Revelation 14 is another confusing and visionary chapter, with the Lamb and 144,000 featuring in its first few verses, then three angels and finally the image of the son of man coming with a sickle to harvest the earth and tread the winepress. All this imagery has its roots in other parts of Scripture (Jesus as the Lamb of God is expounded in many places; the role of angels features in many parts of the Bible and the Parable of the Weeds in Matthew 13 and Isaiah 63:1-4 use the imagery of harvesting and treading the winepress), reminding us of the ultimate overall coherence of the Bible.
The chapter starts with stalwart believers sing a song of praise to God while standing on Mount Zion, believers who are described as spiritually pure, in stark contrast to the wicked people marked as worshippers of the Antichrist. Next, John sees three angels delivering messages of warning and prophecy. These messages predict God’s impending judgment on sin and evil and remind us that there is rest ahead for those who have proved faithful.
The last section of Revelation 14 depicts Jesus (the ‘son of man’, probably the favourite title he used while on earth) holding a sickle—a farming tool used to cut plants during the harvest. This passage symbolises the return of Jesus in terms of a grape harvest, a metaphor used, as we have seen, in Isaiah 63:1-4. Just as mature grapes are fat and full of juice, the wickedness of unbelievers on earth will have reached a peak at this moment. Just as a winepress crushes and shreds grapes to make wine, the wrath of God will tear apart those who fight against Christ at the end of the tribulation (Revelation 14:14–20). There is a need for all to take in the seriousness of this chapter and to choose your side now!