Earlier, in his address to the seven churches, John makes it clear that it’s possible to be a Christian and still serve the beast. Jezebel, the Nicolatians, and Balaam (though these were likely all nicknames) were all leaders within first century Christianity that advocated for a Christianity of compromise, a soft-gospel that permitted simultaneous allegiance to the Roman Imperial Cult and Jesus Christ. They wanted it both ways, and The Revelation warned them sharply against their milquetoast missiology.
Remember that the entire book of Revelation was written to those 7 churches—it’s a book for Christians, written by a leader within the Christian church, urging them to distinguish themselves from the corrupt systems of this world and to remain steadfast and faithful to Christ even if it should cost them their lives. These verses in chapter fourteen promise the downfall of Babylon (or Rome, as the contemporary counterpart) and the judgment of those aligned against God.
I realize that judgment is not a popular idea within our modern evangelical religion. We’d prefer God didn’t judge anybody. But he does. He must. If for no other reason, God must judge those who reject him to demonstrate his loyalty to the ones who remained faithful. God cannot tolerate wickedness and corruption and sin in his new creation, and those contaminants must be burned off before new creation can arrive. Where once it was the corrupt officials of the Imperial Beast Machine feeding Christians to lions and laughing as their children died, at The End it will be the martyred saints who look upon those same evil men as they face the consequences of their bloodthirst.
Does that sound unjust?
Granted, it’s difficult for us to understand how the saints could just stand there and watch someone else suffer, yet we see this idea in film and television regularly. A villain commits a heinous crime—the rape of a small child, the exploitation of the peasant class—and the hero embarks on a self-sacrificial journey to rescue the downtrodden. At the end of the film, there is inevitably a showdown between the hero and the villain–with the villain finally succumbing to the same evil he inflicted upon the defenseless. In these films, the villain often dies laughing, or spewing vulgarity, or insisting that he was glad to have done it. His evil is not quenched even in death or at the moment of his defeat.
That’s the picture we have at the end, the picture of judgment: Hitler burning in Hell, laughing at Jews.
Would you let him into heaven?