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 reap, 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.
Then another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle. And 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.” 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 one thousand six hundred furlongs. Rev 14:14-20
Quick recap: Revelation chapters 12-13 describe the rise of the kingdoms of this world, under the leadership of the Beast and the antichrist. The kingdoms of this world are typified by the Roman empire which lived on after its head received a mortal wound (the Holy Roman Empire and the Roman church). The kingdoms of this world waged a successful war upon the saints, the citizens of the kingdom of heaven.
But then the Lamb that was slain appeared on Mount Zion (Revelation 14), and the tide began to turn. First the everlasting Gospel was once again preached, to every tribe, nation, and tongue. That has been going on since the Reformation. Then as a result of the spread of the Gospel, the angel announced the fall of the kingdoms of this world (which is the city of man) and the fate of those who reject the Gospel to remain citizens of the world – eternal torment in the lake of fire. The saints are encouraged to have patience, for the fall of the kingdoms of this world will not take place in one day, or one month, or one year.
That brings us up to verse 14. The next event is the harvest of the earth, which the Son of Man harvests. This harvest is of the souls of the saints. The feast days of the Lord are prophetic in nature, and three of them are harvest festivals. The first, Firstfruits or the barley harvest, prophesies of the Lord Jesus’ resurrection from the dead as the firstfruit of those who will be reborn with new life for God.
The second, Weeks or Pentecost, the wheat harvest, is I believe the harvest which is going on right now, which has been going on since the day of Pentecost described in Acts chapter 2. This is the harvest of those who are “born again” – another reference to new life and resurrection from the dead. The third and final harvest festival is Tabernacles, the fruit harvest. This harvest takes place at the Lord’s return. My current understanding is that Tabernacles represents the actual resurrection from the dead and rapture of the saints which will occur at the blowing of the Last Trumpet at the Lord’s return. This may well be the harvest referred to here.
If that is the case, let me just say that the rapture will not leave a void on the earth of godliness because of the absence of the saints for seven years. Paul clearly describes the saints going up (raptured) to meet Jesus in the air at the same time as He is coming down. Although Paul stops his explanation there, it is likely that once we have met Him, we will also continue down with Him and His host that has come with Him from heaven (those who have died in Christ and whatever angelic host accompanies Him). We will be added to His host, to serve Him in His defeat of His enemies as He establishes His millennial reign on the earth, beginning in Jerusalem. That is my opinion.
Okay, the next event, after the harvest of souls, is the harvest of the grapes of the wrath of God. The souls who are His are harvested first from the earth, because the wrath of God is not going to be poured out on them. Those with the Lord’s mark on their foreheads, the name of the Father of the Lamb, will not receive the wrath of God, nor will we be under its punishment. The wrath of God is reserved for His enemies, for the kingdoms of this world, for the Beast and the antichrist. For Babylon and those with the mark of the beast.
I believe that what might happen, at the Lord’s return, is Jesus establishing His kingdom beginning in Jerusalem. I believe His reign will be local over Israel at first. His local reign may be very brief indeed. His saints – us – will be dwelling in Israel, and beginning from Israel, He will establish His reign over all the kingdoms of this world. Thus the kingdoms of this world will become the kingdoms of our God and of His Christ. I believe the story of Moses, Pharaoh, Egypt, and Goshen is historic, and prophetic. As the wrath of God was being poured out on Egypt in terrible plagues, the people of God were dwelling in safety with no plague to be found anywhere within their borders. The point is, it is those with the mark of the beast who will experience the wrath of God, not the saints.
The history of the final plagues and of the final war, which will establish the Lord Jesus as King of all the earth for a millennium, is found in Revelation 15 through 19. Stay tuned …
Update: continued in Revelation 15: the seven bowls of wrath