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Past Ponderings

Saturday, June 4, 2022

What’s Next? (Revelation 14:6-20)


What’s Next? (Revelation 14:6-20)

GIST: Jesus offers everyone the eternal rescue we desperately need, but rejecting His rescue is choosing Hell. 

Today, we’re coming to our last message in Revelation before pausing for our annual “Summer in Psalms”. Really, this does serve as a natural place to take a break because it brings home one of the central messages of the entire letter, but it’s not an easy one to talk about. See, the popular view of Revelation paints it as some mysterious book about the end of the world. However, I pray our walk through this text thus far has made it clear it’s so much more than that. This is meant to show us Jesus. That’s the focus. Nonetheless, it does talk about what life will be like until Jesus returns, and it does talk about the end of the world. Instead of giving us a mystery to solve, however; it tells us what we’re moving toward: an eternity in Heaven or an eternity in Hell. And it’s with that somber note that Revelation 14 will leave us. 

If you weren’t able to be with us virtually last week, chapter 14 started with a picture of the saints in Heaven depicted both as a victorious army and a jubilant choir—changed, rescued, and redeemed by the risen and glorified Jesus. The chapter will continue with three angels or messengers calling for repentance and predicting judgment. And what follows is really a contrast of experiences, so I want to try and walk through that with you this morning. However, our gist is very straight forward: Jesus offers everyone the eternal rescue we desperately need, but rejecting His rescue is choosing Hell. 

This is a serious truth, but it’s also one I think we tend to either ignore due to familiarity or avoid due to discomfort, so let’s start by praying we see this through His eyes today.

I. A Call To All

“6 Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people. 7 And he said with a loud voice, "Fear God and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgment has come, and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.”

So this first messenger comes carrying what equates to a→

Gospel Call To All. (Which is a nice little rhyme there for you ☺️). This is something we’ve seen not only in Revelation but all throughout Scripture. Jesus is coming back,  yet He won’t return until He’s done! His gospel is meant to be shared with the entire world. Any who will come will be saved! Whenever you get frustrated and find yourself wishing He’d hurry up, don’t forget this: He waited for you.

This is also a call to see Him & worship Him (Salvation) or face the judgment you’re choosing. Giving God glory is seeing Him for who He is in all His perfection which should lead to us worshiping Him. Choosing to run after ourselves instead and reject His offer for salvation is to face the judgment we deserve. This won’t be the last time we hit this hard truth this morning, but let’s just say from the outset: this is hard to swallow. However, this isn’t about God being mad because you didn’t pick Him, so He throws you into Hell. Because of sin, this world is broken. Because of our own sin, we deserve punishment. We’ve broken the law of God, and we’ve willfully chased after our own desires which ultimately just lead to more brokenness and pain. Because the one we’ve sinned against is the eternal God, we deserve eternal punishment. That’s the picture that continues to be developed in these→

II. Contrasting Realities: Indulging or Enduring

“8 Another angel, a second, followed, saying, "Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, she who made all nations drink the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality."”

Let’s break down a few images here. This is the first time we’ll see Babylon, but it won’t be the last. Essentially, throughout Scripture Babylon is synonymous with→

Sin City. Therefore, this is not meant to be taken as a literal city called Babylon being destroyed, but the lifestyle it represented: fully indulging in sin. At the end of the day, what happens to this way of living? It ends up→

Fallen. They were once lifted up. They had all the clout and influence. We see that even in this text. Babylon had made all the nations drink its wine. This is today, guys. The world has wholeheartedly embraced sin. It’s paraded and exulted. But, it won’t stand forever. Why? Because it’s indulging in→ 

The Self-Destructive Wine Of Passion. This is the first of several “wine” images we’re going to see in Revelation. In fact, we’ll see another one before we’re done with chapter 14. This time, it’s called the “wine of the passion of her sexual immorality.” Later, we’re going to see wine referred to as God’s wrath. How are these connected? Throughout Scripture, sexual immorality and adultry are used to represent how God looks at sin. He loves us and wants what is best for us. We were made for Him, to be with Him, to experience life as it was meant to be away from the brokenness and destruction of sin. Nonetheless, like an unfaithful spouse, we choose to leave Him and chase after other pleasures—pleasures which only lead to pain. Babylon is a picture of giving into what our hearts desire and the results thereof. The results are detailed even more in the next few verses→

“9 And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a loud voice, "If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, 10 he also will drink the wine of God's wrath, poured full strength into the cup of His anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur 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 or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name.”

First, let’s look look at who we’re talking about here. These are people who have been→

Marked. We talked about this the last time we were together in person. The mark of the beast is symbolic of all the people who have given their lives wholeheartedly over to sin. Instead of embracing God’s love & His rescue, they’ve gone after their own hearts. It’s the same picture as those who drink the wine of their own passions. I never want to come across as a fearmonger, but I also never want to avoid the hard truths of God’s Word. If your life is defined by sin and you’re still running from Jesus’ grace, this is a picture of you. 

And here’s where the picture gets hard to swallow. We can talk about Heaven and Hell in arbitrary terms, and neither seem like that big of a deal. When someone is eating a particularly nice meal, they can describe the experience as Heaven, or if someone with four kids takes an uninterrupted midday nap…☺️. The AC in my classroom broke a few times last month, and my classes of 33 described the environment as Hell. But Heaven is more wonderful than we can imagine, and Hell is so much more than just an uncomfortable heat. 

It’s first described as the→

Wine of Wrath. The passionate, righteous, anger of God. I’ve heard people make flippant remarks about being ok with going to Hell because at least they’ll be with all their friends. But Hell won’t just be a party away from the restrictions of a life lived for Jesus. Heaven is life abundant. Hell is described as no rest from eternal torment. Guys, this isn’t a light issue. It’s heavy and serious.

Notice also that this is described as being in→

God’s Presence. Another misconception is that Heaven is the fullness of God’s presence and Hell is the absence of Him. That’s not what we’re being told here though. Everyone will exist eternally in the full-presence of God. Heaven is enjoying the presence of the one we love. Hell is facing the righteous wrath of the one we’ve chosen to dread, fear, and reject.

This isn’t easy which is why verse 12 says this→

12 Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus. 13 And I heard a voice from heaven saying, "Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on." "Blessed indeed," says the Spirit, "that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!"”

Before we see this stark contrast, we’re given a→

Call to Endure. Living for Jesus won’t be easy. We’re called to take up our cross daily because we will be facing real spiritual warfare everyday. True faith in Jesus will come under attack constantly. As I type these notes, I can’t help but think about the corruption that has come to light in our own denomination. Southern Baptists are the latest in a series of headlines that point to churches and church leaders as the perpetrators of terrible sexual crimes. Reading the reports this week has been like receiving a series of gut punches. As soon as we take our eyes off Jesus, as soon as it becomes about us or our popularity or our desires, we start living exactly like the world. And we see exactly what that kind of lifestyle leads to: pain and destruction. That’s what these articles are filled with. People abused by men who they should have been able to trust. It’s heartbreaking. That’s why we’re called to→

Obey & Truly Believe. Keep the faith. Hold on to Jesus. Let Him direct your path. Now, there is something really gracious implied in this call. The fact that Jesus calls us to this means He knows we’ll struggle. He knows we won’t always obey like we should. He knows we’ll have questions and doubts. That doesn’t catch Him off guard. Bring those struggles to Him, and look forward to→

Blessed Death? Contrary to the situation in Hell, those who experience His rescue are promised what we all long for→ rest. It also says our deeds will follow us. What deeds exactly? The results of living a life for Jesus. You might not even see all the ways He uses you, but you’re called to “...let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16) And one day, they will!

What we see then at the end of chapter 14 is what we’ve been seeing all throughout Revelation—another perspective of the same events. Here we have→

III. Contrasting Harvests: Gathered vs Trampled 

“14 Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and seated on the cloud one like a son of man, with a golden crown on his head, and a sharp sickle in his hand. 15 And another angel came out of the temple, calling with a loud voice to him who sat on the cloud, "Put in your sickle, and reap, for the hour to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is fully ripe." 16 So he who sat on the cloud swung his sickle across the earth, and the earth was reaped. 17 Then another angel came out of the temple in heaven, and he too had a sharp sickle. 18 And another angel came out from the altar, the angel who has authority over the fire, and he called with a loud voice to the one who had the sharp sickle, "Put in your sickle and gather the clusters from the vine of the earth, for its grapes are ripe." 19 So the angel swung his sickle across the earth and gathered the grape harvest of the earth and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. 20 And the winepress was trodden outside the city, and blood flowed from the winepress, as high as a horse's bridle, for 1,600 stadia.

So we have the same harvester but very different results. Let’s break this down.

Same Harvester: Jesus. The way we see Him depicted here reminds us of very important truths about who He is→

Holy (White Cloud). White throughout Revelation has been a picture of purity. Clouds are symbolic of God’s presence…and come from the sky which is often associated with Heaven. He is separate from us. Higher, brighter, better. BUT, He also came as our→

Sacrifice for Sin (Son of Man). The Holy God chose to take on human flesh and live the human life we never could, so He could be the perfect sacrifice for our sins. By His wounds, we are healed. He died and rose again and now reigns victorious as the Ultimate→

King (Golden Crown). The fulfillment of every hero story that has ever gripped the imagination, the one our hearts know we need even if we fight against the longing to follow Him. And because He’s our perfect sacrifice and our holy King, He alone is worthy to be our→

Judge (Sharp Sickle). Though He is loving beyond our comprehension, He is also just, and justice demands punishment. He is patiently, calling all to repentance offering everyone rescue, but He will also come to make all that is wrong right and call to account the sins of the world. We want this. We just don’t want it to happen to us or those we love. Then, we want mercy without justice. But He came offering amazing Grace, and still… many refuse it.

So it is this Jesus who comes as the harvester of both crops with very→

Different Results. The first group is reaped. That is a picture of being gathered up to Him! Taken in, protected, given a place of belonging. The second group is… trampled. This is a picture of punishment and judgment. Now, vines are sometimes a reference to God & His people (He is the vine, we are the branches…etc), so that has led some to make pretty convincing cases that these grapes are yet another picture of God’s people, who though protected and loved, will be trampled by this sinful world. We see that picture other places in Revelation, so it makes sense to see this here, as well. However, this harvest is facing the wrath of God which believers are spared from because Jesus already took it for us. He born the cup of God’s wrath for us on the cross. Therefore, this seems to be yet another contrast. Gathered vs Trampled. Though believers will suffer, this is a picture of God’s judgment and justice being poured out on those who have chosen destruction over rescue. And it’s a graphic picture of the extent of this judgment. The blood is flowing as high as a horses bridle for nearly 200 miles. Again, this is a symbolic way of saying… this judgment is vast. His love is unconditional. His grace is offered freely to all. Yet, there will be so many who choose to face the wrath that comes from pursuing their own destruction. 

(I know this has ran longer, so I’m just going to put these passages here for your reference as well: Joel 3:12-13 & Isaiah 63:1-6.)


  1. The gospel is freely offered to all.

  2. Those who chose to indulge in self-destructive sin—which feels so easy and good and right in the eyes of the world—will face Hell, eternal torment, the full presence of the God you’ve chosen to dread.

  3. Those who receive His rescue will be gathered to Jesus and rest in His glorious presence—which we have come now to love.

  4. So…come to Him for rescue & tell others about His hope!

  5. But do it with tears…because this is hard.

  6. And hold on tight because life with Jesus will be awesome…but it won’t be easy. 

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