05/01/2004 - The Book of Revelation - Part 19

The Book of Revelation

Part 19

Date: 05/01/2004

Issue No. 188

As we saw in our previous study, the first angel has to do with the message of the overcomers when they are manifested in the earth. The second angel announces the fall of the Babylonian world system that has held the people of the world in bondage since the time of Daniel. Daniel 7:18, 26, 27 says that this world system would take the form of four beasts, plus another form called a “little horn,” until the time came for the saints to possess the Kingdom. Then jurisdiction over the earth will be given to the saints of God.

The third angel speaks of the result of God’s judgment upon the world “beast” systems. That is, when the saints (overcomers) are given jurisdiction after the manifestation of the sons of God, then two kingdoms will be in open conflict. The Kingdom of God will ascend—because the manifestation of the overcomers will win the hearts and minds of the majority of humanity in a relatively short period of time.

Their message of love and peace will be welcome after so many centuries of violence and hatred. Their gift of healing for individuals as well as for nations will prove to them who is the true God and will demonstrate for them His true character. Nonetheless, there will continue to be some hard-line religionists who will reject Christ during this time. These are the focus of the third angel.

The Third Angel: Rev. 14:9

9 And another angel, a third one, followed them, saying with a loud voice, If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives a mark on his forehead or upon his hand, 10 he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb.

The first question is this: what constitutes worshipping the beast and his image? We answered this question in an earlier FFI. The beast in question would be the final beast, the final manifestation of the Babylonian world system, that is in operation at the time of the end. We know this because these judgments are to come upon the opponents of God’s Kingdom who are alive at the end of the age. This is not a judgment upon those who lived and died in the ages prior to the end, for their judgment comes only at their resurrection at the end of the Tabernacles Age.

We have already shown that the worship of the beast and his image is the worship of money. “The love of money is the root of all evil” (1 Tim. 6:10).

Those who receive his mark on their hand or forehead are those who are lawless (Greek: anomia), those who refuse to bind the laws of God upon their hands or upon their foreheads (Deut. 11:18). God does not require anyone to wear phylacteries (little boxes with scriptures written inside), but God does expect that His law will be written in our hearts and minds. He expects that we be obedient in everything we do with our hands or think in our minds.

In other words, God wants to be worshipped and loved above money and all forms of material wealth. Anyone who does not do this is worshipping the golden calf as much as Israel did in wilderness.

It is not that money itself is evil. It is the LOVE of money that is evil, for we are to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind, and our neighbor as ourselves.

In the final analysis, there are only two religions in the world. The one craves money and power apart from Christ; the other loves Christ first above all things. One purpose of the three angelic messages is to separate men into these two categories. The angels do this by showing men a clear difference between them. That, in fact, is the prime job of the overcomers. It is one of the main reasons why God intends to fulfill the Feast of Tabernacles at this time. It is to bring a people into incorruption and immortality, who will have the same anointing of the Holy Spirit that Jesus had. Only this time, instead of a single Man named Jesus ministering in a tiny country, there will be an entire BODY of Christ ministering throughout the world.

They will manifest His glory and bear witness of His mind and character. Men will then be able to see Christ in them and come to know Him, even as Jesus’ disciples were able to see the Father in Jesus and come to know Him (John 14:8-14).

Hence, the primary purpose of the manifestation of the overcomers is not to destroy the earth, but to save it from destruction and oppression. Yet, as we said earlier, it is part of the plan of God that not all will be converted during the thousand-year Tabernacles Age. There will remain many who will oppose the Kingdom of God. Rev. 20:7-10 writes of these, saying that at the end of the thousand years there will be a final battle.

Even so, this thousand-year period will be the most glorious Age ever seen on earth since the garden of Eden. Isaiah 2:2, 3 will then be fulfilled, saying,

2 Now it will come about that in the last days, the mountain [nation or kingdom] of the house of the Lord will be established as the chief of the mountains [nations], and will be raised above the hills [smaller nations]; and all the nations will stream to it.

Why will they come? Will they come to do battle? No.

3 And many peoples will come and say, Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob, that He may teach us concerning His ways, and that we may walk in His paths. For the law will go forth from Zion [the new Zion of Heb. 12:22], and the word of the Lord from [new] Jerusalem.

Men will not have to travel to the Middle East to hear the word of the Lord. The old Jerusalem is not the new Jerusalem. We have done many studies in books to show that God forsook the old Jerusalem in the days of the prophet Jeremiah (7:12-14) like He forsook Shiloh in the days of Eli. The glory departed from both Shiloh and Jerusalem, but in order to fulfill prophecy, God called His new city by the name of Jerusalem also. That way, the new city can receive all the beneficial prophecies of the original Jerusalem. But in order to distinguish the two Jerusalems, John calls this final city the New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:2).

The Wine of the Wrath of God

Rev. 14:10 says that God’s opponents (those who do not repent) will have to drink of the wine of the wrath of God. This is obviously symbolic language, for no one will have to literally drink some wine. The language used here is taken from Jeremiah’s prophecies that originally applied to the literal city of Babylon. Jer. 25:15-17 says,

15 For thus the Lord, the God of Israel, says to me, Take this cup of the wine of wrath from My hand, and cause all the nations to whom I send you to drink it. 16 And they shall drink and stagger and go mad because of the sword that I will send among them. 17 Then I took the cup from the Lord’s hand, and made all the nations drink, to whom the Lord sent me.

Jeremiah did not literally take a cup out of God’s hand and make nations drink of the wine. Perhaps he poured out a cup of wine upon the ground, or perhaps it was all done on a purely spiritual level. We are not told. But the result of this “wine” was to confuse the understanding of the nations that God was judging. “They shall…go mad because of the sword that I will send among them.”

The “wine” is also the “sword.” And “the cup of His anger” (Rev. 14:10) is the same as “the wine of the wrath of God.” Let us not think of this “wrath” and “anger” as an emotional response, as if God has a temper or becomes frustrated. Frustration is an emotion that comes from being helpless to change a situation. God is sovereign and does not suffer from temper tantrums or fits of frustration. His “wrath” is a judicial wrath, not an emotional wrath.

In ancient times, God sent a literal sword upon Babylon by the hand of Medo-Persia toward the end of Daniel’s life. However, the sword that is used in the book of Revelation is “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Eph. 6:17). This is made plain in Rev. 1:16, which says, “out of His mouth came a sharp, two-edged sword.”

This is confirmed later in Rev. 19:15, which says,

15 And from His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may smite the nations…

It is the same “sword” that God used through His prophets in the Old Testament. Hosea 6:5, 6 says,

5 Therefore I have hewn them in pieces by the prophets; I have slain them by the words of My mouth; and the judgments on you are like the light that goes forth. 6 For I delight in loyalty rather than sacrifice, and in the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.

In other words, God “slew” them and cut them in pieces with WORDS. Why? Because He preferred loyalty to Him rather than sacrifice. In other words, He did not want to literally kill them, so He did NOT use a physical sword. The sword He used was the one described everywhere in the New Testament.

And this is the “sword” by which He will slay the nations, as described in the book of Revelation.

This tells us that His intent is NOT to shed blood, but to cause people to repent by the word of His mouth. And so, while the description is in physical terms of warfare, blood, and destruction, this is not really what God intends for the nations at all. The nations are God’s inheritance—and ours—so it would make no sense to destroy them. The only thing that God intends to destroy is oppressive government and false religion that burdens the people today and deceives them into doing violence to others.

Tormenting People with Fire and Brimstone

Once again, let us not think of God as a torturer. The law does not specify torture as a proper judgment of divine law. The law, however, is pictured as a fire in Deut. 33:2 and 3, saying, “from His right hand went a fiery law for them… all His saints are in Thy hand.”

In other words, the “fiery law” in God’s hand is identified with the “saints” in His hand. When the law is written on the hearts of the overcomers, they become His fiery law, and they become the administrators of divine justice and rulership in the earth.

The Hebrew word for “fire” is esh. It is spelled with the Hebrew letters, aleph and sheen. Aleph means an ox and denotes strength. Sheen means teeth and denotes consuming or devouring. Thus, “fire” literally means a strong devourer. Hence, our God is a consuming fire (Deut. 4:24; Heb. 12:29).

The Hebrew word for “man” (male) is ish. It is spelled with the Hebrew letters, aleph, yood, and sheen. It is the word “fire” with the yood in the middle. Yood literally means a deed or a work. Thus, man was meant to manifest the fire (glory) of God in all of His deeds or works.

This is what Deut. 33:2, 3 pictures. The fire of God comes from His right hand, the place of rulership, and all of His saints are in His hand. It pictures the overcomers as the manifested sons of God administering the divine law to the world according to the mind of Christ. This is the meaning of the “fire” as God intended it from the beginning.

In fact, we can look at this in a slightly different way. We showed in our last study that the overcomers are also feminine. They are the ones who birth the Manchild, and this is a feminine role. The Hebrew word for “woman” is ishah, which is spelled aleph, sheen, and hey. The first two letters, aleph and sheen, spell “fire.” The hey at the end of a word makes it feminine and literally means “what comes from.”

Thus, “woman” means “what comes from fire.”

This is illustrated in the story of Moses going up the mount. When he went into the fire and came forth with his face glorified, He was a manifestation of the true man that God intended from the beginning. He was a picture of the manifested sons of God.

If Israel—the Bride—had drawn near to God as Moses urged them to do (Ex. 20:18-21), they too would have come out with the same experience. They would have pictured the true woman, “what comes from fire.”

I write these things in order to show the divine plan in the mind of God from the beginning. Only by knowing the divine plan from the beginning can we understand the end of the story in the book of Revelation, because that book tells us how God’s plan succeeds after a long detour.

Rev. 14:9-11 tells us that those who continue to worship the beast and his image (money) will drink of the wine of God’s judicial wrath, “and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence [enopion, “face”] of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb.

Men have long interpreted this literally, as if God plans to torture sinners in front of Him like the kings of the beast systems have done to their opponents over the centuries. But God is not like them. In fact, it is because of their injustice and torture that God will remove them from their positions of authority over the earth. God will not have unjust tyrants ruling in His Kingdom—not even Christian tyrants like King Saul or the Popes.

The verse simply means that with the holy angels and the Lamb present, these unrepentant people will be tormented by their very presence. The “holy angels” are not merely spiritual creatures, but also refer to the ones that they empower. Heb. 1:14 says of angels,

14 Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to render service for the sake of [dia, “through”] those who will inherit salvation.

It literally reads that angels will minister through those who will inherit salvation. This is a key to understanding how angels minister in the world, as well as the relationship between angels and earthly “messengers.” Messengers can be either spirits or flesh beings. But God merges the two to get the job done. He sends forth His word and gives that word an image in the form of an angel. God’s word is in the angel (spirit). As we “eat” His word and submit in obedience, we absorb or assimilate the angel, and we become that portion of the word.

This is how we become the living word, even as Jesus Himself was the Word made flesh (John 1:1).

Heb. 1:7 also says about angels, “who makes His angels winds, and His ministers a flame of fire.” Thus, as we absorb the angel by obedience to the word of God, we become the messengers of God and are a flame of fire manifesting the glory that the true man was supposed to be from the beginning.

What effect does a manifested son have upon evil spirits? They are tormented by the very presence of Christ in them. We see this all the time in the New Testament stories when Jesus cast out unclean spirits from people. In Matt. 8:29, they cried out saying, “Have you come here to torment us before the time?”

In Mark 5:7, the unclean spirit called Legion says to Jesus, “I implore you by God, do not torment me.” He was not begging to escape a torture chamber of “hell.” He was tormented by Jesus’ very presence.

So it is also in Rev. 14:10. The very presence of the “holy angels” and the “Lamb” torment those who have evil spirits. Verse 11 says that “these have no rest day and night.” It is not because they are being roasted over a slow fire, but because they are unable to enter into God’s rest. Why? Because these are the ones who—for now—are unable to accept Christ, but cling to their old, fleshly ways. They worship money and carnal things, and they cannot let go of the old ways prior to the White Throne Judgment.

Who is the Lamb?

We are all aware that the Lamb of God is Jesus Christ. However, the book of Revelation is the story of history leading to the manifestation of the sons of God as God’s Kingdom merges with and emerges in the earth. This is in accord with the Lord’s prayer that His will be done in earth as it is in heaven.

Thus, the Lamb can at times be thought of as Jesus by Himself; but at other times as a collective body of Christ with Jesus Himself serving as the Head of that body.

The New Testament uses two different Greek words that are both translated “lamb.” One is amnos, which is used exclusively of Jesus. In John 1:29, John the Baptist points to Jesus saying, “Behold, the Lamb [amnos] of God who takes away the sin of the world.” This is repeated in verse 36, again using the word amnos.

The word is also used in Acts 8:32, in a quotation from Isaiah 53:7. The word is again used in 1 Peter 1:19,

19 but with precious blood, as of a lamb [amnos] unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.

All of these examples apply to Jesus Christ Himself. The other word, arnion, is used to mean the body of Christ—certainly not separate from Christ, but included with Him. The only New Testament use of this term outside of the book of Revelation is found in John 21:15, where Jesus told Peter, “feed my lambs.” Obviously, Peter was not expected to feed Jesus, but His body.

The book of Revelation uses only arnion, never amnos. It is the story of the lambs that Peter was supposed to feed. It is how the lambs grow into spiritual maturity not only by the spiritual food that they eat, but also through suffering in tribulation as their faith and patience is exercised.

This is not to say that the book of Revelation speaks only of the overcomers and not of Jesus Himself. Jesus is the Head of His body, and so the two cannot be separated. And so when Rev. 14:10 speaks of the unrepentant sinners being tormented “in the presence of the Lamb,” it is not merely Jesus, the amnos of God, but the arnion of God. It is Christ who has manifested in the sons of God.

Thus, when Christ judges with fire in His hand, it is the saints who are in His hand. Christ judges the earth through the overcomers, who rule with Him in His throne. If Jesus Himself were to do it all, then to what purpose are the sons of God manifested? Will they simply retire to a mansion of gold somewhere in heaven? No, Jesus said that the 12 disciples would rule in 12 thrones (Matt. 19:28). They will have work to do. They will have authority to judge.

And so Rev. 14:10 speaks of the judgment in the presence of the arnion. Rev. 14:12 ends this section with:

12 Here is the perseverance [“patient endurance”] of the saints [“holy ones”] who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.

In other words, it is for this purpose that the holy ones, empowered by the holy angels, have endured much hardship and tribulation. Like the Old Testament saints in Hebrews 11, they have endured to the end in order to obtain a “better resurrection” (Heb. 11:35). For, you see, these saints, or holy ones, are the first to be raised from the dead (Rev. 20:1-4), the first to be manifested, the first to come into the experience of the Feast of Tabernacles.