Eye of the Hurricane (Revelation 14)

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I’ve titled this week’s talk “Eye of the Hurricane” because chapter 14 of Revelation is a lot like one. If you’ve been with us the past few weeks, it could be comparable to a hurricane of information as we covered the many layers and complex symbolism of the midpoint of tribulation. It’s been tough, I know. Next week we will start another four weeks of pretty intense teaching (though not as bad as what we just went through) as we cover the many layers of the Bowl Judgments, Fall of Babylon, and the War of Armageddon that ends with Jesus finally coming back – and he won’t be handing out hugs.
The week after that will be Easter – at which point I will be taking a three week break from Revelation to share the Gospel with those who might visit us on Easter, and for those who come to our Sonrise Music Festival service two weeks later. I encourage you to start inviting people now! If you’ve been leery of inviting people up to this point because of the intensity of the series we are in, I’m telling you now that starting with Easter it will lighten up considerably such that anyone who starts coming after that will not need to have been here for the whole series to understand what is going on. And the content will be much easier to understand and less difficult to accept. I’m not saying you shouldn’t invite people now, but if you have been waiting – then wait no further – start inviting now those friends and loved ones that you would either like to come to faith or be part of this family.
With that said, let’s pray and get into it.

Revelation 14 is similar to the other interludes between judgments we’ve seen.
The first one was after the sixth seal judgment in chapter 7 where the 144,000 evangelists were sealed and we saw the great multitude of tribulation saints in heaven. That was an encouraging look ahead to the very end.
The second was in chapter 10 after the 6th trumpet judgment, with the vision of the angel with the little scroll that told us we were at the midpoint of tribulation.
And now that we have finished with the layers of the midpoint, we have another interlude in chapter 14 that will give us some glimpses of things to come and remind us of the reward for those who endure in the faith.
So, with that introduction – let’s read it. The chapter is divided into three different visions.
Revelation 14
The Lamb and the 144,000
14 Then I looked, and there before me was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads. And I heard a sound from heaven like the roar of rushing waters and like a loud peal of thunder. The sound I heard was like that of harpists playing their harps. And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders. No one could learn the song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth. These are those who did not defile themselves with women, for they remained virgins. They follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They were purchased from among mankind and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb. No lie was found in their mouths; they are blameless.
The Three Angels
Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth—to every nation, tribe, language and people. He said in a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water.”
A second angel followed and said, “‘Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great,’ which made all the nations drink the maddening wine of her adulteries.”
A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice: “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives its mark on their forehead or on their hand, 10 they, too, will drink the wine of God’s fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. They will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke of their torment will rise for ever and ever. There will be no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and its image, or for anyone who receives the mark of its name.”
12 This calls for patient endurance on the part of the people of God who keep his commands and remain faithful to Jesus.
13 Then I heard a voice from heaven say, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.”
“Yes,” says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them.”
Harvesting the Earth and Trampling the Winepress
14 I looked, and there before me was a white cloud, and seated on the cloud was one like a son of man with a crown of gold on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand. 15 Then another angel came out of the temple and called in a loud voice to him who was sitting on the cloud, “Take your sickle and reap, because the time to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.” 16 So he who was seated on the cloud swung his sickle over the earth, and the earth was harvested.
17 Another angel came out of the temple in heaven, and he too had a sharp sickle. 18 Still another angel, who had charge of the fire, came from the altar and called in a loud voice to him who had the sharp sickle, “Take your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of grapes from the earth’s vine, because its grapes are ripe.” 19 The angel swung his sickle on the earth, gathered its grapes and threw them into the great winepress of God’s wrath. 20 They were trampled in the winepress outside the city, and blood flowed out of the press, rising as high as the horses’ bridles for a distance of 1,600 stadia.

Before we break it down, let me remind you of where we are in the overall timeline of the tribulation. We have so far covered the rapture, which takes the church away before all of this goes down. Next comes the seven seals of the scroll God the Father handed to Jesus the Lamb. As he opened each seal, something happened. We saw the four horsemen, each representing a different phase of the Antichrist’s rise to power at the beginning of the tribulation followed by world war, famine, plagues, and death.  It specifically states that the fourth seal judgment of death killed a 4th of the world’s population at the time. The 6th seal revealed to the world who is behind it all as heaven was opened and the world saw God the Father on the throne and the lamb.
The seventh seal released the seven trumpet judgments that decimated a third of the earth in several ways, and reducing the population by another third, bringing the remaining population at the midpoint down to less than half what it will be before the rapture. That, and many believe that the American continents will be destroyed and uninhabited at this point, with most of the action from this point forward centering around Jerusalem and Babylon.
Here at the midpoint, several things have happened, but the main thing is that the Antichrist man has become the Beast from the Abyss after being killed and resurrected. He killed the two witnesses then sat in the temple calling himself God. The Jews fled to the wilderness where God protects them, and everyone else is now subject tot the Beast who causes everyone to worship him or die. And such it will be for the next 3.5 years as decreed by God in both Daniel and in Revelation.
And here in chapter 14 we are somewhere around the end of the midpoint – probably coinciding with the Beast getting his government set up along with his image that people are forced to worship and his mark that is required for buying and selling. There no doubt will be a slew of executions right off the bat as the Beast will be intent on destroying all traces of the Jews and Christians.
This first vision in chapter 14 may indicate the 144,000 are among those executed early in this period.
Revelation 14
14 Then I looked, and there before me was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads. And I heard a sound from heaven like the roar of rushing waters and like a loud peal of thunder. The sound I heard was like that of harpists playing their harps. And they sang a new songbefore the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders. No one could learn the song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth. These are those who did not defile themselves with women, for they remained virgins. They follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They were purchased from among mankind and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb. No lie was found in their mouths; they are blameless.
There is quite a bit of debate about the exact setting and timing of the events this vision is depicting. Which may be why I couldn’t find a good artist’s rendition of this.
John says that he sees “the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads.”
The Lamb, is the same Lamb he saw back in chapter 5 in the throne room of God where he has seven eyes and seven horns and is called the “Lamb as if slain” (indicating his death and resurrection) who took the scroll with seven seals on it from God’s hand and started opening them. This Lamb is Jesus Christ.
In the vision here in chapter 14, he is seen standing on Mount Zion with the 144,000 around him.
These 144,000 are the same 144,000 we met in chapter 7.
Revelation 7
1 Then I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds so they did not blow on the earth or the sea, or even on any tree. And I saw another angel coming up from the east, carrying the seal of the living God. And he shouted to those four angels, who had been given power to harm land and sea, “Wait! Don’t harm the land or the sea or the trees until we have placed the seal of God on the foreheads of his servants.”
And I heard how many were marked with the seal of God—144,000 were sealed from all the tribes of Israel…
Here in chapter 14 we have a few more details about them, such as the indication that the seal on their foreheads is God the Father’s name – and ….
Revelation 14
These are those who did not defile themselves with women, for they remained virgins. They follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They were purchased from among mankind and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb. No lie was found in their mouths; they are blameless.
These 144,000 were specifically called by God to be evangelists in the world during the evil days of the tribulation in order to bring more people to the faith. It says here they are virgins – not that being married is bad in any way. But sometimes God calls people to be single in order to serve Him completely with nothing else demanding their attention.  The Apostle Paul talked about this.
1 Corinthians 7
32 I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord. 33 But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife— 34 and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband. 35 I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.
Now, these verses are in the context of a whole chapter on the subject of marriage, so don’t think that Paul is saying that no one should ever get married. In fact he says in the next verse…
36 If anyone is worried that he might not be acting honorably toward the virgin he is engaged to, and if his passions are too strong and he feels he ought to marry, he should do as he wants. He is not sinning. They should get married.
He says more, but the point is that if you can’t remain pure and focused on the Lord, then you should get married – we are not called to single life. But if you have been gifted by God to not need the romantic companionship of a marriage partner, then be thankful and devote your whole self to the Lord in a way that a married person cannot. Neither way is wrong. Both are gifts of different kinds.
Anyway, these 144,000 will be virgins, and clearly of the male persuasion by the language used. And it says they “follow the Lamb wherever he goes” – meaning they are completely obedient to Christ, probably in a similar way that Jesus was completely obedient to His Father – though, since they are human, they cannot be perfect. But John does say that “no lie was found in their mouths; they are blameless.” So, I suppose they will be as close to perfection as human beings can be.
All of that is interesting, but the big question and what is most debated among commentators is the question of why are we seeing them again here in chapter 14, and where exactly is this taking place?
John says that he sees them with the Lamb on Mount Zion…
Revelation 14
And I heard a sound from heaven like the roar of rushing waters and like a loud peal of thunder. The sound I heard was like that of harpists playing their harps. And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders. No one could learn the song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth.
It’s a very musical scene, and apparently no one else can learn this song, so there’s no point in speculating about it.
The debate about location is centered around the mention of Mount Zion. Mount Zion is referred to throughout Scripture in three different ways:
It’s also called the City of David in reference to Jerusalem the capital of the United Kingdom of Israel.
It’s also the Millennial City – the future capital of the nation of Israel in the Millennial Kingdom after all of this.
And it’s the Heavenly City, as in the New Jerusalem that we will see in the new heaven and earth at the very end of revelation and which currently exists in heaven.
So, which Zion is John talking about here? That is what commentators are split on, but in my opinion it seems pretty obvious that this is talking about the heavenly Zion because it seems that the throne, the four living creatures, and the 24 elders are also in this scene, just like the throne room scene in heaven from chapter 4 and 5.
The reason for the disagreement is not because of what seems obvious, but because of the implications of the interpretation (which is often the case in this topic when interpreters stray from the literal).
The implications are as follows:
If it is taking place here at the midpoint and it’s in the heavenly zion, then that means the 144,000 evangelists are all dead for the full second half of tribulation. This means that evangelism will be all but gone during these dark days, and thus the chances for salvation slim – a prospect that doesn’t sit well with many.
And some are bothered by the idea that their seal from God did not protect them from death through to the end. But, the way I see it, if the two invincible witnesses could be killed when their ministry was done, then so can the 144,000. And the text of Revelation never actually says they are protected from death – only the stings of the locust demons.
If, on the other hand, this vision is depicting the future earthly zion in the Millennium Kingdom, then it must be at the end of tribulation because that is when Jesus will actually be on the earthly mount zion.  Many prefer this version anyway because it implies the 144,000 survived the tribulation and continued their evangelism. This interpretation feels better to us, but begs the question among others about the throne, the living creatures, and the elders – and why Jesus is in the form of a lamb while in his kingdom on earth that he just conquered for himself?
I’ll leave a few links in my notes if you want to learn more about these different possible interpretations.
As for myself, as I pointed out last week, I prefer to err on the side of the literal text being accurate and my feelings about it being wrong. So, in my saddened opinion, I believe this vision is at the midpoint and the 144,000 are gone from the earth, meaning that the second half of the tribulation will be scarce on people spreading the good news. Which is sad, but we will also see in the next few chapters that it’s not like many would listen anyway. Now that God’s believing remnant is protected and won’t be harmed, the rest of humanity is, in a sense, on their own.
It’s a sobering thought, but God has every right to do this to a people who have been telling him to leave them alone for centuries. And it’s not as if he doesn’t leave them with a global call to salvation and warning for not taking it.
Revelation 14 – The Three Angels
Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth—to every nation, tribe, language and people. He said in a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water.”
A second angel followed and said, “‘Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great,’ which made all the nations drink the maddening wine of her adulteries.”
A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice: “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives its mark on their forehead or on their hand, 10 they, too, will drink the wine of God’s fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. They will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke of their torment will rise for ever and ever. There will be no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and its image, or for anyone who receives the mark of its name.”
Although we can’t tell for sure, the placement of this vision within Revelation, and what these angels are talking about leads me to believe these are real angels that do this proclaiming near the midpoint after the Beast has come into full power and set up his kingdom headquarters in Babylon and put in place the system of his mark. Basically, with the 144,000 evangelists gone, God is giving the inhabitants of the world one final call to repentance.
Let’s look at what each of the angels says.
Revelation 14
Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth—to every nation, tribe, language and people. He said in a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water.”
The “midair” means within the earth’s atmosphere. The angel is flying all over the earth, or I suppose at least the remaining parts that are populated by people, and he speaks in such a way that every human being alive can hear him. It says he is proclaiming the eternal gospel – the good news that leads to salvation.
This is something Jesus predicted would happen before the very end. In speaking about these end times to his 12 disciples (and future generations of disciples like us), he says…
Matthew 24
“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
The second half of tribulation will not be a good time for Christians. The Antichrist/Beast will be in full power and God will allow him to all but wipe out His people. Hence why Jesus called it a “great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now – and never to be equaled again. If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.” (Matthew 24:21-22)
But here at the beginning of the end, the world is given the gospel.
And the angel specifically says, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water.”
He warns that judgment is coming soon, then makes a plea to worship God the Creator. This has always been the main reason why God demands our worship and praise – because He made us, and everything else. The fundamental truth of our existence is that we are created beings with one purpose – to worship our Creator.
Which is why it comes as no surprise that this is the one fact that Satan has incited the world to fight against with such passion and fervor. Few things are so vehemently denied and and hated as the fact that God created the heavens and the earth and all that is in them, including humanity, and he did it in six days only about 6,000 years ago as Scripture clearly says. I don’t have time today to cover the arguments for that truth (check out my series from two years ago called In the Beginning), but know that the truth of creation is the foundation of the gospel. Nothing about the kingdom of God and sin and heaven and hell and obedience and so on makes any sense except that God made everything and thus everything is subject to Him.
This is why God is so often in Scripture referred to and praised for being the creator of heaven and earth – because that fact alone is worthy of our complete devotion and praise.
But the good news is that he not only created us. When we rebelled, he sent his son to die for us. What king would do that? What creator would die for his rebellious creation? What God would humble himself to allow his creation to kill him?
My God – My Creator – My King!
Sadly more will deny His grace and mercy than accept it, despite these pleas and warnings.

Next comes the prediction of Babylon’s fall.
Revelation 14
A second angel followed and said, “‘Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great,’ which made all the nations drink the maddening wine of her adulteries.”
We will be talking about Babylon in depth in two weeks, but basically Babylon is a real city, the home base of the Beast, and a symbol of everything opposed to God. This angel is proclaiming the certainty that the Beast and his kingdom will fail. In other words – people of earth, don’t chose the losing team.

And finally, the third angel makes it clear what taking the mark of the Beast means.
Revelation 14
A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice: “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives its mark on their forehead or on their hand, 10 they, too, will drink the wine of God’s fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. They will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke of their torment will rise for ever and ever. There will be no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and its image, or for anyone who receives the mark of its name.”
I will talk about some of these details in a later week, but it should seem pretty clear that taking the mark is not a good idea. Once a person takes the Beast’s mark, there is no going back. They have sealed their fate.
And all of these warnings are given to the inhabitants of the earth near the midpoint of tribulation in such a way that no person can claim ignorance. From this point forward, until just before the end, it seems that the Beast has full power on earth such that those who worship him will think that with his resurrection they must have won and the worst is behind them. But what they refuse to believe is that the worst truly is yet to come.

And for the few believers still alive and being hunted, some words of encouragement are inserted here as in other places.
Revelation 14
12 This calls for patient endurance on the part of the people of God who keep his commands and remain faithful to Jesus. 13 Then I heard a voice from heaven say, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.”
“Yes,” says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them.”
If you are a believer during this time, these will be encouraging words, such that you should not fear death – because at this point, death truly is better than life. Later these martyrs are given special honor for holding to the testimony of their faith in Jesus Christ amid the worst persecution the world has ever seen.

Then John’s vision shifts to what is a symbolic representation of what the rest of tribulation is ultimately accomplishing. It’s a two-part vision. Two harvests. One you want to be a part of, the other you don’t. Let’s look at the good harvest first.
Revelation 14
14 I looked, and there before me was a white cloud, and seated on the cloud was one like a son of man with a crown of gold on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand. 15 Then another angel came out of the temple and called in a loud voice to him who was sitting on the cloud, “Take your sickle and reap, because the time to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.” 16 So he who was seated on the cloud swung his sickle over the earth, and the earth was harvested.
This vision calls to mind another vision by another prophet we’ve visited frequently and a parable that Jesus told.
The prophet, of course, is Daniel.  The vision is the vision of the four beasts from the sea that we have covered extensively in this series. At the tail end of that vision, Daniel sees “one like a son of man.”
Daniel 7
13 “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. 14 He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.
This, of course, was a vision of Jesus – the Son of Man – which is actually Jesus’ most often used title for himself. Yes, he is the Son of God, but he is also the Son of Man – as in he is a human being.
And it is the fact that he really is a human being, just like you and me, that gives him the right to judge us as he does. He was able to live a life without sin, though he was tempted in every way. And so, he has earned the right to judge us having literally been in our shoes. And he will retain his humanity for eternity.
Back to John’s vision, and it would seem that this son of man seated on a cloud with a golden crown on his head is also Christ.
Some like to suggest that this is not Christ, but an angel, because the crown he is wearing is a stephanos (a victor’s crown) rather than a diadema (a crown of royalty). I would say that Jesus deserves both. He is royalty, but he has also conquered death and the grave, making him a victor. Who’s to say he can’t wear both kinds? And unlike Daniel, John never refers to anyone but Christ as a son of man.
Another argument against it being Christ is that he takes an order from an angel, but who’s to say angels can’t be used as messengers (which is actually what the Greek word angelos means)?
Either way, we can’t really know for sure, but my money is on this being Jesus – the Son of Man. He has a sickle and he is cued to “Take your sickle and reap, because the time to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.”
So, what is this harvest?  Not surprisingly, there is disagreement over this too. Some think that both this and the grape harvest in the next vision are for judging the wicked, but others suggest that such redundancy wouldn’t make sense – that this first harvest is a harvest of believers.
I agree with the latter. There is no mention of judgment in this vision, and Jesus himself referred to harvesting in terms of believers before.  Once, was when he was out walking with his disciples.
Matthew 9
35 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
Here he was referring to the hearts that are open to receive the gospel being ready to be harvested, as in converted, but that the workers in spreading the good news are few. This is a call to us to be more diligent in being a witness to the world.
He also told a parable about a two-part harvest similar to what we see here in Revelation.
Matthew 13 – The Parable of the Weeds
24 Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26 When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.
27 “The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’
28 “‘An enemy did this,’ he replied.
“The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’
29 “‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’”
I believe that the first harvest, by the Son of Man sitting on the cloud is symbolic of Christ harvesting the results of his good seed. He is reaping all the souls of the redeemed, the forgiven, the saved. Those who a few chapters ago the angels sang..
Revelation 12:11
They triumphed over him
    by the blood of the Lamb
    and by the word of their testimony;
they did not love their lives so much
    as to shrink from death.
What this harvest looks like on the earth is likely the many believers who are martyred during the second half. They are killed for their faith and are thus triumphant over the Enemy.

The second vision in Revelation 14 about the grapes is synonymous with the weeds in the parable being harvested and judged.  Let’s take a look at it.
Revelation 14
17 Another angel came out of the temple in heaven, and he too had a sharp sickle. 18 Still another angel, who had charge of the fire, came from the altar and called in a loud voice to him who had the sharp sickle, “Take your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of grapes from the earth’s vine, because its grapes are ripe.” 19 The angel swung his sickle on the earth, gathered its grapes and threw them into the great winepress of God’s wrath. 20 They were trampled in the winepress outside the city, and blood flowed out of the press, rising as high as the horses’ bridles for a distance of 1,600 stadia.
This sounds brutal, and it is. This is where the phrase, “Grapes of Wrath” comes from. The prophet Joel had a similar vision.
Joel 3
12 “Let the nations be roused;
    let them advance into the Valley of Jehoshaphat,
for there I will sit
    to judge all the nations on every side.
13 Swing the sickle,
    for the harvest is ripe.
Come, trample the grapes,
    for the winepress is full
    and the vats overflow—
so great is their wickedness!”
That bit from Joel is part of a larger prophecy we will visit later when we cover the war of Armageddon, because that is what this grapes and winepress picture is referring to.
Basically, at the last battle, when Jesus finally comes back, he is going to personally execute everybody in the armies of the Beast to the point that his clothes are described as dipped in blood. I’m not going to get into those details today because I’m going to spend two weeks on the war of Armageddon that ends with this bloody event.
But I will talk a little about this mention of blood flowing out of the winepress. It’s a pretty gruesome picture. John says “blood flowed out of the press, rising as high as the horses’ bridles for a distance of 1,600 stadia.” Putting that into our English units, that is a river of blood about 4 feet high and 200 miles long. Now, obviously this is a vision, which means this may not be talking about a literal river of blood – but it could be.
The 200 miles actually makes sense because that is the distance from Bozrah (where Jesus will make his landing) and the Valley of Armageddon (where he will finish up the slaughter). So, if nothing else, this could be indicating that Christ will leave a significant blood trail as he pours out his wrath on those who chose the Beast over Him.
As for it being four feet deep – without a width we cannot determine overall volume. But one commentator I read calculated that, knowing a human body typically contains about six quarts of blood, the blood from one billion human beings would make a stream a little less than twenty yards wide at that depth and distance. Pretty sickening to think about.
More than likely, the slaughter at the end will not result in a 20 yard wide, four foot deep river of blood flowing over 200 miles. But likely it will result in a splattering of blood over that distance having about the same effect.
The whole point is not how much blood there will be but the picture is indicating that God’s wrath is great and when it is finally poured out on his rebellious creation it will be total, swift, and merciless.
Like I said I will be getting into the details of how the pouring out of wrath plays out starting next week with the bowl judgments.

So, that’s the eye of the hurricane.
Zooming back out and looking at this chapter as a whole.
It begins with a depiction of the 144,000 evangelists probably in heaven near the beginning of the second half of tribulation, thus ending their ministry and leaving the people of earth to fend for themselves.
Then we see three angels giving some news to the people of the earth. The first preaches the gospel and pleads with them to fear God their Creator (fear as in respect and worship). The second predicts that the Beast is going to lose and Babylon will fall. The third gives details of the fate of those who take the Beast’s mark.  This presumably is the last warning that the people of earth get before it’s too late.
Then the final vision of the two harvests indicates that the remaining events of tribulation will accomplish two things. One, the believers will be harvested by their savior to safety. And two, the rebellious will be harvested to wrath and death.
And in the middle of all that, believers are encouraged to stand firm, and to not fear death.

You know, that challenge is a common theme in these hard parts of Revelation and really throughout Scripture. Stand firm. And especially in the New Testament. Paul, and Peter, and John’s letters are full of encouragement about staying the course, standing firm, enduring.
Why?
Two reasons:
1. Because you will face opposition
2. It is worth it.
The Apostle Paul says it best in Philippians
Philippians 3
17 Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do. 18 For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things.
He says that many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Which was true back then, is true today, and will be even more true the closer we get to the end. This world is owned for the time being by Satan – whose very name means Adversary.
He is an adversary or enemy of God – and everything he does and everyone he influences will therefore be enemies of Christ and anyone who follows Him.  It’s guaranteed. Basically as Christians in this world, we are in enemy territory. And our enemy doesn’t care about the Geneva Convention or the rules of war.
We already see it alive and well in our formerly Christian nation. Is not everything we see in the news and everything that we see in popular media and entertainment and even our public school systems set up in opposition to the Christian faith and the truths of God’s Word?  It’s becoming harder and harder to maintain a biblical worldview without being harassed as a bigot and a hater and anti-science, etc.
Why?
Because the Adversary rules this world for the time being. It’s not a battle of political ideologies or a question of religious freedom. The attacks are all aimed at the truth of God. It’s the only way to make sense of the seemingly insane sociopolitical landscape right now. In other words, it’s as Paul told the Ephesians –
Ephesians 6:12
We are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.
In the time of the end, those evil powers will not only be spiritual but also physical as people take the mark of the beast and become puppets of the dragon in his war against God’s holy people. But it’s not like Christians are not dying for their faith in other parts of the world already. How many believers has ISIS beheaded? That is just a glimpse of the time of the end. Meanwhile here in America, Christians can’t even stand up to peer pressure.
So, Jesus and the Apostles urge us to stand firm, to endure – because opposition is guaranteed. In fact, if you find you experience no opposition to your journey of faith – you may be swimming in the wrong direction: downstream – going with the flow that leads to destruction. As Jesus says, “wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction.”
So, why fight it? Why persevere? Why not just go with what is easy?
Because as great as the consequence for caving is – even greater is the reward for those who pass the test.
Paul continues in Philippians:
Philippians 3
20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.
I don’t know about you, but I very much look forward to getting rid of this lowly body and getting a new glorious body!  And for those of us who choose to follow Jesus through the opposition now will get that new body before any of this craziness in tribulation gets started when we are raptured away.
We get to be citizens of heaven. We get to be with Jesus our Lord in person for all eternity. Not only that, but there are various levels of reward in the next life for a life lived well here and now.
As Paul says in a different letter…
1 Corinthians 15:58
Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
But the truth is that sometimes it does feel like it’s in vain. It seems that things don’t get better, and that the wrong side keeps winning. Sometimes it doesn’t seem like it pays to walk the line of obedience to God.
And you are right. Sometimes it does SEEM that way, and this is not a new phenomenon. Human beings from literally day one have been feeling the same way, such as at the end of the last book of the Old Testament.
Malachi 3
14 “You have said, ‘It is futile to serve God. What do we gain by carrying out his requirements and going about like mourners before the Lord Almighty? 15 But now we call the arrogant blessed. Certainly evildoers prosper, and even when they put God to the test, they get away with it.’”
See, that feeling is nothing new. And it’s true. Looking around, things do not seem fair. They do not seem just. It seems that the wrong side is always winning, that wickedness pays more than righteousness.
And often times it is true in the short term. But that doesn’t mean that God is unjust. It’s just that his justice plays out over a much longer period of time than most of us humans are willing to wait. Malachi continues..
16 Then those who feared the Lord talked with each other, and the Lord listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the Lord and honored his name.
17 “On the day when I act,” says the Lord Almighty, “they will be my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as a father has compassion and spares his son who serves him. 18 And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.
God is going to win the war, even though a times from our limited perspective it seems He is losing the battle. God has promised that all things will be set right in the end. Those who practice righteousness will be rewarded, and those who seem to be getting away with wickedness for the time being…well…
Malachi continues…
Malachi 4
1 “Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and the day that is coming will set them on fire,” says the Lord Almighty. “Not a root or a branch will be left to them. But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays. And you will go out and frolic like well-fed calves. Then you will trample on the wicked; they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day when I act,” says the Lord Almighty.
Basically, God promises that in the end there will be a very clear difference between those who follow him and those who do not. And for those who follow him, through the opposition and hardship in this world owned by the Adversary, it will be worth it because in the end, God Wins.
Just as the angels in Revelation 14 predict – Babylon will fall, and those who cave and take the mark will do so to their doom.
But for those who stand firm and endure until the end, they will be a part of the good harvest and stand on Mount Zion with the 144,000 and the Lamb with clean white robes and glorious new bodies.
And you will see in future weeks that we will then rule with Christ during his thousand year reign once the tribulation is done. And then eternity in Paradise thereafter!
So, be encouraged, my friends. Yes, it is hard to follow Jesus in a world that hates him. But it is worth it.
Just as the author of Hebrews says after the famous hall of faith in chapter 11 where he lists many who have gone before us enduring the same kind of opposition but persisting to the end…
Hebrews 12
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Let’s pray.