CHAPTER 12, 13, AND 14 OF THE REVELATION.
(Notes Compiled by F. M. Perry)
Division II, The Underlying Conflict, The Deeper Spiritual Background.
Section 4, Chapters 12 - 14, The Woman and the Man-Child Persecuted by the
An Overall View.
With chapter 12 the second great division of the Revelation was begun. This
second division was described by the visions contained in chapters 12 through 22,
the rest of the book. This division gives a representation of the struggle in the
spiritual realm that likes behind history. Chapters 12 through 14 present the visions
of Section 4 which took John again over the happenings which occur over the
Christian dispensation from the time of Christ's birth until His second coming and
Beginning with the birth of God's Son in the flesh on the earth, John saw the
efforts of Satan to destroy Christ while He was on the earth, and failing in this, to
destroy the church, and failing in this, to wage war and destroy as many of God's
children as possible.
In the first part of chapter 12. Verses 1 - 6, John was shown a vision of a
woman about to give birth to a man-child. A great red dragon was waiting to
devour the child when it was born. In the vision the child was born, but the dragon
could not devour Him for He was caught up to God and to God's throne. And then
the woman fled into the wilderness to a place prepared by God so that she might be
nourished for twelve hundred and sixty days. Again the period twelve hundred and
sixty days was used, either symbolic of the entire Christian dispensation, or a period
that would recur over and over again during the Christian dispensation.
In verses 7 - 9 of chapter 12, John was told that the dragon was Satan, and
that he hates the child and the woman of God because he hates God. He had been
thrown down out of heaven to the earth and after that he goes about trying to
deceive the whole world.
The woman seems to be symbolic of God's chosen people since the time of
Adam and Eve. It was through chosen people and chosen families and chosen
nations that God planned from the time of Adam and Eve to bring His Son into the
world to redeem mankind. So the woman about to give birth in the vision was
symbolic of the individuals, families, and nations through whom God worked in
every generation since Adam and Eve to bring His Son into the world.
The child of the vision could be symbolic of none other than the Christ.
When Jesus was born on earth, Satan tried to kill Him. All during Jesus' life on
earth Satan tried to kill Him. Finally Satan did kill His fleshly body, but was unable
to kill Him spiritually. But Satan could bring about the death of Jesus' body on the
cross only when God and Jesus were ready; only because God had planned to use
Satan to execute the perfect sacrifice of His Son; only because God and Jesus were
willing. God used Satan's hatred to bring about God's on purpose. Satan could not
kill the soul or spirit of Jesus. Jesus never acquiesced to Satan. Three days after
the death of Jesus' body it was resurrected back to life, and at His ascension Jesus
was caught up to the throne of God to rule as King of God's people.
The woman in chapter 12, verse 1, who was symbolic of God's people on
earth (or the church during the Christian age), was not allowed to be fatally harmed
by Satan but was given a place to dwell on earth where she might be nourished for
twelve hundred and sixty days, a period representative of the Christian dispensation.
In Chapter 12, verses 10 - 12, a warning was given to all on earth during the
Christian dispensation that Satan is on the earth with mankind, and Satan has great
wrath against God's creation.
In chapter 12, verses 13 - 17, Satan persecuted the woman, that is, the
church, and tried to destroy the church. He could not destroy the church as a whole
so he tried to destroy the individual Christians.
In chapter 13 a vision was given of Satan's war on God's people during the
Christian age on earth. Satan enlisted all his helpers in the vision of this chapter.
The first helper was the beast out of the sea. This beast out of the sea possibly
symbolized perverted government which Satan used as an instrument against God's
people and to enslave his own wicked followers. In the vision this beast amazed
most of the people of the earth for forty two months. This forty two month period,
stated in days, is the same as the twelve hundred and sixty day period that was
representative of God's last age for the world, the gospel age. All people worshiped
the beast and Satan (the dragon) except Christians, the chosen people of God..
The fact that Satan has a beast symbolical of governmental and political
power was brought out by Jesus when He allowed Satan to tempt Him. Satan took
Jesus to a high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and said,
:"All these things I will give to you, if you fall down and worship me." (Matt. 4).
Satan has power over the governments of the earth and he could have given political
power to Jesus for a period if Jesus had wanted to rebel against God.
A second of Satan's helpers was symbolized by the beast that came up out of
the earth (the land). This beast possibly symbolized false religion opposed to God,
persecutors of God's people. The two beasts clearly were allied together, each
helping the other. Their objectives were clearly depicted. The beasts each spoke as
Satan himself. The second beast out of the earth deceived those who dwell on earth
and even gave them a seal, or a mark, to counterfeit the seal of the living God which
were given to bond-servants of God in the vision of chapter 7. In this vision false
religion persecutes the people of God by preventing them from buying and selling in
the market places of the world unless they yield to the beast and receive his mark.
In chapter 14 a new vision showed that the combined work of the dragon and
the two beasts all during the Christian age was to no avail as far as the true people
of God were concerned. God nourished the woman, His people, on earth all during
the gospel age. This vision showed all who were sealed by God during their life on
earth survived to live eternally in heaven with God. Remember, God's people were
symbolized in the vision of chapter 7 by 144,000 people from the 12 tribes of Israel
being sealed. In the vision of chapter 14 the symbolic 144,000 people were shown
in heaven, having been preserved by God because of their faithfulness. Thus, with
the warnings of the terrible visions of Satan's wrath toward mankind in chapters 12
and 13, in chapter 14 the vision showed that God's people could and would
overcome. In fact, God's people in any generation have already overcome through
Christ. All they have to do is stand fast as sealed bond-servants until Christ comes
In chapter 14, there is another short vision indicating that the final judgement
will not come until God's eternal gospel has been preached during this age to those
who live on earth. This indicates again that God does not desire anyone to be lost.
But it also indicates that His patience will not be everlasting. In chapter 14, verse 7
the final judgement is announced.
In chapter 14 verse 8 John was told that "Babylon" was fallen in the
"judgement." From the context to be seen later in the vision of chapter 17,
"Babylon" can be recognized as another symbol of the first beast which came up
out of the sea, the governments of the world.
In chapter 14 verses 9 - 12 the vision announced the destruction of the
second beast which came up out of the earth (the false religious powers).
In chapter 14 verse 13 another word of consolation was given to the people of
God's true religion. They will not be destroyed along with the people of the second
beast, false religion.
Finally in chapter 14 verses 14 -20 the vision actually showed the execution
of the judgement. A picture of wheat being reaped from the fields with a sickle was
used as symbolic of the judgement. In verses 14 - 16 of this vision, the actual
harvest of God was first reaped by Christ Himself. This was Christ's harvest of
those counted as righteous. Then in verses 17 - 20 of the vision, the harvest of the
unrighteous came, likened to the harvesting of grapes into a wine press, the wine
press of the wrath of God. This was the first description in all the visions thus far
of the actual judgement of the wicked. It was given symbolically because Christian
readers of the Revelation have no reference in experience to understand it. The
vision showed the fate of the unrighteous. "And the wine press was trodden outside
the city, and blood came out from the wine press, up to the horses bridles, for a
distance of two hundred miles."
A. Chapter 12. Verses 1-5, The Woman, The Dragon, and The Child.
"(1) And a great sign appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun,
and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars; (2) and she
was with child; and she cried out, being in labor and in pain to give birth. (3) And
another sign appeared in heaven; and behold a great red dragon having seven heads
and ten horns, and on his heads were seven diadems. (4) And his tail swept away a
third of the stars of heaven, and threw them to earth. And the dragon stood before
the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she gave birth he might
devour her child. (5) And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all
the nations with a rod of iron; and her child was caught up to God and to His
throne. (6) And the woman fled into the wilderness where she had a place
prepared by God, so that she might be nourished for one thousand two hundred and
sixty days." NASV.
The woman of verse 1 appears to be symbolic of "the whole family of God,"
the people of God throughout all of God's dispensations and covenants, and in the
present gospel age symbolic of the Lord's church. The fact that the woman was
seen "arrayed with the sun, and the moon under her feet" may represent the glory of
God's church from the heavenly viewpoint. On the earth the church may be viewed
by many as lowly, persecuted and hated, but her true beauty and splendor were
represented in this vision. The crown of twelve stars on her head suggest the twelve
tribes of Israel or the twelve apostles of Jesus, representative of God's covenant
In verse 2 the woman was with child and she was about to give birth. The
child about to be born could be representative of no one except Jesus, the Son of
God, about to be born on earth. God's true people went through much suffering
with patience and endurance for hundreds, even thousands, of years during the
period that the Messiah was awaited. The birth of this child was the fulfillment of
the earliest prophecy for this child about to be born was the "seed of woman who
would bruise the heel of Satan." (Gen. 3:15).
The verse 2 account of the woman's labor and pain represents the long period
of the earth's history before Christ's birth during which the "consolation of Israel"
(Luke 2:25) was awaited. The fact that the bringing of Christ into the world was
accompanied by pain and travail for so many years was representative of Satan's
hatred and opposition to the woman and child. In other words, Satan hated and
opposed God's people long before Christ was born on earth.
In verse 3 the "great red dragon" appears. The dragon was clearly identified
as Satan in verse 9. The use of such symbols as beasts with multiple heads and
horns was not unprecedented in scripture. In the Book of Daniel a beast with ten
horns was seen by Daniel in a vision. The Book of Daniel gives the readers of
Revelation clues to the general meaning of such beasts and their heads and horns.
The heads were symbols of great vitality and the horns were symbols of great
power. In this vision of chapter 12 the seven diadems on the seven heads of the
great red dragon were Satan's claim of sovereignty, in imitation of the divine
royalty of Christ. This dragon, Satan himself, would like to be God so that all
mankind would bow to him.
In verse 4 the tail of the dragon swept away a third of the stars of heaven and
cast them to earth. Many commentators suggest that this means that Satan has
subverted and brought down to earth with him many other angels. Verse 9 speaks
of Satan being thrown down out of heaven, and his angels being thrown with him.
Also the Apostle Peter spoke of angels that sinned and were cast down out of
heaven by God (2nd Peter 2:4). Perhaps this was symbolized in chapter 12, verse 3
by the tail of the dragon knocking stars out of heaven.
In the vision the dragon stood before the woman so that he might devour the
child when He was born. Actually, the enmity of Satan for God's people and the
coming Christ was of long standing. He would have aborted God's plan to put the
Son of God on earth if he could have. Hendricksen says, this represents the entire
history of the Old Testament, the story of the conflict between the Seed of the
Woman and the serpent, between Christ and Satan. We can see examples of this
vision in Satan's efforts to destroy Israel through Pharaoh of Egypt, and in the New
Testament through King Herod's murders of innocent children just after the birth of
Christ. (Matt. 2:16).
The vision of verse 5 began with the statement, "And she was delivered of a
Son," and ended with the statement, "And her child was caught up to God, and unto
His throne." The whole biography of the birth, earthly life, ministry, death, burial,
and resurrection of the Son of God was here compressed into 19 words. Verse 5
continued with the statement that this child "is to rule all the nations with a rod of
iron." The reference to "ruling with a rod of iron" is a quotation from Psalm 2:9
which undoubtedly refers to the reign of Christ. The passage from Psalms was
quoted in Revelation 2:27 as referring to the rule of Christ. And in Revelation
11:15-19 there was a reference to Christ's reign when He triumphed finally over all
His enemies and they recognized the "rod of iron" with which He ruled. The word
of God, the New Testament, is a "rod of iron" to those who do not believe and obey.
This was recognized by all in the vision of chapter 11 when the earthquake came
and all people left in the world finally gave glory to God. The "rod of iron" was
finally experienced in the wrath of God which came in that vision of the judgement.
Verse 6 revealed that "the woman fled into the wilderness." James Burton
Coffman writes, "Like the old Israel that wandered in the wilderness, the new
Israel, the church, must dwell in her own wilderness. The old Israel was a type of
the new. Just as the place of the wilderness wanderings was a place of Jewish
safety from Pharaoh, just so the wilderness of the church represents her place of
safety from the great red dragon, Satan. The old Israel was fed by God in the
wilderness and nourished and sustained providentially, so it is with the church.
Also, as their wilderness was a time of trials, testing, and temptations, so it is in the
period of the woman's probation. Many fell but a remnant entered Canaan; and the
same truth is projected with reference to the church."
Verse 6 revealed that it is God's will that the church abide in this wilderness
during the twelve hundred and sixty days. The church must dwell on this earth
during the Christian dispensation, but God takes care of the church during this age.
The gates of Hades shall not overpower the church during this time and Christ is
with her always, even to the end of the world. (Matt. 16:18; 28:18-20).
B. Chapter 12, Verses 7-9, Satan's Expulsion From Heaven.
"(7) And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with
the dragon. And the dragon and his angels waged war, (8) and they were not
strong enough, and there was no longer a place found for them in heaven. (9) And
the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his
angels were thrown with him." NASV.
Verses 7 to 9 appear to have been included at this point in the vision to
explain why Satan has been as is so furious with the woman, from the time of
Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, throughout the Old Testament, and now in
the Christian dispensation. These verses describe a war that happened completely
outside the time frame of the Old and New Testaments. The Bible makes some
reference to it but very little. Jude gives a hint of it: "And angels who did not keep
their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds
under darkness for the judgement of the great day." (Jude 6). The reference here in
Revelation is very important to the Christian reader in showing how the great
spiritual conflict began, the great warfare in the spirit realm that has gone on in the
past and is still going on, and in showing the background and the cause of the
conflict between the world and the church, and even in showing the cause of the
conflict within each of us.
As one studies the Revelation it becomes clear that great, momentous,
universe shattering things have gone on and are going on which are beyond our
fleshly senses to realize or understand. Through His word, God makes us aware of
some of these things. People of the world cry out, "If there is a God, why does He
allow such catastrophes and such pain and suffering on earth?" And even
Christians say, "How long, O Lord, will You allow these things to continue?" The
Book of Revelation gave the answer to these questions to the Christians of the first
century, and gives the answer to Christians today. We note in verses 7 through 9
that the warfare was between Michael with his angels and Satan with his angels. It
appears unlikely that anything like this ever occurred during the time of the human
race on earth. It appears to have happened before the time of Adam and Eve in the
Garden of Eden, for the Book of Genesis reveals that Satan had already been cast
out of heaven to earth by then. Upon earth the spiritual warfare has been between
Christ and Satan, and the effort in the Christian age is not to throw Satan out of
heaven but to throw him out of the world into the lake of fire. (John 12:31).
Actually, the defeat of Satan already has been accomplished. It happened at the
time of Christ's resurrection. It seems as though God has simply seen fit to
postpone His day of wrath against Satan, not for Satan's benefit, but for the benefit
of His human creatures whom He desires to save through the gospel. God used
(and still uses) Satan for His own purposes, to present to mankind a choice with
which to exercise free will. The Revelation showed John, and us, the future when
God's use of Satan will be completed, when he will be thrown into the lake of fire
with all his angels.
In verse 9 Satan was described in four ways. First he was called "the serpent
of old," which identified him with the serpent who tempted Eve to disobey God.
Then he was called "the devil," which means "the slanderous one," the false
accuser." Then he was called Satan, which word originally meant "one lying in
ambush." And finally he was referred to as one "who deceives the whole world."
The result of this deception seems to present one who was continually deceiving,
not merely making an erratic deception once in a while, but making a perpetual,
never ceasing program of deception. This is a full description of Satan. He is real.
He is the person who organized the totality of evil on earth. Jesus testified to
mankind about the reality of Satan when He taught His disciples to pray, "Deliver
us from the evil one." (Matt. 6:13).
C. Chapter 12, Verses 10-12, The Heavenly View of Satan's Banishment From
"(10) And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, 'Now the salvation and
power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for
the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, who accuses them before our
God day and night. (11) 'And they overcame him because of the blood of the
Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life
even to death. (12) 'For this reason, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them.
Woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has come down to you, having great
wrath, knowing that he has only a short time.'" NASV.
Verses 10 - 12 are a new paragraph and new thoughts are presented based on
some of the thoughts that have gone before. A voice in heaven was heard, an
outburst praising God, celebrating the complete triumph as if it had all come about
simultaneously. Indeed, with God it had already come about. God is not bound
with mankind's time limitations. When God plans to complete a purpose, it is done,
and even when in mankind's time limitations certain purposes of God have not yet
come to pass, mankind would do well to know that the purposes are as good as
done. They are absolutely certain. The stage was set for the victory when Satan
was thrown down out of heaven for then his doom was sealed and the victory of
Jesus Christ was assured.
In verse 12 the voice from heaven took recognition of mankind's earthly time
frame and said, from the viewpoint of first century Christians, that Satan would
have only a short time left during which God would allow him to express his wrath
on earth. The "woe to the earth and the sea" was a warning and a plea to mankind.
There was only a short time left at the time of the writing of the Revelation. Thank
God there is still a short time left today, time left for people to repent. Why should
someone follow Satan who is doomed?
James Burton Coffman says, "The great significance (of these verses) is that
human sorrows have implication far beyond life on earth. ... Satan hates God and all
His goodness, but he cannot attack God; therefore he turns his malignant rage
against the race of men. Some may ask, why does not God go ahead and destroy
Satan at once in order to save all this tribulation? But the purpose of God requires
that men be tested, and Satan is used of God for that purpose until all the Father's
designs are accomplished. ... In this appears the explanation of all the woes of earth.
Our conflict is not merely ours alone." Morris says that angelic forces also are
engaged in out conflict. Our struggles are not to be shrugged off as insignificant.
They are part of the great conflict between good and evil.
D. Chapter 12, Verses 13-17, The Persecution of the Woman by the Dragon.
"(13) And when the dragon saw that he was thrown down to the earth, he
persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male-child. (14) And the two wings
of the great eagle were given to the woman, in order that she might fly into the
wilderness to her place, where she was nourished for a time and times and half a
time, from the presence of the serpent. (15) And the serpent poured water like a
river out of his mouth after the woman, so that he might cause her to be swept away
with the flood. (16) And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its
mouth and drank up the river which the dragon poured out of his mouth. (17) And
the dragon was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of
her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of
In verse 13 the reader is brought back in the vision to the woman and the
dragon. The duration of the persecution of this woman by Satan was as long as the
human race has existed and will exist on earth. There has never been a time, nor
will there be while this age continues, when Satan does not persecute the righteous.
He persecuted old Israel, then her Son, Christ, then the church throughout this age.
Why? James Burton Coffman offers two reasons. (1) Satan was thrown out of
heaven to earth where mankind was available to him as an object of his hatred and
wrath, and, (2) Satan knew, from the beginning, that he had but a little time - short
in comparison with eternity.
In verse 14 the great drama moved into the phase in which Christians live
today. Today the warfare rages against the church established by Christ when He
ascended to His sovereign throne in heaven. During the first part of the Christian
age, the time in which the Revelation was actually set down in a book, Satan had
gotten hold of Old Israel itself and was using the Jews as a Satanic instrument
against the church. The first outrages against the church were promulgated by the
But in this vision God gave the woman the two wings of the great eagle in
order for her to flee from the persecution by the dragon. The symbol of eagle's
wings was an old one. The book of Exodus told of God's deliverance of Israel
from Egypt, "I have borne you on eagle's wings." (Exodus 9:4). The reference in
this vision to eagle's wings and the wilderness in which the woman was nourished
is a plain indication that the experiences of the church in the Christian age are the
anti-type of the escape of Israel from Pharaoh and Israel's preservation in the
wilderness wanderings. Christians, the people of the new covenant, should be
reminded that they are pilgrims like the children of Israel were, having no settled or
permanent home in this world.
The phrase "time, and times, and half a time" was said in verse 14 to be the
time that the woman was nourished in the wilderness. Back in verse 6 it was said
that the woman had a place in the wilderness where she might be nourished by God
for twelve hundred and sixty days. Our conclusion then is that the phrase "time,
and times, and half a time" was a period equivalent in this case to 3 and ½ years, or
twelve hundred and sixty days. (If "a time" refers to one year, "times" refers to two
years, and "half a time" refers to six months, that is the same period as twelve
hundred and sixty days.) This phrase "time, and times, and half a time, is also
found in the book of Daniel. The literal meaning of the word "time" in Daniel was
"an appointed time or season." And in Daniel it is thought that the phrase referred
to 3 and ½ years. This period is the same as the 42 months of chapter 11 when the
nations would tread under foot the holy city. The conclusion is that all these
expressions symbolize the same period, the whole period of the church's experience
upon the earth.
In verse 15 "water like a river" came out of the serpent's mouth with which
he tried to sweep the woman away. First, notice that the symbol for Satan, which
was a dragon when he first encountered the woman, changes to a serpent. There is
no question but that it is a reference to the same Satan, the devil. The fact that the
"water like a river" came out of the mouth of the evil serpent who told lies to Adam
and Eve gives the impression that the "river" was a symbol for the lies and
falsehoods that flowed out of the mouth of Satan. The conclusion is that they were
evil and false philosophies with which Satan tries to subvert and effectively sweep
away the church during the Christian age. Already mentioned in the Revelation
(chapters 2 and 3) are possible examples of evil philosophies which were at work
among the seven churches of Asia when this Revelation was given to John. The
philosophies and deeds of the Nicolaitans, the teaching of Balaam, the teachings of
the self-styled prophetess Jezebel, and the teachings of the synagogue of Satan are a
few that were mentioned. Today such philosophies as evolution, Romanism,
Denominationalism, Unitarianism, Materialism, Communism, and Humanism are
plaguing the thinking of Christians in the church. When they creep into the
thinking of Christians, they can bring about a false Christianity which embraces
In verse 16 the earth itself, God's creation, was said to help the woman by
swallowing up the river out of Satan's mouth. This symbolism does not easily and
clearly come to mind. Certainly the church was preserved in a wonderful and even
miraculous way from the evil efforts of Satan. Perhaps this is in accordance with
the operation of the principle that "God causes all things to work together for good
to those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose." (Romans
8:28). The woman was symbolic of all those who love God and are called
according to His purpose. God causes all His creation (the earth) to work to work
together for the good of the church, and even uses the river of lies from Satan's
mouth to contribute toward the ultimate triumph of God's purpose. We don't
always recognize all that God does providentially in this respect.
In verse 17 the dragon continued to exercise his wrath toward the woman
even though the earth swallowed up the river of lies with which he tried to engulf
her. Satan's wrath never ceases even though God has never allowed him to triumph
over the true church. So in the vision Satan went after the individual members of
the church. This vision teaches readers that Satanic lies concerning their
relationship with God and Jesus are to be expected from today's world.
E. Chapter 13, Verses 1-10, The Beast Out of the Sea and the Beast Out of the
"(1) And he stood on the sand of the seashore. And I saw a beast coming up
out of the sea, having ten horns and seven heads, and on his horns were ten
diadems, and on his heads were blasphemous names. (2) And the beast which I
saw was like a leopard, and his feet were like those of a bear, and his mouth was
like the mouth of a lion. And the dragon gave him his power and his throne and
great authority. (3) And I saw one of the heads as if it had been slain, and his fatal
wound was healed. And the whole world was amazed and followed after the beast;
(4) and they worshiped the dragon, because he gave his authority to the beast; and
they worshiped the beast, saying, 'Who is like the beast, and who is able to wage
war with him?' (5) And there was given to him a mouth speaking arrogant words
and blasphemies; and authority to act for forty two months was given to him. (6)
And he opened his mouth in blasphemies against God, to blaspheme His name and
His tabernacle, that is, those who dwell in heaven. (7) And it was given to him to
make war with the saints and to overcome them; and authority over every tribe and
people and tongue and nation was given to him. (8) And all who dwell on the earth
will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation
of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain. (9) If anyone has
an ear, let him hear. (10) If anyone is destined for captivity, to captivity he goes; if
anyone kills with the sword, with the sword he must be killed. Here is the
perseverance and faith of the saints." NASV.
In verse 1 John saw "a beast coming up out of the sea." The context here
seems to indicate that the dragon called up the beast to help him persecute the
woman of chapter 12, that is, to help him persecute the people of God. Verse 4 says
the dragon, Satan, gave his authority to the beast, and verse 7 says it was given to
the beast to make war with the saints. The saints, of course, are the people of God.
"The sea" is believed to be an expression equivalent to the whole world. The
beast out of the sea had evil influence throughout the whole world.
The beast out of the sea had ten horns and seven heads. We remember in
chapter 12, verse 3 that the dragon, the devil himself, was said to have ten horns
and seven heads also. So the beast out of the sea in that respect resembled the
Furthermore, the beast out of the sea is described in verse 2 as being like in
some respects a leopard, a bear, and a lion. This description reminds one of a
vision seen by Daniel in Daniel chapter 7. The symbolism in John's vision may be
analogous to the symbolism of Daniel's vision because there are some striking
similarities between the two visions.
In the 7th chapter of Daniel's book, Daniel saw four beasts coming up out of
the sea. One beast was like a leopard, one was like a bear, and one was like a lion.
The fourth beast that Daniel saw devoured the other three beasts, and it had ten
horns with an eleventh horn growing up among the ten. Daniel's vision was not
only described but it's meaning was also given in the Book of Daniel. Daniel was
told that the four breasts he saw stood for four kings who would arise. Also Daniel
was told that the horns on his fourth beast stood for kings who would arise.
Daniel's vision was a revelation of the history of world governments to come.
The visions of Daniel and John are not identical. But there are striking
similarities. In Revelation chapter 13 John saw only a single beast come up out of
the sea. His single beast had characteristics similar to three of Daniel's beasts,
characteristics of a leopard, a bear, and a lion. And John's beast had ten horns like
the fourth of Daniel's beasts. It appears that John's beast out of the sea was a
composite of all four of Daniel's beasts from the sea. Daniel's beasts symbolized
kingdoms of the world. The conclusion is that John's vision in chapter 13 of
Revelation also has to do with world history and kingdoms, or governments, of the
The seven heads of John's beast from the sea seem to indicate that this beast
symbolizes all the world powers. The ten horns of John's single beast also
represented kingdoms or secular powers as in Daniel. The single beast John saw
was said in verse 5 to act for forty two month (equivalent to 1260 days) which
period is considered to be symbolic of the entire Christian dispensation. Therefore,
it is concluded that John's beast out of the sea stood for the secular governments of
the world during the entire last days in which Christians live on earth.
On this beast's seven heads were blasphemous names. This means that the
secular governments represented by the beast ascribed all honor and glory to
themselves, and denied honor and glory to God. Therefore, they were blasphemous.
At the time that the Revelation was written there was an example of just such a
government in power throughout much of the world. That was the pagan Roman
government whose Caesars required their subjects to burn incense to them and to
address them as "Lord and God". Beyond the first century the beast from the sea
symbolized the persecuting power of Satan embodied in all the governments of the
world throughout the Christian period of history.
In verse 2, the fact that the single beast was like a leopard and a bear and a
lion all combined together in one beast made him even more frightful than any of
the four beasts seen by Daniel. There was no doubt that this beast was allied with
Satan for the dragon (who is identified as Satan) gave "gave him his power, and his
throne, and great authority." ... Does this mean that Satan, although thrown out of
heaven long ago before the writing of Revelation, still had a throne and great
authority? The answer is: yes and no! Satan was allowed to usurp some authority
but his authority went only as far as God allowed. And God let the decision of how
far Satan could extend his authority to mankind, that is, God left it to His human
creation. Satan's authority has always gone only as far as people have allowed it to
Satan is called "the god of this world" in 2nd Cor. 4:4, and he is called the
"prince of this world" in John 12:31, but it is only because people are blind enough
to acknowledge him as such. Remember, everything that Satan claims is a lie!
Ultimately Satan has no authority. Many people feel, perhaps, that it is a terrible
thing that God has allowed Satan to be here on earth with mankind to cause so
much pain and anguish. However, the truth is that Satan could do nothing without
the cooperation of people. If people would not follow him, he would have no
Roberson has commented, "The dragon gave the beast his throne and power.
This means he works through the beast as his agent; and it is to Satan's interest that
he disguises his working under the typical and normal forces of the world."
Apparently Satan has learned that he has more success if people do not believe in
him and in the reality of spirit beings at all. Satan has persuaded many people of
the world that there is no God; but not only that, he has also persuaded them that
there is no devil either. This allows Satan to continue to work behind the scenes to
deceive people through the beast. After all, many unwitting people do not believe
that Satan exists.
In verse 3 it was said that it appeared "as though," or "as if one of the beast's
head had been smitten unto death; and his death stroke was healed." The language
makes it plain that it just looked like the beast died and came back to life again.
The inference was that it was all a great hoax carried out by Satan's manipulation of
the beast. The hoax had success because, as a result, "the whole world was amazed
and followed after the beast."
In verse 4 the result of the great hoax was that the people of the world said,
"Who is like the beast, and who is able to wage war with him?" In other words, the
people were saying that the beast was invincible, which, of course, is not true.
Satan pulled a hoax on mankind. Only God is invincible!
We can surmise that the first century Christians looked upon the Roman
government of the Caesars as an example of this sea beast. The vision of John
written down for the first century church made it clear that it was a very serious and
evil thing for a person to worship Caesar as though he were God. There are a
number of governments in the world today which try to influence its people to
similarly reject God. To pay homage to such governments is the same as
worshiping the devil who is behind their operations.
In verse 5 the phrase "there was given to him" indicated that the beast was
not in reality as powerful as he may have appeared. He operated only with the
permission of God and only in the fleshly realm. It was not Satan but God who
reigned supreme. That is one of the really important messages of the Revelation.
The "mouth speaking arrogant words and blasphemies" that were given to the
beast indicated how the beast was allowed to carry on his campaign on earth. In
verse 6 this thought was continued with the information that the beast "opened his
mouth in blasphemies against God." The beast's blasphemy was against both God
and "His tabernacle." The church, the assembly of Christians, is God's tabernacle
on earth in this age. This was pointed out later in Revelation 21:3, "The tabernacle
of God is among men, and He shall dwell among them." The vision reveals that
speaking against Christians will be a primary activity of the beast. The great
campaign against God is focused in this age in attacks upon Christians.
The last phrase of verse 6, "those who dwell in heaven," was probably a
further explanation of God's tabernacle, another phrase referring to Christians.
Even though Christians are God's tabernacle as they dwell on earth in the flesh,
they spiritually are in heaven even as they live on earth. Their citizenship is in
heaven and they spiritually are not a part of the beast's world at all. Not only does
Christ dwell in the Christian and the church on earth, the Christian is "in Christ"
rather than "in the world" even as Christ is on His throne in heaven now.
Verse 7 shows the extent of the world in which God allowed the beast to
operate. It was over "every tribe and people and tongue and nation." All people of
the world live under some sort of government and Satan is allowed to try to subvert
that government to his wishes. The conclusion seems to be that in the world there is
no way to escape the authority given to the beast or the warfare that he wages. This
does not mean that Christians must succumb to the beast. Remember that one of
the promises of the first section of the Revelation was, "he who overcomes, and he
who keeps my deeds until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations."
Verse 8 says, "all who dwell on earth will worship him (the beast), everyone
whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of
life of the Lamb who has been slain." This just reminds us that, from God's
foundation of the world, it has been God's desire that all people be saved from
Satan and his beasts. Each and every person has a birthright, written in the Lamb's
book of life, to dwell with God. But
people have the capability to sell their
birthrights to Satan or his beasts. If they
sell their birthrights, their names are
removed from the Lamb's book of life
and their names cannot be found there.
In verses 9 and 10 the vision
seems to tell John and his Christian
brethren that they must accept God's method of dealing with Satan and the beast.
Through all the turmoil and warfare that God allows the beast to stir up, the saints
are called upon to persevere, to be steadfast, and to have faith.
F. Chapter 13, Verses 11-18, The Beast Out of the Earth.
"(11) And I saw another beast coming up out of the earth, and he had two
horns like a lamb, and he spoke as a dragon. (12) And he exercises all the
authority of the first beast in his presence. And he makes the earth and those who
dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose fatal wound was healed. (13) And he
performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down out of heaven to the
earth in the presence of men. (14) And he deceives those who dwell on earth
because of the signs it was given him to perform in the presence of the beast, telling
those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who had the wound of
the sword and has come to life. (15) And there was given to him to give breath to
the image of the beast, that the image of the beast might even speak and cause as
many as do not worship the beast to be killed. (16) And her causes all, the small
and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free men and the slaves, to be given
a mark on their right hand, or on their forehead, (17) and he provides that no one
should be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of
the beast or the number of his name. (18) Here is wisdom. Let him who has
understanding calculate the number of the beast, for the number is that of a man;
and his number is six hundred and sixty six." NASV.
In verse 11, "the beast coming up out of the earth' was called in chapter 16,
verse 13, "the fallen prophet." So, looking ahead to chapter 16, we see this beast
was clearly connected with the religious world which has prophets. Also the
symbolism of "two horns like a lamb" right here in chapter 13 appears to try to
make "the beast coming up out of the earth" look like the Lamb of God, the Christ
Himself. However, he spoke as the dragon, the devil himself, so the reader is not
With reference to verse 12, the pseudo religious beast coming up out of the
earth, exercising all the authority of the first beast in his presence, and making the
people of the earth worship the first beast, symbolizes the cooperation of false
religion and worldly governments to seduce the people of the world away from God.
(I'm not well enough acquainted with first century history to site a first century
example of this. But in later centuries there are some prime examples. For
instance, the Roman Catholic Church formed the Holy Roman Empire to replace
the old pagan Roman Empire. The alliances between the Roman Church and
various governments of the world appear to be an example of the cooperation of the
land beast and the sea beast. So also, this sort of cooperation can be seen in the
alliance of the Islamic Religion with Islamic governments. In fact, the Islamic
Religion invented Islamic governments which hold sway over more than a billion
people on the earth today.)
In verse 13 the second beast "performs great signs, so that he even makes fire
come down out of heaven to earth." But verse 14 indicates that his signs are a
deception. Remember that God's true Old Testament prophets were enabled by
God to call down fire from heaven. The magicians could imitate them and make it
appear to some that they had miraculous powers. But their's was simply man's
magic. God allow this land beast, the false prophet, to imitate the miraculous signs
done through His real prophets, but they are a deception no matter how marvelous
they may seem to be.
And then inverse 14, the second beast told the people of the world to make an
image of the first beast and to worship it. If the first beast represented worldly
governments, it is reasonable to assume that an image of that beast would be a
miniature version of worldly government, that is, a little state patterned after a big
state. Brother Coffman suggests that an example of this is the Vatican City State of
Rome whose diplomatic apparatus reaches all around the world, which has its own
laws and own government as a worldly empire in miniature, or an image. Wherever
in this world there is a collaboration between false religion and worldly government,
there is likely to be an example of the things symbolized in this vision.
In verse 15 the second beast was allowed by God to make the image to
appear to live and speak. Moreover, the second beast was allowed to cause people
to be killed who do not worship the image. Here, perhaps is the ultimate deception
of the second beast, the false prophet. He instills in people the fear of fleshly death,
proclaiming it to be the ultimate death. Or he claims to have power to cause eternal
spiritual death (such as the death inferred by ex-communication) when, at most, he
has the power of cause fleshly death. Jesus told His disciples, "Do not fear those
who kill the body, but are unable to kill the soul." (Matt. 10:28). Christians must
remember that fleshly death is but a sleep of the body. At the end of this age, "The
Lord Himself will descend from heaven ... and the dead in Christ will rise first ...
we who are alive ... shall not precede those who have fallen asleep." (1st Thess.
It is not disallowed by God that the beast should literally put to fleshly death
the saints of God. It has happened all throughout this age and happens today,
perhaps more often than Christians of America realize. Satan, of course, is aware
that in the mere fleshly killing of a steadfast believer, there is no victory that he can
claim. He seeks to kill Christians eternally. But to do that Satan needs the
cooperation of the Christian himself.
If Satan can just convince people that there is no eternal soul or spirit, that
fleshly death is the end of everything, that his material world of government and
false religion is all there is, then, upon people's inevitable fleshly death, he has
destroyed both soul and body in hell! So the second beast's effort is to get people to
live on earth in just that way, worshiping the image of worldly power as if there
were no other power available. Satan tries to deceive people into making the wrong
choice. He tries to deceive people into exchanging the truth of God for a lie!
In verse 16 the second beast caused the people of the world who believed his
lie to be given "a mark on their right hand, or on their forehead." Here is seen this
evil religious power trying to imitate Christ who seals His followers on the
forehead. (Rev. 7:3).
The seal given to the Christians is the Holy spirit of God proving to beings in
the spiritual realm that Christians belong to Christ. The mark of the beast is not a
spiritual seal but a mere mark signifying that a person worships the beast and
belongs to the beast. The mark of the beast is given on the forehead, perhaps to
symbolize the mind, the thought life, or the philosophy of a person. Or the mark
may be given on the hand symbolizing the deed, action, or trade of a person. Hence
a person shows off his mark of the beast when he persecutes the church in what he
thinks, says, writes, or in what he does.
Then in verse 17 the second beast managed his followers in such a way that
they excluded from the commerce of the whole world those people of God who did
not have the marl of the beast. That apparently is the purpose of the mark of the
beast, that is, that the people of God who do not have the mark may be
discriminated against. No one can buy or sell except the one who has the mark of
the beast. One must be against God's people, the church, in order to buy and sell in
commerce. This beastly interference with free commerce has permeated much of
the commerce in a number of countries in the world today. If a Christian wants to
do business in certain countries of the world he must hide the fact that he is a
Christian so that the world will not recognize him as not having the mark of the
beast. Usually in our own country Christians may do business openly as Christians
and God cares for them and delivers them from evil. But Satan is at work behind
the scenes and it can happen in America.
Organized false religion united with evil governments practice regularly this
device of excluding the people of God from commerce. A former catholic priest
who was baptized into Christ in his home country of Italy was then prevented from
getting a job anywhere in Italy. A Muslim convert to Christianity will be disowned
by his family and his entire country, and he often must leave his country to save his
life. A practicing Christian in the old Soviet Union was very often disowned by
every element of communist government and society. He became a non-person
with no personal rights. He could not have employment, could not receive rations,
could not go to school, could not travel, and was treated almost as if he did not
Christians must remember that buying and selling is one of the big operations
of Satan and his beasts. Christians must not enter the area of buying and selling on
the terms presented by the beast, that is, as if they have the mark of the beast
themselves. God has not left Christians at the mercy of the beast. Jesus told His
followers to "seek first His kingdom and His righteousness" and the necessary
material things of this world would be added to them.
Would God not have Christians take some action against the beast's
influence? Yes. But God wants Christians to let Him lead in the actions to be
taken. Jesus said, concerning outreach to the people who have the mark of the
beast, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation." (Mark 15:16).
Why? Because "the gospel is the power of God for salvation." (Romans 1:16).
The salvation of people from Satan and the beasts is God's purpose. The power to
defeat Satan and the beasts is the gospel of Christ. As for shielding our own
Christian loved ones after they have been converted, Jesus said to teach them to
observe all that I have commanded. (Matt. 28:20).
Have you noticed that Satan and his beasts know how to reach people of the
world through the use of mass-media? (AM and FM radio, television, internet,
printed material, etc.) Now, God has told Christians to go to all the people of the
world with His power for salvation, and God has provided mass-media to be used
by Christians for that purpose. But Satan and his beasts seem to have recognized
and grasped the possibilities of the media more quickly than have Christians.
Already there are influences at work in our country to try to prevent Christians from
airing the word of God on some of the mass-media.
Finally verse 17 says that the people of the world who take part in the beast's
system of buying and selling have either the mark of the beast, the name of the
beast, or the number of his name. Then verse 18 says the number of the beast is
"the number of a man"; and "his number is 666."
Does this mean that the beast in the vision refers to one specific man in
history? If it does, then it departs from the pattern of the rest of Revelation, where
symbols have many examples in history. Rather the number of the second beast is
the number of "man", that is, human beings. Hendricksen writes, "Man was
created on the sixth day. Six, moreover, is not seven and never reaches seven. It
always fails to attain perfection (which is an attribute of man). The number six
means missing the mark, or failure. Seven means perfection, or victory. The
victory is with God and His church. The number of the beast is 666, that is, failure,
upon failure, upon failure. It is the number of man, for the beast glories only in
man, and hence, must fail."
Another commentator, Cox, says, "The number 666 represents worldliness at
its zenith, expressing all that is possible for human wisdom and power, when
directed by an evil spirit, to achieve. This man cannot be identified as a specific
individual, but as a type, a kind."
Chapters 12 and 13 have presented a symbolical account of what Satan is
allowed by God to do throughout world history. In this last age he has raised up
this sea beast and this land beast. He has been allowed to pervert people in the civil
governments of the world and to pervert the religious inclinations of mankind.
After these chapters the question might be asked, Is evil going to triumph? Next
chapter 14 states clearly that wickedness shall not prevail; evil cannot win. God's
people are kept safe through all of Satan's rampages. The first beast shall fall. The
second beast will be tormented with fire and brimstone forever and ever. Chapter
14 shows symbolically the final judgement where two great enemies of God are
overthrown. But the true followers of God are preserved blameless.
G. Chapter 14, Verses 1-5, The Lamb and the 144,000 on Mount Zion.
"(1) And I looked. And behold, the Lamb was standing on Mount Zion, and
with Him were one hundred and forty four thousand, having His name and the
name of His Father written on their foreheads. (2) And I heard a voice from
heaven, like the sound of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder, and the
voice which I heard was like the sound of harpists playing their harps. (3) And
they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the
elders, and no one could learn the song except the one hundred and forty four
thousand who had been purchased from the earth. (4) These are the ones who have
not been defiled with women, for they have kept themselves chaste. These are the
ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These have been purchased from
among men as first fruits to God and to the Lamb. (5) And no lie was found in
their mouth; they are blameless." NASV.
In verse 1 John had a vision of Christ, the Lamb, on Mount Zion with
144,000 people who belong to Him. His name and the name of God, the Father,
was written on their foreheads.
Mount Zion is a symbol of heaven. In Heb. 12:22 Christians were told that
they have come to "Mount Zion" which is also called "the city of the living God, the
heavenly Jerusalem." So the vision is of Christ and the 144,000 in heaven. These
are undoubtedly the same 144,000 who were seen in the vision of chapter 7. In
chapter 7 the 144,000 were still living on earth and they were being sealed with the
seal of the living God on their foreheads. Now in chapter 14 the vision shows them
preserved through all the evil catastrophes of world history. Not one of them has
been lost. The number of them is still a perfect 144,000. No one who truly belongs
to God are lost. Surely the 144,000 are symbolic of all of God's people, and the
church in this last age. Verse 3 says the 144,000 are they who have been purchased
out of the earth. This strongly suggests that the 144,000 represent all who have
been saved by the blood of the Lamb. God's people need not fear any catastrophe
brought about by Satan and his beasts. At the time of the judgement Christians will
stand in heaven with Christ.
In verse 2 John heard a voice from heaven, either the voice of God, or the
voice of someone authorized by God to speak. The voice was like the sound of
many waters. But it was not waters that John heard. He heard a voice. The voice
was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps. But it was not harps that John
heard. He heard a voice.
In verse 3 the symbolic 144,000 were before the throne of God. The vision
shows again the scene of God's throne as it was shown in the vision of chapter 4.
There was God on His throne with Christ also enthroned. And the four living
creatures and the twenty four elders were there also. But in chapter 14 all the
redeemed of God are there also. God's redeemed people sang "a new song" for
they were enjoying a "new" experience. And this experience was "new" in the
most marvelous sense of the word "new." It was like that Christians have never
been able to imagine on earth. This song and this experience was only for the
people of God. Those who received the counterfeit mark of the beast could not
"sing" it, only those with the true seal of God.
Verses 4 and 5 give the characteristics which identify the 144,000 people.
First, they are symbolically like men who have not defiled themselves with women
but are chaste, or virgins. This probably means they are not like people who have
committed fornication. The symbolic fornication in view in chapter 13 was of
people who defiled themselves by worshiping the beast. These people of God
represented by the 144,000 have not worshiped the beast. Verse 4 says, "these are
the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes." They do not follow Satan or the
Verse 4 goes on to say, "These have been purchased from among men as first
fruits to God and to the Lamb." Christ gave His blood as the purchase price to save
all mankind. All mankind had in this sense been purchased. And from among all
mankind, there are some (not a majority) who yield their lives to Christ in return for
His purchase. These are those called the people of God. These make up Christ's
church. These Christians in the church are the first fruits to God and the Lamb.
Later in chapter 14, the vision shows God reaping of the wicked also, those
who are not first fruits. After all, God has purchased the wicked also. But the
wicked, when reaped, will receive the wrath of God. Only the people in the Lord's
church are the first fruits taken into heaven.
"And no lie was found in their mouth; they were blameless." The lie referred
to here is probably sin itself. When one sins, he succumbs to Satan's lie. Sin is
acceptance of Satan's lie. When one sins, he lies along with Satan. But Christians
have repented and have obeyed their Lord to be taken into His body. In Christ (and
only in Christ) Christians are blameless. The message of the Revelation to
Christians is that you are blameless in Christ. Therefore remain steadfast; do not
remove yourself from that relationship with Christ. No matter what is done to you
by the beast on earth, after the judgement you will stand as one of the 144,000
without blame before the throne of God singing a new song.
Now that the Lord has assured His people in verses 1 through 5 that they
shall be with Christ in heaven after the judgement, John's vision turns to warnings
about the approaching judgement. There are three warning brought by three angels.
H. Chapter 14, Verses 6-7, The Angel with the Eternal Gospel.
"(6) And I saw another angel flying in mid-heaven, having an eternal gospel
to preach to those who live on the earth, and to every nation and tribe and tongue,
and people; (7) and He said with a loud voice, 'Fear God, and give Him glory,
because the hour of His judgement has come; and worship Him who made the
heaven and the earth and springs of water.'" NASV.
In verse 6 the first of the three angels was sent to those who live or dwell on
earth, This angel had "the eternal gospel" or "the eternal good tidings,' to preach "to
every nation and tribe and tongue and people." No matter how people are
classified, as to political boundaries of the nations, as to family heritage of the
tribes, as to languages people speak with the tongue, or as to the basic ethnic
background of people, the eternal gospel is for all. And Christians are
commissioned by Christ to preach it to all people during this entire age.
It is not only high time for evil people to repent and accept God's gospel, it is
also high time for the people of God's own possession to repent and accept His
commission to preach the gospel throughout the whole world. This vision is a
warning as well as an assurance. And it is the prescribed action of God to be
carried out by Christians against Satan and the beasts.
In verse 7 the angel says, "the hour of His judgement has come." And indeed
the vision shows that the time is upon us. If one thinks that John's writing of this
vision has been around for almost 2,000 years and it might be a great number more
of years before the judgement, remember that my life and your life is short. That is
the urgency of this warning. So fear God and give Him glory now by preaching the
gospel to the world.
You know, God's natural creation declares a "gospel" to mankind. God has
made all creation to prepare mankind for the gospel of Christ. God even uses a
person's sins to make him aware that he is without excuse, for until a person
realizes he is without excuse, he feels no need for God's gift of salvation.
Therefore, for all the people of the world who have not heard the gospel preached
by the voice of Christian, there are a great many who will be receptive to preaching
for they have heard the gospel of God's natural creation. Perhaps the church's
responsibility to preach to those who have never heard of Christ is greater than the
church's responsibility to preach to those who have heard it over and over again and
to whom God's Holy Bible is so readily available.
I. Chapter 14, Verse 8, Announcement of the Fall of Babylon.
"(8) And another angel, a second one, followed, saying, 'Fallen, fallen is
Babylon the great, she who has made all the nations drink of the wine of the passion
of her immorality.'" NASV.
In verse 8 a second angel gave a warning. Notice that Babylon was spoken
of as having already fallen. This means that it is the purpose of God that Babylon
fall, and it is certain to occur. The old city of Babylon was an actual center of a
great evil world empire. Obviously the name Babylon was used symbolically here,
for the old city of Babylon had fallen long before this vision was written. Students
of history, reading this, know how Babylon fell and was wiped clean from the earth,
it being very hard to even find the ruins of the old city of Babylon. So it is a very
good symbol to indicate what will happen to an evil world government.
Babylon here is first introduced to the symbols of the Revelation. Later in
the next section, in Revelation 16:19, Babylon seems to represent an outgrowth of
the sea-beast and the land-beast, that is, an outgrowth of the cooperation of civil
governments and false religions. Then in Revelation 17:5, Babylon seems to
represent an apostate church.
The statement, "She hath made all the nations drink of the wine of the
passion of her immorality" is rendered in another translation, "That hath made all
the nations to drink of the wrath of her fornication." A commentator, Ladd, says of
this, "This combines two ideas: the wine used to intoxicate and to seduce to
fornication, and the wine of God's wrath. Babylon has deceived and seduced all
nations by her enticements of wealth and luxury, but this cup will turn out to be the
cup of God's wrath."
James Burton Coffman says, "The Babylon in view here is not merely the
one on the Tiber river (of ancient days). Babylon is understood as a type. Any
great government center where there is entrenched greed, indifference to God,
hatred of Christ, and the worship of men, there also is Babylon the great."
J. Chapter 14, Verses 9-12, Judgement of Those with the Mark of the Beast.
"(9) And another angel, a third one, followed them, saying with a loud voice,
'If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives a marl on his forehead or
upon his hand, (10) he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is
mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with fire
and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb.
(11) And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; and they have no
rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever
receives the mark of his name.' (12) Here is the perseverance of the saints who
keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus." NASV.
In verses 9, 10, and 11, the third angel gave warning. He announced that all
those who were attached to the second beast were going to receive the same
judgement as the beasts. If one chooses to serve Satan in this life, one must expect
to suffer the consequences in the judgement. One cannot sin and get away with it.
The mention in verse 9 of the "image" and the "mark on the forehead or
upon his hand" identifies this as the judgement of the second beast and his
followers. Individual responsibility is stressed, of everybody and anybody, for verse
9 says, "If any man worships the beast." A person is not forced to worship the
beast and does not have to worship the beast or receive the mark of the beast. If
one succumbs to the beast to receive his mark, he still does not have to remain in
that relationship to the beast. He can repent and turn to the Lamb, if he does not
wait too late.
In chapter 13 the beast proclaimed that those who did not worship the beast
would be killed and that they would not be permitted to buy and sell. In chapter 14,
verses 10 and 11, God makes a counter- proclamation. In verse 10 God through the
angel proclaimed that those who do worship the beast will die spiritually. They will
drink of the wine of the wrath of God and endure torment in fire and brimstone.
This punishment will not be unjust. It will be so thoroughly just that angels
and the Lamb will acquiesce to it, for verse 10 says the punishment will be
administered "in the presence of the holy angels and the Lamb."
Many people in our world do not believe in the eternal punishment of the
wicked.. However, if they believe in God at all, they must come to learn that evil
cannot dwell in the presence of God. " God is light, and in Him is no darkness at
all." (1st John 1:5). God totally abhors evil. That is His nature. God has given
humans, as their nature, freedom of will. If a person chooses to embrace darkness,
which is utterly contrary to God's nature, he absolutely cannot dwell in the presence
of God. However, after the judgement there will be no place to dwell except (1)
with God, or (2) with the author of darkness, Satan. If one refuses to break ties
with the darkness of Satan, he absolutely cannot dwell with God. He must be
banished with Satan. There is no other place. One cannot stay on earth. "The
elements will be destroyed with fervent heat, and the earth and its works will be
burned up". (2nd Peter 3:10). The people of Satan must be thrown into the "eternal
fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels," said our Lord in Matt.
If one does not want to think of people going to hell, would one have God be
lenient with Satan? Satan still seeks to eternally separate mankind from God by
getting people to believe the lie that , separated from God, they "shall surely not
die." (Genesis 3:4). But separated from God, there is no other place for people to be
except with Satan whose lie they have accepted. God will not be lenient with Satan.
Satan will be cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:10) to be tormented forever and
Satan's punishment is the very definition of death, the real spiritual death.
God warned mankind from the beginning in the Garden of Eden, that the day one
eats of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, he will surely die. (Gen. 2:17).
Satan had the audacity to say to mankind, "You shall not surely die." All the while
Satan himself was the first candidate for death! If one follows Satan it leads to
spiritual death which is eternal separation from God, and eternal punishment with
Satan in the lake of fire.
Verse 12, as one commentator said, is the "punch line" for verses 9 - 11.
Since the fate of the followers of the beast is to be so terrible, God's people must, at
all costs, continue to remain steadfast in the light and in the love of Christ. Then,
even if they should be put to untimely fleshly death, they will be saved eternally.
K. Chapter 14, Verse 13, The Blessing of Those Who Die in the Lord.
"(13) And I heard a voice from heaven, saying, 'Write, Blessed are the dead
who die in the Lord from now on!' 'Yes', says the Spirit, 'that they may rest from
their labors, for their deeds follow with them.'" NASV.
Verse 13 declares that all will be blessed who meet fleshly death in spiritual
union with Christ. Note that the blessedness and the rest that was promised was
only for those who "die in the Lord." James Burton Coffman reminds us that Paul,
for one, spoke of the necessity of being "in Christ" no less than 169 rimes in his
writings. To be "in Christ" is to be in spiritual union with Christ. The New
Testament clearly and unequivocally points out that the spiritual union is
accomplished, achieved, and completed through the believer's being "baptized into
Christ." (Romans 6:3-5; Gal. 3:26-27). There is not the slightest hint in the New
Testament of anyone's ever having been "in Christ": who was not baptized "into
Consequently, no one ever "died in the Lord" who was not "in Him" before
he died. What is indicated in this verse is fidelity from the time of one's baptism
until one's fleshly death, even should fleshly death be the consequence of one's
Verse 13 closes with the statement that "their deed (or works) follow after
them," that is, follow with them into the heavenly rest. This obviously does not
mean that anyone can be justified and saved by works alone, for that doctrine would
not require anyone to be "in Christ." Works, or deeds, do not put one "in Christ."
What works were meant then? Paul made it clear, "We are His workmanship,
created in Christ for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should
walk in them." (Eph. 9:10). One is not "created in Christ," or saved, as a result of
his works. One is created in Christ as a result of his obedience of faith culminating
in baptism. Then one must walk in good works thereafter. It is only "in Christ"
that one's works can be "good." The works mentioned here in verse 13 are the
works of God's purpose that God gives one to do after he becomes a Christian by
"baptism into Christ." God wants to use Christians as "vessels of mercy." He
cannot use people until they become Christians through being "baptized into
When Christians are taken into their heavenly rest, these works follow in
with them. A main point here seems to be that lives of good works done in Christ
will be to the ultimate glory of God and His Son. All that Christians do to His glory
on earth will resound to His glory in heaven.
L. Chapter 14, Verses 14-16, One Like a Son of Man Reaps the Harvest of the
"(14) And I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and sitting on the cloud was
one like a son of man, having a golden crown on His head, and a sharp sickle in His
hand. (15) And another angel came out of the temple, crying out with a loud voice
to Him who sat on the cloud, 'Put in your sickle and reap, because the hour to reap
has come, because the harvest of the earth is ripe.' (16) And He who sat on the
cloud swung His sickle over the earth; and the earth was reaped." NASV.
In verse 14, the one sitting on the cloud, like a Son of Man, with a golden
crown on His head, can represent no one other than our Savior, the Christ. The Old
Testament prophet Daniel prophesied that the Son of Man would come with the
clouds. (Daniel 7:13). Jesus Himself when he lived on earth prophesied that He
would come on the clouds of the sky. (Matt. 24:30). And the Revelation has
promised in Rev. 1:7, "Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye shall
see Him." Here in verse 14 He was pictured as one like a Son of Man sitting on a
cloud. The vision to John showed Him to be God's Son, made in man's likeness,
coming with the clouds. The golden crown signified His Kingship. The sickle in
His hand signified His authority to judge. Jesus said of Himself (in John 5:27) that
the Father "gave Him authority to execute judgement because He is he Son of
In verse 15 an angel came out of the temple and gave the order to reap the
harvest. Here we see a vision of an angel passing an order to the Son of God, a very
unusual thing, I would think. But remember, concerning the time of the judgement,
that the Son of God said, in Matt. 24:36f, "Of the day and hour no one knows, not
even the angels of heaven, nor the Son of Man, but the Father alone." How
perfectly consistent the Books of the Bible are! The Son of God does not know
when to reap the harvest until God the Father tells Him. The angel bearing the
message came from the temple where God is and informed the Son sitting on the
cloud. The command to reap the earth did not originate with the angel but with the
In verse 16, Christ simply swung His sickle over the earth and the earth was
reaped. It will not be difficult for Christ to gather His own saved Christians to Him.
The New Testament says that the Christians shall all "be caught up together in the
clouds t0o meet the Lord i9n the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord."
(1st Thess. 4:17).
When will this occur? Verse 15 indicates that it occur when the harvest is
"ripe." It will occur when it is time in God's purpose, and only God Himself knows
when that will be.
What John saw in this vision seems to be the harvest of God's steadfast
people. In the next few verses the scene changes from the harvest of God's people
to the harvest of the wicked. The sequence of these two visions is the same as that
mentioned by Jesus in His discussion of the judgement in Matt. 25. First the
righteous sheep were gathered to Him. Then the unrighteous goats were cast into
eternal punishment. Here in the Revelation simply the symbolism is changed.
M. Chapter 14, Verses 17-20, The Vision of the Judgement of the Wicked.
"(17) And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, and he
also had a sharp sickle. (18) And another angel, the one who has power over fire,
came out from the altar; and he cried with a loud voice to him who had the sharp
sickle, saying, 'Put in your sharp sickle, and gather the clusters from the vine of the
earth, because her grapes are ripe.' (19) And the angel swung his sickle to the
earth. and gathered the clusters from the vine of the earth, and threw them into the
great wine press of the wrath of God. (20) And the wine press was trodden outside
the city, and blood came out from the wine press, up to the horses bridles, for a
distance of two hundred miles." NASV.
In this vision the wicked are likened to grapes. In two places in the Old
Testament prophets the wicked were spoken of as grapes whose judgement came in
the wine press. One place is Isaiah 63. Another is in Joel 3:13-14 where it says,
"Put in the sickle for the harvest is ripe. The vats overflow, for their wickedness is
great. Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision. For the day of the Lord is in
the valley of decision."
In addition to the angel of verse 17, who had the sharp sickle, there was
another angel in verse 18 who had power over fire, who came out of the altar. We
have already studied a vision of an angel associated with the altar. It was in chapter
8. The angel was to add incense to the prayers of the saints upon the altar before
the throne of God. That vision was shown in the midst of the trumpets of
judgement signifying that the prayers of the saints have some connection with
God's judgements. Now in this vision of the final judgement, this seems to be the
same angel who has power over fire and who comes from the altar. It seems to
connect the prayers of the saints, represented by the altar, with the timing of the last
judgement of the wicked, for the angel from the altar carried the message that it was
time to execute judgement of the wicked.
Verse 18 says "her grapes are fully ripe." The judgement will occur when
the grapes are fully ripe. God will decide when that time comes.
Verse 20 says the "wine press was trodden outside the city." Surely the city
mentioned here is a symbol of God's church in heaven, "the city which has
foundations, whose architect and builder is God." (Hebrews 11:10). The symbolic
city is portrayed in chapter 21 and is called the "holy city, Jerusalem, coming down
out of heaven from God." The people of God are safely within that city, and it is
"outside the city" where the fires of hell are located, where the wine press of God is
The description of the blood which came out of the wine press up to the
horses bridles, for a distance of 200 miles (1600 furlongs) is the Lord's way of
symbolizing the terrible fate of the ungodly. It symbolizes the complete destruction
of the whole world and the destruction of the wicked. Of course it is not literal.
The literal judgement will probably be even more terrible than this symbolic vision.
This section of the Revelation has been brought to a conclusion with chapter
14. In chapters 12 through 14.has been another comprehensive view of the entire
history of God's redemptive plan. It began with symbolism representing God's
people from the time of Adam and Eve, and showed how God brought His Son into
the world to serve as the perfect sacrificial Lamb in spite of all that Satan did to
stop it. It even went back before that to show the origin of Satan and why he was
so frantically trying to defeat God. He could not defeat God, so he tries to defeat
God's plan and purpose for mankind.