IV.A.6: Reaping the Earth’s Harvest, and the Grapes of Wrath - Section 3 (series: Lessons on Revelations)
by John Lowe
20 And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs.
The Judgment symbolized here is also very terrible. The description is graphic indeed; “And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs.” What an appalling scene. From Dan to Beersheba was sixteen hundred furlongs, that is, about 200 miles. Flowing from Armageddon, a deep crimson tide of human blood is seen. John describes the amount of blood as deep enough to reach the height of a horse’s “bridle”4. The greatest concern here is not the exact distance; it is the immeasurable extent of God’s judgment falling on those who refuse to believe.
Outside the city where He was crucified, down there in the valley of Jehoshaphat, the valley of judgment, the Lord will complete the trampling down of His foes. What is signified is a vast destruction of human life, a slaughter beyond anything the world has ever known, a slaughter that begins at Armageddon and which continues on to the end of the judgment of the living nations spoken of in Matthew 25:31-46. When the Lamb of God thrusts His sickle into earth’s harvest, such plagues, such agonies as will immediately come upon the earth have never before been known. Men will “gnaw their tongues for pain” (Revelation 16:10). Ezekiel describes the scene by relating that seven years will be required to rid the earth of the weapons of warfare amassed by the nations, and seven months to bury the dead (Ezekiel 39:8-16). This is THE END of man’s glory and Satan’s rule on the earth.
The harvest. Both grain and grape harvest illustrate the single event of coming judgment. Some would make the grain harvest include only the righteous and the grape harvest only the wicked, but this cannot be substantiated. The grain harvest, at the end of the world (Mark 4:29; Matthew 13:30; Jeremiah 51:33; Hosea 6:11), appears to include both righteous and wicked. John uses the two symbols to describe the single judgment which is going to happen soon.
In both illustrations, the grain and the grapes were pronounced ready for harvest because they were “ripe.” Evidently, all conditions had been met, such as preaching the gospel to all nations. Everything is in readiness.
The Judgment. Inasmuch as the grapes are thrown into the great winepress of the wrath of God, some interpreters see this judgment as including the wicked only. The grain was the righteous and was gathered by the Son of man; an angel reaped the grapes. Others point out that in the parable of the tares angels reap both righteous and wicked and that the distinction cannot be sustained. Wine has been used as a symbol of seductive evil (14:8). But it is also symbolic of Christ’s redeeming blood.
My prayer is that the unsaved who read these pages will turn to Christ at once and thereby escape the unsparing wrath to come. Man ought to praise God that in this day of grace sinners can find refuge in the Lord Jesus Christ. Today God’s mercy is extended to all. Oh, yield to the wooing of the Holy Spirit and receive Jesus Christ at once.
Notes and Scriptures
1 Darnel is any of several grasses of the genus Lolium, having simple stems, flat leaves, and terminal spikes.
2 Vintage stands for a season’s yield of grapes or wine from a vineyard.
3 Sickle is the name of an implement used in harvesting grain, and is still in use in remote sections of the Arabic country today.
4 Certainly, John is using hyperbole when he describes a river of blood four feet deep and 200 miles long.
5 The identical terminology is used in Revelation 1:13—“And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle.”