Two visions close out chapter 14. The first vision in verses 14 – 16 picture the coming of divine judgment using the symbolism of a grain harvest. The second vision highlights the ferocious description of the wrath of God using the symbolism of a wine press. These visions are meant to remind those who were suffering for their refusal to worship or pay homage to the emperor by taking part in the imperial cult of Rome and that their faith in God and their dependence upon the saving grace through the sacrificial death of the Lamb will most certainly be justified.
Vs 14: “one like a son of man” is none other than the risen Lord Jesus Christ returning in judgment. On his head he has a “golden crown”, and this crown assigns the risen Lord as the conqueror and in thereby has the right to act in judgment. He has a “sharp sickle in his hand” and this is a tool of harvest and would signify the Messiah is prepared to reap the harvest of the earth in righteous reckoning.
Vs 15 - 16: another angel comes from the temple and gives the divine command to the one sitting on the cloud to begin the harvest. This harvest, however, is not limited to the gathering of the elect. Because we see in the parable of the Wheat and Tares, it involves the gathering of the wicked for burning as well (Matt 13:30, 40–42). In the OT the harvest was a regular symbol of divine judgment. Thus, the harvest of vv. 14–16 is likely a general picture of the coming judgment.
This time to reap is the has been determined by God and the time for judgment and remuneration has come. The harvest of the earth is fully ripe.
Vs 17: Another angel comes from the temple as well and is carrying a sickle in his hand. This angel who is to reap those of the earth comes out from the temple and this indicates that he is God’s mediator for this tremendous event. Like the son of man, he also has a sharp sickle in his hand.
Vs 18: Another angel (the 6th one in Ch. 14) comes out from the altar. If you recall the altar contained the prayers of the righteous (6:8) and we can conclude that the prayers of the righteous saints play a significant part in bringing God’s judgment upon the wicked. This angel has authority over fire and fire in the NT is often connected to judgment. Just as the grain is ready for reaping the grapes are ripe and the time for judgment has come.
Vs 19: The angel is God’s instrument for executing the judgment upon the unrighteous. The angel swings the sickle and gathers the vintage and throws it into the winepress of the wrath of God. The grapes of the earth is a collection of all who refuse to embrace the righteousness of God and have instead become His enemies.
Vs 20: The city outside is probably Jerusalem. John now graphically describes the judgment of God as he states the judgment is a bloodbath and flows as deep as a horse’s bridle for 1600 stadia which equals 184 miles. This most-likely translates as the judgment of God is extended to all men everywhere who are not under divine protection.
Chapter 15 is the shortest chapter in Revelation. It opens by introducing the seven angels who eventually receive the seven bowls of wrath. These bowls are the third series of seven (1. Seals, 2. Trumpets, 3. Bowls). The set of bowls unfold from the seventh trumpet, just as the trumpets unfolded from the seals. These seven bowls may very well be the third woe that was announced in Ch. 11:14).
Vs 1: The seven angels and the seven bowls speak of the certainty and completeness of God’s divine wrath upon the unrighteous. These are the last of the plagues and they complete the warnings God has given to an unrepentant world. These plagues are the final outpouring of divine retribution by people whose hearts, like Pharaoh, are hardened against God.
V 2: The sea of glass is mentioned previously in 4:6 but it is also mingled with fire. It is uncertain if the fire represent judgment or is just a descriptive word to help heighten the magnificence of the scene.
The people standing beside the sea of glass are those who have emerged victorious over the beast. They never abandoned their faith and never submitted to the Antichrist. They are playing harps that are appropriate instruments for praising God.
Vs 3 – 4: they sing the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb of God. This is a song of celebrating and praising God for his righteous acts and redemptive history beginning with Moses and concluding with the victorious Lamb. These are not two songs, but one.
Vs 5 - 6: After the song has been sung John sees the heavenly temple “sanctuary of the tent” open and the even angels of destruction emerge. the sanctuary of the tent references the tabernacle of God in the wilderness, and it emphasizes that the final plagues come from the presence of God. The seven angels emerge from the tabernacle and they are robed in pure bright linen which denotes their noble and sacred office and golden sashes which signifies their royal and priestly functions.
Vs 7: The seven angels receive golden bowls full of God’s wrath. When we go back to 5:8 we see the golden bowls are filled with incense. which are the prayers of God’s people. Thus, we see that the prayers of God’s people result in divine retribution. As we see these bowls are filled with God’s wrath.
Vs 8: The smoke that fills the heavenly tabernacle represents the presence of God in all his power and glory. God is present and He will actively carry out his judgment on the iniquity of the world. Until the seven bowls of wrath are finished, no one can enter the temple.
Jeff has been in ministry for well over two decades. He currently serves as Campus Pastor at West Bradenton Baptist Southside Campus in Bradenton, Florida.
Jeff Has authored an Advent Devotional (The Advent of Jesus) and a devotional on the book of James (James: Where Faith and Life Meet). Both are available on Amazon.
He is married to Carrie and they have four children, Micaiah, Gabe, Simon, and Berea.
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