RAMONA LOWE
THE BOOK OF REVELATION ARTIST
   The Book of Revelation with commentary by Dr. Henry M. Morris and paintings by Ramona Lowe
The paintings are a work in progress and the finished pieces are highlighted in red on Page 2


Page 107

The Gospel of Creation

     Once again John’s attention is directed back to the earth.  The heavenly testimony concerning the 144,000 witnesses has been given, and the witnesses themselves are diligently laboring to bear God’s testimony to a world in bondage under the beast and in turmoil under God’s judgments.  However, the two chief witnesses (probably, as discussed in Chapter 11, Enoch and Elijah) are gone, and the threat of death hangs heavy over any who would refuse the beast and follow Christ.  Even though the 144,000 witnesses are under God’s protection, they will no doubt be vigorously opposed wherever they go, and most people will be mortally afraid to heed their message or even to befriend them.

Revelation 14:6.     And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people.

     Six additional angels now appear on the scene, all with urgent messages or ministries to and concerning all earth-dwellers.  One after another proclaims a vital testimony which should be of great interest to any who still have the slightest fear of God and concern about salvation.

     The first performs an amazing mission.  Christ had given the Great Commission to all His followers, commanding them to “preach the gospel” (Mark 16:15).  The Apostle Paul had exclaimed: “Woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!” (1 Corinthians 9:16), and his own final admonitions had stressed the urgent command to “preach the word” (2 Timothy 4:2).  The preaching of the wonderful gospel (a word meaning “good news”) of Jesus Christ has always been the unique privilege and responsibility of Christian believers.  Yet, at this point in history, conditions apparently have become so extreme as to require an entirely new method of preaching the gospel.  Even though the 144,000 may still be on earth with their testimony, they no longer will have access to television or radio, and people will be mortally fearful of going to any kind of preaching service where they might hear them in person.  There will be only one such witness for each 10,000 or more of earth’s inhabitants, so it would humanly be impossible to reach them all with a personal ministry in the short time remaining.  Furthermore, most of the efforts of the 144,000 Israelites will necessarily be directed toward evangelizing and discipling their own brethren, preparing them to receive their Messiah when He comes at the end of the tribulation.

     On the other hand, as pointed out previously, the people on earth will no longer be ignorant of God.  Not only have they had access to the Bibles and Christian literature left behind when believers were raptured but also they have heard the testimony of Enoch and Elijah for three-and-a-half years, have experienced many great divine judgments on earth, have seen and heard angels of God flying through the skies, and have realized at least in measure what is really happening in heaven and earth.  Yet they still reject God and His Christ and are in imminent danger of receiving the mark of the beast and thus forfeiting all hope of repentance and salvation.

     God, in His infinite grace, will thus send forth a mighty angel, flying back and forth across the skies, loudly proclaiming the gospel from one place to another, covering every nation and tribe and speaking in every language so that no one at the coming judgment would be able to say he hadn’t heard.

     Note also that the gospel he preaches is the “everlasting gospel.”  There is nothing new or different about it.  Paul, in fact, had warned that if an angel from heaven came preaching some other gospel than the same gospel which he (Paul) had preached, that angel should be rejected as one accursed of God (Galatians 1:8).  This, plus the fact that John himself, who certainly knew what the true gospel was, called the angel’s message the everlasting gospel, is conclusive proof that this gospel is the true and only gospel.

     Yet, strangely enough, many Bible teachers have insisted that there are several different gospels (“gospel of grace,” “gospel of the kingdom,” “everlasting gospel,” etc.), a different gospel for each dispensation, perhaps.  This type of hermeneutics, however well intentioned, makes Scripture contradict itself for the sake of maintaining a particular theological system.  In effect, it denies to God the ability to say what He means, thus requiring a hermeneutist with the proper theological training to translate what God says into what He means, for the benefit of the “layman.”

     It is the gospel which we are to preach, which believers in all ages were commanded to preach, and which the angel will preach.  The gospel is everlasting.  It is good news from God, and is exceedingly broad in scope.  Many descriptions cannot exhaust its meaning, even though they can give us many insights to its nature.  It is the glorious gospel (2 Corinthians 4:4), the gospel of peace (Ephesians 6:15), the gospel of the kingdom (Mark 1:14), the gospel of God (1 Peter 4:17), the gospel of Christ (Romans 15:19), the gospel of the grace of God (Acts 20:24), the gospel of salvation (Ephesians 1:13), and a gospel of many other facets.  But there is only one true gospel and that gospel is everlasting.

     In fact, this is the very last use of the word in the Bible, which makes it especially significant that the Holy Spirit, through John, here calls it everlasting.  It has never been, and will never be, any other gospel.

Revelation 14:7.     Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.

     The gospel is often defined as the substitutionary death, burial, and bodily resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, based on 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, where the word is used in its central occurrence (out of 101 total occurrences).  Although this is surely the central focus of the gospel, it by no means exhausts the sweeping scope of its meaning, which encompasses the complete work of Christ from eternity to eternity.

     It is significant that the first time the word is used (Matthew 4:23), it is in reference to “the gospel of the kingdom,” looking forward to the great day when Christ will be universally acclaimed as King of kings.   The final occurrence is here in Revelation 14:6, where it looks back to the creation.  The gospel of Christ (“the good news about Christ”) is that He is the Creator of all things (and therefore able to control and judge all things), the Redeemer of all things (and therefore able to save to the uttermost them that come unto God by Him), and the Heir of all things (therefore able and certain to bring the kingdom of God to earth as it is in heaven).  The creation is the foundation of the gospel, the second coming is the blessed hope of the gospel, the cross and the empty tomb constitute the power of the gospel.  A gospel without the creation and the consummation is as much an emasculated gospel as one without the cross and empty tomb.  One does not really preach the gospel unless he places and teaches all these together in their true majesty and fullness.

     The angel calls out with a tremendous shout, able to be heard over a large region on the earth below each time he speaks.  His message is the everlasting gospel but the urgency of the situation demands that he emphasize the coming judgment “on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thessalonians 1:8).  Most earth-dwellers have repeatedly spurned the love of God, but there are still some who might respond to fear of judgment.  “And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire” (Jude 23).  Therefore the flying angel prefaces his cry with words of warning.  “Fear God!”  “The time of judgment is at hand!”

     God’s right to judge men, of course, is founded on the fact of creation.  “Give Him the glory,” the angel shouts, “and bow down to the one who made all things.”

     Lest any think it strange or inappropriate that the gospel proclamation of the angel stresses creation, they should realize that the world’s inhabitants had been indoctrinated for several generations with the godless philosophy of evolution which Satan and his followers had adopted as their intellectual rationale for refusing to worship God.  Both lost men and fallen angels had rejected God as Creator, deceiving themselves into believing that the universe itself was the only eternal reality, worshiping and serving “the creature more than the Creator” (Romans 1:25).  Having deceived themselves with this monstrous lie, they have ever since taught this falsehood to all who would hear until, as the Scripture says, Satan has deceived “the whole world” (Revelation 12:9).  And if Christ is not the Creator, He can hardly be the Savior or the coming King.  These men of the last days must first be called back to believe in a true creation and therefore a real Creator God before they can ever be constrained to come to Him as Savior.  Even after they realize that Christ is real and His hosts are waiting in the heavens, they still are wondering whether the beast and Satan can defeat Him.  Thus the angel cries out repeatedly: “God is Creator! He will judge. Fear Him!”

     The comprehensive formula so familiar from Scripture is rehearsed by the angel.  “He made heaven, the earth, the sea” (note Exodus 20:11).  The complex universe could not possibly have evolved itself from primeval chaos, but this is the absurd belief that has captivated and enslaved men for centuries.  This time the angel adds “the fountains of waters” to the customary catalog of created entities, most probably because of their association with the earlier judgment of the great deluge, when “all the fountains of the great deep [were] broken up” (Genesis 7:11).  These marvelous fountains leading from the pressurized reservoirs of water located deep beneath the earth’s crust had been created by God to serve as the basis for the earth’s primeval hydrologic cycle, but all this system, together with the earth’s original land/water/atmosphere complex, had all been cataclysmically changed by the Flood.  The angel’s cry reminded men that as God had created all these things and then had destroyed them once before because of man’s sin, so He was still able to control all things and that another great divine judgment was imminent.

     Another reason for emphasizing the creation component of the gospel will be to reach those people whose isolated cultures have hitherto precluded them from contact with the Scriptures or knowledge about Christ.  Such people can best be reached in terms of their own experience, limited so far to contact with the evidence of God in nature and in their own consciences.  Paul, for example, always began with the Scriptures when he witnessed to his fellow Jews, who already knew and believed the Scriptures, needing only to convince them that Jesus was the Messiah promised in the Scriptures.  When he witnessed to pagans, however, he first preached the gospel of creation (Acts 14:14-17; 17:22-30).  This approach, whether for this or other reasons, was also the approach of the mighty flying angel, who gave forth a final urgent call to the lost multitudes on earth, urging them to turn back in simple faith to the one who had created them, trusting Him to save them.  

Revelation 14:8.     And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.

     The second of the six angels apparently follows the first wherever he flies, proclaiming an important message of support for the everlasting gospel proclaimed by the first.  The tremendous power and pageantry of the empire of the beast, centered in his magnificent capital at rebuilt Babylon, are impressive credentials and will serve greatly to intimidate all earth-dwellers, dissuading them from turning to Christ.

     Therefore the second angel cries out to inform men that mighty Babylon and all she represents are doomed.  Modern Babylon is merely a reincarnation of ancient Babylon, and her kingdom continues that was established long ago by Nimrod, perpetuating the humanistic and “superhumanistic” (i.e., satanistic) world system, set up at the first Babel, uniting mankind in a great religious, commercial, cultural, and political rebellion against God.  This unspeakable spiritual adultery, worshiping and serving God’s creatures instead of the true Creator, has been the deadly heritage received from Mother Babylon by all her spiritual children – all the nations of the world.

     The figure of speech used in this verse is graphic and is taken from Jeremiah 51:7.  “Babylon hath been a golden cup in the Lord’s hand, that made all the earth drunken: the nations have drunken of her wine; therefore the nations are mad.”  It is picked up again in Revelation 17:2, where the theme of Babylon is developed in all its sad ramifications.  The influence of Babylon, both ancient and future, is agelong and worldwide; its system of evolutionary pantheistic humanism has damned unnumbered souls through the centuries.

     But Nimrod is dead and so are Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar, and the beast himself will very soon become an occupant of the lake of fire (Revelation 19:20).  “. . . take up this proverb against the king of Babylon, and say, How hath the oppressor ceased! the golden city ceased! . . . Hell from beneath is moved for thee to meet thee at thy coming” (Isaiah 14:4-9).

     Thus the angel both warns and encourages the inhabitants of earth.  The fall of mighty Babylon is sure to come and it will come so soon that they could consider it as accomplished already.  Twice the message is repeated for emphasis: “Babylon is fallen, is fallen!”  The actual fall of Babylon will occur at the end of the tribulation, as described in Revelation 18, but the anticipatory pronouncement is made by the second angel, again and again assuring men on earth that Babylon will soon be destroyed.

Revelation 14:9.     And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand.

     Then, immediately after the first two angels, a third follows in their train, warning the dwellers on earth still more urgently concerning the dangers of following the beast.  His voice is loud enough for all to hear as he traverses the skies day after day, so that none can say they were not warned.  Each message reinforces and emphasizes the one before.  The first proclaims the everlasting gospel and warns of impending judgment; the second assures men that the mighty Babylonish empire of the beast, who seeks to bar men from the gospel, is about to fall; the third still more pointedly warns men against yielding individually to the commands of the beast.

     The beast and his prophet, with all the force of the world’s secular and religious systems behind them respectively, have threatened capital punishment to every person who refuses to obey the beast and to bow down to his image in the temple at Jerusalem.  They have also demanded, on pain of death, that everyone receive the mark of the beast, branded on the hand or forehead.  Without this mark, they can neither buy nor sell, and life will be so difficult that the pressure to submit will be overwhelming.

     But the penalty for submission is infinitely worse!  “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul,” said Jesus, “but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Mathew 10:28).

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.

     The sentence to be pronounced upon those who receive the mark of the beast is fearsome indeed.  As the nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of Babylon’s fornication, so now shall they drink of the wine of God’s wrath.  But God’s wrath, for long ages tempered with grace and mercy, is now unadulterated and unmitigated, requiring a full draught by all who have chosen the beast and his dragon lord.  The Lord Jesus Himself, as the Lamb of God, had once drained the cup of God’s indignation, enduring all the fury of an offended Creator, substituting His own sufferings for those who deserved them.  But now they had all willfully rejected His great sacrifice and so they must themselves drink the cup of God’s wrath.  “For in the hand of the Lord there is a cup, and the wine is red; it is full of mixture; and he poureth out of the same: but the dregs thereof, all the wicked of the earth shall wring them out, and drink them” (Psalm 75:8).

     And because they had rejected the substitutionary suffering of the Lamb on God’s heavenly altar they must themselves suffer in the very presence of the Lamb as well as that of the holy angels whose mediating messages and ministries they had likewise spurned.  Further, their destined suffering is to be very real and severe, one of “torment” (a word sometimes also translated as “pain” and “toil”), and the torment is one of physical suffering in “fire and brimstone.”  This is clearly a reference to the lake of fire into which ultimately will be cast the Devil, his angels, the beast, the false prophet, and all people who die without Christ (Matthew 25:41; Revelation 20:10, 14, 15).

     On the nature of “brimstone,” see the discussion on Revelation 9:17, 18.  Whatever this substance may be, there can be no question as to the reality of an environment of burning flames as the ultimate destiny of the wicked.  This is such a frequent theme in Scripture (Daniel 7:11; Ezekiel 20:47, 48; Isaiah 66:24; Matthew 3:12; 13:50; Mark 9:43-49; and Jude 7) that it is folly to ignore it or to “spiritualize” it.  The bodies of the unsaved dead are to be resurrected (Revelation 20:5, 12-15; John 5:29, etc.) and thus must be physical bodies, capable of being “tormented” in physical flames.  Whether they will be burned up (as our present bodies would be) or will be so changed as to be nonflammable is not clear from Scripture.  In any case, the spirits of unsaved men and women as well as the evil spirits who comprise the fallen angels will be confined to a place of eternal fire and torment.

     Although this confinement will in one sense be so located as to be in the “presence” of the Lamb and the holy angels and can even be viewed by the redeemed (Isaiah 66:23, 24), these lost spirits will apparently be removed to some far-off region of the cosmos, “punished with everlasting destruction [that is, not “annihilation,” but “ruin”] from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power” (2 Thessalonians 1:9), cast into outer darkness, like “wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever” (Jude 13).  See the discussion on Revelation 19:20

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 doctrine of eternal punishment may be objectionable to modern intellectuals and cultists, but this resistance cannot offset the fact that the Bible clearly teaches it.  Even if the fires of hell were not literal fires, their torment continues forever, whatever they are.  Such is the unequivocal statement proclaimed by the angel as he flies through the atmosphere.

     If perhaps the fires were not physical, or the resurrected bodies were not physical, at lest the torment is real and eternal.  It may be that the figure of physical burning is used because no other could so picturesquely convey the meaning of real and everlasting punishment.  If so, the reality must be at least as terrible as its symbol.

     The torment involves not only the fire and the smoke of burning but also eternal fatigue, with no prospect of sleep or respite.  One of the delightful promises in heaven is that of rest!  “There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God” (Hebrews 4:9).  “Rest from their labors,” in fact, is promised in the very next verse to those who die in the Lord, and this is surely a precious promise to the weary pilgrim.  But since true rest (especially from the guilt and consequences of sin) is found only in Christ (Matthew 11:28), there can be no rest to those outside of Him.

     Since the context in this passage has to do with the beast-worshipers of the last half of the tribulation, the angel pointedly reminds them again that everlasting punishment awaits all who receive the mark.  This explicit denotation in no way suggests, of course, that only those who actually receive this mark of the beast are destined for eternal torment in hell.  It is the plain teaching of Scripture, in fact, that all unbelievers share the same lake of fire (Revelation 21:8) and that this punishment is everlasting.  The beast and the false prophet, for example, are seen as still suffering in the fiery lake a thousand years after their first entry into it (Revelation 19:20; 20:2, 7, 10).  If the unbelievers of any age had been subjected to the same conditions as those in this tribulation, they also would have been every bit as willing as these to receive the mark of the beast and to give him their worship. God is both just and omniscient, and the punishment is prepared for all.

     One other point is worth noting.  Modern science has demonstrated the principle of conservation of matter and energy to be the most certain and universal principle of science. Matter and energy can change forms but can be neither created nor annihilated.  And if mere physical matter cannot be annihilated, the far more important entity of the human soul/spirit complex (in particular the created “image of God” in man – note Genesis 1:27) can surely not be destroyed, as claimed by the so-called “annihilationists,” or believers in “conditional immortality.”  Every human being ever conceived, possessing a divinely-created human soul and spirit, will exist forever somewhere.

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

     Apparently this is an interjection by John, designed to mitigate the awful pronouncements of judgment on earth with the reminder that the saints in heaven are still very concerned.  It is this for which they have waited and suffered and with which their patience is finally rewarded.

     The early Christians had been exhorted to patience and long-suffering, in confidence that God would eventually reward their faithfulness and judge their persecutors (Matthew 5:10-12; Romans 12:19; 2 Thessalonians 1:6-8; Hebrews 10:30-37; 1 Peter 1:6, 7).  A very explicit promise to this effect had also been made to the martyred saints here in the tribulation period (Revelation 6:9-11).

     Here,” says John, is the object of the agelong patience of all the saints.  The gospel promises are accomplished, the judgment is come, the humanistic world system is fallen, and all the ungodly are in hell – this is the immediate prospect, and their patience is justified at last.

     Here,” he says further, are all the godly.  After the ultimate demise of all wickedness, the righteous shall shine forth in the kingdom of the Father (Matthew 13:43).  Note the twofold ascription: “they that keep God’s commandments and the faith of Jesus.”  There have, sadly, been many antinomian teachers, in both ancient and modern times, who set these two in opposition, when they should be in apposition.  Those who truly have the saving faith of the Lord Jesus love His commandments (1 John 5:3-5).  Those who reject God’s commandments (not as a means of salvation, of course, but as the expression of His unchanging holiness, which He seeks to produce in us) have only a superficial notion of the true faith of the Lord Jesus (1 Peter 1:14-16).  If one truly believes on Jesus, he will keep His commandments (John 14:21).  If one truly loves God’s commandments, he will believe on Jesus (John 6:28, 29).  These are two sides of the coin, as it were.  Both works without faith, and faith without works, are dead.  A living faith is an obedient faith and a long-suffering faith, destined finally for satisfaction and reward.

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.

     There is an important interval between the first three angels and the last three angels here in Chapter 14.  The Holy Spirit speaks and the Son of man acts.

     John had called attention to the imminent fulfillment of all God’s promises to the faithful saints through the ages, but there is a particular promise to the martyrs of this last half of the tribulation, for there will never be a period of such intense and universal persecution as this.  This is the second of the seven “beatitudes” of Revelation (the others in Revelation 1:3; 16:15; 19:9; 20:6; 22:7; 22:14), promising a blessing to those who die in the Lord “henceforth” (that is, after the tribulation midpoint, when the beast mounts his global program of humanistic world rule and suppression).

     The promise is so important that it is conveyed to John by “a voice from heaven,” commanding him to write it down.  Twelve times in Revelation, in fact, is John specifically commanded, “Write!” (Revelation 1:11, 19; 14:13; 19:9; 21:5; in addition to the seven commands in the letters to the seven churches).  There is no question of faulty memory or long tradition here.  Everything was recorded immediately in this final book of the Holy Scriptures.

     The voice from heaven which first pronounced the blessing is unidentified, but now comes an echoing response from none other than the Spirit of God.  Except for the messages to the seven churches, this is the first of only two instances in the Book of Revelation where the Spirit speaks directly, the second being the very last gospel invitation in the Scriptures (Revelation 22:17).

     The Spirit’s message in this case is a very wonderful promise.  Although applying specifically, as it comes from the heavens, to the tribulation martyrs, the principle surely can be taken to themselves by all who die in the Lord.

     Once this life is done, whether at death or at the rapture, our labors are over, though our eternal service is just beginning (Revelation 22:3).  We can know that our “labour is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58), for our labor here is the basis of our service there (Matthew 25:21).  By the same token, those who seek ease and favor here will be barren there (1 Corinthians 3:14, 15).

     One of the most blessed promises of Scripture is that the good works we do “in the Lord” while we are still in the flesh can still bear fruit and be credited to our “work record” even after we die.  “Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour” (1 Corinthians 3:8).

     One’s reward is according to his labor, not the fruit from the labor, which may well come to fruition long after he himself has gone to be with the Lord.  “Their works do follow them.”  Each tribulation martyr undoubtedly will leave an unforgettable testimony to all who observe their martyrdom.  For our own part, still in the prerapture chronology of human history, one of the most challenging incentives to faithfulness in labor and seed-sowing is the possibility that some of our own ministries in these last days may bear fruit even after the rapture.  Testimonies given, tracts and books distributed, letters and articles written, by God’s grace, may be used to help win some of these tribulation saints.  May He enable us to be faithful!

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