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judgment is a good thing, revelation 14:6-20

In Revelation 14:6-20, the focus shifts to six angels on a mission.

John sees the first “angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim” to an antagonistic world (14:6). He said, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come, and worship him who made heaven and earth” (14:7). The fear of God is profoundly liberating—especially for those ensnared in an oppressive antichrist system. In fact, two seemingly contradictory phrases—Fear God and Do Not Be Afraid—drive out the fear of everything else. The first angel has a good message.

A second angel follows with “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, she who made all nations drink the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality” (Rev 14:8). Calling the beast’s socio-political system, “Babylon,” exposes it for what it is. The system aims to intoxicate global citizens with wickedness to numb them against any fear of a future day of judgment. But Babylon will collapse. In a world of exploitation and oppression, a final judgment at the end of time is the best news there can be. The second angel has a good message.

A third angel appears, saying, “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he also will drink the wine of God’s wrath … the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever” (Rev 14:9-11). Being a beast-worshipper may have some temporary advantages, but in the end, any benefits will dissolve into a smoldering memory. The third angel forewarns of dire consequences; therefore, his message is good, too.

“Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus” (Rev 14:12). The three angels are calling us to “rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, and be constant in prayer” because God’s coming judgment is a good thing (Rom 12:12).

Then John “heard a voice from heaven saying, ‘Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’ ‘Blessed indeed,’ says the Spirit, ‘that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!’” (Rev 14:13). Being a Christ-worshipper has eternal advantages! To “die in the Lord” is actually a blessing! And the added perk: all our earthly labors will be carried over into the Age to Come (cf. 1 Cor 15:58; Matt 6:19-20)!

When the fourth angel emerges, the final day of reckoning is at hand, “the hour to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is fully ripe” (Rev 14:14-15). So, the King “swung his sickle across the earth, and the earth was reaped” (14:16). What does this mean? Reaping a harvest commonly signifies God gathering his people to himself (e.g., Luke 10:2; Matt 3:12; 13:30, 43). Christ’s “winnowing fork … will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn” (Matt 3:12). The fourth angel has a good assignment.

But what about everyone else? Angel #5 and Angel #6 will harvest the rest of the “grapes” and throw them into “the great winepress of the wrath of God” Rev 14:17-19; Matt 3:12). Gathering grapes for the wine press always means judgment (Rev 14:20; 19:15; Isa 63:1-6). The fifth and sixth angels are cleansing earth from evil—and that’s a good assignment.

King Jesus is carrying out his plan—not to annihilate the planet—but to cleanse creation from evil, save it from being destroyed, and prepare it to merge with heaven. And that’s a very good thing!