Revelation Chapter 14b | Table of Contents | Revelation Chapter 15

Revelation Chapter 14 continued (c)

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civilization halts and stands aghast in the presence of forces too complex and too terrible in their potentialities accurately to be appraised. Confronted by problems that can be disregarded by none but lighthearted children and lightheaded fools, we have reached the crossroads where every signpost points to bafflement. For years there have been increasingly bitter assaults upon religion. We have felt it was not our concern if ‘the old faiths loosen and fall.’ It would seem that in this, as in past civilizations when they were nearing their inevitable end, we —and by ‘we’ is meant mankind in general— have grown too cocksure of ourselves. . . .
      “We have watched, many of us with scant misgivings, the growth of queer cults and the recrudescence of pagan philosophies. Unperturbed, we have witnessed the rise of modern Humanism, with its denial of a power greater than our own; its exalting of man to equality with his Maker. Now, when civilization may be dying on its feet, the barrage balloons of our self-sufficiency are in process of being blasted out of the sky. Human creatures at last are beginning to discover that they are not little gods— but only little men.” [29]
      But as the popular churches depart farther and farther from God, they at length reach such a condition that true Christians can on longer maintain a connection with them; and then they will be called out. This we look for in the future, in fulfillment of Revelation 18:1-4. We believe it will come, when, in addition to their corruptions, the churches begin to raise against the saints the hand of oppression. (See comments on Revelation 18.)

      Verse 9 And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, 10 the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of His indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: 11 and the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of
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his name. 12 Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.
      The Third Angel’s Message. —This is a message of most fearful import. No more severe threatening of divine wrath can be found in all the Bible. The sin against which it warns must be a terrible sin, and it must be one so plainly defined that all who will may understand it, and thus know how to avoid the judgments pronounced against it.
      It will be noticed that these messages are cumulative, that is, one does not cease when another is introduced. Thus, for a time the first message was the only one going forth. The second message was introduced, but that did not put an end to the first. From that time there were two message. The third followed them, not to supersede them, but only to join with them, so that we now have three messages going forth simultaneously, or rather, a threefold message, embracing the truths of all three, the last one of course being the culminating proclamation. Until the work is done, it will never cease to be true that the hour of God’s judgment has come, nor that Babylon has fallen. These facts sill continue to be proclaimed in connection with the truths introduced by the third message.
      There will also be noticed a logical connection between the messages themselves. Viewing the situation immediately before the first message was introduced, we see the Protestant religious world sadly in need of reformation. Divisions and confusion existed in the churches. They were still clinging to many papal errors and superstitions. The power of the gospel was impaired in their hands. To correct these evils, the doctrine of the second coming of Christ was introduced, and proclaimed with power. They should have received it and been quickened by it into new life, as they would have been had they received it. Instead of this, they rejected it, and suffered the consequences spiritually. Then followed the second message, announcing the result of that rejection, and declaring what was not only a fact in itself, but a judicial version verdict of God upon them for recreancy in this respect;
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namely, that God had departed from them, and they had met with a spiritual fall.
      This did not have the effect to arouse them and lead them to correct their errors, as it was sufficient to do had they been willing to be admonished and corrected. What follows? The way is open for a still further retrograde movement, for wider apostasy and still greater evils. The powers of darkness will press forward their work, and if the churches still persist in this course of shunning light and rejecting truth, they will soon find themselves worshiping the beast and receiving his mark. This will be the logical sequence of that course of action which began with the rejection of the first message.
      Now another proclamation is sent forth, announcing in solemn tones that if any man shall do this, he shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of His indignation. That is to say, you rejected the first message, and met with spiritual fall. If you continue to reject truth and disregard the warnings sent out, you will exhaust God’s last means of grace, and finally meet with a literal destruction for which there will be no remedy. This is as severe a threatening as God can make to be inflicted in this life, and it is the last. A few will heed it and be saved, but the multitude will pass on and perish.
      The proclamation of the third angel’s message is the special religious movement to be made before the Lord appears, for immediately following this, John beholds one like the Son of man coming upon a great white cloud to reap the harvest of the earth. This can represent nothing else than the second coming of Christ. If therefore the coming of Christ is at the door, the time has come for the proclamation of this message. There are many who with voice and pen are earnestly teaching that we are in the last days of time, and that the coming of Christ is at the door; but when we remind them of this prophecy, they are suddenly at sea, without anchor, chart, or compass. They do not know what to do with it. They can see as well as we that if what they are teaching
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respecting the coming of Christ is true, and the Lord is at hand, somewhere —yes, all over the land— should be heard the warning notes of this angel’s message.
      The arguments on the two preceding messages fix the time of the third, and show that it belongs to the present day. But the best evidence that the message is now going to the world, is found in the events that demonstrate its fulfillment. We have identified the first message as a leading proclamation in the great Advent movement of 1840-1844. We have seen the fulfillment of the second message in connection with that movement in the latter year. Let us now look at what has taken place since that time.
      When Christ did not come in 1844, the entire Adventist body was thrown into more or less confusion. Many gave up the movement entirely. More concluded that the argument on the time was wrong, and immediately endeavored to re-adjust the prophetic period, and set a new time for the Lord to come— a work which they have continued more or less to the present time, fixing a new date as each one passed. A few searched closely and candidly for the cause of the mistake, and were confirmed in their views of the providential character of the advent movement, and in the correctness of the argument on the time, but saw that a mistake had been made in their understanding of the sanctuary, by which error the disappointment could be explained. They learned that the sanctuary in Daniel 8:14 was not on this earth, as had been supposed, that the cleansing was not to be fire, and that the prophecy on this point did not involve the coming of the Lord at all. They found in the Scriptures clear evidence that the sanctuary referred to was the temple in heaven, which Paul calls “the sanctuary,” the “true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched and not man.” They saw further that its cleansing, according to the type, would consist of the final ministration of the priest in the second apartment, or most holy place. They then understood that the time had come for the fulfillment of Revelation 11:19: “The temple of God was opened in heaven,
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and there was seen in His temple the ark of His testament.”
      Having their attention thus called to the ark, they were naturally led to an examination of the law contained in the ark. That the ark contained the law was evident from the very name applied to it. It was called “the ark of His testament,” but it would not have been the ark of His “testament,” and it could not have been so called, had it not contained the law. Here then was the ark in heaven, the great antitype of the ark which, during typical times, existed here on earth. The law which this heavenly ark contained must consequently be the great original of which the law on the tables in the earthly ark was but a transcript, or copy. Both these laws must read precisely alike, word for word, jot for jot, tittle for tittle. To suppose otherwise would involve only falsehood.
      That law, then, is still the law of God’s government, and its fourth precept now as in the beginning demands the observance of the seventh day of the week as the Sabbath. No one who admits the argument on the sanctuary disputes this point.
      Thus the Sabbath reform was brought to view; and it was seen that whatever had been done in opposition to this law, especially in the introduction of a day of rest and worship which destroyed the Sabbath of Jehovah, must be the work of the papal beast, that power which was to oppose God, to attempt to change His laws and to exalt himself above God. But this is the exact work in reference to which the third angel utters his warning. Hence it began to be seen by the believers of 1844 that the period of the third angel’s message synchronizes with the period of the cleansing of the sanctuary, which began with the ending of the 2300 days in 1844, and that the proclamation is based on the great truths developed by this subject.
      Thus light of the third angel’s message dawned upon the church. They saw at once that the world would have a right to demand of those who professed to be giving that message, an explanation of all the symbols which it contains—
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the beast, the image, the worship, and the mark. Hence these points were made subjects of special study. The testimony of the Scriptures was found to be clear and abundant, and it did not take long to formulate from the truths revealed, definite statements and proofs in explanation of all these points.
      A Message of Warning. —The argument showing what constitutes the beast, the image, and the mark, has already been given in comments on Revelation 13; and it has been shown that the two-horned beast, which erects the image and enforces the mark, is the United States of America. It is this work, and these agents, against which the third angel’s message utters its warning, which is further proof that this message is now in order, and shows the most conclusive harmony in all these prophecies. The arguments we need not here repeat; it will be sufficient to recapitulate the points established.
      The “beast” is the Roman Catholic power.
      The “mark of the beast” is that institution which this power sets forth as proof of its authority to legislate for the church, and command the consciences of men under sin. It consists in a change of the law of God, by which the signature of royalty is taken from the law. The seventh-day Sabbath, the great memorial of Jehovah’s creative work, is torn from its place in the decalogue, and a false and counterfeit sabbath, the first day of the week, is set up in its stead.
      The “image of the beast” is some ecclesiastical combination which will resemble the beast in being clothed with power to enforce its decrees with the pains and penalties of the civil law.
      The “two-horned beast,” by which the image is given power to speak and act, represents the United States of America, which is moving toward the formation of the image of the beast.
      The two-horned beast enforces the mark of the beast, that is, it establishes by law the observance of the first day of the week, or the Sunday rest day. What is being done in this direction has already been noticed. The movement is urged
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on by individuals and by organized groups which mix agitation for religious laws with their better aims.
      But the people are not left in the dark in this matter. The third angel’s message utters a solemn protest against all this evil. It exposes the work of the beast, shows the nature of its opposition to the law of God, warns the people against compliance with its demands, and points the way of truth to all. This naturally excites opposition, and the church is led so much the more to seek the aid of human power in behalf of its dogmas as they are shown to be sadly lacking in divine authority.
      What has this message accomplished, and what showing does it make in the world today? In answer to this query, some striking facts may be presented. The first publication in its interests was issued in 1849. Today this message is proclaimed by books, tracts, and periodicals in 200 different languages, and maintains 83 publishing houses scattered throughout both hemispheres, in which are published 313 periodicals. The value of its literature sold during 1942 amounted to $5,467,664.99. Its evangelistic work is carried forward in 413 countries, and preached in more than 810 languages.
      Such a movement is at least a phenomenon to be explained. We have found movements which fulfill most strikingly and accurately the first and second angel’s messages. Here is another which now challenges the attention of the world as a fulfillment of the third. It claims to be a fulfillment, and asks the world to examine the credentials on which it bases its right to such a claim. Let us look at them.
      “The third angel followed them.” So this movement follows the two previously mentioned. It takes up and continues the promulgation of the truths they uttered, and adds to them what the third angel’s message involves besides.
      The third message is characterized as a warning against the beast. So this movement holds prominent among its themes an explanation of this symbol, telling the people what it is, and exposing its blasphemous claims and works.
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      The third message warns all against worshiping the beast. So this movement explains how this beast-power has brought into Christendom certain institutions which antagonize the requirements of the Most High, and shows that if we yield to these, we worship this power. “Know ye not,” says Paul, “that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey?” Romans 6:16.
      The third message warns all against receiving the mark of the beast. So this movement makes it the burden of its work to show what the mark of the beast is, and to warn against is reception. It is the more solicitous to do this, because this unchristian power has worked so cunningly that the majority are deceived into making unconscious concessions to its authority. It is shown that the mark of the beast is a institution which has been arrayed in Christian garb, and insidiously introduced into the Christian church in such a way as to nullify the authority of Jehovah and enthrone that of the beast. Stripped of all its disguises, it is simply setting up a counterfeit sabbath of its own on the first day of the week, in place of the Sabbath of the Lord on the seventh day— a usurpation which the great God cannot tolerate, and from which the remnant church must fully clear itself before it will be prepared for the coming of Christ. Hence the urgent warning, Let no man worship the beast or receive his mark.
      The third message has something to say against the worship of the image of the beast. So this movement speaks of this subject also, telling what the image will be, or at least explaining the prophecy of the two-horned beast. It reveals where the image is to be formed. The prophecy concerns this generation; and is evidently on the verge of fulfillment.
      There is no religious enterprise extant today except that of the Seventh-day Adventists which claims to be a fulfillment of the third angel’s message— no other which holds forth as its prominent themes the very subjects of which this book is composed. What shall we do with these things? Is this the fulfillment? It must so stand, unless its claims can be disproved:
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Picture on this page.
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unless it can be shown that the first and second angels’ messages have not been heard; that the positions taken in reference to the beast, the image, the mark, and the worship are not correct; and that all the prophecies, and signs, and evidences which show that the coming of Christ is near, and consequently that this message is due, can be wholly set aside. This the intelligent Bible student will hardly undertake.
      The result of the proclamation as declared in verse 12, still further proves the correctness of the positions here taken. It brings out a company of whom it can be said, “Here are they that keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.” In the very heart of Christendom this work is being done, and those who receive the message are rendered peculiar by their practice in reference to the commandments of God. What difference is there in practice, and what only difference among Christians in this respect? —Only this: some think that the fourth commandment is kept by devoting the first day of the week to rest and worship. Others claim that the seventh day is the one set apart to such duties, and spend its hours accordingly, resuming on the first day their ordinary labor. No plainer line of demarcation could be drawn between two classes. The time which one class regards as sacred and devotes to religious uses, the other looks upon as only secular and devotes to ordinary laboring. One class, pursing its worldly vocations, finds the other class withdrawn from all such pursuits, and the avenue of commercial intercourse between them abruptly closed. Thus for two days in the week these two classes are kept apart by difference of doctrine and practice in regard to the fourth commandment. On no other commandment could there be so marked a difference.
      The Sabbath Made Prominent in the Message. —The third angel’s message brings its adherents to the observance of the seventh day, for in this way only are they made peculiar, inasmuch as an observance of the first day would not distinguish a person from the masses who were already observing that day
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when the message was introduced. In this we find still further evidence that Sundaykeeping is the mark of the beast, for the message, presenting as its chief burden a warning against receiving the mark of the beast, will of course brings its adherents to discard that practice which constitutes the mark, and to adopt the opposite course. It does lead them to discard the observance of the first day of the week, and adopt that of the seventh day. In view of this, it is at once seen that there is here more than an inference that Sundaykeeping is the mark of the beast against which it warns us, and that the observance of the seventh day is its opposite.
      This is in harmony with the argument on the seal of God, as given in the remarks on Revelation 7. It was there shown that sign, seal, mark, and token are synonymous terms, and that God takes His Sabbath to be His sign, or seal, in reference to His people. Thus God has a seal, which is His Sabbath. The beast has a mark, which is a counterfeit sabbath. One is the seventh day, the other is the first day. Christendom will at last be divided into just two classes: those who are sealed with the seal of the living God —that is, have His sign, or keep His sabbath; and those who receive the mark of the beast— that is, have his sign, or keep his counterfeit sabbath. In reference to this issue, the third angel’s message both enlightens and warns us.
      As so much importance attaches to the seventh-day Sabbath, it will be proper to present here the leading facts connected with the Sabbath institution.
      The Sabbath was instituted in the beginning, at the conclusion of the first week of time. (Genesis 2:1-3.)
      It was the seventh day of that week, and was based on facts which are inseparably connected with its very name and existence— facts which can never be changed. God’s resting on the seventh day made it His rest day, or the Sabbath (rest) of the Lord; and it can never cease to be His rest day, as that fact never can be changed. He sanctified, or set apart, the day then and there, the record states; and that sanctification can
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never cease, unless it is removed by an act on the part of Jehovah as direct and explicit as that by which He placed it upon the day in the beginning. No one claims that this has ever been done, and one could prove it if he did so claim.
      The Sabbath has nothing in it of a typical or ceremonial nature, for it was instituted before man sinned, and hence belongs to a time when in the very nature of things a type or shadow could not exist.
      The laws and institutions which existed before man’s fall were primary in their nature. They grew out of the relation between God and man, and man and man, and were such as would always have remained if man never had sinned, and were not affected by his sin. In other words, they were in the nature of things immutable and eternal. Ceremonial and typical laws owed their origin to the fact that man had sinned. These were from dispensation to dispensation subject to change; and these, and these only, were abolished at the cross. The Sabbath law was a primary law, and therefore immutable and eternal.
      The sanctification of the Sabbath in Eden assures its existence from creation to Sinai. Here it was placed in the very bosom of the decalogue as God spoke it with an audible voice, and wrote it with His finger on tables of stone— circumstances which forever separate it from ceremonial laws, and place it among the moral and eternal.
      The Sabbath is not indefinite, any seventh day after six labor. The law from Sinai (Exodus 20:8-11) makes it as definite as language can make it. The events that gave it birth (Genesis 2:1-3) confine it to the definite seventh day. The 6,240 Sabbath miracles in the wilderness, three each week for forty years— a double supply of manna on the sixth day, the preservation of the sixth-day manna on the seventh day, and none on the seventh day (Exodus 16)— show that it is one particular day, and not simply a proportion of time. To claim otherwise would be like claiming that Washington’s Birthday or Independence Day was only a 365th part of a year, and
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might be celebrated on any other day as well as the day upon which it occurred.
      The Sabbath is a part of that law which our Lord openly declared that He came not to destroy. On the other hand, He most solemnly affirmed that it should endure in every jot and tittle while the earth should continue. (Matthew 5:17- 20.)
      It is a part of that law which Paul declares is not made void but established by faith in Christ. (Romans 3:31.) On the contrary the ceremonial or typical law, which pointed to Christ and ceased at the cross is made void, or superseded, by faith in Him. (Ephesians 2:15.)
      It is a part of that royal law, a law pertaining to the King Jehovah, which James declares is a law of liberty, and which shall judge us at the last day. God does not have different standards of judgment for different ages of the world. (James 2:11, 12.)
      It is the “Lord’s day” of Revelation 1:10. (See comments on that verse.)
      It appears as the institution in reference to which a great reform is predicted in the last days. (Isaiah 56:1, 2 compared with 1 Peter 1:5.) Under this head would also come the message under consideration.
      In the new creation, the Sabbath, true to its origin and nature, again appears, and will thenceforward shed its blessings upon God’s people through all eternity. (Isaiah 66:22, 23.)
      Such is a brief synopsis of some of the arguments to show that the Sabbath law has been in no wise relaxed, and the institution in no way changed; and that a person cannot be said to keep the commandments of God unless he keeps His day. To have to do with such an institution is a high honor. To pay heed to its claims will prove an infinite blessing.
      Punishment of Beast Worshipers. —These shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. When is this torment inflicted? Revelation 19:20 shows that at the second coming of Christ there is a
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manifestation of fiery judgments which may be called a lake of fire and brimstone, into which the beast and the false prophet are cast alive. This can refer only to the destruction visited upon them at the beginning, not at the end, of the thousand years.
      There is a remarkable passage in Isaiah to which we are obliged to refer in explanation of the phraseology of the threatening of the third angel, and which unquestionably describes scenes to take place here at the second advent and in the desolate state of the earth during the thousand years following. That the language of Revelation was borrowed from this prophecy can hardly fail to be seen. After describing the Lord’s anger upon the nations, the great slaughter of their armies, and the departing of the heavens as a scroll, the prophet says: “It is the day of the Lord’s vengeance, and the year of recompenses for the controversy of Zion. And the streams thereof shall be turned into pitch, and the dust thereof into brimstone, and the land thereof shall become burning pitch. It shall not be quenched night nor day; the smoke thereof shall go up forever: from generation to generation it shall lie waste; none shall pass through it forever and ever.” Isaiah 34:8-10. Since it is expressly revealed that there is to be a lake of fire in which all sinners perish at the end of the thousand years, we can only conclude that the destruction of the living wicked at the beginning of this period, and the final doom of all the ungodly at its close, are similar.
      The expression “forever and ever” cannot here denote eternity. This is evident from the fact that this punishment is inflicted on this earth, where time is measured by day and night. This is further shown from the passage in Isaiah already referred to, if that is, as above suggested, the language from which this is borrowed, and applies to the same time. That language is spoken of the land of Idumea; but whether it be taken to mean literally the land of Edom, south and east of Judea, or to represent, as it doubtless does, this whole earth at the time when Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven in
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flaming fire, and the year of recompenses for the controversy of Zion comes, in either case the scene must eventually terminate. This earth is finally to be made new, cleansed of every stain of sin, every vestige of suffering and decay, and to become the habitation of righteousness and joy throughout eternal ages. The word {Greek- aiJwvn} aion, here translated “forever” is defined thus by G. Abbot-Smith in A Manual Greek Lexicon of the New Testament: A space of time, as, a lifetime, generation, period of history, an indefinitely long period.” So without doing violence to the accepted meaning of the Greek word, we may here interpret it in harmony with other plain statements of Scripture.
      The period of the third angel’s message is a time of patience with the people of God. Paul and James both give us instructions on this point. (Hebrews 10:36; James 5:7, 8.) Meanwhile this waiting company are keeping the commandments of God —the ten commandments— and the faith of Jesus, that is, all the teachings of Christ and His apostles as contained in the New Testament. The true Sabbath as given in the decalogue is thus brought out in vivid contrast with the counterfeit sabbath, the mark of the beast, which finally distinguishes those who reject the third angel’s message.

      Verse 13 And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them. 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. 15 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. 16 And He that sat on the cloud thrust in His sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped.
      A Solemn Crisis. —Events grow solemn as we near the end. It is this fact which gives to the third angel’s message, now going forth, its unusual degree of solemnity and importance. It is the last warning to go forth prior to the coming of the Son of man, here represented as seated upon a white cloud, a
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crown upon His head, and a sickle in His hand, to reap the harvest of the earth.
      We are fast passing over a line of prophecy which culminates in the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven in flaming fire, to take vengeance on His foes, and to reward His saints. Not only so, but we have come so near its accomplishment that the next link in the chain is this crowning and momentous event. Time never rolls backward. As the river does not falter as it approaches the precipice, but bears all floating bodies over with resistless power; and as the seasons never reverse their course, but summer follows in the path of the budding fig tree, and winter treads close upon the falling leaf; so we are borne onward and onward, whether we will or not, whether prepared or not, to the unavoidable and irreversible crisis. Ah, how little do the proud professor of religion and the careless sinner dream of the doom that is impending! How hard, even for those who know and profess the truth, to realize it as it is!
      A Blessing Promised. —John is commanded by a voice from heave to write, “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth;” and the response of the Spirit is, “Yea, . . . that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them.” “From henceforth” must signify from some particular point of time. What point? —Evidently from the beginning of the message in connection with which this is spoken. But why are those who die after this point of time blessed? There must be some special reason for pronouncing this benediction upon them. Is it not because they escape the time of fearful peril which the saints are to encounter as they close their pilgrimage? While they are thus blessed in common with all the righteous dead, they have an advantage over them in being doubtless that company who are raised to everlasting life in the special resurrection in Daniel 12:2.
      It will be noticed that in this line of prophecy three angels precede the Son of man on the white cloud, and three are introduced after that symbol. The opinion has already been
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expressed that literal angels are engaged in the scenes here described. The first three have charge of the three special messages. The message of the fourth angel is evidently to be uttered after the Son of man finishes His priestly work, and takes His seat upon the white cloud, but before He appears in the clouds of heaven. As the language is addressed to Him who is seated upon the white cloud, having in His hand a sharp sickle ready to reap, it must denote a message of prayer on the part of the church, after their work for the work is done, probation has ceased, and nothing remains but for the Lord to appear and take His people to Himself. It is doubtless the day-and-night cry spoken of by our Lord in Luke 18:7, 8, in connection with the coming of the Son of man. This prayer will be answered; the elect will be avenged; for does not the parable read, “Shall not God avenge His own elect, which cry day and night unto Him?” He that is seated upon the cloud will thrust in His sickle, and the saints, under the figure of the wheat of the earth, will be gathered into the heavenly garner.
      The Wheat Garnered. —“He that sat on the cloud,” says the prophecy, “thrust in His sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped.” By this language we are carried past the second advent, with its accompanying scenes of destruction to the wicked and salvation to the righteous. Beyond these scenes we must therefore look for the application of the following verses.

      Verse 17 And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle. 18 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. 19 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. 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.
      The Winepress of God’s Wrath. —The last two angels have to do with the wicked, who are most fitly represented by the
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purple clusters of the vine of the earth. May it not be that the closing doom of that class at the end of the thousand years is here presented, the prophecy thus making a final disposition of both the righteous and the wicked— the righteous clothed with immortality, and safely established in the kingdom, the wicked perishing outside the city?
      This can hardly be applied at the time of the second advent, for events are here given in chronological order, and the destruction of the wicked would be contemporaneous with the gathering of the righteous. Again, the living wicked at Christ’s coming drink of the “cup” of His indignation. But this passage brings to view the time when they perish in the “winepress” of His wrath, which is said to be trodden “without the city,” answering completely to the description of Revelation 20:9, this latter expression more naturally denoting their complete and final destruction.
      The angel comes out of the temple, where the records are kept and the punishment is determined. The other angel has power over fire. This may have some connection with the fact that fire is the agent by which the wicked are at last to be destroyed, although, to carry out the figure, the wicked are likened to the clusters of the vine of the earth, and are said to be cast into the great winepress which is trodden without the city. Blood comes out of the winepress, even to the horses’ bridles. We know that the wicked are doomed to be swallowed up at last in a flood of all-devouring flame descending from God out of heaven, but what preceding slaughter may take place among the doomed host, we do not know. It is not improbable that this language will be literally fulfilled. As the first four angels of this series denoted a marked movement on the part of the people of God, the last two may denote the same; for the saints are to have some part to act in meting out and executing the final punishment of the wicked. (1 Corinthians 6:2; Psalm 149:9.)
      The Saints Triumphant. —This prophecy closes as the others do, with the triumph of God, Christ, and the redeemed.

      [1] William Cuninghame, A Dissertation on the Seals and Trumpets of the Apocalypse, p. 255.
      [2] Martin Luther, Familiar Discourses, pp. 7, 8.
      [3] Albert Whalley, The Red Letter Days of Israel, p. 101.
      [4] Ibid., p. 116.
      [5] F. W. Farrar, The Early Days of Christianity, pp. 237, 238.
      [6] Jewish Encyclopedia, Vol. II, p. 286.
      [7] Editorial, in The Advent Herald, Dec. 14, 1850, p. 364.
      [8] J. M. Campbell, The Everlasting Gospel.
      [9] John Bayford, The Messiah’s Kingdom, p. 283.
      [10] J. W. Brooks, Elements of Prophetical Interpretation, pp. 166, 167.
      [11] Mourant Brock, Glorification, pp. 10, 11, footnote.
      [12] Joseph Wolff, Narrative of a Mission to Bokhara, pp. 40, 42.
      [13] D. T. Taylor, The Voice of the Church, pp. 343, 344.
      [14] William Cuninghame, A Dissertation on the Seals and Trumpets of the Apocalypse, p. 443.
      [15] “The Remedy,” Christian Palladium, May 15, 1844, p. 409.
      [16] “Great Spiritual Dearth,” Religious Telegraph, December 4, 1844, p. 76.
      [17] Philadelphia Sun, November 11, 1844.
      [18] “Revivals,” Oberlin Evangelist, November 20, 1844, p. 189.
      [19] “Breadth of Christian Culture,” Congregationalist, November 19, 1858, p. 186.
      [20] “The Greatest of Questions,” New York Christian Advocate, August 30, 1883, p. 549.
      [21] Western Christian Advocate, July 19, 1893, p. 456.
      [22] Dwight L. Moody, “Those Three Thousand Churches,” New York Independent, December 3, 1896, p. 1.
      [23] John Herman Randall, “The Forces That Are Destroying Traditional Beliefs,” Current History, June, 1929, pp. 359-361.
      [24] James Gordon Gilkey, A Faith to Affirm, p. 3. By permission of the Macmillan Company, publishers.
      [25] Ibid., pp. 9, 10.
      [26] Ibid., p. 24.
      [27] Ibid., p. 26.
      [28] Robert M. Hutchins, quoted in “The Revolt Against Science,” The Christian Century, January 24, 1934. Dr. Hutchins says he meant “thought” instead of “think.”
      [29] “Will They Turn to Religion?” Philadelphia Inquirer, May 24, 1941, p. 10.

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