Gods activity on earth is preceded by His activity in heaven. After sending three angels to give the earth a final warning to repent He will now give the earth justice for its sins. A key element of this will be to bring the armies of the antichrist together in one place to destroy them. Like grapes they will be gathered and then crushed. Verse 14: John sees Jesus (one like a son of man, Da 7:18) sitting on the cloud meaning He is resting, just above the earth, waiting for the command from the Father to return (Da 7:13; Mt 24:30, 36). He wears a crown of gold because at His return He comes with full power and authority (Ps 2:4-12). He holds a sickle in His hand because He is about to gather the military forces loyal to the antichrist in one place where they will be cut down and crushed like grapes in a winepress (Rev 16:16, 21).
The vision John sees is drawn from a prophetic theme running through Joel (Joel 3:1-17), Isaiah (Is 63:1-6) and Zechariah (12:1-3, 8-11; 14:1-3, 12-15). As far back as 835 B.C. God had shown His prophets that a day would come when He would gather the armies of hostile nations and destroy them in one remarkable act of judgment. Verse 15: The Fathers command is delivered by an angel who emerges from the Temple in heaven (probably a symbolic Temple rather than a literal one) to loudly announce: Put in your sickle and reap, for the hour to reap has come, because the harvest of the earth is ripe. The statement that the earth is ripe indicates that human evil has risen to a level where it is complete, and no more souls will be saved by waiting (Ge 6:5-7; 11-13; 15:13-16; Lev 18:24-28; 2Pe 3:9). The angels words echo the prophecy in Joel 3:9-17, especially verse 13. There Joel sees God gather the gentile nations for war against Israel. They will come to destroy Israel but God will assemble their armies in order to destroy them in the valley of decision.
Verse 16: Like a man slicing grape clusters from a vine Jesus swings His sickle over the earth, cutting it loose so it can be dropped into a winepress and crushed. This powerful symbol indicates God will wait no longer to bring the antichrists murderous armies to an end. The description of this moment is found in Revelation 16:16-21 and 19:11-21. Verses 17-19: Though Jesus symbolically initiates the moment of judgment (v 16), angels will actually carry out the work. In His parables Jesus taught that such work would be done by angels (Mt 13:37-42; 49, 50; 24:31), so when we see an angel with a sickle being commanded to gather the clusters from the vine of the earth and then throwing them into the great winepress of God we are simply seeing angels carrying out the role Jesus said they would play.
Verses 17-19 (continued): In verse 18 the command to begin comes from an angel who has power over fire and who came out from the altar. This must be the same angel we saw earlier who presented the prayers of all the saints to God at the heavenly altar of incense (Rev 8:3-6). In that vision he took fire from the altar of incense and threw it to the earth initiating the judgments brought on as each of seven angles blew his trumpet (Rev 8:6). By coming out from the altar of incense (which represented the prayers of Gods people in the Tabernacle and Temple) we are again to understand that God is acting because He has heard the prayers of His people. This time when this angel calls out with a loud voice instead of seven trumpets there are seven bowls filled with the wine of Gods wrath which will be poured out on the earth (Rev 16:1-21).
Verse 20: The battle referred to here will take place in an area called Har-Magedon (Rev 16 16; 19:17-21) which means the hill of Meggido. Meggido was a city which witnessed numerous ancient wars because it was located at a strategic place on a plain north of the Carmel range of mountains and was situated on the main road running from Egypt to Syria. John says Gods winepress was trodden outside the city but doesnt name the city to which hes referring. However, in light of Joels and Zechariahs prophecies of this event, there can be no doubt it is Jerusalem (Joel 3:12, 17; Zec 12:1-11; 14:1-5). Apparently the antichrists army, which will be composed of troops from all the surrounding nations (Joel 3:11, 12), will initially assault Jerusalem (Joel 3:11; Zec 14:2) but will later move 60 miles north to the valley of Esdraelon (near Meggido) where God will destroy them.
Verse 20 (continued): John sees a grotesque image of a winepress gushing blood instead of purple grape juice. Drawing directly from the prophecies of Isaiah (63:1-6) and Joel (3:13) he pictures a scene where so many of the antichrists army will die that the land for 100 miles around will be flooded with blood to a depth of about four feet. His enormous army gathered from many nations will be crushed by hailstones weighing 100 pounds each (Rev 16:16-21). When Jesus returns His white robe will be dipped in blood (Rev 19 13) meaning it will be stained red around its lower hem symbolizing that He is the one who treads the winepress of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty (Rev 19:15; Is 63: 1-3). He who received Gods fierce wrath upon Himself for our salvation (Gal 3:13) is now the one who brings Gods wrath on an empire which has slaughtered His people (Rev 16:6).
Verse 1: When the angel who has the power over fire poured out fiery coals onto the earth (Rev 8:5) the seven trumpet judgments were unleashed. Those disasters were identified with trumpets because they were limited in scope and meant to warn unbelievers to repent. But this time when this same angel gives the order, seven bowls full of the wine of wrath of God (Rev 14:10) will be poured onto the earth producing disasters meant to punish rather than warn. They are acts of war by which God will bring justice on those who have chosen to worship the antichrist and murder His people (Rev 16:2-6). Of course, far greater judgment awaits the world (Rev 20: 11-15) but these plagues bring the final 3 1Ъ2 year period to an end. Even during this final series of judgments it will still be possible to repent but as well see none do, choosing instead to blaspheme God for the hardships they suffer (Rev 16:9, 11).