1. We have seen how the beast and the false prophet have established Satan’s apparent rule on earth. But then we saw that all this time the Lamb has been standing on Zion. In fact He is the one who is ruling.
2. Today we see that Christ is actually going to take complete rule. For He comes to us as the king. The one who wears a crown of gold. This will mean the destruction of any rule at all that Satan has. It means the destruction of the political and religious means by which Satan has ruled. And for the people of God, it means their deliverance.
3. Christ is seated on a white cloud. The white cloud symbolizes deliverance and it symbolizes judgement. Its purity means that he will judge in righteousness. He comes with a sickle, another indication that He is about to judge. He will cut down that which needs to be cut. The sickle has been sharpened for its task.
4. We will see that the angels will actually do the reaping but that Christ is supervising the work. At the end of the parable of the wheat and the tares in Matthew 13, we are told: The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.
Mat 24:31 And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.
5. Then an angel comes out of the temple and makes an announcement:
vs. 15 "Take your sickle and reap, because the time to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is ripe."
An angel tells Jesus that it is time to harvest. He has been given the message by God. This ties in with what Jesus says:
Mat 24:36 "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.
6. We are told in vs. 16 that Christ swings his sickle over the earth and the earth is harvested. That makes it seem that the reaping is done in one quick act, but the details of the reaping will be given in chapters 19-20.
7. Another angel came out of heaven. He also had a sharp sickle.
8. And still another angels calls out to this angel. This angel comes from the altar and is in charge of the fire. The cry for vindication had come from the saints who had been martyred who were under the altar. The fire showed their prayers had been lifted up to God. The announcement by this angel shows that now their prayers are being answered.
9. He tells the angel with the sickle to "Take your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of grapes from the earth's vine, because its grapes are ripe."
10. And the angels carries out this command.
11. In our passage we have seen two harvests. One in vs. 16 and one in vs. 19. Hoeksema says there is a distinct difference between these two harvests. And as we look at these two we must remember that terms such as grapes are symbolic terms.
12. The first harvest seems to be a harvest of grain. Sickles are usually used to harvest grain. And that ties in with the parable of the wheat and tares we already mentioned. This harvest carries no sense of judgement as the second harvest does. And so the first harvest, in vs. 16 probably refers to removal from God’s people from the earth.
13. The second harvest refers to the harvest of grapes. As we said it is a response to the prayers of the saints for vindication. And what happens to the harvest is that they are put into the great winepress of God’s wrath.
14. The judgement is severe. For a distance of 300 km, the blood rises as high as the horses bridles -six feet? Not to be taken literally but symbolically. This harvest is the harvest of the wicked. Other scripture passages refer to this harvest as well:
Joel 3:13 Swing the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, trample the grapes, for the winepress is full and the vats overflow-- so great is their wickedness!'
Isa 63:3 "I have trodden the winepress alone; from the nations no one was with me. I trampled them in my anger and trod them down in my wrath; their blood spattered my garments, and I stained all my clothing.
15. We now turn to chapter 17 and the seven angels. John sees a great and marvellous sign. This sign is of the utmost importance. It cannot be looked on without filling ones heart with wonder and joy. Why?
16. Because the angels have been given the power of pouring out God’s seven plagues which will end up destroying the earth. When these plaques are poured out, the subjects of the kingdom of the antichrist will have received all their punishment.