Whether one follows the Lamb or the Beast, one will reap everlasting consequences as a result in the final harvest – Revelation 14:6-7.
The preceding sections presented two very different groups – the “inhabitants of the earth” that rendered homage to the “beast,” and the 144,000 priests of God, the “first-fruits” of the earth purchased by the blood of the “Lamb.” Now, an angelic herald issues the final summons to humanity while time remains before the “final hour.”
The angel announced the “everlasting gospel,” the call for all men to fear God and render homage to Him alone, for the final “hour of judgment” was about to begin. And here, that “hour” is depicted as two very different “harvests.” And how one responds to the gospel determines in which harvest he or she participates.
- (Revelation 14:6-7) – “And I saw another angel flying in mid-heaven, having an everlasting gospel to announce to the inhabitants of the earth, even to every nation and tribe and tongue and people, saying with a loud voice: Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment is come; and do homage to him that made heaven and the earth and sea and fountains of waters.”
The choice before all men is between everlasting life with the “Lamb,” or destruction in the “lake of fire” with the “beast” and his allies. The preceding section has presented the reader with several clear contrasts:
- A son to “shepherd the nations” – The Dragon that “deceives the nations.”
- The “seed of the woman” – The two “beasts,” the “seed of the Dragon.”
- They that “have the witness of Jesus” – The beast that “speaks as the Dragon.”
- They that “tabernacle in heaven” – The “inhabitants of the earth.”
- The “inhabitants of the earth” pay homage to the beast – Those purchased “from the earth” who follow the Lamb.
- The “inhabitants of the earth” have the beast’s mark “branded” on their forehead – Those purchased “from the earth” who have God’s name “written” on their foreheads.
This running contrast has set the stage for two different “harvests” that are about to yield “fruit” in the present chapter – The grain and the grape harvests.
Previously, “God’s servants” were sealed before the seven seals were opened and their contents unleashed (“Hurt not the earth, neither the sea nor the trees, until we have sealed the servants of our God”). Likewise, the 144,000 “males” on “Zion” receive the name of the Father on their foreheads before the “seven bowls of wrath” are emptied, and so, also, the angel pronounced his warning before the contents of the bowls are unleashed. Once the next set of angels begin to empty their “bowls,” it will be too late, for their “seven bowls” will “complete the wrath of God.”
There is a verbal parallel to the first four “trumpet blasts” when John heard the voice of an “angel flying in mid-heaven” (petomenon en mesouranémati). The Greek clause is precisely the same in both passages, and deliberately so – (Revelation 8:13).
In chapter 8, the “angel” flying “in mid-heaven” pronounced “three woes” on the “inhabitants of the earth.” Time was running short, for the “seventh trumpet” or “third woe” would culminate in the final hour of judgment – (Revelation 11:15-18).
In the present passage, the angel has an “everlasting gospel” to announce upon (epi) “the inhabitants of the earth,” AND upon (epi) “every nation and tribe and tongue and people.” The preposition epi is a literary link to the earlier command for John to prophesy upon (epi) “peoples, nations, tongues, and many kings,” and here, it is in the accusative case, meaning “unto, towards, upon,” NOT “against.” This is an “everlasting gospel” proclaimed to both groups – (Revelation 10:11).
This “gospel” was announced to the “inhabitants of the earth” AND to “every nation and tribe and tongue and people.” Consistently in Revelation, the first group is composed of men and women who are hostile to the “Lamb,” and nothing positive is ever said concerning it – (Revelation 3:10, 6:10, 8:13, 11:10, 12:12, 13:8-14, 17:2-8).
In contrast, at different times, the “nations, tribes, tongues, and people” are found under the jurisdiction of the “Lamb,” and at other times, under that of the “beast.” The men who are “redeemed by the blood of the Lamb” are purchased from among the second group. And despite occasional hostility toward the “Lamb,” the “nations” will be found among the inhabitants of “New Jerusalem” – (Revelation 21:24).
Thus, the hope of redemption remains for the “nations,” at least, for some of them. But there is no hope for the “inhabitants of the earth,” and its members are excluded from the “book of life of the Lamb,” for “ALL the inhabitants of the earth” have rendered homage to the “beast.”
The fourfold description “nations, tribes, tongues, and people” is part of the symbolism of the book, with four signifying that which is universal, such as the “four corners of the earth.” And the “everlasting gospel” refers to the message announced by the angel:
- “Fear God and give Him glory, because the hour of his judgment is come; and do homage to him that made heaven and the earth and sea and fountains of waters.”
That message is “everlasting” because it is always valid. It is “good news” to anyone who responds to it positively. But for anyone who rejects it, the results are catastrophic. Thus, the one “gospel” has two different effects, depending on the response to it.
“Pay homage to him that made heaven and the earth and sea and fountains of waters.” This fourfold description is a link to the description of the first four trumpets. The first caused the “third part of the earth to burn,” the second turned a third of the “sea” into blood, the third caused the third part of the rivers and the “fountains of waters” to turn bitter, and the fourth caused a third part of the celestial bodies to be darkened – (Revelation 8:7-12).
“The fountains of waters.” In contrast to the “plagues” poured out on the “inhabitants of the earth,” the “Lamb” causes all who follow him to drink from “living fountains of water.” Likewise, in the New Earth, he will give to him “that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely” – (Revelation 7:17, 21:6).
“The hour of his judgment is come.” This refers to the final judgment at the end of the age, the time when the righteous will be vindicated, and the unrepentant condemned. It is the same “hour” portrayed by the seventh trumpet blast. “Hour” is used elsewhere for the final judgment of all things – (Revelation 3:3, 3:10, 11:13, 14:15, 18:10, 18:19).
Thus, the “everlasting gospel” has been announced. Men must now choose whether “to fear God and worship him,” or give allegiance to the “beast” and face the “hour of judgment.” One “gospel” has been proclaimed but two very different harvests will follow – The harvest of wheat by the “Son of Man,” and the in-gathering of grapes by “another angel.” Which harvest one experiences will depend on how he or she responds to the message announced by the angel.