Things to Come, Lesson 37, The Doom of the Mark, Revelation 14:9-12
Before we continue in our study of Revelation 14 with regard to the announcement by the third angel, a few more comments about Babylon are pertinent.
As we know the book of Genesis is the book of firsts.
Knowing this we can find something out about what we have said is Babylon the Great by looking at a place that God called Babel.
At the beginning of human history Genesis tells us that the whole earth was of one language and of one speech.
And by having one language humankind had a power in itself that caused men to unite into one body thinking that all things were open to them and nothing from them could be withheld.
And as recorded in Genesis 11:4, they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.
Since the beginning the desire of men has been to make a name for themselves, but we, who know Christ, know this desire rebels at the truth of Philippians 2:10 that tells us:
That at the Name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth:
This making of a name rebels at the truth that God will not share his glory with another.
One of the marks of the sin nature of man is the desire for personal glory.
So God intervened in this rebellion and in verses 6-9 said: Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. 7 Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech. 8 So the Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city. 9 Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the Lord did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the Lord scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.
Solomon said in Ecclesiastes that there is nothing new under the sun.
And we know this to be true for rebellion against God did not end with the dispersion at Babel for in the book of Daniel we again see rebellion against God when Nebuchadnezzar spoke of his own personal glory.
Daniel 4:30,31, The king spake, and said, Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty? While the word was in the king's mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, saying, O king Nebuchadnezzar, to thee it is spoken; The kingdom is departed from thee.
And that claim for personal glory still lives as men continue to desire the making of a name for themselves, continue to desire a world of one language, a world where nothing will be restrained from them.
The desire to build towers of great height, out ascending all others remains in the hearts of men.
Knock down the World Trade Center and we will rebuild another but this one will be taller at 1776 feet.
Glory will again return to New York City and its name will be secure.
The desire of men to bring glory to themselves continues as great edifices and systems of commerce and financial relationships which result in glorious man-centered memorials have continued since God scattered them abroad in ancient days.
That desire to take glory unto themselves is anathema to our God who has clearly stated that He will not share His glory with another.
The ship builders brought into the world an unsinkable great ship called the Titanic but it soon sunk by challenging Godís iceberg.
The great space shuttle in which men claimed glory for themselves was consumed by a simple thing as cold.
The financial center of the world system of commerce called the World Trade Center was brought down by those from whom the Antichrist will come.
And bringing glory to man is what Babylon the Great is all about.
The World system that is in place will be destroyed for it is so constructed that nothing will be restrained from humankind and that is why we see those words in Revelation 14 that Babylon is fallen, that great city that served the lusts of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life.
And as God intervened in the Babel of ancient times He will as Revelation 17:17 tells us: For God did put in their hearts to do his mind, and to come to one mind, and to give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God should be accomplished.
The purging of this world system whereby nothing will be restrained from humankind is a God directed purging in order that the Millennium Kingdom of his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, be made ready.
So after the announcement that Babylon has fallen God sends forth his third angel messenger:
Revelation 14:9-12, And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, 10 The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: 11 And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name. 12 Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.
In Revelation 14 there are three angels of announcement.
The first angel preached the Everlasting Gospel, which for this time, is a Gospel of Judgment.
It is a final warning to the inhabitants of earth to worship God who is the creator.
It is a plea to not worship Antichrist.
The second angel announced the fall of the world system that Satan has so carefully installed in the world, a system catering to the sinful nature of humankind.
This is antichrist for Christ gives empowerment to not cater to your sinful nature.
But Satanís system is where anything goes regardless of the damage that is done.
Today we see that system discarding the true meaning of marriage and calling unions which are not unions but are only corruption.
Satanís system has fancy names today, names like Progressivism and Libertarianism.
And in verse 9 another angel with a God sent message comes on the scene.
God has, through the ages, provided mankind with a way of escape and that way is through His Son Jesus Christ.
But now the third angel comes to tell those who refuse this way of escape of the consequences of their refusal for most in the world will, in pride, cling to their allegiance to the Antichrist and his message.
And therefore all that is left is doom which is clearly presented in verse 10 where they will drink of the wine of the wrath of God.
And that wrath is not manís wrath, which has an end.
It is Godís wrath and is clearly defined and described so that none may be confused except those who wish to be confused, of which the world abounds.
I may be astounded at what is said here but what is said here is God said.
And God says those who refuse His Grace, those who receive the mark of Antichrist which eternally bonds them to him, will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb.
Jesus Christ with his holy angels will witness and agree and support this torment with fire and brimstone.
This same Jesus who loves me and loves you will be there to see and to put in place these eternal acts against those who refuse his hand of salvation.
And the smoke of their torment ascends up forever and ever, eternally, unending, and they have no rest day or night.
There is no reason to doubt that this is real fire.
We cannot think that brimstone which is burning sulphur, added to increase the heat, is symbolic of something else.
Eternal smoke will rise up telling of this place of punishment.
I wonder if those of us in heaven will be able to see that smoke for it will be never ending?
Contrary to those who wish to soften Godís word there will never be a burning up and destruction of those who occupy this place.
If that were so the smoke would cease and Godís declaration that it will ascend up forever and ever, would be a lie.
The Bible teaches that souls shall live someplace forever and that there is no such thing as soul annihilation.
In Revelation 20:10 we are told the devil is cast into the lake of fire where the Beast and the False Prophet already are.
This casting takes place at the end of the Millennium.
Now when did the Antichrist and the false prophet feel the fire and the brimstone?
When the devil joins them they will have been burning for 1000 years.
If soul annihilation is true how long does it take for God to burn up a soul?
Certainly if the Antichrist and false prophet have been there for 1000 years, in fairness the devil should be there at least that and more.
So the idea of soul annihilation is foolish in light of the clarity of Godís word.
Jesus taught much about this place and His teaching always emphasized a place without end.
In Mark 9 he called it a place: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.
He said this statement three times as if to say the Father said it, the Son said it, and the Holy Spirit said it.
And this torment, forever and ever will be taking place during all eternity while those who have escaped by the blood of Jesus Christ will be with God in heavenly places, places where there will be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying nor pain.
To me this contrast is astounding and very hard to assimilate but God is sovereign, God is Almighty and His ways are past finding out.
So my obligation is to simply believe what God says and to not try to spiritualize or symbolize this truth to make it palatable to the human mind for understanding this contrast is beyond the human mind.
As God tells me in Isaiah 55:9, For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
And from these dark sayings about the doom of those who bond with Antichrist God encourages those who will face the consequences of the Beastís wrath, those who refuse his mark.
For he says in verse 12: Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.
It is a message to keep on keeping on.
Keep standing in spite of certain death and persecution for He follows this verse with verse 13 of Revelation 14:
And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.
Keep standing for Christ for God promises blessings.
John is told to tell those who will suffer through the Tribulation to remember that death has no sting, death for those who die in the Lord has no victory for God promises blessings.
The grave does not hold those who die in the Lord, for absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.
The body may be in the grave but the spirit returns to the loving arms of Jesus Christ.
Being in the Lordís presence is the most blessed thing in all eternity.
Death to those who die in the Lord is but a door into his presence.
And God promises not only that they may rest from their labors but their works do follow them.
Here we see that God is the perfect accountant for he keeps careful record of the work of His Saints and John is careful to tell this to those believers going through the Tribulation period.
He tells them that His memory is constant and He will not forget their works.
God knows exactly what works will convert to gold, silver and precious stones.
He calls for the laying up of your treasures in heaven and guarantees that neither moth, nor rust will corrupt.
He also knows perfectly the size of fire to plan for as he withdraws from storage the wood, hay and stubble which represent our works done in the flesh.
God is the Heavenly teller who keeps a detailed record of our work deposits in the bank of heaven, for our works follow us.
Our works in many ways define us.
It was not too long ago that what a man did became his name.
Mr. Taylor, Mr. Weaver, Mr. Carpenter, Mr. Butcher. Mr. Smith.
God says be not only a hearer of the word but be a doer of the word.
God tells us He saves us and leaves us here that we may do good works and he promises as His part to do a careful accounting of them, not for salvation purposes but for reward purposes.
Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord for their works do follow them.
Your works not only bring blessings in the performance of them but God promises blessings on the other side for inherent in the doing of Godís work is being blessed by God for eternity.
If there is one thing that you can put into your children it is this.
Obedience to Godís word is good for you, it is healthy for you, and it is that which will bring joy and peace to your heart, for God has so ordained it to be, and therefore you can count on it.
And obedience to Godís word includes much the doing of good works on His behalf for we are not called the body of Christ for nothing for as His body we are to do what bodies do.
Bodies do the lifting, bodies do the talking, bodies do the walking and the seeing and the hearing.
And God says we are created in Christ Jesus unto good works and he will not forget those good works done in His name.
Jesus said he that believeth in him the works that I do shall he do also and greater works than these shall he do.
And praise the Lord your good works done in Jesus name will not be forgotten.