Reading through the Bible together
Chapter 14 opens with a vision of those who have the Seal of God; it pictures “the Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with him 144 000 who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads.” While the whole world follows the beast and receive his mark, these “follow the Lamb wherever he goes.”
Rev 14 features three angels whose messages draw a line between the followers of the beast and the followers of the Lamb. They are God’s final appeal to Planet Earth before Jesus comes, sickle in hand, to harvest the earth’s inhabitants. The first is an invitation to accept the everlasting gospel and to give glory to our Creator God. The second is a declaration that Babylon has fallen. The third is a warning against receiving the Mark of the Beast. If we believe that we are the final generation before the end, this threefold message is the most relevant, the most urgent that we could ever consider.
Those who accept the gospel invitation by the first angel, and reject the beast’s dogma as condemned by the third angel, are described in 14:12 as God’s saints who “obey God’s commandments and remain faithful to Jesus.” Hence both the name of the Lamb and the name of God are written on their foreheads. Their faith in Jesus leads them to keep God’s commandments, even in the face of terrible persecution. They keep His laws, not in order to gain salvation, but because they have been saved. In the words of Eph 2:8-10, they are saved “by grace… through faith… to do good works.”
The issues before the final generation center round the faith of Jesus and the commandments of God. The antichrist stands accused of offering alternative pathways to heaven—a thousand inventions to replace or supplement God’s one and only solution to our sin problem. There is no substitute for Jesus, and nothing we can add to His saving work. The antichrist is also guilty of adapting the commandments of God to suit human preference, or completely discarding them as a relic of the past. God’s saints, on the other hand, bring glory to Him by holding onto faith in Jesus as their only hope of salvation, and obeying the commandments of God which have been inscribed by the Spirit into their hearts and minds.
Greater Sydney Conference