Rev. 14 NLT
1 Then I saw the Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with him were 144,000 who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads. 2 And I heard a sound from heaven like the roar of mighty ocean waves or the rolling of loud thunder. It was like the sound of many harpists playing together.
3 This great choir sang a wonderful new song in front of the throne of God and before the four living beings and the twenty-four elders. No one could learn this song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth. 4 They have kept themselves as pure as virgins, following the Lamb wherever he goes. They have been purchased from among the people on the earth as a special offering to God and to the Lamb. 5 They have told no lies; they are without blame.
6 And I saw another angel flying through the sky, carrying the eternal Good News to proclaim to the people who belong to this world—to every nation, tribe, language, and people. 7 “Fear God,” he shouted. “Give glory to him. For the time has come when he will sit as judge. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and all the springs of water.”
8 Then another angel followed him through the sky, shouting, “Babylon is fallen—that great city is fallen—because she made all the nations of the world drink the wine of her passionate immorality.”
9 Then a third angel followed them, shouting, “Anyone who worships the beast and his statue or who accepts his mark on the forehead or on the hand 10 must drink the wine of God’s anger. It has been poured full strength into God’s cup of wrath. And they will be tormented with fire and burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and the Lamb. 11 The smoke of their torment will rise forever and ever, and they will have no relief day or night, for they have worshiped the beast and his statue and have accepted the mark of his name.”
12 This means that God’s holy people must endure persecution patiently, obeying his commands and maintaining their faith in Jesus.
13 And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this down: Blessed are those who die in the Lord from now on. Yes, says the Spirit, they are blessed indeed, for they will rest from their hard work; for their good deeds follow them!”
14 Then I saw a white cloud, and seated on the cloud was someone like the Son of Man. He had a gold crown on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand.
15 Then another angel came from the Temple and shouted to the one sitting on the cloud, “Swing the sickle, for the time of harvest has come; the crop on earth is ripe.” 16 So the one sitting on the cloud swung his sickle over the earth, and the whole earth was harvested.17 After that, another angel came from the Temple in heaven, and he also had a sharp sickle. 18 Then another angel, who had power to destroy with fire, came from the altar. He shouted to the angel with the sharp sickle, “Swing your sickle now to gather the clusters of grapes from the vines of the earth, for they are ripe for judgment.” 19 So the angel swung his sickle over the earth and loaded the grapes into the great winepress of God’s wrath. 20 The grapes were trampled in the winepress outside the city, and blood flowed from the winepress in a stream about 180 miles long and as high as a horse’s bridle.
The entire chapter 14 is quoted above because it loses focus if I try to apply it in segments. It is a single picture given to John about the end. We know it is the end of the way things are now because the vision starts with Jesus "standing on Mount Zion" with the completed people of God (the 144,000). Mount Zion is the metaphor used for Jerusalem, from where Jesus rules from during His millennium kingdom. John paints this picture to give hope to the persecuted peoples of God in his day and in the days since until that great time. The message is that we must trust our Lord and hold tight no matter what we face, until He comes. His coming is an assured thing! While we may not understand well the timing and the mechanics of it, we can trust in its absolute truth.
I started to fret about the level of purity described for those people with Jesus until I remembered that the rest of scripture say that none of us is pure none of us is good, not one. It is only through the purifying blood of Christ that we receive this level of purity. The phrase that they "follow the lamb wherever he goes" clarifies that these are the obedient believers making Christ's will their highest priority. And, just as sure as is the coming of Christ the King, so is assured that the evil kingdom of commerce and avarice that drives the world today will crumble and fall-- "Babylon the great is fallen."
Verses 14 through 20 describe two harvests. The first may be the harvest of the righteous. The second may be the carnage that will happen at the battle of Armageddon described in more detail in the next chapters. The winepress, throughout scripture was always illustrative of God's wrath. And it would be a perfect wrath, perfectly justified, perfectly complete, and perfectly appropriate and fitting for those who resist, rebel and refuse until it is too late to do other wise.
John and the angels could hear the singing. It was The Song of the Redeemed-- only we (I pray that includes you) will be able to sing it!
Your servant in Christ's love