“And 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.” Revelation 14:14.
The three verses we will consider here are difficult because some writers say that the harvest referred to later in verse 15 is of the ungodly, while others feel that these are Christians.
The white cloud appears to be just that, a white cloud; in fact just like the one in the Lord’s ascension into heaven.
“Now when He [Jesus] had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.” Acts 1:9.
See the passage below which concerns Jesus’ return to rapture Christians, remove them from the earth before the tribulation.
“And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.’” Acts 1:10-11.
This passage in Revelation and the rest of the chapter concern the return of Christ to end the tribulation, destroy the beast and set up His millennial reign.
“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.” Matthew 24:30.
“On the cloud sat One like the Son of Man” Revelation 14:14, as you can see from Matthew 24:30 above, the Lord calls Himself the Son of Man, a name He used numerous times while here on earth, identifying Himself completely with us.
“But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.” Hebrews 2:9.
“Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. For indeed He does not give aid to angels, but He does give aid to the seed of Abraham. Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.” Hebrews 2:14-18.
The Lord is not just a faithful High Priest and the rightful King, but also a righteous judge.
“For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son, that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.” John 5:22-23.
“For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man.” John 5:26-27.
It is Jesus who will judge on judgment day because He lived life on earth as a man, and as such He suffered as a man, and no one, man or woman, can say, “You do not know anything about what I suffered in life. How can you judge me?”
Jesus needs only to hold up His nail pierced hands and the argument will be over.
“On His head a golden crown”, this is a stephanos; some have rendered this a golden wreath. A stephanos is a victor’s crown, a victory we will see in more detail in Revelation 19:11-20.
The diadem is the kingly crown; it is the one Jesus will wear during His millennial reign on earth.
“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.” Revelation 14:15-16.
The angel who comes out of the temple and cries out to the Lord to reap, for the time has come, is not actually commanding the Lord to do so, for that is not his place, but rather he is relaying a message from God the Father.
When Jesus’ disciples asked Him if He was going to restore the kingdom to Israel at that time, He replied in this manner.
“…It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority.” Acts 1:7.
So the Father has reserved for Himself the authority to say when the exact moment has arrived to end these things.
“…for the time has come for You to reap, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.” Revelation 14:15b.
Part of the difficulty of understanding this verse is the word ripe. Ripe here has the meaning of being dried up or withered.
One person used the term lifelessness, other examples are, “for the harvest of the earth is dried”, J.N. Darby translation; “the harvest of the earth is over-ripe”, Weymouth New Testament, both nineteenth century translations.
A notation in the New American Standard Version renders this as “has become dry”.
As stated earlier there are two schools of thought, is this harvest one of the ungodly, or is it a harvest of saved individuals. Of the two, which is it?
If this is an indication of the lifelessness of the world system that the beast has set up, then it is obvious that man has come to his end and there is nothing more that can be done to revive him.
Man in his final rebellion is saying to God, “We will not have You to rule over us, we will not follow Your rules, and we reject Your constant meddling. We will build a better world without You.” The world can only spiral further down into darkness.
God sternly warns mankind through the Scriptures that this cannot be done, simply because He has not set the cosmos up that way.
It is as if He were to say, “Beat your head against the wall if you must, I will not force Myself upon you, but do not expect Me to do nothing when you engage in evil.”
If we accept this, then the rest of the chapter (verses 17-20) is merely a continuation of the process of reaping the earth of its evildoers.
Dr. Fruchtenbaum says that the picture of reaping is one of gathering the righteous, whereas the winepress is one of judgment.
“Then He said to His disciples, ‘The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.’” Matthew 9:37-38.
“Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!” John 4:35.
Reaping then may well be a picture of the harvest of the souls of those who accept Jesus Christ as their Savior.
Still if dried, or lifeless means that the crops are becoming unusable, can this still refer to Christians?
Scripture may give us some insight on this question. There are three iron-clad reasons why the Lord will wait so long to harvest the saints (Christians).
“Then I heard the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand to heaven, and swore by Him who lives forever, that it shall be for a time, times, and half a time; and when the power of the holy people has been completely shattered, all these things shall be finished.” Daniel 12:7.
At present Israel (the holy people) is still rejecting Jesus as their Messiah. So the first reason the harvest will be delayed is that the nation will have to be driven to a point where they will, in humility acknowledge Christ as Lord and Savior.
The time, as predicted above, will be 3 ½ years, the second half of the tribulation, known as the time of Jacob’s trouble.
This is what Jesus meant when He said the following.
“…for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’” Matthew 23:39.
“…then they will look on Me whom they have pierced; they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.” Zechariah 12:10b.
Secondly, the tribulation cannot end until the very last person to accept Christ as Savior is saved.
This, by the way, is why the rapture of the church has not come as of yet, and yet it can at any moment; the very last person to accept Christ as Savior during this present age has to come to the Lord Jesus.
“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9.
“The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord. And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance, as the Lord has said, among the remnant whom the Lord calls.” Joel 2:31-32.
“For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek [Gentile], for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For ‘whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’” Romans 10:12-13.
Speaking to Israel God said this, and these words are for all of us.
“Say to them: ‘As I live,’ says the Lord God, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways!’” Ezekiel 33:11a.
Finally, the end shall be delayed to put an end to wickedness once and for all. It will take time for both men and fallen angels to descend to such depths of filth and corruption that even the most casual observer will have to see that the creature can do nothing good apart from the Creator.
“As it is written: ‘There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God. They have all gone out of the way; they have together become unprofitable; there is none who does good, no, not one.’ ‘Their throat is an open tomb; with their tongues they have practiced deceit’; ‘the poison of asps is under their lips’; ‘whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.’ ‘Their feet are swift to shed blood; destruction and misery are in their ways; and the way of peace they have not known.’ ‘There is no fear of God before their eyes.’” Romans 3:10-18.
This passage begins with the words, “There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God.” The words, “There is none…” means just that. Not one of us, you and I, is any better than these.
God will be vindicated before angels and men beyond argument once and for all.
“Behold, the day of the Lord comes, cruel, with both wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate; and He will destroy its sinners from it.” Isaiah 13:9.
Scripture says of this bleak period in history:
“He [the beast] shall speak pompous words against the Most High, shall persecute [marginal, wear out] the saints of the Most High, and shall intend to change times and law. Then the saints shall be given into his hand for a time and times and half a time.” Daniel 7:25.
It is here stated that the beast shall relentlessly persecute, wear out, the saints of God and that they will be given over to him for 3 ½ years, why?
God answers this tough question Himself:
“Many shall be purified, made white, and refined…” Daniel 12:10a.
Considering that there are no Christians who go into the tribulation, it is a safe bet that the majority of the believers who come out of the tribulation have engaged in some sort of gross sin, such as, idolatry, human sacrifice, murder, persecution and murder of Gods people, rape, prostitution, robbery, and whatever thing human depravity can dredge up out of the cesspool of the sin nature.
Some more, some less, some even moral compared to the others; but all in need of having their true moral compass come into line with God’s holiness. And the lessons for them and all of us are not always painless.
“Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.” 1 Peter 4:12-13.
“The Lord is righteous in all His ways, gracious in all His works. The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth. He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him; He also will hear their cry and save them.” Psalm 145:17-19.
“Wait on the Lord, and keep His way, and He shall exalt you to inherit the land; when the wicked are cut off, you shall see it.” Psalm 37:34.
In the midst of the intense trials of the last 3 ½ years of the tribulation will the saints remember these things and learn holiness from them? Or will they fall away in despair?
“Thrust in Your sickle and reap, for the time has come for You to reap, for the harvest of the earth is ripe [dried, lifeless].” Revelation 14:15b.
Does the Lord, in mercy, reap, through death, these despondent lifeless Christians out of the earth over the remainder of the tribulation?
It is this that the Lord Jesus was referring to when He spoke the parable of the widow and the unjust judge, in regards to prayer.
“And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” Luke 18:7-8.
Will the Lord indeed, find faith on the earth when He returns to reign?
Revelation 14:14-16 taken from godisrevealed.com updated on 1-23-17, reposted on 9-11-22.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version, copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission, all rights reserved.