Reaping the Earth

I. While it is clear that the 7-headed Beast of Revelation 13 and 17 has been in existence for centuries, the focus of Revelation is the “hereafter.”  What seems apparent is that, from time to time, the “disclosures” must reveal something of the history of the main characters of the end time.  Thus, the information on the Dragon, the Beast, and the Other Beast – as well as the Woman clothed with the sun and the “Great Whore” of chapter 17 – gives us a picture of their age-long presence and plotting, but with a specific emphasis on their role during the 42 months just prior to an “end.”

A. A recurring theme in the several disclosures has been a formal heavenly ceremony around the Throne, followed by Angels executing a series of judgments, consummated by a victory celebration in the heavenly Court.

B. The fourth and lengthiest of the disclosures (Revelation 7:9 through 15:5) is similar in overall structure, but contains the historical significance of the beasts and the Woman with child.  It begins, as do the others, with a ceremony around the throne, followed by seven angels with trumpets who execute a series of judgments.  Other events that appear to take place during the process of the seven trumpet judgments are revealed. 

1. The Mighty Angel with the little book proclaims the completion of the mystery of God; the two witnesses are revealed in their power; and the judgment of the dead is announced.  The wonder of the Woman and the child is described, obviously connected in time by the 42 months of the witnesses and the 1260 days of the woman’s protection.

2. Two Beasts are revealed who are empowered by and speak for the Dragon with obvious parallels to the information in Daniel’s prophecies as well as in the subsequent fifth disclosure in Revelation 17.  Their time of power is also specifically cited as being 42 months – the same time frame as the Woman and the Witnesses.

3. A “new song” is sung by the assembled 144,000 to a “Lamb” standing on Mount Zion which appears to initiate a series of six angelic announcements to the Earth, ending with the reaping of the Earth.  That “reaping” ceremony initiates the presentation of the seven angels with the “last plagues” which contain the “wrath of God.”  As these seven angels are introduced, another victory celebration is described, led by those who have overcome the Beast, his image, and his mark.  They sing the “song of Moses” and the “song of the Lamb” emphasizing the power and holiness of the “King of Saints.”

II. The angelic reaping of the earth is the last event in the 4th Disclosure.

A. The 144,000 are assembled to sing a victory song (Revelation 14:1-5).

1. The 144,000 are seen standing with the Lamb on mount Sion (14:1).

a. They have “the Father’s seal” on their foreheads.
b. They are probably “sealed” during the time of the Beast.
c. They have been protected from demons during the 5th trumpet (9:1-4).

2. The Lamb stands on “mount Sion” (14:1).

a. Mount Sion is the Greek equivalent of “Zion”.
b. Mount Sion is defined as: “…the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem…” (Hebrews 12:22).
c. When used as a generic term (“Sion”), it refers to Israel (Romans 11:26).
d. Heavenly Jerusalem is yet future (Revelation 3:12; 21:2; 21:10).

3.         The multitude “sounds” and harps play (14:2).

a. The “voice” of “many waters” and “loud thunder” is heard.
1) This is probably the sound of the 144,000 (compare 19:1-6).
2) This appears to be a celebration song.
b. The harps are heard.
1) Harps may be just in the hands of the 24 Elders (5:8).
2) Harps are later given to those with no mark from the Beast (15:2).
c. The 144,000 sing a “new song” accompanied by the harps (14:2-3).
1) The 24 Elders sing a new song of victory (5:9).
2) The 144,000 sing a song that only they know (14:3).

4. The event appears to take place at the end of time.

a. The 144,000 came out of the “the great tribulation” (7:14).
b. The 144,000 were “redeemed from the earth” (14:3).
c. The 144,000 are given the blessings of eternity (7:15-17; 21:3-4).

5. The role of the 144,000 is unique and seems to continue into eternity.

a. They are to “serve him day and night in his temple” (7:15).
b. They live with “he that sitteth on the throne” (7:15).
c. They “follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth” (14:4).
d. They are the “firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb” (14:4).
1) This is not the 1st resurrection of martyrs (20:4-6).
2) This seems to be a formal “entourage” for the Lord Jesus.

B. Three great angels now make announcements to the Earth (14:6-11).

1. The First Angel declares the “everlasting gospel” to the whole earth (14:6-7).

a. This may be the fulfillment of Christ’s “sign” in Matthew 24:14: “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.”
b. This is the everlasting “good news” that Jesus Christ is both Creator and Redeemer.

2. The Second Angel announces the Fall of Babylon the Great (14:8).

a. This is later amplified in Revelation 18.
b. This description is announced with the same language (18:2).
c. This destruction is accomplished in “one hour” (18:17).

3. The Third Angel pronounces the sentence on those who worship the beast and receive his mark (14:9-11).

a. They will “drink of the wine of the wrath of God” (14:10).
b. They will “be tormented with fire and brimstone” (14:10).
1) This is the eternal prison for the devil (20:10).
2) This is the eternal prison for the unsaved (21:8).
c. They will have “no rest day nor night” (14:11).

C. The “patience of the saints” is summarized (Revelation 14:12).

1. “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” (14:12)

a. The apostle John identifies: “I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.” Revelation 1:9 
b. The church of Ephesus identifies: “I know thy works…thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.” (Revelation 2:2-3)
c. The church at Thyatira identifies: “I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first.” (Revelation 2:19)
d. The church at Philadelphia identifies: “Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation…” (Revelation 3:10)

2. Revelation 13:10 – “He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.”

III. The Son of Man comes on a cloud to reap the Earth (Revelation 14:14-20).

A. The Lord appears in a cloud with a crown and a sharp sickle (14:14).

1. This parallels the Return of Christ with and on clouds.

2. Daniel 7:13 – “…behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him.  And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.”

3. Matthew 24:30 – “And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.”

4. 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.” (See also Mark 13:26; Luke 21:27; Acts 1:9-11; Revelation 1:7; 10:1; 11:12)

5. This fits the parable in Mark 4: “And he said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground; And should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how.  For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear. But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come.” (Mark 4:26-29)

B. The Lord is given authority to “harvest” the earth (Revelation 14:15-19).

1. Two angels from the temple are also involved.

a. An angel to announce that the “harvest of the earth is ripe” (14:15).
b. An angel with power over fire came with “another sickle” (15:18).

2. This may be equal to the harvest identified in Matthew 13:36-40.

a. This is the parable of the tares and the wheat.
b. This identifies when the harvest takes place: “the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels” (Matthew 13:39).

3. This “harvest” involves two elements.

a. The reaping of the ripe earth (14:15-16)
1) This may focus on the judgment of humanity.
2) The parable of the talents is applied this way (Matthew 25:14-46).
3) The parable of the pounds is applied this way (Luke 19:12-27).
b. The treading of the winepress of God’s wrath (14:17-20)
1) This may focus on the destruction of Babylon.
2) The winepress was “trodden without the city” (14:20).
3) The focus of God’s wrath is on the city of Babylon (Revelation 18).

4. The “winepress of the wrath of God” is executed (14:19-20).

a. The winepress treading will crush all evil nations.
b. Jeremiah 25:30 – “Therefore prophesy thou against them all these words, and say unto them, The LORD shall roar from on high, and utter his voice from his holy habitation; he shall mightily roar upon his habitation; he shall give a shout, as they that tread the grapes, against all the inhabitants of the earth.”
c. The blood from the winepress extends some 200 miles (14:20).
1) The “furlong” is the Greek stadia – approximately 185 meters.
2) Eight stadia = ~ 1 mile
3) 1,600 stadia = ~ 200 miles
4) 200 miles from Babylon reaches almost to the Persian Gulf.
d. Note: Some think that this represents the battle of Armageddon.  If so, the blood would cover most all of Israel, a good portion of Syria, Jordan, and Egypt.  Either way, this “reaping” is an awful demonstration of God’s wrath against those who dare to rebel against Him.

C. The Lord is also pictured in Revelation 19:11-21 in this great “harvest”.

1. He comes to “judge and make war” (19:11).

2. He appears with the “armies” in heaven (19:14).

3. He comes to “smite the nations” (19:15).

4. He treads “the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God” (19:15).

5. He fights against “the kings of the earth and their armies” (19:19).

6. He casts the beast and the false prophet into the lake of fire (19:20).

7. He kills the rest of humanity with the “sword…that proceeded out of his mouth” (19:21).

IV. The Ceremony of the Seven Plagues begins at the Throne (15:1 - 16:1).

A. The “Song of Moses” and “the Song of the Lamb” are sung by those standing on a “sea of glass” (15:2-4).

1. The “Song of Moses” is introduced in Exodus 15 as a song of victory.

a. Exodus 15:1 –“I will sing unto the LORD, for he hath triumphed gloriously”.
b. Moses taught Israel a new song in Deuteronomy 32 about the history and promises of God for Israel.
c. Psalm 90 is recorded as a “Psalm” of Moses.

2. The “Song of the Lamb” is not directly spoken of elsewhere in Scripture. 

a. This may be the “new song” that is mentioned in the Psalms (33:3; 40:3; 96:1; 98:1; 144:9; 149:1).
b. This may be the “new song” sung by the 24 Elders (Revelation 5:9).
c. This may be the “new song” sung by the 144,000 (Revelation 14:3).

3. The singers are those who have gotten victory over the Beast, his image, and his mark – probably those who have come out of the 42-month reign of persecution.

B. The same praise theme is repeated in other ceremonies.

1. Isaiah 42:10 – “Sing unto the LORD a new song, and his praise from the end of the earth, ye that go down to the sea, and all that is therein; the isles, and the inhabitants thereof.”

2. See Revelation 4:9-11; 5:9-14; 7:9-12; 11:15-19; 12:10-12; 14:3; 15:3-4; 19:5-7 

C. The Temple of the Tent of the Testimony is opened (15:5) and the Seven Angels present themselves to the Throne (15:6).

The Revelation of Jesus Christ
ch. 14


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