Revelation 14:18

Friday, 16 April 2021

And another angel came out from the altar, who had power over fire, and he cried with a loud cry to him who had the sharp sickle, saying, “Thrust in your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth, for her grapes are fully ripe.” Revelation 14:18

John continues to describe the events surrounding the reaping of the earth. He first described the harvest of the earth, implying a grain harvest. That was in accord with several parables spoken by the Lord that referred to the end of the age. Another harvest is now to be described, the grape harvest. Of this, John says, “And another angel came out from the altar.”

As before, this could be an angel, meaning a created being, or it could be another manifestation of the Lord as He reveals His many roles to us through apocalyptic scenes. The latter is surely the case. The previous angel came out of the temple, indicating a High Priestly Role. This one comes out from the altar.

This would be the altar of incense, and it recalls the words of both Revelation 6 and 8 –

“When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. 10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, ‘How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?’ 11 Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed.” Revelation 6:9-11

“Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and threw it to the earth. And there were noises, thunderings, lightnings, and an earthquake.” Revelation 8:5

The tribulation saints of Revelation 6 were told they had to rest until the number of saints to be killed was completed. With the coming of the mark of the beast, those refusing to take it will be killed in great numbers. Revelation showed the beginning of the judgments of these things during the trumpet judgments.

The angel is coming out from this altar of incense, signifying that it is surely another manifestation of Christ, the High Priest. He is the One who mediates the prayers of His saints to the Father. Of this scene before John, he next says, “who had power over fire.”

There is an article before “fire.” The Greek reads, “who had power over the fire.” The word translated as “power” signifies “power to act,” meaning “authority.” As the fire is what lights the incense (the prayers of the saints) and causes it to rise, this is telling us that the number of the saints to be killed is completed. The prayers are heard, they have reached their full number, and the world is to be judged. Thus, John says, “and he cried with a loud cry to him who had the sharp sickle.”

The loud cry is a cry of authority and direction. The time has come. Action against those who have martyred God’s people is required because their numbers have reached their fullness, and their prayers will now be responded to. With this in mind, this angel (assumed to be the Lord Jesus) says, “Thrust in your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth.”

The word translated as “gather” is one that only refers to the gathering of grapes. It comes from a word meaning “to dry.” Thus, it speaks of ripe fruit, ready to dry. These grapes are fully ripe. As the grapes signify the people of the earth, it means that they have heaped up their sins to the point that they are fully ripe for judgment. As the angel next says, “for her grapes are fully ripe.”

It is the fulfillment of the prophecy of Joel 3 –

“Let the nations be wakened, and come up to the Valley of Jehoshaphat;
For there I will sit to judge all the surrounding nations.
13 Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe.
Come, go down;
For the winepress is full,
The vats overflow—
For their wickedness is great.” Joel 3:12, 13

The wickedness of the people has reached its fullness. It is as if they will simply explode if they are allowed to continue anymore, and so they will be gathered by clusters. What lies ahead is a judgment so great that it will be incredible to even imagine, but the words have been written, and they will come to pass just as revealed in Revelation.

Life application: The grape harvest is a harvest of judgment. It is a time of wrath being poured out. Throughout history, and now particularly during the tribulation period, the prayers of those who have been martyred are calling out for judgment. Eventually, that time will come.

Like grapes filled with their juice, the people of the world will come to the point where they are so full of iniquity that no remedy will be left. Only punishment can be expected. When grapes are harvested, they are then taken and processed. In Isaiah 5:5, a similar thought is seen concerning the judgment upon Israel –

“And now, please let Me tell you what I will do to My vineyard: I will take away its hedge, and it shall be burned; And break down its wall, and it shall be trampled down.”

This was speaking of the people of Israel (My vineyard) and the judgment they would receive. However, in Revelation, God has restored them to His land, and they are now the ones being protected while their enemies will face His judgment.

There is an end to the great patience of God. There is a time when sins fill up to the full measure and judgment must be executed. The grapes of God’s wrath will be taken to the winepress and the blood of the nations will flow. As terrible as these verses sound, everything which is described as coming upon man is self-inflicted. We only have ourselves to blame for the judgment to come.

The saddest part of all, though, is that God has already extended His offer of peace to the world. He has sent His Son to take the punishment that we all deserve. Let us be wise. Let us receive this wonderful gift of reconciliation and peace with God before He comes as the Judge of the earth to trample out the grapes of wrath. He first came as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. How do we want to face Him? Let us be wise. Let us turn today to our Lord and Savior. Let us turn to JESUS.

Lord God, of course You are loving and merciful. You give us beauty in nature and plenty at our tables. You give us the love of others and the joy of beautiful sunrises. And above all, You have given us Jesus as a gift and an offering of peace. How could we turn away from that? Help us to see rightly and to call out while the time of salvation is at hand. Amen.

 

 

Revelation 14:17

Thursday, 15 April 2021

Then another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle. Revelation 14:17

Like in verse 15, John sees another angel coming “out of the temple which is in heaven.” As before, it is most likely another vision of Christ in His mediatorial role; being God’s true High Priest. The previous angel came from the temple, to direct the One like the Son of Man to harvest the earth. This is the wheat as noted from Jesus’ parables. Now, another angel (possibly another manifestation of the Lord) will direct a different type of harvest.

For now, and like in verse 14, this angel has “a sharp sickle.” The first harvest was symbolic of those who are the grain. In that harvest, the wheat is separated from the chaff, and the good stalks are separated from the tares. The next harvest will be emblematic of another type of judgment.

Life application: The book of Jude reveals that there will be many following the Lord in what this harvest signifies –

“Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men also, saying, ‘Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, 15 to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.’” Jude 1:14, 15

The sickle in the hand of this angel is a clear indication that there will be a great harvest of God’s wrath. The consequences of this harvest will be astonishing. That will be seen in the verses ahead. Times of great trial and woe are coming upon the earth for those who fail to make the right choice now. Be sure to be spared of this time of trial by putting your faith in Christ before it comes. He is the One God has designated to save His people. Great is the Lord God who redeems us. He is JESUS.

Heavenly Father, as Your word is written, we have every assurance that it will come about exactly as the details state. Help us to spread the word of peace concerning Jesus and to be faithful witnesses of His work now. When the rapture occurs, it will be too late. Our work will be finished. Give us hearts for the lost now. Amen.

 

 

Revelation 14:16

Wednesday, 14 April 2021

So He who sat on the cloud thrust in His sickle on the earth, and the earth was reaped. Revelation 14:16

In the previous verse, the instruction was given – “Thrust in your sickle and reap.” The time for the harvest is at hand. With that, John records, “So He who sat on the cloud thrust in His sickle on the earth.”

The word translated as “thrust,” balló, is completely different than that of the previous verse, pempó. This word signifies to cast or throw. The previous word meant “to send.” This word, balló, can give the sense of lesser actions, such as placing something. It was called for him to “send” his sickle forth, and in response, He has “cast” it forth.

What may be the case is that the One who sat on the cloud cast forth His sickle as a means of conveying to His angels that the time of harvest had come. The reason for this is that angels are specifically noted as participants in this harvest –

“He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. 38 The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one. 39 The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels. 40 Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age. 41 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, 42 and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” Matthew 13:37-43

The reaping of the harvest signifies preparation for the kingdom age. The good grain will be reaped and gathered in. At the same time, those who are as tares in the field will be separated and burned up. As John says, “and the earth was reaped.”

This is the harvest of grain – both wheat and tares. The next harvest will be a completely different harvest. Wheat (faithful believers) and tares (false believers) will be separated at this time. The next harvest will be of those in the earth who simply rejected God’s offer of Christ altogether. That will be seen next and will continue until the end of the chapter.

Life application: It should be remembered that what is being seen here is not dealing with the church. Those who are in the church are sealed with the Holy Spirit. That is a pledge for the day of redemption, and the full redemption payment for us will be at the rapture (See Ephesians 1:13, 14). What is being seen now is that which is in accord with the symbolism Jesus spoke of in the gospels. It is dealing with the tribulation period.

Whereas now the church is predominantly Gentile focused, during the tribulation, the situation will be predominantly Israel focused. Keeping these categories straight is necessary to see how events will properly unfold.

Until our departure, those in the church should continue to tell the message of Christ to those in the world. In their receiving Him, there is the great hope that someday the Lord will return for His church. We shall be gathered to Him before the terrifying events of Revelation will take place. Let us hold fast to this hope, knowing that God has not appointed us to wrath, but to salvation through our great and glorious Lord, JESUS!

O God, You alone know the hearts and thoughts of man. You know the thoughts of each of us and how far from perfection and holiness they often are. We can look to the judgments the Bible says are coming in the end times as are recorded in Your word, and we can see that only by Your mercy we are saved from them. We deserve the same, and yet You have granted us peace with You because of Jesus’ work. Thank You, O Lord. Amen.

 

 

Revelation 14:15

Tuesday, 13 April 2021

And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to Him who sat on the cloud, “Thrust in Your sickle and reap, for the time has come for You to reap, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.” Revelation 14:15

John just beheld One like the Son of Man on a white cloud, wearing a golden crown and having a sharp sickle in His hand. John next says, “And another angel came out of the temple.”

The previous person was Christ Jesus in His role as the Victor (symbolized by the crown of victory) of the human race and the One to execute judgment on all men who fail to measure up to God’s standard of perfection. He fulfills the role as the Son of Man who has authority to judge men impartially because He has shared in their manhood. This next “angel” is most probably another aspect of Christ. Coming out of the temple signifies Christ in His roles as High Priest and Mediator.

In coming out of the temple, John says He is, “crying with a loud voice to Him who sat on the cloud.” The imagery is for our benefit to see the various roles of Christ. In Matthew 24, Jesus said that no man knows the day and hour of the events to come, “not even the angels of heaven, but my Father only” (Matthew 24:36). Jesus, as fully God, shares in the knowledge of the Godhead. The divine Christ, the God/Man, is being revealed in these various roles and how His actions are conducted in the stream of time.

In other words, seeing one angel – who is Jesus, calling forth to the Son of Man on the cloud – is an unveiling of the various roles of Christ to us. These are not separate entities in reality. They are a vision given to John to show us all that Christ does. This has already been seen in the various roles of Christ being displayed in this manner, such as in Revelation 5. With this understood, the call is made to Him who sat on the cloud, saying, “Thrust in Your sickle and reap, for the time has come for You to reap, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.”

This is the harvest of the earth of those who are accepted by Christ the High Priest. First, the symbolism is found in Mark 4 –

“And He said, ‘The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground, 27 and should sleep by night and rise by day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he himself does not know how. 28 For the earth yields crops by itself: first the blade, then the head, after that the full grain in the head. 29 But when the grain ripens, immediately he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.’” Mark 4:26-29

This is the good grain of the tribulation period. The one hundred and forty-four thousand were firstfruits. This is now the harvest. It is those who did not take the mark of the beast and who put their trust in Christ. As it said in 14:13, “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on,” and “their works will follow them.”

In this harvest, there will be good and bad. There will certainly be some who do not take the mark of the beast for whatever reason, but they have not come to Christ. Those are referred to in another parable –

“Another parable He put forth to them, saying: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; 25 but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. 26 But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. 27 So the servants of the owner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’ 28 He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Do you want us then to go and gather them up?’ 29 But he said, ‘No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.”’” Matthew 13:24-30

Jesus gave various other parables that follow this same general theme. In the time of the coming kingdom, the harvest will take place. There will be good grain and there will be tares and chaff. Christ will sort it all out. The next verse will finish the thought of this harvest, and then after this harvest will come another type of harvest in the verses ahead, the grape harvest.

Life application: At harvest time, there are piles and piles of sheaves. The amount of seed seems impossible to ever count, so who would even try? And if some of the seed gets lost, who would even care – there is so much! The answer is that God knows every good seed of all humanity since the first man. He knows every bit of chaff as well. Nothing escapes His attention.

But more, of the good seed, none shall be lost, not even one. The harvest of mankind is so carefully and meticulously attended to by God, that no error will ever be made. All that are saved by Christ Jesus will be a part of His eternal reign. We should have no fear or worry. What God does is perfect, and what God has done in Christ cannot fail. We are saved with a sure and everlasting salvation because of the work of another. It comes through faith in JESUS!

Heavenly Father, there is an end to all things, including Your patience at the world’s sin and rejection of You. Your word is written and therefore these things will come to pass. Give us willing hearts to stand up and proclaim the truth of Your message now. Help us to be responsible in getting this word out. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

 

 

Revelation 14:14

Monday, 12 April 2021

Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and on the cloud sat One like the Son of Man, having on His head a golden crown, and in His hand a sharp sickle. Revelation 14:14

The previous verses spoke of the patience of the saints and faith in Jesus. This will mean dying in the Lord, but good will ultimately result for them as their works follow them. With that recorded, John’s attention is next directed to another aspect of what is coming during the tribulation period. He says, “Then I looked.”

This is another aspect of the ongoing vision being presented. It is a finishing aspect of this particular presentation, and it will continue until the end of the chapter. It is a time of wrath being poured upon the world. The saints who rejected the mark have been noted. Those who are not saints will now be dealt with by God. As John next says, “and behold, a white cloud.”

White is reflective of heaven’s purity. The cloud is reflective of the coming forth of, presence of, or departure of divine glory. That is seen throughout Scripture, from Exodus to Revelation. When a divine manifestation of the Lord is given, a cloud is often noted. In this white cloud, John next says, “and on the cloud sat One like the Son of Man.”

This is the fulfillment of what was referred to in Revelation 1:7 –

“Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.”

And that is the fulfillment of the promise from Jesus in the gospels, such as –

“Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”  Matthew 24:29-31

And those words of Jesus are given based on the words of the vision given to Daniel –

“I was watching in the night visions,
And behold, One like the Son of Man,
Coming with the clouds of heaven!
He came to the Ancient of Days,
And they brought Him near before Him.” Daniel 7:13

Various other references complete the picture, but these three show the progression of thought enough to show that Christ Jesus is the anticipation and fulfillment of the passages.

In these words, Revelation 14 corresponds to the fourteenth letter of the Hebrew aleph-bet. The fourteenth letter, nun, pictures seed, and it signifies “water,” “seed,” “continue,” “heir,” and “son.” In verse 14 of this chapter is found the Son of Man prophesied of in Daniel 7:13. Of this Son of Man (Jesus) coming on the cloud, John next says, “having on His head a golden crown.”

The crown described here is the Greek word stephanos. It can imply kingly authority such as when the crown of thorns was twisted together and placed on Christ’s head. There they acknowledged that stephanos as a kingly symbol –

“When they had twisted a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand. And they bowed the knee before Him and mocked Him, saying, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’” Matthew 27:29

Above all, the meaning of the stephanos, or crown, is that of glory, honor, and victory. Being gold signifies both royalty (in a human sense) and divinity (in a heavenly sense). Such symbolism goes back to the construction of the tabernacle where gold used in its construction bore these attributes.

This is Jesus, the Lord God Almighty, descending to accomplish a final task in the redemptive narrative before the coming of His millennial reign. As John says, “and in His hand a sharp sickle. The sickle is a symbol of judgment, as in cutting down one’s enemies. The symbolism of this sickle in the hands of the Lord goes back to Joel 3 –

“Let the nations be wakened, and come up to the Valley of Jehoshaphat;
For there I will sit to judge all the surrounding nations.
13 Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe.
Come, go down;
For the winepress is full,
The vats overflow—
For their wickedness is great.
14 Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision!
For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision.
15 The sun and moon will grow dark,
And the stars will diminish their brightness.
16 The Lord also will roar from Zion,
And utter His voice from Jerusalem;
The heavens and earth will shake;
But the Lord will be a shelter for His people,
And the strength of the children of Israel.” Joel 3:12-16

Of this, Albert Barnes rightly notes, “The image of a harvest is often employed in the New Testament to describe moral subjects, Matthew 9:37-38; Matthew 13:30, Matthew 13:39; Mark 4:29; Luke 10:2; John 4:35. Here the reference is to the consummation of all things, when the great harvest of the world will be reaped…”

Life application: In Matthew 26, Jesus again refers to the symbolism of the Son of Man spoken of by Daniel. There it says –

“And the high priest arose and said to Him, ‘Do You answer nothing? What is it these men testify against You?’ 63 But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest answered and said to Him, ‘I put You under oath by the living God: Tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God!’
64 Jesus said to him, ‘It is as you said. Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.’
65 Then the high priest tore his clothes, saying, ‘He has spoken blasphemy! What further need do we have of witnesses? Look, now you have heard His blasphemy! 66 What do you think?’” Matthew 26:62-66

Knowing exactly what Jesus was referring to, the High Priest of Israel violated his own law by tearing his robe, thus failing to uphold the requirements of the office he held (Leviticus 21:10). At the same time, he stated that what Jesus said was blasphemy because His words could only mean that He was claiming to be God.

But Jesus is God. Israel rejected Him, and the message of the coming of the Lord to save His people has gone out among the world. Eventually, that dispensation will end with the rapture of the church. Already, the world is ripe for the harvest of the wrath of God. When the church is taken out, things will devolve even more. At that time, Jesus is coming to execute the wrath of God in full measure.

He is the One appointed to judge the world in righteousness. He is great, He is God, He is JESUS!

Lord Jesus, how much better to bow the knee to You now and find grace and mercy in receiving what You have done for us. In Your word, we see that a time is coming when the world will be judged in righteousness, and it will be consumed in the fury of Your wrath. Give us a willing heart to share Your word now so that many may hear and be saved. Amen.