Revelation 13:18

 

 

In Revelation Chapter 13 we have been looking at detailed information concerning the antichrist and another beast or vicious person who works with the antichrist who will later be called the false prophet. One last piece of information given to us in Revelation Chapter 13 about the antichrist is recorded in Rev. 13:18. It says, "Here is wisdom. Let him that has understanding count the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is six hundred three score and six." Why is the number 666 associated with the antichrist? Notice that there are three sixes. Three is significant probably because the devil is always trying to create a substitute for the worship of God, and the greatest attempt by the devil to create a substitute will be during the time of the Great Tribulation. God is a trinity made up of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The substitute for the trinity will be the devil, the antichrist, and the false prophet. When Christ was on the earth the devil tried to get Christ to bow down and worship him, and the devil offered Christ the kingdoms of the world if only He would do so. Having failed in getting Christ to change allegiance, the devil will raise up his own.

 

The fact that the number six is used is also significant. We could not help but notice the number of times already in the book of Revelation that the number seven was used in reference to the things that God has done. We have read about seven spirits of God, seven angels, seven churches, the book with seven seals that was in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne, and seven trumpets that were sounded when the seventh seal was opened. Later in the book of Revelation we will be told about seven vials that will be poured out from God upon the earth. When we learn about things from God, the number seven is used. Therefore, the number six is used when speaking of the antichrist in order to be a clear reminder that the antichrist and the false prophet are not of God. Six falls short of seven. Those who will be on the earth during the time of the antichrist had better pay attention or else they will risk the damnation of their souls.

 

The Bible mentions negative things once in a while because sin is real, the devil is real, and bad things happen. But the Bible never dwells on that which is negative, because good is more powerful than evil, and because in the final day Godís plan will win out. Grace will be shown to be greater than sin, and love stronger than hate. Because of God, the day will come when disease, death, and war will cease forever; and the wonderful Kingdom of Christ will come in like a flood. After talking about the antichrist and his temporary kingdom, the Bible now reminds us of the Kingdom of Christ that will last forever.

 

Rev. 14:1 says, "And I looked, and lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him a hundred forty and four thousand, having his Fatherís name written in their foreheads." Notice the difference between the character of Jesus and that of the antichrist. The antichrist is called a beast, but Jesus is called a Lamb. Also notice that Jesus is now seen on the earth by the Apostle John. Up to this point when John saw Christ, he saw Him in heaven. Thatís because the kingdom of the antichrist is described in Revelation Chapter 13, but the kingdom of Jesus Christ will immediately follow the short-lived reign of terror that will be the antichristís.

 

When Christ returns to the earth, evidently He will chose some privileged believers to have a unique part in establishing His Kingdom. These are the 144,000. All the believers will have a part in His Kingdom, but God will have different roles and different rewards for each of us. The important thing is that we will be there. Obviously Rev. 14;1 is emphasizing the contrast between those who have worshipped the antichrist during the time of the Great tribulation and those who have instead worshipped the One True God through Jesus Christ His Son. Revelation Chapter 13 told us about people receiving the mark of the beast in their foreheads, but here we are told that believers will receive the Fatherís name in their foreheads. Ultimately, those who love God will always want to honor the name of God. Those who do not love God do not understand the importance of honoring His name. Jesus told us in the Sermon on the Mount to look up to God and to pray, "Hallowed be thy name." Some believers have lost their focus, and they try to elevate and broadcast their own name or the name of some minister instead of the name of God.

 

Rev. 14:2-3 says, "And I heard a voice from heaven as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder; and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps. And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders; and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth." The important thing to note is that a song was being sung and music was being played in heaven. In the last few verses of the book of Revelation we have been told some horrible things that will one day take place on the earth. But we are also told not to despair. After the sorrow will come rejoicing, and after the sorrows of Jacobís trouble will come the bliss and the happiness of the kingdom of God. The troubles of life will soon be past; only the joys of heaven will last.

 

Before we are told about the music and the singing in heaven, John said that he heard a voice from heaven. Undoubtedly it was the voice of God. If you want to have joy, you need to hear from God. Some people listen too much to the ideas of the world, and their joy is diminished thereby. If you want to have joy, more joy, wonderful joy then listen to the Word of God. Listen to the old, old story of the gospel of Christ. It has a meaning and a value that you will find no where else. When John heard the voice from heaven, it was "the voice of many waters" and "of a great thunder." Thatís because it was a voice of authority, the greatest authority of all. Of the many blessings to being a believer, one of the greatest is the comfort of knowing that God is in charge. No matter what happens, the world is on Godís timetable, and "all things work together for good to them that love God and to them that are the called according to His purpose."

 

John continued speaking about the 144,000 and he said in Rev. 14:4, "These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and unto the Lamb." The first thing that this verse says about this group of believers is that they were virgins. Perhaps this is mentioned first because in the end time it would be a very remarkable thing for such a large group of men to be noted for their sexual purity. Even in our day there has been a great increase in promiscuity and immorality. People are being brainwashed into thinking that loose living is desirable, when the opposite is really true. Those who through sexual immorality have contracted aids, or gonorrhea, or syphilis, or many other diseases have learned the hard way that there is a practical value in sexual purity.

 

There is also a religious value. God created sex between a man and a woman only for the marriage bond. To violate that principle is to disrespect both your own body and that of another, and to discount the principles that God has given for human behavior. When you live among many loose people, but retain your own high standards you have accomplished a great thing, and it has not gone unnoticed by God. Some people take a vow of virginity the second time around. They ask Jesus to forgive them for their past offences, and then they take a vow of purity for the time that is still left for them. God allows this because with God itís not how you start but how you finish thatís important.

 

Even though the 144,000 were virgins, they still were sinners. They were able to be followers of Jesus, not because of how good they were, but because they were redeemed by Him. The word "redeemed" is used twice in this passage of scripture. The end of verse three says they "were redeemed from the earth," and the middle of verse four says, "these were redeemed from among men." The 144,000 were virgins, but they were still sinners. They still needed to be redeemed just like everyone else. Someone may be strong in one area of life, but they are still sinners. "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God."

 

The word "redeemed" comes from the Greek work ďagoradzoĒ and it means to buy out of the marketplace. In ancient Greece all of the buying and selling of goods would take place in the center of town in the marketplace. Even today if you went into many Greek towns you find a market, and at the main entrance to the market you would find the word ďagoraĒ, which means ďmarketĒ in Greek. The same word is still used in the modern Greek language. One big difference between the markets of today and the markets of ancient Greece is the fact that in ancient Greece slaves were sold in the market as a normal commodity. The word "redeem" means to buy out of the market place. If you have been redeemed from the world and redeemed from among men, then you have been bought by God with a price. The price that was paid for you was the precious blood of Christ. You are no longer your own: you are one of His. If you know this, then certainly your goal is the same as that of the 144,000, and the Bible says about them that they "follow the Lamb wherever He goes."

 

In Rev. 14:5 it appears as though the 144,000 have been taken off the earth. It says, "And in their mouth was found no guile, for they are without fault before the throne of God." Another good quality about this group of people is mentioned: "in their mouth is found no guile." In other words these are honest people. They are not liars or deceivers. Honesty is a rare quality, but itís an absolute necessity for serving God. In order to come to God for salvation, one must be honest about oneís own sins. Your personal sins and failures of course are perhaps the most private things about you. If you can be honest about them before God, then you can be honest about anything.

 

Concerning the 144,000 we have been told that they were virgins, that they followed the Lamb wherever He went, and that they were honest people. We are told good things about them. Obviously they were sinners because everyone has sinned and because they were redeemed. That means they were saved from their sins. This is an example of the grace of God. Their sins are not mentioned. They have been covered by the blood of Christ. Just like the rest of the redeemed, their sins will be remembered no more. And therefore the last part of Rev. 14:5 says that "they are without fault before the throne of God." This is a wonderful picture of salvation and is another reminder of how great is the grace and mercy of God. Once we have been redeemed by Christ, we are viewed by God as having never sinned and of being without fault. When Pontias Pilate judged Jesus He said, "I find in him no fault at all." When we are redeemed, the righteousness of Christ becomes credited to our account so that when we are judged we are given the same standing that Christ had, even though we have not earned it.

 

God desires that everyone would come to know His abundant mercy, and so the work of God in this world is the work of spreading the gospel. The judgment is coming, and the only hope that anyone has to escape condemnation is to hear the gospel and then be saved. One of the things that God will do to spread the gospel during the time of the Great Tribulation is found in Rev. 14:6-7. It says, "And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people. Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to Him; for the hour of his judgment is come; and worship him that made heaven, and the earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters."

 

Why does God send an angel to preach the gospel in the end time? Itís just like God to give people one more chance to be saved before itís too late. Perhaps an extraordinary means such as this to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ will help to wake people up and get their attention. Perhaps God will use an angel to spread the gospel because there will be no one else to do it. Wickedness will be widespread on the earth, and the penalty for following God will be severe. Jesus spoke of the end times and He said, "When the Son of Man comes, shall he find faith on the earth?" The reason that people should listen to the gospel is the same reason that they should listen today. The judgment is coming. People should get serious about their eternal destiny. The gospel is the message of salvation that God has provided so that humans can be saved from their sins and find an entrance into the Kingdom of God.

 

But the judgment of God is inevitable. Every human being will be judged by God, and the day will come when the earth will be judged by Him. The systems of this world and the nations of this world who have resisted the rule of God and have ignored the opportunities to turn to Him, are all headed towards the day of the Judgment. Several aspects of the judgment of God against the earth are described in the rest of Revelation Chapter 14. Rev. 14:8 says, "And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication."

 

Evidently during the time of the Great Tribulation there will be a great city that will win the attention and admiration of the world for its riches and human accomplishments. But God will know the true nature of this city, because it is called a city of fornication. Perhaps this speaks of sexual fornication, or perhaps it speaks of spiritual fornication which is turning from God to false religion. No one knows for sure which city this. Some people think itís the city of Rome, others that it is a revitalized city of Babylon. Perhaps it will be New York or Hollywood. The point that is made in the Bible is that the judgment of God upon the earth will start with the sudden and total destruction of this great city, and all the world will fear and wonder how and why such a thing could happen. They will not have to wonder long, because the truth will be that the judgment of God will have come to the earth; and the only ones who will escape the judgment will be those who have found refuge in the name of Jesus Christ.

 

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Copyright; 2000 by Charles F. (Rick) Creech
All Rights Reserved