Looking Above A Series on The Revelation of Jesus Christ: The Great Winepress of the Wrath of God Revelation 14:14–20

Are you ready to meet Him? Are you ready to meet the One like the Son of Man? Are you read for the Day of Judgment? Are you are ready for the end of the world? Are you ready to meet Jesus Christ at His second coming?

Revelation 14:14 begins in the same way as Revelation 14:1. Both passages begin with the words, “Then I looked, and behold!”
And yet while there is similarity between verses 1 and 14, there is also significant difference. In verse 1, John looks and beholds a Lamb. In verse 14, John looks and beholds One like the Son of Man. In verse 1, John looks and beholds a Lamb standing on Mount Zion. In verse 14, John looks and beholds One like the Son of Man sitting on a white cloud. The context makes clear that the Lamb of verse 1 and the One like the Son of Man in verse 14 are one and the same Person, namely, Jesus Christ. But that doesn’t account for the fact that in verse 1 the Lamb stands, while in verse 14, the One like the Son of Man sits.

What accounts for this difference in posture? Why does Christ stand as a Lamb in verse 1 only to sit like the Son of Man in verse 14? The difference is this: whereas chapter 14 begins in this present time (the time between Christ’s first coming and His return), chapter 14 ends with the end of time (when Christ returns to judge the living and the dead). Thus in verse 1 He appears as a Lamb, standing before the throne in the posture of an Advocate—One who pleads the cause of His people before the throne of God—while in verse 14, He appears as One like the Son of Man, sitting on a white cloud in the posture of a Judge—One who is coming to judge the living and the dead.

Verse 14 is pushing us to the end of the world. In view here is the great and terrible day of the Lord, the day of judgment. In view here is the second coming of Jesus Christ. Jesus has completed His work of advocacy in heaven; now at last He comes as Judge.

The details of verse 14 bear this out. He comes sitting on a cloud. You may recall the words of Acts 1:9–11, “Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.” As Jesus ascended into heaven with a cloud receiving Him, so He will come again with clouds. Revelation 1:7, “Behold, He is coming with clouds!” These verses make it clear: in view here is the end of the world, the great and terrible day of the Lord, the day of judgment; in view here is the return of Jesus Christ!

You’ll note furthermore that He wears on His head a golden crown. Gone is the crown of thorns. He comes now with a golden crown. When He comes, our glorious King, He will come as Lord over all—the One before whom every knee must bow and every tongue confess. Then He will be seen and confessed for who He is: the King of kings and Lord of lords.

But then note one more feature of verse 14: He holds in His hand a sharp sickle. A sickle is a curved instrument used in harvesting for cutting down. Here the sickle serves as an instrument of judgment. He is coming again not to bear sin but to judge.

That’s verse 14, but then we come to verse 15. Here John writes of “another angel.” In fact, John will write of “another angel” three times in verses 15–20. We read of the first angel in verses 15–16, of another angel in verse 17, and of yet another angel in verses 18–20. There are three angels in verses 15–20. What are we to make of this? Again, we see similarity between these verses and verses 6–13, where we also read of three angels: the first angel being mentioned in verses 6–7, the second in verse 8, and the third in verses 9–11.

And yet while there is similarity between the three angels of verses 6–13 and the three angels of verses 15–20, there is also significant difference. In verses 6–13 the angels came with the everlasting gospel, warning those who dwell on the earth of the judgment to come. Now in verses 15–20, the angels are no longer proclaiming the gospel and warning of judgment; now the judgment has come!

We read of the first angel in verses 15–16, “And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to Him who sat on the cloud, ‘Thrust in Your sickle and reap, for the time has come for You to reap, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.’ So He who sat on the cloud thrust in His sickle on the earth, and the earth was reaped.” The first angel comes out of the temple from the presence of God the Father, crying out to the Son that the time has come for Him to reap, for the harvest of the earth is ripe. Here we are reminded of the words of Jesus in Matthew 24:36, “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.” The Father now sends to the Son an angel, a heavenly messenger, proclaiming to Him that the day and hour have come. The harvest of the earth is ripe; now it is time for the Son to thrust in His sickle and to reap. Now it is time for the Son to return on the clouds of glory to judge the living and the dead. Such is the message of the first angel.

We read of the second angel in verse 17. “Then another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle” (verse 17). The second angel comes from the temple with a sharp sickle in his hand as well.

Then comes the third angel, verse 18, “And another angel came out from the altar, who had power over fire, and he cried with a loud cry to him who had the sharp sickle, saying, ‘Thrust your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth, for her grapes are fully ripe.’” This third angel also comes from the temple; in fact, he comes from the altar, having power over fire. Here we are reminded that God is faithful to His promise; He will not destroy the world again with the waters of a flood. This time the destruction and desolation of the world will occur with fire. This third angel, who has power over fire, calls the second angel to gather the clusters of the vine of the earth, for her grapes are fully ripe.

Verse 19, “So the angel thrust his sickle into the earth and gathered the vine of the earth, and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God.” The angel takes his sickle and gathers the vine of the earth, and then casts it into the great winepress of the wrath of God.    Verse 20, “And the winepress was trampled outside the city, and blood came out of the winepress, up to the horses’ bridles, for one thousand six hundred furlongs.” We have a vivid prophecy of this very thing in Isaiah 63:1–6. “Who is this who comes from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah, this One who is glorious in His apparel, traveling in the greatness of His strength? I who speak in righteousness, mighty to save. I have trodden the winepress alone, and from the peoples no one was with Me. For I have trodden them in My anger, and trampled them in My fury; their blood is sprinkled upon My garments, and I have stained all My robes. For the day of vengeance is in My heart, and the year of My redeemed has come. I looked but there was no one to help, and I wondered that there was no one to uphold; therefore My own arm brought salvation for Me; and My own fury, it sustained Me. I have trodden down the peoples in My anger, made them drunk in My fury, and brought down their strength to the earth.” The Lord Jesus Christ Himself treads the winepress of the wrath of God.

And notice where it is trampled: it is trampled outside the city. Those who are trampled have no place inside the city, the heavenly city, the city of God. They are trampled outside.

As the wicked are trampled in the winepress of God’s wrath, outside the city, notice what comes out: not grape juice, not wine, but blood! Do you think there is no pain for the damned in hell? Would you conceive of that pain only in terms of spiritual pain? While spiritual pain is no doubt there, and while such pain is great, there is physical pain as well—great physical pain—as blood flows out of the great winepress of the wrath of God. That blood never stops flowing, for the damned in hell are ever dying but never dead. There is something worse than death; it’s called hell, for there the great winepress of the wrath of God is trampled!

The picture becomes more horrific still, as we are told that blood came out of the winepress up to the horses’ bridles, for one thousand six hundred furlongs. Pictured here is a sea of blood, five to six feet in depth, covering nearly two hundred miles! And yet the numbers here are not to be taken literally; they are symbolic of the universal scope and completeness of the judgment. In his sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” Jonathan Edwards has captured the imagery well: “Now God stands ready to pity you; this is a day of mercy; you may cry now with some encouragement of obtaining mercy. But when once the day of mercy is past, your most lamentable and dolorous cries and shrieks will be in vain; you will be wholly lost and thrown away of God, as to any regard to your welfare. God will have no other use to put you to, but to suffer misery; you shall be continued in being to no other end; for you will be a vessel of wrath fitted to destruction; and there will be no other use of this vessel, but to be filled full of wrath. God will be so far from pitying you when you cry to him, that it is said he will only ‘laugh and mock.’ . . . If you cry to God to pity you, he will be so far from pitying you in your doleful case, or showing you the least regard or favor, that instead of that, he will only tread you under foot. And though he will know that you cannot bear the weight of omnipotence treading upon you, yet he will not regard that, but he will crush you under his feet without mercy; he will crush out your blood, and make it fly, and it shall be sprinkled on his garments, so as to stain all his raiment. He will not only hate you, but he will have you in the utmost contempt: no place shall be thought fit for you, but under his feet to be trodden down as the mire of the streets.”1 Is it any wonder that Edwards concluded that sermon with the words, “Let everyone that is out of Christ, now awake and fly from the wrath to come . . . Let everyone fly out of Sodom: ‘haste and escape for your lives, look not behind you, escape to the mountains, lest you be consumed.’”2

We may scorn Edwards as being hopelessly unenlightened. We may judge that he is out of bounds in using fear as a motivation. But Edwards did not make up such language; this is not some imagery invented in his mind; this is the imagery of God’s own Word. He has told us what will happen at the end, and He has told us through the use of imagery, that we might ever bear in mind the fact that the reality will be far worse. God Himself uses fear as a motivation. God Himself uses the prospect of the day of judgment to urge us to flee to Christ!

And is that not where the book of Revelation itself is pointing us? Remember the structure of the book. It is divided into seven sections, each of those sections spanning the same period of time, namely, the time between Christ’s first coming and His return. Those seven sections are as follows: chapters 1–3, chapters 4–7, chapters 8–11, chapters 12–14, chapters 15–16, chapters 17–19, and chapters 20–22. Thus, the section in which we currently find ourselves, chapters 12–14, is the central section of the book, with three sections before and three sections after. And here the time frame is spelled out most clearly, chapter 12 beginning with the first coming of Christ, chapter 14 concluding with the return of Christ. We live in the midst of these chapters, and these chapters are intended to drive us to the Lord Jesus Christ!

Note the sobering effect of chapters 12–14. In chapter 12, we were introduced to the great, fiery red dragon, that serpent of old, called the devil and Satan. He is the great enemy of our souls, and he seeks to devour us. In chapter 13, we were introduced to his henchmen, the beast from the sea and the beast from the earth; they seek to consume us. Now in chapter 14, we are brought face to face with the warnings of the judgment to come, and that judgment is depicted to us in terms of the fires of hell. That judgment is sure to come when Christ returns to judge the living and the dead!

In light of all these things, what hope do we have? What hope is there for poor miserable sinners like us? Our hope is only in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lamb who presently stands as our advocate in heaven, the One who will come like the Son of Man to judge the living and the dead. Our only hope is in Jesus Christ. He is the King of kings and Lord of lords who will sit as Judge on the great and terrible day of the Lord.

If you don’t know Him as your Savior now, you will meet as Judge on that day, and then you will stand before Him naked and undone and will hear those terrifying words, “Depart from Me, you worker of iniquity; I never knew you!” And then it will be too late. Then there will be no opportunity for repentance. Then there will be no grace for you. Then there will be no gospel for you. Then your end will be as it is described here. The message is clear: Repent or perish! Turn to the Lord Jesus Christ or burn in the fires of hell!

Revelation 14:14–20 brings us to the end, and it does so without any mention of the joys, the beauties, and the comforts of the New Jerusalem. For that we’ll have to wait until later in the book. Here we are brought to the end with the vivid imagery of the misery, the horror, and the eternity of hell. The intent is to set before us the urgency of the gospel. There is but one way to flee the wrath to come, and that is to flee to the Lord Jesus Christ. Today is the day of salvation. Today is the day of grace. Seek the Lord while He may be found. Call on Him while He is near, for He is coming again to judge the living and the dead.

Are you ready to meet Him? Are you ready to meet the One like the Son of Man? Are you ready for the Day of Judgment? Are you are ready for the end of the world? Are you ready to meet Jesus Christ at His second coming?
            
1. Sinners in the Hands of An Angry God. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 1992. pp. 26–27.
2. Ibid., p. 32.


Rev. Brian Vos is the pastor of the Trinity United Reformed Church in Caledonia, Michigan

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