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.
(a) The Lamb of God is Jesus; see entry for Rev. 5:6.
(b) Zion is another name for the city of God. It is the place God dwells, which in the new covenant is the body of Christ (see entry for Heb. 12:22).
(c) One hundred and forty-four thousand. The innumerably large and ethnically diverse body of Christ (Rev. 7:4, 9).
And I saw another angel flying in midheaven, having an eternal gospel to preach to those who live on the earth, and to every nation and tribe and tongue and people;
(a) Eternal gospel declares that the blood of Jesus obtained an eternal redemption (Heb. 9:12). There is nothing partial or half-baked about what Christ accomplished.
In him you have an eternal salvation (Heb. 5:9) and an eternal inheritance (Heb. 9:15), guaranteed by an eternal covenant (Heb. 13:20), resulting in eternal life (John 3:16) and a welcome into the eternal kingdom (2 Pet. 1:11) by the eternal God (Rom 16:26). This good news should bring you eternal comfort (2 Thess. 2:16).
See entry for Eternal Security.
(b) Every nation. The world of Biblical times was highly segregated. The Jews were prejudiced towards women, Gentiles, and sinners; the Greeks were prejudiced towards barbarians (non-Greeks), and the Romans were prejudiced towards slaves and non-citizens. In contrast, Jesus received everyone without regard for their race, gender or status. He said his kingdom was like a dragnet cast into the sea gathering fish of every kind (Matt. 13:47), and he commissioned his disciples to make disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:19). In contrast with the fallen kingdoms of this world, the kingdom of God welcomes people from every tribe and nation (Acts 2:5, 10:35, Rom. 10:12, Gal. 3:28, Eph. 2:13, Col. 3:11, Rev. 7:9).
and he said with a loud voice, “Fear God, and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgment has come; worship Him who made the heaven and the earth and sea and springs of waters.”
The hour of His judgment. Elsewhere the Bible speaks of a day of judgment (see entry for Matt. 10:15). But in Revelation, it is an hour of judgment (Rev. 18:10).
And another angel, a second one, followed, saying, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, she who has made all the nations drink of the wine of the passion of her immorality.”
Babylon the Great is the City of Man, which stands opposed to Zion, the City of God.
Humanity’s fall and redemption is a tale of two cities. After Cain murdered his brother, he went east and founded a city built on violence and vengeance (Gen. 4:16–17). In contrast, Abraham went west looking for a city whose architect and builder is God (Heb. 11:8–10). Cain’s city, or the City of Man, embodies the murderous spirit of Satan. John refers to this manmade civilization as Babylon the great and says it is the “dwelling place of demons and a prison of every unclean spirit” (Rev. 18:2). It is Satan’s home from where he has exported untold misery and pain (Rev. 18:24). This bloodstained town is the home of hurt and the seat of all suffering. But the King of kings shall send his heavenly armies and burn that hellish city (Rev.18:18, 21).
The City of Man will never recover from God’s ultimate destruction. In the end, there shall be only one city, the King’s city from heaven, which endures forever (Rev. 11:15).
Further reading: “The City of Man”
“And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.”
Forever and ever. The image of everlasting smoke (Rev. 19:3), along with the eternal punishment of Matthew 25:46 and the undying worms of Mark 9:44, have been used to create a theology of eternal conscious torment. However, any conclusions we draw from apocalyptic visions must be weighed against those scriptures that speak of a final or second death (Rom. 6:23, Rev. 2:11, 21:8). The end for those who reject life is destruction, not everlasting torment (2 Pet. 3:7, Jas. 4:12, Rev. 11:18). God’s wrath is finite (e.g., Rev. 15:1). As Jesus warned repeatedly, those who refuse eternal life will perish, not live forever and ever (see entry for John 3:16).
Here is the perseverance of the saints who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.
(a) The perseverance of the saints. Despite incredible pressure, those who trust Jesus endure.
We don’t endure to become Christians; we endure because we are Christians and because Christ the Overcomer lives in us. It may not be in your nature to endure but rest assured it is in his nature, and as you allow him to express his life through yours, you too will endure to the end.
There are nearly two dozen New Testament scriptures that speak of enduring or holding fast to the end. The wrong way to read these scriptures is to think, “I must sweat and strive and endure or be disqualified from the kingdom.” If the Christian race is a marathon, it begins at the finish line. Christ has already endured which is why, in him, we can have peace when troubles come.
Why does the Bible contain so many exhortations to endure? Because we have a great need for endurance, and God has promised to supply that need (along with all our other needs) according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus (Php 4:19).
Further reading: “Patient endurance”
(b) Keep the commandments of God means to believe in Jesus. “This is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ” (1 John 3:23). This is the only commandment that counts.
(c) Their faith in Jesus. A better translation may be the faith of Jesus. We trust and rely on the perfect faith of Christ.
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