- What Does the Angel Represent?
- The Time-Frame
- The Symbols
- The Number Deciphered
- Why Squared?
- The Significance of Forty
- Why Distance and not Time?
- The Major Occurrences of Forty
- A Further Confirmation
19 And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God.
20 And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs.
Here in a few short verses are outlined the closing scenes in Earth’s history, soon to unfold. A parallel verse from the Old Testament is found in the book of Habakkuk:
15 You walked through the sea with your horses, through the heap of great waters.
16 When I heard, my belly trembled; my lips quivered at the voice: rottenness entered into my bones, and I trembled in myself, that I might rest in the day of trouble: when he comes up unto the people, he will invade them with his troops.
What Does the Angel Represent?
The angel who thrust in his sickle represents the church on earth, since angels in Revelation chapter 14 symbolize the people of God as they respond to the messages given from heaven.
This is easily established from a consideration of the first angel, whose work is to “preach the everlasting gospel”. This work was committed by the Saviour to his church, and since the “gifts and callings of God are without repentance”, the work still belongs to the church.
Having thus established that an angel symbolizes the messages of truth given to the church of God, the interpretation must likewise apply to the other angels in the same line of prophecy.
Now we need to establish the time-frame of this event. Since the prophecies of Revelation are framed in a series of separate lines with seven outstanding occurrences or periods (Seven Seals, Seven Trumpets, Seven Churches), the same ought to be true for the angels of Revelation 14.
However in this case, only six angels can be found in the chapter. But the seventh can be easily located in the first verse of Revelation 18. Since the message of Revelation 18 is a repetition of the messages of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd angels of Revelation 14, we can conclude that this angel comes after the third angel of Revelation 14.
Since Revelation 14:14 pictures the coming of the Son of man on the clouds of heaven, and this event cannot occur until the gospel work is finished, we may know that the angel of Revelation 18 comes just after the third angel of Revelation 14, and closes the work of preaching the gospel to the world.
To sum it up: the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd angels of Revelation 14, combined with the 4th angel of Revelation 18, marks the close of the preaching of the gospel to the world. The next three angels of Revelation 14:14-20, the 5th, 6th, and 7th, come after the work of preaching the gospel has closed, and immediately prior to the return of Jesus Christ.
The various symbols can be understood as follows:
Church (Revelation 14:6-12; Revelation 18:1-4)
Cleaver of Truth, the sword of the Word (Revelation 2:16)
Vine of the Earth
People of the world (Hosea 10:1)
A severe test, trial or temptation that brings out the character that is within (Isaiah 63:3)
Wrath of God
Seven last plagues (Revelation 15:1)
City of God, the New Jerusalem (Hebrews 12:22; Revelation 3:12); or in some cases also the church of God on earth as representatives of the New Jerusalem (Revelation 11:2,3)
Usually life, but in this case, spilled blood, meaning death
The Church, through whom Jesus and the heavenly forces conquer in the final battle (Revelation 6:2; 19:11)
The inner parts of man that God uses to direct His people: mind, conscience, will, spirit (James 3:2; Proverbs 4:20-27)
A measure of distance that the horses travel over
The prophecy indicates a time of severe suffering, both for the world and for the church. The experience of the church will be similar to the sufferings endured by Jesus in Gethsemane and on the cross, and as pictured in Psalm 69. Notice the similarity of language between these verses and those of Revelation 14:20:
2 I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing: I am come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me.
15 Let not the waterflood overflow me, neither let the deep swallow me up, and let not the pit shut her mouth upon me.
The Number Deciphered
1600 Furlongs is a measure of distance. This particular number does not appear elsewhere in Scripture, and so must have significance in another way other than directly. 1600 is equal to 40 squared (40×40). Forty is a very significant number in Scripture, as we shall soon see.
But why is it squared? The experience of God’s people at this time is one of sacrifice.
It speaks of the winepress being trodden. Treading the winepress is prophetic language used to describe Christ’s experience on the cross of Calvary (Isaiah 63:1-6). It also describes His work during the Seven Last Plagues (Revelation 19:11-16), only this time He works through His church on earth. So He treads the winepress through them.
This treading involves sacrifice and patient suffering: it is the offering of “the firstfruits” (one of the titles given to the 144,000 saints), an unblemished offering which reveals God’s character at it’s finest, and brings out Satan’s character at it’s worst; it is a Gethsemane experience, as they wrestle with God to hold on to faith, for the sake of His work, and the harvest of the sleeping saints in their graves, who rely on them to make their offering, so the harvest can be gathered.
A “sacrifice” is associated with the “altar of sacrifice”, which was always built in the dimensions of a perfect square (Exodus 27:1, 38:1; 2 Chronicles 4:1). This explains why the 1600 furlongs break down into 40 squared. It is associated with the altar of sacrifice.
The Significance of Forty
Forty signifies a time of test, probation, punishment as well as a time of education and communion with God. Since we know that the church at the time of the prophecy is going through the experience of Jacob’s trouble (a period of trial and temptation during which the blood comes out of the wine-press of God’s wrath even unto the horse bridles), the link of this time to the number forty, helps us to discover something about this time of trial as revealed in the other occurrences of the same number throughout the Bible.
Why Distance and not Time?
The number represents a distance rather than a length of time because it refers to the ground over which the saints must pass before Canaan is theirs, which is not just a length of time, but refers to some events and experiences that must occur. In like manner, horses when running a race must pass over the ground that separates the start from the finish line. How long it takes them depends on their speed. The race is not measured in time, but in distance that they travel around the designated track.
The Major Occurrences of Forty
(Excluding the various references to forty in the measurements of the Temple.)
1. The Flood
4 For yet seven days, and I will cause it to rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights; and every living substance that I have made will I destroy from off the face of the earth.
This was a time during which the wrath of God was poured out upon the earth in the flood. So likewise, this time when the blood comes to the “horse’s bridles” is during the outpouring of the “wrath of God” in the seven last plagues.
2. Jacob’s Embalming
2 And Joseph commanded his servants the physicians to embalm his father: and the physicians embalmed Israel.
3 And forty days were fulfilled for him; for so are fulfilled the days of those which are embalmed: and the Egyptians mourned for him threescore and ten days.
These forty days were taken to prepare the body of Jacob for the grave. In our parallel, the church is prepared in her time of trial, for the final sacrifice, the giving of herself completely, even unto eternal death, for the sake of God’s cause. This will be similar to the struggle of Jesus in the garden where he said, “if this cup will not pass from me except I drink it, thy will be done”.
3. Moses on Mt. Sinai
18 And Moses went into the midst of the cloud, and got him up into the mount: and Moses was in the mount forty days and forty nights.
28 And he was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.
11 And it came to pass at the end of forty days and forty nights, that the Lord gave me the two tables of stone, even the tables of the covenant.
This was a time of communion with God, the result of which was the giving of the law of righteousness to the people. So in the last struggle, the saints will “cry day and night to God” (Luke 18:7), and although the communion will not be as pleasant as was Moses’ stay in the mount, it will result in the final display of the righteousness of God through his people (2 Thessalonians 1:10).
4. The Wandering of Israel in the Desert
25 And they returned from searching of the land after forty days.
33 And your children shall wander in the wilderness forty years, and bear your whoredoms, until your carcases be wasted in the wilderness.
34 After the number of the days in which you searched the land, even forty days, each day for a year, shall you bear your iniquities, even forty years, and you shall know my breach of promise.
2 And you shall remember all the way which the Lord your God led you these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you, and to prove you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments, or no.
3 And he humbled you, and suffered you to hunger, and fed you with manna, which you knew not, neither did your fathers know; that he might make you know that man does not live by bread only, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord does man live.
4 Your raiment waxed not old upon you, neither did your foot swell, these forty years.
10 Forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said, It is a people that do err in their heart, and they have not known my ways:
11 Unto whom I swore in my wrath that they should not enter into my rest.
This time of wandering was to purge the nation of Israel of the unbelief that prevented them from entering Canaan. So in the last struggle, the trial will purge earthliness from God’s church so that she can enter into her heavenly rest.
God’s love for His children during the period of their severest trial is as strong and tender as in the days of their sunniest prosperity; but it is needful for them to be placed in the furnace of fire; their earthliness must be consumed, that the image of Christ may be perfectly reflected.
The “earthliness” mentioned here cannot be sin, for at this time, all sin has been confessed and passed to the sanctuary in heaven. The sanctuary is closed (Revelation 15:8), and there is no more cleansing of sin available. Earthliness, at this time, therefore must mean a natural dependence upon earth, and the things of earth. During the spiritual time of Jacob’s trouble, the saints will have all dependence on earth cut off by the various decrees made against them, and by their flight into the wilderness.
In this sense, there is a parallel between this time of “Jacob’s trouble” and the dwelling of the Israelites in the desert. They also had to learn to depend on God, for in the desert, there was no natural sustenance available, such as they were used to receiving in Egypt.
5. The Journey of Elijah to Horeb
1 Kings 19
8 And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of God.
The food that the angels supplied for Elijah gave him strength to journey to the “mount of God”. In our parallel, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, in the time of the Revelation 18 angel, will strengthen the people of God to go through the final leg of the journey in their travel to reach the “mount of God”, the promised rest.
Elijah was strengthened by food, then traveled for forty days to get to his destination. So the number forty again represents the time between the strengthening received during the Latter Rain, and the actual reaching of the goal when Christ returns in the kingdom of God.
6 And when you have accomplished them, lie again on your right side, and you shall bear the iniquity of the house of Judah forty days: I have appointed you each day for a year.
3 Forty stripes he may give him, and not exceed: lest, if he should exceed, and beat him above these with many stripes, then your brother should seem vile unto you.
1 And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the Lord; and the Lord delivered them into the hand of the Philistines forty years.
10 Behold, therefore I am against you, and against your rivers, and I will make the land of Egypt utterly waste and desolate, from the tower of Syene even unto the border of Ethiopia.
11 No foot of man shall pass through it, nor foot of beast shall pass through it, neither shall it be inhabited forty years.
12 And I will make the land of Egypt desolate in the midst of the countries that are desolate, and her cities among the cities that are laid waste shall be desolate forty years: and I will scatter the Egyptians among the nations, and will disperse them through the countries.
13 Yet thus says the Lord God; At the end of forty years will I gather the Egyptians from the people where they were scattered.
2 Corinthians 11
24 Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one.
These five occurrences reveal forty to be a number that signifies a time of punishment. In our parallel, because of the iniquity of man and the continual apostasy of God’s church in the past, the final people of God must be severely tried and delivered into the hands of their enemies for a time, to prove their innocence and freedom from the failures of the past, and that the gospel has done its work well in purifying them so that no dross remains. Though not bearing sin as Jesus did, yet they go through a similar experience, enduring the enmity of man against them as if they were the vilest sinners.
7. The Probation of Nineveh
4 And Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.
The forty days represented a time from the warning of Jonah to the destruction of the great city. In the parallel, this number represents the time that will pass between the giving of the final warning as recorded in Revelation 18, and the destruction of Babylon the Great, the city which reigns over the whole earth.
8. The Temptation of Jesus
1 Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.
2 And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward a hungered.
13 And he was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan; and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered unto him.
1 And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness,
2 Being forty days tempted of the devil. And in those days he did eat nothing: and when they were ended, he afterward hungered.
The temptation of Jesus revealed his righteousness, and that he would not divert from the path of strict obedience no matter what the cost. This especially represents the final trial of the church, which occurs that her righteousness may be revealed, and that she be shown to be like her Master, unable to be diverted from the path of strict obedience.
9. A Time of Education
3 To whom also he showed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.
30 And when forty years were expired, there appeared to him in the wilderness of mount Sinai an angel of the Lord in a flame of fire in a bush.
These two incidents refer to a time of education. In the first case, at the end of the period of education, Jesus traveled to heaven. In the second case, at the end of the period of education, the angel of the Lord (Jesus) appeared. Both are fit symbols of the last test which will do a practical work of educating the church in the ways of righteousness. This will be followed by the appearing of their Lord, and their ascension to heaven with Him, that “where I am, there you may be also”.
A Further Confirmation
Now let’s look at one more line of prophecy that confirms this interpretation regarding the altar of sacrifice and Revelation 14:20.
1 And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein.
2 But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.
1. How Does God Measure?
Here is described a work of “measuring”. With God, numbers are not just “facts and figures” but have moral meaning. “God is love” (1 John 4:8) and therefore love is stamped on every element of creation. The work of measuring has to do with character.
11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ:
In these verses, the growth of the church into the likeness of Christ is described in terms of measuring: “the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.”
2. What is the Measuring Stick?
This also explains what the “reed like unto a rod” is. It is the “measure…of Christ”. Jesus Christ is the model man, the father of the new human family. His children are to be like Him in character. Through the “power” of the gospel, they are transformed into His likeness.
1 John 4
17 …as He is, so are we in this world.
Now look at another scripture that speaks of the “golden measuring reed”:
15 And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof.
16 And the city lies foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs. The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal.
17 And he measured the wall thereof, a hundred and forty and four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel.
This “man” or “angel” from whom the golden measuring reed is derived is none other than Jesus Christ. He is the only one in whom the fullness of God is visibly displayed in a way that can reach the created beings. He is the great Original, by which the counterfeits are discerned and rejected.
And so, not surprisingly, the wall around the New Jerusalem is the same measurement as the 144,000 saints who have their Father’s name sealed in their foreheads, and in whom the image of Christ is fully reflected. The defense of the New Jerusalem is the character of God, perfected in His saints through the ministry of Christ.
Now, getting back to Revelation 11, what is measured with this rod? Three things: the temple, the altar, and those who worship therein.
3. Measuring the Temple
Where is the temple? Although the church, and each believer, is a temple for God to dwell in, yet in the book of Revelation we are repeatedly brought from earth to the heavenly temple, where Christ, the twenty four elders, and the angels are closely involved in the events that go on in this earth, especially as it respects the work of God through His church on earth.
It is the heavenly sanctuary which, according to the prophecy of Daniel 8:11, would be cast down by the Little Horn power. This event has already taken place, during the Dark Ages, when the Catholic church imposed a false priesthood upon Christians, directing their eyes to earthly temples, an earthly priesthood, confession of sins to earthly priests, and the building up of an earthly empire in the name of Christ.
This is also referred to in the prophecy from Revelation 11:
2 But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.
The “court which is without the temple” is this earth. Those who build their kingdoms now upon this earth are referred to as “Gentiles”, or unbelievers. The “holy city” is first, the New Jerusalem in heaven, but also the saints on earth who are ambassadors of the heavenly kingdom. When they were persecuted, during the 1260 years reign of the Catholic apostasy, the city was trodden underfoot. God’s kingdom was despised in the way that His saints on earth were treated.
Likewise, the “place of His sanctuary”, the heavenly temple where Christ ministers, was trodden underfoot:
11 Yea, he magnified himself even to the prince of the host, and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of his sanctuary was cast down.
So the work of measuring the temple represents the restoration in the minds of God’s people, of the work that is going on in the heavenly sanctuary, and their participation in that work.
But note that there is also a specific number associated with measuring the temple: the 2300 day prophecy:
14 And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.
It was this prophecy that unlocked the meaning of the sanctuary and the anti-typical cleansing service of the great day of Final Atonement. We will find that each “measuring” in the next two items, is also associated with a prophetic number.
4. Measuring the Worshipers
Another thing that was to be measured, according to Revelation 11:1, was the worshipers in the temple. Many books have been devoted to explaining the work of the judgment in heaven that is mentioned in Daniel 7, 8 and 9, and Revelation 14:6,7, 11:18, Romans 2, and other places; and prefigured in the yearly feast of the day of Final Atonement in the Old Testament sanctuary services. Therefore I will not add to that here.
Is there a specific numerical value associated with “measuring the worshipers”? Yes, it is the number 144,000, which signifies character perfection and the victory of the gospel over all the weaknesses of every type of character among men.
5. Measuring the Altar
The other object that was to be measured was the altar. Why does the altar need to be measured? Because there is an offering yet to be offered, before Christ returns:
2 But who may abide the day of his coming? And who shall stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap:
3 And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.
4 Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the Lord, as in the days of old, and as in former years.
This offering is also mentioned in another place in the book of Revelation:
9 And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held:
10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, do you not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?
11 And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.
Here is a group of saints that were slain on the “altar” of sacrifice. In the Old Testament services, the blood was poured out at the base of the altar, and so here, in a figurative sense, their blood “cries out” for vengeance. They are told to rest a while until another group should be offered in the same way.
We know that the first major persecution against the church took place during the 1260 years of papal rule. But there is to be another persecution, foretold in Revelation 13 and 14, by which another group of faithful souls will be offered up.
That offering is also revealed under the title “firstfruits”, a name given to the 144,000. The work of “measuring the altar” involves understanding what that offering is all about, and how we are prepared for it.
It is the offering of the firstfruits that prepares the way for the gathering of the harvest, which is the resurrection of the righteous. For it was a principle in the Old Testament types, that the harvest could not be gathered until the firstfruits were offered before the Lord. But this work is more clearly explained in the book, The Seven Angels, so I will not repeat it here.
And the numerical prophecy associated with measuring the altar is the number 1600. Here then we have one more confirmation established to link the altar with the 1600 furlongs.
6. A Summary
Let’s go over the points briefly:
- We established that the Altar was a perfect square.
- We showed that 1600 furlongs is the result of 40 squared, therefore linking it to the Altar.
- We considered that the experience described in that verse was one of sacrifice, and sacrifice usually took place on the Altar.
- We then looked at the number 40 as used in the Bible to understand what that could tell us about that time of sacrifice.
- We considered the “measuring of the altar” as a prophetic description of the study of that last sacrifice of the saints that will close the work of God on this earth.
7. Without the Camp
We could consider just one more part of the verse under consideration.
20 And the winepress was trodden without the city…
What does this mean, “without the city”? It refers to the practice, in the Old Testament sanctuary service, of putting defilement outside of the camp of Israel.
Lepers dwelt outside of the camp, the bodies of sacrifices were put outside of the camp, and the Red Heifer sacrifice was also performed outside of the camp. This last sacrifice in particular represents Christ, and has a lesson for us as well. But this thought is more fully covered in the book, God’s Way in the Sanctuary, chapter 15, “The Red Heifer”, and I leave it as homework for you!
Here is a scripture that speaks particularly of this experience of being “without the city”:
11 For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp.
12 Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate.
13 Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach.
14 For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.
15 By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.
16 But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.
But what does it mean for this last sacrifice of God’s saints, that it is “without the city”?
- They are definitely separate from the world at that point, and even cast out. Many have fled into the hills, and are being hunted. Like Christ, they are considered the “cause” of all the evils taking place in the world. So they are shunned and hated, and are “out of the camp.”
- But, they are also apparently abandoned by heaven! The enthusiasm that animated them during the outpouring of the Holy Spirit is over. The work seems not to be finished. They don’t know how their cases have been settled in heaven, or even if that work is over yet. They are wrestling under severe temptations and discouragements. They suffer privation and hardship.
In following the Lamb “wherever He goes”, they also must feel as “lost sinners” in order to reveal before all the universe, and the unrepentant on earth, that their only motivation has been to help others and give their lives for the truth they love. Like Job, they need to be tested to give the demonstration that will prove Christ’s work in man’s soul as full and complete, and demonstrate that the Father’s character is love, even to the end.
“Let us go forth therefore unto Him
without the camp, bearing his reproach.”
1 The mighty God, even the Lord, has spoken, and called the earth from the rising of the sun unto the going down thereof.
2 Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God has shined.
3 Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence: a fire shall devour before him, and it shall be very tempestuous round about him.
4 He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that he may judge his people.
5 Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice.
Other articles by Frank Zimmerman:
- Thoughts on God’s Rulership
- Modern Day Phariseeism
- But Jesus Ate Fish!
- Perfection is Freedom
- Men of Great Renown
- The Wheat and Tares
- Clean and Unclean
- Criticizing a Messenger
- The Sabbath as a Sign
- What the Battle is About
- Stoning the Rebellious Son
- Prophetic Significance of the Law
- The Gospel in Revelation
- God’s Character: A Key to Prophecy
- Baal Worship