First two cycles (seals and trumpets) 7th element brought things to conclusion: silence in heaven as God’s plan for mankind is fulfilled; the city of man destroyed at sound of trumpet and Christ’s rule is fully established. Seventh main character involved in this cosmic warfare appears in our text. In another view of the Second Coming the Son of Man is seen carrying out the harvest about which he spoke in parables during his earthly ministry.
When began study of Revelation, said one purpose of book in revealing Christ and showing big picture of redemptive history was to tie up loose ends. Bring together into a complete picture various pieces found throughout rest of Scripture. Not a surprise then to find numerous allusions to concepts and prophecies found elsewhere in Bible. Since Revelationrevealsthe Lord Jesus, should find references to messianic prophecies and connections that show how Christ fulfills them. In this portion of Revelation: references to Daniel’s vision of chapter 7; harvest imagery of Isaiah 63 and Joel 3 as well as Jesus’ parable of the tares in Matthew 13:24ff; also allusions to Jesus’ own teaching about the end of time.
Since God has appointed the day when he will judge the world, we should expect to find something like our text. Must remember that God has a dual purpose for that day: display the glory of his mercy in the salvation of the saints, display the glory of his justice in condemnation of the wicked. Thisshouldcause fear and trembling among the reprobate (which it doesn’t – 9:21; 16:11, 21) and great comfort for the righteous (which it does). The world will be put to rights, the saints will be vindicated, God will be glorified forever.
A. the last player: the Son of Manv.14-20
how he comes (14)
At least seven times in the Gospels Jesus himself speaks of his future return to earth: coming on the clouds of heaven, coming in his glory, coming with great power. (Matt 16:27;Matt 24:30-31;Matt 25:31ff;Matt 26:64;Mark 13:26-27;Mark 14:62;Luke 21:27-28) It will be a glorious appearance, seen by all, as King of kings returns to bring final judgment. His authority is unquestioned, his identity unmistakable, his purpose clear – seated on a cloud throne wearing his kingly crown and holding the means by which judgment would be carried out. What is pictured here is indeed the Lord Jesus returning to earth filling the role of harvester and judge.
what he does
harvest imagery – both old and new testaments, both negative and positive connotations depending on who is in view, saved or lost.
Rev. 14:4These were redeemed from among men, beingfirstfruitsto God and to the Lamb.
Joel 3:13Let loose the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. / Come and tread, for the winepress is full. / The vats overflow, for their wickedness is great.
Picture of harvest designed to give saints courage: “The godly do groan under their afflictions and troubles, desiring to know what end at length shall be put to their evils. On the contrary, Tyrants and Antichrist do tumultuously rage without let (hindrance) or punishment, promising to themselves perpetual prosperity. Lest, therefore, the faithful should be discouraged, seeing the son of perdition thus to rage, and themselves overwhelmed with divers sorrows and calamities, here the last judgment is propounded (put forward) to John, in which shall follow a wonderful change of things.”David Pareus
harvest of grain (15-16)
ReadMatthew 13:24-30,36-43. The wheat, saints, will be gathered into the heavenly barn; the tares or weeds will be bundled up and cast into the fire. Distinction is made by character, not appearance or association. Harvest means separation: wheat and chaff, wheat and tares; that which is kept, stored in the barn, that which is treated as refuse to be discarded. Once the harvest is complete, that which has been separated never comes together again.
harvest of grapes (17-20)
no question here: just as the harvest is ripe, the cup of mankind’s sin is full as is the cup of God’s wrath. The time has finally come for God to act in judgment.
Gen. 15:16“But in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.”
perhaps prominent in John’s thinking as he penned this passage:Isa. 63:1-3
no escape for the lost from the winepress of God’s judgment, experiencing the cup of God’s undiluted wrath against sin. It is a horrific picture of judgment – the blood of those judged mounting up to 5 feet deep for nearly 200 miles. This is God putting final action to his words: “Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord”–Romans 12:19
B. the final judgment15:1-8
As John introduces next scene in his vision, it’s quickly apparent what he sees defies full description and comprehension. A scene of great rejoicing and great horror – rejoicing on part of saints and holy angels, horror at the ferocity of God’s judgment against rebellious sinners. This is the beginning of the end – the last (εσχατας) plagues, identified as such because when they are finished God’s wrath will have reached its goal: final judgment. The bowl judgments are God’s final series of warnings to sinful mankind to repent; as horrific as the bowl judgments are, hell will be worse – no end, no break, no letup in intensity. Less intense forms of these judgments occur throughout this age but their fullness is reserved for the very last days of the age.
song of victory (1-4)
Reminiscent of Hebrew children, John sees saints standing on a sea that is now calm, its chaos having been subdued by an almighty God. Yet it is scene of great tension – victorious saints are standing with their God-given harps, in same picture are angels with final plagues. What are saints going to do? Mourn because of what is yet to come? No.
Like their counterparts, the Hebrews, they stand on far side of the sea from the plagues and rejoice. They sing again the song of Moses: it is a hymn of praise to God and the glorious triumph he has had in delivering his children and destroying his enemies. (Ex. 15:1-19) The Lamb sings a song with the same theme: praising Almighty God for his wondrous works, the beauty of his perfections, the display of his holiness and righteousness and justice.
The King displays his “holiness” by showing himself to be “set apart” from all others as unique, the one and only God, without rival. He displays his “righteousness” by keeping his new covenant promises to destroy the forces of evil and save his faithful saints. He displays his “justice” by giving his enemies the punishment they deserve.College Press
heavenly temple (5-8)
the “real deal”, first seen in chapter 11, tabernacle and earthly temples copies of heavenly prototype. In 11:19, as temple was opened, ark of covenant could be seen within; here John calles it “tabernacle of the testimony”, a reference to stone tablets contained within the ark.The ark was a symbol that God was present among His people, that His covenant blessing was resting upon them.
seven angels (5-6)
Angels appear as God’s minstering servants, dressed for priestly activity, wearing garments that emphasize God’s holiness. In whatever they do, will be acting as God’s express agents to carry out his divine purposes. To reinforce the idea that when these angels have finished their task, all things prior to final judgment will be complete, there are seven of them.
seven bowls (7-8)
John piles up the imagery to indicate the bowl judgments will be unprecedented in scope and fury.
four living creatures – no part of earth/creation escapes God’s wrath
seven angels, seven bowls – completion for certain
bowls full – no room for further judgment short of eternity
As tabernacle and temple after completion were filled with smoke and glory of God, so, too, heavenly temple. That the bowl judgments proceed from temple make it clear they are expression of God’s holiness.
” The ground upon which the offenders against God’s law are punished, is not simply the fact that a law of God has been broken, but, that, in the breaking of that law, essential right has been violated and wrong committed. …the law of God is based upon the immutable distinctions between right and wrong, and sin and holiness, as they exist in the nature of God. Its violation, therefore, is sin. It is a destruction of the right. Hence, that which impels God to punish, is not his rectoral (ruling, governing) character, but his holy nature.”J P Boyce
” If the reason for God’s punishing was founded only in God’s arbitrary will, then he could not be said to hate sin, but only to love his own will, or, if his reason for punishing sin rested upon governmental considerations, then, he could not be strictly said to hate sin, but only its consequences.” But both conscience and Scripture teach that God does hate sin, and love holiness.A A Hodge
When God’s holiness, righteousness, justice are displayed for all the world to see, the saints rejoice. When the saints rejoice, they sing – the song of Moses, the song of the Lamb, a song of praise to God who is victorious over his enemies.