Lesson 8. Harvest Time

In chapter 12 we met Satan (dragon) who fights against the Jews (woman) and the Christians (offspring). But it is God who allows Satan to trouble the believers by persecution so that they will be strengthened. In chapter 13 we met the Roman government (beast) and officials (second beast = false prophet) who make everyone worship the emperor (image of the beast). Everyone who does not belong to God is made to worship the emperor. Those who refuse to worship (the true Christians) are to be severely persecuted (can't buy or sell, or are killed). The Christians are called to repentance, endurance, and faith.

Other commentators claim that these three, the dragon and two beasts, are in our future. They are probably right. Indeed, the three are with us in every age in various forms. What form they will have at the time of the Second Coming of Christ has been the source of endless speculation for centuries. This overview of Revelation tries to focus on what they meant to John and to the people to whom he was writing, including us.

The themes of this lesson will be familiar; you have heard them before. So in this lesson you will have to apply what you have already learned to get some of the answers.

READ Revelation 14:1-5.

Mount Zion is the temple site in Jerusalem.
Who is the Lamb mentioned in verse 1?
Who are the 144,000 who are with him?

The number 144,000 is a code number (12 x 12 x 1000).
How many people does this number represent? ___only a few, ___a few thousand, ___a few hundred thousand, __a few million, ___an uncountable number.
How are they symbolically identified (verse 1)?
From where does the music of verse 2 come?
Based on verse 3, can non-Christians learn this heavenly song?

In the Old Testament, ordinary adultery is often a code word for idol worship. Just as a person leaves his or her spouse to engage in sex with someone else, so too have people left God to concern themselves with things that are not God. This is still done today by most people. It happens whenever we let someone (including ourselves) or something be more important to us than Jesus is. Verse 4 uses the same code. "Not defile themselves with women, for they kept themselves pure" refers to spiritual adultery. It means that these people have not worshipped the emperor nor idols since their conversion; they have remained faithful to Jesus (the Lamb). They belong to Jesus. They have been made sinless (blameless) by him and have not denied him (lied).
Will you be one the "144,000"? ___yes ___no ___hope so ___hope not
How do you know?

READ Revelation 14:6-13.

Seven angels are active in the rest of the chapter. The first three speak, the last four start the harvest on earth. The first angel flies between earth and heaven; he can see what is coming to the earth and can proclaim his message to the earth.
For how long is his message or gospel valid?
(There is a key word in verse 6.)
Who is supposed to hear it (verse 6)?
What is the meaning of the angel's message (verse 7)?

The second angel sees into the future and sees that something has happened in the future.
What city or nation is mentioned (verse 8)?
This is a code name for Rome and the Roman Empire.
What will have happened to this city or nation in the future (first words of message)?
This is described in more detail in chapter 18.

The third angel gives a warning!
What is it that entitles people to receive God's punishment (verses 9,10)?

In these code words John is saying, "Don't you dare worship the emperor!" To us he is saying, "Don't you dare let anything take God's place in your life!"
Whose anger (wrath, fury) will the offenders receive (verse 10)?
The word unmixed means that the punishment will be at full strength, not diluted down or weakened.
Can you survive God's full-strength anger?
Who will supervise the punishment (verse 10)?

"Burning sulfur" or "Fire and brimstone" is a code for hell.
How long will this punishment last (verse 11)?
People cannot die in hell to end their torment; their punishment never ends.
Will there be any pauses of comfort in the punishment for people to rest?
The saints must have endurance. They must never let their persecutions make them give in to the Romans because that would put them in hell. If they endure, they will go to heaven when they die.
Who are the saints (verse 12)?

Are you one of them?
Where does the voice of verse 13 come from?

"Who die in the Lord" means that the people are still Christians when they die.
Is such a death happy or sad?
They have had hard times (labors) on earth. Will these continue to bother them after death?

READ Revelation 14:14-20.

The time has come to gather the spiritual harvest on earth. God has waited long enough and everything is ready. At the second coming, Jesus (son of man) is to come in the clouds to gather the righteous people. The pagans (probably the grapes) are to be harvested by a different angel and punished (trampled) outside of the city (heaven). The volume of blood given as flowing from the winepress is about the same as the amount of blood in all the people living in the world today. The 1600 stadia may be made up of code numbers: 4 (earth) times 10 (large), then squared. Jesus himself described the last harvest.

READ Matthew 13: 24-30, 36-43.

Who are the weeds?
What happens to them?
Who are the good seed or wheat?
What happens to them?
Which harvest would you want to be in?

READ Revelation 15:1-8.

Seven more plagues are on their way.
From where are they sent (verse 1)?
Are there any more plagues to come after these have ended?

Notice that these plagues to destroy the earth are called "great and marvelous" by those in heaven. In Revelation 4:6 we notice that the sea of glass is in heaven and surrounds God's throne. Those who conquer the beast and its companions are there. They did not worship the emperor or any idols. After the Exodus, Moses and the people (in Exodus 15) sang a song celebrating their deliverance from Egypt and slavery. Now those who have remained faithful during the persecutions are in heaven singing a song of praise to God.

The 7 angels of the plagues come from God's temple. The troubles they bring are sent from God, not from Satan. "Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline." says Rev. 3:19. The clean, shining linen and golden sashes symbolize the purity and holiness of the angels. The four living creatures are in charge of things on earth (4). The plagues are given to the angels by them. The full-strength wrath (smoke) of God even fills this temple so that no one can enter, as it was during the Exodus and the dedication of Solomon's Temple (1 Kings 8:10,11).

READ Revelation 16:1-21.

The whole earth is to be affected by the plagues this time, not just a quarter or third. The style of the Egyptian plagues is there but the magnitude is now global.
What is the first plague (verse 2)?
Who is punished by it?
What is the second plague (verse 3)?
What is the third plague (verse 4)?
Why is it appropriate (verse 6)?
What is the fourth plague (verses 8,9)?
Did the people love God for this?
Did they repent yet?
What is the fifth plague (verses 10,11)?

The beast represents the Roman Empire.
Where is the throne of the beast?
Did the people repent yet?
What is the sixth plague (verse 12)?

The kings of the east in John's day were the Parthians who were a constant threat to the Romans. Evil spirits come forth from Satan, Rome, and the officials to gather for a final battle of good against evil.
What is the Hebrew name of the place of battle (verse 16)?
This name means "the mountains of Megiddo".
Which good king of Judah was killed by Pharaoh at Megiddo in 609 B.C. (2 Kings 23:29)?
The future triumph of God at the last battle will even the score.
What happens during the seventh plague according to Rev. 16:18?

Verse 19 means that God is destroying Rome and other pagan nations.
What falls from the sky (verse 21)?
With their weight (hundred pounds, fifty kilograms) they would fall at a couple hundred miles per hour (hundred meters per second). One-pound or kilogram hailstones today can kill cattle (and everything smaller).
Who can survive these larger hailstones?
Do people love God yet?

Notice that these final plagues have the same effect on people as did the plagues of Moses. The people's hearts are only hardened still more and they refuse to surrender to God. Faith in God is impossible for them. Perhaps some of your hearts have already been hardened. When God sends problems and discipline to you that normally improve his saints and make them more fit for heaven, you only get mad at God and get worse instead. If you suspect that you are hardening against God instead of loving him, pray to Jesus to help you. His power can stop the hardening and bring you to heaven. For those of you who are already receptive to God, the difficulties he sends you should make you joyful even in your misery. The problems show that God cares enough about you to make you more like what God intends you to become.

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