Author: Ron Graham
The Two Reapers
Judgment of the Beasts (Revelation 12-20) >Seven Signs >7th sign >Two Reapers
An Exposition of Revelation 14:14-20. John sees a vision of two reapers. One is like the Son of Man. He reaps from the earth what is his. Another angel then comes to reap the clusters of grapes that remain. He casts them into the winepress of the wrath of God.
1 The First Reaper
Son of Man In this vision John now sees a white cloud, and sitting on it "one like the Son of Man" (Revelation 14:14). This is the same Person whom John saw in the very first vision (Revelation 1:13).
In that vision, John heard that Person say, "I am the first and the last and the living One, and I was dead, and behold I am alive forevermore" (Revelation 1:17-18). This identifies him as Jesus Christ.
Sickle... harvest An angel from the temple in heaven calls to Christ on the cloud. Christ has a sharp sickle in his hand. The angel says, "Put in your sickle and reap... the harvest of the earth is ripe" (Revelation 14:15-16).
This is the harvest of "firstfruits to God" (Revelation 14:4) —all who have been consecrated to God and are likened to the firstfuits that were taken to the temple and offered to God back in Moses’s day. (Exodus 23:19).
Moreover, this is the judgment day harvest of the saved —those who have the name of Christ upon them, and their names in his book of life.
2 The Second Reaper
Another angel A second angel comes out of the heavenly temple with another sharp sickle (Revelation 14:17).
Then a third angel follows and calls out to the second angel. He tells the second angel to put in the sickle and reap what Christ, the first reaper, has left on the vine (Revelation 14:17-18).
Wine press The clusters of grapes, left by Christ the first reaper, are now harvested by the second reaper. He throws the grapes "into the winepress of God’s wrath" (Revelation 14:19).
In a winepress, grapes are pulped to extract the juice. A simple winepress consists of a large bin in which the grapes are trampled barefoot. The bin has an outlet for the juice to run out into buckets or jars.
Outside the city "The winepress of God’s wrath was trodden outside the city" (Revelation 14:20).
In a later vision of the heavenly city, John hears the beatitude, "Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city" (Revelation 22:14).
Then he is told that outisde the city are those whose robes are not washed clean (Revelation 22:15). In this present vision (Revelation 14:20), John does not tell us where the winepress of God’s wrath is, except to say it is outside of, and excluded from, the eternal and heavenly city of God.
Blood Instead of seeing the juice of the grapes coming from the wine press, John sees a great river of blood (Revelation 14:20). This is clearly a sign of death —in contrast to the eternal life inside the City of God.
NOTE Footnote on Revelation 14:20
Blood up to horses’ bridles The stream of blood rose "as high as the bridles of horses" (Revelation 14:20).
Most translations give the impression that John saw horses standing in the blood up to their mouths. It may be, however, that John is using the length of a familiar object, the bridles used on horses, as a simple comparison for the depth of the stream.
This verse (Revelation 14:20) is frequently interpreted in a curious manner. For example, "So many people will be slaughtered in the conflict [the battle of Armageddon] that blood will stand to the horses’ bridles for a total distance of 200 miles northward and southward of Jerusalem" (Hal Lindsey, The Late Great Planet Earth).
Notice how the “blood up to horses’ bridles” part of the verse is interpreted as though it tells in plain terms or literal language what will happen.
But what about the winepress? If you take the river of blood as “literal” or in the real world, you have to take its source (the winepress) as real and “literal” too. But what sort of real or “literal” winepress would turn grapes into a long and deep river of blood?
Furthermore, the slaughter at the battle of Armageddon was not about men shedding each other’s blood, but God sending fire down from heaven to devour the enemy before any battle could be fought (Revelation 20:9-10).