Wednesday

8 August 2012

Revelation 14:14-18

"The hour to reap has come" (v. 15)


Background

One of the best ways to approach apocalyptic writings like the book of Revelation is to let its images become a set of moving pictures in your mind, like a fantasy film. You have to let the pictures stimulate you. Sometimes they only make sense later in the story. Sometimes they remind you of earlier scenes.

In chapter 7 of Revelation the writer heard, through the symbols found in the Scriptures, that 144,000 people would be saved as the people of God (Israel). He then saw that in reality this meant a countless multitude; and not just Jews but people from every race and culture. At the start of chapter 14 he sees the Lamb of God standing in the heavenly temple with the symbolic 144,000, who have been redeemed from the earth and are joining in the heavenly worship (Revelation 14:1-5). Three angels then say that in reality this means that people on earth must worship God and not compromise with any power structures which oppose or ignore God, but keep God's commandments and hold fast to the faith of Jesus (Revelation 14:6-11).

In our passage the image of the Lamb of God has changed (or morphed) into one of 'one like a Son of Man' (v. 14). In Revelation 1:13-16 this image from the book of Daniel (Daniel 7:13) had been identified with Christ. Jesus had said that only God the Father knew the time of judgement (Matthew 24:36). When the message comes from the temple through one of the three angels mentioned earlier, the one like a Son of Man gathers the grain harvest in to safety. But there is also a note of judgement. The angels gather in the grapes which are to be trodden in the wine press outside the city from which will flow blood (Revelation 14:19-20). Those who ignore or oppose God and collude in the killing of Christ and the martyrs outside the city may find that that recoils on them! (For more, see chapter 19!)


To ponder

  • What happens when you let these images run like a film in your mind?
  • What difference does it make that the 'one like a Son of Man' who harvests the earth is also the Lamb of God?
  • How may our worship help us to avoid compromise and remain pure? 

Bible notes author

Ken Howcroft

Ken Howcroft was designated by the Conference in 2013 to be the President of the 2014 Conference. He is currently a minister of the British Conference of the Methodist Church seconded to the Methodist Church in Italy to look after the English-language Methodist Church in Rome.