Sunday, 18 April 2021
And the winepress was trampled outside the city, and blood came out of the winepress, up to the horses’ bridles, for one thousand six hundred furlongs. Revelation 14:20
The description of this verse follows in thought with the previous two so closely that they should be read together –
“And another angel came out from the altar, who had power over fire, and he cried with a loud cry to him who had the sharp sickle, saying, “Thrust in your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth, for her grapes are fully ripe.” 19 So the angel thrust his sickle into the earth and gathered the vine of the earth, and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. 20 And the winepress was trampled outside the city, and blood came out of the winepress, up to the horses’ bridles, for one thousand six hundred furlongs.”
The imagery is that of immense carnage as the wrath of God is unleashed upon those who are to be destroyed. John writes, “And the winepress was trampled outside the city.” The city here is Jerusalem, not Babylon. This will be seen later as the location of the battle is named in Chapter 16. Of this coming carnage, John next says, “and blood came out of the winepress.”
The imagery has gone from grapes (that are full of juice) to humans (that area full of blood). In other words, the imagery of the grapes is that of humans being crushed as if they were tossed into a giant press. Hence, the symbolism from Isaiah 63, cited in the previous verse, is that of the Lord stomping on His enemies and splattering His garments with blood. So great will be the issue of blood that John says it will flow “up to the horses’ bridles.”
The height of a horse’s bridle is about four feet. The reason for including this particular measurement is probably because of what it says in Revelation 19 –
“Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. 12 His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. 13 He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses.” Revelation 19:11-14
In other words, the measurement is given as a prophetic advance. John is seeing the vision of the height in relation to the horses now, but the description of the return of the Lord with the armies of heaven will only come later. Of this flow of blood, John says it will flow “for one thousand six hundred furlongs.”
A furlong is six hundred six- and three-quarter feet. Thus, there are eight furlongs in a mile. One thousand six hundred furlongs would equal two hundred miles. The amount of blood required for this to occur depends on several factors. One analysis is linked here to show how few bodies it actually takes to produce this much blood – http://www.ecalpemos.org/2006/09/how-many-people-will-die-at-battle-of.html
However, this only takes into account the two measurements. Is this speaking of a flow one foot wide? Is it a flow ten feet wide? And so on. It also does not account for blood soaking into the earth, and etc. The idea of the vision that John is describing is that of bodies heaped upon bodies and blood flowing out of them, even filling the entire area where they have been gathered.
The number itself, one thousand six hundred, is a multiple of four (four x four hundred). Four is the world number. Four hundred is the product of eight and fifty, and is “a divinely perfect period” (Bullinger). Hence, the judgment upon the world has come at its appointed time. The battle will be complete in its effectiveness in destroying the enemy, and when it is over, a new era will be ushered in.
Life application: Later in Revelation, this battle will be called Armageddon. The book of Joel says that it will be in the valley of Jehoshaphat – the valley where the Lord Judges.
Because this is a battle being waged by humans, it involves their own free will to come into this valley to fight. In other words, God is looking into the future and sees the inevitable result of how things will turn out because of human wickedness and a rejection of following His warnings. Israel is the key to these prophetic events. Thus, the eschatological (or “end times”) view of prophecy, which sees the land and the people of Israel being at the center stage of prophecy, is the only one that makes sense.
And God knowing all things in advance has returned His people to their land to bring about the astonishing fulfillment of these things. The grape harvest, which is this great battle, will come about as the armies of the world come into the land and engage in combat outside Jerusalem – geographically centered among the nations and also literally centered as the focus of the Bible.
As noted above, the symbolism of the winepress becomes clear in this verse. The “wine” is symbolic of blood. The pressing of the grapes represents the death of the humans engaged in this battle.
The battle, as is recorded here, has never occurred in the past. Thus, two main options must be considered. The first is to say that this is merely symbolic of God’s judgment, or the second is to say that the words are to be taken literally. Either option is possible, but due to the size of the land, the layout as it is described, the numbers and descriptions provided, and so on, the scope of the battle should probably be taken at face value.
Hence, the scene described here should be taken to represent actual numbers in a real battle that will really be waged in the land of Israel. The Day of the Lord is coming, and even now the news reports of the world are beginning to show the move toward their completion.
As this is so, the rapture of the church is coming closer each moment. The events of human history are coming to a climax, and what once seemed unlikely and only symbolic of something else now seems both possible and realistic. Let us take stock of our lives, consider our eternal destiny, and turn to God now – before it is too late. He has made the offer of peace and reconciliation. Let us be wise and accept it now. Let us turn to JESUS!
Lord God, You already know what is coming. The span of time is meeting up with recorded prophecy so that the two appear to be meeting in the near future. You also know each and every soul who will be saved from and out of those things. We can trust that You are working out a great salvation even in the face of coming global disaster. Help each of us to do our part to share the message of love and redemption found in the Person of Jesus before that day arrives. Amen.