The Choice is Yours – Revelation 14:16-20 04/25/21

The Choice is Yours – Revelation 14:16-20 04/25/21


Two weeks ago we saw the Church receiving her reward for faithfulness. This week we find the Beast and His followers getting what they have coming to them. Our full text today is fairly long, which as usual I leave to you to look up; Revelation 14:6-20. Here, the focus moves away from the Church to the rest of the world. What we find is quite a lot of intervention by angels. Verse 6 starts us out with the phrase, “another angel,” (ἄλλος ἄγγελος). This occurs five times in Revelation 14.[1] This is of interest because it weighs in on identifying one of the players in the passage pretty quickly.


We open with an angel commissioned with delivering “the eternal gospel.”[2] His message is interesting, he has the “everlasting Gospel” (εὐαγγέλιον αἰώνιον)[3] to preach.[4] This is literally a message of good news[5] that always has been and always will be.[6] The content of this (εὐαγγέλιον) is an appeal to repent and worship the One who created heaven and earth.[7] Once again, we find God’s love toward rebellious humanity on display.


There is a detail to note; we already know that those who receive the Mark of the Beast are doomed to eternal punishment, in fact that information is found in our text. So… who are the recipients of this “good news”? It would seem that there will still be some people, not Christians and not worshippers of the Beast, who can still choose. This message is both a message of hope, and of judgment.[8] The “coming hour of judgment” indicates that there yet remains time.[9]


God’s wrath has been a major topic in Revelation, but here for the first time we find a reference to “judgment” (κρίσεως)[10].[11] But, again, note that this judgment is couched in a final offer of mercy. This offer of mercy is, surprisingly, addressed to “those who dwell on the earth.”[12]


The second angel also brings a message, this time a message of judgment.[13] That judgment is going to fall on a city which is, here, abruptly introduced; “Babylon the great.”[14] In its historic context “Babylon” (Βαβυλὼν)[15] is probably used symbolically for Rome.[16] For John, Babylon and Rome would be naturally comparable.[17] Babylon attacked, and then destroyed Jerusalem in 587 B.C. Rome accomplished the same thing in A.D. 68-70.[18] Both were the center of world empires, and both had (or would) destroy the Temple.[19]


Just as with the second angel, we find that the third brings a specific message of judgment.[20] This time the message is against individuals, it is against all those who follow the Beast, and all that this entails.[21] This passage makes it clear that there is no neutral corner. You either choose for God, or you choose against Him, which means, whether you realize it or not, you choose to serve Satan. In the context of Revelation, you either face the persecution of the Beast, or you face the wrath of God in Jesus Christ.[22]


We next find that there will be reward for the faithfulness of the persecuted saints.[23] In fact, John regards martyrdom as a victory in very much the same way Jesus’ death was a victory.[24]


Following this, is “one like the Son of Man. As with everything else, there is debate regarding the identity of the “One like the Son of Man.”[25] The catch is that, in verse 15, an angel appears to be giving a command to God the Son.[26] We naturally recoil at the idea that an angel could be tasked with telling God the Son anything. So what’s up? I don’t know for sure, but I find myself wondering, could this be a practical consequence of Mark 13:32? The Son does not know the hour, could God be sending and angel to tell Him it’s time? That stretches the unity of the Godhead, but then so does the Son not knowing something that the Father knows.


This heavenly figure “has a golden crown on his head.”[27] The crown both differentiates Him from the angels, and identifies him as King over his people.[28] My conclusion is that this is Jesus; but not as Savior, not as priest, He comes as King and Judge.[29] The coming of the Son of man on clouds in the Synoptic Gospels always references Christ.[30]


Following this is judgment on the inhabitants of the earth. Here, Jesus is taking an active hand in dealing with Satan and his works on the earth. Those who align themselves with the enemy will face Jesus the Judge. The imagery of judgment is threefold, the unmixed wine in the cup, the harvest of grain, and finally the grape harvest.[31] These, together, provide multiple views of the same reality.[32] The human death taking place boggles even our jaded imaginations,[33] but it is accomplished with a purpose. Jesus establishes His kingdom on earth.[34]


As we think about the horror, suffering, and death that our passage shows us we naturally want to recoil from it. But here’s the situation. In mercy God offers a way of escape, and to reject that comes at a price. Those who stubbornly persist in resisting that offer are ultimately given over to the consequences of their own choices.


Our passage today brings those choices to the conclusion. The contrast John draws between the fate of the followers of the Lamb in verse 1–5, and that of the followers of the Beast in verses 9–11 brings up something important to consider.[35] This is, in fact, central to the entire book of Revelation; whom will you worship?[36] Today we live in a world where the choice seems to be in shades of grey. One of the values of studying Revelation is that it takes those choices and make them clear, shows them in the black and white truth that they really are. Those choices are to choose God, or to choose Satan.


But those choices involve more than salvation, as singularly important as that choice is. But then it includes our becoming more than simply converts, more than simply believers. It includes becoming disciples. It includes conforming our lives to the life of Jesus within us. That, too, is a choice. If you’re interested in that choice come talk to me.

[1] David E. Aune, Revelation 6–16, vol. 52B, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1998), 823. [2] Joseph L. Trafton, Reading Revelation: A Literary and Theological Commentary, Rev. ed., Reading the New Testament Series (Macon, GA: Smyth & Helwys Publishing, 2005), 135. [3]Kurt Aland et al., The Greek New Testament, Fourth Revised Edition (Interlinear with Morphology) (Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1993), Re 14:6. [4] Alan Johnson, Revelation, in The Expositor’s Bible commentary: Volume 12, Hebrews – Revelation, gen. ed., Frank Gaebelein, assoc. ed., J.D. Douglas, NT eds., James Boice and Merrill Tenney, manuscript eds., Richard Polcyn and Gerard Terpstra, (Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1981), 541. [5] Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains (New York: United Bible Societies, 1996), 412. [6] James Strong, Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon (Woodside Bible Fellowship, 1995). [7] David E. Aune, Revelation 6–16, vol. 52B, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1998), 825. [8] Joseph L. Trafton, Reading Revelation: A Literary and Theological Commentary, Rev. ed., Reading the New Testament Series (Macon, GA: Smyth & Helwys Publishing, 2005), 135. [9] Alan Johnson, Revelation, in The Expositor’s Bible commentary: Volume 12, Hebrews – Revelation, gen. ed., Frank Gaebelein, assoc. ed., J.D. Douglas, NT eds., James Boice and Merrill Tenney, manuscript eds., Richard Polcyn and Gerard Terpstra, (Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1981), 541. [10]Kurt Aland et al., The Greek New Testament, Fourth Revised Edition (Interlinear with Morphology) (Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1993), Re 14:7. [11] Alan Johnson, Revelation, in The Expositor’s Bible commentary: Volume 12, Hebrews – Revelation, gen. ed., Frank Gaebelein, assoc. ed., J.D. Douglas, NT eds., James Boice and Merrill Tenney, manuscript eds., Richard Polcyn and Gerard Terpstra, (Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1981), 541. [12] David E. Aune, Revelation 6–16, vol. 52B, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1998), 826. <