Before software, newspapers set their type manually, reserving the largest type for momentous events such as the outbreak of war. This style was called the “Second Coming” typeface.
The momentous event depicted in today’s passage makes all others pale in comparison. Christ is standing on Mount Zion with the 144,000 who had been sealed in Revelation 7. The aim of this vision is not to describe the manner of Christ’s return but rather to emphasize its certainty. His appearance with the 144,000 seems rather like an invasion. Commentator John Walvoord explains, “It is preferable to see this as a prophetic vision of the ultimate triumph of the Lamb following His second coming, when He joins the 144,000 on Mount Zion at the beginning of His millennial reign.”
The statement that the 144,000 had not “defiled themselves with women” and had “remained virgins” has puzzled many (v. 4). It could mean that they deliberately refrained from marriage (see 1 Cor. 7:25–40). But the language of defilement makes this unlikely. Instead, this description seems to emphasize that they are wholly devoted to the Lamb.
Three angel figures appear, each with an important announcement. The first announces a message called “the eternal gospel” (vv. 6–7): the good news that the hour of judgment has come. The second angel brings a terse declaration of Babylon’s fall (v. 8). Babylon is the capital of all who oppose God and the antithesis of God’s holy city, Jerusalem. The third angel announces the impending doom of all who worship the beast. They will be subjected to eternal, conscious torment, forced to “drink the wine of God’s fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath” (v. 10).
A note of grace and comfort appears in this sobering passage: “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on” (v. 13). For those who belong to Christ, the worst that can happen is also transformed by God into a blessing. Do not be afraid. Not even death can separate you from God’s love and salvation (see Rom. 8:38–39).