A Study in the Word: Revelation 14:14-20


The kingdom of God was established when the seventh trumpet sounded (11:15). There are two harvests (Matt. 13:24-30). The Son of Man gathers His people to Himself (Rev. 14:14-16). Unbelievers experience the harvest of judgment (14:17-20).

The “son of man” is Jesus (14:1a). The sickle is the instrument of harvest (14:1b-16). The full number of the saved has been reached (“ripe,” 14:15). The saved are gathered to him (14:16), a consistent emphasis throughout Revelation.

Prayers for justice come from the altar (14:18; 6:9-11). “Ripe” in verses 17 and 18 indicates that the grapes are fully ripe and beginning to dry; there is nothing further to be gained by delaying harvest. These “grapes” are those who have constantly refused to repent (Joel 3:13).

Background for 14:19 is in Isaiah 63. God’s vengeance exacted a terrible price in Edom (63:2). Wrath was His work alone (63:3). For Edom and for unrepentant others who incur His wrath, their judgment was a day of vengeance: He “redeemed” His divine purpose (63:4). That day belonged exclusively to God; He fulfilled the role of warrior by Himself (63:5). Even acting alone, His work was a complete work, bringing death to all who refused the life He offered (63:6).

The city in Revelation 14:20 is the new Jerusalem where the saints will dwell with God (3:12; 21:2). Judgment “outside the city” refers to judgment on unbelievers who never enter the new home of the saved (14:20). Robert Mounce comments, “The judgment of God, portrayed ideally as taking place outside the holy city, extends to all men everywhere who find themselves beyond the pale of divine protection.” The scope of judgment pictured in verse 20 leaves no way of escape for anyone who rejects Jesus. The picture is horribly graphic, but not so uncommon in war. For example, Antietam Creek ran blood red for three days after the American Civil War battle there in 1862.

Chapters 12 through 14 remind John’s readers of what lies in store for believers and the unrepentant. These chapters hold out the faithfulness of God for His people and encourage them to hold fast to their faith, even in the face of what seems to be a hopeless situation. Satan is already a defeated power. Judgment to be announced by the seventh trumpet is coming, a comfort for the saints and a warning to the unrepentant to avoid punishing consequences certain to come.

Dr. David Moore is a university online instructor in Bible and theology. Email: dm5867se@outlook.com


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