HERE COMES THE JUDGE
If you remember from our past studies, when we came to chapter 12 we actually began to backtrack in the Book. In Chapters 12-14 we have a parenthetical break in the chronological flow of the book and are once again taken back to the beginning of the Tribulation Period and brought back through this period a second time. The purpose of this backtracking was to give us a different perspective of the Tribulation Period.
In chapters 4-11 the focus was on the chronology of the Tribulation Period. In Chapters 12-14 the focus is on the characters of the Tribulation. In chapters 4-11 it is like looking at the events of the Tribulation through a telescope, but in chapters 12-14, you look through a microscope. You meet certain characters in chapters 4-11, but in chapters 12-14, you see them more in detail.
As we come to verses 14-20 we conclude this break and our attention is once again turned to the chronological flow of future events. These verses also conclude the seven visions John receives in chapter 14.
The last vision has to do with the hour when the Lord Jesus will return to this earth as Judge. The first time He came to the earth to be the Saviour of men. The next time He comes to this earth, He will comes as the Judge of men. As we move further into Revelation we will see this hour as it unfolds, but now we are given a glimpse of the hour.
Understanding what this 7th vision is about, let’s notice first of all:
1. THE RETURN OF THE JUDGE
We read in verse 14, “And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle.” This is the 6th vision given to John and there is no doubt in this vision he sees the Lord Jesus and a preview of the hour when He will return to judge the earth.
In Revelation 1:7 John was given the message, “Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.” Jesus said in Luke 21:27, “And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.” In Revelation 14:14 we are given a preview of this return.
Notice how John sees the Lord Jesus at this return. First, you will notice:
A) The Crown On His Head
John sees the Lord Jesus returning, as Jesus predicted He would, “in power and great glory” (cp. Lke 21:27). He has on his head a golden crown which portrays the Lord Jesus returning as the glorious Lord. He is seen as King of kings and Lord of lords. In Revelation 19:16 we read of this hour and the Bible says He will have “on his vesture and on His thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.” John sees the Lord Jesus returning to rule and reign upon the earth.
The Lord Jesus is not only seen as the glorious Lord, but also as the victorious Lord. In Revelation 19:12 we read that “on his head were many crowns.” The word “crowns” that is used is the Greek word is diadema which speaks of a crown one possesses because of who they are. The Queen of England wears the British crown because she is a member of the royal family. It was given to her because of who she is. It is not a crown that she earned but rather received because she is of royal birth. The Lord Jesus is seen wearing the crown that describes Who He is – the true King of kings and Lord of lords.
However, when John sees him in 14:14 he is wearing a crown that is given to the victor. The word “crown” is the Greek word stephanos which describes the crown given to one who is victorious. It was the kind of crown that was given in the Greek games to the winners of the athletic events. John sees the Lord Jesus returning as a victorious Lord. The outcome of the battle is already determined. When the smoke clears, the Lord Jesus will be the victor. The coming One will be a conquering One.
Secondly, notice not only the crown on His head, but also:
B) The Sickle In His Hand
John sees the Lord Jesus returning in verse 14 and there is “in his hand a sharp sickle.” The sickle is an instrument that is used to harvest wheat. In verses 14-19 the sickle is mentioned 7 times. The sickle in His hand indicates why He is returning. He is coming to judge the earth. We read in Revelation 19:11, “And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.”
There are many who do not like to portray God or the Lord Jesus as a judge. They want only to talk about His love. Yes, He is a God of love, but we must never forget He is also the Judge. Paul declared in 2 Tim. 4:8, “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” Paul saw the Lord as his judge.
He also gave this admonition in 2 Tim. 4:1, “I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom.”
In Acts 17:31 Paul preached, “Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.”
Yes, the Lord Jesus is the Saviour of all who will come to Him, but for those who reject Him, He will be their judge. This world scoffs His name and rejects His rule and reign, but one day He will return with a golden crown on His head and a sickle in His hand.
Jonathan Edwards in his great sermon said: “The wrath of God is like great waters that are damned for the present; they increase more and more, and rise higher and higher, till an outlet is given; and the higher the stream stopped, the more rapid and mighty is its course when it is let loose. If God should only withdraw His hand from the flood-gate, it would immediately fly open, and the fiery floods of the fierceness and wrath of God would rush forth with inconceivable fury, and would come upon you with omnipotent power.”
As we move further in our text we see the fierceness and wrath of God no longer restrained but rushing forth. We see the sickle in Christ’s hand being used in judgment. Notice not only the return of the judge, but also:
2. THE REAPING OF THE JUDGE
In verse 15-19 we see two harvests being reaped. The idea of the harvest is often used in the Bible to speak of witnessing. We read in John 4:34-35, “Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.  Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.”
In Revelation we see the harvest used as a picture of God’s judgment upon the earth. Jesus said in Matthew 13:30, “Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.” Then in Matthew 13:40 He said, “As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world.”
Jesus described an end-time judgment in which He liken it to a harvest. In Revelation 14 we see that harvest. It is a harvest pictured in two ways.
First, we see:
A) A Grain Harvest
We read in verses “And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe.  And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped.”
The time had come for the Lord to reap for the earth is ripe for harvest. The picture here is of a wheat field ready for harvest and the Lord taking the sickle in His hand and cutting down the wheat. This harvest is the act of God’s judgment when all those who are not saved are cut down by God’s judgment.
In Matthew 13, from where I quoted a moment ago, Jesus gave the parable about the wheat and the tares. We read in Matthew 13:37-43, “He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man;  The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one;  The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels.  As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world.  The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity;  And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.  Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.”
In a sweep of his sickle, God will cast every unbeliever and sinner in the world into hell. I find it very interesting that the word “ripe” actually means “overripe.” The fact that the harvest is overripe speaks of the mercy and longsuffering of God. Peter said, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). God will prolong His judgment for the purpose of giving men a chance to be saved. The harvest will be way past due reaping, but it will be because God is longsuffering. Yet, the time will come when God will harvest the earth in judgment.
Joseph Parker, the great British preacher, once heard about a arrogant display by Robert Ingersoll. In one of his lectures he pulled out a watch and said, “If there is a God I dare Him to strike me down in 60 seconds.” He counted the seconds off and when 60 seconds had passed, he snapped his watch shut and said, “See, there is no God.” When Parker was told of the stunt, he replied, “And did Mr. Ingersoll think he could exhaust the patience of God in 60 seconds.”
Thank God, He is longsuffering!
Secondly, we see:
B) A Grape Harvest
We read in verses 17-19, “And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle.  And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire; and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe.  And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. ”
The picture is of the grapes being placed into a winepress or a vat. When placed inside, people would get inside the winepress and walk on the grapes. The juice from the grapes would run out the bottom of the winepress.
God’s sickle will cut down the grapes and the wrath of God, simply put, will squash the unbelieving nations of the world.
Notice further this reaping by noticing:
3. THE RETRIBUTION OF THE JUDGE
We read in verse 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.” Continuing to use the picture of a winepress we see a description of God’s wrath. Notice:
A) The Scene of God’s Wrath
In verse 20 we are given a preview of a great battle that will be fought. It is what is often called the battle of Armageddon. This will be the greatest battle ever fought on the face of the earth. It will take place in the valley of Esdraelon, called Meggido. Napolen once said that was the world’s greatest natural battlefield.
This place has been the sight of several Biblical battles. It was here that Gideon and his band of 300 men defeated the Midianites. It was here that King Saul was slain. It was here that Josiah died in battle. It is on this battlefield that the Lord will thrust in his sickle and reap the earth and gather the vine of the earth and cast it into His winepress.
Movies have been made about Armageddon, but this is not a movie or make-believe story. This is a great end-time battle that will happen and will be the scene of God’s wrath. As we shall see in future studies, the nations of the world will be gathered in this valley to make war against each other. But then their attention and attacks will be turned to the Lord who descends from heaven.
The prophet Zechariah described this battle in Zechariah 14:1-3, “Behold, the day of the Lord cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee.  For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city.  Then shall the Lord go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle.”
The prophet Joel prophesied in Joel 3:11-14, “Assemble yourselves, and come, all ye heathen, and gather yourselves together round about: thither cause thy mighty ones to come down, O Lord.  Let the heathen be wakened, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat: for there will I sit to judge all the heathen round about.  Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe: come, get you down; for the press is full, the fats overflow; for their wickedness is great.  Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision.”
The Lord will draw all the nations to the valley of Meggido for the purpose of harvesting them in judgment.
Furthermore we see in this battle:
B) The Severity of God’s Wrath
As I described, when the people walked over the grapes, the juice would run out the bottom. John describes the severity of God’s wrath by describing the blood that runs from the winepress of the wrath of God. He describes the depths of this flow of blood. He says that the blood of those who will be slain in battle will reach “even unto the horse bridles.” That is approximately 4-5 feet deep.
He also describes the length of this flow of blood. He says in verse 20 that the blood will flow “by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs.” This is about 200 miles. Ezekiel stated that the battle will be so fierce it will take seven years to clean up the carnage and seven months to bury the dead (Ezk. 39:8-16).
The picture given by John reminds us of the severity of God’s wrath when it will be poured out. It makes one glad that he is saved!
© 2005 by the Living Word