A Preterist Commentary on Revelation 14: Summary and Highlights
In the following Preterist Bible commentary on Revelation 14, the reader will be exposed to startling historical evidence of the fulfillment of every verse in Revelation 14 during the Jewish War. In Revelation 14:6-11 angels shout out warnings of impending judgment to the people of Babylon, which is Jerusalem. Witnesses to the Jewish War record a disembodied voice warning of disaster. Were this the threatening voices of the three angels of vs. 6-11? In Revelation 14:14-18 angels depart from the Temple and call out to Jesus who is seated on the clouds of heaven holding a sickle in preparation for the harvest at the end of the age. Could the fact that Jesus and the angels in vs. 14-18 are holding sickles hint at the fact that the events described in these verses transpired during the harvest months? Yes. The Jews revolted against Rome during the barley harvest, and the Roman offensive began at the start of the grape harvest hence the sickle imagery and grape harvest symbolism in these verses. Revelation 14:20 then predicts that blood will flow as high as a horse’s bridle for 1,600 stadia. The Jordan River is EXACTLY 1,600 stadia and was bloodied during Jewish War. Read the following commentary on Revelation 14 to see the stunning historical fulfillment of these prophecies–the more miraculous the prophecy, the more amazing the historical fulfillment!
The following may seem unbelievable. However, all information is taken from unbiased historical records and is easily verifiable. Sources listed at the end.
The Glory Cloud, the Second Coming and the LITERAL Fulfillment of Revelation 14 in the Jewish War
Revelation 14 Commentary Intro: The Beginning of a New Vision . . .
In this chapter, John beholds a new vision. Here the 144,000 sing praises to God while they await their admission into heaven. Their prayers for retribution have been heard, and three angels circle the land warning the people that the Day of Judgment is at hand. After the three angels deliver their message, John sees Jesus coming on the clouds. With His sharp sickle, Jesus strikes the land and blood flows as high as a horse’s bridle. With this slaughter, the chapter comes to a close.
1Then I looked, and there before me was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads. 2And I heard a sound from heaven like the roar of rushing waters and like a loud peal of thunder. The sound I heard was like that of harpists playing their harps. 3And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders. No one could learn the song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth. 4These are those who did not defile themselves with woman, for they kept themselves pure. They follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They were purchased from among men and offered as first fruits to God and the Lamb. 5No lie was found in their mouths; they are blameless.
Revelation 14:4 Commentary: The Virginity of the 144,000 Distinguishes Them from the Whore of Babylon.
2 Corinthians 11:2 states, “I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him.” 2 Corinthians was addressed to the Christian church at Corinth. In both this verse and v. 4, the church is said to be a virgin. The wedding ceremony between Christ and His virgin, the church, is later described in Revelation 21:2. The fact that these 144,000 have not defiled themselves with woman probably does not mean that they were all literal virgins. Their virginity is likely figurative, it is meant to contrast these people with the rest of Babylon which is later shown committing adultery with the beast in Revelation 18:1-3. Washed clean by the blood of Christ, the church is forgiven and found to be blameless in v. 5.[i]
In v. 4 the 144,000 are called “first fruits.” This title again points to the first century church. In Romans 16:5 and 1 Corinthians 15:20-23, Paul uses this term to describe the first coverts of Asia and Achaia.
6Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth—to every nation, tribe, language and people. 7He said in a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water.” 8A second angel followed and said, “Fallen, Fallen is Babylon the Great, which made all the nations drink the maddening wine of her adulteries.” 9A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice: “If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives his mark on the forehead or on the hand, 10he, too, will drink of the wine of God’s fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. He will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. 11And the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or for anyone who receives the mark of his name.”
Revelation 14:8 Commentary: Through their illicit sexual union, Babylon is both Rome and Jerusalem.
Babylon is mentioned for the first time in this chapter. Babylon is frequently interpreted to be Rome in many Bible commentaries. This is largely because in Revelation 17:9, Babylon sits on seven hills. Rome is the city of seven hills. Babylon is Rome, but it is also Jerusalem. Both Jerusalem and Rome are called Babylon throughout the Book of Revelation as a result of becoming one flesh due to their adulterous affair mentioned in Revelation 17. 1 Corinthians 6:16 says, “[T]he one who joins himself to a prostitute is one body with her[.] For He says, “The two shall become one flesh.” Through their sexual union the two cities had become one flesh–like husband and wife. The fall of Babylon is explained in Revelation 17: A Preterist Commentary and Revelation 18: A Preterist Commentary.
Revelation 14:6 Commentary: Why the Expression “Every Nation, Tribe, Language and People” Points to the First Century Jews of the Diaspora Who came to Jerusalem during the Holy Days.
In v. 6 an angel proclaims the Gospel to “every nation, tribe, language and people.” The expression “every nation, tribe, language and people” may, of course, be interpreted on a global scale, though it is not necessary to do so. In the Bible all or every does not always mean all or every (Matthew 2:1-3; 4:8; and 10:22). Therefore, when the Bible refers to “every nation” it does not always mean every nation in the world without exception. In Colossians 1:23, Paul writes, “This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven[.]” (Colossians 1:23.) Likewise according to Luke 2:1 “all the world” was enrolled in the census ordered by Augustus.[ii] Similarly, in 2 Maccabees 8:9 the Seleucid army is said to have been comprised of Gentiles from “all the nations[.]” As is clear in these vs., “every nation” is an expression denoting all or the bulk of the known or inhabited earth. In other words, it likely points to those nations of the world in which Jews settled as a result of the diaspora.
Jews from all over the world converged on Jerusalem during the three major Jewish holidays. Thus this angel could have proclaimed the Gospel in Jerusalem and have effectively preached to “every nation, tribe, language and people.” Interestingly, a disembodied voice was heard during these holidays. Was this the voice of the angel in v. 6?
Revelation 14:6-11 Commentary: Witnesses to the Jewish War Mention a Seemingly Disembodied Voice that pleaded for repentance and warned of Impending Disaster. Did These Supernatural Voices Fulfill the Angelic Warnings of vs. 6-11?
In vs. 6-11 three angels issue warnings to Babylon, which is Jerusalem, to repent. During the four years before the war began, Josephus says that Jesus the son of Ananus was never seen by anyone though his voice was often heard wailing, “Woe, woe to Jerusalem!”[iii] Was this disembodied voice the voice that issued the warnings in vs. 6-11?[iv]
Revelation 14:6-11 Commentary: Eyewitnesses to the Jewish War Mention a Sword-Shaped Star that Shown over the Temple and a Comet that Continued a Whole Year. Since Angels are Depicted as Stars in Revelation, perhaps these Stars are the Angels Mentioned Warning of the Coming Judgment in vs. 6-11?
In v. 6 there is an angel flying in midair. Midair should be translated mid-heaven. Mid-heaven is the point in the sky that the sun occupies in the middle of the day. Since an astrological term is used to describe the location of this angel, perhaps this angel is a star. This interpretation becomes more probable in light of the fact that stars represent angels in Revelation 1:20 and Revelation 9:1-2. A possible reference to the angelic messengers of vs. 6-9 is found in The Wars of the Jews:
While they did not attend, nor give credit, to the signs that were so evident and did so plainly foretell their future desolation; but, like men infatuated, without either eyes to see, or minds to consider, did not regard the denunciations that God made to them. Thus there was a star resembling a sword, which stood over the city, [of Jerusalem] and a comet that continued a whole year.[v]
The Mediaeval Jewish Historian Sepher Yosippon also mentions this sword-like star: “For one year before Vespasian came, a single great star shining like unsheathed swords was seen over the Temple.”[vi] The fact that Yosippon says that the star was seen over the Temple suggests that it may have been situated in or around the center of the sky. In other words, this sword-shaped star appears to have been located at or near mid-heaven like the star in v. 6.
Since according to both historians these stars, like the angels of Revelation 14:6-11, seem to warn of the coming attack, perhaps the stars mentioned by Josephus and Yosippon are the angels of Revelation 14:6-9?[vii] Furthermore, the fact that this star is shaped like a sword may also point to its message: the eternal gospel. According to Ephesians 6:17, the sword is a symbol of the word of God, the Gospel. Perhaps the sword-shaped star “which stood over” Jerusalem according to Josephus was the “angel flying in [mid-heaven that] that had the eternal gospel to proclaim” in v. 6?
12This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God’s commandments and remain faithful to Jesus. 13Then I heard a voice from heaven say, “Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them.”
Revelation 14:13 Commentary: Reports of a Beautiful, Glorious Afterlife Confirm that the Resurrection has already occurred. Spirits now Resurrect Immediately after Death as Implied in v. 13.
It is often supposed in Christian circles that the resurrection is a one-time event. This is idea is not Biblical. Recall that Revelation 20:4-6 explicitly mentions at least two major resurrections. The fact that there is more than one resurrection also appears to be implied in v. 13: “’Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’ ‘Yes,’ says the Spirit, ‘they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them.’” Each saint who dies after the first century resurrection appears to receive their heavenly resurrection body immediately after death without having to await their redemption in Sheol first. See the commentary on Revelation 7:15-17. Evidence of the fact that the events described in Revelation have already taken place is found in the testimony of thousands of people who have had near-death experiences. Many people who have suffered clinical death and have been successfully resuscitated describe a beautiful and glorious afterlife similar to the new Jerusalem of Revelation 21 and Revelation 22. These experiences would be surprising if the resurrection of the first fruits had not yet occurred.
14I looked and there before me was a white cloud, and seated on the cloud was one like a son of man with a crown of gold on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand. 15Then another angel came out of the temple and called in a loud voice to him who was sitting on the cloud, “Take your sickle and reap, because the time to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.” 16So he who was seated on the cloud swung his sickle over the earth, and the earth was harvested. 17Another angel came out of the temple in heaven, and he too had a sharp sickle. 18Still another angel, who had charge of the fire, came from the altar and called in a loud voice to him who had the sharp sickle, “Take your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of grapes from the earth’s vine, because its grapes are ripe.”
Revelation 14:14-18 Commentary: The Fact that the Heavenly Beings in vs. 14-18 are holding Sickles hints at the Fact that the Events described above may have transpired during the Harvest Months.
The fact that the Son of Man and the angels in the above verses are all holding sickles hints at the fact that the events described above may have transpired during the harvest months. The major Jewish holidays coincided with the various harvests. Passover was during the barley harvest. Pentecost occurred during the wheat harvest, and the Feast of Tabernacles, during the grape harvest. The fact that Jesus and the angels from the Temple are holding sickles points to both the barley and wheat harvests. Both barley and wheat were harvested with a sickle. The barley harvest began around Passover, in the middle of Nisan. The wheat harvest began in Sivan around Pentecost. The grape harvest is also alluded to in v. 18. In Revelation 14:18 sickles are used by the angels to cut grape clusters from the vine. The fact that vs. 14-18 allude to both the grain and grape harvests implies that the heavenly events mentioned above took place sometime around Nisan at the start of the barley harvest and ended around Tishri during the grape harvest. The events of vs. 14-18 are also mentioned in Revelation 8:1-6 and Revelation 15:5-16:1. Not surprisingly, first century historians describe various supernatural events that seem to fulfill these verses during the months of the grain and grape harvests at the start of the Jewish War in A.D. 66. It, therefore, does not appear to be a coincidence that the Jews began their revolt against Rome during the barley harvest in A.D. 66, and the Roman offensive under Cestius began at the start of the grape harvest that same year. Thus it is not surprising that the Bible also refers to the end of the age as a harvest in Matthew 13:39: “The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.” See Revelation 8: A Preterist Commentary and Revelation 15: A Preterist Commentary.
Revelation 14:14 Commentary: The Fact that Christ is depicted seated on a Cloud with a Crown on His Head in v. 14 is an Allusion to the Glory Cloud Similarly described in Ezekiel 1:4-28.
In v. 14 the Son of Man, Jesus Christ, is depicted seated on a white cloud with a crown of gold on his head. This depiction of Christ seated on a cloud with a crown of gold is a description of the Glory Cloud also mentioned in Ezekiel 1:4-28. In these verses Ezekiel sees God sitting on a throne in the midst of a cloud. The fact that the God is seated on a throne in the Glory Cloud in Ezekiel 1:4-28, of course, implies that He is also wearing a crown as Jesus is in v. 14.
Revelation 14:14 Commentary: Josephus May Have Recorded the Departure of the Glory Cloud or Shekinah from the Temple at the Start of the Jewish Revolt in A.D. 66.
The presence of God also called the Shekinah or Glory Cloud was believed to be ever present in the Most Holy Place of the Temple above the Ark of the Covenant according to Exodus 25:22. During the sixth century B.C., before the destruction of Solomon’s temple, Ezekiel saw the Glory Cloud depart from the Temple and travel east to the Mount of Olives according to Ezekiel 10:18-19; 11:22-23. Interestingly, the same thing may have been reported in A.D. 66 before the destruction of the second temple in A.D. 70. In The Wars of the Jews, Josephus records what appears to be the departure of the Shekinah or Glory Cloud from the Most Holy Place: “[A]t that feast which we call Pentecost [of A.D. 66], as the priests were going by night into the inner temple…they felt a quaking and heard a great noise, and after that they heard a sound as of a great multitude, saying, ‘Let us remove hence [emphasis mine].’”[viii] The fact that a supernatural voice was heard to declare that it was leaving the Temple seems to point to the departure of the Shekinah from the Temple before its destruction. Furthermore, in Ezekiel 1:24 the voice of the Almighty is said to sound like the voice of a multitude: “And when they went, I heard the noise of their wings, like the noise of great waters, as the voice of the Almighty, the voice of speech, as the noise of an host[.]”[ix] The departure of the Lord from the Temple may also be described by the pagan historian Tacitus who writes, “A sudden lightening flash from the clouds lit up the Temple. The doors of the holy place abruptly opened, a superhuman voice was heard to declare that the gods were leaving it, and in the same instant came the rushing tumult of their departure.”[x] While amidst the Glory Cloud, God was believed to be present in the company of angelic beings according to Deuteronomy 33:2 and Ezekiel 1. This rushing tumult appears to be the sound of the Lord Jesus Christ departing from the inner sanctuary of the Temple in the company of the heavenly host in the Glory Cloud.
Whenever God revealed himself to Israel, He often did so in the Glory Cloud as is the case in Exodus 3:2, Exodus 13:21, Exodus 19:16-19, Deuteronomy 4:11-14, 2 Samuel 22:8-15, 1 Kings 19:11-13, Psalm 18:6-16, Psalm 50:3, Psalm 97:1-5 and Psalm 144:5, Isaiah 66:15-16 and Ezekiel 1. While amidst the Glory Cloud, God was believed to be present in the company of angelic beings according to Deuteronomy 33:2 and Ezekiel 1. Similarly, Jesus said that He would come on the clouds of heaven in the presence of the angelic host during the second coming according Matthew 16:27, Mark 8:38 and Jude 14-15. The expression “coming on the clouds of heaven” is, of course, a direct allusion to the coming of Christ in the Glory Cloud as God had done so often in Old Testament history. Therefore, the fact that Christ said that He would come on the clouds of heaven is also an implicit statement of divinity since the Glory Cloud is the quintessential, incontrovertible sign of the presence of God. Thus this appearance of Christ coming on the literal clouds of the Glory Cloud is the ultimate manifestation of divine glory.
Revelation 14:14-18 Commentary: Confirmation of the Departure of the Angels from the Temple in vs. 14-18 in The Histories?
The angel coming from the altar in charge of the fire in v. 18 is mentioned in greater detail in Revelation 8:3-5. The fact that this angel comes from the altar is significant since the martyred saints who pleaded for vengeance in Revelation 6:9-11 were under this altar. Thus this angel who comes from the altar is about to see to it that these prayers for justice were enacted in the coming harvest, Israel’s first century war with Rome.[xi]
The angels who came from the Temple described in vs. 15-18 are the seven angels with the seven trumpets and bowls of Revelation 8, Revelation 9 and Revelation 16. Describing the first century fulfillment of the swift departure of these seven angels from the temple, Tacitus writes, “A sudden lightening flash from the clouds lit up the Temple. The doors of the holy place abruptly opened, a superhuman voice was heard to declare that the gods were leaving it, and in the same instant came the rushing tumult of their departure.”[xii] Perhaps the “gods” leaving the Temple as described in Tacitus’ account are the angels leaving the Temple in vs. 15-18? It may also be the case that Jesus, present on the Glory Cloud in v. 14, caused the lightening flash that lit up the Temple at the time of the angels’ departure as mentioned by Tacitus. When the Lord came on the clouds in judgment on a nation He typically came in the midst of cloud and fire or lightning–fire from heaven–according to Exodus 3:2, Exodus 13:21, Exodus 19:16-19, Deuteronomy 4:11-14, 1 Kings 19:11-13 and Psalm 50:3.
If the supernatural voice mentioned by Josephus and Tacitus is an indication of the flight of the Glory Cloud from the Temple, how could it also point to the departure of the seven angels of the seven trumpets and bowls as well? Recall that according to Revelation 8:2 the angels of the seven plagues are angels of the presence of God: “And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and to them were given seven trumpets.” These seven angels were seemingly chosen from among the angels that accompany God—i.e. Christ—in the Glory Cloud as indicated in Deuteronomy 33:2 and Ezekiel 1. Josephus says that the voice declaring its departure heard by the Temple priests sounded like that of a multitude. Furthermore, both Tacitus and Josephus state that the sound of the fleeing occupants sounded like that of a great number. Thus this miracle may point to the exit of Christ from the Holy of Holies quickly followed by the angels of his presence, the angels of the seven plagues.
In Revelation 14:14, Jesus is shown sitting on the clouds during His second coming. Though Jesus’ human-like appearance was visible one month earlier amidst the fiery angelic army in the sky during the part of the second coming described in detail in Revelation 19, Jesus’ human-like form would not have been visible here. Just as the substance of the Glory Cloud that guided the Israelites to the Promised Land in Exodus rendered God invisible to the people, Jesus once again pictured in the Glory Cloud in v. 14 would have also likely been invisible. God had come on the clouds in judgment several times in Old Testament history and each time God was seemingly invisible. This is because the Glory Cloud masked his likeness as it had in Exodus. This point is clearest in Psalm 18:9-14. In Psalm 18, God parts the heavens and rides clouds so dark that they block out the light of his presence. Obscured by these clouds, God fires down lightning in anger from his opaque chariot in the sky. In this later aspect of His second coming, Jesus appears to do the same causing the lightning flash that marked the departure of the angels within the Temple according to Tacitus: “A sudden lightening flash from the clouds lit up the Temple. The doors of the holy place abruptly opened, a superhuman voice was heard to declare that the gods were leaving it, and in the same instant came the rushing tumult of their departure.”[xiii]
19The angel swung his sickle on the earth, gathered its grapes and threw them into the great winepress of God’s wrath. 20They were trampled in the winepress outside the city, and blood flowed out of the press, rising as high as the horses’ bridles for a distance of 1,600 stadia.
Revelation 14:19-20 Commentary: Though the Jews revolted against Rome during the Barley Harvest, the Roman Offensive Began at the Start of the Grape Harvest hence the Grape Harvest Symbolism in vs. 19-20. Far from depicting a Literal Flood of Blood, Revelation 14:20 portrays Jesus riding on His White Horse as He does in Revelation 19:11-15 shedding Blood up to the His Horse’s Bridle throughout Israel as He “treads the Winepress” in Judgment.
The Jordan River is 251 kilometers long which is exactly 1,600 stadia. In the words of Fred Hoyle, a Cambridge University Astronomer, there were “three different units bearing that name [stade] [that] were in use: the itinerary stade, used in measuring the distance of a journey and equal in length to about 157 meters; the Olympic stade of 185 meters; and the royal Egyptian stade of 210 meters.”[xiv] Since we are calculating the length of a river, one must use the itinerary unit. Converting 1600 itinerary stadia to kilometers is a simple calculation: 1600stadia X 157m/stadia X 1 km/1000 m = 251.2 km. Thus 1600 itinerary stadia is equivalent to 251.2 km, the exact length of the Jordan River!
In v. 20, John sees blood flowing like wine as high as the horses’ bridles for 1,600 stadia. This flood is a metaphor of the destruction of Israel in preparation for its re-creation. Floods are often used in the Bible as a metaphor for an invading army (Jeremiah 46:7-8; 47:1-2; 51:55-56; Ezekiel 26:3; Daniel 11:10, 40; Nahum 1:8). This symbolism points to Rome quite well since Rome is represented by the sea throughout the Book of Revelation. See In the Bible “Earth” Signifies the Specific Land Addressed While “Sea” Symbolizes Foreign Nations.
Hyperbole like that found in v. 20 in which blood is said to flow as high as a horse’s bridle for 1,600 stadia is not uncommon in Hebrew sacred texts and historical accounts of the time. In fact, the idea of blood flowing up to a horse’s head at an extreme distance seems to have been a fairly common Jewish expression denoting a great slaughter since nearly identical imagery is found in the 1 Enoch, the Midrash and Talmud. 1 Enoch 100:2-3 reads, “From dawn until the sun sets, they shall slay each other. The horse shall walk through the blood of sinners up to his chest; and the chariot shall sink down up to its top.” Concerning the slaughter of Jewish rebels during the second Jewish revolt in the second century A.D., the following is written in the Midrash: “They [the Roman army under Hadrian] slew the inhabitants [the Jewish rebels of Bethar] until the horses waded in blood up to the nostrils, and the blood rolled along stones of the size of forty se’ ah and flowed into the sea [staining it for] a distance of four miles.”[xva] Concerning the same war, the Midrash also says, “He [Hadrian] immediately surrounded them [the Jewish rebels] with his legions and slaughtered them, so that their blood streamed [to the coast and stained the sea] as far as Cyprus.”[xvb] Concerning this slaughter at Bethar, the Babylonian Talmud uses similar language: “These are the eighty [thousand] trumpets which assembled in the city of Bethar when it was taken and men, women and children were slain in it until their blood ran into the great sea. Do you think this was near? It was a whole mil away.”[xvc]
Similar hyperbole is found in 2 Kings 21:16 and Ezekiel 32:6. In Ezekiel, Pharaoh is pictured as a sea monster dragged ashore by the Lord and killed. Concerning Pharaoh’s death Ezekiel 32:6 reads, “I will drench the land with your flowing blood all the way to the mountains, and the ravines will be filled with your flesh.” Similar imagery is found in 2 Kings 21:16 which reads, “Moreover, Manasseh shed very much innocent blood until he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another.” A nearly identical expression is found in Revelation 14:20. According to v. 20, the whole length of Israel “from one end to another” was filled with blood. 1,600 stadia is the exact length of the Jordan River and as such is an estimate of the length of Israel “from one end to another.” Interestingly, Josephus also uses similar language to Ezekiel 32:6 and 2 Kings 21:16 in recording the fulfillment of Revelation 14:20: “Galilee was all over filled with fire and blood.”[xvi] And along these same lines concerning the excessively bloody aftermath of the Jewish War, the Talmud records the following claim: “For seven years did the nations of the world cultivate their vineyards with no other manure than the blood of Israel.”[xvia]
In Matthew 13:39, Jesus says, “The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.” Though the Jews revolted against Rome during the barley harvest, the Roman offensive began at the start of the grape harvest. Under Cestius, Rome began its offensive during the Jewish War around the month of Tishri which was at the start of the grape harvest. This fact accounts for the grape harvest symbolism in vs. 19-20.
Here the destruction of Israel prior to the siege of Jerusalem is pictured as the crushing of grapes during the grape harvest. This symbolism is not without precedence: In this verse, as in Isaiah 5:7, Israel is symbolized as a vineyard; and as is the case in Lamentations 1:15, the slaughter of the Israelites is represented as grapes being crushed in a winepress. This imagery is clearly presented in Isaiah 63:1-3:
Who is this coming from Edom, from Bozrah, with his garments stained crimson? Who is this, robed in splendor, striding forward in the greatness of his strength? “It is I, proclaiming victory, mighty to save.” Why are your garments red like those of one treading the winepress? “I have trodden the winepress alone; from the nations no one was with me. I trampled them in my anger and trod them down in my wrath; their blood spattered my garments, and I stained all my clothing.
These verses are strikingly similar to the second coming as it is described in Revelation 19:11-15. In these verses Jesus again strides on horseback with garments stained red with blood. His garments are red because he “treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty” in Revelation 19:15 as he had also done in Isaiah 63:3. He does this alone according to Isaiah 63:3 which explains why only Jesus’ garments are stained red in Revelation 19:13-14. The fact that blood reaches His horses’ bridle in Revelation 14:20 explains how Jesus’ garments had become stained red with blood in Revelation 19:13 while he sat atop His white horse. Therefore, far from depicting a literal flood of blood over Israel in the first century, Revelation 14:20 ultimately portrays Jesus coming in judgment on Israel as he rides on his white horse shedding blood up to his horse’s bridle as he “treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty.” Remember that 1,600 stadia is the exact length of the Jordan River and as such is an estimate of the length of Israel “from one end to another.”
Revelation 14:20 Commentary: The Jordan River is Exactly 1,600 Stadia. Verse 20 is Also Fulfilled in the Slaughter of the People of Gadara by Roman Archers and Horsemen in the Jordan River.
As stated above, the Jordan River is exactly 1,600 stadia. The river of blood in v. 20 is also mentioned in the third trumpet and bowl of Revelation 8:10-11 and Revelation 16:4. Though the image of blood rising as high as a horse’s bridle is meant to symbolize Jesus “treading the winepress” on His white horse during the second coming as He comes in judgment on Israel, v. 20 appears to have been fulfilled in a surprisingly literal way during the Jewish War. These verses seem to have been fulfilled when thousands of fugitives from Gadara were cornered by the Roman army at the Jordan River. Extending a long way along the Jordan, the men of Gadara could not cross the river as a result of a strong current from recent rainfall. There along the Jordan, the men of Gadara “sustained the darts that were thrown at them as well as the attacks of the horsemen who beat many of them, and pushed them into the current.”[xviii] The imagery of the blood reaching to the horses’ bridles is also a picture of the Roman horsemen treading through the Jordan while bloodying the water of the river with the victims of Gadara.[xix]
Revelation 14:20 Commentary: The Red Sea Connection . . .
Jerusalem is called Egypt in Revelation 11:8, and as previously mentioned in the commentary on this verse, it is given this name because it receives the plagues of Exodus throughout the Book of Revelation. The flood in v. 20 is another way in which the events of Revelation mirror the story of Exodus. The blood flowing to the horses’ bridles is a reflection of both the plague of blood and the drowning of the chariots and horsemen of Pharaoh’s army during the parting of the Red Sea.[xx] Concerning the aftermath of the massacre by the Jordan, Josephus writes, “[A]nd the Jordan could not be passed over, by reason of the dead bodies that were in it, but the lake Asphatitis [the Dead Sea] was also full of dead bodies, that were carried down into it by the river.”[xxi] With thousands of bloodied corpses flowing from the Jordan into the Dead Sea, this bitter sea had truly lived up to its name both literally as the Dead Sea and symbolically as the Red Sea, having been made red with the blood of the dead. [xxii]
Like the Jewish slaves of Exodus who had crossed the Red Sea before Pharaoh and his army, the Jewish Christians had crossed the Jordan on their way to Pella before the subsequent slaughtering of the people of Gadara in this very same river. Mirroring the miracle of the parting of the Red Sea in Exodus 14, the Jewish Christians crossed the Jordan presumably when it receded (Revelation 12:16), and the men of Gadara, like Pharaoh and his army, perished when it swelled.[xxiv] Upon crossing the Red Sea, the Hebrew slaves celebrated their deliverance by singing the song of Moses in Exodus 15. In the next chapter, the Jewish Christians also sing the song of Moses as they similarly behold the destruction of their enemies during the unfolding of the seven bowls of Revelation 16.[xxv]
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Interested in THE PRETERIST VIEW OF ESCHATOLOGY, or are you a PRETERIST struggling with a prophecy or verse? It DID happen just like the Bible says! If you liked this essay, see PRETERIST BIBLE COMMENTARY for a detailed explanation of the FULFILLMENT OF ALL MAJOR END TIME PROPHECIES IN THE BIBLE. The more unbelievable the prophecy, the more amazing and miraculous the fulfillment!
Also see Historical Evidence that Jesus was LITERALLY SEEN in the Clouds in the First Century. For an explanation of how the end of the age and its fulfillment during the Jewish War mirror Genesis 1-3; how the Bible teaches that the resurrection of the dead is a resurrection of heavenly bodies to heaven, not a resurrection of perfected earthly bodies; and how the resurrection is a mirror opposite of the fall see How the Jewish War and Resurrection to Heaven Mirror Genesis and the Fall; and How Preterism fixes the Age of the Earth Problem and unravels the Mysteries in Genesis.
[i] The virginity of the 144,000 may also hint at the fact that these saints are destined for heaven and in heaven the saints do not marry (Matthew 22:28-32). (Arthur M. Ogden, The Avenging of the Apostles and Prophets: Commentary on Revelation, (Pinson, AL: Ogden Publications, 2006), 292.)
[ii] Milton S. Terry, Biblical Apocalyptics: A Study of the Most Notable Revelations of God and of Christ, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1988), 232.
[iii] Josephus The Wars of the Jews 6.5.3.
[iv] As stated in Revelation 11: A Preterist Commentary–Who are the Two Witnesses?, Jesus the son of Ananus is Jesus Christ. As both king and high priest, Jesus is the two witnesses of Revelation 11. Perhaps the sword-shaped star and the comet that circled Jerusalem for a year before the start of the Jewish War are angelic manifestations issuing warnings to Jerusalem through the disembodied voice of Jesus Christ as Jesus the son of Ananus? After all Jesus Christ is the divine son of God and angels are messengers of God; and in 1 Thessalonians 4:16, Jesus is said to have the voice of an angel.
[v] Josephus The Wars of the Jews 6.5.3.
[vi] Sepher Yosippon A Mediaeval History of Ancient Israel translated from the Hebrew by Steven B. Bowman. Excerpts from Chapter 87 “Burning of the Temple” cited in http://fulfilledtheology.ning.com/forum/topics/historical-records-with-some (9/16/2014)
[vii] Verse 11 bears a strong resemblance to Isaiah 34:9 and Jude 7.
[viii] Josephus The Wars of the Jews 5.6.3. In Daniel 10:6, the prophet is visited by an angel. This angel is said to have a voice like that of a multitude. Josephus describes the voices of the angels in the temple in much the same way.
[ix] KJV. Interestingly, the voices of angels also have similar sounding voices according to Daniel 10:3. The fact that the voice of God is heard through the voice of an angel is not surprising in light of Exodus 3 where the voice of God is heard to come from an angel within the burning bush. I believe God speaks through and with the voice of the angels of His presence in the Glory Cloud.
[x] Josephus The Wars of the Jews 5.6.3.
[xi] Arthur M. Ogden, The Avenging of the Apostles and Prophets: Commentary on Revelation, (Pinson, AL: Ogden Publications, 2006), 298-299.
[xii] Tacitus The Histories 5.13.
[xiv] Fred Hoyle, Astronomy (London: Rathbone Books Limited, 1962), 84.
[xva] Midrash Rabbah Lamentations 2.4.
[xvb] Ibid., 1.45.
[xvc] T.B. Gittin 57b.
[xvi] Josephus The Wars of the Jews 3 cited in David Chilton, The Days of Vengeance: An Exposition of the Book of Revelation (Dallas, GA: Dominion Press, 2011), 376.
[xvia] F.W. Farrar, Early Christianity, (no publisher listed, 1882), 486, cited in Don K. Preston, Who is This Babylon?, (Ardmore, OK: JaDon Management Inc., 2011), 83.
[xviii] Josephus The Wars of the Jews 4.7.5.
[xix] An alternate explanation for the blood mentioned in v. 20 might be found in the writings of the Roman historian Cassius Dio. In discussing the miraculous events said to have foreshadowed Nero’s death, Cassius Dio writes, “[I]n the Alban territory it rained so much blood that rivers of it flowed over the land.” Could this river of blood be an additional fulfillment of Revelation 14:20? Cassius Dio Roman History 63.26.
[xx] It is also a reflection of the plague of blood.
[xxi] Josephus The Wars of the Jews 4.7.6.
[xxii] Steve Gregg, ed., Revelation: Four Views a Parallel Commentary (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1997), 346.
[xxiv] The men of Gadara could not ford the Jordan River as a consequence of the recent rain. Josephus The Wars of the Jews 4.7.5.
[xxv] The third bowl of Revelation 16:4 is a future reflection of both the plague of blood and the drowning of Pharaoh and his army at the Red Sea.
Commentary on Revelation 14: Conclusion
In this commentary on Revelation 14, the reader was exposed to the amazing and sometimes supernatural fulfillment of Revelation 14 in the first century during the Jewish War.