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HARVEST TIME! – Revelation 14:13-20

Posted by Pastor Greg Allen on July 6, 2016 under AM Bible Study |

AM Bible Study Group; July 6, 2016 from Revelation 14:13-20

Theme: John is given a vision of two great, symbolic ‘reapings’ of the earth before the outpouring of God’s wrath after the tribulation.

(All Scripture is taken from The New King James Version, unless otherwise indicated).

Just before the beginning of the seven bowl judgments (15:1-16:21)—which depict for us the dreadful outpouring of God’s just wrath upon the earth—John is given a vision of two great “reapings” of the earth. These reapings are ‘pre-millennial’ in nature—that is, they precede the coming of the Lord Jesus to this earth to begin His bodily reign for a thousand years. And they declare for us two distinct things: the first one depicting the completion of the collection from the earth of God’s elect, and the second one depicting the completion of God’s just judgment upon the wicked who had rejected the gospel and persecuted those who believe it.


A. It’s important to remember that the story of these two reapings is preceded by a description of God’s gracious offer of the gospel to the unbelieving world during the great tribulation (see 14:6-12). And between that gracious offer and the telling of the story of these two reapings, we find a marvelous affirmation of the blessedness of those God has brought to Himself from out of that great tribulation (see 7:14).

B. The affirmation is declared by “a voice from heaven” (see 14:2). The fact that this voice comes from heaven indicates to us something to us of its authority—an authority that transcends the troubles of the earth itself. John is told by this voice,“Write”; and what he is told to write is something that is preserved forever in the record of Scripture in order to encourage the saints during its many periods of tribulation throughout history—and most especially, during the dreadful trials of the great tribulation. “Blessed are the dead,” the voice says, “who die in the Lord from now on”. Certainly, it would be true that anytime a persecuted saint of God are martyred, they enter into the blessedness of rest and victory. But the most likely meaning of this particular affirmation is that those who have died in the Lord during the dreadful period of the great tribulation are, from that point on, particularly blessed. It marks the end of the suffering of the church from then on! (What the saints then experience has already been described for us in wonderful detail back in 7:9-17, and will be described further in Chapters 21-22.)

C. This declaration of blessedness is also affirmed by God the Holy Spirit—the divine Person who has indwelt the church and sustained her throughout all her long trials upon the earth. “Yes,” He says; and goes on to say that the nature of their blessedness is that “they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them.” Their faithfulness will never be forgotten by God; “For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister” (Hebrews 6:10). And now—even as wrath is about to be poured out on an unbelieving world—these tribulation saints themselves begin to be forever blessed!


A. It’s in the context of this declaration from heaven that John next sees in a vision a white cloud; and one sitting on the cloud who was like the Son of Man. This title—“Son of Man”—is a Messianic one; and it highlights the Lord Jesus’ humanity as the divine Head of mankind. But here, He is shown to be in the heavens. This is a description of the Lord Jesus Christ that is very much like that of Daniel 7:13-14; where we’re told specifically of “One like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven”. The word used to describe the “golden crown” on His head is not the word that speaks of a royal crown, but rather of a victor’s wreath at the conclusion of an athletic race. He is shown as having a sharp sickle—waiting, as it were, for the moment of harvest to be announced. (Note that Jesus said, in Mark 13:32, that not even He knew of that day or hour; “but only the Father”. But He waits with great eagerness, because it will mean the gathering in of His saints—His Bride.)

B. Another angel comes out of the (heavenly) temple and announces to the Lord with a loud voice, “Thrust in your sickle and reap, for the time has come for You to reap, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.” At this, the Son of Man, who sat on the cloud, thrust in His sickle, “and the earth was reaped”. Some Bible teachers have interpreted this to speak of a reaping of the ungodly unto judgment. The reaping of ripe grain is not a fit symbol for judgment; but rather for joy! No mention is made of wrath or judgment in this first reaping; while the second reaping is very clearly unto judgment. It seems better, therefore, to view this first ‘reaping’ as symbolic of the Lord taking to Himself the elect of the earth just before the outpouring of His wrath (Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43; 24:29-31; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 1 Corinthians 15:50-54). It’s a future reality that answers to the symbol of the Old Testament Feast of Harvest: “the firstfruits of your labors which you have sown in the field; and the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you have gathered in the fruit of your labors from the field” (Exodus 23:16). This would parallel Revelation 7:14; and would speak of what is typically called “the rapture”.


A. A second reaping then occurs—and this time not of grain, but rather of grapes from the vine. Another angel is shown coming out of the temple which is in heaven with a sharp sickle. Note that this time, it is not the Lord sitting on a cloud who reaps, but one of His angels coming from the temple in the heavens.

B. And yet another angel comes out “from the altar”. The altar, previously, was shown to be the place from which the saints who were put to death for the Lord cried out for Him to judge and avenge their blood (see 6:9-11); and now, that judgment is finally occurring. It was the angel who was said to have power over fire—suggesting further the nature of this reaping as one of fiery judgment. It may reflect the judgment that the Lord Jesus described in His Parable of The Tares; when He said, “The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 13:41-42). This second angel commands the first angel to thrust in his sickle and “gather the clusters of the vine of the earth, for her grapes are fully ripe”.

C. It is then that the angel thrusts in his sickle and gathers the vine of the earth, and throws it into “the great winepress of the wrath of God” (see 6:17). We’re told, in dreadful terms, that the winepress was then trampled (see Isaiah 63:3). The blood that is pictured coming out of the winepress “up to the horses’ bridles, for one thousand six hundred furlongs may be meant to depict the last great battle of Armageddon (see Joel 3:12-13-16; Revelation 16:12-16; 19:17-21). The image of blood splattered as high as the horse’s bridle is symbolic of battle at its most violent and intense level; and here, it is shown that such intensity of battle will be spread over an area that stretches for 184 miles (roughly about the area of the Jezreel Valley).

* * * * * * * * * *

What follows are the terrible “bowl” judgments of Chapters 15-16. These symbolic reapings, then, are meant to assure God’s people in times of great suffering that they will be preserved unto victory; and that those who oppress them will be dealt with in judgment.

May God not only assure us with hope—but also inspire us to proclaim the gospel while we can!

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