In the heart of the apocalypse lies a battlefield like we’ve never seen before, where the fate of humanity lies in the balance. Once again we crack open the final chapter of the Bible, continuing our journey into this celestial war and the ultimate defeat of evil. This is no bedtime story, no whispered legend… This is Revelation, the unveiling of truths that will shake your very core.

References to Bible Verses:

Revelation 13:1-18; 1 John 2:18; 1 John 2:22; 1 John 4:3; 2 John 1:7; Daniel 7:8; Daniel 8:23; Daniel 9:26; Daniel 11:36-45; John 5:43; 2 Thessalonians 2:3; John 17:24; 1 Peter 1:20; Ephesians 1:4; Revelation 17:8; Matthew 25:34; 2 Peter 3:9; Revelation 14:1-20; Psalms 48; Isaiah 24:23; Joel 2:32; Micah 4:1; Micah 4:7; Revelation 1:15; Revelation 4:5; Revelation 5:8; 2 Corinthians 11:2; 1 Corinthians 7:25-35; Matthew 24:19-21; Psalms 75:8; Jeremiah 25:15; Matthew 26:42; Matthew 12:32; Matthew 13:37; Luke 12:8; John 1:51; Daniel 7:13-14; John 12:47; John 12:48; Matthew 13:37-43

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Transcript

Jason: Welcome back listeners for another episode. We are your host, Jason.

Laura: And Laura,

Jason: In the heart of the apocalypse lies a battlefield like we've never seen before, where the fate of humanity lies in the balance. Once again, we crack open the final chapter of the Bible, continuing our journey into the celestial war and the ultimate defeat of evil.

This is no bedtime story, no whispered legends. This is Revelation, the unveiling of truth that will shake your very core. Are you ready to face the storm as we set out on this journey where faith is forged in fire and hope blazes bright. We're terrifying Beasts rise with the promise of power and domination and humanity stares at a choice between salvation and damnation stick around and find out what happens next in this episode of My Ministry Mission's, Unveiling Revelation.

Laura: Now things are about to get really interesting. In our previous episode, we discussed the woman who is a symbol of Israel, the dragon, which is Satan himself, and the child, or Jesus. We also talked about the conflict in heaven that resulted in the expulsion of Satan and his followers to earth, and the conflict that begins raging on earth. Now we'll continue this war starting with the two beasts.

Jason: As we roll into chapter 13 of Revelation, we will see how Satan uses two powerful earthly facets to wage war on Christ and his people, politics and religion. And this is not surprising since we're seeing a huge political divide in this country. And maybe around the world and within that political division is a religious disparity as well.

Now, one thing I wanted to point out along this topic is that there is a growing phenomenon in America, at least possibly worldwide, regarding religious polling data. In more recent polls, there is a categorization of religious belief that makes up about 20 percent of the population today. And that is a category of none, meaning no religious beliefs.

Now, if we go back to the 1950s, this category was virtually non existent. Now, what that means for us is hard to say, but as the number of Christians seems to be shrinking, this number of nones seems to be growing. And to me, that's alarming. Now, as we drill down into these chapters, we will share how the two beasts represent these facets of humanity, as well as the number of man, which is also known as the mark of the beast and how that number factors into this war.

Laura: Okay, so we've established the identity of the woman, the child, and the dragon.

Jason: We also know that Satan has been cast down to earth, permanently banned from heaven, so now John's vision shifts to what's happening down here.

Laura: In the introduction episode, we touched briefly on the two beasts in this chapter. If you recall, we mentioned that the dragon, the beast from the sea, and the beast from the land form an unholy trinity that mimics the relationship between God the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. And I feel it's important to understand what roles each of them play.

God the Father is the creator. The Holy Spirit guides people to know Jesus, who is the gateway to the Father. Tying back to the key of the House of David we talked about with the Church of Philadelphia. Likewise, the dragon and both beasts have similar roles in this unholy trinity. Or anti trinity, if you will.

And we'll touch on that as we move through the chapter. Revelation 13:1-2 reads, "Then I saw a beast rising up out of the sea. It had seven heads and ten horns, with ten crowns on its horns. And written on each head were names that blasphemed God. This beast looked like a leopard, but it had the feet of a bear and the mouth of a lion. And the dragon gave the beast his own power and throne and great authority."

Jason: Now, at first glance, this beast seems similar to the dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, but the beast has ten crowns on its horns rather than seven crowns on its head. And as we mentioned, Revelation 17 gives a bit of an explanation. These ten horns with their ten crowns are the rulers of the ten kingdoms that will be established during the reign of the Antichrist. It is unclear whether these 10 will come to power at the beginning or midpoint of the tribulation, but they will come to power.

Laura: Now, this first beast comes from the sea, which some scholars believe is the Mediterranean Sea, where his ancestry is from, and it could also figuratively refer to the abyss. One commentary I found indicates that the sea is indicative of evil, such as in the book of Matthew, when Jesus told the demons they could enter the pigs, and those demons caused the pigs to run off the cliff and into the sea and drown.

The physical description of this beast ties back to the four beasts that Daniel saw in his vision in Daniel 7. A lion with eagle's wings, bear, leopard, a terrifying beast with ten horns. And it's believed that these beasts in Daniel's vision represented the four world kingdoms, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome, which we also mentioned in the introduction.

These kingdoms were known for persecuting God's people with extreme prejudice. The fact that the beast in this part of Revelation 13 has parts from all of them indicates that he will make the persecution from times past look and feel like a cakewalk. He is the epitome of evil governments who attempt to destroy the church by killing its members or by getting professing believers to deny Christ through idolatrous worship. And this beast that we're talking about here at the beginning of Revelation 13 is generally known as the Antichrist.

Jason: Fun fact, the word Antichrist only appears in the Bible five times across four verses. 1 John 2:18, 1 John 2:22, 1 John 4:3, and 2 John 1:7. However, the Antichrist was referred to by other names, and these wordings are found in the King James Version, in case you go looking for them. In Daniel 7:8 he's called "Little Horn," in Daniel 8:23 he's known as "King of Fierce Countenance," in Daniel 9:26 he is called the "Prince that shall come" and the "Willful King" in Daniel 11:36-45. Outside of Daniel, he's known as "the one who comes in his own name" in John 5:43, also noting that Israel will receive him as a Messiah. Finally, in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 he is called the "Son of Perdition," the "Man of Sin," and the "Lawless One." Also worthy of note is that 1 John 2:18 he spoke of the Antichrist and many Antichrists. And my commentary suggests that there is only one Antichrist to come, but there is a spirit of Antichrist, which is a preview of this man and his mission.

Laura: The dragon gives the beast his authority, and this is yet another counterfeit to the relationship between God and Jesus. Now, these names that blasphemed God could be any number of things. One commentary suggests that they're simply names that go against who God is, while another suggested they are the chief gods of the seven previous kingdoms.

Either way, it's not good. Moving into verses 3 and 4, "I saw that one of the heads of the beast seemed wounded beyond recovery, but the fatal wound was healed. The whole world marveled at this miracle and gave allegiance to the beast. They worshipped the dragon for giving the beast such power, and they also worshipped the beast. Who is as great as the beast, they exclaimed. Who is able to fight against him?" And there is some debate as to whether this fatal wound actually was fatal, and the beast was resurrected, or it simply appeared fatal, and the beast made a miraculous recovery. Most commentaries I've read indicate that this is yet another thing that makes this Antichrist, and a little bit of a rabbit trail here, the prefix "anti" can, or usually means "opposite of" or "against," but it can also mean "instead of," as in people will follow this guy instead of Christ, because how could he get all of those people to follow him if he was actually doing bad things, that is, opposite of Jesus good things?

Anyway, another commentary suggests that this resurrection was staged after the Antichrist was humiliated with the resurrection of the two witnesses, so that he could cement himself as being miraculous as well. Unlike Jesus's resurrection, however, this one is done in full view of everyone, thanks cell phones, and causes people who may have been undecided to join up with the Antichrist and his crew, to Because they truly believe he is a god and others because they don't know of anyone who could match his power.

Jason: Now I have run into commentaries and articles that suggest this beast is less a man and more of a government, as in the revival of the Roman Empire, fulfilling Daniel 7. In this context, the Roman Empire has been dead and is revived again. However, I do believe the more accurate interpretation is that this was a man who will be mortally wounded and healed and go on to lead the revived Roman empire. So I'm saying that this man and the empire are not the same, and this is yet another way for the Antichrist to imitate Jesus to get the world to believe him,

Laura: Can it get any worse? By now you should know not to ask that question.

Jason: Not in this book.

Laura: Nope. Verses 5 and 6 read, "Then the beast was allowed to speak great blasphemies against God, and he was given authority to do whatever he wanted for 42 months. And he spoke terrible words of blasphemy against God, slandering his name and his dwelling, that is, those who dwell in heaven."

Jason: So this Antichrist, this beast is a man who speaks against everything God stands for. So Blasphemer is a pretty fitting title. Now, this 42 months tells us that this beast has full authority to do whatever he wants for the first half of the seven years of the tribulation, but it's done under God's authority. We'll get into that in a moment. I bet that really chaps the devil's hide.

So who is this be speaking up against? Most likely those in heaven who were taken in the rapture, the glorified saints, and they're out of his reach. Those saints still on earth are not so lucky. Check out Revelation 13:7-8., "It was given power to wage war against God's holy people and to conquer them. And it was given authority over every tribe, people, language, and nation. All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast, all whose names have not been written in the Lamb's book of life, the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world.

Laura: The government of the beast will persecute and kill anyone who doesn't bow down and worship him, but he will be limited in his power. The beast can take their lives certainly, but he can never conquer their souls or convince them to forsake their savior. In short, he can overcome them physically, but he cannot overcome their faith. So, who are these saints? Well, that really depends on your views of the timing of the rapture. If you're a pre trib believer, these saints are God's people who come to Christ after the church has been raptured. If you're post trib or mid trib, well, these saints are likely God's people who are on earth before the final rapture, including what we consider to be the church.

Jason: But then those who do worship the beast, these are people whose names are not written in the book of life, which contains the names of all God's redeemed. Now, if you recall in episode 41, when we discussed the Seven Letters, specifically the Church of Smyrna and Polycarp, the Romans tried to force Christians to burn a pinch of incense and proclaim "Caesar as Lord." failing to do that resulted in the persecution and physical death. To the Romans, this was a form of political allegiance, but to the Christians, they saw this as religious worship. And we're seeing something very similar from the beast.

Now, these verses end with a very interesting statement, "The Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world." Now, this is a deep and meaningful title for Jesus. It reminds us that God's redemptive plan was set in motion before the creation of the world. So, follow me here for a moment.

Laura: On your six, boss.

Jason: Right on. God the Son had a loving relationship and fellowship with God the Father before the creation of the world, John 17:24. Jesus was chosen before the creation of the world, 1 Peter 1:20. God chose us as his redeemed before the creation of the world, Ephesians 1:4. The redeemed names were written in the book of life from the creation of the world, Revelation 17:8. And the kingdom of heaven was prepared for the redeemed before the creation of the world, Matthew 25:34.

When we tell you God is in control, this is what we mean. When you feel Satan is trying to take you down, remember that God is always in control. He always has been, and He always will be. If you've ever said the sinner's prayer, if you've proclaimed Jesus as your Savior from your heart, your name is written in the book of life, and God wants our names in the book of life. Second Peter 3:9 tells us, "He (meaning the Lord) is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance." Can I get an amen?

Laura: Amen. And we finish off this section on the beast rising from the sea with a warning to all in Revelation 13:9-10, "Whoever has ears, let them hear. If anyone is to go into captivity, into captivity they will go. If anyone is to be killed with the sword, with the sword they will be killed. This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of God's people."

Jason: So I'm having a flashback to the seven letters, to the seven churches with this, "whoever has yours, let them hear." This is again meant to capture attention. And let everyone know that what comes next is kind of important,

Laura: Ain't no kind of about it, Jason. It is important.

Jason: Right?

Laura: And there are a couple of ways to interpret the last part of these verses. It could be a warning, there is no hope in fighting against the Antichrist. The second way to interpret this is that anyone who works for the beast and takes others into captivity, they themselves will go into captivity, meaning God will judge their actions. And regardless of how this is to be interpreted, the ultimate message here is that these saints must be patient, have steadfast faith, and endurance in Jesus. That is the only way to victory for these poor souls. There is no victory for them on earth, only spiritual victory through Christ.

Jason: So I feel like a scene in the movie where children are in the backseat of a car asking, "Are we there yet?" And nope. Next up is the beast rising from the land starting in Revelation 13:11, "Then I saw another beast rising out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb and it spoke like a dragon."

Yep, here we go again. This beast is coming from the land. Well, it has fewer horns and is believed to be a subordinate to the beast from the sea. The second beast also seems to have this cuddly lamb like appearance. Okay, maybe not so cuddly, but you get my point. Again, we touched on this in the intro episode, I believe. But these two horns could represent authority in two different realms, like religious and political. Of course, it could have two horns because lambs have only two horns, but despite its appearance, it spoke like a dragon. The message of the second piece is the same as the first beast.

Laura: And the first feast will make an alliance with this second feast, because while many people claim not to have any sort of religion or to not need any sort of God or higher being, The fact of the matter is that they do, even if they don't realize it. God created us for fellowship with him. When Adam and Eve sinned, they lost that fellowship. And while Jesus died to restore that fellowship between humans and God, some people choose not to acknowledge that. They are seeking something they cannot find, and often refuse to admit they need. Despite claiming no need for religion or higher power, the Antichrist's alliance with this second beast will make the Antichrist's political agenda more palatable.

Jason: Now, we'll get into this in later episodes, but this second beast is called the false prophet and it is a distinct entity from the first beast, or the antichrist and the dragon or Satan. And here comes this unholy Trinity we've mentioned before. This dragon is the antifather rising from the sea is the antichrist, and then the beast rising from the land is the anti Holy spirit,

Laura: And what I find interesting here is that even though these three are attempting to mimic the Holy Trinity, They I see a big problem for them. God the Father, God the Son, which is Jesus, and God the Holy Spirit are all God. They are all one, yet three distinct personas, or persons of God. In this unholy trinity, they are three separate entities. They are not all Satan. So just as the devil is not God's counterpart, this unholy trinity is not the Holy Trinity's counterpart. Bad for them, good for us.

Jason: I feel like throwing another amen in there.

Laura: Amen for that. Yeah, as I was reading through that, I kind of got this picture of an egg in my head. Like, the Holy Trinity is like one egg. The shell, the yolk, and the white is all one egg. But this unholy trinity is like three different eggs, if that makes any sense.

Jason: Yeah, no, that totally makes sense. I hadn't thought of it that way. It's kind of a neat analogy. So this next part, Revelation 13:12-15 is basically the second beast job description. Check this out, "It exercises all authority of the first beast in its presence and makes the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast whose mortal wound was healed. It performs great signs, even making fire come down from heaven to earth in front of people. And by the signs it is allowed to work in the presence of the beast, it deceives those who dwell on earth, telling them to make an image for the beast that was wounded by the sword and yet lived. And it was allowed to give breath to the image of the beast so that the image of the beast might even speak and might cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be slain.

Laura: So what we have here is a satanic prophet who is there to lead the world to worship the first beast and the dragon. I mean, talk about drawing the short straw. And if you're out there thinking it seems unlikely that a satanic prophet can fool that many humans into worshiping the devil, consider this. As we already mentioned, we humans, by nature, have a religious impulse, and we have it within our nature to rebel against God.

And if you're still not convinced, just go to Google and search for "Afterschool Satan Club." In fact, there are several clubs in three different states already, as of the recording of this episode. This false prophet also performs signs and wonders to support his false teachings. In fact, one of these so called miracles was to make fire come down from heaven onto the earth. Perhaps this was specifically called out because it answers the miracle of the two witnesses who I believe were ministering during this period.

Jason: So let's talk about the strategy of the first and second beast is outlined in Revelation 13:16-17, "It also forces all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave to receive a mark on the right hand or on their foreheads so that they could not buy or sell unless they have the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name."

So under the government of the antichrist and his associate, the false prophet. Everyone will be required to get a mark. Without this mark, people cannot participate in the economy. The mark in this passage comes from the Greek word "charagma" which is a stamp or imprinted mark. And my commentary suggests that this word isn't commonly used in relation to people.

So some believe that this mark may be symbolic because of that. Others believe that this is a literal mark. Now, if you recall back in Revelation 7:3-4, when we talked about the 144,000 being sealed, it mentioned putting a mark on the foreheads of the servants of our God. Here we have Satan, once again, mimicking God by placing a mark on the forehead or right hand of his servants.

Laura: And there is a question of if the mark of the beast could be forcibly placed on someone or accidentally or unknowingly received. Such as when people were worried that the covid vaccine was actually the mark of the beast. First of all, the Antichrist, as described here, isn't in power. And scripture is very clear that the false prophet institutes the mark as a method of buying and selling. Okay, so get the vax or lose your job. Maybe it wasn't so far fetched, but still, no Antichrist, so no problem. In addition to being a form of worship of the Antichrist, so really no mark is even available at this time. From what I've read, it seems to me that taking the mark will be each person's choice, if he or she is of a mental capacity to make such a choice.

And on the off chance that someone isn't capable of choosing and is given the mark or is dragged, kicking and screaming and forcibly held down, especially if he or she is already a follower of Jesus, I couldn't imagine that that would be held against him or her. That being said, scripture does state several times that accepting the mark is akin and goes hand in hand with worshipping the beast.

Jason: Yeah. As for the number of its name part in both Greek and Hebrew, it was common in the ancient world to assign numbers to letters. It's quite possible that the name and the number of the beast may all signify the same thing. Basically, these people have made an open profession of their subjugation and obedience to the beast and his government.

So what do we know about this mark? I'm glad you asked because Revelation 13:18 gives us a little bit of insight, "This calls for wisdom. Let the person who has insight calculate the number of the beast. For it is the number of a man. The number is 666."

So this number 666, it's somewhat enigmatic. And there's a lot of theories regarding it. There are people who have actually used various techniques to identify a numerical value from names where the characters add up to 666 and many names have ended up on that list. Some are kind of a stretch if you ask me, I mean, these include the Pope or the papacy, John Knox, Martin Luther, Napoleon, Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, I mean, the list goes on. I'm not buying this explanation at all. A more lucid version of this suggests that Nero's name. Translated into Hebrew has a numerical value of its letters as 666. Then the antichrist will be a man like Niro of old. Well, perhaps

Laura: And just for grins and giggles, I once read a "theory" that Barney the Dinosaur was the Antichrist and I'll let y'all Google the reasoning on that one.

Jason: I could almost wrap my mind around that. Another theory I read is that since 7 is a number of perfection and 777 represents the holy trinity, and 6 represents imperfection. Therefore, 666 represents aspiring to perfection, but never making it. In other words, the unholy trinity, or the anti trinity. Yet another theory suggests that if you take the Roman numerals I, V, X, L, C, and D, they add up to 666. Therefore, the Antichrist must be a Roman.

Laura: And I just got a new book for Christmas that specifies that anyone from Rome who came to Turkey, where John's audience was at this point, usually arrived by ship. That is, from the sea. And my book also points out that there are some ancient versions of the Bible in which the number is not 666, but 616. And I think we mentioned in an earlier episode that Hebrew letters have a combination of meanings. Each symbol is a letter, a picture, and a number. For example, gimel, which is the third letter of the Hebrew alphabet, is the picture of a camel, and it's also the number three. Now here's something interesting. Roman coins had the image or likeness of Nero Caesar. The Hebrew letters for Nero Caesar, when transliterated from Latin into Hebrew, add up to 616, 616.

Whereas the Hebrew letters for Neron Caesar, when transliterated from Greek to Hebrew, as you mentioned a moment ago, Jason, add up to 666. Now, John was a Jew, so he spoke Hebrew, but he was writing Revelation in Greek. Which is where the 666 comes from. Now, it doesn't mean that this Nero will come back from the dead, or, as some speculated, faked his death, but I digress.

Jason: The truth is, scripture doesn't really clearly define what is meant by this number.

Laura: And there are some theories I've found that state that this mark is purely symbolic, that it won't actually exist, but is representative of when, in Deuteronomy 6:8, It says to tie them, that is the laws, to your hands and wear them on your foreheads as reminders. Some Orthodox Jews actually do this, placing written scriptures in boxes that they strap to their hands or foreheads.

Jason: I personally believe that when the time comes, those of us who are saved will definitely know what this means. But until then, we're just left to speculate anything from metaphorical marks to a human or demonic imitation of God.

Laura: Exactly, and it's been said that even the people in John's day didn't know who or what he was talking about.

Jason: And more modern interpretations of this are manifesting in this idea of a demon child that is marked by obvious evil from birth, kind of like the Omen movies. That being said, scripture is pretty clear that the Antichrist is more than likely someone whose evil won't be seen until after his rise to power.

Laura: I agree with that, because while there are some people who would follow such obvious evil, that won't be the norm.

Jason: All right. So we promised in episode 45 that the 144,000 would come up again. Well, it's time to circle back to them. Just as a reminder, they were identified as people who ministered during the Great Tribulation and are given a seal of protection throughout that period.

Laura: And this section seems to be a flash forward to near the end of the Tribulation, as it presents as a celebration. Back to that mosaic again, huh, Jason?

Jason: Yeah, it's incredibly confusing at times. But Revelation 14:1-3 brings us back to these missionaries with the following, "Then I looked, and there before me was a lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with him 144,000, who had his name and his father's name written on their foreheads. And I heard a sound from heaven like the roar of rushing water and a loud pearl of thunder. The sound I heard was like that of a harpist playing their harps, and they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders. No one could learn the song except for the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth."

Laura: So, we know these 144,000 emerge victorious from the Great Tribulation because they stand on Mount Zion with the Lamb. They are triumphant, worshiping and standing firm with Jesus. There are two questions that Chapter 14 answers. The first is, whether or not the beast was completely victorious over God's people. The answer is clearly no. The second question relates to the satanic dictator, specifically what happens to the beast and his followers. Well, keep listening because the rest of Revelation 14 will answer that.

Jason: The use of Mount Zion is kind of interesting. This is a hill in Jerusalem that is located just outside the walls of the Old City. This term "Mount Zion" has been used in the Old Testament. We see it several times in Psalms 48, as well as Isaiah 24:23, Joel 2:32, Obadiah chapter 17 and 21, as well as Micah 4:1 and 4:7. In Hebrew, this was used for the City of David and later the Temple Mount.

Laura: And as for this voice, back in Revelation 1, John saw a vision of Christ, and in Revelation 1:15 it said, "His voice was like the sound of rushing waters." Then in Revelation 4:5, it talks about the rumble of thunder coming from the throne of God. So here in Revelation 14, it seems reasonable to assume that the voice speaking was God. Also back in Revelation 5:8, we talked about the elders having harps, and again here in Chapter 14, we're reading about harps playing a new song unique to only the 144,000. For me, these verses remind me that our praise and worship can really transport us to be heard in heavenly places.

Jason: Now, most of my commentaries do consider these 144,000 to be of Jewish heritage, yet they are also clearly believers in Jesus. Otherwise, they wouldn't be standing with the Lamb, right? Honestly, from what I've read, it's not clear what their background is, other than they were not believers when the tribulation started, but came to Jesus Christ afterwards. Also, we know that they were on earth during the tribulation, ministering and sending souls to Christ. They were the beginning of the great harvest. So they are often described as first fruits. Now, remember, they drove the great multitude to Christ for redemption.

Laura: Now in Revelation 14:4-5, we see the description of these 144,000. Let's read it, "These are those who did not defile themselves with women, for they remained virgins. They follow the Lamb wherever He goes. They were purchased from among mankind and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb. No lie was found in their mouths. They are blameless."

Jason: So many scholars believe this use of the word virgins here represents a general purity similar to 2 Corinthians 11:2, but Paul did seem to recommend celibacy and distressing times in 1 Corinthians 7:25-35. Plus, Jesus spoke of woes upon those with children and families during these days in Matthew 24:19-21. So it's not a far stretch to see that God might call these 144,000 to literal celibacy for the kingdom's sake during this time of tribulation.

Laura: And if he does, he will most certainly give them the grace for it. It's more likely, in my opinion, that the purity referred to here is a spiritual purity that those who accepted the Mark of the Beast can never have.

Jason: So now we move on to some heavenly proclamations, starting with the first of three angels in Revelation 14:6-7, "Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on earth, to every nation, tribe, language, and people. He said in a loud voice, Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the seas and the springs of water."

Laura: There are two theories as to what this proclamation from the angel is. Some believe it's a final appeal to the masses to get them to repent and follow God. Others believe that it's an announcement of judgment because the world has had their chance to repent and decided not to do so.

Jason: kind of like our Jezebel in the church of Thyatira. We mentioned back in episode 43. The commentaries I consulted suggested that this angel is giving people the option to either give glory to God and accept Jesus Christ as Lord, through willing worship or face his glory later when they are eternally separated.

As for this eternal gospel, so Joseph Seiss, a 19th century American theologian and Lutheran minister, wrote the following, "It is gospel, but it is the gospel in the form it takes when the hour of judgment has set in. It is one of the very last calls of grace to an apostate world." So, circling back to what Laura mentioned, it seems that Seiss believes this is a final appeal to repent.

One interesting thing to note here, this is the only place in the New Testament where angels preach the gospel. God saw fit to leave that responsibility to people with rare exceptions, obviously.

Laura: Yeah. Moving on to Revelation 14:8 with the next angel's proclamation, "A second angel followed and said, Fallen. Fallen is Babylon the Great, which made all the nations drink the maddening wine of her adulteries." Doesn't that sound fun? So the first angel preaches the everlasting or eternal gospel. And it's very possible that doing this has shaken the foundations of the anti Christians in the world leading to its downfall. And we'll get to know more about Babylon when we reach chapter 17, but for now we can at least mention that it likely represents mankind in an organized rebellion against God. Babylon can be viewed prophetically as a literal city, a religious system, or even a political system, but it's in reference to the evils of historic Babylon. Babylon could also refer to Rome, representing their pride and idolatry, as well as Sodom and Egypt, representing wickedness and cruelty.

Jason: So the main point of the latter half of this verse is primarily focused on the adulteries. While literally this is bad, in this context it is more about spiritual fornication or adultery accompanied by literal immorality. It could be the debauchery and corruption within Babylon will also help cause its fall and thus proclaim the righteousness of God from its ruins. After all, their crimes are mentioned as the cause of its destruction.

But moving this along, now the last of the three angels makes a proclamation, warning of the coming judgment in Revelation 14:9-11, "A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice, if anyone worships the beast and its image and receives its mark on their forehead or on their hand, they too will drink the wine of God's fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. They will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angel and of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment will rise forever and ever. There will be no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and its image, or for anyone who receives the mark of its name."

Laura: So this is kind of a reminder that nobody will just casually or accidentally take the mark. Verse 9 very clearly makes a connection between worshiping the beast and taking the mark. Going back once again to Polycarp and burning a pinch of incense to pledge Caesar is Lord, it's possible that this mark is little more than a pledge of allegiance to the Antichrist and his government. And it may seem harmless enough to the casual observer, but to those saved by Christ, they should know better. I mean, we've had plenty of warnings right here in the Bible.

Jason: Now, this idea of that God has a cup of wrath represented as wine is not new to Revelation. It's actually mentioned 13 times in the Bible. Take for example, Psalm 75:8 and Jeremiah 25:15. This is the cup that Jesus mentions in Matthew 26 and ultimately willingly accepts when he says in Matthew 26:42, "My father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away, unless I drink it, may or will be done."

Laura: These verses also illustrate the horrible torment and suffering that hell will bring. But what's interesting is this part. "They will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb." It's interesting because this shows that God is not absent from hell. He is present in all judgment, but he will be present without any sense of his love.

These proclamations conclude with Revelation 14:12-13, "This calls for patient endurance on the part of the people of God who keep his commands and remain faithful to Jesus. Then I heard a voice from heaven say, Write this, Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on. Yes, says the Spirit, they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them."

Jason: So this provides a contrast between how the saints are blessed compared to the unending torment of the wicked in the previous Revelation 14:11 verse. I believe the purpose here is to remind us that there is an end to the persecution of the Antichrist compared to the eternal punishment of the Lord. God wants to encourage his people to stand their ground during these hard times. And the reward will be the blessing of eternal life. Now understand that these two verses represent the glorious dead, or the ones who died in the cause of God. Those who are persecuted during the tribulation but remain loyal to Christ. Despite whatever pain, humiliation, and suffering they experience at the hand of Satan's wrath, they will have a place of glory once their suffering ends. And in this, the fate of these saints looks very much like Jesus.

Laura: There is another takeaway here. The tribulation will come to an end, and the suffering of God's people will eventually end. Which brings us to the earth's harvest starting in Revelation 14:14-16, "I looked, and there before me was a white cloud, and seated on the cloud was one like a son of man, with a crown of gold on his head, and a sharp sickle in his hand. Then another angel came out of the temple, and called in a loud voice to him who was sitting on the cloud, Take your sickle and reap, because the time to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is ripe. So he who was seated on the cloud swung his sickle over the earth, and the earth was harvested."

Jason: So I find this language interesting. It says "one like a son of man" and the word "like" intrigued me. So I went back to the source of this phrase and found the Greek "omoios", which is translated as meaning "like", "similar" or "resembling." It could also be translated as "corresponding to a thing." As we probably all know, Jesus referred to himself as son of man in the New Testament. In fact, this was used 82 times in the New Testament. I mean, examples include Matthew 12:32, Matthew 13;37, Luke 12:8, John 1:51, and the list goes on. Now, one time I can recall it used by someone other than Jesus was by Stephen when he was being martyred in Acts 7:56, and this title comes from the prophecy of Daniel 7:13-14, which reads, "In my vision at night, I looked in there before me was one, like a son of man coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the ancient days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory, and sovereign power. All nations and peoples of every language worshipped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed."

Laura: Sound familiar? We bring this up because it seems pretty obvious that this is Jesus reaping the harvest of earth. But not everyone sees that as accurate. Some actually find it hard to believe this is Jesus for a couple of reasons. Number one, because he is referred to as like the Son of Man. And because they find it hard to believe that Jesus would take orders from an angel.

Jason: Personally, I do believe this is Jesus, and I believe he is not taking orders from the angel, but rather the angel is making a proclamation that it's time to end this. Now, this part is my own opinion, so take it with a grain of salt, but I think the word "like" here is used to illustrate that this is Jesus who comes with a crown of gold rather than the crown of thorns he wore as he was being crucified.

So in John 12:47, Jesus said, "For, I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world." But this time he's coming to judge the world and those who refuse his gift of salvation. After all the very next verse in John 12:48 Jesus tells them, "There is a judge for the one who rejects me. And does not accept my word. The very words I have spoken will condemn them at the last day."

Laura: That being said, let's move on to the earth being ripe. Because there's a contextual nuance here that has relevance. When you and I think of ripe fruit, we think it's perfect, right? It's just right, ready for consumption, and has that ideal taste we long to experience. Kind of wanting a nectarine at the moment. Anyway,

Jason: That's a weird fruit to want.

Laura: Well, the white flesh nectarines are really good. I'm like, anyway, sorry. However, the ancient Greek word for ripe actually has a negative connotation. And for them it represents fruit that is dried and withered. Or in our words, it would be overripe, like bananas ready to make bread with.

Jason: So this tells us a couple of things. First, it shows that God doesn't rush into judgment. In fact, by this point, he's given the world tons of time to repent and be washed clean of their sins through Christ's blood. Second, we should probably remember that evil has a harvest as well. A harvest of misery and woes, as my commentaries put it, or in other words, the gathering, binding, and burning of the tares. Now, if you're curious about this reference, see the Parable of the Weeds explained in Matthew 13:37-43.

Laura: But let's move on to closing out this chapter, as well as this episode, in Revelation 14:17-20, "Another angel came out of the temple in heaven, and he too had a sharp sickle. Still, another angel, who had charge of the fire, came from the altar, and called in a loud voice to him who had the sharp sickle, Take your sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of grapes from the earth's vine, because its grapes are ripe. The angel swung his sickle on the earth, gathered its grapes, and threw them into the great winepress of God's wrath. They were trampled in the winepress outside the city, and blood flowed out of the press, rising as high as the horse's bridles for a distance of 1,600 stadia.

Jason: What an amazingly vivid picture of judgment. I mean, just imagine what chance do grapes have from the weight and power of a man stomping on them. And if you can imagine the grape bursting, sending juice everywhere, well, maybe you can imagine the human carnage of this judgment. But to add to that imagery, it talks about blood coming out of the wine press up to the horse's bridles for 1,600 stadia. And we'll get into more of this in other episodes when we cover Revelation chapter 16 and chapter 19. But a stadia is synonymous to a furlong. And by modern measurements, the 1,600 stadia or furlongs is equivalent to 200 miles or just shy of 322 kilometers. 200 miles is often thought to be the distance of the Holy Land, so this may allude to the entire city of Rome falling. And we've already talked about what Rome could represent. Nested symbolism is fun.

Laura: I thought we agreed that we had different definitions of fun.

Jason: Eh, maybe. Now, it's likely that they had Arabian horses at that time, and their average height is between fourteen and fifteen hands, where one hand is four inches. So we're talking about the tops of the bridles or the tops of the horses, which is roughly four and a half to five feet above the ground. So you're looking at four and a half to five feet of blood for 200 miles. Yikes.

So fun fact, these verses were the inspiration for the Battleham Republic. which actually gained popularity near Charleston, South Carolina, where it was sung as a Methodist camp meeting song in churches that were primarily where free blacks worshipped. Small rabbit hole there, but I felt it was worth mentioning.

Laura: And back to the topic at hand, this winepress represents the wrath of God, and we are at harvest time. Meaning the sin of men is full and ready for destruction. Every tribe, nation, language, and people have had ample opportunity to repent and accept Christ's salvation. And for those who have rejected him, time has run out.

Jason: And much like the unrepentant souls of Earth during the final moments, we have also run out of time. Thank you again for joining us and sharing this journey through the book of Revelation. Our next Unveiling Revelation episode is scheduled to come out on March 7th. We'll see how that goes. But just as a reminder, I have a non Revelation episode coming out in two weeks, so please come back and share that adventure with me.

Until then, be sure to read your Bibles, love one another, and may the Lord bless you and keep you. God bless everyone.

Laura: Bye!