Revelation 14 comes to a close with another angel carrying a sickle. This time the harvest is grapes.
Commentators have wondered whether there are two judgments here. I won’t speculate on that but rather probe another thought.
Death is a judgment.
We are all born with human flesh that doesn’t last forever. There is a time limit, as though your birth certificate has an expiration date. Along the way, we have good days and bad days. We have health and sickness. Our bodies, once youthful, get ravaged by the passage of time.
The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). In general, this means since sin entered the world we’re all going to face the end of our lives here one day. It may be more specifically that some particular sin leads to your death, but it’s not always that clear. What is clear is that no one lives here forever. Even Enoch and Elijah, though they didn’t physically die, did leave this earth. So as payment for being sinful, we receive a death notice.
Sometimes the wicked die a violent death. It’s easy to point to high profile evildoers and say they really deserve such an end. When Saddam Hussein died, Americans rejoiced. When Osama bin Laden was killed, many of us breathed a sigh of relief. Justice like that confirms there is a God who will punish evil.
Here’s the trick. We have to wait for it. We don’t always get to see that wretch who ought to be hung for what he did get his comeuppance. Maybe he even got away with it…again. It’s easy to feel angry and disillusioned when it happens, especially when it happens to you or someone you love.
But wait. God will judge. He will right everything that is wrong.
This winepress creates a lot of blood. The winepress is God’s wrath fully unleashed. The blood that is shed is 200 Italian miles or about as long as the nation of Israel. If you were on a horse the blood river would reach the bridle.
This judgment is serious. It’s especially severe because it is mentioned twice in the same chapter with increasing intensity.
So we should take careful notice.
For the believer, this blood river is a picture of what Jesus went through for you. If that doesn’t make you fall down and worship Him, what will?