Blood to the Horses Bridles!

A most Astounding Visual Picture is Presented in Revelation 14:20 of a Flow of Blood, as Deep as Horses' Bridles, extending out for 1600 Furlongs.
What Extraordinary Event is being Described Here, and is it a Reality?


  © Rich Traver,  81520-1411,  4-8-10   [ 172 ] 

It’s an historically unprecedented situation to see a huge stream of blood flowing out from a battle location. On rare occasion, such as during the Revolutionary War, a pond was stained red by the blood of British soldiers, or on assault beaches during WWII where the sands and surf were stained red, has anything like that been reported. But to have an event where an actual river of blood flows out from a wide valley for a considerable distance, suggests an event on a scale well beyond anything mankind has ever experienced or even imagined! Our question is, Is this a real prophetic event, or is it merely exaggerated figurative language?

High reputation commentaries and various churches regularly associate this event with the great battle of “the Day of the Lord.” That being, the defeat of the Beast Power’s armies at or near Jerusalem at Christ’s return. Our challenge is to settle in our minds if this event is real or not, and if it is an actual event, when is it destined to happen? After all, the scale of the carnage is mind boggling!

Now, many regard the Battle of Armageddon, as it most often is called, to be the final battle with the enemies of the returning Christ. With that in mind, it is somewhat logical to associate this event described in the 20th verse of Revelation 14 as being that very event. However, the narrative in this chapter doesn’t specifically describe a battle scenario, per se. Rather, it seems to describe the harvest of a ‘fully ripened vintage’ of humanity. To envision this scene as being a battle, with armies coming to war against the returned Christ, we must draw upon other cross-referenced passages, as the language for a battle just isn’t found in this particular place. That seems to have escaped the notice of many a theologian!

The particular passage that presents this picture is found in the last seven verses of chapter 14:
14: “And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle.
15: And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe.
16: And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped.”

What is noteworthy at this point in the narrative is that there are two separate and distinct reapings: One by ‘the Son of man’, (isn’t that Christ?) seated on a white cloud, followed by another reaping, conducted by two angels, one wielding a sickle, the other controlling fire. Of the second reaping, we see: 17: “And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle. 18: And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire; and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe. 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.” (200 miles!)

The general consensus with regard to this passage is that the battle of the Day of the LORD is being described, or at least the result of it. But the picture represented may not be one so simple as that!

A Commentary’s Observation

Regarding this passage, verses 17 to 20, a JF&B Commentary[1] makes reference to Joel 3, another passage having similar sounding language and from this, deducing that the event describes the obliteration of the antichrist’s armies. However, these commenters do very insightfully note that the event described in the preceding three verses, 14 to 16, present the harvest of the righteous!(Mark iv. 29, where also He sendeth the sickle) The Son sends His sickle-bearing angel[2] to reap the righteous. By the harvest-reaping the elect righteous are gathered;” So says JF&B! A more pertinent cross-reference would be that in Matthew 25:31-46, where the righteous are set apart and awarded Life before the confirmed wicked are then sentenced to a just and everlasting punishment.

This observation of there being two quite separate groups at this event leaves us with a problem. Who are these righteous who are harvested at this event? And why, if this is a scene of battle against the antichrist, are they in any way a part of this action?

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[1]  The identity of the first horseman is often mis-interpreted as being Christ, rather than false religion, but from the Olivet prophecy we can see the true identification: a False Christs.

[2]  The lukewarm condition seen in the end-time Church found in Revelation 3:14-22. My articles "Considering Laodicea" and "The Place of Final Training Revisited" each deal more specifically with aspects of these teachings.

[3]   A situation similar to that of Elijah in 2nd Kings chapter 1