The ingathering of the “grapes” represents the “wrath of God” on all men who have taken the “mark of the beast” – Revelation 14:17-20.
Next, Revelation presents the ingathering of the “fruit of the vine,” which is now pressed in the “winepress of the God’s wrath,” the fate of all men who gave allegiance to the “beast” and received its “mark.” Faithful “saints” were gathered into the “sanctuary of God,” but the “inhabitants of the earth” are now “tread underfoot” in His winepress.
The saints from all nations were reaped by the “son of man” figure, the final grain harvest. Now, the other harvest is ripe and ready for harvest, the ingathering of the grapes into the “winepress of the wrath of God.”
- (Revelation 14:17-20) – “And another angel came forth out of the sanctuary that is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle. And another angel came forth out of the altar, who hath authority over the fire, and called out with a loud voice to him who had the sharp sickle, saying: Thrust in thy sharp sickle and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth, because the grapes thereof are fully ripe. And the angel 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. And the winepress was trodden outside the city, and there came forth blood out of the winepress, even unto the bits of the horses, at a distance of a thousand six hundred furlongs.”
“And another angel came out of the sanctuary…having a sharp sickle.” Like the preceding grain “harvest,” this one is executed with a “sharp sickle.” However, unlike the preceding “harvest,” the fruit of the vine is “gathered” by an “angel,” not by the “Son of Man.” Moreover, the angel does NOT “reap” the fruit of the vine; instead, he “gathers” it to be “cast into the winepress.”
The “gathering” is performed by an angel “from the altar, who has authority over the fire.” The clause has verbal links to two passages; to the opening of the “seventh seal”; and to the introduction of the angels with the seven “bowls of wrath”:
- (Revelation 8:2-5) – “Another angel came and took his stand at the altar, having a censer of gold: and there was given unto him much incense, that he might give it for the prayers of all the saints, upon the altar of gold that is before the throne…And the angel at once took the censer, and filled it from the fire of the altar, and cast onto the earth; and there came to be claps of thunder, and voices, and flashes of lightning, and an earthquake.”
- (Revelation 15:7-16:2) – “And one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God who lives to the ages of ages. And the sanctuary was filled with smoke by the glory of God, and by his power; and no one was able to enter the sanctuary until the seven plagues of the seven angels should be ended. And I heard a loud voice from the sanctuary, saying to the seven angels: Go, and pour out the seven bowls of the wrath of God onto the earth.”
In all three passages, the same judicial event is in view, though the details provided in each description vary.
“And he gathered the vine of the earth and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God.” This is another link to the “seventh seal” opening when the angel with the censer took its contents and “cast them onto the earth” – (ebalen eis tén gén). Likewise, here, the angel with the sickle takes the fruit of the vine and “casts it into the winepress” – (ebalen eis tén lénon). The series of “seven seals,” “seven trumpets,” and the “war” that began in chapter 12 now culminate in the final judgment of the wicked.
The change in verb from “reap” to “gather” is significant, for it provides a verbal link to the “sixth bowl of wrath,” when the “kings of the earth and their armies” were “gathered” to the “great day of the battle of God the Almighty” – (Revelation 16:12-16, 19:17-21).
“The winepress was trodden outside the city.” The “city” is “Babylon,” the same “great city” where Jesus was crucified, and the “two witnesses” were slain. The image presents a fitting judgment for the “nations” that had “tread under foot” the court that was “cast outside the sanctuary,” and for the slaying of Jesus “outside the city.” So, in like manner, the men who took the “mark of the beast” and drank the “wine of the wrath” of “Babylon” are now judged “outside” the “city” – (Revelation 11:1-13, 16:17-21, 18:1-24).
“The great winepress of the wrath of God.” Thus, the fulfillment of the announcement of the fall of Babylon by the third angel:
- (Revelation 14:8-10) – “If anyone renders homage to the beast and his image… he also shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is prepared unmixed in the cup of his anger; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone before holy angels and before the Lamb.”
That vintage is produced as the angel casts the “fruit of the vine” into the “winepress of the wrath of God.” Those who gave allegiance to the “beast” now drink the “wine” of His wrath.
“And the winepress was trodden… And there came forth blood out of the winepress.” The clause employs language from two passages from Isaiah, plus one from the Book of Joel. Language from the first passage was found previously in the description of the “sixth seal,” the day of the “wrath of the Lamb.” Language from the second passage is found in the vision of the “Rider on a White Horse,” who waged “war” against the “beast” and destroyed him and his allies – (Revelation 6:12-17, 19:11-21):
- (Isaiah 34:4-9) – “For Yahweh has indignation against all the nations, and wrath against all their host: he has utterly destroyed them, he has delivered them to the slaughter. Their slain also shall be cast out, and the stench of their dead bodies shall come up; and the mountains shall be melted with their blood… For Yahweh has a day of vengeance, a year of recompense for the cause of Zion. And the streams of Edom shall be turned into pitch, and the dust thereof into brimstone, and the land thereof shall become burning pitch. IT SHALL NOT BE QUENCHED NIGHT NOR DAY; THE SMOKE THEREOF SHALL GO UP FOREVER.”
- (Isaiah 63:1-4) – “Who is this that comes from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? This that is glorious in his apparel, marching in the greatness of his strength? I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save. Why are you red in your apparel, and your garments like him that TREADS IN THE WINEPRESS? I HAVE TRODDEN THE WINEPRESS alone; and of the peoples there was no man with me: yea, I trod them in mine anger, and trampled them in my wrath; and their lifeblood is sprinkled upon my garments, and I have stained all my raiment. For the day of vengeance was in my heart, and the year of my redeemed is come.”
- (Joel 3:12-13) – “Let the nations bestir themselves and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat; for there will I sit to judge all the nations round about. PUT IN THE SICKLE; FOR THE HARVEST IS RIPE: come, TREAD YE; FOR THE WINEPRESS IS FULL, the vats overflow; for their wickedness is great.”
Originally, both passages from Isaiah pictured the judgment of Yahweh on Edom, a traditional enemy of Israel. But now, the “wrath of God” falls on all the “inhabitants of the earth,” those who took the “mark of the beast.” The verbal parallels mean that, in Revelation, the several passages which refer to the execution of God’s “wrath” all point to the same final event.
“There came forth blood…even to the bridles of the horses, at a distance of a thousand six hundred furlongs.” The image is not easily explained. “Furlong” or stadion occurs also in the book’s final vision when describing the dimensions of “New Jerusalem”:
- (Revelation 21:16) – “And the city lies foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs. The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal.”
The “blood” produced from the “winepress” of God’s wrath flowed “to the bits of the horses, a thousand six hundred furlongs.” The sum of sixteen hundred is the square of 40 – (40 x 40 = 1600). In contrast, the dimensions of “New Jerusalem” are four square, with each side measuring 12,000 furlongs. Effectively, the city of “New Jerusalem” is coterminous with the “new heavens and new earth.”
The distance and volume covered by the blood “outside the city” are significantly less than the physical size and volume of “New Jerusalem.” Possibly, the purpose is to stress the limitations of the “wrath of God.” That is, the “harvest” of the “grapes of wrath” is not necessarily larger than the grain harvest “reaped” by the “one like a son of man” and gathered into the “sanctuary of God”; that is, the city of “New Jerusalem” – (Revelation 21:22, “And I saw no sanctuary in it, for the Lord God the Almighty, and the Lamb, are the sanctuary in it”).
The outline of the two contrasting “final harvests” has been given. The book will now provide a detailed picture of the final “wrath of God” that is about to be poured out on the “inhabitants of the earth” in the “seven bowls of wrath.”