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Reaping the Clusters of the Vine

02 Jan
Vine Clusters

from Google Images

John saw an angel with a sharp sickle come out of the Temple in heaven (Revelation 14:17), and yet another angel came out from the altar and told the angel with the sickle to reap the vine clusters for the fruit was ripe (Revelation 14:18). It seems that the angel with the sickle is, again, Jesus who was ready to judge the earth, which appears to be a reiteration of Revelation 14:14-16, but with an emphasis upon the wicked.

The vine represents Israel (Psalm 80:8; Isaiah 5:1-7), and the Lord says in Isaiah that he would remove his protection from the land and would lay it waste. Moses spoke of the last days of the nation just prior to Israel entering into the Promised Land. He gathered their leaders before him and told them that he would show what this people would be like in their latter days (Deuteronomy 31:28-29). Moses claimed that in the end their vine would be as the vine of Sodom (Deuteronomy 32:32, cf. Revelation 11:8). The fact is that Israel and Jerusalem are the only people in the Scriptures whose sins are likened to that of Sodom.[1]

The angel holding the sickle “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” (Revelation 14:19). According to Matthew 13:40-42, Jesus claimed that the Son of Man would gather out of his Kingdom all that offend and cast them into a furnace of fire. It seems to me that these Scriptures are pointing to the same event, but using different symbols. The Apocalypse uses the winepress, while Jesus’ parable refers to a furnace of fire. Yet, both accomplish the same thing.

According to Revelation 14:20, “the winepress was trodden outside the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs.” If we are supposed to understand that the vine represents the Jewish people in the Land, then the Apocalyptic language, concerning the blood gushing out of the winepress instead of the juice of the grape, points to Jesus’ judgment upon Jerusalem and the Temple.

The statement that it was all done outside the city (Jerusalem) must mean that it was done outside New Jerusalem. Remember, what John was told to do in Revelation 11:1-2. He was told to include the elect (those in the House), but to cast out those in the outer courts, and they would trod down the holy city (i.e. New Jerusalem) for 42 months or 3 ½ years. The climax of the service of Jesus’ disciples would come 3½ years prior to his coming. However, when he did come, his judgment would come upon those who persecuted the city (New Jerusalem) not the city itself. That is the spiritual city (the elect) would be preserved, while the physical city (the wicked) was destroyed. Jesus’ disciples would be preserved, but the unbelieving Jewish nation would be destroyed.

The blood coming up to the horse bridles seems to stretch the vision beyond believability, but, remembering that this is Apocalyptic language, the idea may have something to do with what James says in his epistle, which is the only other place in the New Testament where the Greek word chalinos (G5469 – translated “bridle” or “bit”) is used.

For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body. Behold, we put bits in the horses’ mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body. (James 3:2-3; emphasis mine)

In James’ epistle the horse’s bridle is compared to controlling one’s tongue, for just as a bit in the horse’s mouth is able to control the horse, so a disciplined tongue is able to control a man’s whole life. In the context of Revelation 14, “Babylon… made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication” (Revelation 14:8). This would be the controlling “bit” or “bridle” but used in the Apocalypse in a negative manner. In other words, Babylon was slandering the elect, and causing others to believe a lie (the bit or bridle) and thereby affect their behavior toward the innocent. The idea of the blood gushing out of the winepress “even to the horse bridles” points to the lie (the wine of the wrath of her fornication) that destroyed the innocent. The text points to their guilt, the reason for the judgment. Moreover, the Scripture says this was done for “1600 furlongs (stadia),” which is about 200 miles in modern measurement. According to The People’s New Testament Commentary this is the distance that covered the length of first century AD Palestine, which also encompassed the area of the Lord’s judgment in cir. 70 AD.

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[1] See: Deuteronomy 32:32; Isaiah 1:9-10; 3:9; Jeremiah 23:14; Lamentations 4:6; Ezekiel 16:46-49; 53-56.

 
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Posted by on January 2, 2020 in Apocalypse, Book of Revelation

 

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