Sermon Series in Revelation # 29 February 25, 2013 Revelation 14:14-20
English Standard Version
14 Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and seated on the cloud one like a son of man, with a golden crown on his head, and a sharp sickle in his hand.
15 And another angel came out of the temple, calling with a loud voice to him who sat on the cloud, “Put in your sickle, and reap, for the hour to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is fully ripe.”
16 So he who sat on the cloud swung his sickle across the earth, and the earth was reaped.
17 Then another angel came out of the temple in heaven, and he too had a sharp sickle.
18 And another angel came out from the altar, the angel who has authority over the fire, and he called with a loud voice to the one who had the sharp sickle, “Put in your sickle and gather the clusters from the vine of the earth, for its grapes are ripe.”
19 So the angel swung his sickle across the earth and gathered the grape harvest of the earth and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God.
20 And the winepress was trodden outside the city, and blood flowed from the winepress, as high as a horse’s bridle, for 1,600 stadia.
The Old Testament prophet Daniel wrote, that I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed Daniel 7:13-14.
This parallels when John turned to see the Lamb of God who was worthy to approach the Ancient of Days. Jesus was given absolute dominion, glory and an everlasting kingdom which shall never pass away or be destroyed. Hallelujah!
The Apostle John provides a new vision of Jesus who was crucified, dead, resurrected, ascended, glorified, and returned to the right hand of the throne of His Father in His primary role as the Second Person of the Triune God.
And John sees Jesus in His shining glory. Like the Shekinah glory that radiated above the mercy seat in the Tabernacle and Temple. Like the light that shinned from the face of Moses and the holy angels.
John sees Jesus coming back in His glory which is like the sun shining through the clouds on a bright summer day.
But this vision isn’t just about the divinity of Jesus, John sees Jesus as the Son of Man which is the human connection that Jesus gained through the incarnation.
And Jesus is Crowned with Glory and Honor. He is the King of Kings. Jesus is the Lord of Lords. He is the Judge over all the Earth and only Jesus now has the right to determine the eternal destiny of souls.
Jesus holds a sharp sickle. This is a tool of life’s finality. When Death is personified he is portrayed holding a dark sickle. In the resurrection Jesus took to Himself the power of Death and Hell. Jesus now holds that sickle.
And when will Jesus swing this tool of eternal finality?
When the Father determines the Earth is ripe. Positively, when the last soul has been saved. Negatively, when sin has reached it’s climax.
And at that time the Father will share His decision with the Son of Man via an angelic messenger of God. (Maybe this is God Himself running to His Son and telling Him to go get the family. Commentators vary on their interpretation.)
For some reason Jesus decided not to know the scheduling of His return. I am not sure how that works, but in His humanity he doesn’t know. Matthew 24:36 No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.
John says that the Son of Man is glorified and Crowned, He is seated on the cloud and coming, not as the Grim Reaper, but as the only one with the righteous right to end life.
Remember that harvest time in the Old South required lots of people. There were those who were tall and strong to swing a sharp blade and cut down the wheat. Others were needed to make bundles. Others carried the bundles back to threshing floor.
Not Jesus. He swings with one stroke and the Earth is harvested. This is the Great Harvest of Souls that happens according to His spoken word.
The Spirit says that the world is white unto harvest. That means that we should be out evangelizing the lost.
When the Father says that the world is white unto harvest, that means that it is time for Jesus to strike the Earth with a word of finality and gather saints to be with Jesus is the clouds. We will meet the Lord in the air and so shall we ever be with the Lord 1 Thessalonians 4:17.
But that’s not the only harvest that needs to take place. The grain harvest dried out in late summer, but the harvest of grapes came later after they soaked up the later rains and plumped up full of juice.
Our nation sings, 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.
There is a harvest of God’s enemies that also must take place.
In Matthew 13 Jesus explained this as a Harvest of the tares that were sowed by the enemy.
God sowed innocence in the Garden of Eden. Satan sowed a rebellious vine. Think Kudzu.
The seeds of insurrection against God’s commandments are sowed into the hearts of every person for we are all born sinners. We are all prone to wander. We are all prone to trouble.
Only the good grace of God sows back into our hearts the seeds of faith. The Spirit sows life. Like your garden that has rows carefully planted and labeled seeds, so God knows what and where He has planted. He intends to reap what He has sown.
The trumpet sounds and the dead are raised, and then we who are alive are caught up together to meet the Lord in the air.
That leaves the Earth with tares only. The imagery is meant to be both terrifying and disturbing. 17 Then another angel came out of the temple in heaven, and he too had a sharp sickle. (This might also be Jesus)
The Bible promises that Jesus personally comes for His people at the Second Coming. This passage leads me to think that Jesus then sends a powerful angel to finish up the harvest while He takes the saints to Heaven.
The tares, the goats, the weeds, the chaff, the ungodly and the unconverted are then collected for Jesus to judge.
Isaiah 63:1-4 tells us a little of that episode. Who is this who comes from Edom, in crimsoned garments from Bozrah, he who is splendid in his apparel, marching in the greatness of his strength? “It is I, speaking in righteousness, mighty to save.” 2 Why is your apparel red, and your garments like his who treads in the winepress? 3 “I have trodden the winepress alone, and from the peoples no one was with me; I trod them in my anger and trampled them in my wrath; their lifeblood spattered on my garments, and stained all my apparel. 4 For the day of vengeance was in my heart, and my year of redemption had come.
We know the souls are reaped off the earth by fire. 2 Peter 3:10-12 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. 11 Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, 12 waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! 13 But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
The Earth will suffer great turmoil in her last days. There will be a global catastrophic war and then a cataclysmic extinction level event that will usher all remaining souls into the presence of God. You want to be prepared to stand in His holy presence!
They are collected for the winepress as it were. Jesus Himself will trample out the grapes of wrath. Meaning, Jesus will declare the eternal destinations of every sinner one at a time at His Great White Throne Judgment.
Jesus gets his hands and garments dirty dealing with sin one last time.
Jesus has dealt with sin before. He got dirty before. He died as a common thief on a tree of shame and humiliation. The Son of Man is not going to do that again.
Jesus has tasted these bitter grapes of wrath. A cup was prepared by the Father. Jesus drank every last drop. Jesus didn’t sip that cup that brought us salvation. Jesus drank it down to the dregs and suffered Hell for us who by faith are harvested off the Earth first.
Don’t let the bitterness of the Dragon’s defeat keep you from rejoicing when King Jesus puts an end to evil and evil doers. All authority, power and judgment are given to the Golden Crowned and reigning Lord Jesus.
This vision should motivate us to worship, evangelism and personal godliness.
Are you living in the joyful expectation of Jesus’ return? Are you connected by faith to the Son of God who became the Son of Man that He might make us Sons and Daughters of God?
May we look to Jesus and be ready for when He appears to take us home. Amen.
 The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.