In the last post Jesus, the Son of Man, was told that the time had come to harvest the earth, judgment that would begin purifying the earth in readiness for the establishment of His kingdom. We are told that He indeed authorizes this judgment by thrusting His sickle against the earth.
Revelation 14:16–20 “And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped. And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle. And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire; and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe. And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs.”
At His thrust, another angel comes out of the temple in heaven carrying a sharp sickle. He is followed by yet another angel who is identified as having the power over fire. Again, it appears that there are angels with areas of delegated authority over the creation. This angel tells the angel with the sharp sickle to go and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth because the grapes are fully ripe.
I believe this statement is directly connected to the closing thoughts in the previous post concerning the sin of the Amorites. God has determined that the sin of man on earth is “full.” I am reminded of a verse in Joel.
Joel 3:12–13 “Let the heathen be wakened, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat: for there will I sit to judge all the heathen round about. Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe: come, get you down; for the press is full, the vats overflow; for their wickedness is great.”
Isn’t it interesting that the angel with the power over fire is the one sending out the angel to gather together those that will end up in the lake of fire.
The angel carries out his task immediately. This task seems directly related to the final battle of Armageddon that will occur outside the city of Jerusalem. John compares this judgment to putting grapes into a winepress. So much blood will be shed that it will reach to the horse’s bridles for a space of 600 furlongs, or about 75 miles.
The prophet Joel makes specific reference to the valley of Jehoshaphat, identified in Jewish tradition as the valley between the temple mount and the Mount of Olives. I will once again share the comments of Joseph Seiss: “The probabilities are...that a line of encamped forces shall extend from Bozrah, on the southeast, to Megiddo, on the northwest. And, singularly enough, this would measure exactly 1600 stadia (furlongs), the distance named in the text as that over which the blood from this great winepress of Jehovah’s anger flows.”
In his comment, Mr. Seiss is referencing Isaiah 63.
Isaiah 63:1–4 “Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this that is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength? I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save. Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the winefat? I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me: for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment. For the day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come.”
This connection makes sense to me and tells me that Jesus will first go to deliver the Jewish remnant from their protected place in Bozrah en route to defeating the forces of Satan coming from Armageddon.
Revelation 15:1–4 “And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvellous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God. And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God. And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints. Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest.”
At the beginning of chapter 15 John witnesses another sign in heaven—seven angels with the last seven plagues of the seven-year tribulation period. He tells us that these plagues will mark the end of God’s wrath. It seems odd to describe this sight as “great and marvelous.” However, when you think of it in the perspective of bringing an end to this terrible time of judgment and ushering in Messiah’s Kingdom, it makes more sense.
John also sees a gathering of those that had gotten the victory over the beast and refused to take his mark. Note that this group is distinct from those in Revelation 7:9 and is specifically identified as composed of tribulation believers. The implication to me is that those believers who die during the tribulation are immediately translated into incorruptible bodies to the presence of the Lord.
These victorious saints all have harps and are singing the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb. It would seem that these saints are gifted with musical ability once they arrive in heaven. They will relate specifically to these songs because they represent deliverance and victory.
At one time or another in life, I think we all question why God in His omniscience chose to work with man the way He has. Why did He create man when He knew we were going to make such a mess of things? The words of these saints declare that He can’t be questioned as to the rightness and righteousness of all that He has done—the path He foreordained to be able to enjoy the fellowship of man. All of His ways are true and just! The Lord God Almighty is the only holy One, the only true God. All peoples will fall in worship before the Lord in recognition of the righteousness of His judgment.
(to be continued…)