What does Revelation 14:14-20 mean to us now?

 

The forces of evil seem invincible and overwhelming, but the call is to see Christ and take our courage and comfort in Him and not in the situation. We do this by being blameless and trusting God, even when all those around us are not doing so, or things seem unchangeable. We have to see that God does indeed care for His own—and that means you and me. This passage is a hope for us, as it was used to point John’s people to their future hope and the assurance that their faith is meaningful and important; so is ours (2 Kings 6:15-17)! 

God patiently offers His love and grace, yet the wicked sow their seeds of sin. Since God is patient, these sin-seeds grow and grow and eventfully have to be harvested. Thus, this passage is about reaping what we have sown. We can reap His love, goodness, and reward, or His Judgment and chastisement—all from what we want and desire, what we take in, and what we avoid. Take in sin or grace; avoid sin or Him. Some are His while others are condemned and desire no part in His salvation and love. As the sickle is swung, which way will the people you encountered in life be tossed? Heaven? Or, to judgment and hell (John 15)? 

Cunning in sin or coming to Him? The questions we need to ask ourselves are these: Are the riches and desires of Satan and evil ours too? Do we seek what we should not have or what is bad for us and others and think it does not matter? Do we worship what we want and not Christ? Do we seek our ways as godlike and ignore His God like ways that He has for us? What about when He has called us to produce Love and Fruit which He wants to reap? The bottom line is this; there is nothing in the world, not all of its gold or all the treasures of kings and captains of industry that can ever light a candle to what we already have in Christ! If we seek what is foul and not of Him and His Fruit, we only delude and rob ourselves of the far greater treasure we already have or could have when we are Christians. Wealth, fortune, or successes are not bad of themselves; it is how we perceive them, what we do with them. Are they gods to us, or the tools and means to glorify Christ? 

Questions to Ponder: 

  1. If you were making a movie of the “Last Days,” what would it look like from what you have learned so far from Revelation?
  1. How has the book of The Revelation and this passage been so much more than just about judgment? What are you reaping with your faith now, and what will you have sown from it?
  1. How is this passage a great hope for the faithful who bear Him good fruit, and a great fear to the godless who bear rotten fruit? How will this motivate you and your church to be better as “vines” in Christ?
  1. When the forces of evil seem invincible and overwhelming to you, what can you and your church do to see Christ and take your courage and comfort in Him and not in the situation? What can be done to wake up an “apostate” Church who ignores truth and that chases trends and personalities and not real, effectual, biblical truth?

 © 2007 R. J. Krejcir Ph.D. Into Thy Word Ministries http://www.intothyword.org

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The Four Main Views of Revelation 14:14-20

 

The Preterist view: They see this passage as not referring to the Second Coming, because Christ is seated on His throne, but rather the fall of Jerusalem, as the vine of Jerusalem is cut and judged because they despised God and persecuted the faithful (Matt. 23). The imagery of the harvests is seen as describing the events of the destruction of Jerusalem, the conflict of the evil powers, and the apostasy of Jerusalem with the faith of the early Christians. The sickle is about how the righteous escaped by their salvation in Christ and by heeding the warnings of John to leave the city. The Church received a blessing from God because of its faith and obedience. And, the grape means the wicked were judged and then perished for their evil deeds. The symbol, 1,600 stadia, represents  great carnage as the Romans and their horses trampled their victims in Jerusalem, just as Josephus recorded. 

The Futurist view: They see this as the horrific, ultimate judgment of the wicked while Christ gathers His saints to safety. The Son of Man is seen as Christ Himself and His Second Coming, of His judging the wicked. They see no problem with the angel giving commands to Christ, as it is a message of the Father to the Son. The sickle represents God’s love and the gathering of the faithful as they are separated from the unfaithful. Some see this happening after the rapture and these as the Christians who are saved post-rapture (a pre-tribulation view), while others hold a view that the rapture takes place (post-tribulation view) when Christ comes—after the tribulation. Some see this as the battle of Armageddon and these as literal images of that battle. In addition, there are lengthily views of this battle and what it means; very speculative, but not essential doctrine. A problem with this view is this: according to the Bible, the battle of Armageddon never takes place; it is only prepared for, “gathered” (Rev. 16:16). Thus, to get this theory that the battle took place and many of the theories in this camp, you have to take a whole bunch of passages out of their context, string them together, and ignore the actual meanings of the words. You would have to create your own word meanings, ignore Jewish culture, and completely disregard the Old Testament, Matthew 24, and the original languages in order to create this view. This is very minor stuff theologically; I am not sure how Christ would feel about that, do you? Perhaps, a look into 2 Peter should cause us to tremble if we dare seek to twist and/or read in our ideas to His Word. Always be careful not to read into the Bible what you want it to say; rather, seek what The Word actually says, even if it goes against your personal thinking! 

The Idealist view: They see this as the final judgment held at Christ’s Second Coming where the Church is raptured and the wicked are judged. Most do not see this as Christ Himself, but as Him directing the events according to His will; others in this camp say this is Jesus. All of the key words in this passage are metaphors depicting Judgment of the wicked and the protection of the faithful. 

The Historicist view: They see, in this passage, further images of what has already been stated. This is the consummation of all of humanity and life with a harvest of the wicked and the saved, and then the end of the world as we know it. The Church triumphs and its enemies are overthrown and judged. The sickle is an image of redemption and righteousness as Christ the Redeemer gathers His elect. The grapes are seen as representing the wicked and their resulting judgment. Most see 1,600 stadia as representing the universality of judgment, while others see this as hyperbole for the extent of this calamity.

Exegetical look into Revelation 14:14-20

 

  • White cloud. The quintessential, metaphoric image of Heaven and the Second Coming of Christ.
  • Like a son of man. May just mean an angel who looked like a man, or was acting as an agent of Christ. It could mean Christ standing in the midst of His Church. However, this theme normally refers to Christ’s supremacy and role as Lord, Ruler, and Love for the believer (Dan. 7:9-13; 10:5-6; Ezek. 1:25-28; Mark 8:31; Col. 1:16-17). It is an apparent description of Christ’s Second Coming when He comes back and rules over the harvest of the souls of humanity (those who are bought by Him, who received His grace by faith versus those who reject Him). However, this may not be Christ Himself because of the problem of the angel giving commands to Christ. It is more likely this is an angel or representative of Christ. Some see this as a message of the Father to the Son (Joel 3:12-16; Dan. 7:13-14; Matt. 13:36-43; Mark 8:31; John 5:22-27; Rev. 1:13; 4:7).
  • Crown of gold means a great victory (Rev. 2:10).
  • Another angel may not mean that there are literal angels engaged in this, although it certainly could be; rather, this can be a metaphor for God directing the elements and behavior of nature for His means (Psalm 148:1-12; Zech. 6:5).
  • Sickle is a harvesting tool used for cutting grain. This is also the symbol used as the image of the “grim reapers” of death. It was a curved wood shaft with a stone flint blade or iron in contrast to the much smaller grape knife.
  • Sharp sickle (Grain) …grapes…winepress of God’s wrath. This is also a metaphor of judgment, the grain possibly referring to the harvest of the Righteous, and grapes to the harvest of the wicked (Jer. 51:33; Luke 3:17). This is great hope for believers but great worry for the wicked. It is clear that God will pour out His wrath to all. This is an opportunity for vengeance of the saints to gloat over our victory, yet great sadness to those who chose the ways that caused their fall and judgment. Remember, God does not just send people to hell, He places them where they want to go (Gen. 19:24; Psalm 75:8; Is. 51:17-22; 63:1-6; Jer. 25:15; 49:12; Ezek. 23:31; 38:22; Hab. 2:16; Zech. 12:2; Rev. 2:21; 7:1; 11:8-13).
  • From the earth’s vine. In context, this is an image of the harvest time, and the Feast of Tabernacles and First Fruits as well as sacrifice (Lev. 23:34-43; Num. 29:12-38; Deut. 32:33,33 Is. 34:1-8; Psalm 81:1-3; Matt. 13:24-51; 24:20; 30-31, 40-42; Mark 24:36;13:28-37; John 1:14; 14:1; Rev 14:4). 
  • Harvest of the earth…Fire represents the coming judgment and the return of Christ. This was also a symbol of judgment against Babylon and all those who oppressed the Jews. In Israel, the wheat is harvested in the spring, and is represented by the image of the sickle; grapes come in the late summer or fall. The contrast is that Christ is the true vine and the wicked are ripe for judgment (Jer. 51:33; Psalm 80:8; Matt. 13:30, 40-42; 18:8; 21: 19-20; 24:20, 31-34; Mark 3:1; Luke 9:54; John 15:6; 2 Thess. 1:7; Rev. 6:12-17; 11:15-18; 16:12).
  • Grapes are ripe… and blood flowed out of the press. Origin of the term, “grapes of wrath” refers that crushed grapes look like blood and was an ancient term for judgment and the final battle of good against evil when blood will flow (Gen. 49:11; Jer. 25:30; Joel 3:13). This is also a contrasting picture of Christ’s love poured out for us, the faithful; John calls the faithful a vine in Christ (Gen. 49:9-12; John 15:1; Rev. 16:6).
  • Outside the city. This is where the winepresses were operated because of the mess they made. Possibly, this is an image of the exclusion of the wicked from God’s mercy and protection and/or the separation of good from evil.
  • High as the horses’ bridles. A “hyperbole” metaphor for battle and war, that it will be quick and swift. It was common for Jews and other ancients to exaggerate battles for epic effect; the audience, of course, knew the reality. The apocryphal book 1 Enoch 100 gives a similar account.
  • Winepress is a trough made of rock and mortar and used to make wine; it is also a symbol for divine wrath and judgment, as Isaiah’s image of how God “tramples” His enemies. In context, this also refers to “viticulture,” the cultivation of grapes; as a metaphor, it refers to “we reap what we sow,” or, we cultivate our judgments from our attitudes and actions (Is 63:3; Lam. 1:15; Zech 14:1-4; Heb 13:12).
  • God’s wrath. In context to winepress, this refers to those being drunk and not caring about the judgment or the consequences of their actions. Also, that no one can escape God’s will—either His love or His wrath.
  • 1,600 stadia is a “square number” referring to a square of 40 times 40 a distance roughly 200 miles; it is also a metaphor for “completeness,” the land of Palestine, and/or a very large amount or great carnage.

Revelation 14:14-20

 

Introduction 

The Angels and the Harvest 

John now turns his attention to Christ Himself, the Son of Man, who was perhaps a representative of Christ, sitting on a white cloud and directing the harvest of humanity’s souls through time. He is in charge with His gold crown as He holds the sickle for the crop of souls. These souls are the “vine of the earth” and are ripe, ready to fall from their vine. They have reached their maturity and are ready for harvest. Thus, the entireties of the earth’s people are harvested. Then, the attention is turned to judgment and the souls who rejected Christ, whose hearts were moored to evil. They are gathered and thrown to the winepress of God’s wrath. The wicked are judged, and the blood of the people who have no right to vindication, who received their just reward, who were offered grace and love but refused it and Him, have met their fate. The vindication of the righteous is met; the strategy of evil that was pursued failed, and they have met and “execrated” their outcome. 

John is giving a portrayal of the “Last Days” and the “Second Coming” of Christ our Lord where Christ is the great Director, directing His representatives in the reaping and the harvesting of humanity’s souls. This passage represents the quintessence of how most people, including many Christians, see Revelation. Yes, it is; but, it is also so much more. It is not just about judgment; it is about how we are called to life too! This passage also relates to the final “swan song” of humanity, when life and earth and all that we were to do are done. The time is up; the great harvest and judgment are upon us all. We see the contrast between Babylon and Sodom, of evil iniquity versus God’s grace, love, and goodness. It is a great hope for the faithful who bear good fruit for Him and a great fear to the godless who bear rotten fruit (Gen. 19:24; Psalm 112:10; Joel 3:12-16; Dan. 7:13-14; Matt. 13:36-43; 24:14; Luke 3:17; John 15:1-8; Gal. 5; Rev. 1:13).  

What have you and your church done about being representatives of Christ? What may have been pleasing to Him and what may have disappointed Him?

What does Revelation 14:6-13 mean to us now?

 

This passage is also a wake-up call to an apostate Church that ignores truth and chases trends and personalities, and that is uncaring and even callus to real, effectual, biblical truth. Too many Christians seek only what will make them feel good. They want “sermon-ettes” for “Christian-ettes” that tell them they are good just as they are, containing no real teaching or conviction so they can sit in a pew and feel good about themselves. In effect, they end up doing nothing for the Kingdom or the glory of the Lord. There is no stretching or exercising of faith, no work of the Spirit or living in the ways of His Love and Fruit. Only pride and thinking, in confidence, that they are doing and being good Christians remain. It is easy to see how God will judge the wicked, but what about when we seek to run his Church our way and not His Way, betray our faith, or become complacent and apathetic? Saved? Perhaps, but what good it is when we do nothing in the way of His Fruit, service, or precepts and plan? 

Pastors and church leaders must heed God’s ways and worship Him, not place their trust in the latest and greatest fads and ideas. It comes down to faithfulness and getting in His Word, allowing His Spirit to move and convict us, and following our Lord with allegiance, faith and loyalty. We are not to seek comfort for ourselves, manipulate others to get our way, or gossip and refuse to take personal responsibility for our evils and lack of faith. We need to beware that judgment is coming for us too, those of us who seek to weed our churches of good and faithful people who teach, and replace them with smug, pretentious administrators who shovel papers and personal agendas devoid of His precepts, rather than shovel the paper of the written Word or stand on their faith in Christ. I have seen once good churches remove their faithful pastors who teach and call their people to read God’s Word and replace them with sensational personalities who preach a “lite” gospel to attract more people. But, the only people they attract are those who do not want to grow or go for the Kingdom. These are the people marked, not by Christ, but by other means and things. This is what John is warning us about. It is not about a megalomaniac personality rising up politically; it is about you and me and to whom we are faithful. Is our faith based on Christ and His Word and led by His Spirit? Or, is our response to our selves, to the ways of the world, to what we want in “our“church, rather than to focus on Christ? Will our mark be of faith or of our own ways? It is easy to think the mark is about satanic influences, and for the most part it is. But, the bottom line is, what is Satan trying to do? He is seeking to get you to be disloyal and chase the things that are not of Christ, getting you to twist God’s percepts thinking you do not need them, that you need something else. If you are manipulating others to get your way, using your strong will to strong-arm others, if you gossip, if you cause strife and if you connive to rid people of faith to have it your way, you are “marked,” but that mark of yours is Satan’s, not Christ’s! The call for us is to be a real, vibrant, Christ-driven Christian who worships and is loyal to Christ’s Supremacy, allowing His Truth and Conviction to lead His Church His way! 

Questions to Ponder: 

  1. How is this passage also about Evangelism? How would you convey the Good News of God?
  1. How does having a firm salvation given to you by the work of Christ help motivate you to proclaim Him and make Him known to others?
  1. How does it make you feel that what the wicked chase in their sensational self-gratification ends up being meaningless and of no true lasting value? What about when Christians chase what is wrong or misleading?
  1. What are you going to do about seeking what is truly important? What is a healthy balance between living a life that is productive in society and that also gives glory to God?
  1. Have you thought about what you will take into eternity? How can you better lead a life of Christian distinction so your focus is not just on material possessions and power, but on seeking of Christ and His character and Fruit?
  1. What can your church do to make sure it is not about “sermon-ettes” for “Christian-ettes,” but rather, being led by the conviction of Christ to lead His church His way?

 

© 2007 R. J. Krejcir Ph.D. Into Thy Word Ministries http://www.intothyword.org

The Four Main Views of Revelation 14:6-13

 

The Preterist view: They see this passage as the theme of the prophecy concerning the fall of Rome, and that we can trust God. The eternal gospel is the importance of solid biblical preaching. Preaching is not done by the angels; rather, they represent and show the call to us as well as the announcement of doom for those who fail to bring the salvation message. In addition, they announce doom to those who are evil and wicked and who refuse God. Babylon refers to Jerusalem and its wickedness, its unfaithfulness, and its betrayal to God and to Christ, refusing to allow the Gospel to be proclaimed; hence, the reason for Rome being used as the judgment tool. Some in this camp see Babylon as a cryptic reference to Rome or only referring to Rome after the fall of Jerusalem. Drink of the wine of God’s fury is seen as an image of hell and suffering for the wicked. Smoke of their torment is seen as the example of Sodom and Gomorrah and God’s vengeance. Blessed are the dead is seen as the righteous being taken care of and blessed and/or the eternal bliss of heaven.

The Futurist view: They see the eternal gospel as two different gospels—one of John the Baptist and one of Christ. Or, they see the Gospel as being a different one from the Church Age proclaimed after the Church has been raptured. Most believe the angels are figurative because, in their view, angels do not evangelize. Others see this as the Good News for the faithful as God unleashes His judgment and vengeance. It is extraordinary that they can come up with so many views of the Gospel or that there are many types of gospels, when the Bible only teaches one. Others in this camp see this as a summons to repent, which it is. Babylon is viewed as the great tribulation or that it is close. Others see it as literal city to be rebuilt, the rise of a persecuting political power, or the character of evil and a symbol of ungodliness as depicted by that ancient city. Others see it as a false church rising in the future. The drink of the wine of God’s fury is God’s judgment on those who take the “mark of the beast.” Full strength, referring to His judgment and wrath, is not to be tampered with. Blessed are the dead is seen as the martyrs receiving their reward and/or to die for Christ is our gain from Phil 1:21. Others see it as a term for faithfulness and the rewards thereof. 

The Idealist view: They see the angels as symbolic and the eternal gospel not the gospel of the New Testament but a last call for repentance and the call of judgment just before the end of days. Others see it as the Gospel of the New Testament being offered because of the term everlasting. Babylon is a symbol for humanity in rebellion and opposition to God, its seduction and ungodliness and/or governments which trick people away from God. Drink of the wine of God’s fury is a warning of the seductions of evil and judgment to those who do not heed God’s love and plan. And, His plan will be on full force without opposition, so get with it or else. Smoke of their torment is a symbol for the fires of hell and punishment. Blessed are the dead and patience are the rewards for staying loyal to God who gives us strength and answers our faithfulness with affirmation. 

The Historicist view: They see this passage as symbolic of the rise and fall of the anti-Christian governments and powers over time. Thus, the eternal gospel is not thwarted by men because it is powered by God. The angels represent the various mission movements and/or the Great Awakenings and rise of evangelism. As well as the destruction of Babylon, Babylon as this time in Revelation is seen as evil Papal Rome and judgment to those whose allegiance is to them or to any form of fornication to God. The smoke of their torment is seen as hell and the results of judgment, and its people having no regret or remorse for their life choices or where they ended up. Blessed are the dead is seen as the resting place of the faithful and something we can look forward to.

Exegetical look into Revelation 14:9-13

 

  • Worships the beast and his image and receives his mark refer to Chapter 13; will it be our loyalty to Christ or our loyalty to evil?
  • He, too, will drink of the wine of God’s fury. The image here is that God will judge the infidelity and betrayal of faith; you can bank on it (Ezek. 23:31; 38:22; Jer. 49:12; Hab. 23:16; Zech. 12:2; Rev. 2:21)!
  • God’s fury… wrath refers to God’s passion, as His Wrath is just, and His fervent anger at sin.
  • Cup of his wrath. This means God’s right to be angry at sin and those who disobey Him and refuse righteousness, those who fight against the righteous and refuse Christ’s love and grace. Wine was given to condemned criminals. This was also a connection to Isaiah and his prophecy of Edom’s downfall—how sin cases us to fall (Psalm 75:8; Is. 34:10; 51:17; Jer. 25:15; Mark 15:35).
  • Tormented. This is a reference that those who are evil judge themselves by knowingly refusing God and His offer of grace. This may also show that the wicked will not be annihilated (Rev.19:20; 20:10). 
  • Burning sulfur…smoke means desolation, a reference to Sodom and Gomorrah and the evil they represented, and the fate of those who are wicked. This is also a picture of God’s right to judge and His vengeance (Gen.19; Psalm 11:6; Is. 34:8-10; Rev. 4:8; 12:10; 19:20; 20:10; 21:8).
  • Patience/Patient endurance/perseverance refers to our assurance and the resolve of our faith. If we are not patient, we will never see how God indeed cares for us. Endurance is a call to remain faithful and keep our trust in Christ no matter what comes our way in sufferings or temptations. We are to focus on His Way, even in persecution and stress. This is a prominent theme in Revelation (Rev. 1:9; 2:2-3, 13, 19; 3:10; 6:11; 13:10; 14:12; 16:15; 18:4; 20:4; 22:7,11,14).
  • Obey God’s commandments refers to people who think God does not have the right to judge, who think judgment will not come about or apply to them, or who think that since God is about love and mercy, He will not judge. Thus, a warning is given to the Christian against apathy and complacency as well as against liberalism and relativism; it will be severely judged as it is a disgrace to a Holy God of Truth! If you force your ideas as God’s or manipulate others away from solid biblical precepts, judgment and grace are at your door. To open the door of grace, we have to repent; to open the judgment door, all we have to do is just remain in our pride!
  • Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord. This is where we get our phrase, “rest in peace,” a common funeral saying; it comes from the extra biblical texts of 1 Enoch 99:13-14; 103:3 and refers to the hope that suffering is for a purpose, as it is. Our sufferings and toils will end; our great reward awaits us, literally, in eternity. This also means we should be joyful and happy being in the Lord no matter what we face. In contrast, the wicked will not have rest (Phil. 1:21; Rev. 13:10; 22:12).
  • Their deeds will follow them. This refers to what we take with us into eternity. It is not material possessions; rather, our faith and character, who we are in Christ, our growth in Him, and what we did with what He gave us is what will resonate to God and will be the basis of our reward. Thus, what the wicked chase in their sensational self-gratification will end up as meaningless and of no true lasting value (Matt. 6:20-21; James 5:2).