Revelation Chapter Fourteen Part II


Twelve Tribes

Revelation 14:10 “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:” 

In the scriptures, a literal cup was a vessel from which people drank, just as it is today. The cup it also a metaphor for many activities, tasks, journeys, destinies, consequences, etc. Those are usually negative things the cup symbolizes, such as the certain judgment of God for the iniquities men commit. Alternatively, there are also joyful occasions that the cup signifies such as the cup of salvation, the cup of thanksgiving, the cup of blessing, and the cup of the Lord that we thankfully drink during Holy Communion.

In this passage, the cup represents the wrath of God directed against His enemies, which are the Devil and his followers. These enemies also include all those who take the mark of the beast and will not believe on the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation and justification (Rev 14:9). As Jesus told us about Himself, the Son of God, “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (Joh 3:18 KJV).

We know from many places in Scripture that the Devil, his angels, and those that take the mark of the beast are not the only enemies of God. Our context here is the time of the end of the age just before Jesus returns that many incorrectly describe as the tribulation period. That period of time is actually the period of God’s wrath, which is why the people that receive the mark of the beast are singled out in these verses1.

Prior to this time, and throughout history, all those who died without faith in Yahweh and His Son, will also be cast into the lake of fire. This can be seen in the last few verses of Revelation Chapter twenty summed up in Rev 20:15, “And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” Their names are not written in the Book of Life.

A cup without mixture is an idiom meaning the full effect will be felt. Wine was sometimes mixed with sweet grape juice to make it more palatable. This also made it weaker. The strongest wine was that without mixture.

The literal Greek translated in the KJV, “poured out without mixture” literally reads, “having been mixed undiluted” (του κεκερασμενου ακρατου). It could be rendered, “mixed without mixture,” or, as Youngs Literal Translation has it, “mingled unmixed.”

This phraseology seems strange to the western English-speaking mind. We should understand it this way: The wine, which is a metaphor for God’s anger, is mingled with the cup, at full strength. To mingle real wine with a cup is to make it one with the cup. In Western understanding this means to pour it into the cup.

Several lexicons tell us that the Greek word behind mix or mingle, κεράννυμι (kerannumi), has several possible definitions depending on the context. They are to mix or mingle, to pour out, or to fill. Our context here is God’s wrath being poured out on unbelievers, thus here it means poured unmixed into the cup of God’s wrath. The point made is that the wrath of God here is without mercy, that is, it is at its fullest strength.

The fire and brimstone (that is, burning sulfur) are representative of the “lake of fire” (Rev 19:20), which is “everlasting fire” prepared for the devil and his angels (Mat 25:41). According to this verse those that receive the mark of the beast will also be tormented there while Jesus and the holy angels2 observe. The Holy angels are those that remained faithful to God as opposed to the angels, “which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation” (Gen 6:2; 2 Pet 2:4; Mat 25:41; Jude 1:6,7).

We first see fire and brimstone in the Book of Genesis: “Then the LORD rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven; And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground” (Gen 19:24-25 KJV)

The reason God did that was “Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous” (Gen 18:20). This was also done as an example to us of exactly what will happen to those who choose to live ungodly lives (2 Pet 2:6).

Let us briefly look at the word, torment. The word has its basis in a gold assaying technique that uses a touchstone, which is a black, abrasive, siliceous stone, and a known strength of an acid solution. To determine the quality of gold, a piece of gold is rubbed on the black abrasive stone leaving a streak of the softer gold on the stone. The quality of the gold will determine how much of the gold streak remains on the stone after the acid is applied. 100% gold will leave the original streak. 50% gold will leave only 50% of the original streak, etc. The remaining non-gold materials will be dissolved by the acid. The actual gold is unaffected by the acid.

The koine Greek word for the touchstone itself is βάσανος or basanos. The Greek word for torment is βασανισμός or basanismos, and its inflections. One can see the relationship. If one were to think of a part of one’s body being tested like gold is tested by being rubbed on an abrasive touchstone then having acid applied to it, one can see that it would be quite painful.

The word basanismos has many meanings based on context. Some of them are, to examine by torture, to subject to severe distress, to experience anguish, to test for the truth, and, of course, to torment. We can see that Jesus, in His Passion, was subjected to all of these things and more.

He suffered torture administered by the Roman scourge. He was beaten, spit upon and His beard pulled out by the roots. A wreath of spiked thorns was pushed into His scalp. He was being beaten almost to death by the scourge (many would not survive such a beating, which ripped the flesh and muscle tissue right off the bone). Immediately afterward, He was forced to carry His heavy cross down the long Via Dolorosa to the place of crucifixion, where spikes were driven through His wrists and his feet. He was then raised on the cross as it was dropped into its socket in the ground where He suffered immense residual pain from His torture, from the site where the spikes pierced His arms and feet.

On the cross, He had difficulty breathing and was in continuous extreme pain. He suffered the ignominy of being hanged naked on the cross for all the public to observe. He suffered shame for to the Hebrew mind, nakedness was shameful. He then died on that cross.

His torment and shame ended when He died. Yet we will eternally remember His torment and His Death and Resurrection. His torment was a specific amount for a specific period of time (Exo 21: 23,23,24,25; Deut 25:2; Luk 12:47,48; Rev 20:12). The punishment ended at His death, but the consequences or effects of his torment remain forever. Those very positive consequences are eternal life for all who believe on Him.

Jesus, the man, who was also God, had to suffer all those torments in order to take the punishment for the sins of all human beings through all times if they would believe on Him (John 3:16; Rom 10:9; Heb 10:10-12, 14). If that is the case, then the punishment for the sin of unbelievers, is warranted. They, too, must suffer at least as much as Jesus did for their sins. Thus they will be subjected to torment just as He was. Their torment will take place in the lake of fire and brimstone (Rev 14:10, 19:20; 20:10. 20:14-15).

Various methods can be used to inflict pain. It appears, based on the text in Rev 14:10 & 11, that heat and flame, such as that produced by burning brimstone, are the method used in this torment. Remember the rich man in Luk 16:24, who wanted a drop of water to cool his tongue because he was tormented by flames. We can see in the Old Testament Scriptures that fire was used to judge, and to cleanse. E.g. Lev 8:32; Lev 9:11; Lev 9:24; Lev 10:1-2; Lev 13:32; Lev 13:55; Lev 13:57; Num 11:1-3.

This torment will also be observed by the Lamb of God to Whom all things (Mat 11:27; Luk 10:22; John 3:35), including judgment (Mat 16:27; Mat 25:31-46; John 5:27), have been given. Thus, as judge, Jesus will observe the punishment of those that worship the beast and receive his mark as they are tormented with fire and brimstone (Rev 19:20; Rev 20:10, 14, 15). Note that the Scripture says nothing about the saints having to observe this torment—it only states that the holy angels and the Lamb will be in attendance.

Verses ten and eleven in revelation chapter 14 combined are one continuous paragraph. Thus to fully understand one verse, we must regard both verses together.

Revelation 14:11 “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.”

The final action of the wrath of God is the lake of fire. The fire and brimstone here is a first look at the lake of fire. John mentions it briefly here as fire and brimstone and elaborates on it in chapter 20. All who worship the beast and his image (that is, the image of the dragon, or Satan), will go into the lake of fire.

In Revelation chapter 20, it is in the lake of fire, where the Devil, the beast, and the false prophet “shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever” (Rev 20:10). It is important to note that this quote from chapter 20, specifically refers to the Devil, the beast, and the false prophet; unbelievers are not included in this statement. We are not told there that unbelievers will be tormented day and night forever—only the Devil, the beast and false prophet are included.

However, we are told that the smoke of the torment of unbelievers who worship the beast and his image and take his mark ascends up forever. Jesus told us that the everlasting fire, or the lake of fire, was created for the Devil and his angels (Mat 25:41), but in chapter 20, we see that the beast and false prophet are added to the mix. Here we also are told that those “who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name” will be tormented in the presence of the Lamb and His angels.

During the time of their torment, they will not rest day or night. Rest has several uses. It means to cease activity. On the seventh day, God rested from creating the heavens and earth. In that verse, it means to stop the activity of creation. A human analogy would be to be working on a project that ends. When the project ends, and the person stops working on it, that person rests from his labor.

When we relax or retire to bed at the end of our day, we stop our labors and rest. The type of rest we get when relaxing and sleeping is a rejuvenative rest. Such rest restores our bodies and minds revitalizing them from a tired, exhausted state and we wake refreshed.

Rest can also bring peace. But to those who do not obey God, there is no peace. “But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked” (Isa 57:20-21).

Alternatively, in Deuteronomy chapters 28 and 29, we find that rest can have a more sinister definition. Deuteronomy chapter 28 tells us of the curses that will fall upon a people that turn away from Yahweh God, specifically Israel. Those same curses will come against any nation that Yahweh God has blessed and built up because of their service and devotion to Him. A good example of that is Western nations that one time served God but turned away from Him. The U.S.A. is a good example.

In Deuteronomy 28:15, God states that if His people Israel rebel against him, turning away from Him to false gods, disobeying Him, and stop following His precepts, then the curses following this verse in chapter 28 will come upon them. Additionally, God will scatter them “among all people, from the one end of the earth even unto the other; and there thou shalt serve other gods, which neither thou nor thy fathers have known” (Deu 28:64).

In Deuteronomy 28:65-66, we read, “And among these nations shalt thou find no ease, neither shall the sole of thy foot have rest: but the LORD shall give thee there a trembling heart, and failing of eyes, and sorrow of mind: And thy life shall hang in doubt before thee; and thou shalt fear day and night, and shalt have none assurance of thy life.

They will have no rest from their banishment day or night. They will remain in captivity and never see their old life again (Deut 28:68). In other words their lives will end in captivity. Being in captivity as slaves will be their torment for disobeying God, which will not end until their death while in captivity. We can see from these verses in the Old Testament, that no rest day or night for God’s people who are disobedient to Him, tells us that their torment will go on for the rest of their lives. It will end when they die.

As it was in their wanderings in the wilderness, the people who rebelled against God and refused to go into the Promised Land when God commanded them to, ended up wandering for forty years and never entered their rest in the land of promise. The writer of Hebrews, quoting Psalm 95:7-11 from the Septuagint, explains:

Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says: Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness, where your fathers tested me, tried me, and saw my works for forty years. Therefore I was provoked to anger with that generation and said, “They always go astray in their hearts, and they have not known my ways.” So I swore in my anger, “They will not enter my rest.” (Heb 3:7-11)

They died in the desert. Their torment remined with them until their deaths. Their children entered into their rest in the Promised Land. Out of all those wandering for forty years, only Joshua and Caleb, who did not rebel against God, were allowed into the Promised Land.

The smoke of their torment is like the smoke of a fire. It goes up or ascends. If you have ever seen a forest fire or even a controlled burn from a distance, you see smoke in the sky from horizon to horizon as though it goes on forever. The smoke of their torment ascends from age to age or αιωνας αιωνων, aiōnas aiōnōn, which is literally what this says in the Greek.

We must fully understand what this statement infers. To do so, let us refer to Isaiah 34, where God tells us of His judgment of Idumea or Edom (Isa 34:5).

For it is the day of the LORD’S vengeance, and the year of recompences for the controversy of Zion. And the streams thereof shall be turned into pitch, and the dust thereof into brimstone, and the land thereof shall become burning pitch. It shall not be quenched night nor day; the smoke thereof shall go up for ever: from generation to generation it shall lie waste; none shall pass through it for ever and ever. But the cormorant and the bittern shall possess it; the owl also and the raven shall dwell in it: and he shall stretch out upon it the line of confusion, and the stones of emptiness” (Isa 34:8-11).

The land of Edom was completely desolated, only wild animals inhabit there. The ground was scorched, and the smoke went up when Edom was destroyed. The verse states that the burning pitch shall not be quenched night or day and the smoke of that burning will ascend forever. The ruins of Edom are there in Jordan today and they are not inhabited. The Scripture says their burning is not quenched and the smoke ascends forever, yet today, the land is not burning at all and there is no smoke ascending there.

The next verse, Isa 34:11, tells us that Edom will only be inhabited by unclean birds. Other similar passages state that such places, like Babylon (Isa 13:21, 22), will be inhabited by unclean wild animals as well.

The fact that there is no longer fire or smoke there tells us the terms must be idiomatic, symbolic, or hyperbolic. Thankfully, the verse explains itself. We understand that the passage is hyperbolic and symbolizes the fact that the land will be uninhabited by humans from generation to generation.

That is idiomatic for a period that will last forever. God’s dominion is from generation to generation, that is, it is an everlasting kingdom (Dan 4:3). This shows that the consequences of the sins of these nations are eternal but the smoke, burning pitch, and brimstone are not eternal.

In other words, once the occurrences of the events of God’s judgment have been completed, there will remain a lasting memory of those events. That memory will remain from generation to generation, but the fire a smoke will be gone. Accordingly, we will eternally remember the results of their sins after the smoke and fire have long ceased.

As we have seen in past passages of Revelation, the Bible interprets the Bible. The Old Testament foreshadows the new so we must look to the Old Testament to aid in our understanding of the new. Remember that as a prophet, Solomon, under the inspiration of God, told us that there is nothing new under the sun and what is done in the past will be done again, even though that might not be remembered. The past will predict the future.

Let us remember that the Scriptures John had available to him were the Scriptures we know as the Old Testament. John relied heavily on the Greek translation (LXX) of those Hebrew Scriptures in his record of the visions the Lord Jesus revealed to him. As John relied on the Old Testament Scriptures, we must follow suit in our interpretation of Revelation.

This is an echo from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, which were destroyed by fire and brimstone that rained down on them from the sky. The smoke of the destroyed land went up like the smoke of a furnace. Jude wrote that the fire that destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah was eternal (Jud 1:7). But the fire and smoke are no longer present there. What is eternal is that the area has been uninhabited since its destruction and will never be inhabited again (Jer 50:40). That also means that our recollection of the judgment of God upon those cities is eternal and acts an example for our understanding. (2 Pet 2:6).

The ruins of the destruction of those cities still remain in southern Israel, but the fire, brimstone, and smoke are gone. In other words though the fire and brimstone were temporary, the results of their sins are eternal. The same thing applies to our passage here. Though the fire and brimstone may not be eternal, the idiom of the smoke of their torment rising forever symbolizing the results of their sins will always be in our memory as a reminder.

Remember that everyone alive at the time of the beast will have heard the gospel and will have been given a chance to accept it or reject it (vv. 6-7 above). Those who rejected it are in view here. There are two phrases in this verse. They are, 1) “And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever” and 2) “and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.

Because of their rejection their names will not be found in the Lamb’s book of life. They will suffer torment in the Lake of Fire (Rev 14:10) and the smoke of their torment, not their torment will go up forever. This is real torment that will be suffered by the unsaved. However. that torment in verse ten is not what goes up forever, it is just the smoke in verse eleven that goes up forever.

Removing the verse numbers that were added to Scripture in the Thirteenth Century, we find this statement, which includes both verses ten and eleven in one paragraph. This gives us a much better sense of the original intent of the verses:

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: 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. “

The first phrase of verse 11 states, “And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever.” This completes the last sentence of verse ten, “and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb.

In the second of the two phrases in verse eleven, we read, “and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.” The antecedent of the pronoun, ‘they’ in this separate phrase is those “who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.

There will be no rest during their torments. They will receive the punishment due them for their unbelief and their sins. This is in contrast to the saints in verse thirteen; they are faithful even unto their deaths, and they will rest in comfort from their labors (2 Cor 1:3,4).

Our long discussion of the smoke and torment using the Bible to interpret the Bible were provided to give you better understanding of these things.

Revelation 14:12 “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.”

This is the second time after the ascent of the beast out of the sea that a similar statement is made. Rev 13:10 states, “Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.” Read the comments that were made there.

Here the patience of the saints is to endure to the end, whether that is the end of their time of trials and persecutions or the death of their bodies, and still keep the commandments and their faith. In 13:10, God tells them that he will avenge anything that happens to the saints. So the patience of the saints is to endure to the end and to know that God will avenge them if they are mistreated.

This not anything new to Christians. They have been persecuted incessantly in one way or another since the inception of the church at Pentecost. Jesus stated it in this way:

Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division: For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three. The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother in law against her daughter in law, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. (Luk 12:51-53)

Jesus told the church at Smyrna to remain faithful even unto death and receive a crown of life. The death of the body is not the real death. The real death is being cast into the lake of fire. Those who are faithful to Christ will never see the real death. They will live forever.

Noah Webster wrote that patience is, 1. The suffering of afflictions, pain, toil, calamity, provocation or other evil, with a calm, unruffled temper; endurance without murmuring or fretfulness. Patience may spring from constitutional fortitude, from a kind of heroic pride, or from Christian submission to the divine will. 2. A calm temper which bears evils without murmuring or discontent. 3. The act or quality of waiting long for justice or expected good without discontent. Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary of American English

This may seem like a lofty but inaccessible goal, yet with Christ, all things are possible (Php 4:13).

Revelation 14:13 “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.”

Each time we see the phrase, “a voice from heaven,” it is the voice of God. Thus this is no different. Yahweh God is speaking. (See Dan 4:31; Mat 3:17, Mar 1:11; Joh 12:28; Rev 10:4; 14:2). This proclamation from God follows all who heed the angel’s call to believe the Gospel, which is given in Rev 14:6&7.

This verse is echoes from Psa 116:15 and Psa 72:14 respectively, “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.” “He shall redeem their soul from deceit and violence: and precious shall their blood be in his sight.” The context is similar in both verses. Both are referring to God’s people. Psalm 116 refers specifically to a man (perhaps David) and generally to all people that trust Yahweh, thus are His saints. Psalm 72 refers to the king (Solomon) properly judging God’s people. This looks forward to Messiah, the perfect judge of His people.

We also see this reflected in the Beatitudes:

Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you. Mat 5:6; 10-12)

Those Christians who die after the angel presents the gospel to the entire world will be happy because they will soon receive their rest and their rewards for good works. All who die in Christ throughout history will receive these things, but those alive at the time of these events will be especially blessed to know that those events are almost at an end. (Mat 25:21,23; 2 Cor 5:10; Heb 4:9,10,11; 6:10; Rev 1:3)

It is likely that many of the people who believe after the angel in Rev 14:7 speaks will be in grave danger of losing their lives because they will refuse to worship the beast and the image of the beast. It will be just as it was in ancient Rome when the saints refused to worship the Roman emperor. See the notes on Rev 13:14.

Resting from their labors is a reference to Jeremiah, who, in Lamentations wrote of the persecutions of the Jews under siege by Nebuchadnezzar: “Our necks are under persecution: we labour, and have no rest” (Lam 5:5). We note that the Christians living when the things written of in this book come to pass will also be under similar persecution as the Judahites were when Jeremiah wrote Lamentations.

The people of Judah rejected God’s prophet Jeremiah and thus God. They were severely persecuted, starved, maimed, killed, and taken captive to Babylon. Unfortunately, Jeremiah endured some suffering from and with them. Here in our verse, these are God’s people that did not reject Him and kept the faith through persecutions. They are blessed and they are promised rest from their labors, whereas the Judahites of Jeremiah’s day were not.

The works of the saints follow them even after their death. Paul tells us that the saints are saved by their faith and not their works (Rom 2:8). In fact, the works of the unsaved are worse that useless. Just as filthy rags (literally menstrual cloths) are discarded, so are the sinful works of the unsaved (Isa 64:6). Our good works after we are saved will reap rewards in heaven. (Mat 5:12; 6:4; 1 Cor 3:8,14; Rev 22:12)

Christians that are saved by the blood of Christ are created to do good works (Rom 2:10). The good works of the saints follow them after death (1 Cor 3:13).

Do you know Jesus Christ as your Savior? He is going to return to the world soon. Are you ready? When He does if you do not know Him as your Savior, you will join all those who do not know Him in “Outer Darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Mat 22:13-14).

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Mark Oaks, July 21, 2021

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  1. We do not see a seven-year tribulation here but we see that all these terrifying events in Revelation take place within a 3½ year period (Rev 11:2, 3; 13:5; 12:6, 14. See also the notes on Chapter 13 verse 5). We also do not see a pre-tribulation rapture event here. All people alive during this period including both the saved and unsaved will endure the events described in the previous chapters of Revelation. The rapture will occur after these events but before the seven vials of God’s wrath is poured out.
  2. The holy angels are those that did not rebel with Satan (see Gen 6:2; Luk 10:18; 2 Pet 2:4; Jud 1:6; Rev 12:7,8,9).
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