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THE VISION OF THE FAITHFUL SERVANTS OF GOD
CRITICAL AND EXEGETICAL NOTES
THAT we may be assured of the safety of God’s faithful ones, even during the time of the triumph of the beast and false prophet, we are shown the sealed ones all secure and in the charge of the Lamb; and we are further assured that seven angels are ministering to the protection and comfort of the imperilled saints. The angel of good news (Revelation 14:6-7); the angel proclaiming the doom of the great world city (Revelation 14:8); the angel who warns men against the mark of the beast (Revelation 14:9-12); the angel of comfort (Revelation 14:13); the angel of the wheat harvest (Revelation 14:14-16); the angel of the vintage (Revelation 14:17-20); the angel of fire (Revelation 14:18).
Revelation 14:1. Father’s name.—Read “His name and His Father’s name.”
Revelation 14:4. Virgins.—The term is used figuratively, not literally. They were virgin souls who had not bowed the knee to the image of Baal: and so here they were virgin souls who had refused to offer incense to the bust of the emperor.
Revelation 14:6. Everlasting gospel.—With idea of its universal applicability. Everlasting and eternal are constantly used to indicate quality.
Revelation 14:8. Babylon.—The type of all cities that stand in the pride of self-reliance, and so put dishonour upon God. “Is not this great Babylon which I have builded?” “Babylon is clearly an emblem of some principles which have been more or less accepted by all nations, and which will more or less involve all in the consequences of her fall.”
MAIN HOMILETICS OF THE PARAGRAPH.—Revelation 14:1-12
The Bible for the World’s Salvation.—The portion which is most suggestive for the purposes of the preacher is that comprised in Revelation 14:6-7. See a first truth. It is not the Bible as a record of the gospel that saves the world. The gospel saves the world. The gospel is God saving.
I. What is the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God?—
1. Good news of God Himself. Good, because no other religion proclaims it. It is the news that God is Love, and that we may use the Father-name for Him, and the fatherly relations to represent Him.
2. Good news of God’s gift. “Gave His only begotten Son.” A man, given to men. A son, given to prodigals. We have to “believe the love God hath to us,” as shown in His “unspeakable gift.”
II. Wherein lies the saving efficacy of this gospel?—
1. In its universal adaptation. It is a salvation, not for what is peculiar to some men, or some nations, under some unusual circumstances, but for the woe that is common to all men, which we put into the word “sinners.” Other religions are limited to particular tribes or nations. Illustrate gods of hills and gods of valleys. Distinct deities in different parts of India.
2. In the power of God that works through it. We must never separate agencies from the Divine life that is in them, and think that agencies can save.
(1) The Bible cannot save.
(2) The gospel cannot save.
(3) Faith cannot save. God saves, through faith, by means of the gospel, which is carried to men in the Bible.
3. In the attraction of Him who is the essence of it. There must be personal soul-relations with Christ, the Living Saviour, if there is to be salvation. And these are brought to men through the attractive power which Christ exerts when “lifted up” into their view.
III. Where shall we find the gospel enshrined?—In the Bible. As the Jews, carried and preserved the primary truths of the unity and spirituality of God for humanity, so the Bible—the whole Bible—carries and preserves the gospel—the primary truths of Divine redemption—for humanity. The Bible is not a book of science, or of history, or of social principles; these are but its framing, and setting, and illustration. The one concern of the Bible is Religion. It tells us what God’s relations with man have been. That is the very heart of its history. It tells us what man’s relations with God should be, and may be. That is its message. It is summed up in the words, “He that hath the Son hath life.” Men have done the Bible great wrong by taking it to be what it never proposed to be, and never could be. Then to scatter abroad the Bible, in every land and every tongue, is for the angel to fly abroad with the everlasting gospel. There are two ways in which the angel—as the symbol of agencies—carries the gospel.
1. It is spoken by the servants of God. At first the message was spoken by aposties and teachers. It was not written and collected together so as to be at the command of evangelists and missionaries, for more than two centuries. At first men were possessed with the Word, and spake what they had in them. And this is the deeper truth, and holier power now. The true speaker is the man who has got the Word in him. Send that man anywhere, and he is an angel, having the everlasting gospel.
2. It is distributed as the book which we call the “Word of God.” And we can readily recognise the wisdom that lies in the employment of this agency.
(1) Its attractiveness.
(2) Its variety. Suits all ages and all abilities.
(3) Its adaptation to the world, through being Eastern in form.
(4) Its uniqueness, as compared with the Bibles of other religions. Compare Vedas, Koran, Book of Mormon, etc. But these two—the speakers and the Word—are really one, seeing that the speakers only speak the Word. Always the Word is the agency, whether it be heard from the lips or read from a book. And we must face the fact that what a sinful, dying world wants is that gospel which is in the Bible, and which may come to men either as spoken or as read. Both ways we may think of when we sing:
“Fly abroad, thou mighty gospel,
Win and conquer, never cease.”
For the gospel does everywhere—all the world over and all the ages through—prove itself able to meet and satisfy all kinds of spiritual needs that humanity can feel.
SUGGESTIVE NOTES AND SERMON SKETCHES
Revelation 14:1. Marks of Servitude.—It was a custom among the ancients for servants to receive the mark of their master, and soldiers of their general, and those who were devoted to any particular idol, the mark of that particular idol. These marks were usually impressed on their right hands, or on their foreheads (Revelation 13:16), and consisted of some hieroglyphical character, or of the name expressed in vulgar letters, or in numerical characters. Galatians 6:17 : “The marks of the Lord Jesus”. What these marks were, the apostle explains by the stripes, etc, mentioned in 2 Corinthians 11:23. There is a beautiful allusion to the stigmata—marks which were sometimes fixed on servants and soldiers, to show to whom they belonged. How strikingly do these two remarks illustrate the scene of Jesus the Lamb of God, the all-conquering Redeemer, standing as the great Captain of Salvation at the head of His brave army of saints on Mount Sion! “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.”
Revelation 14:6. The Gospel of Retribution.—That a Divine judgment impends over all the actions and generations of men; that the hour of judgment is sure to strike at the due moment, let men play what tricks they will with the hands of the clock, and sure to be heard over all the world, let men close their ears as they will; that this fact of impending and inevitable judgment is an eternal or œonial gospel, veritable good tidings of great joy to every nation and tribe, tongue and people;—all this is at once of supreme importance and supreme interest. A gospel for all men in all ages must be a gospel for us. A gospel weighted by no miracles and no dogmas, a gospel which is open to no question and no doubt, but is felt to be true always, and everywhere, and by all. What, then, is this gospel? It is the gospel of retribution. We are to fear and glorify God because the hour of His judgment is come. This is the truth which the angel, flying in mid-heaven, between God and man, proclaims today, and always has proclaimed, and always will proclaim. This is the truth which St. John calls “an eternal gospel”—not the gospel, and still less the only gospel, but still a veritable gospel, glad tidings of great joy, to us and to all mankind. If the law of retribution is familiar to you, is it nothing to you to be assured, and assured on the highest authority, that what you admit to be a law is also a gospel? When we are told that God’s judgments on sin are an eternal gospel, a gospel for all beings in all ages, what is implied? This is implied, and there is no truth more precious and more practical: that the judgments of God are corrective, disciplinary, redemptive; that they are designed to turn us away from the sins by which they are provoked; that the message they bring us, and bring from heaven is: “Cease to do evil; learn to do well.—S. Cox, D.D.
The Everlasting Gospel.—Only one gospel is everlasting, which can pass from country to country, from continent to continent, and be at home everywhere; which time cannot wither nor custom stale; which has the safe and certain reversion of all the future. Why is this? What makes the gospel of Christ everlasting?
I. It is a message to what is universal in man.—Religions have been the religions of single tribes, or single countries, and have not been adapted for other parts of the world. But the glory of Christianity is that its teaching is addressed to what is most characteristic in human nature, and absolutely the same in all members of the human race, whether they be rich or poor, whether they inhabit one hemisphere or the other, and whether they live in ancient or modern times. You have only to glance at the most outstanding words of the gospel to see this. E.g.,
1. The word “soul.” Jesus went down to the child, the beggar, the harlot, the weakest and most despised members of the human family, and when He was able to find, even in them, this infinitely precious thing, it was manifest that He had discovered the secret of a universal religion.
2. The word “sin.” Speak to the conscience, and every human being feels that He is the man.
3. The word “eternity.” “God hath put eternity in their heart.” When the hand of the gospel touches this string of the harp of human nature, it responds. On this preaching the union of Christians must be realised.
II. It is a message to what is peculiar in man.—It can meet, as they rise, the changing conditions of society; it has an inexhaustible facility of adaptation to the wants and the circumstances of every individual whom it addresses. Some “preach to the times,” others “preach for eternity.” The two things are not inconsistent. His gospel has a word in season for every condition of life—for the little child, the young man in his prime, and for old age; a word for the multitude, and for the few. We have not exhausted Christ, and we have not exhausted the gospel of Christ. The pulpit is too far away from the individual. We must come nearer to men, and acquaint ourselves with the details of their experience. Sympathy is the key which opens the heart. Professional authentication sometimes only creates obstacles; but all difficulties melt away before the force of love.—James Stalker, D.D.
CRITICAL AND EXEGETICAL NOTES
Revelation 14:13. Blessed are the dead.—This relieves anxiety concerning all who are taken out of the warfare before the victory is fully won. They will share all the rewards, and their life-witness and service will be in no wise forgotten. Recall the fear with which St. Paul deals in the epistle to the Thessalonians, that those who died before Christ came would be placed under some special disadvantages.
Revelation 14:14. Son of man.—So figured as presiding over the final judgment of humanity. The visions of a harvest and a vintage (Revelation 14:15-20), typify the time, now nigh at hand, in which God will gather in His own, and will trample His enemies in the winepress of His wrath.
MAIN HOMILETICS OF THE PARAGRAPH.—Revelation 14:13-16
Revelation 14:13. The Harvest of the Earth for Keeping.—This is the link between the earlier and later visions of this chapter. Many of the Lord’s redeemed ones had already been gathered in, out of their earth-persecutions. Many were still left under the fiery trial. But they were keeping steadfast and faithful, while the gospel was being proclaimed unto “every nation and tribe and tongue and people.” They are to be cheered and encouraged by the vision of the hour when the angel may declare that the earth-story is complete, and the judgment of God has come. In that day evil, however mighty it may seem to have grown, will fall, suddenly, irretrievably, even as Babylon fell in the day of its pride. In that day the patience of the saints will gain its full recognition. The Divine acceptance comes to the “sheep of the right hand,” “they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” But this final day of God’s judgment is no present thing; it is a vision of the far-away. It may even be turned wrongly, and made a discouragement to Christian souls, for it may seem as if all the blessedness of that day were reserved for those saints who were alive when the great judgment-trumpet should be sounded. The writer checks himself to say a gracious and comforting word to those who might be troubled with such thoughts and fears. The harvest of the earth is a long-continued process. The angel of the harvest is the death-angel, as well as the angel of ingathering for those who are “alive and remain at the coming.” Therefore this comforting word may be spoken—nay, write it down, for it is certain; write it down, for the saints of all the ages will want the gracious assurance. Not only blessed are the dead which have died in the Lord, whom you have seen in vision harping in the glory, and singing their new song, but blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth, from this very hour right away to the judgment day. “Yea, saith the Spirit, for they rest from their labours, and their works do follow them.” They are all stored safe in the garner of God, until the harvest of the earth is complete. Then, having given this comforting assurance, the writer can return upon his visions of the end of all earthly things—his visions of the harvest-day of God. It must prove to be a double harvest. Christ Himself will see to the ingathering of the saints. His angels will execute His will upon those who have refused His gospel, kept their sin, and worked against all the gracious purposes of His love.
I. The first-fruits of God’s harvest of the earth.—“The dead which die in the Lord.” We may think of heaven as the great storehouse, granary, of God. His harvest is the harvesting of years. His grain ripens in all the ages. The reaper we call death cuts down the golden grain; but no stalk is lost—every one is borne into the garner, and safely treasured there until the harvest work is complete. It is but a resting time for the saints; they never pass out of God’s memory and regard. “Their works do follow them,” and all will be taken into due account in the great day of Divine appraisement. It is a most helpful way in which to think of our dead, and of our own dying. They are but first-fruits of harvest, carried in early to God’s barn. They are only waiting awhile, until the day when the earth-fields can be swept once for all, and God’s harvest of the earth be complete.
II. The remainder of God’s harvest of the earth.—A day must come when the arresting hand must be placed on the earth’s story, the stalks may no longer stand in the earth-fields. All must be gathered in. That is presented in symbol in the visions of the angel offering the sickle to the Son of man, reminding Him that the harvest is almost over-ripe, and must at once be reaped. Of this we are assured: the succession of the dying will not be continuous. The number of Christ’s redeemed ones will one day be completed. And what He will do for them in the great forever they shall know when the last stalk has fallen before the reaper.
SUGGESTIVE NOTES AND SERMON SKETCHES
Revelation 14:13. The Blessedness of the Dead.—What this text means in its fulness of application no one now knows. But its suggestions are manifest and manifold.
I. God’s saints, at death, enter into rest.—Rest—not, indeed, from service, but from labour—which implies the disagreeable, exhausting, discouraging side of toil. In the higher sense of service they rest not day nor night, serving God in His temple. But the hindrances without and within all cease, and the service is unmixed delight.
II. Their works do follow them.—This, in a threefold sense, is true:
1. Follow them in witnessing to their fidelity.
2. Follow them in contributing to their reward.
3. Follow them in perpetuating their influence for good.—Anon.
Dying in the Lord.
I. What is it to die in the Lord?—One has said that it “implies a previous living with Him.” Living with Him involves the exercise of certain elements. These are found in Revelation 14:12.
1. Faith: “The faith of Jesus.” No man can live with or die in the Lord without faith in Him. With it he can live and die triumphantly.
2. Obedience: “They that keep the commandments of God.” Living with God is obeying God. The obedience of faith—the obedience that is vitally connected with faith—enters into the preparation for a happy death, or death in the Lord.
II. Why are those who die in the Lord blessed or happy?—
1. The happiness of contemplation. The Christian has a bright prospect. He can look forward, not to a dark uncertainty, but to the pleasures of home. When dying, one said, “I wish I had the power of writing or speaking, for then I would describe to you how pleasant a thing it is to die.” Another, “I have experienced more happiness in dying two hours this day than in my whole life.”
2. The happiness of release from toil, sorrow, pain. Rest—“That they may rest from their labours.” Christians are not free from trials; it is not according to the Divine plan that they should be. But those trials cannot pass beyond the gate of death; and when the Christian passes into the beyond he leaves his trials.
3. The happiness of being with Christ after death. The psalmist said, “In Thy presence is fulness of joy; at Thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” Again, “I shall be satisfied when I awake with Thy likeness.” Paul said, “I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.” Great joy here, but fulness of joy with Christ.—Anon.
“The Blessed Dead.”—No book is fuller than this Apocalypse of the struggles and victories of the Church on earth; but it also opens a door into heaven. It shows that heaven is not all future, but, as it were, contemporary with present history, and bound to it by the closest ties. Messengers pass and repass; tidings come and go; and the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne presides alike over time and eternity.
I. The answer which the text gives to the question, How is the heavenly blessedness attested?—We all profess to believe in the reality of heaven; but why?
1. There is the evidence from, miracle, or the presence of the supernatural in the form of power. This great apostle heard a voice from heaven. But before this, John had looked on One whose life was crowded with miracle. He had witnessed His risen glory as He came back from heaven, and His ascension glory as He returned to heaven. If miracle could vouch for heaven, its existence was confirmed.
2. The testimony is, in itself, Divinely credible. Its internal character vouches for its authority.
3. There is a living and. experimental evidence of the reality of heaven. It is written in living epistles, written, not with ink, but with the Spirit of the Living God.
II. How is the heavenly blessedness secured?—
1. The doctrine here is that the title to heaven depends on faith “in the Lord.”
2. But there is also a preparation for the heavenly state by holy obedience. “They rest from their labours,” implying that they prove their faith by works.
III. How is the heavenly blessedness enjoyed?—
1. Heaven is the rest of the worker. It is not sloth, torpor, or inactivity; but while there is no apathy there is rest to the body and the spirit. No more out in the billows, toiling in rowing, when the wind is contrary, but in smooth water, and with the ripple breaking on the shore.
2. Heaven is the continued influence of the work. “Their works do follow them.” Every moral act, truly good, will last for ever. The simplest act of self-denial for Christ’s sake, the mother’s faintest prayer, record themselves in the soundingboard of eternity, and never die away.—John Cairns, D.D.
Revelation 14:15. The Harvest of the Earth.—The expression is a singular and, indeed, a striking one. As his fields are to the farmer, so, we are permitted to think, the whole earth is to God. The farmer works for a harvest of his fields and trees, and God may be thought of as working for the harvest of the whole earth. God’s work in the world is like ploughing, sowing, weeding the fields. God’s work has its reward when He carries home the last loaded wain, and His garner is filled with the good corn of the earth of humanity. Can we follow out the figure, and find in it the suggestion of helpful truths?
I. God prepared the earth for His seeding.—Scientific men may wrangle over the ages and order of creation. It is enough for us to know that, at a given time, God had prepared the earth to be the scene of a moral trial for a new race of beings. It is full of interest to inquire into all the mystery of nature. Of its study man never tires. But it is of far greater interest to observe in how marvellous a way the earth was adjusted and adapted to the beings who were to be placed upon it. The relativity of creation to a being with five senses, and these particular five senses, has never yet been shown with the precision and fulness that it demands. The farmer cleans, and ploughs, and manures, and harrows, and ridges, his fields, in precise adaptation to the crop that he intends to grow upon it; and earth is the prepared field of God, made ready for His sowing.
II. God seeds His prepared earth with men.—Scattering the seed all over the earth, that man’s probation may be carried on under every varying condition of soil, and landscape, and climate, and relationship. God keeps on seeding the earth with men; every seed with a great possibility in it; every seed set where its possibility may freely unfold, and where the God provided influences all tend to the nourishment of all its best possibilities. Men, men everywhere, are the seed of God. They are quick with Divine life, and sown in the earth to grow into a harvest for God.
III. The harvest God seeks from His seeding is character.—God sows His earth with moral beings, in the hope of reaping moral character. But what is moral character? It is the proper fruitage of the earth-experience of moral beings. But can we understand it a little more fully than that? A moral being is one that can recognise a distinction between good and evil, and, when the distinction is seen, can choose for itself which it will have, the good or the evil. But a moral being must be put into such circumstances as will offer it the choice between good and evil. And substantially the test amounts to this: good is doing what is known to be the will of the Creator; evil is doing the will of the moral being himself, when that is known to be not the will of the Creator. The picture-scene in the Garden of Eden is the typical trial of moral beings. But what we need, for our present purpose, to see with clearness, is that when, under enticement of the senses, the moral being has chosen the evil, he is said to have fallen, but he has really started the possibility of moral character, which is the issue of the conflict in which the will, biassed by the indulgence of the senses, is brought back to the choice and obedience of God’s will, and recovered from all the sad experiences and conditions resulting from the choice of evil. The story of a life is the story of that conflict. It is the growth, through the long months, of God’s seed into the “full corn in the ear” of established moral character. It is the unfolding of what God would gather in from His seeding of men, the righteousness of the accepted will of God. One thing only does man take through the great gates—the character that he has gained. It is the full ear that heads the stalk, and ripens for the reaper.
IV. God has anxious times while His seed of men is growing into His harvest of character.—Every blade that breaks the earth in the farmer’s field has to fight for its life with varied foes: insects, worms, mildew, rust, living creatures, varying temperatures, crowding weeds; the growth of every blade to stalk and ear is a hard-won victory. The stalk can do its best, and be its best, only at the cost of unceasing struggle and watchfulness. And the field of earth is but a type of the world of men. Every character is the product of a stern experience, the issue of a hundred fights; a triumph from an unceasing struggle. Think of each man’s life-story, and this is true. Think of the histories of nations, and this is true. Think of the story of humanity as if it were the story of one man, and it is God’s Adam, planted in God’s earth, and growing amid the thousandfold influences for good and evil, through all the long ages, and showing at last the golden grain of moral character, rich and ripe, that can be gathered into God’s garner, as the glorious reward of His toil; For over every phase and feature of the struggle in every man out of which character is born, God presides. The problem of each man’s dealings with his surroundings—helpful be they, or injurious—God is intensely interested in. He is anxious as the farmer is anxious over his growing blades. He is anxious as the parent is anxious over the unfolding of character in his child. He may let the struggle alone. He may interfere. But we may be sure that He is deeply concerned. We speak of the “making of a man,” or the “making of a nation.” The one thing of profoundest interest to God is the making of characters in His great earth-fields. Be it so; then a fact of infinite sadness has to be faced. The issue is disappointing, for God’s harvest-hope of reaping character from His sowing of men is only partially fulfilled.
CRITICAL AND EXEGETICAL NOTES
Revelation 14:20. “The number here, four multiplied into itself, and then multiplied by a hundred is symbolical of a judgment complete and full, and reaching to all corners of the earth.”
MAIN HOMILETICS OF THE PARAGRAPH.—Revelation 14:17-20
The Harvest of the Earth for Crushing.—The harvest of the earth is not only the ingathering of the saints. It includes the ingathering of those whose earth-lives have been a failure: who have died in their sin; who stand on the earth, in the great reaping day, in their sin. The farmer of the yearly harvest gathers in much besides good wheat: wheat that has gone bad, weeds, and chaff even, with the good wheat. If there is a barn for the good wheat, there is a fire in the field for burning up the bad, the mock wheat, the tares, and the weeds. And this seems to have suggested to the writer his vision of the other side of the last great harvest scene. But, in accordance with the symbolic ideas of the times, he takes the yield of the vines to represent the evil side of earth’s harvest. It is a simple and natural symbol. The corn of the fields is the source of renewed life and health: it is the fitting symbol of the good results of earth’s endeavour. The fruits of the vine have been, in all ages, since Noah stepped forth upon the cleansed earth, the fruitful source of vice, and self-indulgence, and misery, to men. So the clusters of the vine are represented as cast into the winepress, and trodden under foot; crushed down; made by stern discipline to become something other than they are. The men who have come through their earth story self-indulgent, defiant of God, and refusers of His holy gospel, must be gathered in with the stern sickle of the angel, cast like grape-clusters into the great winepress of the wrath of God. What can there be for them in that great day but “indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil?”
I. They who die in their sins are kept for their judgment.—In the indulging of the larger hope that one day all men will be saved, it is forgotten that, through the long ages, men have died in their sins. There is a fact which must be taken into full account. Thousands of completed earth-lives have proved moral failures. Thousands of men now exist somewhere who resisted every good influence, lived without God and without hope in the world, and died in defiant rebellion against the God who made them and the Saviour who redeemed them; crimson-stained in their souls with all the pollutions of earth. They must be in keeping against their judgment day, as truly as the blessed dead are in keeping for their reward. Do we not needlessly confuse ourselves, by regarding the earth-trial of humanity as a perfect and final trial? We expect the results to be perfect, and then set ourselves to invent theories concerning the future, which can have no value, because they have no foundation. We want the issue to be that everybody comes out righteous at last; and Scripture gives no ground whatever for such an interpretation. Our Lord’s parable of the tares should destroy any such ideas once for all. What we need to see is that man is a limited and imperfect being, placed in limited and imperfect circumstances; subjected to a limited and imperfect trial; and the issues will bear the character of the probation, and will include both failure and success. It is not, indeed, a question of it will. It does. Men do come through the probation of the earth-life evil still—worse evil for the misused probation. There must be a judgment day which they are awaiting, when the Divine dealing with their failure must be made known to them and to all; and God must be clearly seen to stand for ever for the right and against the wrong. He must do something with the vintage, as well as with the grain, of the harvest of the earth. What He will do no man knows, or can know. If the discipline of the earth-life has failed to accomplish its due result, they must go into the great winepress of the wrath of God, which must be punishment, need not be destruction, and may be the sterner, harder discipline in new and other spheres.
II. They who stand in their sins are ready for their judgment.—The vision seems to deal with those who are “alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord”; but, by reason of their self-willedness and rebellion, have no interest in, only the dread of, that coming. They are represented by the hanging clusters of over-ripe grapes; their cup of iniquity is full. The angel is bidden, Send forth thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe. Then the number of the wicked, the number of life-failures, will be complete, as the number of the saints—the life-successes, will be complete; and the story of the earth may be wound up. Can we find more fitting words in which to express the result of it all, so far as that result can come into human ken, than the solemn words of our Divine Lord, “And these shall go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life”? Can we do any more than wonder, with a great wondering, what can be the lot of the wicked, when that lot is figured so impressively as in this passage: “And the angel cast his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vintage of the earth, and cast it into the winepress, the great winepress of the wrath of God. And the winepress was trodden without the city, and there came out blood from the winepress, even unto the bridles of the horses, as far as a thousand and six hundred furlongs”? Whether, then, we die in our sins, or stand in our sins when God’s harvest-day dawns, there is no escaping the just and fiery indignation. That day will overtake some as a thief. “And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.”
“Then, O my Lord, prepare
My soul for that great day.
O wash me in Thy precious blood,
And take my sins away.”
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Revelation 14". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20