The Book of REVELATION
James J. Barker
THE HARVEST OF THE EARTH IS RIPE
- Last week we
started our study in Revelation 14, and I divided my exposition into three
- The Lamb standing in triumph on Mount Zion with the 144,000
- In verses 6 and 7 we see
“another angel” flying in the midst of heaven, having "the everlasting
gospel" to preach to the entire world.
- In verse 8, there is the
pronouncement by yet another angel, saying the great city of Babylon has
- Now tonight we
will pick up at verse 9, which tells us of a "third angel" (the first angel is
in verse 6, and the second in verse 8), which announces the doom of those who
worship the beast and take his mark.
THE DOOM OF THE BEAST-WORSHIPPERS
- Verse 6 refers
to "another angel." Then verse 8
says, "And there followed another angel..." Now verse 9 says, "And the third
angel followed them..." (Rev. 14:9-11).
- This prophecy
refers specifically to the doom of those who take the mark of the beast. However, it reminds us that all lost
sinners will be tormented in hell and shall "have no rest day nor night... for
ever and ever."
- We know this
because in the story of Lazarus and the rich man in Luke 16, our Lord referred
four times to the torment of hell (cf. Rev. 14:10, 11).
these warnings from Revelation 14 should not be restricted to beast-worshippers
during the tribulation, because in Luke 16:24, the rich man said, "I am tormented in this flame."
- Three times in
the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus said sinners will be "cast out into outer darkness: there shall be
weeping and gnashing of teeth" (Matthew 8:12; 22:13;
- In Matthew
25:46, our Lord said the lost "shall go away into everlasting
- In fact, our
Lord preached more about hell than He did about heaven; and He preached more
about hell than any other preacher in the Bible.
- Regarding God's
judgment upon the beast-worshippers, John Walvoord says, "Anyone who receives
the mark of the beast as required in 13:17 shall also partake of the judgment of
God. As he drinks of the wine of spiritual fornication, so he also shall drink
of the wine of the wrath of God. It is described in most dramatic terms as wine
that is unmixed, that is, untempered by the mercy and grace of God; and these
worshipers are declared to be 'tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence
of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb.' The same Scripture which
assures all Christians of the love of God and the grace of God as extended to
those who trust in Christ is unequivocal in its absolute statements of judgment
upon the wicked" (The Revelation of Jesus
- Regarding their
eternal torment, Walvoord says, "it is described in verse 11 as continuing
forever, literally 'into the ages of ages,' the strongest expression of eternity
of which the Greek is capable."
- Years ago, a British preacher by the name of William C.
Procter wrote an article entitled, "What Christ Teaches Concerning Future
Retribution." This article was
included in The Fundamentals, a twelve-volume collection of 90 essays edited by R.A. Torrey and A.C.
- He wrote, "The whole drift of Christ's teaching confirms
what we learn...that future retribution is not merely an incidental but a
fundamental part of the Gospel message. It is the dark background on which its
loving invitations and tender expostulations are presented, and the Gospel
message loses much of its force when the doctrine is left out. But, worst of
all, the earnest exhortations to immediate repentance and faith lose their
urgency if the ultimate result will be the same if those duties are postponed
beyond the present life...Finally, the doctrines of heaven and hell seem to
stand or fall together, for both rest upon the same Divine revelation, both are
described metaphorically, and both have the same word 'everlasting' applied to
their duration. If the threatenings of God's Word are unreliable, so may the
promises be; if the denunciations have no real meaning, what becomes of the
invitations? Ruskin well terms the denial of hell 'the most dangerous, because
the most attractive, form of modern infidelity.' But is it so modern? Is it not
an echo of the devil's insinuating doubt: 'Yea, hath God said'? followed by his
insistent denial, 'Ye shall not surely die,' which led to the fall of man? Let
us, therefore, believe God's truth, rather than the devil's lie; let us accept
Divine revelation, rather than human speculation; and let us heed what Christ so
plainly taught, without mitigating, modifying, or minimizing His solemn
THE PATIENCE OF THE SAINTS (14:12,
- Here in the
midst of visions of judgments is a word of encouragement to those who put their
trust in Christ.
- Though it is
referring specifically to believers during the tribulation, it certainly can be
applied now during this dispensation.
- Though many
believers will face martyrdom and others will go into hiding, they are assured
that they are much better off than the beast-worshippers who will be tormented
with fire and brimstone for ever and ever (14:9-13).
- Those who
receive the mark of the beast think they will be taking the easy way out, but
they will be badly deceived. As we
look around and observe the foolish and silly sin-loving unbelievers that we see
all around us, we can understand how most of them will have no difficulty
deciding to take the mark of the beast.
beast-worshipping sinners will think that those who are executed for refusing
the mark of the beast are the ones who are the fools!
- In verse 13,
John hears a voice from heaven pronouncing a blessing on those who die in the
- Those who die
in the Lord are described as resting from their labors with the rewards of their
work following them. This verse is the second of the seven beatitudes in the
book of Revelation (cf. 1:3; 16:15; 19:9; 20:6; 22:7,
THE HARVEST OF THE EARTH IS RIPE
- The expression
“the harvest of the earth is ripe” (14:15b) indicates that God's judgment is
overdue. The verb form “is ripe”
means “to become dry or withered.” The picture here is of a fruit or vegetable
that has become so ripe that it has begun to dry up and
- Following the
reassurance of the saints’ ultimate reward, John beholds One like the Son of man
sitting on a white cloud wearing a golden crown and having in his hand a sharp
- Our Lord said
in Luke 21:27, "And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud
with power and great glory."
- Revelation 1:7
says, "Behold, He cometh with clouds; and
every eye shall see him..."
- The golden
crown speaks of His glorified state and His royal dignity.
- The sharp
sickle indicates this is the time of harvest, that is, the battle of Armageddon
and the other climactic judgments relating to the second coming of Christ (cf.
- As John beholds
this spectacular vision of the Son of man holding His sharp sickle, he sees
another angel come out of the temple crying to the Son of man to thrust in His
sickle and reap, declaring that the harvest of the earth is ripe.
- "The picture
here is of a fruit or vegetable that has become so ripe that it has begun to dry
up and wither. The rotten moral condition of the world is dealt with now with a
sharp sickle" (Walvoord).
- Our Lord said
in Matthew 13:39, "The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the
end of the world; and the reapers are the angels" (cf. Rev.
- Like the Son of man, the angel in Revelation 14:17 also
has a sharp sickle indicating the severity of the judgment. Twice the sharp
sickle is mentioned in verse 18, and the clusters of the vine of the earth are
described as grapes fully ripe -- that is, ripe for
- This is a vivid picture of divine judgment as God's
harvest. This is a picture of grapes fully grown and almost bursting with juice.
- In verse 19 the angel, thrusts his sickle into the earth
and casts it into “the great winepress of the wrath of God” (cf.
- In verse 20, the winepress is described as trodden
without the city, that is the city of Jerusalem, and blood is said to come even
to the bridles of the horses as far as 1,600 furlongs (nearly 200
- The Scofield Study Bible margin says a furlong
equals 582 feet.
- The area covered (1,600 furlongs) reveals that the area
within a 200-mile radius from Jerusalem will be the center of the famous battle
of Armageddon, where the armies of the world will be gathered at the time of the
second coming of Christ.
- John Walvoord says, "The spurting of the grape juice
from under the bare feet of those treading the grapes in the winepress is
compared to the spurting of blood and speaks of the awful human carnage of
Revelation 19:17-19, 21" (The Revelation of Jesus
- Henry Alford says, "There is no reason, however, for
limiting the battle to the precise boundary of the holy land, and there is
really no serious problem here in taking the distance literally. The terrible
picture here given of the bloodletting which will mark the end of the age may
include various phases of the battle taking place in the great tribulation and
the climax of Christ’s victory when He judges the nations at its end" (The
Greek New Testament, cited by Walvoord).
- Note Alford refers to the "various phases of the battle
taking place in the great tribulation and the climax of Christ’s victory when He
judges the nations at its end."
This is why many Bible teachers refer to the battle of Armageddon as a
"campaign," i.e., a series of battles.
- This prophecy in Revelation 14 should be carefully
compared to a similar one in Isaiah 63:3, 4. Both prophecies describe the Battle of
- Isaiah 63:4 refers to this as "the day of vengeance."
- William Kelly
regards this chapter as the outline of the end of the age: "In this chapter,
then, we have the full outline of the dealings of God in the latter-day crisis.
There are seven divisions of it. First, there is the full remnant of godly Jews
associated with the Lamb on mount Sion, in sympathy with His sufferings and
waiting for the kingdom. Secondly, a testimony to the Gentile nations scattered
all over the world as well as to those seated on the prophetic earth. Thirdly,
the fall of Babylon. Fourthly, the fearful doom, both in this world and in the
next, of such as should worship the beast and his image, or receive the mark of
his name. Fifthly, the blessedness from that time of those that die in the Lord.
Sixthly, the discriminating process of the harvest. And seventhly, the awful
infliction of vengeance on religious apostasy; the first, at least, of these two
last acts of judgment being executed by the Son of man, which necessarily
supposes the very close of the age; the wrath, not of God only, but of the Lamb"
(Lectures on the Book of Revelation, cited by
- Today is a day
of grace. Only God knows how much
time is left before these amazing prophecies will be
- Walvoord says, "What is true of the tribulation is also
true today, namely, that God will ultimately judge all men. Today, however, the
invitation is still open to those who will trust in Christ and who thereby can
avail themselves of the grace of God and be saved from entering this awful
period which may be impending for this present generation" (The Revelation of