PreWrath friend, Raul, asked me a month and a half ago, to look at an article by Roy Reinhold concerning Revelation 14 and the two harvestings. Raul knows that I have held for some time that the first reaping in Revelation 14:14-16 is the rapture. He had asked Roy, an accomplished prophecy scholar and author, to look at the passage, but Roy came to a different conclusion. Roy then wrote an online article stating his views on Revelation 14 in response to Raul’s query.
Let me say upfront, that I was a bit intimidated to compare my views with Roy Reinhold’s. His book, The Day of the Lord, Prophecy Revealed, is very well written. It does not use the term “PreWrath”, as it predates Rosenthal’s book. But the entire layout of his end times prophecy scheme is PreWrath through and through. When I ordered Roy’s book, he personally autographed it, “To Darrin Ball, May God my Father bless you with wisdom and understanding in the prophecies. Roy A. Reinhold. March 31, 2004.” That is classy. So I respect Roy as a scholar and personally as well.
After I reviewed Roy’s online article, I found a couple of things that I disagreed with, which I shared with Raul. Raul saw my points and encouraged me to personally E-Mail Roy. I typed up a response and sent it off. Two weeks later, I received a gracious response. Roy said that he had taken some time to mull my points over, but still held to his views. He countered a couple of issues, but I feel he fell short in addressing the crux of what I was pointing out. So I have had some back and forth with Roy on this. What follows are my thoughts on Revelation 14:14-16 being the rapture, and in particular, some of the views that Roy has regarding the passage. The main subjects are the difference between the two reapings, the timing of Revelation 14, and Peshitta Aramaic New Testament primacy.
The Difference Between the Two Reapings
Roy is correct when he states that the two harvestings found in Revelation 14 are fundamentally different in nature. The first event is a dry, grain harvest while the second event is a vintage. In fact, W.J. Erdman’s book entitled "Notes on the Revelation" addresses this very issue. He has a section titled "The Harvest and the Vintage". He was obviously countering views in his day of seeing both as God’s judgement. He changes the name of the second to identify it as something completely different. In looking deeper, the very language used in the two different events should point us to the fact that they are describing two completely different events.
For starters, the word for harvest used in Matthew 13 is only used in Revelation 14:15 when describing the first reaping (the grain harvest). It is not used in verses 17-20. So the gathering of the grape clusters (the vintage) is not officially a harvest at all. Second, the word “reap” is used in verses 14-16, but the word “gather” is used in 17-20. So the harvest is reaped, but the vintage is gathered. Third, there are two different Greek words used for ripe in verses 15 and 18. In verse 15, it is a word which means to dry up. It’s the same word used in Revelation 16:12 when describing the river Euphrates drying up. This, again, points to a dry, grain harvest. The word in verse 18 simply means fully mature ripe. The first is the harvest, the second is the vintage. The first is reaped, the second is gathered. The first is dried out ripe, the second is fully mature ripe. These are indeed completely different.
I also agree with Roy that we find a parallel in Matthew 13 with the parable of the wheat and the tares. But I disagree when Roy asserts that the first harvest is for the sole purpose of gathering tares. To me, this goes against the fundamental nature of what a harvest actually is. A harvest was/is to gather grain. In Matthew 13:24-30, look up the two different Greek words for gather that are used in conjunction with the wheat and the tares. I’ll give an exaggerated paraphrase to illustrate the point. The servants ask, “Should we collect the tares in order to carry them off?” The master answers, “No. Let both grow together until the harvest, then collect the tares and carry them off, but gather together the wheat into my barn.” The wheat being gathered together into the barn is the actual harvest. Collecting the tares is simply weeding the garden. The ESV translates the tares as weeds, since that is, in a sense, what they were.
Post-Tribbers really love the parable of the wheat and the tares. Any debate I’ve had with a Post-Tribber involves Matthew 13. They point out how the tares are removed first, then the wheat is gathered afterward. To them, this is the punishment of the wicked on the earth followed by the rapture/resurrection which leads directly into the Kingdom of God. But note that the parable is about what the Kingdom of Heaven is like. The Kingdom of Heaven is like a field which does consist of genuine wheat, but it will be intermingled with tares, which is darnel, or fake wheat. How will the fake wheat be removed from the genuine wheat prior to the harvest? I believe this will occur during the Great Tribulation. During the Great Tribulation, there is a separation of the true Christians from the fakers. No false Christian will endure death by starvation, beheading, or another form of public execution, but the elect will. After the field has been purged, it will be time for the harvest, or the rapture/resurrection which happens at the coming of Christ. This will be followed by the Day of the LORD. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the Kingdom of their Father.
The Timing of Revelation 14
The timing of Revelation 14 is at the close of the great tribulation but just before the beginning of the Day of the LORD. The 144,000 are sealed in Rev. 14:1-5, showing that we are at the sixth seal (not at the seventh trumpet). The gospel is preached throughout the entire world, Rev. 14:6-7, showing that the end of the age can now come, Mark 13:10. There is wrath promised (Rev. 14:9-11) for all who have been taking the mark of the beast as described in Revelation 13.
But just before that wrath, we have the first harvest, which is the rapture. The wrath comes as the vintage is thrown into the great winepress of God’s wrath. I have a slightly different view than classic Pre-Wrath. I believe the trumpets and bowls happen concurrently. The beast of Revelation 13 is given 42 months (NOT 43 months) and therefore must come to his demise at the end of Daniel‘s seventieth week, not in the 30 days which follow as some purport. In my view, Armageddon occurs at both the seventh trumpet and the seventh bowl.
The sequence of Revelation 6-11 is repeated in Revelation 12-16 with more details. We have tribulation, rapture, then wrath, in both sequences. So my timing does not rip the harvest out of its context, but rather allows the context to speak for itself without bringing in things from the outside. Revelation 13 describes the great tribulation. Revelation 14 describes the great tribulation coming to its close, and the introduction to the wrath. Revelation 15 sees the church victorious over the beast in God’s presence. Revelation 16 sees the wrath poured out in seven phases, culminating in Armageddon.
Here is where I wish Classic PreWrathers would open their eyes to the truth of Revelation 14. Seeing the rapture here only strengthens the PreWrath view. One of the issues, I believe, is that in Rosenthal’s book, which is foundational to the PreWrath rapture, he sets forth the idea that the bowl judgements follow the trumpet judgements after Daniel’s seventieth week in the 30 days which follow. This sort of makes it a sacred cow since without Rosenthal’s book, there would be no PreWrath platform such as we have today. It is pretty clear that this view directly contradicts Revelation 13:5 as I explain above. So I have labeled my view Refined PreWrath. But enough of my rant.
Peshitta Aramaic New Testament Primacy
If you read Roy’s article entitled The Mystery of the Two Harvesting Angels in Revelation 14, you see a problem right away. Roy believes that the person descending on the cloud in Revelation 14:14 is not the Son of Man. To Roy, this person is not the Messiah or even a human being. Instead, it is an angel. Roy relies heavily on the Peshitta for his source. There is a whole school of teaching out there which believes that the New Testament writers originally wrote in Aramaic and it was translated into Greek subsequent to that. So when Roy consults the Peshitta, which is the Aramaic version of the New Testament, this is what he reads in Revelation 14:14. “And behold, (there was) a white cloud, and upon the cloud sat the likeness of a man; and he had on his head a crown of gold, and in his hand a sharp sickle.”
Since Roy sees only “the likeness of a man” instead of “one like the Son of Man”, he does not see any need to recognize Christ as the One coming on a cloud. Further, Roy cites Revelation 14:17 to show that “another angel” comes out, meaning the very personage before had to be an angel as well. So Roy concludes that this person on the cloud reaping the earth in the harvest is an angel.
Let me concede Roy’s use of the Peshitta for the time being. Even if the language is supposed to read "the likeness of a man", this would disprove the association with an angel. The question would be, why is John describing that it is the likeness of a man which differentiates itself from the descriptions of all these angels he has been seeing? Jesus is in the likeness of man as He took the form of a man. It seems to me like this is a Messianic reference since Revelation is about the revealing of the Son of Man in His day as prophesied by Jesus Himself in the gospels.
Further, the use of the phrase "another angel" is simply referring to the ongoing narrative within John’s vision with many, many angels. It’s like "here’s another angel, you know we’ve seen so many already." To prove the point, take a look at 14:6 where the phrase "another angel" appears. To use the logic of Roy’s article, whatever appears immediately before this must also be talking about an angel. This would mean that either the 144,000 virgins are angels, or maybe the Lamb is an angel. If we went back further in the text since we don’t like either one of those conclusions, perhaps the harpers or living creatures are angels, all of which is complete speculation since the word "angel" appears nowhere in that text. How far back must one go to encounter the last usage of the word "angel" before 14:6? The point I’m trying to make is that the usage of the phrase "another angel" in 14:15 does not prove that the previous figure is an angel.
When we understand that this figure is indeed the Messiah Jesus, we can find other prophecies which associate His coming with clouds. Matthew 26:64, Mark 14:62, Acts 1:9-11, I Thessalonians 4:17, Revelation 1:7, should be understood with the backdrop of other OT descriptions of the coming of a Messianic figure surrounded by clouds, Daniel 7:13, Psalm 18:9-12, Psalm 97:1-3. Once again, here is the coming of the Messiah on a cloud to gather His people in the midst of the great tribulation, but just before God pours out His wrath. In short, the Messiah gathers His people to Himself, then what is left is thrown into the winepress of His wrath.
But what about the primacy of the Peshitta Aramaic New Testament? I confess that I don’t know Hebrew, Greek, or Aramaic. I don’t know enough about the issue to make a ruling one way or the other. But I do have common sense. Some of the issues that those who argue for the primacy of the Aramaic can be resolved quite easily in my view. They cite the use of Aramaic phrases, especially in the gospels, and show how the writers of the Greek texts struggled with how to translate these phrases into the Greek. I do not believe that what they cite necessitates an Aramaic version written by the apostles, then later translated into Greek. There are other, more viable alternatives.
For instance, there was an established oral tradition in Aramaic before the gospel writers set to their task of putting the stories in written form. Each gospel writer would have to struggle with how to take the verbal, Aramaic version of the stories, which had been rehearsed probably a thousand times over, and translate them into Greek. This would make Greek the language which the apostles were originally writing in, while allowing for the issues that they cite. Another possibility, which I don’t ascribe to, is that there was a Q type document in Aramaic which the gospel writers consulted when formulating their work. This would accommodate the struggle with the translation into Greek.
Another idea is one that readers of the New Testament should be familiar with. The apostles used a type of scribe when formulating their epistles. This would explain why First Peter seems so polished; he had Silvanus (Silas) to help this rather unschooled fisherman. Second Peter is a bit rougher, so perhaps he didn’t receive quite as much help. This would also explain why Peter never wrote his own gospel, but relied on John Mark to take the sermons he was preaching to the early church and put them into written form. Matthew the tax collector would have the schooling to compose his own gospel account. Luke the highly skilled and schooled physician would also have the training to accomplish his task of writing two letters.
If anyone has any good information about this debate, I should like to read about it.
This sums up my response to Roy’s article. He has many good things to say, he is an accomplished scholar of God’s Word, but I still maintain that the rapture is in Revelation 14:14-16. I also hold that it is Jesus, the Son of Man on the cloud reaping the earth.
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