Saturday, January 23, 2010

Revelation 14:1

Chapter 14

The first problem with this chapter is to determine where it falls in the timeline. Some think that it is a continuation of chapter 13 and picks up at the tribulation or mark of the beast where chapter 13 ended. The other possibility is that the strings of the guitar (to use a previous metaphor) have now all been played and everyone has been caught up to speed, and we are proceeding on from where chapter 10 left off at the end of the 1260 days. As chapter 15 is a continuation of chapter 14, it must also be considered when deciding where this chapter falls. The fact that 144,000 are mentioned and followed by a harvest (rapture) and the appearance of a group of people on the sea of glass (in chapter 15) so parallels chapter 7, that it is seen by some to be a reference back to that chapter. It will be shown why this is not the same events as in chapter 7.

First, the 144,000 mentioned in chapter 7 are not redeemed at that time. That is why they must receive the mark - for protection through the trumpet judgments. Christians are already sealed (marked), so this group is clearly not saved in chapter 7. Yet in chapter 14 they are referred to as being redeemed (Christians). Time has to have passed for them all to have become redeemed, therefore this is not the same time or event as in chapter 7. They have made it through the trumpet judgments for which they were marked to be protected and have become redeemed. Therefore it is most likely that the trumpet judgments are past. (Ergo the 1260 days are past.) This leads to the conclusion that this event is at the end of the 1260 days. Second, while the group on the sea of glass in chapter 15 is mentioned following the mention of the 144,000, as was chronologically done in chapter 7, it is a distinctly different group from that of chapter 7. Therefore this group cannot be used as a reference back to the first group on the sea of glass. They are in fact described quite differently from those in chapter 7, as will be shown later. Just because the two accounts have two similar groups does not mean that they refer to the same event, time, or even groups. This is the same sort of mistake that is made by people who say that the seals, trumpets, and bowls are all the same judgments just because they are numbered one through seven. Similarities in situations, people, places, and etc. can be shown to refer to the same thing and therefore give more information, or they may refer to something entirely different. One has to look closely at details to determine which is the case and be very careful not to confuse the issues by making two different things be the same.

Another problem is that the angels are announcing that God's wrath is about to fall. It is for what the saints have been patiently waiting - Christ's return and God's punishment of the world. However, God's wrath will not fall until the trumpet judgments are over, as they are not part of His wrath. God's wrath is never announced until this chapter. The seals and trumpet judgments were never announced as God's wrath, and were shown to be part of Satan's wrath and agreement with God. It has been shown that those judgments run until the 1260 days are over. Therefore again, this narrative must begin after that ends, making it come after the events in chapters 9 and 10.

As the trumpet judgments were not part of God's wrath and His wrath is about to fall, we know that the trumpet judgments have to be finished (again 1260 days after the abomination of desolation) and therefore should see the rapture occuring in Scripture somwhere at this point before the bowls are poured out, as Christians are not appointed to God's wrath. This is exactly what we see in this chapter. The timing of this chapter would seem to be after the 1260 days when the trumpet judgments finish, but before the bowl judgments are poured out, which would put the reaping of the harvest at precisely the right time to fulfill Scripture in that it comes after the tribulation, after the signs of the sixth seal, but before God's wrath is poured out.

The historical interludes of the two witnesses, Israel, Satan, and the beast have now brought everyone involved up to the end of the 1260 days, and from the above reasons, it can be seen that the narrative now continues on from that point. What follows are the events that will occur in the days following the 1260 days. As we know from Daniel 12, there are 1290 days from the time of the abomination until it all (God's wrath and the reclamation of the world by Christ) is finished. This leaves us with thirty days for the resurrection, the rapture, and the bowl judgments. John is now going to be viewing things that are happening from the vantage point of earth, and more specifically from Jerusalem. In chapter 15 he will again be in heaven viewing things there.

Verse 1 "And I looked, and lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father's name written in their foreheads."

Mount Sion or Zion is the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. In a few verses in the Bible it poetically refers to the city of Jerusalem as Zion, but it is actually the Temple Mount that is called Mount Zion. Hebrews 12:22 refers to a heavenly Zion, but while many say that this is what is referred to here, one verse is not sufficient to build an interpretation on, given that all the other verses speak of an earthly Zion. Also, this specifies that it is Mount Zion, not just Zion. Therefore, it appears that the earthly Zion is what is in sight. Christ has brought the 144,000 to the Temple Mount and He will stand there with them. They were sealed for protection from the events in the trumpets, but now those have been completed and Satan's conditions that had to be met for the ownership of the earth to be transferred are now over. The world will be reverting to Christ's complete possession and God's wrath will begin to fall.

There are several ways of viewing this verse. The first two presume the 144,000 are dead. The first would say that they are standing on the heavenly Zion. The second would say that they have died, been resurrected, and are standing on the earthly Mount Zion or Temple Mount. The third way presumes that they are still alive and are standing on the Temple Mount.

The first viewpoint is not plausible for the following reasons: 1) Zion in Scripture (except for the verse in Hebrews) always refers to Jerusalem or the Temple Mount on Mount Zion, not the Zion of heaven. 2) John is viewing things in the rest of the chapter from an earthly viewpoint. It would seem that then these first few verses are also being viewed from earth, which would then seem to imply that it is the Temple Mount in Jerusalem that is being seen. 3) in verse 2, John hears a voice coming from heaven. If he were in heaven, he would not say that it came from heaven, but simply that a voice was coming from the throne or some specific location in heaven. He would not indicate it as a separate location from the one he is occupying. 4) Zion is referred to as a mount. Nowhere in all the description John has given of heaven does he say that God's temple in heaven is on a mountain. There is no mountain ever seen in heaven, and this clearly specifies that they are standing on a mountain. Therefore it has to be the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. So that eliminates the first view that they are dead and in heaven.

The second viewpoint says that they are resurrected and have joined Christ on Mount Zion. There are pros and cons to this viewpoint. One problem is that they were sealed to go through the trumpet judgments. One would suppose that this means that they were meant to make it through alive, although it could be that they were only sealed to prevent them from being tortured by the demonic hordes. If the latter is the case, they still have died as a result of the trumpet judgments. As they were not saved at the time of their sealing, they would have had to come to salvation later, as in the next few verses we are told that they are now redeemed. (They would not have had to have been sealed otherwise. They were not sealed as ministers of the gospel as some teach. They are not even saved until some point during the trumpet judgments (this we assume by deduction) and that is no doubt on an individual basis, not a mass conversion). If assumed they are dead and resurrected, (as they would have to be to appear on Mount Zion) this would mean that the resurrection has taken place. We know that the resurrection does occur before the rapture and we will see that in the latter verses of this chapter, Christ appears in the clouds and reaps the harvest (the rapture). So it could be possible that this is the resurrection before the rapture, but then Christ's Second Coming appearance in the clouds would have to occur after He has resurrected this particular group, as it is described later on in the chapter. There might be some validation for this. First, the two witnesses have been resurrected. This might occur at the same time (or not). Maybe when the witnesses were resurrected, everyone was. When studying the fall feasts, it was seen that the shofar blown on Rosh haShanah was announcing the coronation and the Day of the Lord, as well as heralding the Messianic Age and accompanying the resurrection of the dead. Yom Kippur however was about the returning of the groom for the bride. In between were the Days of Awe where people had ten days to get their lives in order and decide if they were going to be in the Book of Life or not.

As we will see, an angel announcing God's redemption and wrath is about to make the rounds of earth. Then another angel announces the fall of Babylon, (Christ's becoming King and Satan's kingdom falling) and a third announces that God's wrath is about to be poured out on those with the mark. (They have made their choice and God has closed the books). This would correspond to the Days of Awe and the time given from Rosh haShanah to Yom Kippur to either make your salvation sure or take the consequences. It is possible that this is what is occurring here and would explain the gap in the fall festival's traditions as to the resurrection being on the first festival and the groom coming for the bride on the second. It is at Yom Kippur that the books are finally closed and everyone's fate is sealed. It would seem that the rapture could not take place until the Book of Life is finally closed, but the resurrection can, as their fate had already been determined when they died. Therefore this could be the firstfruits of the resurrection if one takes this point of view. We will see that after the three angels, there is a reaping of the harvest, (groom coming for the bride) so that would go along with the festival traditions as to what will happen on the two days. As the Feast of Tabernacles is the week following Yom Kippur and would immediately follow the rapture (if on Yom Kippur), this would correspond to the week long wedding feast that was traditionally celebrated for weddings (in this case the marriage supper of the Lamb). This interpretation would fit the traditional understandings of the significance of the fall festivals very well.

The third viewpoint, that the 144,000 are still alive requires studying the next few verses.

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