NKJV Notes by Pastor Mike Sasso
Peter has given us the purpose behind God revealing the future to us. “Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation…” 2 Peter 3:11-15a NKJV.
God speaks to us and gives us His word in order to change our hearts, attitudes, and actions. Man desires knowledge and facts. God desires a heart that is yielded to Him. And the only reason we study doctrine or theology is so that we might know Him better in order to love and serve Him better. So what I am trying to say is, don’t allow yourself to get frustrated if you can’t piece together a perfect flowchart on end times. God desires to fill our hearts with hope and love, not to fill our heads with facts and data. Even in the very beginning of this book when God revealed the purpose of this book He said - “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near” (Rev. 1:3). The goal of the reader therefore should be to read or hear, then to keep or obey! I will say it once again. Allow your study of God’s Word to change your hearts, attitudes, and actions as we continue this journey together.
Before beginning these study notes read Revelation chapter 14 aloud with your small group.
STUDY NOTES: verse 6
v. 6 Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth—to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people - The book of Revelation is full of the activity of many and various angels. There are six angels mentioned in this chapter alone (Rev. 14:6, 8, 9, 15, 17-19). Angels seem to have free reign of movement and are not restricted to the land alone (Rev. 8:13; 14:6). Satan, himself being a fallen angel, is called the prince of the power of the air (Eph. 2:2). Here we see an angel flying in the midst of heaven (cp. 8:13). This phrase refers to the skies of earth as the NIV words this “flying in mid-air.” The point here is that the angel is flying within hearing range of the inhabitants of the earth since he is to preach the everlasting gospel to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people.
This verse reminds us of two important facts about the heart of God.
1.) God cares about every nation, tribe, tongue, and people. He is not a God of favoritism or prejudice.
2.) God wants all to hear the good news of the Gospel.
The Gospel is much more than just a collection of sayings of Jesus. There are many false gospels circulating even today. Gnostic gospels such as the gospel of Judas or the gospel of Mary contain mystical or philosophical sayings supposing to have come from Jesus. These so-called gospels place Jesus on the same level as religious philosophers such as Buddha or Confucius. But the good news of the true Gospel is the message of forgiveness of sin and eternal life through what Jesus did on the cross.
Q. 1 Look up the following scriptures and discuss and identify the meaning of everlasting Gospel.
a. Romans 1:16-17
b. 1 Corinthians 15:1-8
c. 2 Corinthians 5:21
Q. 2 Why would God want all people to hear the everlasting Gospel?
a. See Isaiah 45:22; Ezekiel 18:23; John 3:15-17; 1 Timothy 2:3,4; Titus 2:11; and 2 Peter 3:9.
b. What do you see is the predominate attribute of God being emphasized in this angel’s proclamation of verse seven? See Colossians 1:16 and Romans 1:18-25.
Q. 3 Why do you think God would send an angel to preach the everlasting Gospel rather than just using the 144,000?
Q. 4 How should this thought influence our attitude toward sharing our faith?
STUDY NOTES: verse 7
v. 7 saying with a loud voice, "Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water." – On the surface this may seem like a different Gospel than what we hear today. But think about it. To “Fear God” means to love Him and keep His commandments (Ecc. 12:13, Acts 13:16,26; 1 Peter 2:17). And the scriptures clearly tell us that the way to “give glory to Him” is to believe in and worship Jesus!
“Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:9-11, NKJV.
The hour of judgment has come because the creation has refused to worship and serve the creator. This judgment is fair and justifiable.
Q. 5 Is what this angel is saying in verse seven the “everlasting Gospel” that we know today? Discuss how this message differs from what people would call “the Gospel message” today.
Q. 6 Who is the creator of “heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water”? Look up and discuss the implications of the following scriptures: Genesis 1:1, Job 33:4, Isaiah 40:28, John 1:3; and Colossians 1:12-17.
STUDY NOTES: verses 8-11
v. 8 And another angel followed, saying, "Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she has made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication." – The NIV Study Bible notes offer a very helpful perspective of this verse – “… Ancient Babylon in Mesopotamia was the political, commercial and religious center of a world empire. It was noted for its luxury and moral decadence. The title “Babylon the Great” is taken from Daniel 4:30. According to some, it is used in Revelation (e.g., here and in 16:19; 17:5; 18:2, 10, 21) for Rome as the center of opposition to God and His people. According to others, it represents the whole political and religious system of the world in general. According to still others, it is to be understood as literal Babylon – rebuilt and restored. Babylon’s fall is proclaimed in Isaiah 21:9 & Jeremiah 51:8. Maddening wine of her adulteries. Here Babylon (Rome?) is pictured as a prostitute whose illicit relations are achieved by intoxication.”
Fornication according to Thayer’s Greek dictionary - #4202 porneia porneia por-ni'-ah
1) illicit sexual intercourse
1a) adultery, fornication, homosexuality, lesbianism, intercourse with animals etc.
1b) sexual intercourse with close relatives; Lev. 18
1c) sexual intercourse with a divorced man or woman; Mark 10:11,12
2) metaph. the worship of idols
2a) of the defilement of idolatry, as incurred by eating the sacrifices offered to idols
As you may guess, the Greek word “Porneia” is the origin of our term “pornography,” or “porn.” It is also translated “passionate immorality” (NLT) and “adulteries” (NIV). The word is an explicit picture of unfaithfulness.
There are two kinds of fornication mentioned in scripture. 1. Literal physical, sexual fornication. And 2. Spiritual fornication, in which the people who should be faithful and pure unto God instead live in unfaithfulness by worshipping and serving other gods.
v. 9-10 Then a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, "If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. – Here is a harsh reality confirmed. Anyone who chooses to worship God’s enemy (the Antichrist) also becomes God’s enemy. God never created hell for man, but for the devil (Matt. 25:41). But those who align themselves with the devil will share his same fate.
James has even gone as far as to write that those who become friends with God’s enemies become God’s enemy (James 4:4).
Some have suggested that the reason people proudly wear the mark on their forehead or hand is to show their allegiance to the antichrist who was mortally wounded in the head and has as a result somehow, a damaged right arm and eye (Zech. 11:17).
v. 11 "And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name." – The doctrine of eternal punishment is firmly established in scripture in spite of those who try to deny it.
“This shows that the suffering of hell is real torment, that it is painful and repulsive. “The modern vogue for dispensing with hell has no counterpart in Revelation.” (Morris)
We must be willing to accept even the unpleasant truths of scripture. See also Revelation 20:10.
Q. 7 According to Matthew 25:41, why did God create hell?
Q. 8 Why would a loving God send people to hell?
Q. 9 What do you think God’s final wrath for the wicked is like?
Q. 10 Is there such thing as eternal punishment? Or might God’s final wrath be temporary?.
STUDY NOTES: verses 12-20
v. 12 Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. – In the midst of this very unpleasant view of God’s wrath and punishment we now are offered hope for the saints.
“The saints” according to the scriptures are simply all the people of God (Rom. 1:7, 15:25; 1 Cor. 1:2, 6:1, 2; Eph. 1:1; Phil. 1:1; Col. 1:2).
We are given here in this verse three distinctives of those who are the true people of God (the saints).
1. The Saints have patience – God’s people must wait for God’s promises. A great part of faith in God is patiently waiting in faith for God to keep His promises. Faith requires patience and endurance. See 1 Thess. 1:3; 2 Thess. 1:4; 1 Tim. 6:11; Titus 2:2; Heb. 6:12; James 1:3; Rev. 2:19, 13:10.
2. They keep God’s commandments – It is so important to realize that a genuine Christian is known by his obedience to God and not merely by his profession. See John 14:21; Rom. 1:5, 16:26.
GOD DESIRES TO CHANGE US COMPLETELY.
He wants to change our CONFESSION.
He wants to change our CONDUCT.
He wants to change our CHARACTER.
Our confession is WHAT WE SAY.
Our conduct is WHAT WE DO.
But our character is WHAT WE ARE!
3. They embrace faith in Jesus – This is the nonnegotiable foundation of Christianity. Christ is at its center. Trusting Him is its central truth. Christianity is not merely a system of values and rules. Christianity is all about the historical person of Jesus Christ. Buddhism can continue without there ever having to be a real historical Buddha. Confucianism can exist as a philosophical system apart from the person of Confucius. But take away Jesus Christ and you have no Christianity. This is because at the heart of the Gospel is the good news about what Jesus has done for us on the cross in purchasing our salvation and providing forgiveness of our sins and eternal life. See 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, 14-17.
v. 13 Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, "Write: ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’" "Yes," says the Spirit, "that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them." – To the world this language makes no sense. Where else except in the Christian faith would you hear a statement like, “Blessed are the dead”? This is because the truth of the Christian faith is “to die is gain.” See John 11:25, 26; 1 Cor. 15:54, 55; Phil. 1:21; 1 Thess. 4:16.
Notice also two important truths about the death of a Christian brought out in this passage.
1. For those who are Christ’s, death brings rest. All the Christian’s labor has passed. Heaven will not be a place of work, but of rest in the Lord. For the believer, what remains in eternity is to enjoy the fruit of his or her labors on earth because…
2. Their works follow them - There will be rewards in eternity for the good works of the Christian.
With this truth in mind the Christian must endeavor to do the work of the Lord in this life “while it is day” (John 9:4). Because there will come a time when we can work no more and we shall enter into eternal rewards and rest in Jesus.
“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 15:58, NKJV
v. 14 Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and on the cloud sat One like the Son of Man, having on His head a golden crown, and in His hand a sharp sickle. – Who else could this be but Jesus Christ? But here, instead of the “suffering servant” we see Him as the King of Kings. Here instead of wearing a crown of thorns He wears a well-deserved crown and carries an instrument with authority to reap the final harvest from among men. There will come a day when Jesus will be remembered for much more than an act of humility and suffering for mankind. Today we look back to what Jesus did for us on that horrible cross. We look back with thankfulness and gratitude. But there will come a day when we look back in pride and praise at the time when Jesus set all things right and put all enemies under His feet.
“How different it will be to see Him with a crown of gold upon his head from what it was to see Him wearing that terrible crown of thorns which the cruel soldiers plaited, and thrust upon His brow! The word used here does not usually refer to the diadem of power, but to the crown won in conflict; and it is very remarkable that it should be said that, when Christ comes to judge the world, He will wear the garland of victory, the crown which He has won in the great battle which He has fought. How significant of His final triumph will that crown of gold be about those brows that were once covered with bloody sweat when He was fighting the battle for our salvation!” (Spurgeon)
v. 15 And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to Him who sat on the cloud, "Thrust in Your sickle and reap, for the time has come for You to reap, for the harvest of the earth is ripe." – Some have difficulty here with the fact that an angel seems to give command to Jesus. But notice that this angel has just come out of the temple. A simple explanation would be that God the Father has sent this angel with directives to Jesus to commence the reaping process. This reaping will be complete when everything that belongs to God is in the hands of Christ. It is interesting how Jesus’ parable of the harvest in Matthew 13:18-43 parallels this scene.
v. 16-19 So He who sat on the cloud thrust in His sickle on the earth, and the earth was reaped. Then another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle. And another angel came out from the altar, who had power over fire, and he cried with a loud cry to him who had the sharp sickle, saying, "Thrust in your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth, for her grapes are fully ripe." So the angel thrust his sickle into the earth and gathered the vine of the earth, and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. – This text has been the inspiration of many a writer. The following are some thoughts from various great authors on these verses;
“’Fully ripe’ pictures grapes fully grown in the prime almost bursting with juice . . . The spurting of the grape juice from under the bare feet of those treading the grapes in the winepress is compared to the spurting of blood and speaks of the awful human carnage.” (Walvoord)
“What strength have grapes against the weight and power of a man when he comes to set his feet upon them? And the riper they are, the more helpless . . . The heel of Omnipotence is upon them, and they can only break and sink beneath it.” (Seiss)
Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord,
He is trampling out the vineyard where the grapes of wrath are stored
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword
His truth is marching on!
-The Battle Hymn of the Republic.
v. 20 And the winepress was trampled outside the city, and blood came out of the winepress, up to the horses’ bridles, for one thousand six hundred furlongs. – Most scholars concur that this is in all probability not describing a literal river of water flowing as deep as the horses’ bridal. This picture would more likely portray the carnage of this battle being so horrible and bloody and widespread that the blood splatter would be to the horses’ bridal.
Q. 11 What do you find difficult to accept as literal in this chapter? How do you personally distinguish between the literal and the allegorical? Discuss.
Q. 12 According to this text, how can a person avoid going to hell?
Q. 13 What are some distinctives of true Christianity given in our text?
Q. 14 What are the benefits of death to a believer?
Q. 15 What are some of our motives for Christian service in this life?
Q. 16 Read the conclusion to today’s study notes below and discuss the priorities and purposes of your studying this book together.
After His resurrection, Jesus made an amazing statement revealing God’s priorities concerning our understanding and attitudes toward the end times. When His disciples insisted on understanding the timing of His return and the establishment of God’s kingdom, Jesus totally changed direction on them. Read Acts 1:1-11. Jesus said in verses 7 and 8, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. ‘But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.’” This reveals to us that God’s main concern is not necessarily to impart to us a perfect flowchart of future events, but rather a heart to do His will until Jesus returns. More specifically, God desires that we be filled with His Holy Spirit in order to accomplish The Great Commission (Acts 1:7-8). Are you filled with the Holy Spirit? Is being a witness for Christ to the lost world a priority of your heart? If not, you are wasting your time studying this book. Discuss this priority with your small group. Make it a matter of prayer. Ask God to fill you with His Spirit and His power. Ask Him to give you His heart for the lost.
Lord Give us Your Heart and Your Priorities!