This chapter, like chapter 7 and 10:1-11:13, is an interlude introduced for the comfort of believers.
- Verses 1-5 present a picture of the true followers of Christ. Although outwardly scattered, suffering and in danger of death, spiritually they are with the Lamb on the impregnable rock of Mount Zion, belonging to God, not one missing (verse 1), and sharing in the worship of heaven (verses 2, 3). To what do they owe their position and what four characteristics mark their life? See verses 4 and 5, and cf. Matt. 5:3; Luke 14:27; Eph. 4:25; Phil. 2:15. How does your own life appear in the light of these standards?
- In verses 6-11 three angels are shown, each with a message for all who live on the earth. Examine the contents of their threefold message. Verses 12 and 13 are addressed to believers. What encouragement do they give to those who may have to die for Christ’s sake?
- In the twofold vision of verses 14-20, what are the differences between the two parts of it (verses 14-16 and 17-20)? Cf. Ps. 1; Mal. 3:16-4:3; Matt. 13:39b-43.
- Verse 3b. The song is ‘from heaven’ (verse 2); the saints on Mount Zion are learning to sing it.
- Verse 4. A symbol of purity of heart. Cf. 2 Cor. 11:2.
- Verse 6. ‘The eternal gospel’: cf. Eccles. 12:13, 14; Acts 14:14-18; 17:24-31.
- Verses 9-11. The very marks that once ensured benefits (see 13:15-17), now single out individuals for judgment.
- Verse 13b. The weariness of labour will be over, the reward of their deeds awaits them. Cf. Matt. 25:34-40. Contrast verse 11: ‘There is no rest’.