Again in the middle distance, between the sublime and mundane, one like Son of Man, on a cloud (recall the same term for the figure addressing the 7 churches?) but now with a crown and a sickle.
An angel tells him to swing the sickle (or sweep the scythe). Time to harvest, the accumulated fruit bursting. Another pair of angels in turn coming from the celestial temple, one with a sickle, the other telling him to swing it, ready to reap the earthly harvest – into the winepress of the wrath of God outside the city…
This is ‘purple prose’ – or poetry – operatic imagery – culmination of so much Johannine talk: Vine and branches, bear fruit . It sounded so eirenic during growing season. Not so much in the frenzy of harvest!
Despite injustice, we keep getting second chances, and the wicked prosper, and the righteous suffer – That’s the way it is - until it’s not.
Who and what is crushed? What is separated out from what in the winepress of the wrath of God?
NJB - Harvest Time
14 Now in my vision I saw a white cloud and, sitting on it, one like a son of man with a gold crown on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand.
15 Then another angel came out of the sanctuary and shouted at the top of his voice to the one sitting on the cloud, 'Ply your sickle and reap: harvest time has come and the harvest of the earth is ripe.'
16 Then the one sitting on the cloud set his sickle to work on the earth, and the harvest of earth was reaped.
17 Another angel, who also carried a sharp sickle, came out of the temple in heaven,
18 and the angel in charge of the fire left the altar and shouted at the top of his voice to the one with the sharp sickle, 'Put your sickle in, and harvest the bunches from the vine of the earth; all its grapes are ripe.'
19 So the angel set his sickle to work on the earth and harvested the whole vintage of the earth and put it into a huge winepress, the winepress of God's anger,
20 outside the city, where it was trodden until the blood that came out of the winepress was up to the horses' bridles as far away as sixteen hundred furlongs.
NSRV Angels Ready to Reap
14 Then I looked, and there was a white cloud, and seated on the cloud was one like the Son of Man, with a golden crown on his head, and a sharp sickle in his hand!
15Another angel came out of the temple, calling with a loud voice to the one who sat on the cloud, ‘Use your sickle and reap, for the hour to reap has come, because the harvest of the earth is fully ripe.’
16So the one who sat on the cloud swung his sickle over the earth, and the earth was reaped.
17 Then another angel came out of the temple in heaven, and he too had a sharp sickle.
18Then another angel came out from the altar, the angel who has authority over fire, and he called with a loud voice to him who had the sharp sickle, ‘Use your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth, for its grapes are ripe.’ 1
9So the angel swung his sickle over the earth and gathered the vintage of the earth, and he threw it into the great wine press of the wrath of God.
20And the wine press was trodden outside the city, and blood flowed from the wine press, as high as a horse’s bridle, for a distance of about two hundred miles.