Reaping the Grapes of Wrath
As the end draws near, the enemy fights more furiously. The great Tribulation period is getting even worse. In chapter 13 of Revelation, John is given a vision of a beast coming from the sea. This beast has seven heads and ten horns with ten crowns on his ten horns. A blasphemous name is written on his heads. This beast blasphemes God and gets his power and authority from the dragon (Satan).
As John watches, one of the beast’s heads is mortally wounded. But then miraculously the deadly wound is healed. The people of the world are so impressed that they follow the beast and worship the dragon who gives power to the beast. Every person on the whole earth worships this beast except the ones whose names are written in the Book of Life.
In his vision, John sees another beast coming out of the earth. This beast has two horns and speaks like the dragon (Satan). This second beast joins the first beast and causes the whole world to worship the first beast. He makes war against the followers of Christ and murders them. Scripture says: “And authority was given him over every tribe, tongue, and nation.” (Revelation 13:7b)
The second beast performs miracles and great signs causing fire to come down from heaven. And the people of the world are all deceived and they all worship these beasts. And these beasts are given authority to continue for forty-two months. (3 1/2 years). (Revelation 13:5) It seems that God puts time limits on how long evil can continue.
The second beast tells the people of the world to make an image of the first beast and after they make the image, the second beast gives breath to the image and it seems to live. Now we seem to have a counterfeit Trinity. Two beasts and an image of the beast. Satan deals in counterfeits.
Then the second beast orders every person on the earth to worship the image of the beast that they have made. If anyone refuses to worship the image they will be killed. We have a world-wide dictatorship now, powered by the dragon (Satan). It doesn’t get any worse than that, does it?
This is what happens next: “He (the beast) causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads. And no one may buy or sell except they have the mark of the name of the beast, or the number of his name. “ (Revelation 13:17) The number of the beast is 666. (Revelation 13:18)
Bible scholars believe that the number six represents the number of “man”. Mankind or human kind is short of perfection. We cannot be perfect on our own. Seven is the number in biblical numerology for perfection. So, the number 666 may represent doing things our own way, independent from God and with great pride, and missing the mark. Whereas God calls us to trust Him and give our lives to Him. When Jesus Christ covers us with His righteousness, I would guess that the number of our name is changed to seven, which represents perfection.
Some scholars believe that here these passages in Revelation 13:17 mean that perhaps the people of the world must give their allegiance to the beast. Receiving the “mark of the beast” in the forehead may represent their will or their mind, while the hand may represent their activities. But then it may be that the mark of the beast will be stamped on the forehead or hand of every person in the world.
Somehow the Beast- the dictator of the world - will get his imprint on every person everywhere, causing all persons to serve him. The Bible warns us that if we have the mark of the Beast, we will not go to heaven, but share the fate of the beast. (Revelation 14:11) Those last days of the Tribulation will be very scary times indeed!
We move on into the 14th chapter of Revelation where John sees more visions. He sees the Lamb(Jesus) on Mount Zion with one hundred and forty-four thousand men. Some scholars believe that these men represent 12,000 from each of the twelve tribes of Israel. Scripture tells us that these people were “sealed” and describes them as the “first fruits”. There are hidden meanings and truths here that we will surely understand later.
Then three angels fly across heaven making announcements or proclamations. The first angel preaches the gospel to those living on the earth – to every nation and tongue and people. This angel also announces that “The hour of His judgment has come: and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water.” (Revelation 14:7b)
A second angel follows the first saying, “Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city because she has made all the nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.” (Revelation 14: 8) In the Old Testament, Babylon was a center of idolatry, the occult, and immorality.
And after the second angel, a third angel follows calling in a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives the mark on his forehead or on his hand, he shall drink of the wrath of God,…” (Revelation 14;9-11)
And then John sees another vision – a vision of the Son of Man (Jesus) with a crown on his head, sitting on a cloud and holding a sickle in his hand. An angel calls out that the harvest of the earth is ripe. It is time for the reaping of the grapes of wrath. (Revelation 15:17-20) The scope of the coming judgments are revealed and some Bible scholars believe that this reaping or in-gathering depicts a time of separation of the wicked from the righteous.
We read these frightening stories in Revelation and we may be fearful. There will be battles and judgments before all of sin is finally burned away and a sinless new heaven and new earth is created. We are so used to our sinful world that we can scarcely imagine what this new world will be like. A world with no sickness or death, sorrow or tears. A world where every wrong will be made right.The Lord speaks through Isaiah with these words about this promised new world: “Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill brought low: The crooked places shall be made straight and the rough places smooth: The glory of the Lord shall be revealed. And all flesh shall see it together. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” (Isaiah 4:4-5)