[Rev. 14:6] ¶ Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, and he had an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth—to every nation, tribe, language, and people. [Rev. 14:7] He declared in a loud voice: “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has arrived, and worship the one who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water!”
[Rev. 14:8] ¶ A second angel followed the first, declaring: “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great city! She made all the nations drink of the wine of her immoral passion.” [Rev. 14:9] ¶ A third angel followed the first two, declaring in a loud voice: “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and takes the mark on his forehead or his hand, [Rev. 14:10] that person will also drink of the wine of God’s anger that has been mixed undiluted in the cup of his wrath, and he will be tortured with fire and sulfur in front of the holy angels and in front of the Lamb. [Rev. 14:11] And the smoke from their torture will go up forever and ever, and those who worship the beast and his image will have no rest day or night, along with anyone who receives the mark of his name.” [Rev. 14:12] This requires the steadfast endurance of the saints—those who obey God’s commandments and hold to their faith in Jesus.
[Rev. 14:13] ¶ Then I heard a voice from heaven say, “Write this:
‘Blessed are the dead,
those who die in the Lord from this moment on!’” ¶ “Yes,” says the Spirit, “so they can rest from their hard work, because their deeds will follow them.”
[Rev. 14:14] ¶ Then I looked, and a white cloud appeared, and seated on the cloud was one like a son of man! He had a golden crown on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand. [Rev. 14:15] Then another angel came out of the temple, shouting in a loud voice to the one seated on the cloud, “Use your sickle and start to reap, because the time to reap has come, since the earth’s harvest is ripe!” [Rev. 14:16] So the one seated on the cloud swung his sickle over the earth, and the earth was reaped. [Rev. 14:17] ¶ Then another angel came out of the temple in heaven, and he too had a sharp sickle. [Rev. 14:18] Another angel, who was in charge of the fire, came from the altar and called in a loud voice to the angel who had the sharp sickle, “Use your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of grapes off the vine of the earth, because its grapes are now ripe.” [Rev. 14:19] So the angel swung his sickle over the earth and gathered the grapes from the vineyard of the earth and tossed them into the great winepress of the wrath of God. [Rev. 14:20] Then the winepress was stomped outside the city, and blood poured out of the winepress up to the height of horses’ bridles for a distance of almost two hundred miles.
Sometimes things have to get worse so they can better. In the midst of the eternal Gospel being proclaimed, a city described metaphorically as ‘Babylon’ has its true spiritual condition exposed. It prided itself as a ‘holy’ city (note how this great city is referred to Revelation 11:8). It was a city where much worship was transacted. But it is wrong worship for it focuses on the Beast introduced in Revelation 13:1. To participate in this idolatry, worshipers had to initially fool themselves that were actually worshiping the God of Abraham. They would wear the prescribed mark on their hands or between the “frontlets of their eyes” to look like they were worshiping the actual God of their ancestors.
John urged his original readers to endure and ‘keep’ the commandments of Christ (vs 12). Today, we need believers who can similarly endure. Following Christ is rarely a sprint and nearly always more akin to a marathon. It’s not the appearance of worship which constitutes worship – but the expression of actual surrender and devotion to God.
After the Old Covenant and its elements were done away with, those who died as faithful servants of God no longer went to the holding place of the dead but could now enjoy the blessing of entering fully into the Lord’s presence. Not only will those who die in the Lord enter in their rest, they will enter their eternal reward. Endurance in this life has eternal dividends! And who was more qualified to urge for Christian endurance than John? Today there seems to be too few who are qualified to urge fellow believers to endure. Perhaps one day you might be one? The journey to endurance starts where John started this section: Fear God, give Him glory!