What does Revelation 18:1-24 mean to us now?

 

This passage is a clear warning to both those in the world (in sin), and those who claim Christ as Lord yet want to be in the world. The question is “What lures you away from faith and what replaces faith?” We have to be on guard against sin and its allure. The ways of the world are tantalizing and seductive and will cater to Christians, seeking to entice them away from God and/or compromise their faith—and be gleeful about it (Jer. 50:8; 51:6; 2 Cor. 6:14-18; 1 John 2:15-17)! 

God hates compromise and lack of faith! He wants us, as committed Christians, to place Him first and be proactive—to be on the offense, not just the defensive with our faith. He is greatly saddened when we seek to be one with or identified with the world and its ways. This behavior results in the compromising of our faith! This means our spiritual formation becomes a pathetic, weakening of our character and the absence of Fruit, making us neutral, or apathetic, or insulting to God and others as Christians. When we mold ourselves or the church after the world, we create selfishness, pride, and thus discounted and disgruntled Christian lives without purpose or meaning. When we allow Christ to mold us and our church through His Word and Spirit, then we can be change agents to the world, effectively used by God, and pointing others to Him. 

At the same time, God does not want us so isolated from the world that we cannot influence it; rather, He wants us insulated from its evils so we can influence it for His Glory. We can be a voice that says “seek Him first” in the midst of evils and not be touched by its evils. The key is where our eyes and trust lie; is it with luxury or with Him? So, who is your Babylon? What entices you, and how can you be on guard? Remember, accountability is key! Do not live for what is fleeting and temporary; rather, seek what is real, effectual, and eternal: Christ as LORD! 

Questions to Ponder: 

  1. Have you ever thought that the gossip, power plays, and manipulations in the local church can be evil? Don’t think so?
  1. Look up gossip/tongue in a concordance! How does gossip create bad character? How does the gossip of Christians show that they really seek to follow the world, not the Word? What can your church do to solve and prevent gossip? 
  1. So, who or what is your “Babylon?” What entices you? How can you be on guard? How can accountability be of help to you?
  1. Knowing that God hates compromise and the lack of faith, what can you do to be on guard? What can you do to be on guard against sin and its allure?

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

The Four Main Views of Revelation 18:1-24

 

The Preterist view: This camp is split as to whether the passage refers to Jerusalem or to Rome. Thus, one side sees this passage as the fall of Rome in 476 A.D. while the other viewpoint sees this as another judgment oracle on Jerusalem in 70 A.D. Being a home for demons is seen as the unclean practices of Jerusalem or the pagan practices of Rome. The luxury oracle seems to only fit Rome in this view, but those who ascribe it to Jerusalem say it refers to compromise and comfort over honoring God, and uses the same language Isaiah did for the Babylon siege and captivity in 586 B.C.  Come out of her is seen as a warning to Christians to flee Jerusalem before its destruction (Luke 21:20). Piled up is seen as how fast God acted on sin against Jerusalem or how devastating it was to Rome. The laments are seen as the loss of everything in Jerusalem or the economic impact of Rome’s destruction upon world trade.  

The Futurist view: Most in this camp see this passage as the Lord Himself coming down (some say it is an angel), announcing that the fake teaching of the antichrist is finished, either by actuality or by reputation. Some see it as an actual built or rebuilt city in Rome or Iraq (or both places), and used by the antichrist. Then, after the reign of the antichrist, that city, which becomes the commercial and political hub of the earth, will be destroyed by a nuclear hit. The mourns of this passage represent the impact loss of profit-making upon the world’s trade and economic systems, such as the stock market crash or total economic collapse. Come out of her is seen as the people who survived the Great Tribulation. Others have seen this as a warning not to compromise the faith by being seduced by the sins of Babylon. The Blood of prophets is the angel saying the faithful can not rejoice, as God and the faithful have been avenged. 

The Idealist view: They see this passage as oracles of judgment upon apostasy, from Rome to the papacy, to church failings, to personal failings, and the lamentations of loss as a result of it. The reason is the seeking of sin, apostasy, and things not of God or goodness—its natural consequences and judgment from God. For the Jews, it was seeking what was unclean and craving it. For the Church, it was discord, rivalry, and apostasy. And, for cities such as Rome, it was paganism, greed, and corruption. Come out is a warning to God’s people to flee the corruption and pending doom, and not to compromise our faith. This could be applied to the fall of Jerusalem, Rome, or corruption in general. Some see this as being separate from the pagan practices of the culture or separating ourselves from evil people. Babylon is compared to the tower of Babel and how God judges pride and corruption, whether it is social or spiritual. Blood of prophets is seen as God’s pay-back to those who oppress the innocent, and engage in perjury. Millstone is seen as a representation of a capital city’s destruction; some see this as the end of the world as we know it. 

The Historicist view: They see this passage as a declaration from God that Babylon is finished, as in His judgment upon papal Rome. The earth being illuminated by God’s splendor is seen as enlightenment to the truth of Christ over the previous apostasy. Some have suggested this has not occurred yet, while others point to the Reformation and the down fall of the papacy influence over the Church and world affairs since.  Others take a more literal approach to splendor as a light-show at the end of days. Come out of her is seen that the pagan practices are deranged, odious, and loathsome, and calls the faithful out of it. Again, this view sees it as papal Rome who is pagan and will be ruined because of unfaithfulness and false teachings. Blood of prophets is seen as the blood the Catholic Church has spilt over the centuries, killing those who wanted to reform the Church. Thus, most of the people in this view have vast and convoluted theories of how and when Papal Rome will fall—by earthquakes or fire—and how the world will mourn.

Exegetical look into Revelation 18:11-24

 

  • No one buys. A mourning for Rome and its benefits, or sadness for the loss of sin as a drunk might wish for the bottle when he is “dry.” It means seduction by things that are meaningless and thus being distracted from what is really meaningful, such as chasing wealth and forgetting character, Fruit, and faith, or bowing to luxury as your main comfort rather than to Christ.
  • Cargoes/merchandise of gold… articles of every kind … souls of men. Means the lament of the missing commodities of luxury. Refers to the ancient luxury trade between Egypt, Rome, India, and the Orient, the focus being on non-essentials while ignoring the essentials. Their focus was so much on gold that crop planting and harvest were neglected and people were burdened and starved! This was Isaiah’s lament to Tyre, saying a city is great because of its opulence while its character is rotten. The human lives refer to slave trade and its extreme evils and gladiator performances (Is. 23:1-8; Ezek. 27-28).
  • Splendor have vanished… weep and mourn/wailing refers to financial loss from people’s careless ease of taking life for granted to being corrupted by greed and the mourning that comes with it.  Purple is a very expensive dye, extracted from shellfish one drop at a time. Citron/thyine wood is a very rare, dark wood from North Africa used for rich people’s furniture. Marble was used to overlay and adorn Roman buildings and the homes of the very rich. Myrrh and frankincense, famed for the gifts by the Magi to Jesus (Matt 2:11), was very expensive. Bodies and souls of men is the slave trade. The greatest fear of the wealthy is to lose their wealth. John is challenging those fears, saying they will come true unless they repent (Ezek. 26:17-18)!
  • Great city… throw dust on their heads. Another reason to mourn as the merchants will lose their commerce and earnings. Rome was one of the greatest of ancient cities—a hub for international trade and a hot bed of evil activity, thus, both good and bad people will be distressed and disappointed. God is not condemning trade or wealth; He is condemning the evils often associated with them. Ancient writers and orators would praise cities as one today would praise their favorite sports team. God is making a distinction between His splendor and the façade of splendor—wickedness and iniquity. He uses their own words, their rhetoric of praise, to condemn them for following sin. Ironically, Rome was destroyed after it became Christian. Augustine commented it was because of its past sins; others said it was because the Church became corrupted and was heading toward the same faults (Ezek. 27:30). 
  • Large millstone…. Babylon will fall God will/has seen to it! This was a very large stone moved by a donkey or team of donkeys, thus never able to be recovered. It is referring that judgment is final and it is vindication for the righteous. In ancient times, millstone was also seen as a representation of a capital city, such as Rome (Jer. 51:63-64; Mark 9:42; Rev. 6:9-11).
  • Never be heard refers to silence as a term for complete devastation (Is. 13:20-22).
  • Voice of bridegroom and bride refers to the joy and celebration of life and community (Jer. 16:9; 25:10; Joel 1:8).
  • Magic spell may refer to pagan priests and practices, the mixing in of various pagan ideas and vain philosophies. The trust in the supernatural is not better than the trust in the wealth; both/either the love of money or the occult leaves you broken and then condemned (Is. 47:8; Acts 19:9; Rev. 9:21).
  • Blood of prophets. God hates those who oppress the innocent or commit perjury (to bring false accusations). Take heed; He will pay back fully to those who engage in evil (Deut. 19:16-19; Jer. 2:3-4; Ezek. 24:7; Matt. 23:35; Rev. 6:10; 17:6; 19:2)!

Exegetical look into Revelation 18:1-10

 

  • By his splendor/glory. ..perhaps referring that this angel is reflecting the glory of God or represents God with a mighty voice and eminence (Ex. 34:29-35; Psalm 104:2; Dan. 10:6; Ezek. 43:1-5; 1 Tim 6:16).
  • Fallen is Babylon the Great! “Babylon” was a codeword for early Jews and Christians, referring to Rome and its oppressions, evils, and tribulations. It comes from Isaiah’s and Jeremiah’s condemnation of Babylon then and how it became a symbol for evil and corruption. This refers to enmity with God and people’s participation in it, as well as the audacity of mocking God and embracing sin. This theme points to those who follow evil and wickedness and refuse responsibility as doomed. In the first century and in the Old Testament Prophets, this meant to sin and fall into seduction—a warning to those in the world and those who claim Christ as Lord. What lures you away from faith and what replaces faith? There have been many speculations of this over the years, but its meaning is clear from word meanings and context. Application of this can point to how Jesus scorned the Jewish leadership, Rome, apostasy in the Church, the evils such as gossip and manipulations in the local churches, as well as bad character of individual Christians who sought/seek to follow the world and not the Word (Is. 21:9; Jer. 51:7-8; Dan. 2:35, 4:30; 44; Rev. 13:1-18; 16:19; 17:1-5; 18:3; 18:2, 10, 21, also Ezra 4; and Matt. 23). See Revelation 14:6-13 studies for more information.
  • Fallen. A pronouncement and perhaps a taunt and lamentation too, in the style of Jeremiah, stating a fact before it actually happened (Is. 21:9; 34:9-15; Jer. 9:11; 49:33; 50:13; 51:8; Rev.11:8; 14:8). 
  • Home/dwelling place. A person’s residence, meaning (in context) that sin is at home where it is welcomed! Where will one place his or her trust and comfort? Will it be Good or Evil—God or the ways of the world (Jer. 50:39)?
  • Maddening wine/wine of sexual immorality. Refers to people who are “deranged,” that teach and/or cause people to sin by “seducing” them into sin. The result is the compromising of their faith and the substitution of fornication for faith. This can be obvious, head-on, evil sin such as murder and deliberate false teaching, or subtle, such as greed, manipulation, and/or slander. In any case, it is opposition to God without fear of Him or the consequences (Jer. 51:7; Rev. 2:20; 14:8).
  • Committed adultery. This refers to the “harlot,” which means “to betray God,” as in betraying Him with occult practices and monstrous evil or petty manipulations and causing others to stumble.
  • Grew rich from her excessive luxuries/delicacies. Here, it is a form of “insolence” and “wantonness,” meaning people are so addicted to extravagance they are having extreme disrespect and immorality toward God and what is good. 
  • Come out. Means a stern warning of sin and to get away from it now! Those who remain faithful will never be cut off. God is saying in fact, “Come out from it and be pure.” because as Christians, we carry the vessel of the LORD (Is. 48:20; 51:11; 52:11; Jer. 50:8; 51:6, 45; Zech 2:7; 1 Cor. 5:10; 2 Cor. 6:17). Some (and for very good reason) see this as a warning to Christians to flee Jerusalem before its destruction in 70 A.D. (Luke 21:20-23; Heb. 12:25-29).
  • Piled up/heaped to heaven. This is a sarcastic remark to those who sin in contrast to the Tower of Babel, in Gen 11. Also, the longer that God delays His judgment, the higher the offences will be, thus the delay may not always be mercy (Gen. 11:1-9; 15:16; 2 Kings 22:20; Jer. 51:9; Matt. 23:34-36; Heb, 8:6).
  • Pay her back double. God’s judgment and retribution is sufficient and fits the offence (Ex. 21:23-25; Neh. 4:4; Esther 9:25; Psalm 7:15-16; 35:8; 57:6; 75:8; Prov. 26:27; Is. 40:2; 51:22; Jer. 16:18; 17:18; 50:15; Rev. 14:9-10; 17:4).
  • Give her as much torture. John is quoting Isaiah 47:8-9, showing how arrogance will never give anyone true security! As the people said the Titanic was unsinkable and God Himself could not sink her, so people said the same of Rome. Their trust was in wealth and luxury—and that will get us nowhere (Is. 32:9; Jer. 48:11; 49:31; Ezek. 16:49; Amos 6:1).
  • A widow. Refers to the cost of war and the loss of good men on battlefields, gaining nothing but pride and its resulting destruction.
  • Consumed/burned up by fire. These judgments affect not just the participating parties, but also resound with an effect on the economy of everyone too. This is a warning to the faithful to be economical and wise, anticipate disaster, and so be prepared, as the early Christians exemplified when Rome marched on Jerusalem. John’s letter was the catalyst to the faithful who heeded his warning and thus escaped harm (Jer. 50:32; Dan. 5:30; Rev. 17:16).

Revelation 18:1-24: What are the Contexts?

This passage is written in the style of a first century Jewish funeral dirge (elegy), as Jeremiah mourned over the destruction of the cities of Israel and the captivity of her people by Babylon and Ezekiel’s oracle on the fall of Tyre in chapters 27 and 28. Yet, this was an “ironic dirge,” meaning a sarcastic prophecy meant to curse instead of praise, saying “you get what you deserve.” John, who is imprisoned on a small island for defying Rome, is showing his contempt for oppression and evil and his faith as a mighty man who is humble before God. 

John is starting to get an answer from the angels as to whom the “harlot” and “bride” are. It seems clearly that they have been referring primarily to apostasy in general, discord in the church, and perhaps to evil Jerusalem and Rome. Or, the revelations to John are showing Rome as an example of apostasy and faithlessness and its pending judgment and doom as a result of the consequences of sin. The bride is goodness, charity, “heavenly Jerusalem,” and the Church, as depicted by the life and work of Christ. Christ is the ultimate Bride, whom we are to seek and pursue. It shows a contrast of what we seek and place first in our lives—will it be evil or good, the harlot or the Bride? Christ is eternal and offers eternal salvation; the harlot, Satan and evil, offer fleeting, temporary pleasure that only ends in self-destruction, destitution, and helplessness, followed by judgment and eternal despair (Rev. 21:9).  

This passage also is about judgment and how people living in the ways of the world lament and panic while those who are faithful rejoice! This is because most people seek only self-gratification and pleasure without accepting cares or responsibilities, and thus are not concerned with God or His Way and Love—even those in the Church. They would rather die hopeless than be filled with love and be saved for eternity!

Revelation 18:1-24

Introduction 

Judgment on Babylon 

John is guided by another angel to see more of this harlot, Babylon, and the hope of the Bride. He sees the earth grow bright while shouts are heard that Babylon has fallen and is no longer oppressive or even a problem for the faithful. It was once a hideout for all kinds of evil; now, its evils will crush upon themselves, taking out all the evils that followed. Those who have grown rich by fanatical evil will now become poor beyond measure; those who drank of adultery and immortality are ripe for judgment and punishment. At the same time, another angel, perhaps God Himself, calls to those of evil, those of deceit, the manipulative, the greedy, the cunning, the murderers, and those who refuse God, giving them a chance to repent and be saved. A stern warning reveals that their sins will cause their ruin. Their sins are piled high and God wants to remove the sin. But, instead of seeking God’s grace and mercy, they pile on more sin and seek the evils of pleasure without responsibility, which will bring them torment, sorrow, and extreme helplessness. Those who sought favor and wealth from sin will mourn, but those who are righteous will be joyful and jubilant. Those who trusted in luxury and splendor will mourn; those whose trust was/is in Christ will praise God. In a single moment, what they thought was important will be gone; what really is important will remain and increase. God’s glory and eminence is steadfast and proclaimed; the hope of the faithful comes to its fruition! 

What lures you away from being proactive with your faith? What things can replace your faith? How is sin “at home where it is welcomed?” 

How would you contrast trusting in wealth and possessions to trusting Christ and having faith? Do you think the greatest fear of the wealthy is that they might lose their wealth?

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

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?