07/01/2004 - The Book of Revelation - Part 21

The Book of Revelation

Part 21

Date: 07/01/2004

Issue No. 190

To properly understand God’s judgments recorded in Revelation 14, a person must know the purpose of the manifestation of the sons of God and the outpouring of the Spirit in the fulfillment of the Feast of Tabernacles. We have written much about the Feast of Tabernacles in other writings, and so we will not repeat those studies here.

Revelation 14 is primarily about the manifestation of the sons of God in the first few verses, and the rest of the chapter deals primarily with the succeeding events. The most relevant idea is that the purpose of the coming of the Holy Spirit is to empower people to do the ministries that they are called to do.

We see this in the New Testament with the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. The disciples were told to preach the gospel to every creature (Mark 16:15), but they were told to wait in Jerusalem until they received the Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49). It is plain from this that the purpose of the Holy Spirit is to equip the saints to do the work of the ministry.

The same is true in regard to the Feast of Tabernacles. Whereas Pentecost gave us the “earnest” of the Spirit (2 Cor. 1:22; 5:5; Eph. 1:14), the Feast of Tabernacles gives us “all the fullness of God” (Eph. 3:19). And this is why Jesus prophesied on the eighth day of Tabernacles about the Holy Spirit being poured out (John 7:37-39).

If we read Revelation 14 with this in mind and interpret that chapter accordingly, then we should not be confused by John’s word pictures and symbolism.

Carnal and Spiritual Wrath

In particular, the “wrath of the winepress of God” is confusing to many. This is because we normally define “wrath” in terms of the works of the flesh of carnally-minded people. But God’s “wrath” is not like man’s wrath, because God does not possess a carnal mind. So His “wrath” is different from ours. Ours is an emotional response based upon human pride or emotional hurt/trauma in our experience. But God does not suffer from any such things, nor does He think of Himself more highly than He ought to think. There is an interesting passage in Colossians 3 that says,

5 Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. 6 For it is on account of these things that the wrath of God will come . . . 8 But now you also, put them all aside; anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth.

It is clear from this passage that we are to put aside the type of “wrath” that comes from the carnal mind, and yet we see that God—who does not sin—has wrath also. Obviously, God’s wrath is not the same as man’s wrath. What I have attempted to show in the past two bulletins is that God’s wrath is judicial, not emotion-based, and that it is corrective, not destructive. When a child disobeys, he may incur the “wrath” of his father. If his father has an emotion-based wrath, he may hurt or traumatize the child. But if his father has a godly wrath that is judicially based, his judgment will be based upon loving correction.

If we as human parents know this, then we ought to know that God is a better parent than any of us. This alone should teach us something about the “wrath of God.”

Harvest Time

We wrote last month about the “Son of Man” sitting on the white cloud in Revelation 14:14, and how it speaks of the time of harvest. Jesus spoke in a positive sense about the fields being white unto harvest (John 4:35). James speaks of God being like a farmer who patiently waits for the crop to grow, mature, and ripen (James 5:7, 8). There is, of course, the “tare factor,” but this is said to occur before the harvest (Matt. 13:30, 49, 50).

In Revelation 14 John does not even mention the tares, for his focus is upon the crop itself—first the grain (barley and wheat), and then the grapes.

The one like a Son of Man uses a sickle to harvest the barley and wheat (vs. 15, 16). This speaks of the new corporate Man (Christ the Head joined to the Body), fully empowered as the manifested sons of God to do the work of harvesting the “grain” of the earth. The type and shadow in operation here is the story of Ruth, where we find her gleaning in the fields of Boaz from barley harvest to wheat harvest.

Ruth 1:22 says Ruth and Naomi “came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest.” Ruth 2:23 says,

23 So she stayed close by the maids of Boaz in order to glean until the end of the barley harvest and the wheat harvest.

Barley harvest extended from the wave-sheaf offering [the first Sunday after Passover] to Pentecost, lasting seven weeks. Wheat harvest began at Pentecost [late May or early June] and extended for as long as it took to harvest the crop.

It would appear that the Son of Man pictured in Rev. 14 is the first fruits of the barley harvest and is pictured as Ruth—the Bride of Christ, who “arrives” at the beginning of barley harvest. She, in turn, is called to work first in the barley harvest, and then in the wheat harvest. This may indicate that the manifestation of the sons of God may not occur in everyone all at once. It may come to a first fruits company, who then are sent out to extend this anointing to the rest of the “barley.”

From there the blessings will be extended to the rest of the Church, and the “wheat” company will be brought into God’s “barn.” That is, they will come to understand the Scriptures in a new way and be able to experience the blessings of the Holy Spirit that will come through them. This is the meaning of Rev. 14:15, “the hour to reap has come, because the harvest of the earth is ripe.”

Grape Harvest Time

The next ones to be affected will be the “vine of the earth,” that is, the “grape” company—the non-Christian world. This is covered next in verses 17-20,

17 And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, and he also had a sharp sickle.

So there are two entities with sickles: first, the “Son of Man” on the white cloud, and secondly, the angel coming out of the temple. The “Son of Man” reaps the barley and wheat; then the angel with the sickle reaps the grapes of the earth—that is, the nations, the non-Christian group.

The most striking feature of these scenes is that it is perfectly normal and natural to reap barley and wheat with a sickle. But it is very unnatural to reap a vineyard with a sickle, as we read in verses 18-20,

18 And another angel, the one who has power over fire, came out from the altar, and he called with a loud voice to him who had the sharp sickle, saying, Put in your sharp sickle, and gather the clusters from the vine of the earth, because her grapes are ripe. 19 And the angel swung his sickle to the earth and gathered the clusters from the vine of the earth, and threw them into the great wine press of the wrath of God. 20 And the wine press was trodden outside the city, and blood came out from the wine press, up to the horses’ bridles, for a distance of two hundred miles.

There are two angels involved here: (1) the angel with the sickle; and (2) the angel who tells the first angel what to do. John does not tell us the names of these angels, but I felt that it would be very helpful to know their names in order to correctly interpret their actions and words. So I prayed for revelation, and the Father gave me this:

  1. The Angel of Effective, Abundant Harvest who holds the sickle.

  2. The Angel of Divine Judgment, who has power over fire.

The first angel reaps “the vine of the earth,” which are the nations, particularly the non-Christian world. This speaks of evangelism in the midst of judgment. That is, God brings the nations to the crisis point that brings pressure upon them to turn to Jesus Christ.

That is why the Angel of Divine Judgment is involved in this. He has power over fire, because the fire represents the divine law (Deut. 33:2; Jer. 23:29). For a full study of “fire” as it is used in the Bible, see my book, The Judgments of the Divine Law. This Angel gives voice to the decree of the Divine Court that brings judgment to the earth. As an agent of the Divine Court, this Angel tells the first angel when to begin reaping.

The grape vines are said to be harvested with a sickle. As we said earlier, this is a most unusual way to harvest grapes, because in obtaining the grapes it also destroys the vines. The vines represent nations; the grapes represent the people (citizens) produced by those nations. God intends to bring all men unto Himself, but in the process, He will bring judgment upon the nations themselves—that is, the political government entities themselves. Ultimately, all nations will be subdued under the rule of Christ, as it has been prophesied from the beginning with the dominion mandate (Gen. 1:28).

The prophet Daniel prophesies of this in a different way, telling us that the Stone cut out of the mountain without hands will grind the image of gold, silver, brass, and iron into powder, and the wind will carry it away like the chaff from the summer threshing floors (Dan. 2:35). The meaning of this is no different from reaping the vine of the earth with a sickle. Either way, the nations are either ground up by the stone or cut down like a vine before the sharp divine sickle.

The wine press is outside the city—that is, it is outside the New Jerusalem. No unclean thing is within the walls of the New Jerusalem, and so there are no “grapes” to harvest within the city. The city is the Kingdom of God, so there are no wild vines to cut down. Hence, this harvest takes place outside the city.

In the old Jerusalem, the garden of Gethsemane was located outside the physical walls of the city. Gethsemane means “wine press.” So the pattern of the old city was actually a prophetic type of the spiritual city.

Finally, we have a wonderful example in verse 20 (quoted earlier) how a scene can be portrayed in a violent manner and yet have a gloriously peaceful meaning. The “blood” comes up to the horses’ bridles for 200 miles, or literally, 1600 stadia. (A stadia is about 1/8 of a mile.)

When the NASB translates 1600 stadia into 200 miles, we lose the significance of the number 1600. In the Bible, the number 16 is the number associated with LOVE. The number 100 signifies FULLNESS. So 1600 signifies “the Fullness of Love.”

That does not sound much like a scene of violence, does it? That is because the “blood” is here identified as the grapes from the vine of the earth. It is not meant to be read literally. In fact, even if we were to gather every man, woman, and child who ever lived into a 200-mile space, and if we were to squeeze the blood out of all of them and pour it upon the ground, there would not be enough blood to cover 200 miles up the horses’ bridles.

And what if their dead bodies were there, too? Even the bloodiest battles in history were not bloody enough to have blood rise above the corpses on the battlefield.

No, we cannot take this literally. We must identify the blood with the grapes being harvested. Lev. 17 says that “the soul [Heb., nephesh] of the flesh is in the blood.” The blood represents the souls of men—in this case, the souls of non-Christians, or the “grape” company.

They are being harvested as a labor of love—the fullness of love—for that is the meaning of the number 1600. The manifested sons of God, who are certainly part of this work of harvesting, and who work under the anointing of God with angelic backing, will evangelize the world under the full power of love that they received in the fulfillment of the Feast of Tabernacles, by which they are changed into His Image.

These will not need those dull and ineffective weapons of war, for they will have a sword that is living and powerful and sharper than any two-edged physical sword (Heb. 4:12). Thankfully, this bloody scene in Rev. 14:20 comes AFTER the manifestation of the sons of God (14:1), because until that fullness comes, the believers are still operating in something less than the fullness of divine love (1600).

Believers who know only a Passover or Pentecost anointing would tend to evangelize by violence and force, as history so often records. “Repent or die!” was the great watchword of the past. But in the fullness of the Spirit, such violence is not needed. Men are converted by the power of love, demonstrated by the works of Christ that bring healing to the nations.

It is therefore only natural that the majority opinion in the Church of the Pentecostal Age would be to interpret Rev. 14:20 in a violent manner. With such a long history of violent evangelism and “crusades,” we have been conditioned to interpret these verses accordingly. And their evangelism has often been by the threat or coercion of a physical sword.

But the real prophecy is fulfilled AFTER the sons of God are manifested, as Rev. 14 shows. And so the passage requires us to ask ourselves what type of sword is given to the overcomers. Is it the relatively dull physical sword, which can coerce men to change religions, but cannot change the condition of the heart of man? Or it is the sword of the Spirit, which can divide soul and spirit and discern the thoughts and intents of the heart?

I say it is the latter sword. This is the sword of choice for the overcomers. And so, instead of the judgments of God drawing blood, His divine judgments will divide the SOUL, which is in the blood. Men’s hearts will be convicted. They will “die” to self, to the first Adam, to the old man, so that they may live unto God.

The Vines are Nations

Isaiah 5 tells us an important parable that identifies vines with nations. The immediate context shows us that God planted a vineyard in Canaan when He brought the nation of Israel across the Jordan and “planted” them in the Promised Land.

1 Let me sing now for my well-beloved a song of my beloved concerning His vineyard. My well-beloved had a vineyard on a fertile hill. 2 And He dug it all around, removed its stones, and planted it with the choicest VINE.

What is that vine? Verse 7 tells us,

7 For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah His delightful plant.

The problem in Isaiah 5 was that this vineyard was producing wild grapes that were too sour to be eaten. In other words, the national entities of Israel and Judah (the vines in the vineyard) had produced citizens that were in rebellion against God—“wild grapes.” God wanted wine for His communion table, along with the unleavened bread (barley) and the leavened bread (wheat).

You might say that the solution was that God sent a sickle upon those nations. Verses 5 and 6 say,

5 So now let Me tell you what I am going to do to My vineyard; I will remove its hedge and it will be consumed; I will break down its wall and it will become trampled ground. 6 And I will lay it waste; it will not be pruned or hoed, but briars and thorns will come up. I will also charge the clouds to rain no rain on it.

The point of this is to show that the vine was used here to symbolize nations—specifically, Israel and Judah. God used the Assyrians to destroy Israel in 721 B.C., and later the Babylonians to destroy Judah in 587 B.C.

A remnant of Judah returned to rebuild and replant God’s vineyard. But when they knowingly rejected the Messiah (“the Heir”), Jesus repeated this same parable in Matthew 21:33-44 to show that Judea was again going to be laid waste for its rebellion. That came to pass from 70-73 A.D. when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and the nation of Judea itself. There will be a final destruction of Jerusalem just before the final harvests, in order to fulfill the words of the prophet in Jeremiah 19:10, 11,

10 Then you are to break the jar in the sight of the men who accompany you 11 and say to them, Thus says the Lord of hosts, Just so shall I break this people and this city, even as one breaks a potter’s vessel which cannot again be repaired . . .

Jerusalem has been destroyed many times, but each time it has been rebuilt, or “repaired.” The final fulfillment of this prophecy, then, is yet future. As I showed in my book, The Struggle for the Birthright, God brought the Zionists to the old land in order to fulfill this prophecy, along with other prophecies.

Jesus, too, prophesied of this same destruction in his parable of Luke 19:12-27. We do not have space to quote the entire parable, but it is the story of the nobleman (Christ) who went into a far country (heaven) and gave his servants certain amounts of money to do business until he returned. Verse 14 then says,

14 But his CITIZENS hated him, and sent a delegation after him, saying, We do not want this man to reign over us.

These are the citizens of Judah, not the servants of the nobleman. When the nobleman returned, the servants received various rewards for their faithfulness. Then comes the final verse about the citizens in verses 27 & 28,

27 But these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slay them in my presence. 28 And after He had said these things, He was going on ahead, ascending to Jerusalem.

Thus, it was necessary to bring those citizens back to Jerusalem for judgment. This is why God allowed the movement called “Zionism” to succeed. It was not for their good, or because God was “on their side” per se. It was to bring them back to the place where they had rejected the Messiah in order to “slay them in my presence.”

This is not part of the prophecy of the harvest or of the wine press in Revelation 14. No, this is the gathering of the tares BEFORE the harvest begins, and John is silent about this detail. The tares are a theme in Matthew 13:24-30. Tares look like wheat to the casual observer. The Zionists, in the same way, look like “Israel” to the casual observer. But they are not. They are of Esau, not Jacob. Esau was Jacob’s twin brother—the violent twin. So also, the tares are the twin of the wheat—the poisonous twin that has tricked many Christians into supporting murder and theft and outright rebellion against God. God intends to deal with this first—and then comes the harvest.