Well, the last two sermons that I've preached from the book of the Revelation have dealt with the three angelic messages that are warnings concerning coming judgment, and that was in verses 6 through 13. We've come now to this passage that's in verses 14 through 20, and it depicts the Second Coming of Christ at the end of the age. And in His coming, there will be a harvest over which the Son of Man will preside. In fact, there will be two harvests. One of grain, which represents the harvest of the righteous, and then the harvest of grapes that represent the harvest of the wicked. Now I need to tell you that that is my understanding of the passage.
Commentators are not agreed on that. Commentators some say that verse 14 through 20 are all about the harvest of the wicked, of the unbeliever, of God's judgment upon this world when He comes. But I have agreed with other commentators who see two harvests being mentioned here. One, the first, God coming for His own, and then the second, that time of judgment reserved for the wicked and the ungodly.
So I wanted you to be aware of that if you're doing some reading and you say, no, I come across this commentator who said this. Well, I'm aware of that, but you'll see as we move through this why I believe that it's speaking of two harvests at the coming of Christ. Now the primary emphasis of the passage is judgment. It's consistent with the passages that are the two sermons that I preach prior to this that were in verses 6 through 13. There is a tension drawn in verse 14 through 16 to, I believe, the in-gathering of the saints.
I want you to see something that I find quite insightful. There are seven verses in the passage tonight, verses 14 through 20, and there are seven references to the sickle. One in verse 14, one in verse 15, one in verse 16, two in verse 17, one in verse, I'm sorry, one in verse 17, two in verse 18, one in verse 19, and no references to a sickle in verse 20. So of the seven verses, six of them contain seven references to the sickle, and the sickle is an instrument of harvest. Now I think that number seven, as we've come to understand, is a number of perfection, a number of completeness, and it speaks that when Christ does come in the Second Coming, that what He does in terms of harvesting will be complete. It will be thorough.
We can take that as certainty. So tonight as we move through this passage, I want you to see five elements of the harvest. Five elements of the harvest.
Let's begin, number one, with the harvester himself, the harvester. Let me read verses 14, 15, and 16 again with an eye toward the harvester. One says, 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. And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him, who sat on the cloud, thrust in your sickle and reaped, for the time has come for you to reap. Not sure what that is.
A warning, okay, how appropriate. And verse 15, and another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him, who sat on the cloud, thrust in your sickle and reaped, for the time has come for you to reap, for the harvest of the earth is ripe. So he who sat on the cloud, thrust in his sickle on the earth, and the earth was reaped.
John gives us a fourfold description of the harvester, and I'd like to unpack that for you. Number one, John sees him coming on a white cloud. Notice that. I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and on the cloud sat one like the son of man. One like the son of man, an unquestionable reference to Jesus Christ. That's who John sees. John sees him coming on a white cloud, not uncommon to what he said in chapter one and verse seven.
Let me just read this to you. This is chapter one, verse seven, 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. So again, John makes reference to Christ coming, not on the clouds, but here coming on a white cloud, a singular cloud, and as I thought about that, I thought about what is recorded in Exodus concerning clouds, and listen to Exodus chapter 19, and verse 9, it says, and the Lord said to Moses, behold, I come to you in the thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with you and believe you forever. So Moses told the words of the people to the Lord, and we wonder, well, what is this business of a thick cloud? Well, God came to Moses in a cloud, he veiled his glory because of their sinfulness. Well, when he comes at the end of the age, he's coming on a single cloud and a white cloud, and he's coming in power and great glory. That's the testimony of Scripture.
That's what John sees. I looked and behold a white cloud, and on the cloud sat one like the Son of Man, white. White speaks of purity, white speaks of holiness. Again, no dark clouds to obscure his glory, but a single white cloud. Matthew chapter 24 and verse 30 says this, 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. A fourfold description of the harvester, number one, he is like the Son of Man.
He is without question the Lord Jesus Christ. Number two, he's coming on a white cloud. Number three, John says, having on his head a golden crown, a golden crown. Well, the golden crown speaks of royalty. When he comes, there will be the display of royalty. He is King of kings and Lord of lords. He's coming in royalty, and I believe it speaks of the fact that he's coming as a victorious conqueror.
He's coming, and on his head a golden crown. And then the fourth description is that when he comes, he's coming with a sharp sickle in his hand, a sharp sickle in his hand. Of those seven references of the sickle, four, add the adjective sharp to the sickle. Only three just speak of the sickle, and I wondered about that. The sharp sickle, it's symbolic of the harvest. The sickle has been sharpened, and why has it been sharpened? It's been sharpened to accomplish without opposition and without delay the task of gathering the harvest of the righteous. There's the harvester, but there's reference here in these verses of the time of the harvest. Notice with me in verse 15, and another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him who sat on the cloud, thrust in your sickle and reap, for the time has come for you to reap.
The time has come. Now verse 15 tells of an angel, and another angel came out of the temple. And we wonder about, well, another angel, what about a previous angel? Well, Jesus is no angel, the writer of Hebrews tells us he's greater than the angels. So what is this, and another angel? Well it's tying this passage to the warning passages of judgment that we looked at in the previous two sermons, remember? There were three angels that brought messages, so this angel is another angel like the first three that we looked at earlier, and another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him who sat on the cloud.
So think about what's going on here. Here's another angel who has been in the temple. What is the temple? The temple is the very presence of God, and that angel in the very presence of God got a message delegated to him to communicate to the Son of Man, to the Lord Jesus Christ, concerning the harvest. We say, well, why does Jesus need an angel to communicate to him about the time of the harvest? You remember what Jesus said when he was on the earth? Jesus told his disciples that no one knew the time of the second coming except the Father, not even the Son or the angels. Listen to Matthew 24 verses 36 and 37.
This is in the upper room discourse in times. Jesus said, but of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven but my father only, but as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. So Jesus didn't know and the angels didn't know. So the angel was in the presence of God in the temple and got the message and went and communicated it to Jesus Christ. Again, see that in verse 15. And another angel came out of the temple, that is out of the very presence of God, crying with a loud voice to him who sat on the cloud, thrust in your sickle and reap for the time has come for you to reap for the harvest of the earth is ripe. So the time of the harvest, there's a reference there. And although, let me say another word about the time of the harvest, although we do not know when he will come.
We know he will come. It is appointed by God the Father a time when Jesus is coming in power and great glory. It is the anticipation of the church. It has been the anticipation of the church through the ages, through the centuries. So tonight, church, are you looking, are you anticipating the second coming of Jesus Christ or is that just kind of falling off the radar? You're just kind of unconcerned about it, indifferent about it.
It ought not to be. Jesus is coming. He's coming just as certain as you're here sitting in a pew tonight. Jesus is coming. Let's be anticipating.
Let's be eager, awaiting that time. One more insight from verse 15 related to the time of the harvest. And that is, it will come, notice when the earth is ripe, thrust in your sickle and reap for the time has come for you to reap for the harvest of the earth is ripe. That communicates a couple of things.
It communicates to me the Father's meticulous monitoring of the affairs upon this earth. I have a couple of fig trees and when the figs are beginning to ripen, I'm very careful of observing that fig tree. You can pick them too early and they don't taste quite right or you can wait too long and the bees get on them and they're not worth eating. I'm watching, anticipating for that exact time of them being ripe and this tells us that this time of harvest, thrust in your sickle and reap for the time has come for you to reap for the harvest of the earth is ripe. It will occur when the earth is ripe and I'm not sure what to read into that, what does it mean for the earth to be ripe but it certainly speaks of readiness a particular specific time known to God Himself when this earth is ripe and He will come not before it's ripe. He won't come after it's ripe but He will come when it's ripe, a set time, a specific time.
Let me read to you from Mark chapter 4 about this very matter before we move on. Mark chapter 4, this is the parable of the growing seed, verse 26, and He said, the kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground and should sleep by night and rise by day and the seed should sprout and grow, He Himself does not know how. For the earth yields crops by itself, first the blade, then the head, after that the full grain in the head but when the grain ripens immediately He puts in the sickle because the harvest has come. So I don't know in terms of the stage and development of this earth whether we are in the blade stage or whether we're in the head stage or we're in the full grain in the head stage but God is mindful of the condition of this earth and when it is fully ripe He will come in the person of His Son Jesus Christ. So we've considered the harvester, we've considered the time of the harvest. If my interpretation is correct that there are two harvests being referred to here in our passage, that allows me to speak about the sequence of the harvest, the sequence of the harvest. There are two harvests I think, there is the harvest where Jesus comes and will take His own unto Himself and then there is a harvest reserved for the ungodly and the wicked when God's wrath and judgment is poured out. There's a sequence of the harvest, the harvest of the righteous takes place first before the harvest and judgment of the wicked when God's wrath is poured out on His enemies. You don't want to be around when God's wrath and judgment is poured out on the wicked.
You do not want to be and I think my eschatology is correct here. If you're in Christ you won't be, you won't be, the sequence of the harvest. Let's consider number four, the harvest of the grapes of wrath, the harvest of the grapes of wrath and for that we move into verse 17. Again, then another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle and another angel, verse 18, came out from the altar who had power over fire and he cried with a loud cry to him who had the sharp sickle saying, thrust in your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth for her grapes are fully ripe. So the angel thrust his sickle into the earth and gathered the vine of the earth and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God and the winepress was trampled outside the city and blood came out of the winepress up to the horses bridles for 1,600 furlongs.
The harvest of the grapes of wrath, notice the change in the harvesters, who did the reaping in the first harvest, the son of man, Jesus Christ, who is carrying on the harvest in the second harvest. Notice again, it is not Jesus Christ but it is an angel, an angel and every time I come across a reference in the scriptures of an agent as an instrument of judgment and of wrath, I am struck by the power of angels. You remember in the Old Testament the record of the Assyrians? It tells us that one angel, not a band of angels, not a host of angels, not a legion of angels but a single angel killed 185,000 Assyrians. Israelites went out in the morning and there is 185,000 Assyrians lying dead. Now we can come across those things and just move on but I have trained myself to pause and meditate and think and I am thinking one angel has that kind of power and how many is 185,000? I have seen these football fields in Ohio State and other places or football stadiums filled 100,000 people and you get this camera shot and you are just kind of struck by this is an overwhelming mass of humanity and I am a very practical person thinking I wouldn't be there if their tickets were free because if you stayed till the game was over you would be three hours fine in your car and another two hours getting home.
That's just the way I think but 185,000. So here is an angel that has been delegated this responsibility of harvest. Matthew 13, verse 41 is the parable of the terrors, listen to what Jesus said there. He said the son of man will send out his angels.
So what Jesus said in the gospels is consistent with what John is giving to us here in the vision that he had seen. The son of man will send out his angels and they will gather out of his kingdom all things that offend and those who practice lawlessness and will cast them into the furnace of fire and there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. So the second harvest is delegated to angels. It's clear in verses 17 through 20 that what is being portrayed is the judgment of the wicked. Two angels are mentioned in the harvest. Verse 17, then another angel came out of the temple, came out of the very presence of God which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle. Verse 18, and another angel came out from the altar as opposed to the temple, came out from the altar who had power over fire and he cried with a loud cry to him who had the sharp sickle saying thrust in your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth for her grapes are fully ripe. So which angel has delegated the responsibility of the harvest?
The first one or the second one? The first one, the one who has the sickle, then another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle. The second angel came out from the altar who had power over fire.
Now what do we make of that? Well again remember the nature of the book of the revelation that it is cyclical, that we have revisited this time in human history before, it's been set before us, before. So in chapter 8 we have some words here that I think help our understanding there in Revelation 14, Revelation 8. John's writing he says when he opened the seventh seal there was silence in heaven for about half an hour, this is verse 1 of chapter 8, verse 2, and I saw the seven angels who stand before God and to them were given seven trumpets. Now notice verse 3, then another angel having a golden censer came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. So there's I think a relationship between this angel and the altar in chapter 8 and what we're being told about the angel, the second angel and the altar in chapter 14.
And you remember the prayers of the saints, prayers of imprecatory prayers for God to vindicate himself, for God to rain down judgment upon the wicked and word comes to those saints who are under this persecution to persevere and to wait and to, there is a time appointed. Now notice I'm still in chapter 8, verse 4 says in the smoke of the incense with the prayers of the saints ascended before God from the angel's hand, then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar and threw it to the earth. And there were noises, thunderings, lightnings and an earthquake. You talk about a fireball, an angel threw it to the earth. The censer filled it with fire from the altar and threw it to the earth. So this second angel has power over fire.
He's an instrument, he's an ambassador of judgment. Now just as there was a reference to the time of harvest in relation to the ripeness of grain, so here there is a reference to the grapes being fully ripe, verse 18. Then another angel came out from the altar who had power over fire and he cried with a loud cry to him who had the sharp sickle saying, thrust in your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth for her grapes are fully ripe. Some of you as a hobby raise muscadine or skeptanons, I still don't know the difference, I hear people referring to one or the other, but you do not want to pull one of those grapes off the vine in June and bite down on it or you're going to get a bitter taste.
There's a time for them to be ripe and when they're ripe they're absolutely delicious. How do we understand, what do we understand here about the clusters of the vine of the earth for her grapes are fully ripe? I believe it refers to a time when wickedness and lawlessness and godliness are rampant, are out of control, are out of its banks.
They're overwhelming when wickedness will be flaunted openly, when there will be universal hostility toward truth. You may be sitting there this evening and saying, are you describing the current affairs or are you prophesying about a future, well I'll leave that to you but if that day is not upon us it's, this earth is ripening for judgment. Men are storing up wrath unto the day of judgment in their ungodliness, their lawlessness, in their opposition to almighty god. Let's consider, fifthly, the nature of the harvest, verse 19, so the angel, that first angel with that sharp sickle in his hand, thrust his sickle into the earth and gathered the vine of the earth and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. And the winepress was trampled outside the city and blood came out of the winepress up to the horse's bridles for 1,600 furlongs. The nature of the harvest, the image of treading a winepress is a metaphor of judgment.
The only other time the winepress is mentioned in Revelation is chapter 19 and verse 15 where it refers to Christ's judgment of the evil nations. As we think about the nature of the harvest, there's two things that I want to draw out of the couple of verses, the statement concerning blood coming up to the horse's bridle. That's not for us, I think, to understand literally. It's figurative. What is being figured here, what is being pointed to, we're to understand it figuratively in this sense.
It is, it's hyperbole. It's the emphasis on the severity of God's judgment that God's enemies will face utter and complete annihilation. When you understand what's being expressed here, John is likening grapes in the winepress and he relates those grapes to blood. And he says, the winepress was trampled outside the city and blood came out of the winepress up to the horse's bridles for 1,600 furlongs. Well how long or how far is 1,600 furlongs?
That's the distance from here to Wilmington, about 200 miles. Now we didn't understand that literally, that blood is going to flow from here to Wilmington up to the horse's bridle. No, it's telling us that when God comes in judgment, it is going to be terrifying. It is going to be exhaustive. No one will escape his judgment. So the title of my message tonight is the harvest at the end of the age, the harvest at the end of the age.
And we've considered, number one, the harvester, number two, the time of the harvest, number three, the sequence of the harvest, number four, the harvest of the grapes, and then the nature of the harvest. I want to come back to where we began in terms of... We live in a day where the word of God is valued very, very little. And we understand that among ungodly people. We wouldn't expect them to have a high regard for the Scriptures.
They don't read it. They care very little about what God has said will do, but that should not be the truth. That should not be the case among the people of God. We should take very seriously everything we find in the Scriptures. And we took two Sundays to consider the messages from three angels that were warning of judgment. When God warns of judgment, it's not an idle threat. It's not, well, he's going to forget, oh, he's not going to send judgment. Not only is judgment being warned, judgment is coming. We have that on the authority of the word of God.
And it will be an awful judgment. The writer of Hebrews says it is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God. If the people of God don't take that seriously, why would we expect the lost around us to take that seriously?
To those who are outside of Christ, the message is clear. Flee the wrath to come. Wrath is coming. Flee the wrath to come. Flee where, you say? Flee to the only refuge God has provided to protect you from the wrath to come. That is the person of Jesus Christ.
He is a refuge. You are secure in Christ, but you are exposed. God's wrath will fall on you outside of Christ as sure as the sun will come up tomorrow.
No one will escape it. At the end of the age, Jesus is coming. For the church, what a glad and glorious prospect. Look up, church, for your redemption drawth nigh. That which He began in you will be completed. The consummation will come.
We will be with Him forever and ever. But oh, for those who are outside of Christ, it will be a horrifying, terrifying time of judgment, of just judgment. God will glorify Himself in the judgment of the wicked.
So let's take this seriously and take it to heart. Let's bow and pray. Remember how we thank you that in Christ we are safe, we are secure. You have delivered us from the wrath to come. The reason you've delivered us from the wrath to come is because your wrath fell upon your son and he exhausted your wrath that was due our sin and our rebellion. And that is the only reason why we will be free from your wrath when you come in judgment.
Father for any who are outside of Christ, we pray that you would shake them, that you would convict them, that you would awaken them from slumber, that they would see the seriousness of what the scriptures teach about that awful day when you come in judgment and pour out your wrath upon the unbelieving and the wicked. Father, thank you for your word. Thank you for its truth. Thank you for its veracity. Thank you that it is infallible. Thank you that it is sufficient for all of life and godliness. Teach us, Father, to know your truth and to live in the light of it, I pray in Jesus' name. Amen.
Whisper: small.en / 2022-11-09 04:17:44 / 2022-11-09 04:23:58 / 6