VII. THE GATHERING OF THE GRAPES
"And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle. And another angel came out of the altar, he who has authority over fire, and he cried with a loud voice to him who had the sharp sickle, saying, Send forth your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth, for her grapes are fully ripened. And the angel thrust his sickle into the earth and gathered the vine of the earth and cast it into the great winepress of the fury of God. And the winepress was trodden outside the city, and blood came out of the winepress up to the bridles of the horses for a thousand six hundred stadia."
Revelation 14:14-16 speaks of the harvest of the wheat. In the entire Bible, wheat refers to the Christians, and the fig, to the Jews. Sometimes grapes refer to the evil ones among the Gentiles. This is because:
(1) The Lord does not say that He is the grape. He only says that He is the true vine (John 15:1). The Lord Jesus is the vine, while the Christians are the branches. With Christ in the branches, there are the heavenly grapes. The earthly grapes here must refer to Antichrist and those who follow him. These stand in contrast to the heavenly grapes.
(2) The gathering of the grapes happens after the harvest. By that time, the good ones will have already been raptured. Hence, whatever is left must be the bad ones.
(3) According to Revelation 14:18, the grapes here are the evil ones who oppose Christ.
(4) The Old Testament also refers to grapes in a negative sense (Deut. 32:32).
(5) In verses 19 to 20 of Revelation 14, blood is pressed out. This shows that the pressing of these grapes is not a positive thing.
(6) The treading of the winepress in Joel 3:13 and Isaiah 63:1-6 is a sign of the wrath of God and the judgment of God.
Revelation 14:14-16 speaks of the end result of the wheat, while verses 17 through 20 speak of the end result of the tares. After the Christians are raptured, God will send the angels to gather the tares with a sickle, and this sickle is sharp.
In verse 15, when the wheat is ripened, its water will be dried up, but when the grapes are ripened, their juice will be full. The wheat and the grapes are completely opposite to one another. Wheat can only ripen when it dies to the earth, while grapes become ripe by absorbing the water of the earth. The more worldly the grapes become and the more they receive from the world, the more they are filled up with sins, and the time for God’s judgment will come.
Verse 16 says, "He...thrust His sickle upon the earth." This is only the reaping. But verse 19 says, "The angel thrust his sickle into the earth"; this seems to be a digging out of even the roots. There is a difference between the harvest of the wheat and the gathering of the grapes. One is good, and the other is bad.
"The winepress" is a kind of stone press. To put the grapes in the winepress is to squeeze out every drop of water, causing these ones to suffer loss and bear pain.
This passage of verses 17 through 20 covers the period that ends with the Lord Jesus’ coming to the earth. This passage corresponds with 19:15. A proof of this is that "outside the city" in 14:20 refers to outside of Jerusalem (chapters fifteen and sixteen being a supplement to the seventh trumpet). Furthermore, "the bridles of the horses" in 14:20 corresponds with 19:14 because when the Lord descends with His army, they will be riding on horses.
"A thousand six hundred stadia" (14:20). Revelation 16:16 says that this battle will be at Armageddon. According to Isaiah 63:1, it will start from Bozrah. One end is Armageddon, while the other end is Bozrah. In between these two places there are exactly a thousand six hundred stadia. (The battle of Armageddon will take place when Antichrist is persecuting the Jews, and the Jews seek refuge in the Mount of Olives. When their escape routes are cut off, the Lord will set His feet upon the Mount of Olives, and the mountain will split into two halves—Zech. 14:4-5, making a way for the Jews to escape. The Lord will then fight with Antichrist and destroy him—Rev. 19:17-21.)
God’s kingdom will not come through the preaching of the gospel but through bloodshed. The church can only wait for the Lord’s return; He alone will bring in the kingdom.
Isaiah 34:1-8 speaks of Bozrah and of the extent of the bloodshed.
After these things, the kingdom will come. With the Israelites, after the harvest and the gathering of the grapes, there was the feast of tabernacles. The feast of tabernacles was a type of the millennium. (Revelation 15—16 does not continue the thought in 14:17-20, because 14:17-20 corresponds with 19:15.)
(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 16: Study on Revelation, Chapter 8, by Watchman Nee)