Revelation #25 Revelation 14:13-20 (MSG) End Time: A Blessing to Die?


Revelation #25 Revelation 14:13-20 (MSG) End Time:  A Blessing to Die?


We are picking up where we left off last time.  Earlier in chapter 14 John has told us about God’s last call.  The door of grace is about to close.  The time to repent, the time to bend the knee to Jesus, is almost up. Even though we get a glimpse of victory, believers are still being persecuted by the Beasts. We will finish our exploration of Chapter 14.


Would you be surprised if I told you that there are 7 times in the book that John writes “Blessed are”?  The first time was when we read Revelation 1:3 “How blessed the reader! How blessed the hearers and keepers of these oracle words, all the words written in this book!”  The blest are those who align themselves with God, the blessings of a right relationship in part involve living your life to the full, love, joy, belonging, meaning, purpose, and significance accompany inner peace and fortitude along with the Holy Spirit’s guidance and of course life eternal, just to mention a few blessings. Here in verse 13 is the second blessing. 


13 Then I heard a voice from heaven say, "Write: 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."


God’s perspective is so different from an anti-Christ cultural perspective.  Dying is generally not considered a good thing in our culture.  It’s the last thing you want to do. The book entitled “The City of God” written by Augustine early in the 5th century gave me a new perspective on death.  Rome was sacked by the Visigoths and Augustine wrote to defend the faith against the accusation that Christianity was making the Empire soft. Augustine wrote that death was a reward.  Death was a release from the suffering the world inflicts on you.  As we read death for the believer is rest from your labors. Death wasn’t understood as an end but as a transition into a life of blessing.  Augustine understood that being killed for your faith was the ultimate act of love and devotion to God.  John sees martyrs being taken directly into the throne room of God, in a place simply called under the altar. The Godly perspective is that death is the doorway to true and eternal rewards, which means you are saved. I don’t recommend behavior that would hasten your death, but I do suggest that you don’t dread it either; dare I say we should look forward to resting from our labors?


Your deeds result in rewards. John writes in Revelation 22:12 that Jesus is coming and bringing his payroll with him. Recall the rewards promised to overcomers in the 7 churches that John writes. It is the hope of every believer that Jesus will return in their lifetime.  I am all for skipping death and am pretty sure I rather experience transformation. “…We who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air…” (1 Thessalonians 4:17 (NIV) This thought leads us right into the next verses.


Revelation 14:14-16 (MSG)

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.


The one like the son of man is the Lamb, Jesus.  The golden crown is a sign of His Kingship, symbolic of Jesus’ triumph.  That another angel doesn’t mean that Jesus is an angel, it is just a different one from the others John has seen. This angel comes from the Temple, where the Throne Room of God is.  Some folks have wondered why an angel would tell Jesus that it was time to reap. Seems weird to have a subordinate tell a superior what to do.  When you recall what Jesus said though, suddenly it makes sense. "But the exact day and hour? No one knows that, not even heaven's angels, not even the Son. Only the Father knows” (Matthew 24:36 (MSG) (Mark 13:32).  Only the Father knows the time of the second coming, the consummation of the Kingdom.  An angel is God’s messenger, and the message to the Son is “Now!”


The scholars tell us that we should understand this as a grain harvest, which would translate into believers, a harvest for believers.  Mark 4:29 loans itself to such an interpretation. Jesus is using a parable to teach about the kingdom of God using the familiar scene of a grain harvest.  He says: “When the grain is fully formed, he reaps—harvest time!”  I haven’t found contextual support for the idea that this harvest is a harvest of grain.  But what seems to be clear when you compare this harvest to the next, is that Jesus is gathering the faithful. If John was writing another series of sevens, seven seals, and seven trumpets, then this is the point in such a narrative that John is seeing the end. As we draw close to the end there is a separation of the righteous from those who have rejected God’s offer of salvation. 


This understanding raises a question.  When we read of the two witnesses or all the possible identifications that could be made, our study suggested that the two witnesses represent the entire church.  As you know the Beast kills the two witnesses and after 3 ½ days God brings the witness back to life, there is a resurrection of these two and then they are taken up into the heavens. If this is so then who is being harvested?  Well once again we have to avoid our sequential thinking, first A happens then B happens. We have suggested that even though we are reading sequentially John’s vision is not sequential.  He is seeing events 1 through 7 from different perspectives.  Some from an earthly perspective, some from a heavenly perspective, some through the eyes of believers, and some through the eyes of the God rejectors. What is suggested here is that at the beginning of the end, the first part of John’s sevens, the faithful are raised, those still alive are transformed, and we meet the Lord in the air as the Apostle Paul wrote.


Here's a little side note, a look down an alleyway on the main road of this message of harvest concerning this meeting the Lord in the air.  N.T. Wright sees this as a description of what occurred when an emperor visited a city.  The citizens of that city would leave the city limits and go out and meet the emperor in the open country and then escort him back into the city.   [ ] Wright suggests that just before the second coming God’s faithful are gathered together, meeting face to face with their Savior, and then escort Him back to earth, an earth-created new by God.


Back on the main road, verses 14-16 are an encouragement to believers. Believers throughout history get smacked with rough, intense, and catastrophic times.  The vision of this harvest assures us that God does not forget his faithful followers and that perseverance will be rewarded. The earth is harvested, which means the work is completed, and your future is free of evil and injustice. But not so for those who have not bent their knee to the Lordship of Christ.


Revelation 14:17-20 (MSG)

17 Another angel came out of the temple in heaven, and he too had a sharp sickle. 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." The angel swung his sickle on the earth, gathered its grapes and threw them into the great winepress of God's wrath. 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.


The doors of grace have been shut.  Though grapes are associated with God’s favor and wine a symbol of joy, celebration, and abundance, the prophet Joel takes things in a very different direction.


Joel 3:12-14 (MSG)

Let the pagan nations set out for Judgment Valley. There I'll take my place at the bench and judge all the surrounding nations. "Swing the sickle—the harvest is ready. Stomp on the grapes—the winepress is full. The wine vats are full, overflowing with vintage evil. "Mass confusion, mob uproar—in Decision Valley! God's Judgment Day has arrived in Decision Valley.


Now when I was a kid back in 1862, we’d sing a song, and the lyrics were:

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;

He hath loosed the fateful lightning of his terrible swift sword:

His truth is marching on.

My friend Julia Howe wrote it. (Battle Hymn Of The Republic)


Truth demands a reckoning. If you are on the wrong side of truth, truth will slay you.  Please note, that it’s not the Lamb doing the trampling. It’s God’s messengers that are called upon to harvest the grapes.  Here the grapes are the unrepentant.  From their perspective, they are subject to God’s wrath.  God’s wrath is not vindicative or vengeful, it's just a spiritual law of the universe.  If you are separated from God then your end is going to be bad.  “If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime.”  The crime here is not accepting the gracious invitation of God the Father to actualize the atonement made by Jesus God the Son and allow God the Holy Spirit to transform you into the person you were created to be.  Bending the knee to the Lordship of Christ is the way you accept God's invitation.  First, acknowledge that you are not right with God, there are things you have done that deterred, damaged, and destroyed relationships with God and others and even yourself, and that identifies you as a grape. Second, believe that Jesus died so that grapes could be turned into grain.  Jesus sacrificed Himself so that He can atone for you being a grape. Third, commit to tossing all your grapy ways and commit yourself to being a disciple of Jesus, learning to do life in a way that aligns you with God.  Finally, just ask God to rescue you from Grapeville.  If that’s you pray this simple prayer with me:  Father God, I no longer want to be separated from you, I need you in my life, so I ask you to come into my life, I want to be a disciple of Jesus, I want to make Jesus my boss, please make it so.  If that’s where you are today, at the start of your spiritual transformation, let me know, I want to encourage you in your new faith.




Chapter 14, is another revealing Chapter into who Jesus is and what the result of His ministry looks like. The Lamb stands upon Mount Zion, Jesus has gathered the faithful, those who stayed loyal during the rough, intense, and catastrophic times necessary to convince the Messiah rejectors to change their ways.


Three angels herald that time is running out for people to change their ways.  The Gospel is offered to everyone, there will be no excuses. Meanwhile, there is a word of encouragement, even if you die, as a believer, unfairly eliminated by the Beast and its followers, death is just a doorway into life eternal.


The chapter ends with a harvest of saints and a harvest of sinners. Again we see the non-sequential vision John is relating to us because at the beginning of the Chapter, the saints are already standing with Jesus. This just might be reassurance for believers, that everything is going to be OK when you stay faithful to Jesus. Time is very fluid with John. The second harvest crushes the God-haters, as truth prevails in the end. The harvests tell us that God is in charge. He dictates when the harvests will conclude.


Believers are again reminded of their need for endurance and patience.  Jesus' ministry results in ultimate victory.  It’s already a done deal.  We are just waiting as we actively work as His ambassadors.  It looks like evil will win the day, but good will triumph. 


You want to stand with the 144,000, that 12 x 12 and that a thousand times over, a multitude too many to count.  You bend your knee to the Lordship of Jesus, and you grow spiritually, partnering with the Holy Spirit to purge impurity, as you learn to live a devout and holy life. You cast out all those adulterous idols that the world conned you into worshiping. It’s a process, it’s a journey, God recognizes the desire of your heart, and your intent and honors attitude so that you will stand with Jesus. Stay faithful amid the challenges that living your life to the full brings.


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