The Lamb and the 144,000 people
1 Then I looked again and I saw the Lamb. He was standing on Mount Zion in Jerusalem. There were 144,000 people there with him. The Lamb's name and his Father's name were written on the front of those people's heads.
2 Then I heard a loud sound which came from heaven. The noise was like water that pours along a river very fast. It was like the loud noise of thunder. The sound was like people who were making music with harps. 3 The 144,000 people were singing a new song that they had learned. They sang it in front of the throne. They sang in front of the four beings that are alive and in front of the leaders. Only these 144,000 people could learn the new song. They are the people that God had saved from among the people who lived on the earth.
4 These 144,000 people have kept themselves pure. They have not had sex with women in a wrong way. They follow the Lamb everywhere that he goes. God has saved them from among the people of the world and he has paid for their sins. They are the first people to become a gift to God and to the Lamb. 5 They have not spoken any lies. They have done nothing wrong.
14:5These 144,000 may be a certain group of men who have decided to serve God with all their lives. So they have chosen not to have sex. Or it may mean that they have kept themselves pure because they have not worshipped false gods. They have been completely faithful to the true God. See Revelation 7:3.
The three angels with messages
6 Then I saw another angel who was flying high in the sky above me. He brought God's message of good news that is always true. He came to tell this news to everyone who lives on the earth. He would tell it to people from every nation, from every tribe and from every language. 7 He said in a loud voice, ‘Respect God and give him honour! Now it is time for him to judge people. He made the sky and the earth and the sea. He also made the springs of water. So worship him!’
8 A second angel followed the first one. He said, ‘God has destroyed Babylon! It is no longer a great city! It has caused people everywhere to do the same bad things as it enjoys. She is like a prostitute who makes men become drunk and have sex in a wrong way. She has caused them to turn away from God.’
14:8Babylon was the capital city of a country that was the enemy of God's people, Israel, many years ago. Babylon had ruled many other countries. The leaders in Rome ruled many countries when Jesus lived on the earth. Really, John may be talking about Rome here when he says ‘Babylon’. But ‘Babylon’ could mean any place that is against God and his people. That means a place where Satan rules.
9 A third angel followed the other two angels. He said in a loud voice, ‘If anyone worships the wild animal and its idol, God will punish them. If anyone receives that animal's mark on their head or on their hand, God will punish them. 10 God will be very angry with all those people. They will be like people who must drink God's strong wine. When they drink wine from the cup of God's anger, they will have terrible pain. Fire and sulphur will burn them. God's angels and the Lamb will watch while God punishes them. 11 The smoke will rise for ever while they burn. They will have no rest during the day or during the night. This will happen to everyone who worships the wild animal and its image. It will happen to everyone who receives the mark which shows its name.’
12 This means that God's people must go on being patient and strong. They must continue to obey God's rules. They must continue to trust Jesus.
13 Then I heard a voice that spoke from heaven. It said, ‘Write this: From this time, people who continue to believe in the Lord and then they die will be very happy.’ God's Spirit says, ‘Yes, they will rest from their work. God will not forget the good things that they have done.’
The earth's harvest
14 Then I looked, and I saw a white cloud in front of me. I saw someone who was like a son of man. He was sitting on the cloud. He had a gold crown on his head and a sharp knife in his hand. 15 Then another angel came out from God's house in heaven. He shouted with a loud voice to the person who was sitting on the cloud. He told him, ‘Use your sharp knife and start to work. It is time to bring in the harvest. Cut down the plants and bring them in. The harvest on the earth is now ready.’
14:14‘a son of man’ or ‘a human’. This person seems to be the Lord Jesus. Jesus often called himself the Son of Man. See Daniel 7:13.
14:14The sharp knife had a round shape to cut crops.
16 Then the person who sat on the cloud moved his sharp knife over the earth. He cut down the earth's plants and he brought in the harvest.
14:16The Lord Jesus brings in the harvest of people from all the earth. He will bring all the people together. He will decide who is good. He will also decide who is bad. See Matthew 13:30.
17 Then another angel came out from God's house in heaven. He also had a sharp knife in his hand. 18 Again, another angel came from the altar where people offered gifts to God. This angel had authority for the fire on the altar. He shouted with a loud voice to the angel who had the sharp knife. He told him, ‘Use your knife and cut the grapes off the earth's vine. The grapes are ready now to make wine.’
14:18Fire destroys what the farmer does not need after the harvest.
19 So the angel moved his sharp knife over the earth. He cut off the grapes which grew in the earth's vineyard. He threw the grapes into the winepress where God stamps on the grapes because he is very angry. 20 The winepress was outside the city. When God stamped on the grapes, the juice that came out of the winepress was blood. The river of blood was very deep. It rose as high as horses' necks and it went as far as 300 kilometres.
14:20God is showing how angry he is. He is angry with everyone who will not obey him. The grapes are like a picture of bad people. At the time when John was writing Revelation, this is how people made wine. They put the grapes in a big hole that they had cut in the rock. This was called a winepress. Then they walked on the grapes, to squeeze them. Pipes went out of the winepress. The juice from the grapes went out through the pipes. It was red like blood. This is a picture of how God will punish his enemies. So, in fact, John was describing the deaths of these people. See also Revelation 19:15 and Isaiah 63:3.