The Son’s Anger
“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. And the winepress was trodden outside the city, and blood flowed from the winepress” (vv. 19–20a).- Revelation 14:14–20
Scripture has had such an influence on American culture that even non-Christians have used its imagery in their writings. Julia Ward Howe was a Unitarian and, therefore, not a Christian. However, her famous song “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” incorporates biblical images and phrases in its lyrics: “Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord: He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored; He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword: His truth is marching on.”
These lyrics were inspired by Revelation 14, which describes the coming of the Son of Man in judgment. Seated on the clouds, the Son of Man sends forth an angel to harvest the wicked and cast them, like sour grapes, into a winepress, where they are crushed and their blood flows forth and reaches a great height (vv. 14–20). Clearly, this Son of Man is no ordinary person. He is actually the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, as “Son of Man” is the title that Jesus used for Himself more frequently than any other. This title is based on Daniel 7:13–14, where the Son of Man receives an everlasting reign and dominion from the Creator. Today’s passage indicates that the Son of Man who will rule forever is the same King who will mete out God’s wrath against sin.
Any idea that Jesus is a person who offers love at the expense of righteousness is utterly destroyed by Revelation 14:14–20. The Son of God, no less than His Father, expresses wrath as the outflow of His righteous character. Christ’s anger is something to be feared, which is why we must “kiss the Son, lest he be angry” (Ps. 2:12). We can only be rescued from His eternal judgment if we show Him due honor—if we repent of our sins and worship Him as Lord and Savior.
Jesus came first as the world’s Savior, but He will come again as the world’s Judge (John 3:16–18; 2 Tim. 4:1). On that day, all people will kneel before Him (Isa. 45:22–23; Phil. 2:9–11). For some, it will be a genuflection of honor, worship, and love. Others, however, will remain obstinate, refusing to submit to the King of kings and Lord of lords. These individuals will be struck with a “rod of iron”—the royal scepter—by Christ Himself, and they will bow before Him (Ps. 2:9).
A day is coming when all people will bow before Christ Jesus. At that point, His reign, which is a reality now, will be made completely visible. On that day, some will rejoice to see the return of the King, and no one will need to tell them to bow. Others will remain firm in their hatred of the universe’s rightful Ruler. Nevertheless, they will be forced to kneel. Jesus is as surely the King now as He will be on that final day, so let us serve Him with gladness today.
Passages for Further Study