Summary: In the end, no one will be able to accuse God of not being fair. One reason for that is contained in chapters 14 and 15 of Revelation. God also gives us some reasons to hope when we face darkness in our own lives
We are just about to enter back into the chronological narrative of the story of Revelation. The 7th trumpet found under the 7th seal of the Lamb’s scroll was sounded in chapter 11. In chapters 12-13 we saw the struggle between the angels and Lucifer - then Satan’s desire to destroy Israel, the Messiah, and us. And then we saw the manifestation of Satan’s final attempt to rule in God’s place by anointing the Antichrist and the False Prophet.
This interlude is about to end - and we’ll see the 7 bowl judgments poured out under the 7th trumpet - that’s in chapters 15 and following.
But in Chapter 14 God, I think, is trying to paint a picture for man. He’s trying to show us the stark difference between following the way of darkness and the way of Jesus - by comparing and contrasting the outcomes.
In His Word, sometimes God spoke through prophecy - pictures and symbols. Jesus often spoke in parables - stories with a strong spiritual point. But here, God just lays it out - plain and simple - choose Door #1 and here’s what you get, choose Door #2 and here is what’s behind it. What we’re going to see is that even with this clear choice - much of mankind during the Tribulation will choose to go against God - and so their judgment is justified.
In verses 1-5 we see the redeemed - specifically the 144,000 - and quite possibly - those that received Jesus as part of their ministry.
Then from verse 6 through verse 11 we hear about the proclamation of the gospel, the state of man and the destiny of man - who reject the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Verses 12 & 13 are an encouragement to those still left on the earth at the end of the Tribulation, and finally, verses 14-20 picture the final judgment of God against the earth - quite possibly at the Battle of Armageddon.
We have fast-forwarded here to the end of the Tribulation. We first saw the 144,000 in chapter 7 - from the tribes of Israel, and sent, I believe, in the world to preach. While I think that number is a real one - I think it’s also quite possible that the number here also represents those that received Jesus through their ministry. Even as we just saw in chapter 13 the seal of Satan - the mark of the Beast - here we see that these have the seal of God.
So this incredible, almost indescribable music starts up - John does his best to tell us that it sounds like roaring water and harps.
It turns out the noise was the singing of a new song only they could learn. It’s true that only they will have the experience of enduring the persecution of the Beast - not being able to buy or sell, and being hunted down like animals and destroyed. So perhaps it is of these experiences - and how God delivered them, that they sing.
Do you ever sing to the Lord a song no one else knows - made up of experiences only you and God have gone through? Just a thought.
Verses 4 - 5
There is a lot of speculation about these verses. I think that here we can look to a more spiritual than literal meaning. Were they literal virgins? In the Old Testament, unfaithfulness to God was discussed in terms of sexual unfaithfulness (Jeremiah 3:6, for instance). So what we’re seeing here is the description of the character of the redeemed.
Purity of faith and morals
Purity of devotion to Jesus
Purity of speech and motive
Verses 6 - 7
God never gives up until it is truly too late to save anyone. He has sent out judgments of natural disaster, of war, of demonic oppression - He has anointed super evangelists to spread the gospel throughout the world. He let man create his ultimate kingdom on earth through the Antichrist. All of these were allowed or brought about so man would repent - but he won’t.
But finally - just to make sure - God sends an angel to announce to the entire world - fear God and give Him glory. Fear that God will send to hell anyone who doesn’t belong to Him - and give Him glory - acknowledge that He is God and give your allegiance and life to Him through Jesus. The angel calls it "an eternal gospel." God is still preaching the good news up until the last minute.
Jesus said of this time: Matthew 24:14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come . ESV