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.