For the Love of God, Volume 1/December 23
From Gospel Translations
2 Chronicles 27—28; Revelation 14; Zechariah 10; John 13
IN REVELATION 13, we discovered that all those under the authority of the unholy triumvirate have a mark on their foreheads. This means that they can participate in the world order of the dragon and his beasts and be spared the wrath of Satan. Here in Revelation 14, we learn that God’s people also have something on their foreheads—the name of the Lamb and of the Father (14:1). These people stand on Mount Zion with the Lamb and are spared all the wrath of the Lamb. By contrast, those with the mark of the beast must now face the wrath of the Lamb, drinking “of the wine of God’s fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath” (14:10-11).
The imagery comes from quite a different vision, from Ezekiel 9, where Ezekiel sees God instructing a man dressed in linen to put a mark on the foreheads of all the people in Jerusalem who grieve over its sin. When the angelic executioners go through the city, bent on destruction and slaughter, they spare all those who have God’s mark on their foreheads. That imagery has now been adapted in two quite different ways in Revelation. Now everyone has a mark on the forehead. Either you have the mark of the beast, and you are spared the wrath of the beast but must face God’s fury; or you have the mark of the Lamb, which means you are spared God’s fury but you must face the sanctions of the beast.
So whose wrath would you rather face? You will face one or the other. Would you rather face the wrath of Satan, or the wrath of God?
The Lord Jesus taught us that the person to fear is the One who can cast both body and soul into hell (Matt. 10:28). Few passages are more terrifying about that prospect than Revelation 14. We are bluntly told that “the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or for anyone who receives the mark of his name” (14:11). Few passages are more explicit about the eternal longevity of this punishment. The final graphic portrait (14:19-20) is unimaginably horrific. In the ancient world, large stone vats with holes punched in the bottom were filled with grapes, and servant girls jumped in and tramped down the grapes, squeezing out the juice that ran out through the holes and was gathered for use in winemaking. But now in the wake of the final harvest, one must assume it is people who are thrown into this vat, for what flows out from “the great winepress of God’s wrath” (14:19) is blood, flowing outward for 180 miles.
So, whose wrath would you rather face?