The Harvest

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Reading the Word

Revelation 14:14–20 (ESV)

14 Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and seated on the cloud one like a son of man, with a golden crown on his head, and a sharp sickle in his hand. 15 And another angel came out of the temple, calling with a loud voice to him who sat on the cloud, “Put in your sickle, and reap, for the hour to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is fully ripe.” 16 So he who sat on the cloud swung his sickle across the earth, and the earth was reaped. 17 Then another angel came out of the temple in heaven, and he too had a sharp sickle. 18 And another angel came out from the altar, the angel who has authority over the fire, and he called with a loud voice to the one who had the sharp sickle, “Put in your sickle and gather the clusters from the vine of the earth, for its grapes are ripe.” 19 So the angel swung his sickle across the earth and gathered the grape harvest of the earth and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. 20 And the winepress was trodden outside the city, and blood flowed from the winepress, as high as a horse’s bridle, for 1,600 stadia.

Understanding and Applying the Word

In these verses we find a description of a great harvest. There is “one like a son of man” seated on a cloud with a golden crown. This description depicts Jesus using a title of authority for him and picturing him wearing a victor’s crown (as the Greek word for “crown” indicates). The time for harvest has come and people are gathered as the subjects of God’s wrath.

We tend to downplay the seriousness of our sin. If we are honest, we do not think of our sin as really that bad at all. However, that is not what the Bible tells us about it. Sin is our undoing. It alienates us from God and makes us the deserving recipients of his wrath. In fact, the only thing that saves believers from punishment is the fact that Jesus Christ has taken our punishment on himself when he suffered at Calvary. He stood in our place.

Unfortunately, there will be many who will one day face the wrath of God as a result of sin and they will bear the punishment themselves. Christ’s sacrifice will be of no value to them because they never placed their faith in him. May we do all we can while there is still time to proclaim the gospel. And may those who are still in their sins trust in the one who can save them from the coming wrath.

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The Three Angels

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Reading the Word

Revelation 14:6–13 (ESV)

6 Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people. 7 And he said with a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come, and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.” 8 Another angel, a second, followed, saying, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, she who made all nations drink the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality.” 9 And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, 10 he also will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name.” 12 Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus. 13 And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!”

Understanding and Applying the Word

A first angel appears and proclaims the eternal gospel to all nations. Two additional angels appear with warnings to those who would reject the gospel and instead worship the beast. The warning is that God’s wrath will be poured out in full strength.

Once again, the purpose of this passage is mentioned towards the end. Verse twelve tells us that it is a call for the endurance of the saints – those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus. Throughout history there have been times and places where it is difficult to stand for Christ due to persecution and rejection of the surrounding culture. Revelation describes a day when things will be at their worst and standing will have consequences for the believer. May God grant us strength and boldness in our day and situation to remain faithful to him.

**Shaped by the Word is a daily Bible reading devotional. Please use the links at the bottom to subscribe to this page. You can also share this post with your friends through social media using the buttons below. Thanks for reading!

The Beast from the Sea

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Reading the Word

Revelation 13:1–10 (ESV)

1 And I saw a beast rising out of the sea, with ten horns and seven heads, with ten diadems on its horns and blasphemous names on its heads. 2 And the beast that I saw was like a leopard; its feet were like a bear’s, and its mouth was like a lion’s mouth. And to it the dragon gave his power and his throne and great authority. 3 One of its heads seemed to have a mortal wound, but its mortal wound was healed, and the whole earth marveled as they followed the beast. 4 And they worshiped the dragon, for he had given his authority to the beast, and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast, and who can fight against it?” 5 And the beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months. 6 It opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name and his dwelling, that is, those who dwell in heaven. 7 Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation, 8 and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain. 9 If anyone has an ear, let him hear: 10 If anyone is to be taken captive, to captivity he goes; if anyone is to be slain with the sword, with the sword must he be slain. Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints.

Understanding and Applying the Word

In this passage we meet the first of two beasts. The first beast is from the sea. The second is from the earth. This first beast is described as having ten horns and seven heads while also being like a leopard with the feet of a bear and the mouth of a lion. One of the beasts’ heads has a great wound.

Many commentators look to Daniel 7 for help interpreting this vision. There, Daniel describes four beasts with many of the same features found here. The ten horns represent ten kingdoms. We also see in Revelation 17:9-11 that the seven heads represent the six great kingdoms of world history as well as the last great kingdom that will be present at the time of the events described. Evidently, the wounded head is an attempt to imitate the death and resurrection of Christ to deceive the world and gain worshipers.

As we read in the last verse, this passage serves as a call for the endurance of the saints. We must not be deceived by any who would come along and pull us away from our trust in Jesus Christ. Christians must remain steadfast in our commitment to our Lord even if the world is deceived by a false leader who is worshiped as a god. May our faith in God’s plans and promises never fade!

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The Dragon’s Fury

Revelation text

Reading the Word

Revelation 12:13–17 (ESV)

13 And when the dragon saw that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. 14 But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle so that she might fly from the serpent into the wilderness, to the place where she is to be nourished for a time, and times, and half a time. 15 The serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, to sweep her away with a flood. 16 But the earth came to the help of the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed the river that the dragon had poured from his mouth. 17 Then the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus. And he stood on the sand of the sea.

Understanding and Applying the Word

After Satan is cast out of heaven, he goes after the woman who had given birth to the child (i.e Israel; cf. Revelation 12:1-6). The woman is protected by God who delivers her to a place in the wilderness for “time, times, and half a time” (three and one half years). When Satan cannot attack the woman because of God’s protection, he turns to focus his anger on her offspring, which includes all believers. The passage describes these offspring as “those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.” We call those people Christians today.

In this passage, we see the two targets of Satan’s attacks: ethnic Israel and Christians. It was through Israel that God’s redeemer, Jesus Christ, came into the world. And Christians, and Christianity, have taken the message of God’s redemption to the world. It is natural to see why Satan would fix his attacks on these two targets.

Let us not be surprised by the adversity we face in this life, but may we remain faithful as we trust in the one who delivers his people.

**Shaped by the Word is a daily Bible reading devotional. Please use the links at the bottom to subscribe to this page. You can also share this post with your friends through social media using the buttons below. Thanks for reading!