The Final Harvest
In his commentary on Revelation, Richard Phillips begins his discussion on the end of chapter 14 with a discussion of the expression of ‘the grapes of wrath’. He notes:
“‘The grapes of wrath’ has a long history in American propaganda. Its most prominent use is in ‘The Battle Hymn of the Republic,’ penned in November 1861 by Julia Ward Howe. This hymn anoints the Northern armies in the American Civil War with the sword of God’s justice against their Southern neighbors:
“Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord:
“He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored.
“The same claim was suggested by John Steinbeck’s 1939 novel The Grapes of Wrath, which advocated the cause of migrant workers in the California orchard fields. Steinbeck employed this title to suggest that violent labor organization and socialist economic policies represent God’s righteous judgment against greedy capitalists.
“The imagery of the grapes of wrath comes from Revelation 14, where it depicts Christ’s judgment on a sinful world. When the angel calls for Christ to swing his sickle and gather ‘the grape harvest of the earth’ (Rev. 14:19), he is not depicting the righteous warfare of one class of humans against another but rather the holy wrath of God against all the earth. a study of Revelation 14:14-20 shows the presumption of any people claiming to wield God’s wrath against another: only the Son of Man is qualified to sit in final judgment, and the grapes of wrath represent the entire human race apart from Christ, suffering wrathful judgment for rebellion against his rule.”
As we come to the end of Revelation 14, we are reminded that the book of Revelation is largely a symbolic book, and we are looking at it in terms of seven parallel cycles rather than one linear story. Each visionary cycle takes in the entire gospel age. First, chapters 1-3 present John’s vision of Christ in the midst of the seven gold lampstands, addressing the seven churches. Second, chapters 4-7 describe the opening of the book or scroll with the seven seals. Third, chapters 8-11 record the sounding of the seven trumpets of judgment. Chapters 12-14 are about war between the dragon and his helpers against the angels and saints of God. Chapters 15-16 present the outpourings of the seven vials of wrath. Chapters 17-19 tell about the fall of the great harlot and the beasts. The book concludes with chapters 20-22, a vision of the new Jerusalem.
Revelation 14:14-20 is the final scene in the fourth cycle of visions. It is a close-up description of what will happen at the end of time, when Christ comes again from heaven to judge the living and the dead. This final judgment, which will be the culmination of world history and the consummation of God’s Kingdom, has been announced repeatedly in earlier visions. But here it is actually described for us in increasingly graphic detail.
We will conclude the morning reflecting on how the people of God sang a song in celebration and victory following their deliverance from Egyptian bondage, and how God’s people now sing in celebration of the Lamb’s triumph over evil.
It is with eager expectation that I anticipate singing songs of celebration and victory, praying to the triune God, and reading the Word of the Lord with you this Lord’s Day. I urge you to pray for the Spirit’s work and encourage you to bring a friend or family member along with you. Grace and peace to you.
Grace upon Grace,
September is our partnership month with Good Shepherd food pantry: Please bring your non-perishable and staple items – Thank you:
- Canned Chicken, tuna, spam or luncheon meat
- saltine crackers
- canned fruit
- cereal (any kind)
- chunky brand soups with meat
- peanut butter and jelly
- mac-n-cheese dinner (requires only water)