14:14-20 THE GREAT HARVEST
“And 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. And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to Him that 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.’ And He who sat on the cloud thrust in His sickle on the earth, and the earth was reaped” (Revelation 14:14-16).
Chapters 12-14 digress from the linear timeline of the Revelation narrative in order to portray the history and the outcome of the great controversy. Satan has claimed that God is a selfish liar and that His law is restrictive, preventing us from reaching our full potential (see 12: Origin of Satan). God answers these charges by displaying the 144,000 who “keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.” They give the three angels' messages, which call the great multitude to come out of
The ungodly, on the other hand, are compared to grapes, which are gathered and trampled into bloody wine. “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, who had power over fire, and cried with a loud cry to him that 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). The fate of the unrepentant is portrayed here as a part of the demonstration of the final outcome of the great controversy, but chronologically, the harvest of the grapes takes place both at the Second Coming of Christ when the unrepentant will be slain, and at the end of the thousand years when the still-rebellious “nations” are judged and cast into the lake of fire.
Grapes and wine have mixed symbolism in the Bible. On the one hand, the closest relationship that God’s children can have with Jesus is compared to grape branches that are connected to the vine (“I am the vine and you are the branches” John 15:1-8). Jesus designated the “fruit of the vine” to be the symbol of His blood in the communion service (Matthew 26:27-29, 1 Corinthians 11:25,26). On the other hand, in Revelation 17:2 the great harlot has a cup with which she makes the nations “drunk with the wine of her fornication.” Those who took the Nazirite vow of consecration to God were “not [to] eat anything that comes from the vine, nor …drink wine or similar drink” (Judges 13:14).
Perhaps wine is one of the most fitting symbols of the sinful humanity. New, fresh wine (grape juice) is delightfully sweet, and the fact that billions of dollars are spent on sweetened drinks today shows how enjoyable it must have been when it was one of the only sweet drinks available. This is expressed in scriptures such as Psalm 104:14,15, “[God] makes… plants for man to cultivate—bringing forth food from the earth: wine that gladdens the heart of man, oil to make his face shine, and bread that sustains his heart.”
But, as anyone who has made grape juice knows, it almost immediately begins to spoil, producing first alcohol and finally vinegar. There are many negative statements about wine, such as Proverbs 20:1 (“Wine is a mocker…and whoever is led astray by it is not wise”) and Proverbs 23:29-32 (“Who has woe,…sorrow…contentions…complaints,… wounds without cause? Those who linger long at the wine…Do not look on the wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it swirls around smoothly; at the last it bites like a serpent”). These verses refer to the evil influence that results when delightful “new wine” becomes intoxicating “old wine”. Likewise, every baby is born delightfully innocent with a clean slate, but almost immediately, contact with sin begins to spoil the childish innocence so that unless he is born again he inevitably becomes hopelessly corrupt, unfit for eternal life.
“And the angel thrust 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 wine press was trodden outside the city, and blood came out of the wine press, up to the horses bridles, for 1,600 stadia” (Revelation 14:19,20).
The comparison of treading out grapes with the destruction of the wicked is a common theme in Old Testament texts such as Isaiah 63:1-6 (“I [the Lord] have trodden the winepress alone…I have trodden down the peoples in My anger”) and Joel 3:12,13 (“I will sit to judge all the surrounding nations...the winepress is full, the vats overflow—for their wickedness is great”). These are not simply threats by the stern God of the Old Testament; the loving Jesus pictures Himself as treading the winepress at His Second Coming: “And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse; and He that sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war...and His name is called the Word of God…and He himself shall rule them [the nations] with a rod of iron. And He treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God” (Revelation 19:11,13,15).
The imagery of trampling grapes, and words such as “fierceness” and “wrath” have caused many to wonder what the phrase “God is love” really means. The next chapter will show how the wrath of God and His destruction of the unrepentant are acts of love. Chapter 15 will also return to the Revelation timeline with the close of probation and the pouring out of the seven last plagues.
Chapter 15 will also return to the Revelation timeline with the close of probation and the pouring out of the seven last plagues.
 “He will thoroughly clean His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn”. “The harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels…I will say to the reapers,…‘Gather the wheat into my barn” (Matthew 3:12, 13:39, 30). Jesus compared himself to a kernel of wheat that falls to the ground, dies, and then comes to life, producing a rich harvest.
 Treading the winepress and slaying the unrepentant at the Second Coming are linked in Revelation 19—“The rest were slain with the sword of Him who sat on the horse, which proceeded out of His mouth.” “And out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should smite the nations…and He treads the wine press of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God” (Revelation 19:21, 15).
 There are two main words for wine in the Old Testament. Tiyrowsh is often translated “new wine” and is the unfermented fresh juice of grapes. It consistently refers to what God provides for His people, for the priests, and as tithe (Genesis 27:37, Numbers 18:12, Deuteronomy 7:13, 11:14, 12:17, 14:23, 18;14, 33:28, 2 Chronicles 31:5, Nehemiah 10:37, 13:5, Psalms 4:7, Proverbs 3:10, Is. 62:8, Jeremiah 31:12, Hosea 2:8,9,22, Joel 2:19,24). New wine cheers the heart of man and makes him thrive. (Judges 9:13, Zechariah 9:17). The other main word for wine is Yayin. It can mean new wine (Isaiah 16:10, 65:8, Jeremiah 40:12, 8:33), it is used as the sin offering (Leviticus 23:13, Numbers 15:5), and it can be an acceptable part of the diet which God neither condemns nor approves (2 Samuel 16:1, 1 Chronicles 12:40, Ecclesiastes 9:7, 10:19, Jeremiah 40:10). But in many cases it has a negative connotation, associated with drunkenness, foolishness, personal distress and disaster, fatal mistakes, pagan feasts and reveling, and is used to symbolize God’s wrath (Genesis 9:21, 19:32, 27:25, Leviticus 10:9, Numbers 6:3, Deuteronomy 32:33, Judges 13:4, 1 Samuel 1:14, 2 Samuel 13:28, Esther 1:7, Job 1:13, Psalms 60:3, 75:8, Proverbs 4:17, 20:1, 21:1,7, 23:30,31, 31:4,6, Ecclesiastes 2:31, Isaiah 5:11,12,22, 22:13, 28:17, 56:12, Jeremiah 13:12-14, 23:9, 25:15, 51:7, Ezekiel 44:21, Daniel 1:5, 5:1, Hosea 7:5, Joel 3:3, Amos 2:8, 6:6, Micah 2:11, Habakkuk 2:5).
 Some have maintained that Paul advocated or at least allowed fermented wine in his advice to Timothy, “No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for your stomach's sake and your frequent infirmities.” ITimothy 5:23. But this text shows that Timothy’s previous practice did not include drinking wine, only water, and he changed because he needed a medicine, not a different beverage. Many harmful substances are used in small amounts as medicines but should not be used except in cases of illness.
 Contrary to the claims of those who believe in “original sin,” babies are not born into the world having inherited guilt from Adam that must be atoned for. Ezekiel made this clear in chapter 18, which is summarized in verse 20, “The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father.”