Things to Come, Lesson 38, The Tribulation Harvest, Revelation 14:14-19
In our study of chapter 14 of the book of Revelation we have heard the announcements of angels.
We have heard the Everlasting Gospel, the good news that God, from whose hand all things were created, is in control and will be in control eternally.
How clearly this is proven to us when we read of the dark days coming in the Great Tribulation, but we who walk by faith are to look further, for faith shows that God will bring light to the darkness and all will end well for all things are in Godís hands.
For the prayer of Jesus Christ that Godís will be done on earth as it is in heaven, will be answered in the affirmative.
We have heard the announcement of the second angel that the world system of Satan, a system which celebrates the sinful nature of man, a system which celebrates as good that which God tells us is evil, is to be destroyed as unfit for Godís kingdom on Earth.
God does not intend for his creation to lie in the darkness of a corrupt nature for through his only begotten Son Jesus Christ, he provides a new nature, fit for the kingdom of God.
And as part of the destruction of Satanís system the third angel announces the inevitable consequences of those who choose Satanís world instead of the glorious world which God has made possible through the blood sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ, on behalf of all men.
It is a simple test of loyalty that separates those from God, an act whereby men and women are marked with the mark of Antichrist, a mark that will forever separate those from God who receive the mark.
This is an absolute and non-changing act on the part of Antichrist worshippers and guarantees doom to all who wear it.
I find it interesting today how easily people mark their bodies with ink and add all kinds of jewelry puncturing the body in strange places.
Certainly marks on foreheads and hands will not be thought of as strange, for today, it is almost abnormal not to be so marked.
So we continue in this line of the study of the angels by reading:
Revelation 14:14-19, 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.
We have seen the acts of the first three angels and in this passage we will see the acts of three more.
God uses six angels to bring completion to manís affairs on the Earth.
Six is manís number and six angels will be sufficient to do Godís will.
We are to remember the plaintiff cry of the martyrs of Revelation 6 who asked God: How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?
But the time for Godís vengeance was not yet, and they were told to rest for a little season.
So now in chapter 14 with the announcements of the last three of six angels the season has come, the summer is past, the harvest is ready for reaping.
Vengeance is mind, sayeth the Lord, I will repay!
And John the Apostle from his Patmos Isle exile looked up: 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 same John, along with the disciples, was witness to our Lordís ascension after accomplishing his mission and returning to His Father.
In Acts 1:9, we are told of Jesusí ascension in a cloud.
Awestruck, perhaps with mouths agape, the disciples looked as Jesus disappeared into heaven and were met with a question from two men in white apparel.
The message from these heavenly beings to the disciples, was, get busy and go do what you have been given to do.
The time for looking up is not yet, the time for doing is now.
So their message was that Jesus would return in like manner as he had left the earth.
But this was not new information to the disciples for Jesus had told them in Luke 21:27, after speaking of the period of great desolation, woe, distress, and menís heartís failing them for fear:
Luke 21:27, Then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.
This is not the time of Rapture, for this is the time where not only John will see Him, but this is the time when every eye shall see Him for this will be the same Jesus that rose in a cloud and is now returning on a cloud.
Paul described this event in II Thessalonians 1:7-9: And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;
So when John sees a cloud, and one sitting on the cloud like unto the Son of Man there is no question that this is that same Jesus who left John gazing up to the heavens for one last glimpse of the one who loved him.
Jeremiah too, saw this coming for in Jeremiah 4:13 he proclaimed, Behold, he shall come up as clouds, and his chariots shall be as a whirlwind: his horses are swifter than eagles.
He who will judge the quick and the dead is now seen in glorious fashion sitting on a white cloud, upon his head a crown of the purist gold, a crown telling us that this is the King of King and Lord of Lords, come to reign forever.
Daniel, like John after him in Revelation, was given this glorious view of Him for he spoke in Daniel 7:13,14,
I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.
The two heavenly messengers of the book of Acts told of Jesusí return, and when they told the disciples they were on the Mount of Olives.
Godís book is exact for this tells us that the feet of Jesus Christ will again be on this Mount.
Zechariah told of this touchdown of Christ many years prior.
Zechariah 14:1-4, Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee. For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city. Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle. And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.
The promise is sure.
He will stand upon the Mount but this time he will bring a sickle for in verse 16 John tells us that: He that sat on the cloud thrust in His sickle on the earth; and the earth was
God has truly been longsuffering but God is not eternally long suffering.
Every husbandman acts when the harvest is ready!
And God is a husbandman who awaits long this time of harvest but the harvest and its reaping must come for the promised kingdom is come.
There has never been a time like this nor will there ever again be a time like this for this is the time of Jacobís trouble.
Men will cry unto the mountains for a refuge from the face of Him with whom they have to do.
The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, the Lamb of God who has in heaven just married his church and celebrated the marriage supper of the Lamb, now in perfect justice, thrusts His sickle into earthís harvest bringing with it plagues and agonies such as this world has never known.
The grievous and noisome sores came upon them who had the mark of the beast.
The sea and the fountains and the rivers became blood, and death reigned.
Fire scorched men with great heat but repentance was nowhere to be found for it had been replaced by blasphemy.
And the kingdom of the beast was full of darkness and men gnawed their tongues for pain.
That world system which men so loved no longer calls out her wares for that great harlot sitting on the beast is stripped of her pride and haughtiness and the merchants wail because money is no longer king.
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.
In harvests of old the prominent implement was a sharp sickle.
I remember some of this for much time was spent in the sharpening of the blade.
The reaper would sit at the sharpening wheel pumping it with his foot grinding and bringing the blade to its finest hone.
This talent was as important as the talent of wielding the sickle in harvest.
And Godís sickle is described as a sharp sickle.
The Lamb who sits on the white cloud sits with a sharp sickle poised to reap the harvest.
He and another angel are at the ready and the third angel is also ready to burn the chaff of the harvest.
For every harvest is a judgment.
Every harvest shows that there is a time when all things are made right.
The wheat is always separated from the chaff.
The juice is always separated from the grape.
Every housewife in the kitchen demonstrates this separation as she takes that which cannot be eaten discarding it that it be burned.
God is a God of separation and every harvest declares this to be, for with every harvest God separates the wheat from the tares.
And this particular harvest will be a time of blood harvesting, a time where there will be rivers of blood.
For this harvest is described as a gathering of the clusters of the vine of the earth for her grapes are fully ripe.
Julia Ward Howe captured this truth when she wrote The Battle Hymn of the Republic
Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord:
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword:
His truth is marching on.
This is what we are to see when we think about this time of Great Tribulation.
We are to think about the glory of the Lord for his judgment is wonderful for it is the marching on of the truth which the world hates.
And that marching on brings the events of the harvest to take place in rapid succession for God will bring about the end of a world without Him.
He intends to banish the earthís ungodliness and the reign of the supermen called Antichrist and the False Prophet thereby ushering in a time where that which is in heaven will be that which is in earth.
God has by Rapture, called out the church, that which was connected to the true vine, Jesus Christ, that which brought forth much fruit, uniting the body with the head.
But now in judgment God calls out to gather the clusters of the vine that the earth has produced for these bear the fruit of man which is unacceptable to God.
They are to be gathered and cast into the great winepress of the wrath of God for this is the Vengeance of our God.
Isaiah asked of this in Isaiah 63:2-4, Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the winefat? I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me: for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment. For the day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come.
So with this in mind we go back to our passage in Revelation 14:
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.
I would ask you to imagine this but it is beyond the extent of my imagining powers and I suppose beyond yours also.
A river of blood, 1600 furlongs, each furlong being one eighth of a mile.
A river of blood 200 miles in length beginning in Jerusalem heading north to a valley called Armageddon.
Blood deep as the horses bridles but blood which will cleanse the land, declared holy by God and separated unto Abraham millenniums ago.
God is a God of promises.
And all his promises will be kept regardless of the ages it takes for them to be fulfilled.
With God a thousand years is as a day and a day is as a thousand years.
The culmination of Godís wrath ends here for the King is coming.
The battle will be over quickly. Even so, Come Lord Jesus!