IV.A.6: Reaping the Earth’s Harvest, and the Grapes of Wrath - Section 1 (series: Lessons on Revelations)

by John Lowe
(Woodruff, S.C.)

The Lord’s great parable of the wheat and the tares

The Lord’s great parable of the wheat and the tares

Commentary on the Book of Revelation


By: Tom Lowe Date: 12/30/16



Lesson: IV.A.6: Reaping the Earth’s Harvest, and the Grapes of Wrath (14:14-20)


Revelation 14:14-20 (KJV)
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.

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.


Introduction

(14:14-16) The Lord’s great parable of the wheat and the tares casts light on this harvest. Satan sows his tares among the wheat, and both wheat and tares grow together until the day of harvest. In the early stages, Satan’s tares are so much like the wheat that it is hard to tell them apart. But that is no longer the case! The black, ugly darnel1 stands now in stark contrast with the golden grain of the wheat. The good seed and the bad are revealed by their fruits, and the time has come to separate the one from the other forever. The tares are to be bundled for the fire, and the wheat is to be harvested and stored in the barn of the millennial earth.

(14:17-20) The harvest is all about Christendom—or what is left of it, for the sphere of the harvest is religious. The vintage2 has to do with the world and the mention of it makes it clear that the time of God’s vengeance has come. The harvest depicts the final separation of the false from the true; the vintage describes the final subjugation of the foes of the truth. The vintage pictures the Lord stepping down into the arena of Armageddon to trample down the beast and all those gathered to his standard in this final conflict of the age.



Commentary

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.

This is a judgment scene; for John sees “one like unto the Son of Man”5 all set to separate the faithful from the unfaithful. This will be a time of joy for Christians who have been persecuted and martyred because they will receive their own long-awaited reward. Christians should not fear the Last Judgment. Jesus said, “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.” (John 5:24).

In the vision, someone “like unto the son of man” sits on a “white cloud” (Daniel 7:13-14). He is wearing a “crown” and holding a “sickle”3. Another angel then appears (14:15) to announce that it is the right time for the harvest. For John’s original readers this idea of it being the right time would have been meaningful. Since they are facing persecution, they would surely be eager to know when God is going to intervene on their behalf.

John mentioned that the reaper of the harvest appeared in his vision: “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.” The identity of the “one . . . like unto the son of man” has been debated by two groups.

The first group says, “This is none other than the Lord Himself. He was the Sower in Matthew 13, now He is the Reaper. This interpretation is based upon the use of the name Son of Man, which often describes Jesus in the gospels.

The second group focuses on the fact that this being is described as “like unto the Son of man” (meaning like a human being) which is more like the description of an angel. Then verse 15 begins by referring to another angel, as if an angel had just been mentioned. This group also believes that it is not Christ, but another angel, because in verse 15 the second angel gives

the first a command (to begin harvesting), and they don’t believe that Christ would be commanded by an angel. Thus, this group concludes that this Sower/Reaper is an angel using his sickle to do God’s bidding by bringing in a harvest.

The problem of Christ’s taking orders from the angel is explained by pointing out that the angel bears the message from God. He came “out of the temple (14:15).” The statement “for the time is come for thee to reap” is taken to allude to Christ’s own statement that no one but the Father knew the hour (Mark 13:32).

Most likely, however, THIS IS CHRIST, for nowhere else in Scripture is an angel designated as “like unto the Son of Man.” In the vision, Christ may be waiting for the angelic messenger to announce the time for the harvest of the earth to begin, just as other angels have announced the judgments. The “white cloud” is the usual vehicle for Christ’s coming (Matthew 24:30; 26:64) and going (Acts 1:9) and returning (Acts 1:11). He wears “a golden crown,” probably to identify him as the victor and to contrast Him with the beast who also wore a crown.

These visions comprising the six visions shown to John might well be a preview in brief of Armageddon. Certain prophecies in the Old Testament fit the case. There is the word by Jeremiah, “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: “Babylon is like wheat on a threshing floor, about to be trampled. In just a little while her harvest will begin.” (Jeremiah 51:33). Again we read in Joel, “Come quickly, all you nations everywhere. Gather together in the valley.” And now, O Lord, call out your warriors! “Let the nations be called to arms. Let them march to the valley of Jehoshaphat. There I, the Lord, will sit to pronounce judgment on them all. Swing the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, tread the grapes, for the winepress is full. The storage vats are overflowing with the wickedness of these people. Thousands upon thousands are waiting in the valley of decision. There the day of the Lord will soon arrive. The sun and moon will grow dark, and the stars will no longer shine. The Lord’s voice will roar from Zion and thunder from Jerusalem, and the heavens and the earth will shake. But the Lord will be a refuge for his people, a strong fortress for the people of Israel” (Joel 3:11-16). The devil has been sowing his tares during this present age (Matthew 13:25, 39), but after the rapture of the Church, the reaping will come. It seems that the world is moving toward that reaping. This is not the judgment of the Great White Throne which takes place after the millennium; it is a preliminary judgment upon the wicked nations who have followed evil leaders.


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.

Next, John speaks of the ripeness of the harvest: “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.” The darnel1 was not merely a weed, it was a dangerous weed capable of hindering the growth of the wheat, and was poisonous if eaten. It symbolizes those described by the Lord Jesus as “sons of the evil one.” These wicked people are related to the devil as intimately as the sons of the kingdom are related to God. In His parable, the Lord explained that the harvest will take place at the end of the age and will be in two stages. First, the weeds will be gathered into bundles, and then later they will be flung into the flames. The great separation of the wheat from the tares is now to take place.

“Another angel came out of the temple”—referring to the presence of God—bringing with him the command to begin reaping. The phrase “the harvest of the earth is ripe” takes the Old Testament picture of divine judgment as a “harvest” (see Jeremiah 51:33; Hosea 6:11; Joel 3:13). One of Jesus’ parables also describes the end times as a harvest: “Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First, collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn” (Matthew 13:30).

All judgment belongs to Him—“And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man” (John 5:27). The harvest here is not the gathering of the good wheat into His garner as in Luke 3:17, but rather the tares which are the children of the wicked one as in Matthew 13:38-42. There is a harvest of evil as well as a harvest of good (Proverbs 13:21; Luke 3:17; Galatians 6:7).


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