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Revelation 14:9–11

“Another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a loud voice, ‘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, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb’” (vv. 9–10).

Roman persecution was a real threat for the early Christians, and the prospect was no doubt terrifying for many of them. After all, Rome controlled most of the known world and seemed invincible, having conquered and absorbed many other peoples. But as the angel declares in Revelation 14:8, Babylon—that is, Rome—cannot endure. She will be judged for leading others into sin. This was good news for the early believers, and it remains good news for us, for the book of Revelation is God’s Word to those of us who live long after Rome’s fall. Rome is one prominent example of a human empire that is opposed to God and persecutes His people. Its fall confirms that no power that sets itself up against Christ and His true church will endure.

When we think of the fall of the Roman Empire, we might think only of the fall of its caesars, senators, and other leading officials. Yet, as today’s passage indicates, the fall of Rome has consequences for everyone who wars against the Lord. Coupled with the fall of Rome is the eternal destruction of those who worship the beast and receive his mark. Remember that in Revelation 13, we read about the beast from the sea who demands worship, and he is closely associated with Rome, whose caesars also demand worship. Many people will go along with this worship, which entails receiving his mark on their right hands and foreheads. This does not likely refer to a literal mark but to the beast’s control of his worshipers thoughts and actions (vv. 16–17; 14:9). In that way, the mark exists as a perversion of what God has given to control our thoughts and actions—namely, His revealed law (Deut. 11:18). Many people in the Roman Empire bowed to the Roman gods and took part in Roman paganism because it was required for them to engage in certain professions and to fully take part in the economy. They allowed pagan religion and morals to control their thoughts and actions. In other words, they served the corrupt religious, political, and economic goals of the beast.

Choosing to serve the beast might have led to short-term success, but it brings eternal destruction. Revelation 14:9–11 announces the surety of this destruction, which will be described more fully in later passages such as 20:11–15. God will make those who worship false gods and impenitently reject the Savior drink the full strength of His wrath forever (14:9–11).

Coram Deo Living before the face of God

Some people think they can commit idolatry and other sins, believing that they can have their fun and repent later in life. Others think that mixing such things with a profession of faith in Christ is no big deal. But we cannot toy with idolatry and other transgressions. God’s wrath is coming on all those who do not turn from sin to faith in Christ alone, and one day it will be too late to escape this wrath. Today we must turn to Christ and exhort others to do the same.

For Further Study
  • Isaiah 51:17–23
  • Jeremiah 25:15–38
  • Romans 2:1–11
  • Revelation 6:12–17

Announcing the Fall of Babylon

Endurance and Blessing

Keep Reading Truth

From the November 2020 Issue
Nov 2020 Issue