Wheat or Grapes
In vision, John sees and hears one like the Son of God, three angels (2 with loud voices and 1 with a sharp sickle), and two cries…. they harvest the earth. What is going on?
“Thrust in Your sickle and reap, for the time has come for You to reap, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.” -Revelation 14:15
“Thrust in your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth, for her grapes are fully ripe.” -Revelation 14:18
The first reaping sounds like the gathering of grain, the second a gathering of grapes. Would you rather be a kernel of wheat or a grape?
Before you decide, let’s dig a little deeper.
The last part of Revelation chapter 14 describes two harvests: a harvest of grain and a harvest of grapes. This follows the 3 angels’ messages earlier in the chapter that call for people to worship the Creator and warn of the fall of Babylon.
Interestingly, there are 3 angels involved in the harvest. (Revelation 14:15, 17, 18)
Here, Jesus and the angels reap the earth with sharp sickles. A sickle is a sharp knife-like tool that was used in the olden days to cut crops. It typically had a curved blade and looked like this.
Now Jesus and his angels are not going to really use sickles like this. Remember Revelation is book full of symbolism. To understand the harvest metaphor, we can go to a parable Jesus told about the harvest at the end of the world which explains a lot.
The Weeds and the Wheat
Jesus liked to tell parables, or stories, to teach important lessons. Keep your ears open. Here’s the story he told in the gospel of Matthew, chapter 13.
The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.
The owner’s servants came to him and said, “Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where did the weeds come from?”
“An enemy did this,” he replied.
The servants asked him, “Do you want us to go and pull up the weeds?”
“No,” he answered, “because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time, I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.”
That was the story. The disciples were listening, but they didn’t understand what it all meant. So they asked Jesus, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.”
Then Jesus gave them a very clear explanation – and I think it will help us to understand the harvest in Revelation 14 as well.
Here’s what Jesus said. He explains what every part of the story represents. You can double check by reading Matthew 13:36-43.
- The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man
- The field is the world
- The good seed stands for the people of the kingdom (those who follow God)
- The weeds are people of the evil one (those who don’t follow God)
- The enemy who sows weeds is the devil (that’s Satan)
- The harvest is the end of the age
- The harvesters are angels
- The weeds will be burned up (destroyed)
- There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (people will be very, very sad they are lost)
- The good seed that grows into wheat are the righteous who will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father (they will live with God)
The Harvest at the End of the World
Now lets’ go back to Revelation 14 and see if we can figure out what these harvests mean. The only difference is that instead of bad seed there are grapes in this telling. Let’s read.
“And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto 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 that sat on the cloud, ‘Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe.’ And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped. And 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, which had power over fire; and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, ‘Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe.’ And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs.” (Revelation 14:14-20)
This picture shows grapes being smashed. The juice kind-of looks like blood, doesn’t it. No wonder the Bible uses this to describe the terrible, awful, experience for those who have chosen to reject his love.
Now here’s what we’ve learned.
Jesus comes to harvest the earth. That is, he comes to get all the people on earth. Both groups are ripe but they don’t all go to the same place. From Matthew we know the grain harvest are those who follow Jesus. They are taken into the barn for safekeeping. Here in Revelation, the grapes are those who don’t follow Jesus. They are cast into the winepress of the wrath of God.
What is the wrath of God? The first verse of Chapter 15 gives us a clue.
“And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God.“ -Revelation 15:1.
The whole story of the Bible leads to a day when God will deal with all evil, finally and forever. He will make things right for all the bad things that have happened – and it will be fair and just. God will not let evil go on forever. The plagues will come on those who have rejected Jesus love.
Back to That Important Question
Do you want to be a kernel of grain, or a grape?
Though I like eating grapes, I certainly don’t want to be a grape in this story.
An even more important question is, “How do we avoid being a grape or a weed? How do we become good seed?”
Jesus, in His great love, tells us the answer.
- “The seed falling on good soil is someone who hears the word and understands it.” Matthew 13:23
- “The weeds are everyone that causes sin and all who do evil.” Matthew 13:41
- “The righteous (those who accept Christ’s righteousness) will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.” Matthew 13:43
Okay, the first one is something we can strive for. Read God’s Word and pray for understanding. We can do this everyday.
The second and third answers present a big problem. Here’s why.
The Bible says,
“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” and “There is none righteous, no, not one.” (Romans 3:23, 3:10)
Have you ever done anything wrong? Have you ever said something mean, or told a lie, or fought with your brother or sister? Have you ever disobeyed your parents, or been grumpy, rude or impatient? Then you have sinned. We all have. Does that mean we are all grapes that are going to be smashed?
The Good News
I have good news for you. The wrath of God toward sin was poured out on Jesus at the cross (Ezekiel 7:8). The payment for our sins was put on Jesus as he died on the cross (Romans 3:25). Jesus died and took the wrath you and I deserve. Best of all, Jesus rose from the dead and is now our living Savior. He wants to save you from the wrath to come at the end of the world. He freely offers you forgiveness of your sins and wants to fill you with His Holy Spirit so you can live a life of righteousness (that’s doing the right thing) through His power. Jesus loves you and has always loved you. He died for you even before you were born. Ask Him into your heart. Ask Him to forgive your sins. He is ready to save all who come to Him.
The wrath of God will only be poured out on those who have rejected God’s offer of love. He will not be able to protect them, because they have refused his protection. Jesus wants everyone to be saved, including you (2 Peter 3:9). He has a place waiting just for you, because He loves you! Choose Jesus today. Let him change you from a grape into a seed that will be harvested for Heaven.
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