This study is in response to the following comment we received from one of our readers,
“You need to read Revelation 14 again. Many things wrong with your dissertation. Most obvious one is how Revelation 14 is clear that those who take the mark of the beast will definitely go to Hell for eternity.”
Let us take a closer look at Revelation Chapter 14 specifically the text which you believe supports your thought.
“Then a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. 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 ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.”
“First and most importantly it is important to remember that the book of Revelation is a prophecy, and not a literal epistle. It abounds in symbols or signs, and these are the rule, and the literal—when unavoidable–is the exception”.
Recall our Lord’s opening remarks to this book,
“The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to show unto his servants (the True Church) things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and SIGNIFIED IT by his angel (messenger) unto his servant John” (Rev 1:1)
Signified: Strong’s # 4591, marked, indicated (sign-ified—told in signs and symbols, which are the rule, the literal being the exception and used only when unavoidable).
The greatest source of error in understanding the symbols of Revelation is a too literal interpretation. It is read as though it were a statement of facts, instead of a statement of symbols.
Only the context can help determine whether or not a literal or symbolic usage of a word or particular statement is intended. In this case the evidence provided in the context overwhelmingly supports a symbolic interpretation. If one were to attempt to interpret this text as literal as do the majority of those who believe in the theory of everlasting torment as the wages of sin it would involve several absurdities.
First it would imply that not only are the “fire, brimstone and smoke” to be taken as literal, but so too “the beast and his image”. Likewise the “mark” is literal and is to be literally placed upon the forehead or hand of the individual. More than this it implies that the “the wine of the wrath of God” is literal wine and is actually contained in a literal “cup”, how absurd. And let us not forget that those poor souls foolish enough to have received this mark are likewise to be tormented not only in the presence of the holy angels, but likewise in the presence of a literal “lamb”.
Let us put aside such foolish thoughts, imaginings and such which have been fostered by the blind guides of Christendom. It should be self-evident to anyone in possession of “the spirit of a sound mind” that any interpretation of this text other than a symbolic interpretation is grossly in error and should be disregarded immediately. We are not at liberty to pick and choose which symbols we think are literal which symbolic simply because it supports our own particular beliefs.
Now before we examine the text in it’s entirely, symbolically as it was intended we should first like to lists a few of the key symbols found in our text. The ability to understand the true meanings of these symbols is necessary to a proper understanding of the text as a whole.
BEAST: a group of men (an institution or government) with unholy characteristics.
IMAGE: (a likeness or copy of someone or something) in this case federated Protestantism.
MARK: a distinction or indication of agreement / sympathy or cooperation.
HAND: works; cooperation; responsibility (with the hand or hands one renders service or performs works).
FOREHEAD: represents the sum total of one’s character (the forehead also represents ones intellectual consent to a particular set of teachings or doctrine).
FIRE: severe trials: destruction and/or judgment.
BRIMSTONE: deadly poison (added to the symbol of fire to show no way of escape).
SMOKE: remembrance, obscuration, or evidence.
TORMENTED: vexed to the point of great discomfort (could be physically or mentally).
To properly grasp the true intent of our text it will prove necessary to back track a bit, back to the true beginning of Chapter 14, which begins with Chapter 14 Verse 6.
Chapter 13 should end at the close of 14:5.
THE REASONS: Chapter 14 is a harvest chapter — the FIRST chapter which deals with the harvest exclusively, and the first chapter in *the second section of Revelation (Chapters 14-19) dealing only with the harvest period. How strange, then, to begin the harvest section of Revelation with the Church complete! Yet 14:1 has the Church complete with the Lord on Mt. Zion. It is true; of course, that the Church is completed during this period (during the harvest); but this period does not begin with the Church completed.
Keep in mind that that both the punctuation and the chapter divisions found in the bible are of recent times, the original text as it was written employed neither.
“The chapter divisions commonly used today were developed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Stephen Langton. Langton put the modern chapter divisions into place around A.D. 1227. The Wycliffe English Bible of 1382 was the first Bible to use this chapter pattern. Since the Wycliffe Bible, nearly all Bible translations have followed Langton’s chapter divisions.”
“The Hebrew Old Testament was divided into verses by a Jewish rabbi by the name of Nathan in A.D. 1448. In 1555 Robert Estienne (a printer), also known as Stephanus, was the first to divide the New Testament into standard numbered verses. Stephanus essentially used Nathan’s verse divisions for the Old Testament. Since that time, beginning with the Geneva Bible, the chapter and verse divisions employed by Stephanus have been accepted into nearly all the Bible versions.” Nevertheless there is no authoritative basis for the divisions.
As far as punctuation is concerned, there are many schools of thought, as far back as 250 B.C. to a school of thought that a group called the Masoretes added vowels and punctuation around or after 500 A.D. Neither the original Greek nor Hebrew had punctuation.”
Chapter 14 divides nicely into three main sections: Verses 6-12, Verses 13-14, and Verses 15-20. Jesus appears in the middle of these sections; three angels appear in the first section and three more in the final section.
In this particular study we are going to be concentrating on the first section as it deals specifically with our subject.
The three angels mentioned in Verses 6, 8 and 9 represent 3 PARTS OF THE HARVEST MESSAGE. Notice the increasing importance of their messages: The first PREACHES; the second CONDEMNS; the third WARNS.
The progression of thought is very much as is our individual, personal experience in finding the harvest truths.
FIRST we HEAR the message;
NEXT we SEE clearly the filthy (false or erroneous) doctrine of historical “Christianity”, and
FINALLY we realize clearly our responsibility in separation (separation from such systems and teachings), and the dangers involved if we remain a part of what God Himself has cast off.
Excerpts were taken from the “New Albany Notes on Revelation”.
We will continue with our study in our next post.
*the second section of Revelation
Revelation can be broken down into five sections. At the beginning (1:1-8) is a small section that serves as an introduction to the entire prophecy. At the end (22:6-21) is another small section that serves as an epilogue to the entire prophecy. Between these two small sections, are three larger sections, which we call sections 1 through 3, and which serve to detail in advance all of the history since the ending of the Jewish Age.
Section 1 (1:9-14:5) gives FIVE views of the entire Gospel Age (including the Harvest).
Section 2 (14:6-19:21) gives FIVE views focusing exclusively on the Harvest Period.
Section 3 (20:1-22:5) gives FIVE views of the Millennium (all having at least some connection to the Gospel Age Harvest).