Last time, the apostle John had just finished relating an earthward-focused portion of his vision, regarding the mid-tribulation completion of the devil’s plan for world dominance. Still in the mid-tribulation period, John’s vision shifts heavenward:
Then I looked, and behold the Lamb was standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His name and the name of His Father written on their foreheads…And they sang a new song before the throne before the living creatures and the elders; and no one could learn the song except the one hundred and forty-four thousand who had been purchased from the earth. Rv. 14:1 & 3. NASB
Some interpret this group to be the remnant of the Jews in Israel who finally accept Jesus as their Messiah. Thus, they were subsequently sealed in the name of God and His Son. We see that they are now with Jesus in heaven. This event leads many interpreters to conclude that it is one of three ‘raptures’ – the other two being for the church and for the ‘great multitude.’ These ‘saved’ Jews are now able to sing a new song that only the redeemed can sing.
Still in the mid-tribulation time period, John’s vision shifts earthward again:
Then I saw another angel flying in midheaven, with an eternal gospel to preach to the inhabitants of the earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people; and he said with a loud voice, “Fear God [with awe and reverence], and give Him glory [and honor and praise in worship], because the hour of His judgment has come…” Rv. 14:6, 7. AMP
Mind you, this is happening before God’s final judgments are thrust upon the earth. If you adhere to the ‘rapture’ concept, you see that God is still reaching out in love to His lost creations. The church has risen to heaven and the remnant of Israel has as well. Still, God is pleading with the doubters left behind, through an angel, telling them that they must recognize Him as the only true God, and turn away from Satan and his minions.
John’s vision remains focused on the earth, but it now moves forward in time to the beginning of the second half of the tribulations:
Then another angel, a second one, followed, saying, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, she who has made all nations drink the wine of the passion of her immorality [corrupting them with idolatry].” Rv. 14:8 AMP
‘Babylon’ is the world’s ‘false religion system” – a product of the devil himself. God is letting the stragglers know that the ultimate outcome for Satan and his designs, is one of defeat. So, in HIs great mercy, God is sending these holdouts a stern warning about sidling up with the fire and brimstone crew.
John’s vision is still fixed upon the earth, but it shifts backwards in time to the mid-tribulations period once more:
And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a loud voice,”If anyone worships the beast and its images and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he also will bring the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength…and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur…forever and ever…” Rv. 14:9 – 11. ESV
It is certain that the outcome for lining up with the devil is not a good one. Also, as much as some people don’t want to believe in a literal hell, this scripture sure makes a strong case for one. So, what’s happening here is that God is telling them that He doesn’t want them to share in Satan’s final misfortune:
Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus. And I heard a voice in heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!” Rv. 14:12, 13. ESV
God is calling upon His children who accepted Him through Christ, during the first half of the tribulation period – encouraging them to stand firm in their faith, because their redemption is guaranteed. He is also comforting those whose martyrdom is imminent, assuring them that they will be translated into His arms.
John’s vision then shifts both heavenward and forward in time to the end of the tribulations:
Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and on the cloud sat One like the Son of Man, having on His head a golden crown, and in His hand a sharp sickle. And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to Him who sat on the cloud, “Thrust in Your sickle and reap, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.” So He who sat on the cloud thrust in His sickle on the earth, and the earth was reaped.
Then another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle…the angel thrust his sickle into the earth and gathered the vine of the earth, and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. Rv. 14:14 – 17 & 19. NKJV
And the wine press was trodden outside the city, and blood came out from the wine press, up to the horses’ bridles, for a distance of two hundred miles. Rv. 14:20 NASB
What we see first is Jesus, reaping the harvest of the surviving children of God who’ve escaped being martyred. (Mt. 13:24 – 33.) Secondly, we view an angel gathering the unbelievers.
This is actually a preview of the time that follows Armageddon – the last battle where Christ and His army will stand again the army of the ‘east’ and army of the Antichrist. There will be such destruction that it will leave a swath of blood from Satan’s armies that is 200 miles long and 4 feet deep.
The apostle’s vision remains focused heavenward, but shifts backwards to the time of the second half of the tribulations:
Then I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous: seven angels having the seven last plagues, for in them the wrath of God is complete. And I saw something like a sea of glass mingled with fire, and those who have victory over the beast. over his image, and over his mark and over the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass, having harps of God. And they sang the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb… Rv. 15:1 – 3. NKJV
God is gathering these seven angels to descend upon the earth to deliver His final judgments upon the unbelievers. But before He unleashes them, God ‘raptures’ up the ‘great multitude,’ the people from all over the world who came to Christ during the tribulations. This must have taken place after the mid-tribulations period, because we can see that they’ve already faced the devil and his minions and managed to cling to their faith. And when they get to heaven, they are jubilant…
Goodnight and God bless.