The great harvest – Revelation 14:14-20

 

Toward the end of the tribulation period, great judgment will fall upon the earth. This judgment is illustrated by a great harvest. In our text at hand, we see two harvests. There is the grain harvest and the grape harvest. Both of these harvests are pictures of the wrath of God being poured out upon the unbelieving world in the final days of the tribulation period.

The grain harvest. The grain harvest is seen in verses 14-16. 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.” [1]The ‘Son of man’ is none other than Jesus Christ. He is described in several ways. (1) Sitting on a white cloud. Luke 21:27 mentions that they shall see him ‘coming on a cloud.’ (2) He is sitting. This is a picture of the fact that Christ is coming to judge. He is sitting in judgment. Christ is the one appointed by God to execute judgment upon the earth. (3) A golden crown on his head. This golden crown is a crown of victory. Christ was victorious in His redeeming work. (4) A sharp sickle in His hand. Christ is seen using the sickle to harvest the earth. This sickle is seen in Joel 3:12-13. The harvest of the wicked is ripe and Christ is soon to gather the wicked and cast them off to be burned. “While winning lost souls to Christ is sometimes pictured as a harvest (John 4:34–38), this image is also used of God’s judgment (Matt. 13:24–30, 36–43; Luke 3:8–17). God permits the seeds of iniquity to grow until they are ripe, and then He judges (Gen. 15:16).”[2] Understanding that this harvest is coming and judgment will fall upon the earth, is a sober reminder of the downward spiral that this world is on. It seems as if wickedness is growing more and more and is intensifying. We need to understand that though we pray and seek peace in the world; overall, things will get worse. The world as we see it today will not get any better, it will only get worse until Jesus comes. As believers we need to be encouraged of the promises that God is with us during these times. Though the world around us is falling apart, God is still in control. The issue for us today is not necessarily how we can stop the wickedness, but how we can stay faithful to God in the midst of a Godless world. Often, the light of the Gospel shines brightest when things are at its worst. As the world grows ever so closer to facing the wrath of God, we must stand tall and not be ashamed of the Gospel, no matter how much we may suffer for it.

The grape harvest. The grape harvest is seen in verses 17-20. “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.” [3]I personally agree with John MacArthur’s assessment of this passage, in that it is referring to the great battle of Armageddon. Christ will come and destroy the Antichrist and his followers and will then set up His kingdom on the earth. The picture of the blood being up to the horses bridle is symbolic in nature. The point here is that it will be such a slaughter that blood will flow throughout the whole battlefield. This is the time when God will finally put an end to the wickedness of this world. He will come in all His might and wrath and forever rid the world of Satan’s control. For the believer, this is a time that we desperately look forward to. On that day, we will come down to the earth with Jesus as He sets up His kingdom and we will rule and reign with Him for 1,000 years.

As we consider these sobering passages of scripture, let us be encouraged in a couple of things. (1) God is in control. As we have seen time and time again, God’s Word is true. Everything the Bible says will come to past, will happen. You can rest assured that it will happen. For the believer, this is encouraging news. God will do what He says He will do. He is in control. (2) Wickedness will abound, but the Gospel will prevail. No matter how bad this world gets, God’s Word will never be destroyed. As believers, we must not be ashamed of the Gospel. We must not be afraid to speak His name. We’ve read the back of the book, and we know who will win! (3) Don’t give up, Jesus is coming soon. The progression of wickedness in our world is a reminder that Jesus is coming soon. Child of God, don’t give up. Keep on keeping on. Your redemption draweth nigh!

 

[1] The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Re 14:14–16). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[2] Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 608). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[3] The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Re 14:17–20). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

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