation, Understanding the Bible Commentary Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2011), 185.
10 Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 608.
11 Jon Courson, Jon Courson’s Application Commentary (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2003), 1746.
12 J. Scott Duvall, Revelation, ed. Mark L. Strauss and John H. Walton, Teach the Text Commentary Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2014), 197–198.
13 Jim Erwin, “Revelation 14:6-12 Messages of Hope” sermon, 11 June 2013. http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jimerwin/2013/06/11/revelation-146-12-messages-of-hope/, accessed on 10 August 2016.
14 Jon Courson, Jon Courson’s Application Commentary (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2003), 1746.
15 J. Scott Duvall, Revelation, ed. Mark L. Strauss and John H. Walton, Teach the Text Commentary Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2014), 198.
16 Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Theological Education at Finkenwalde: 1935–1937, ed. Victoria J. Barnett and Barbara Wojhoski, trans. Douglas W. Stott, vol. 14, Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2013), 905.
17 Robert H. Mounce, The Book of Revelation, The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1997), 275.