"Behold, I am coming quickly! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book."
Revelation 14 - Quick Links
15 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."
Revelation 14:14 - Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and on the cloud sat One like the Son of Man, having on His head a golden crown, and in His hand a sharp sickle.
After John hears the blessing from Heaven for those who will die in the Lord, he sees a celestial figure holding a sharp sickle ready to reap. As discussed in the "Pre-Tribulation Rapture" study, God compares people groups with the harvest of grain and fruit throughout the Scriptures, and Jesus often used the harvest imagery in several of His parables about the "kingdom of Heaven" in the gospels. The saints saved before the Tribulation are the barley harvest and the saints saved during the Tribulation are the wheat harvest. Unbelievers are the grape harvest, but in the following parable unbelievers are the tares, which are weeds separated from the wheat at the end of the Tribulation:
Matthew 13:24-30 - Another parable He put forth to them, saying: "The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. So the servants of the owner came and said to him, 'Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?' He said to them, 'An enemy has done this.' The servants said to him, 'Do you want us then to go and gather them up?' But he said, 'No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, "First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn."'"
Matthew 13:38-40 - The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one. The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels. Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age.
Today the Lord is reaping the barley harvest and will continue reaping until the rapture of the Church. Then the Lord will begin reaping the wheat harvest in the Tribulation - He is the "One like the Son of Man" with a "sharp sickle" in His hand who is ready to reap the last of the wheat harvest, or the last of the saints who will die in the Tribulation.
John sees the Lord sitting on a white cloud. The Greek word translated "white" can also mean "brilliant," and is in the following passages that describe how celestial bodies physically shine or glisten with an intense bright light:
Matthew 17:1-2 - Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light.
Mark 9:2-3 - Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John, and led them up on a high mountain apart by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. His clothes became shining, exceedingly white, like snow, such as no launderer on earth can whiten them.
Luke 9:28-29 - Now it came to pass, about eight days after these sayings, that He took Peter, John, and James and went up on the mountain to pray. As He prayed, the appearance of His face was altered, and His robe became white and glistening.
Matthew 28:2-3 - And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it. His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow.
Recall from Revelation 1:7 that when Jesus returns to set up His kingdom at the end of the Tribulation He will come in a cloud:
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."
Luke 21:27 - Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.
The reason John sees the Lord on a cloud when He reaps the last of the soul harvest is because his vision shows that Christ is about to return to the earth to set up His kingdom after the number of the saints destined to martyrdom are killed (Revelation 6:9-11), as discussed in Revelation 7. This chapter is an interlude that describes the continual harvest of the souls of the martyred saints throughout the Tribulation. The interlude ends when the Lord reaps the last of the harvest, right before He returns at the end of the Tribulation as shown below:
Jesus appears on the cloud as "One like the Son of Man." Recall from Revelation 1:13, "Son of Man" is the title that Jesus gives to Himself throughout the Gospels. However, the "One like the Son of Man" appears long before Jesus became a man. Here is the pre-incarnate Christ in a vision given to the prophet Daniel:
Daniel 7:13 - "I was watching in the night visions, and behold, One like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him."
This title clearly speaks of Jesus appearing in the form of a man. The following passage helps explain why Jesus is both the "Son of Man" and the "Son of God":
Philippians 2:5-8 - Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.
Jesus had to become the "Son of Man," because He was the only sinless human who could fulfill the Law and free humanity from its penalty of sin and death in the flesh:
Romans 8:1-4 - There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
Jesus, being both the "Son of Man" and the "Son of God," is the only mediator between God the Father and men:
1 Timothy 2:5-6 - For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.
And the Father has given Jesus the authority to judge men because He is the "Son of Man":
John 5:26-27 - For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man.
The Son of Man wears a crown. Recall from Revelation 4:4, the Greek word translated as "crown" is "stephanos," which was the type of crown given as a reward to the victors in athletic events, such as the Olympics. Recall from our study on the seven churches in Revelation 2-3, that Christ has claimed victory by overcoming the world through the cross. Believers overcome the world through His victory:
1 John 5:4-5 - For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world - our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
A golden crown of victory has replaced the crown of thorns placed on the Lord in mockery at the cross. Recall from Revelation 1:13, gold can represent holiness and purity because it retains all its qualities when tested in fire:
Job 23:10 - But He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.
The tabernacle was holy, which is why many of the items in it were gold:
Exodus 28:36 - "You shall also make a plate of pure gold and engrave on it, like the engraving of a signet: Holiness to the Lord."
Exodus 39:30 - Then they made the plate of the holy crown of pure gold, and wrote on it an inscription like the engraving of a signet: Holiness to the Lord.
Hebrews 9:3-4 - ...and behind the second veil, the part of the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of All, which had the golden censer and the ark of the covenant overlaid on all sides with gold, in which were the golden pot that had the manna....
Gold can also be associated with kingship, as illustrated throughout the Old Testament with the great amounts of gold bestowed to many of Israel's kings. Gold was also one of the three gifts that the magi brought to Jesus, who were looking for the "King of the Jews" (Matthew 2). In fact, as we will see later, Jesus wears other crowns in addition to His crown of victory. These crowns are "diadems" which signify kingship, as discussed in Revelation 12:3:
Revelation 19:11-12 - Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself.
In summary, John describes Jesus sitting on a white cloud as the Son of Man with a golden crown, which shows that He is about to return to the earth from Heaven in glory as King to judge the earth and take possession of what He ransomed with His blood on the cross when He overcame the world.
Revelation 14:15-16 - 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.
An angel comes out of the heavenly temple and says to the Lord that the "time has come" to reap the "harvest of the earth" because it is "ripe." Ripeness indicates that the harvest is ready to reap because the crop is prime and at its peak growth, but the Greek word translated "ripe" here means parched or dried up like wheat, which becomes dry and golden brown when it is ready to harvest. This fits the imagery in the parable about the "wheat and tares" discussed in the last section, where the wheat represents the Tribulation saints and the tares represent unbelievers in the Tribulation:
Matthew 13:24-30 - Another parable He put forth to them, saying: "The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. So the servants of the owner came and said to him, 'Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?' He said to them, 'An enemy has done this.' The servants said to him, 'Do you want us then to go and gather them up?' But he said, 'No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, "First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn."'
Wheat and tares look similar before the wheat is mature and ready to harvest, as shown below:
The reason Jesus said not to uproot the wheat with the tares is because it is easy to uproot the wheat too. Tares are also known as "darnel," derived from a word that can mean "drunk." Darnel is a befitting name because the weed can cause intoxication when eaten (source). Recall from Revelation 14:8-10 that Babylon will make the "nations drink the wine of the wrath of her fornication" and that if anyone worships the beast, God will make them drink the "wine of God's wrath." Since tares can cause intoxication, they are like the beast worshippers drunk on the wine of Babylon's fornication and God's wrath.
Incidentally, the wheat is not only dry when it is ripe, but it also bends over like a humble servant who bows before a king, as seen in the picture to the right. Also, when farmers harvest wheat, they put the grain through a threshing device known as a "tribulum" that beats the grain to separate it from the chaff, which is a tough casing around the grain. Interestingly, "Tribulum" is the Latin word for "tribulation." The harvest of wheat is a clear picture of the harvest of the souls who become saints in the Tribulation.
It is important to note that the parable of the "wheat and tares" is a different event from the reaping of wheat by the Son of Man on the cloud, but both cover events in the wheat harvest which continues throughout the Tribulation as shown below:
Events of the Wheat Harvest
The last of the general wheat harvest reaped by the Son of Man on the cloud takes place right before Jesus returns to judge the earth, but the parable of the "wheat and tares" takes place after Jesus returns to the earth - these are the gleanings left in the field and not reaped during the general harvest:
Leviticus 19:9-10 - When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not wholly reap the corners of your field, nor shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest. And you shall not glean your vineyard, nor shall you gather every grape of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the stranger: I am the LORD your God.
The gleanings are the part of the harvest not reaped, but left in the "field" to the end of the harvest. The parable of the "wheat and tares" describes the gathering of the gleanings, where angels reap the harvest and first gather the tares, or the unbelievers and burn them, and then gather the wheat, or the Tribulation saints and put them in the Lord's barn, which is the kingdom. In other words, the gleanings of the wheat harvest are saints who survive the Tribulation and enter the kingdom alive, but the tares are God's enemies who survive the Tribulation, but will not enter the kingdom, as discussed in the "Pre-Tribulation Rapture" study.
The "wheat and tares" parable is the same event as the "Sheep and Goat" judgment when the Lord will divide the saints from His enemies after He returns:
Matthew 25:31-34, 41, 46 - "When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right hand, 'Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world....' "Then He will also say to those on the left hand, 'Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels....' And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."
But before Jesus returns, a certain number of saints will die:
Revelation 6:9-11 - When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. And they cried with a loud voice, saying, "How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?" Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed.
Recall from Revelation 14:12-13, the Holy Spirit promised a blessing for those who die in the Lord during the Tribulation. After the Lord breaks the fifth Seal judgment, John sees the first Tribulation martyrs in Heaven under the altar. The Lord told these martyrs that He would avenge their deaths, but they had to wait until the number of those who would be killed was complete. It appears that the breaking of the fifth seal is the point at which God allows Satan and the powers of darkness to persecute and kill believers without restraint. In short, the Lord's enemies will kill His saints throughout the tribulation, but He will "reap" and gather their souls to Heaven, and then He will return to the earth to avenge their deaths, which we will discuss in the next few sections.
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 in your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth, for her grapes are fully ripe."
Revelation 14:17-18 - Then 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, who had power over fire, and he cried with a loud cry to him who had the sharp sickle, saying, "Thrust in your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth, for her grapes are fully ripe."
After the Lord reaps the harvest of His saints who die in the Tribulation, another angel comes out of the heavenly temple with a sharp sickle. The only other time we see angels coming out of the heavenly temple is when the seven angels with the bowls of God's wrath come out of the temple at the end of the Tribulation:
Revelation 15:5-8 - After these things I looked, and behold, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened. And out of the temple came the seven angels having the seven plagues, clothed in pure bright linen, and having their chests girded with golden bands. Then one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God who lives forever and ever. The temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from His power, and no one was able to enter the temple till the seven plagues of the seven angels were completed.
The angel with the sickle takes orders from the angel with power over fire, who gets his orders from the Lord. This is similar to the hierarchy of workers in the field of Boaz who was head over all the reapers, but put a servant in charge of the reapers (Ruth 2). The angel from the altar in Heaven with power over fire is the same angel who offered the prayers of the saints upon the altar before the seven Trumpet judgments:
Revelation 8:2-6 - And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and to them were given seven trumpets. Then another angel, having a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angel's hand. Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and threw it to the earth. And there were noises, thunderings, lightnings, and an earthquake. So the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.
Recall from Revelation 8:3 that the prayers of the saints offered by the angel on the altar are also prayers for justice and judgment on the wicked. So, the angel with power over fire offers the prayers requesting the Lord to avenge His saints and judge the world; then here he directs the angel with a sickle to reap the "clusters of the vine of the earth," which will answer the prayers for vengeance against the wicked, as explained below.
The "vine of the earth" is a vine that produces wild grapes in contrast to the cultivated vine in the Lord's vineyard that produces good grapes. The following passage shows that the vineyard of the Lord was Israel and His vine was Judah:
Isaiah 5:1-7 - Now let me sing to my well-beloved a song of my beloved regarding His vineyard: My well-beloved has a vineyard on a very fruitful hill. He dug it up and cleared out its stones, and planted it with the choicest vine. He built a tower in its midst, and also made a winepress in it; so He expected it to bring forth good grapes, but it brought forth wild grapes. "And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah, judge, please, between Me and My vineyard. What more could have been done to My vineyard that I have not done in it? Why then, when I expected it to bring forth good grapes, did it bring forth wild grapes? And now, please let Me tell you what I will do to My vineyard: I will take away its hedge, and it shall be burned; and break down its wall, and it shall be trampled down. I will lay it waste; it shall not be pruned or dug, but there shall come up briers and thorns. I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain on it." For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah are His pleasant plant. He looked for justice, but behold, oppression; for righteousness, but behold, a cry for help.
But some of the grapes were wild and not good, even though the vine was not wild, but cultivated. This speaks of the spiritual state of Judah which was in rebellion against God during the days of Isaiah and Jeremiah:
Jeremiah 2:21-23 - Yet I had planted you a noble vine, a seed of highest quality. How then have you turned before Me into the degenerate plant of an alien vine? For though you wash yourself with lye, and use much soap, yet your iniquity is marked before Me," says the Lord GOD. "How can you say, 'I am not polluted, I have not gone after the Baals'...?"
God promised judgment when His people turned to wickedness, comparing them to the foreign or wild vines of Sodom and Gomorrah:
Deuteronomy 32:32-35 - For their vine is of the vine of Sodom and of the fields of Gomorrah; their grapes are grapes of gall, their clusters are bitter. Their wine is the poison of serpents, and the cruel venom of cobras. 'Is this not laid up in store with Me, sealed up among My treasures? Vengeance is Mine, and recompense; their foot shall slip in due time; for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things to come hasten upon them.'
The vine of the earth represents the nations of the earth, and the wild grapes represent enemies of God because they are in rebellion against Him. Therefore, the angel with power over fire who is directing the angel with the sickle to reap the wild grapes of the vine of the earth is answering the prayers of the saints for justice and judgment against the wicked. As discussed in Revelation 14:9-10, the grapes are ripe because their wickedness is great and they have passed the point-of-no-return for repentance, so judgment must come, and the angel throwing the vine of the earth into the winepress shows that God will trample all the nations in judgment as He tramples His enemies:
Joel 3:11-13 - Assemble and come, all you nations, and gather together all around. Cause Your mighty ones to go down there, O LORD. "Let the nations be wakened, and come up to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; for there I will sit to judge all the surrounding nations. Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, go down; for the winepress is full, the vats overflow - for their wickedness is great."
As we will see in the next section, the angel throws the gathered grapes into the great winepress of the wrath of God and then the Lord will take vengeance for His martyred saints by trampling the wild grapes of the vine of the earth.
Revelation 14:19-20 - 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. 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.
The angel with the sickle will throw the gathered grapes into the great winepress of the wrath of God, where Jesus alone will trample the vintage:
Revelation 19:13-15 - He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.
The gathering and treading of the vine of the earth begins after the Lord returns to the earth. This occurs in three stages: In the first stage, the Lord goes to Edom and tramples His enemies where they gather during the second half of the Tribulation, trying to overtake the Jewish remnant whom God will protect in the wilderness, as discussed in Revelation 12:6:
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." Why is Your apparel red, and Your garments like one who treads in the winepress? "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."
Then the Lord and His saints will lead the Jewish remnant back to the Promised Land on the same path Joshua led Israel across the Jordan. Then He will go to Jerusalem with the Jews and the saints and stand on the Mount of Olives, which is across from the Temple Mount:
Zechariah 14:2-5 - For I will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem; the city shall be taken, the houses rifled, and the women ravished. Half of the city shall go into captivity, but the remnant of the people shall not be cut off from the city. Then the LORD will go forth and fight against those nations, as He fights in the day of battle. And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east. And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two, from east to west, making a very large valley; half of the mountain shall move toward the north and half of it toward the south. Then you shall flee through My mountain valley, for the mountain valley shall reach to Azal. Yes, you shall flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Thus the LORD my God will come, and all the saints with You.
The Lord will split the Mount of Olives in two when He stands on the mount as He makes His way to the temple from the east (Malachi 3:1-3). Then the Lord will send a massive hail storm to crush His enemies who gather to wage a great battle against Him:
Revelation 16:12-16 - Then the sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up, so that the way of the kings from the east might be prepared. And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs coming out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. "Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame." And they gathered them together to the place called in Hebrew, Armageddon.
Revelation 16:17-21 - Then the seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, "It is done!" And there were noises and thunderings and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such a mighty and great earthquake as had not occurred since men were on the earth. Now the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. And great Babylon was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of His wrath. Then every island fled away, and the mountains were not found. And great hail from heaven fell upon men, each hailstone about the weight of a talent. Men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail, since that plague was exceedingly great.
This incursion of the armies of the world into Israel is infamously known as the "Battle of Armageddon," because they will gather north of Jerusalem near Megiddo in the Jezreel Valley to battle the Lord. Note that the armies of the world gather after the sixth angel pours out his bowl on the Euphrates River. Demons draw the armies of the world to gather in Israel, but the angel drying up the Euphrates River effectively "gathers" the armies into an area outside of Jerusalem and all the way north to the valley of Megiddo where the Lord will crush them like grapes in a winepress with a great hail storm. This might suggest that this angel is the same angel with the sickle who gathers the vine of the earth, because it is the crushing of this army outside of Jerusalem that produces a river of blood.
Outside of Jerusalem, the river of blood will run as high as the horses' bridle and extends 1600 furlongs - about 200 miles or 320 kilometers, which is roughly the distance to the Red Sea from the Jezreel Valley, through the Jordan Valley which passes by Bozrah and Petra in Edom. This makes sense, as the Lord will trample His enemies from Edom to Megiddo outside of Jerusalem.
The massive hailstones in Revelation 16:21 could both crush the army and cause the massive river of blood if the hail melts rapidly and mingles with the blood from all the dead bodies. If the river of blood reaches as high as the horses' bridle outside of Jerusalem, imagine the depth at the bottom of the Jezreel Valley and the Jordan Valley. Naturally, all this liquid will flow to the path of least resistance down the Jordan Valley and into the Dead Sea. It is fitting that the Lord compares the gruesome carnage of His enemies to the trampling of grapes, because they are drunk with wine of wrath (Revelation 14:8-10), and He will crush them to death. This will make a mess akin to crushing grapes:
Isaiah 34:2-3 - For the indignation of the LORD is against all nations, and His fury against all their armies; He has utterly destroyed them, He has given them over to the slaughter. Also their slain shall be thrown out; their stench shall rise from their corpses, and the mountains shall be melted with their blood.
Isaiah 63:2-3 - Why is Your apparel red, and Your garments like one who treads in the winepress? "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.
Also note that the Lord tramples His enemies "outside the city" of Jerusalem. God calls Jerusalem Zion and calls it His holy city throughout Scripture, because He set it apart for Himself:
Psalms 132:13-14 - For the LORD has chosen Zion; He has desired it for His dwelling place: "This is My resting place forever; here I will dwell, for I have desired it.
The Lord gave Moses instructions on how His people were to keep things clean and separate which symbolized holiness (Leviticus 14). Executions were unclean, so they crucified Jesus "outside the city" like a criminal cut off from His people (Hebrews 13:12). Since Jerusalem will remain God's holy city through the Kingdom Age, it makes sense that He will take the unclean "outside of the city" to dispose of them. The unclean will also remain outside of the future New Jerusalem in eternity:
Revelation 22:14-15 - Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie.
After the Lord defeats the armies of the world and takes back Jerusalem, He will send out His angels to gather all people who survive the Tribulation - the saints and God's enemies - the gleanings of the wheat and grape harvests and trample the vintage in the Battle of Armageddon:
Matthew 24:29-31 - "Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
Joel 3:1-2, 11-16 - "For behold, in those days and at that time, when I bring back the captives of Judah and Jerusalem, I will also gather all nations, and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; and I will enter into judgment with them there on account of My people, My heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations; they have also divided up My land. Assemble and come, all you nations, and gather together all around. Cause Your mighty ones to go down there, O LORD. "Let the nations be wakened, and come up to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; for there I will sit to judge all the surrounding nations. Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, go down; for the winepress is full, the vats overflow - for their wickedness is great." Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision. The sun and moon will grow dark, and the stars will diminish their brightness. The LORD also will roar from Zion, and utter His voice from Jerusalem; the heavens and earth will shake; but the LORD will be a shelter for His people, and the strength of the children of Israel.
Recall from the last few sections that this gathering of people at the end of the Tribulation is also described in the parable of the "wheat and the tares" (Matthew 13) and in the "Sheep and Goat" judgment:
Matthew 25:31-36 - "When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right hand, 'Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.'"
Matthew 25:41-43, 46 - "...Then He will also say to those on the left hand, 'Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me....' And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."
The Lord will gather the nations into a valley named "Jehoshaphat," which means "God has judged," also called the "Valley of Decision" (Joel 3:12-14). This valley is believed to be the place where King Jehoshaphat defeated Judah's enemies near Jerusalem and called it the "Valley of Berachah," which means "blessing" (2 Chronicles 20:24-26). The Lord will judge the nations in this valley according to how they treat His Jewish brethren during the Tribulation. This is not a works-based salvation, but characterizes how believers should treat God's chosen people. Anti-Semitism has no place in the heart of a believer. The Tribulation saints will naturally care for the Jews, but the Lord's enemies will mistreat the Jews. The Lord will take His final vengeance against those who treat His brethren poorly. Whoever touches Israel touches the apple of His eyes, but the Tribulation saints who cared for the Jews will "be joined to the Lord" as His people - the same as the Jews - when they enter the kingdom:
Zechariah 2:8-11 - For thus says the LORD of hosts: "He sent Me after glory, to the nations which plunder you; for he who touches you touches the apple of His eye. For surely I will shake My hand against them, and they shall become spoil for their servants. Then you will know that the LORD of hosts has sent Me. "Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion! For behold, I am coming and I will dwell in your midst," says the LORD. "Many nations shall be joined to the LORD in that day, and they shall become My people. And I will dwell in your midst. Then you will know that the LORD of hosts has sent Me to you.
In short, the reaping of the two harvests - the wheat and the grapes, is about God redeeming His people and taking vengeance on His enemies in preparation for His kingdom. This great truth was the inspiration for the following renowned hymn:
The Battle Hymn of the Republic
Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord;
I have seen Him in the watchfires of a hundred circling camps;
I have read a fiery gospel, writ in burnished rows of steel;
He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat;
In the beauty of the lilies, Christ was born across the sea,
[Chorus] Glory, glory! Hallelujah!
This completes the second interlude which covers events near the end of the Tribulation. As shown below, Revelation 15 takes us back to the narrative and the prelude to the last of the Tribulation judgments that will occur right before Jesus returns to take vengeance on His enemies for His saints and His people.
Revelation Flow Chart:
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