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.
This is the same 144,000 that we read about in chapter 7.
They represent the whole number of God's redeemed on earth.
We are told that the mark they received in chapter 7 was the name of God on their foreheads
These saints are with the Lamb in His stronghold.
2 And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps:3 And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth.
The voice John hears is loud and heard everywhere and is also full of melody or beautiful to listen to.
Those on the earth are learning the song.
Those in heaven know the song (5:9).
4 These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the
first fruits unto God and to the Lamb.5 And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God.
In verse 3-5 we are given 5 characteristics about the 144,000:
1. They have been purchased out of the earth (v.3).
2. They have not been defiled with women but are described as virgins (v.4).
a. This doesn't refer to physical but spiritual celibacy.
c. One commits spiritual fornication when he worships false gods.
3. They follow the Lamb wherever He goes (v.4).
a. (John 13:36; 21:22; 1 Pet. 2:21; Mt.16:24).
b. These are faithful disciples who continue to walk with the Lord.
4. They were purchased from among men to be the first fruits unto God and the Lamb
a. Paul calls the converts in Asia and Achaia first fruits, indicating that others would follow
b. He speaks of Jesus resurrection as the first fruits from the dead. Indicating that others would follow
c. This 144,000 were the first of many believers to follow.
5. There was no religious falsehood in their mouths (v.5).
6 And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people,7 Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.
The first angel encourages all to fear (have reverence, respect toward) God because the hour of His judgment is come.
8 And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.
Later, Babylon is identified as Rome.
The sea beast represents literal Rome while Babylon represents the evil, unregenerate world.
It is already spoken of as fallen because when God decrees something it is as if it has already occurred
Babylon is fallen because, she had caused other nations to commit idolatry and so feel the wrath of God.
9 And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand,10 The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall 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 ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name
Here we are shown the consequences of idolatry.
Those who worship the beast receive his mark just like the 144,000 received the mark of God.
These will feel the undiluted wrath of God.
16:23-24. They will be tormented with fire and brimstone.
This torment is eternal.
There is no rest from it.
12 Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.13 And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them
The steadfastness of the saints was in their endure persecution.
There is a wonderful promise here. "Happy are those who die in the Lord."
Whereas there is no rest for the wicked, the righteous shall have rest.
Our works do follow us (1
Cor 15:58; 2
I believe that we are now being shown what is recorded in Matthew
13:47-50. The separation of the saints from the wicked of the earth.
The First Judgment (v.14-16).
14 And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle.
Clouds are often used to show a judgment coming (Isaiah
The one on the cloud is Christ. He is wearing a "stephanos;" a victory crown.
He has a sickle in His hand.
15 And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe.16 And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped.
An angel comes out of the temple. He comes with God's authority.
He commands the Son of man to reap for the harvest is ripe. The time has come.
The Son of Man reaps the earth.
The Second Judgment (v.17-20).
17 And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle.18 And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire; and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe.19 And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God.20 And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs.
There is another angel who also has a sickle.
An angel comes out from the altar and tells the angel with the sickle to harvest the clusters of the vine of the earth.
This angel is probably the one we read of in 8:3-5. He cast fire upon the earth in response to the prayers of the saints.
The harvest is cast into the winepress of God's wrath.
Blood coming out of it is symbolic of its severity.