Revelation 14:14-16 Pictures the Rapture
The Harvest of the Son of Man is the Rapture of the Church
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.
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.
And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped.
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.
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.”
So he who sat on the cloud swung his sickle across the earth, and the earth was reaped.
When Christ comes again, there are several events that will happen in conjunction with His second coming. One of them is the resurrection of the righteous dead, along with the translation of all living saints. Many people refer to this as the rapture of the church. These believers will not have to experience death because they will receive their incorruptible bodies in a moment in the twinkling of an eye, see I Corinthians 15:51-55. Many people believe that I Thessalonians 4:13-18 is the only passage that speaks of the rapture of the church. This is not true. There are several and Revelation 14:14-16 is one of them. The word “rapture” does not appear there, but neither does it appear in I Thessalonians 4:13-18.
A Brief Discussion on the Rapture
I Thessalonians 4:13-18 gives us the beginning, even though many other passages were spoken/written before this one, such as Isaiah 26:19-21, Matthew 24:29-31, Mark 13:24-27, and Luke 17:22-37. In the book of I Thessalonians, Paul had been writing about the second coming of Christ before the aforementioned section in chapter 4. 1:10, we are to wait for Jesus who will come from heaven which delivers us from the wrath to come. 2:19, there will be a crown of rejoicing (other Christians) in the presence of the LORD Jesus Christ at His coming. 3:13, the event is described as the coming of the LORD Jesus Christ with all His saints. So far, this coming is rejoicing for believers as He comes with the saints, and delivers us from the wrath to come.
In 4:13, Paul does not want people to be ignorant or without knowledge concerning those who have passed away before Christ comes again. Verse 14 explains that those who died will rise again because Jesus died and rose again. God will bring those who died (sleep in Jesus) with Him. The dead in Christ will rise first at the coming of Jesus Christ. Note that the word for rise in verse 16 in reference to the dead in Christ is the same word for Christ who rose from the dead in verse 14, anistemi. This is resurrection language for both Jesus Christ and the righteous dead. Other events that occur at this time are: #1- The LORD Himself descends from heaven; #2- With a shout; #3- With the voice of the archangel; #4- With the trumpet of God. #5- Then the resurrection of the righteous dead occurs followed by this “being caught up together” for those who are alive and remain. The end result is that all (resurrected righteous dead and righteous living) meet the LORD Jesus Christ in the air, in the clouds, and are forever with the LORD from that point onward.
I Thessalonians chapter 5 continues the discussion on the second coming of Christ using comparative language such as “The Day of the LORD.” Birth pains are an analogy used throughout scriptures in reference to the Day of the LORD, see Isaiah 13:8-10 & I Thessalonians 5:1-3. Then in 5:4-7 we have the discussion concerning the Day of the LORD (second coming of Christ) being compared to a thief in the night, see also Matthew 24:42-44, Mark 13:34-37, Luke 12:35-40, II Peter 3:10, Revelation 3:3, Revelation 16:15. The interesting thing is that the thief in the night analogy is only for unbelievers. Believers in this passage are of the day and will not be overtaken by the coming of the LORD like a thief in the night, see I Thessalonians 5:4-7. The Day of the LORD brings wrath, see Zephaniah 1:14-15, and this Day of the LORD wrath is what Christ will deliver believers from according to I Thessalonians 5:9.
II Thessalonians continues the subject of the second coming of Christ that Paul had started with the Thessalonian believers in the first epistle that he wrote to them. He starts off in chapter 1 stating that even though they are experiencing tribulation (vs. 4-6), God is righteous and will repay those who are inflicting the tribulation upon those believers. Believers will experience that promised rest when Christ is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels. Christ will take vengeance upon those that do not know God (vs. 7-9). Then in chapter 2, Paul links two events together, the coming of our LORD Jesus Christ and our gathering together unto Him. He then takes these two events and uses the phrase the Day of the LORD [although the KJV renders it as the Day of Christ]. Paul states that the Day of the LORD is not at hand because there are certain events that have not occurred. The two main events here are #1- the apostasy (a falling away or rebellion against God word, see Acts 21:21 for the only other use of the Greek word apostasia in the NT*) and #2- the revealing of the man of sin. This is explained in verse 4 how the man of sin exalts himself above all that is called God while sitting in the temple. Further verses describe him as a lawless one, verse 8, his coming is after the working of Satan with signs and lying wonders, verse 9, and with all unrighteous deception, verse 10. Since the word “first” is used in II Thessalonians 2:3, there must be a chronological progression. Apostasy and revealing of the man of sin both occur first, then after that the coming of Christ, our gathering together unto Him (as described in I Thessalonians 4:13-18), and the Day of the LORD.
Let’s sum up what we can discover from I and II Thessalonians. The apostasy occurs first along with the revealing of the man of sin. This man of sin is after the working of Satan and is accompanied by lying wonders and unrighteous deception. At some later point in time, Jesus comes again while the church is experiencing tribulation. By the coming of the LORD and the gathering of the church unto Him through the resurrection and rapture, the church enters that blessed rest. This event begins the Day of the LORD and a period of time when the wrath of God comes. The church is delivered from this wrath to come by means of the rapture. The unbelieving world was unprepared for this coming like a thief in the night, but the church being of the light and of the day was not overtaken like a thief in the night. Then LORD will destroy the man of sin.
The Context of Revelation 14:14-16
Revelation 14 occurs within the context of the great tribulation against the saints, see Revelation 13:5-7. A time period of 42 months is allotted to the beast from the sea. He begins by making war with the saints and overcoming them. Note that the beast had authority to overcome the saints, and this is the exact same word nikao that is used in Revelation 12:11 when describing how the saints overcome Satan. As the great tribulation is transpiring, 144,000 are seen on the earth learning a song from heaven, see Revelation 14:1-5. These 144,000 are righteous, redeemed from the earth, and are the first fruits unto God. Three angelic announcements of Revelation 14:6-13 place the time period as still within the bounds of the great tribulation. The first angelic announcement shows that the gospel is being preached, see Matthew 24:3, 24:14, 28:18-20 to show that we still haven’t reached the end of the age. The second angelic announcement is in reference to Babylon that great city; more will be explained in Revelation 17-18. The third angelic announcement is a stern warning not to take the mark of the beast or you will burn in hellfire forever. The mark of the beast was explained in Revelation 13:11-18 as the beast from the earth (also known as the false prophet, see Revelation 19:20) causes everyone to receive the mark of the beast [meaning the beast from the sea]. Note: the false prophet is causing everyone to worship this beast whose image came to life, compare this with II Thessalonians 2:4 where the man of sin is the focus of worship in the temple. In some way, the man of sin can be identified with this beast from the sea.
It is worth noting that beginning with Revelation 12 up until Revelation 14 that the word wrath has only occurred once and it is in reference to the devil’s wrath, see Revelation 12:12. Now with the angelic announcements the word wrath is used but in a variety of contexts. For instance, in reference to Babylon that great city, she made nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication. This is surely borrowing from apocalyptic language such as Psalm 75:8, Isaiah 51:17, Jeremiah 25:15-17, 27-29, 49:12, and climactically Jeremiah 51:7. So in the context of Revelation 14:8, it is difficult to say if the wrath of God is being poured out on Babylon. Revelation 17-18 will explain in greater detail. In the third angelic announcement, it seems quite clear that those who take the mark of the beast will experience the wrath of God in hellfire. That promised hellfire is future from that vantage point so the wrath of God is not yet occurring on earth. The announcement serves as a warning so that people will not take the mark and thereby experience the wrath of God. The next mention of the wrath of God is in connection with a winepress in Revelation 14:19. Since this is after the description of the rapture we will wait and discuss this later. This is important because we will see that the rapture occurs directly in between the great tribulation and the eschatological wrath of God. The great tribulation is Satan’s wrath against those that believe in Jesus Christ, while the Day of the LORD which immediately follows is God’s wrath against the wicked. It specifically states that within the seven bowls are the seven last plagues filled with the wrath of God, see Revelation 15:1, 6-7, 16:1.
Revelation 14:12-13 are the verses just previous to the passage which pictures the rapture of the church. Here is the patience of the saints. Here are those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus. We have just read that anyone who takes the mark of the beast will be tormented for all eternity. Now those who are saints can have patience in the midst of the great tribulation and can keep God’s commandments (one of which is not to take the mark). They can keep their faith in Jesus Christ as their Savior. Immediately after this statement is a voice from heaven commanding John to write. What is John commanded to write? “Blessed are the dead.” That seems odd. “Blessed are the dead who die in the LORD from now on.” Why? The Holy Spirit immediately affirms why. “Yes,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them.” So here we have a written blessing from God and an affirmation from the Holy Spirit concerning those that die in the LORD and how they enter that blessed rest. Remember that all who do not worship the image of the beast that comes to life are going to be killed, or at least that is the intent in Revelation 13:15. All who do not take the mark of the beast cannot buy or sell. What is left for those who refuse? The gospel is being preached through those that refuse to take the mark, but death is the ultimate blessing here because there will be no more work, but only rest as the righteous deeds of the saints follow them. It is immediately after this affirmation of the Holy Spirit that those that die in the LORD will enter into that blessed rest that John sees the vision of the coming of the Son of Man.
The Harvest of the Son of Man as the Rapture of the Church
It should come as no surprise that at the close of the great tribulation that the Son of Man will come again, see Matthew 24:29-31. Overall, Revelation 14 moves from talking about the great tribulation to speaking of God’s wrath. In this transition, we also see a picture of the rapture of the church. Let’s go through Revelation 14:14-16 one phrase at a time.
Behold a white cloud.
Back in the psalms and prophets it was foretold that the Messiah would come with the clouds. Psalm 18:12, II Samuel 22:12, Psalm 97:2, but most notably Daniel 7:13 which also contains the phrase “Son of Man”; all these show prophetic apocalypse that the Messiah comes with the clouds. This was more fully developed by Jesus and the apostles in the new testament writings, see Matthew 24:30, 26:64, Mark 13:26, Luke 21:27 (Son of Man coming in a cloud), Acts 1:9-11, I Thessalonians 4:17, Revelation 1:7. It seems that John has been viewing things from earth as he beheld the beast and his war on saints. The three angelic announcements were seen from the vantage point of the earth as well. Again, it seems as if John is looking up and seeing this white cloud as a new thing in the sky. This would make sense because when Jesus comes again He is visible to those on the earth, see Matthew 24:30, Revelation 1:7.
One sat like unto the Son of Man.
The Son of Man was the favorite appellation that Jesus used for Himself. More specifically, Jesus used it when referring to His second coming. Matthew 16:27, “For the Son of Man shall come in the glory of His Father with His angels”. Matthew 24:30, “They shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory”. Matthew 26:64, “Hereafter shall ye see the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven”. Luke 12:40, “Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of Man cometh at an hour when ye think not”. Luke 17:30, “Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed”.
As far as the psalms and prophets, there is very little to point to the Son of Man as being a title for the Messiah, except for Daniel 7:13, which seems to be quite definitive. Psalm 8:4, 144:3, 146:3 point to earthly people not to put trust in rather than someone to deliver. Psalm 80:17 may have a very hazy reference to the Son of Man being a deliverer. Job 25:6 and 35:8 show that it is an ancient title, but nothing messianic. It is the way God refers to the prophet Ezekiel, probably a term of endearment but also showing his position as a premier prophet of God.
Since Daniel 7:13 is so conclusive, let’s examine the entire context. Daniel sees four beasts and the fourth has a little horn which persecutes the saints. The Ancient of Days comes in some sense according to verse 22, but is also seen in a place of judgment, like on a judgment throne or something. The beast is slain most likely because of a judgment sentence that was pronounced by the Ancient of Days. Then in an accompanying but separate vision Daniel sees one like the Son of Man come with the clouds of heaven. The Son of Man and Ancient of Days both seem divine, but distinct. This Son of Man is given dominion, glory, and a kingdom. This same language is used in Daniel 7:18, 27 to show that this kingdom is also given to the saints. So at the destruction of the beast is when the Son of Man is seen coming on the clouds of heaven probably to show some type of cause and effect, although exact timing in this passage is not entirely clear. It could be that the Ancient of Days pronounces the sentence, then the Son of Man shows up to execute the order. Other than that, there really isn’t much here in relation to this Son of Man, but He must be considered messianic if we are to take scripture seriously. Note also that the Son of Man and saints inherit the kingdom “under the whole of heaven”, meaning here on earth, at the same time.
Some people have objected to seeing Jesus as the figure on the cloud in Revelation 14:14. They point to the language saying “one like a son of man” and insist that because he is like a son of man that this is not THE Son of Man. However, Daniel 7:13 uses this same language, “one like the Son of Man”. It’s almost as if John is trying to mirror the language that Daniel used as closely as possible so that people would see the similarity between the two figures. They both come on a cloud or with the clouds, and they both are referred to as “one like the Son of Man”. To make the objection here in Revelation 14:14, the same objection has to be made in Daniel 7:13 to the One Who is given the kingdom that has no end. The same objection would also have to be made in reference to One like the Son of Man in Revelation 1:13 with the One who is the First and the Last (1:17, 2:8) and the Son of God (2:18).
The original Aramaic does not contain the word “like”, but a particle “ke” just before the word for Son which means like. The notations (jots and tittles) can be confusing for people who don’t know the language, and I am just taking the words from people who say they know. So when checking Daniel 7:13, you may not find the word for “like” in the original, but it is there. This particle is sort of like our preposition which precedes the word “bar” which means Son. In Revelation 14:14 and 1:13 it is the Greek word homoios, which means like or similar. Homoios is translated “like” every single instance in the KJV. So John uses as identical phraseology as possible to the passage in Daniel 7:13. The Son of Man in Daniel 7:13, Revelation 1:13, and 14:14 all refer to Jesus Christ.
Having on His head a golden crown.
This is somewhat difficult because in Revelation 19:12 it states that Jesus (King of Kings and Lord of Lords) has many crowns. Here in Revelation 14:14 He only has one golden crown. There is nothing that states that Jesus has to look the same every single time we see Him. Already we have seen Him as a Lamb in Revelation 5:6 and 14:1. John fell as dead at the feet of One like the Son of Man in 1:17 and there was no crown mentioned at all. This is probably related to a comparison of the Son of Man in Revelation 1:13 all the way through 3:22 where no crown was described. Now the same Son of Man appears on a cloud, and He has a golden crown. What does this change signify? The 24 elders have gold crowns in Revelation 4:4 showing some type of authority. The rider on a white horse in Revelation 6:2 is given a crown, but it did not specify if it was gold or not. Here the Son of Man appears and has some measure of authority that He did not have before. A cross reference of Luke 19:12-15 is in order. Jesus went away into a far country (ascended into heaven) then returns having received the kingdom. So it makes sense that there is something to symbolize that He has received the kingdom by His wearing of the golden crown. Psalm 110 pictures the Messiah sitting at the right hand of the Father until the time comes for His enemies to be made into a footstool. The command is issued, “Rule in the midst of Your enemies.” So when the time comes for Jesus Christ to return from the right hand of the Father, it will be to rule as a King-Priest. The crown appearing in the narrative at this time makes sense if the person is Jesus Christ.
And in His hand a sharp sickle.
There are two personages in this passage that have sickles, the Son of Man and an angel. The Son of Man is pictured in Revelation 14:14-16 and the angel with the sharp sickle is pictured in Revelation 14:17-20. Besides these two passages, there is only one other mention of a sickle in the entire new testament. Mark 4:26-29 contains one of the mysteries of the Kingdom of God that is not contained in Matthew 13. This parable in Mark 4:26-29 pictures the seed bringing forth spiritual fruit for the kingdom of God. We really don’t know exactly how it happens; the seed just sprouts and brings forth fruit. When the time comes, the sickle is put forth because the harvest is come. The word for harvest there is therismos which we will discuss more. Mark 4:29 shows that the sickle can be a sign that the kingdom of God has produced fruit and the time for the therismos harvest has come to bring that fruit into the kingdom of God.
There is language of judgment and doom in Revelation 14:17-20 in relation to the sickle that is pictured there. Joel 3:13 contains the winepress metaphor of judging the wicked during the Day of the LORD, see also Joel 3:14-16. In Joel 3:13 the vats overflow because the winepress is overflowing. This relates to Revelation 14:17-20 since the language is almost identical. Here the grapes are fully ripe as they are cast into the great winepress of God’s wrath. Isaiah 63:1-6 is another notable reference to a winepress.
The two visions (the Harvest of the Son of Man and the Vintage) must be kept separate, although they are related. The Son of Man with a sharp sickle pictures something different than the angel with a sharp sickle. Yes they appear together, but the language of each passage is different and refers to a different event. A sickle according to Mark 4:29 can be the result of the work of the kingdom of God. In Mark 4:28 the type of harvest is specified to be a grain harvest, grain in the ear. This same language will be borne out in Revelation 14:14-16 while the reaping of Revelation 14:17-20 is a vintage, or a grape harvest.
And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to Him that sat on the cloud, “…the time (hour) is come…”
References using the word temple thus far in the book of Revelation have been 3:12, 7:15, 11:1-2, 11:19. Beginning with this instance, we have a series of uses of the word temple which all seem to have integration between them. In each of these instances, someone is coming out from the temple or some voice is speaking showing that this is issuing from the very presence of God. The bowls of God’s wrath occupy the majority of these instances. The seven angels come out from the temple which then becomes filled with smoke from the glory of God, see Revelation 15:5-8. Then there is a voice from the temple commanding the seven angels in Revelation 16:1. After the seven angels have poured out the contents of the bowls, there is a voice from the temple stating, “It is done”, Revelation 16:17. But leading into all this are the instances in Revelation 14:15, 17. Here another angel, as we have seen so many in this portion of the vision, comes out from the temple. This is the first angel to come out from the temple which signifies the presence of God. The other angels, see Revelation 14:6-9, seem to be concerned with warning people on the earth. This angel we know comes out from the temple just before speaking.
This should signify some direct command from God, as in, God the Father. Jesus stated in Mark 13:32 that no man knows the day and the hour of His coming, not even the angels and not even the Son, meaning Himself. Only the Father knows the day and the hour. So this command coming from the temple, the abode of God, shows that here is knowledge and/or a command that was the Father’s alone to give. The angel coming out from the temple and declaring that the hour has come should connect us with the very hour of the coming of the Son of Man. The Greek word used in Revelation 14:15 is hora corresponding with the word hour and is the same word used in Matthew 24:36 and Mark 13:32. The Son of Man appears but waits for the command from the presence of His Father before He acts.
Thrust in thy sickle, and reap.
The word for reap in the Greek is therizo which corresponds with therismos. Therizo and therismos appear in Revelation 14:14-16, but neither appear in Revelation 14:17-20. The reaping here is cutting down stalks of grain in order to harvest. Throughout the new testament, the word is used in regards to the reaping of a harvest that is ready, and many times there is a spiritual application such as gathering at the end of the process of planting, watering, etc. In Matthew 25:24-26, the Lord was looking for a “reaping” after something had been sown, meaning he wanted fruit from seed being planted. That’s a metaphor for expecting a return on the investment He had made in entrusting the money to the lazy servant. In John 4:34-38, the word therismos appears in verse 35, then therizo in verses 36-37. “He that reaps receives wages and gathers fruit unto life eternal.” II Corinthians 9:6 talks about the gathering of fruit as well, “He which sows bountifully shall reap also bountifully.” Galatians 6:7-9 tells of the fruit that is reaped based on the type of sowing that is done. “He that sows to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption, but he that sows to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.” So you see the primary meaning is the gathering of the harvest. The root of the word is not traced back to cutting, but rather to summer which should be insightful for us. Theros means summer, see Matthew 24:32.
There is another general principle that should be mentioned. This will be the subject of a comparison between the parable of the wheat and tares and the harvest of the Son of Man. Preliminarily, John the Baptist had preached that the One coming after him would “gather His wheat into the barn, but burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire,” see Matthew 3:12, Luke 3:17. The winnowing fan, held by Jesus, was designed to separate the wheat from the chaff. So some type of separation is being spoken of here as well. Additionally, in the parable of the wheat and tares in Matthew 13:30, Jesus said, “Gather first the tares, but gather the wheat into my barn.” The language of a grain harvest is used in these two instances. The primary focus is on the wheat (believers) being gathered into His barn (the presence of the LORD). But there is a separation aspect to this process as well.
For the harvest of the earth.
The Greek word for harvest is therismos. Let’s look at every single instance of this word in the New Testament. Matthew 9:37-38 and Luke 10:2 are practically the same statement. “The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few. Pray to the LORD of the harvest that He would send forth laborers into His harvest.” On both occasions the context is one of Jesus wanting more people to minister, preach the word of God, and go forth into the world preaching the gospel. What is meant by this harvest is obvious. When people are repenting and believing in Jesus Christ, that is a plenteous harvest because it is the fruit that springs forth from the preaching of the gospel.
In the parable of the wheat and the tares, the initial reference is in Matthew 13:30. “Let both grow together until the harvest, and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.” The explanation is found in Matthew 13:39. “The harvest is the end of the world (aion=age).” Since the definition for the harvest is the end of the age, we can substitute that phrase in the parable. Let both [wheat and tares] grow together until the end of the age. At the time of the end of the age, I will say to the reapers, you all gather together first the tares, but gather the wheat into my barn. John’s parable of the threshing floor was separating the wheat from the chaff, but this separation is wheat from tares. The meaning of the harvest should be the goal of gathering the wheat into the barn. That’s the objective which was intended at the beginning before the enemy sowed the tares. Since the end of the age is the therismos harvest, when the Son of Man (Jesus Christ) performs the therismos harvest in Revelation 14:14-16, we can safely say that when Jesus swings that sickle that this is the end of the age. The parable states that the wheat is gathered into the barn, then Christ gives the meaning, “Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.” So symbolically, the wheat is gathered into the barn. In real life, this is resurrection language that is being used, see Daniel 12:2-3.
Mark 4:26-29 contains a parable of the kingdom that only Mark records. The seed in the parable of the sower is the word of the kingdom or the word of God, see Matthew 13:19 and Luke 8:11. In the parable of the wheat and the tares the seed represents the children of the kingdom [of heaven]. The best interpretation of this parable is that the seed is the word of God and the plant that comes up is fruit to the kingdom of God, like in the parable of the sower. The fruit that comes up is grain in the head, see Mark 4:28. The mystery here is that nobody really knows exactly how the fruit comes up. It’s a mystery as to how a seed springs up into a full plant. How does the earth, water, sunshine all work together to create a plant? The mystery of how the word of God springs up into fruit for the kingdom of God is somewhat the same. How does the word of God work in someone’s heart to produce fruit? We don’t know for sure. When that fruit is brought forth, the sickle is put in because the harvest has come. The meaning is clear. The harvest here is gathering the grain which is now ready. The gathering of the fruit of the kingdom of God is the primary meaning. Here it is clearer because there is no chaff mentioned or no tares to separate, but we still have a harvest because the grain is being harvested. It seems as if the souls of men being gathered into the kingdom of God is the primary meaning.
John 4:34-38 constitutes the final passage that we will look at concerning the word therismos. The definition of harvest is clear. It is gathering fruit unto life eternal. Jesus is speaking to His disciples about the work of the kingdom of God. Jesus said, “My food is to do the will of Him that sent Me, and to finish His work.” Later He says that there is labor involved, meaning work. Sowing and reaping are mentioned as two parts of the same process. The reaping occurs at the time of the harvest. The reaping involves gathering fruit unto life eternal. Basically, all these Samaritans that were believing in Jesus as the Messiah are the fruit of the harvest that was white at that time. The harvest is people being brought into the kingdom of God. Again, a wheat (grain) harvest is being alluded to because when a wheat field is ready to be harvested, the tips of the plants appear white. Jesus said the fields are already white to/towards/near (Greek word pros) harvest. He that reaps receives wages and gathers fruit unto life eternal.
In each instance of the word therismos, there is a primary definition of souls being gathered into the kingdom of God. There is also an eschatological aspect to this as the harvest being the end of the age. At some point in the future, it seems that souls will be gathered into the kingdom of God as the righteous shine forth like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Since the word therismos is used one time in the book of Revelation, it only makes sense that the therismos harvest of Matthew 13:30, 39 will occur at that time, meaning at Revelation 14:14-16.
The word for land is the Greek word ge which complements the understanding that this is a grain harvest. The word means arable land, as in, suitable for growing crops. This word, rather than kosmos, aion, or the less common oikoumene, helps to demonstrate that a place where the fruit could grow is the location of the harvest. This would not be in heaven, but here on earth where the people who need to be brought into the kingdom are located. So both in the literal sense, it is the earth, and in the figurative sense, it is earth, as in growing soil for believers here on earth.
The word for ripe here in the Greek is xeraino and is a different word for ripe found in 14:18. Xeraino means dry or withered. It is the word translated withered in Matthew 13:6, 21:19-20, Mark 4:6, Mark 11:20-21, Luke 8, John 15:6, James 1:11, I Peter 1:24 describing trees, plants, grass, or branches that withered. This may not make sense unless you understand that this is a grain harvest. Grain is not harvested while it is green, but after it has dried out. Once it is dried out, it is ripe for harvest. This difference in the two Greek words for ripe highlights once again that these are two very different things happening in 14:14-16 and 14:17-20. The church will be experiencing the great tribulation which may help to understand the drying out or maturing of the wheat to be ready for harvest.
And He that sat on the cloud thrust in His sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped.
The action is performed while the Son of Man is still seated on the cloud. This pictures the Son of Man coming on a cloud and gathering the souls of the children of the kingdom of God to Himself. The wheat is being gathered into the barn. This is the time when the dead in Christ rise first, then we which are alive and remain will be caught up to be with Him always. Christ is on His way to earth, but before completely descending, He performs the therismos harvest which signifies the end of the age. Now the righteous are shining forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father, Matthew 13:43. Those that were sleeping in the dust of the earth have awakened to everlasting life and are now shining like the stars, Daniel 12:2-3. They have entered into the chambers and will hide themselves for a little moment until the indignation is overpast because the LORD is coming out from His place to judge the earth, Isaiah 26:19-21.
Now that we have seen why I believe Revelation 14:14-16 pictures the rapture of the church, let’s look at the passage immediately following known as The Vintage. Revelation 14:17-20 has different language and should be examined in conjunction with the previous passage as there are some similarities, but understanding that it represents something unique and separate. For one, it states that these are grapes being gathered. The grapes are cast into the great winepress of the wrath of God. This allows winepress imagery from Isaiah 63:1-6 to be cross referenced. The language found there includes anger, fury, and vengeance as the trampling occurs. Joel 3:13 also shows this language attributing the cause to the wickedness of those being judged. The entire passage of Revelation 14:17-20 seems to foreshadow what is coming during the seven bowls of God’s wrath.
Temple language is still being used to describe the location. In verse 17 an angel comes out of the temple. Another angel comes out from the altar, which would indicate some part of the temple, although we are never given an exhaustive description of this temple. This angel has power over fire. Considering he comes out from the altar and has power over fire, this may indicate some type of sacrifice is about to be offered. The angel cries out to gather the clusters of the vine because the grapes are fully ripe. The Greek word for ripe here is akmazo and means to come to maturity, or be fully ripe, and can hold the idea of coming to the highest degree or to be in the prime (think: mankind is so wicked God has to judge). The winepress itself seems to be located here on the earth just outside of a city, probably Jerusalem. Although it may be indicative of an entire sequence about to come during the bowls, the description is so specific that it seems as if something happens to make this blood flow in the exact way in which it is described. So the great winepress of God’s wrath foreshadows all of the wrath of God during the seven bowls, but there is very specific language that shows one event described vividly.
The word translated gather and gathered is the Greek word trugao. Truge denotes fruit gathered in the autumn. Trugao means to gather in fruit and apart from these two instances, we only find it one other time in Luke 6:44 in reference to the grapes. Earlier in that same verse in reference to the figs, the word for gather is sullego which has a slightly different meaning. It means to gather together or collect in order to carry off somewhere else. So the grapes are gathered in, most likely because they need to be pressed. Figs are gathered and carried away. This word sullego is also used in Matthew 7:16, Matthew 13:28-30, 40-41 (only in reference to tares not to wheat in the parable of the wheat and tares), and in Matthew 13:48. In Revelation 14:17-20 the grapes are gathered in (trugao) because they need to be thrown into the winepress.
The Victorious on the Sea of Glass
There is a general chronological progression in Revelation chapters 6-11 and we see that same general framework as we proceed through Revelation chapters 12-16. In chapters 6-11, we are moved from great tribulation to God’s wrath being imminent at the sixth seal, then the 144,000 are sealed, then the great multitude appears in heaven before the throne of God as a result of the rapture of the church, then comes God’s wrath in seven trumpets. If we look for those major landmarks in Revelation 12-16, we chronologically move forward in much the same way. The great tribulation is described in Revelation 12-13, but with many additional details not found in Revelation 6. Then in Revelation 14, the 144,000 are seen with Christ; whether they are sealed at this point or not is unclear. It is clear that they are the same 144,000 as described in Revelation 7:1-8 with additional details. The Son of Man descends and performs the therismos harvest, thereby rapturing the church. Then there is a portent of God’s wrath seen as the grapes are cast into the great winepress of God’s wrath, so God’s wrath is imminent at that point. We see a group in Revelation 15:2 on the sea of glass that had gotten the victory over the beast. We can safely assume that many of them did this by not loving their lives to the point of death, see Revelation 12:11. Then will come the seven last plagues of the wrath of God in the form of seven bowl judgments.
Those that were in the great tribulation are now safely in the presence of God in heaven. This group is singing the song of Moses to God while having harps. This may seem ambiguous, but with the backdrop of the wheat having just been gathered into the barn, this should be support to see that the resurrection of the righteous has just occurred. There is a group in heaven which constitutes those who are washed in the blood of the Lamb and they are out of reach of the beast. There should be a direct correlation between Revelation 12:11 and Revelation 15:2. The word for overcame in Revelation 12:11 is nikao (Strong’s #3528) and the word for victory in Revelation 15:2 is the exact same word. They achieved the victory by the blood of the Lamb. They stand before the throne of God completely victorious by the blood of the Lamb. Forgive the repetitiveness but this is church language being used, see I Peter 1:18-19. We also know from Matthew 24:22 that the great tribulation will be cut short for the sake of the elect. This should lead us to believe that not all believers will be martyred during the great tribulation, but a believing remnant will survive unto the coming of Christ. Some believers will be victorious standing on the sea of glass because they were raptured into the presence of God without having to experience death. Both groups, resurrected martyrs and raptured believers, being present on the sea of glass show that the events of I Thessalonians 4:13-17 have occurred at this point in the Revelation 12-16 chronology.
In Revelation 6-11, the 144,000 were sealed to remain through the Day of the LORD, while the church was raptured into the presence of God to be removed from the Day of the LORD, see Revelation 7. Now here in Revelation 14-15, we see the same correlation but with additional details revealed. The 144,000 are the first fruits unto God. Here on earth, they are the only ones that can learn the song being sung before the throne of God in heaven. This signifies a believing remnant to enter the Day of the LORD wrath and be preserved through it as God’s witness here on earth. A very good cross reference is Psalm 96 which foretells of the new song being sung among the Gentile nations as the LORD is coming in power and glory to rule over the earth. The group on the sea of glass is the church, safely in the presence of God because we are not appointed unto the eschatological wrath of God, see I Thessalonians 5:9 and the opening discussion on the rapture of the church. Since the 144,000 are seen with Christ on Mount Zion and the church is in the presence of the LORD in heaven, now the wrath of God can be poured out, and I mean literally poured out because the wrath is in bowls.
The Seven Bowls of the Wrath of God
The timing of the Harvest of the Son of Man is important to our discussion on the rapture. In the context of Revelation 14:14-16, it clearly happens after the abomination of desolation which begins the great tribulation. It occurs before the destruction of the beast at the end of the 42 month period described in Revelation 13:5. The day and the hour are not known except to the Father in heaven. This 42 month timeline should be the key to understanding Revelation 12-16. There are some explanatory visions that occur after chapter 16, but they should be factored into the chronology contained therein. For instance, Babylon is destroyed at the seventh bowl. In Revelation 18, we read a detailed description of that destruction, but that should be factored into the timing of the seventh bowl. The cities of the nations fall at the seventh bowl as well. This should show that the beast (evil government system of the devil) is being judged by God. This beast is also a king, see Revelation 17:11-12, who will be judged by God at that time. Revelation 19:17-21 pictures what we commonly call Armageddon, but it should also be factored into the timing of the seventh bowl when God said, “It is done.”
The bowls of Revelation 16 picture the beast as still having the authority granted in Revelation 13:5. The first bowl shows the beast has worshipers who have taken his mark. The third bowl makes a distinct point that those which had been persecuting God’s people are now suffering retribution from God Himself, see II Thessalonians 1:6 and the opening discussion on the rapture of the church. The fifth bowl states that the beast has a throne and a kingdom. This must be included in the 42 months of authority granted to the beast in Revelation 13:5. The sixth bowl pictures the beast deceiving the nations through demonic influence to gather them to Armageddon. The language of II Thessalonians 2:9 is Satan performing miracles and the language of Revelation 16:14 is demons performing miracles, the same Greek word for sign or miracle is used (semeion, Strongs #4592). Revelation 19:19 should be reckoned as occurring at the seventh bowl, and this shows us the antichrist and false prophet leading the kings of the earth to make war against Jesus Christ Who is sitting on a white horse. The beast is captured and thrown alive into the lake of fire. This event should be placed at the end of the 42 months. The authority granted has now come to an end. The bowls occurred as a part of that 42 month period, which is also known as the last half of Daniel’s seventieth week. This 42 month period can be divided into two sections. The first section is called the great tribulation where the beast persecuted the church. The second section is called the Day of the LORD where the church was safely out of reach of the beast and the wrath of God was being poured out on the beast, its followers, and its kingdom. The timing of the rapture is the dividing point between these two sections. The therismos harvest of Revelation 14:14-16 pictures this event. Great tribulation, then rapture, then wrath: that is the progression in Revelation 12-16. From Revelation 13:5 to the seventh bowl, which is more fully described in Revelation 19:17-21, is 42 months.
Comparing the Harvest of the Son of Man to the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares
Because of the association between the parable of the wheat and the tares with Revelation 14:14-16, a fuller discussion comparing the two would be beneficial. First, we must remember that the imagery in each passage is similar but different. In Matthew 13 the wheat is gathered into the barn while in Revelation 14 grain harvest language is used without using the words wheat or barn. In Matthew 3:12 which is John’s parable of the threshing floor, the wicked are represented by the chaff in the wheat. In Matthew 13, the wicked are represented by tares growing among the wheat. In Revelation 14, the wicked are represented by a completely different crop named specifically as grapes. In Matthew 3:12, the chaff and wheat are separated by a winnowing fan on the threshing floor. In Matthew 13, tares are separated from the wheat before the therismos harvest. In Revelation 14, grapes are gathered in and thrown into the winepress after the therismos harvest. In Matthew 13 the punishment for the wicked is represented by a furnace where the tares are burned. In Revelation 14 the punishment for the wicked is represented by a winepress. In the furnace we have a corollary with hellfire, while in the winepress we have a corollary with blood being shed here on earth.
|John the Baptist’s Parable of the Threshing Floor
||The Parable of the Wheat and the Tares
||The Harvest of the Son of Man
|Matthew 3:12, Luke 3:17
||Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43
|Righteous = Wheat
||Righteous = Wheat
|Wheat is gathered into barn
||Wheat is gathered into barn
||Grain harvest language
|Wicked = Chaff
||Wicked = Tares
||Wicked = Grapes
|Separated by the winnowing fan
||Separated physically at harvest
||Harvest then Vintage
||Furnace of Fire
||Winepress of Blood
Let’s start by examining the parable of the wheat and the tares. This parable is one of seven in Matthew 13. All of them together show how the kingdom of God is now in mystery form. The word of God is being preached, but the fullness of the kingdom is not yet here. This is illustrated in this very parable. Yes, wheat being harvested is the ultimate goal, but for now wheat and tares must coexist without a judgment until the end of the age. The point of the parable is that the righteous will inherit the earth, eventually. For now, wicked and righteous are here on the earth together. At the end of the age, the angels clear the field of tares, but then gather the wheat into the barn.
The interesting thing is that Jesus is using everyday language that everybody understood. There is nothing overly complicated about this. Every field had some weeds in it. In this particular scenario, the sowing of the tares is at the instigation of the devil, so it is obvious they represent wicked or unsaved people. At the end of the age, the reapers get all the weeds out of the garden so that the harvest may be brought in. The tares are collected so that they may be bound in bundles so that they may be burned. After all this is done, the righteous shine forth.
Let’s look at the parable of the dragnet which tells of the end of the age as well, see Matthew 13:47-50. The net is thrown into the sea and gathers all types of creatures. What follows in this parable is something that all good Jewish fishermen did. They separated the clean from the unclean, see Leviticus 11:9-12. Jewish fishermen could make a good living around the Sea of Galilee because they practiced this. Gentiles did not separate the clean from the unclean, therefore Jews would not buy from them. This separation here is also everyday language that everyone would easily understand. The good are gathered into vessels, but the bad are cast away. Again, the explanation is that the angels are the ones that separate the wicked from among the righteous. It is the wicked that are thrown into a furnace of fire while the righteous, so it seems in this parable, are allowed to remain.
The point that is made in both the parable of the wheat and the tares and the parable of the dragnet is that the angels are the ones that do the separating. The goal of both parables is for the righteous to remain. We must remember that this is the preaching of the kingdom of heaven (or kingdom of God as the terms are interchangeable). That is why these parables have much in common with the preaching of John the Baptist who was also preaching the kingdom of heaven, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” There is a development that happens over the course of this progressive revelation. First, with John the Baptist, there is a fiery judgment whereby the wheat and chaff are separated. Later, there is a parable which tells of an extended length of time during which the wicked and righteous are commingled with each other. Then at the end of the age the tares are gathered out but the wheat is gathered into the barn. Later in the book of Revelation, there is a series of visions picturing God’s wrath being poured out over an extended period of time. The harvest is pinpointed to happen at this precise time in Revelation. It happens after the great tribulation, but just before the eschatological wrath of God. Each picture has a different setting with a different purpose. John’s parable of the threshing floor and the seven parables of the kingdom of heaven in Matthew 13 do not factor in the eschatological wrath of God or the rapture of the church. Resurrection language is used, but the idea that the church will be caught up at the time of the second coming is not spelled out there.
Let’s look at the Greek words used to describe the gathering that will happen to different groups throughout these passages. In Matthew 3:12, the wheat is sunago, which means to draw together or gather together, and even carried the idea of welcoming someone into their home. It is a compound word from “to lead” and “with”. It is used many times in the book of Acts when the church was gathered together for assembly. So when John says His (Christ’s) wheat will be sunago into the barn, this is eternal dwelling place language. It is directly related to the word sunagoge which is translated synagogue. The idea is coming together for an assembly.
In the parable of the wheat and the tares, the servants of the householder ask, “Do you want us to go and sullego the tares?” Sullego means to collect in order to carry off. Sullego is also a compound word, more like “to pick out” plus “with”, sort of like, it’s mine, I’m taking it. The master says no because if you sullego the tares, then the wheat will be rooted up. Instead, let both sunauxano (with growing) until harvest (therismos). At that time, sullego the tares into bundles, but sunago the wheat into My barn. Collect the tares to carry them off, but ingather the wheat. The goal of bundling the tares is to eventually burn them, however in our pre-millennial theology, there should be nothing untoward about withholding ultimate judgment until a later point in time. The real point here is separation. So here it’s sunago for the righteous but sullego for the wicked.
In the parable of the dragnet, all kinds are sunago, meaning ingathered to shore in order to be separated. The good are sullego into vessels, collected in order to be carried off. Obviously being in vessels is a good thing because they will be kept for a good purpose like selling at the market. Remember it’s a parable about everyday language. This is in contrast to the bad which are ballo (cast away). This is the same word which is used in reference to the tares when it states that they are ballo into a furnace of fire, see Matthew 13:42, 48, 50. Here it is sunago for everybody, sullego for the righteous, and ballo for the wicked. It makes sense that the righteous are sullego because the clean animals (fish with scales) would be carried off to market but the unclean would be cast away.
In Matthew 24:28, in parable type language, Jesus warns that during the great tribulation, the elect should not be deceived into trying to find Christ on earth because His coming will be like lightning. Then He enigmatically states that wherever the carcass (ptoma) is, the eagles will be sunago. In Luke 17:34-37, this same statement appears as an answer to a question by the disciples. Jesus states that at the coming of the Son of Man, one will be taken (paralambano, taken to oneself) and the other left. The question, “Where Lord?”, as in, where will they be taken to? The answer is wherever the body (soma, dead or living body) is, the eagles will be sunago, ingathered. In both passages, the eagles† are sunago, gathered together using the same word of wheat ingathered into the barn.
In Matthew 23:37, Jesus laments for Jerusalem stating that He wanted to episunago (into + lead with) the children. This compound word is translated gather together. He compares His desire to a mother hen which would gather her chicks under her wings. This is tender, protective language in the word episunago. In Matthew 24:31 in reference to the gathering of the elect, the angels are sent forth to episunago His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. In Mark 13:27, the angels are sent forth to episunago His elect from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven. In Matthew 25:32 when the Son of Man comes in His glory and He sits upon the throne of His glory, then all the nations shall be sunago before Him. Then He separates them as a shepherd separates sheep from goats. In John 14:3, Jesus states He will come again and paralambano the disciples unto Himself that they may be together. In II Thessalonians 2:1, Paul states concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together (episunagoge, epi + synagogue = gathering together to a specific place) not to be deceived. In II Thessalonians 2:2, gathering together is directly related to Matthew 24:31 and all the previous language of the elect being gathered together at the coming of our LORD Jesus Christ.
Before going back to Revelation 14:14-16, note that the use of a Greek word does not prove or disprove a reference to the rapture. In John the Baptist’s parable of the threshing floor, the wheat is sunago. In the parable of the wheat and tares, the tares are sullego first, then the wheat is sunago. In the parable of the dragnet, all are sunago, the good are sullego, and the wicked are ballo. In the Olivet Discourse, sunago and episunago refer to the righteous being gathered to Christ. The context of each parable or passage will determine the overall intent of the words being used.
After all that, is it compatible to see the therismos harvest of Matthew 13 being the same therismos harvest of Revelation 14:14-16? Both passages have different contexts and purposes. In Matthew 13, the context is the kingdom of heaven. The purpose is to tell us that the kingdom of heaven will exist in intermingled form until the therismos harvest. The context of Revelation 14:14-16 is a series of apocalyptic visions that will tell us how the coming of Christ will unfold. Here we find mention of the great tribulation and the eschatological wrath of God, both of which were missing from Matthew 13. If we mix the metaphors, the angels separate the tares from among the wheat, then the wheat is gathered into the barn, then the grapes are cast into the great winepress of God’s wrath. The eschatological wrath of God is poured out upon the earth. The righteous reign with Christ for 1000 years. Then at the great white throne judgment the wicked are finally cast into the lake of fire. The tares are set aside to be burned at the end of the age, but not necessarily judged in the ultimate sense at that time. It is all compatible, but because of the different imagery, it is confusing to try to mix the two passages together, one being a parable and the other being a vision. Plus, there is a different purpose for each passage.
In the parable of the wheat and the tares, it was not possible to describe the harvest without a separation of the tares first. In the contemporary language of that day, the harvest had to do with the gathering of the wheat, not weeding the garden. So the field had to be cleared of tares before the harvest could begin. The tares could not be gathered into the barn and as they were intermingled with the wheat, some type of separation had to occur in the parable first. This is not to say that all sinners are thrown into the lake of fire before the resurrection of the righteous. If we are to over literalize the parable, that is what we could come away with. After all, the tares are collected in order to be carried off first, then the wheat is gathered into the barn second. So if we are to take this at face value, all the wicked are thrown into the fire first, then the righteous shine forth like the sun in the kingdom of their Father second. But that’s not really what the parable says, and that’s not what it was meant to convey. The ultimate goal in the telling of this parable is that the disciples would not expect the preaching of the kingdom of heaven to be without wicked people mixed in. At the end of the age, see Matthew 28:18-20, the righteous will inherit the earth, see Matthew 5:5, 6:10. It is not the righteous who are removed to another location, but the wicked as they are cast into everlasting fire. The therismos harvest of Revelation 14:14-16 gives us the gathering of the wheat to show that the resurrection of the righteous is occurring. Then The Vintage occurs to show that there is an eschatological judgment of the wicked. But the separation of the wicked could have been occurring during the great tribulation as the wicked are taking the mark of the beast and the righteous are refusing to do so. The eschatological wrath of God is pictured at the great winepress of God’s wrath, but this does not take the place of all the wicked being cast into the lake of fire after the millennium. The two passages are compatible, but they are not the same. The similar language helps us to identify the therismos harvest as being the end of the age in both passages.
The Comparison to the Flood of Noah
Because of the prominence that Jesus gives to the flood of Noah in relation to the end of the age, we should examine what the scriptures have to say about this as well. First off, in simple terms, the flood of Noah is typical of the end of the age. Remember that when Noah and family got on the ark, that was the end of this world as they knew it. There was more to come, though. The flood came, destroyed the world, then later they got off the ark and inherited the new world. But that transition time is what some people get confused about. It’s the same with the end of the age that we are looking forward to. Believers are brought into the presence of the LORD at the coming of Christ. There are 144,000 to remain here on earth supernaturally protected through God’s wrath. God’s wrath is poured out. Then believers step off the ark, in a manner of speaking, and inherit the world to come. The kingdom of heaven will be here on earth.
Matthew 24:36-42 is the passage where the comparison is made by Jesus. Verse 37, as the days of Noah, so shall also the parousia of the Son of Man be. Parousia is the word translated coming and carries the idea of physical presence. In verse 38, Noah entered (eiserchomai) the ark. Eiserchomai is a compound word from erchomia and eis, literally coming into. Erchomai by itself has more the idea of someone coming from one place to another. In verse 39, the flood came (erchomai) and took (airo, lifted up) them all away. Note that Luke 17:27 substitutes the phrase “and destroyed them all” for “and took them all away”. So shall the coming (parousia) of the Son of Man be. Verse 40, two will be in the field, one will be paralambano, (taken to oneself), and the other will be aphiemi (sent away, let go). Verse 42, watch therefore, for you know not what hour your Lord comes (erchomai). One group was safe in the ark while the other was carried away by a flood and destroyed, but it was the same flood for both groups. At the coming of the Son of Man, one group will be gathered to the LORD Jesus while the other is slated for destruction.
This parable of one taken and one left was probably everyday language that Jesus used. Remember that Jesus spoke in everyday terms that were easy to understand. For the workers in the field, it was probably a regular occurrence for the Master to show up unannounced if he knew there was a problem with a certain worker. Two workers are working together in the field. The Master shows up and dismisses one (aphiemi, sent away) and invites the other to come back to his home (paralambano, taken to oneself) after a hard day’s work. Two women are grinding at the mill. One is dismissed and the other is taken to be with the Master in his home. This makes sense in the context of the next parable in Matthew 24:45-51. You don’t quite know when the Master is going to show up, so you want to be faithful in serving him at all hours.
This is all in the context of the coming of the Son of Man being like the days of Noah. Noah entered the ark and was safe from the flood. The rest were destroyed in the flood. When Noah gets on the ark, that is the end of the age. When the Son of Man comes on a cloud and harvests the earth, that also is the end of the age. There is a period of time during which the wrath of God is poured out, just like in the days of Noah. Note that Isaiah 54:8 compares God’s anger to the days of Noah which should be sufficient to show that it is a type of God’s wrath. After Revelation 14:14-16, the results are seen in Revelation 15:2 as the victorious are standing on the sea of glass. They are safe in the presence of God while the wrath is being poured out in the form of seven bowl judgments. After the wrath has been poured out, the New Jerusalem descends, which is the bride of Christ, and Christ and His bride reign for one thousand years.
II Peter 3:3-14 also compares the flood of Noah to the coming of Christ, also known here as the Day of the Lord. The comparison is made that those living in the days of Noah had no idea that the earth they were standing on would be judged by God and would overflow with water destroying them all. The earth we stand on now is slated for destruction by fire and most people today are ignorant of that. Some people doubt that “the promise of His coming” will be fulfilled, see II Peter 3:4. The Day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night taking unbelievers and scoffers by surprise. The elements melt thereby burning this earth up, but we know that it results in a new earth and a new heaven just like the flood of Noah resulted in a new earth which the righteous inherited when they got off the ark. In the same way, although this world will be destroyed (melted), the righteous will inherit the new heaven and new earth. We are encouraged to live lives that are holy, godly, without spot, and blameless, that we may be found in Him, see II Peter 3:11, 14. So when we read about the new heavens and new earth in Revelation 21:1, it makes the most sense to see that this is occurring at the second coming of Christ, as the millennial reign begins, but after the wrath of God has been poured out. This eschatological wrath of God is when the elements will melt with fervent heat, see II Peter 3:10. The New Jerusalem descends to show that believers are “getting off the ark” in a manner of speaking. They have been safe in the presence of God for the duration of the wrath of God, now they can inherit the earth, the new earth, the one where righteousness dwells because Christ is with us here on earth.
Seeing Revelation 14:14-16 as the rapture of the church was the position of Historic Premillennialists. You can see my link below to verify this. This passage has been overlooked by many especially those who call themselves PreWrath, which I am PreWrath as well. This study is to show that the Harvest of the Son of Man is the rapture of the church and is compatible with Historic Premillennialism and the PreWrath Rapture positions.
Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13
-The Orange Mailman
*Footnote ~ Apostasia is the feminine word for apostasion which means divorce. So when a man divorces his wife, that is apostasion which is a noun neuter. But when the people leave God, that is the feminine form of the same word for divorce. This highlights the relationship between God and mankind. God had his bill of divorcement made out for the nation of Israel in Jeremiah 3:8. When people leave God, that also constitutes a “falling away” or leaving our rightful husband. The apostasy which precedes the Day of the LORD seems to be in conjunction with the revealing of the man of sin. In some way, people leave God and believe this man of sin. It’s our way of divorcing God.
† Footnote ~ The Greek word for eagles is aetos. It occurs at least four times in the new testament, Matthew 24:28, Luke 17:37, Revelation 4:7, 12:14, and maybe at Revelation 8:14. Some translations are letting their bias show by translating this as vultures in Matthew 24:28 and Luke 17:37, but they still translate this as eagle in Revelation 4:7, 12:14. After translating this as vultures, they object to this being a reference to the gathering of the elect stating that vultures being gathered to a rotting carcass could not be referring to the elect being gathered to Jesus. People who read these translations should be aware that there is no reason for the word to be translated specifically as vultures and also no reason that this cannot be referring to the gathering of the elect to the body of Christ at His second coming.