The doom of the worshippers of the Beast – Tuesday, 34th Week in ordinary time – Revelation 14:14-19
The text of today forms the tail end of the central section of Revelation [12:1–14:20] and portrays the power of evil, represented by a dragon, in opposition to God and his people. Chapter 14 tells us that those who worship the beast (the Roman empire) will soon be doomed. God’s eternal purpose is to be fulfilled and judgment is at hand. It is for this reason that God the creator alone must be worshipped and not the Emperor.
Today’s passage, like much of revelation, seems puzzling at first. Using very graphic images, John describes the end of the world in terms of a harvest. It is a vision of gathering together the righteous and the good, followed by judgement on the wicked. The actual destruction of the wicked pagans will be treated more fully later on (19:11ff). This text is in line with what Jesus says in the Gospel about judgment day; how the sheep shall be separated from the goats.
Our reading today is based on a text from the prophet Joel based on the grain and grape harvests; “Put in the sickle for the harvest is ripe. Go in, tread, for the winepress is full. The vats overflow, for their wickedness is great” (Joel 4:13)
In his vision, John, sees “one like a son of man” sitting on a cloud. The “son of man” refers to Christ and the cloud indicates a divine presence; it is God’s throne. He wears a crown of gold on his head, representing a golden wreath of victory, his victory over death and sin. In his hand, he carries a sharp sickle. The sickle, used by the Israelites for cutting grain, consisted usually of a flint or iron blade attached to a curved handle of wood or bone. The sickle is the tool for harvesting and Christ as Judge comes to reap his harvest, gathering in, first of all, the elect, those who have been faithful to his Word. The reaping of the harvest symbolizes the gathering of the elect in the final judgment.