Still another angel, with authority over the fire, came from the altar and called out in a loud voice to the angel with the sharp sickle, “Swing your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of grapes from the vine of the earth, because its grapes are ripe.” So the angel swung his sickle over the earth and gathered the grapes of the earth, and he threw them into the great winepress of God’s wrath.[Revelation 14:18-19]
As Jesus agonized in prayer in the garden of Gethsemane, He asked the Father — if possible — to “take this cup from me.“
The cup of God’s wrath.
The Father drained His cup of fury and poured out the full measure of His wrath on Jesus at Calvary. As Jesus shed His own blood, He became the propitiation for sin, crying out, “It is finished!”
The Scriptures are clear, however, that there is another cup to be poured out on the Day of the LORD — a cup of divine wrath overflowing with blood.
But on that Day, Jesus will be the One treading the winepress of God’s wrath, and instead of His own blood, the land will be flowing with the blood of His enemies.
The Two Great Harvests of the Earth
There will be two distinct harvests at the end of the age on the Day of the LORD. One will be the final gathering of God’s people, in which believers will be redeemed at the resurrection and receive glorified bodies to inherit the kingdom of God on earth. We ultimately will be made like Jesus. As John says, “we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is” [1 John 3:2].
This is the harvest of the righteous and the final redemption of God’s people.
The other great harvest will be the final gathering of the wicked and rebellious nations who will unite against the Lord Jesus and invade the Holy Land at the end of the age.
Both of these harvests culminate on the Day of the LORD and at the final battle for Jerusalem, when Jesus returns to earth to rescue His own people and strike down the nations in judgment. Jesus teaches us the parable of the wheat and tares to illustrate this reality and clarifies that “the harvest is the end of the age” [Matthew 13:39].
Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, “Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.”[Matthew 13:30]
John’s vision in Revelation 14 echoes the words of Jesus by contrasting the two harvests — one for the righteous and one for the wicked.
Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and seated on the cloud one like a son of man, with a golden crown on his head, and a sharp sickle in his hand. And another angel came out of the temple, calling with a loud voice to him who sat on the cloud, “Put in your sickle, and reap, for the hour to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is fully ripe.” So he who sat on the cloud swung his sickle across the earth, and the earth was reaped.[Revelation 14:14-16]
The final gathering of God’s people is always connected to the return of Jesus and the resurrection of the righteous, which takes place “on the last day” [John 6:40-44]. As Jesus brings his armies from heaven to do battle on the last day, “He will send out the angels to gather His elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven” [Mark 13:27].
The Apostle Paul also connects the final harvest of the righteous with the final judgment of the Antichrist on that Day.
“Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him … Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction … whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming.”[2 Thessalonians 2:1, 3, 8]
The Apostle Paul is in agreement with Jesus and the prophets. The Day of the LORD will not come until after the Antichrist is revealed and leads his final rebellion. According to Paul, believers will not be gathered together to Jesus until the coming of Jesus to earth, which is precisely when He will destroy the Antichrist and his armies [see also Ezekiel 38-39, Revelation 19:11-21].
Which leads us to the second great harvest.
The Grapes will be Ripe
Once the fullness of the Gentiles has come in, all those who have pledged their allegiance to the Antichrist will converge as one like a mass cluster of grapes, ripe for harvest.
And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he also will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb.[Revelation 14:9-10]
The winepress must be filled with the grapes of God’s enemies. On that Day, the harvest will be ripe. Notice how Joel uses the very same language to describe the final battle for Jerusalem.
“Let the nations be roused and advance to the Valley of Jehoshaphat, for there I will sit down to judge all the nations on every side. Swing the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, trample the grapes, for the winepress is full; the wine vats overflow because their wickedness is great.”[Joel 3:12-13]
The Land of Israel — The Great Winepress
As the nations gather for war on the Day of the LORD, the land of Israel will become a natural winepress as it were. The LORD has been preparing for this very hour. Megiddo will be full. Jehoshaphat will be full. Jerusalem a cup of staggering. Hundreds of millions gathering for war in the Valley of Decision!
Although the surrounding nations will be drawn into battle by the satanic spirit of the Antichrist and blinded by a strong delusion, little will they know that it was God’s plan all along. The LORD is gathering them for this final battle [Zechariah 14:1-2].
“And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war against him who was sitting on the horse and against his army.”[Revelation 19:19]
Jesus will Tread the Winepress
Once the Beast and his armies are gathered in the winepress, the heavens will be opened and all the kings of the earth will wail as they see the King of kings riding on the clouds in power and great glory to strike them down with his rod of iron.
Consider the following prophecy of this dreadful day when Jesus returns to earth to wage war against the wicked.
Who is this who comes from Edom,
in crimsoned garments from Bozrah,
he who is splendid in his apparel,
marching in the greatness of his strength?
“It is I, speaking in righteousness,
mighty to save.”
Why is your apparel red,
and your garments like his who treads in the winepress?
“I have trodden the winepress alone,[Isaiah 63:1-6]
and from the peoples no one was with me;
I trod them in my anger
and trampled them in my wrath;
their lifeblood spattered on my garments,
and stained all my apparel.
For the day of vengeance was in my heart,
and my year of redemption had come.
I looked, but there was no one to help;
I was appalled, but there was no one to uphold;
so my own arm brought me salvation,
and my wrath upheld me.
I trampled down the peoples in my anger;
I made them drunk in my wrath,
and I poured out their lifeblood on the earth.”
Isaiah’s prophecy is one of the most intense descriptions of the Day of the LORD. Jesus is portrayed marching in bloody garments, striking down His enemies in wrath. This prophecy sets the original context forJohn’s vision of Jesus coming to tread the winepress.
“He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.”[Revelation 19:13-16]
On that Day, the carnage will be catastrophic. The corpses countless. The bloodshed … relentless.
Rivers of Blood
“And the winepress was trodden outside the city, and blood flowed from the winepress, as high as a horse’s bridle, for 1,600 stadia.”[Revelation 14:20]
Once King Jesus is on the ground and begins treading the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God, the blood will begin to flow. Never has there been such carnage in all of human history. It will be a time of such anguish that no human life would survive on the earth unless God cuts it short [Matthew 24:21-22].
The Apostle John saw a vision of that Day, where he says that the blood flowed as high as a horse’s bridle for approximately 180 miles! In other words, the day of God’s wrath will create a literal river of blood.
I’m not exactly sure how such a massive river of blood could be generated, even by the potential of hundreds of millions of fallen soldiers and animals, but perhaps when the blood of God’s enemies is mixed with a water source, a river of that magnitude is not outside the realm of possibility.
There are other prophetic passages that describe that fateful day.
“I will bring distress on mankind,[Zephaniah 1:17-18]
so that they shall walk like the blind,
because they have sinned against the LORD;
their blood shall be poured out like dust,
and their flesh like dung.
Neither their silver nor their gold
shall be able to deliver them
on the day of the wrath of the LORD.
In the fire of his jealousy,
all the earth shall be consumed;
for a full and sudden end
he will make of all the inhabitants of the earth.
“Draw near, O nations, to hear, and give attention, O peoples! Let the earth hear, and all that fills it; the world, and all that comes from it. For the LORD is enraged against all the nations, and furious against all their host; he has devoted them to destruction, has given them over for slaughter. Their slain shall be cast out, and the stench of their corpses shall rise; the mountains shall flow with their blood. All the host of heaven shall rot away, and the skies roll up like a scroll. All their host shall fall, as leaves fall from the vine, like leaves falling from the fig tree. For my sword has drunk its fill in the heavens; behold, it descends for judgment upon Edom,[Isaiah 34:1-8]
upon the people I have devoted to destruction. The LORD has a sword; it is sated with blood; it is gorged with fat, with the blood of lambs and goats, with the fat of the kidneys of rams. For the LORD has a sacrifice in Bozrah, a great slaughter in the land of Edom. Wild oxen shall fall with them,
and young steers with the mighty bulls. Their land shall drink its fill of blood, and their soil shall be gorged with fat. For the LORD has a day of vengeance, a year of recompense for the cause of Zion.
“And I will cast you on the ground;[Ezekiel 32:4-6]
on the open field I will fling you,
and will cause all the birds of the heavens to settle on you,
and I will gorge the beasts of the whole earth with you. I will strew your flesh upon the mountains
and fill the valleys with your carcass.
I will drench the land even to the mountains
with your flowing blood,
and the ravines will be full of you.”
The Nations by Name
In closing, I would like to bring attention to the overwhelming testimony of the Biblical prophets that mention by name all of the enemy nations that will be gathered to make war with the Lamb on that Day.
In my next post, I intend to take the time to look at each prophetic passage and work down the list, nation by nation, but for now I will close with Jeremiah’s account of that Day, when the Lord Jesus returns from heaven to tread the winepress of God’s wrath.
“You, therefore, shall prophesy against them all these words, and say to them:
Thus the LORD, the God of Israel, said to me:
“Take from my hand this cup of the wine of wrath, and make all the nations to whom I send you drink it …
The LORD will roar from on high,
and from his holy habitation utter his voice;
he will roar mightily against his fold,
and shout, like those who tread grapes,
against all the inhabitants of the earth.
The clamor will resound to the ends of the earth,
for the LORD has an indictment against the nations;
he is entering into judgment with all flesh,
and the wicked he will put to the sword,
declares the LORD.”
Thus says the LORD of hosts:
“Behold, disaster is going forth from nation to nation,
and a great tempest is stirring from the farthest parts of the earth!
And those pierced by the LORD on that day shall extend from one end of the earth to the other. They shall not be lamented, or gathered, or buried; they shall be dung on the surface of the ground.”[Jeremiah 25:15, 30-33]