Reading Revelation 14:14-15:8
So far in our studies we have been seeing events that are happening behind the scenes in heaven ever since Jesus took the throne. As the writer to the Hebrews puts it “After making purification for sin he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high!” (Heb 1:3). However, there is also a progression to the visions – we are moving towards a climax. There are a sequence of moments as we approach the ‘Great End’ as God puts everything right. We are seeing the beginning of that now in today’s reading.
We see the sixth and seventh of John’s seven short visions (Revelation 11:15-15:4) and they are judgement images. Hot on the heels of these vision we see seven angels who are given the bowls of God’s wrath which will be poured out on the earth against all those who set themselves up against God. When these bowls have been emptied, the evil trinity will be destroyed and God’s wrath will be finished and the final Judgement and vindication will begin.(15:1)
The harvesting of the earth (14:14-16) is by one like a ‘son of man’ and this speaks again of God’s vindication of the 144,000 ‘first fruits’ seen earlier in chapter 14. The image of the grape harvest (27-20) speaks of the judgement of those committed to ‘Babylon’.
The song that links these two events (15:3-5) reminds us that in the midst of God’s judgement there is safety for those who love and follow the Lamb.
How is it that believers escape these events? In reality we are no better than anyone else. The answer is simple – faith in Jesus. The wrath that is going to be poured out on the earth Jesus Christ took upon himself for us. In the garden of Gethsemane he asked his father three times, “Daddy all things are possible for you, take this cup from me.” – the cup he spoke of was the cup of God’s wrath. Astonishingly, heaven was silent and Jesus said, “Not my will but yours be done.” And he drank from the cup deeply.
The passages in the Bible that connect God’s wrath with the imagery of a cup are found in Jeremiah and Isaiah. Jeremiah 25:15 says, “Thus the LORD, the God of Israel, said to me: ‘Take from my hand this cup of the wine of wrath, and make all the nations to whom I send you drink it.’” And Isaiah 51:17 says, “O Jerusalem, you who have drunk from the hand of the Lord the cup of his wrath, who have drunk to the dregs the bowl, the cup of staggering.” Yesterday in Revelation 14, an angel speaks, “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he also will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger” (verses 9–10).
There, at the cross, Jesus drained God’s cup of burning anger down to the dregs. God poured out his wrath, full strength, undiluted, onto his Son. Paul summarises the meaning of this great event, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Jesus drank the cup of God’s wrath for us so that he could extend the cup of God’s friendship, protection and love to us. We don’t get wrath — we have God. We get the sweet, satisfying reality of his eternal fellowship in Jesus Christ, through the Holy Spirit. Forever!
Author and Pastor, Mark Buchanan writes about Nineteenth Century North American settlers,
“In the pioneer days on the prairie lands, people sometimes would find themselves about to be consumed. They would be in the middle of a field and a fire would catch in the tall, dry grass. Stiff winds pushed the flames toward them, so fast not even horses could outrun them. There was no time to escape. Instead, they took a match and burned a patch of ground where they stood. Then they waited on the burned-over earth. The prairie fire swept up to the edge of the patch and, finding nothing there to consume, passed by. And later the fire proved a gift to the earth: It burned what was already dead, and its ashes nurtured new life. Jesus Christ burned the earth with His cross. God poured out His wrath on His Son. If we take our stand there, the wrath to come will pass us by, and in its time will renew the very earth it devours. Don’t even try to run. Just rest there, thankful.” (‘Holy Wild’ by Mark Buchanan p.108)
“For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” Romans 10:13
“Great and marvellous are your deeds,
Lord God Almighty.
Just and true are your ways,
King of the ages.” (Revelation 15:3)
Father, thank you for amazing grace. How sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now am found, I was blind, but now I see. It was grace that taught my heart to fear. And grace, my fears relieved. Your grace that brought me safe thus far and grace will lead me home! Thank you. In Jesus name. Amen
(Words of prayer by John Newton (1725-1807))
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