1 ¶ And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads. 2 And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps: 3 And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth. 4 These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb. 5 And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God.
The focus narrows on the translation, the first resurrection, or the rapture.
These are the servants of Christ mentioned in chapter 7. Mount Sion here is a reference to the heavenly Jerusalem.
Hebrews 12:22 But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, 23 To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,
These 144,000 Jews were redeemed from the earth and are in Heaven, whether translated/raptured alive or dead. They have a unique position in God’s plan and can sing a new song that no one but they can sing. They are male virgins, not hindered by any attachments to life. As men who have wives or women who have husbands and families have a sort of divided loyalty while, in a relationship ordained by God, family responsibility is not suitable for the purpose of these specific men.
We don’t exactly know what function these exemplary individuals performed but they are Christ’s servants who follow Him faithfully in that time and, based on Matthew 24:14, many believe were evangelizing the world.
6 ¶ And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, 7 Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters. 8 And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication. 9 And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, 10 The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: 11 And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name. 12 Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.
The everlasting gospel is; Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.
Everyone is going to hear this. A second angel declares the fall of Babylon, the identity of which we will explore more fully when we come to chapter 17. A third angel warns that anyone who takes the mark of the beast is doomed. From reading verses 9 through 11 notice this cross reference.
Isaiah 66:22 For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the LORD, so shall your seed and your name remain. 23 And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the LORD. 24 And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcases of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh.
It is a warning of their impending fate in the lake of unquenchable fire for the eternal-living soul of Christ-rejecting mankind.
Verse 12 shows that those who are Christ’s did not take the mark.
Look at these previous explanations of what is called for in the believers’ lives in this Great Tribulation.
Revelation 12:11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.
Revelation 13:10 He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.
This is a hard pill to swallow if you have a family and loved ones.
13 ¶ And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them. 14 And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle. 15 And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe. 16 And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped. 17 And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle. 18 And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire; and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe. 19 And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. 20 And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs.
Verse 13 indicates that those who would not take the mark of the beast die, are killed.
There are two angels here. One reaps a harvest.
John 4:35 Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.
This is a good thing, another take on the rapture or translation of believers.
Then, the next angel casts what he reaps into the winepress of the wrath of God.
Outside of the city of Jerusalem it is said that the blood will rise to the level of horses’ bridles, about 4-5 feet in a space of 1600 furlongs which is roughly 200 miles. This is usually associated by commentators with Armageddon coming up in 16:16 and linked to the 200 million number of the spiritual creatures in 9:16-19 and the kings of the east in 16:12. If this is true then the clearly supernatural creatures of chapter 9 mean that for every event on earth there are similar events happening in the invisible world that coincide with the events on earth. The massive demonic army coming out of the abyss coincides with the massive army that comes from the east to meet at Armageddon for a climactic battle that results in a huge bloodbath of unimaginable proportions.