Summary: The Harvests of the Lost in Revelation 14:14-20
Concise Review of Revelation 14 To Date
We enter into the last installment in our series in Revelation 14. To recap concisely, first we see Jesus, the King of Kings and the 144,000 at Mt. Zion in Jerusalem; this is a preview of sorts to the start of the Millennial Kingdom. The 144,000 sing a song that only they can understand and comprehend because it is their story.
Next, we saw how three angels were sent on separate missions of announcement. First was an angel preaching the everlasting gospel to the entire world from the sky, the first heaven. This shows that God is a merciful God and gives everyone the opportunity to repent; however out of the hardness of their hearts the majority will not.
Then we saw a second angel that announced--with a certainty as though it was done, that it had already happened--that Babylon had fallen (will fall). We will discuss what and where Babylon is when we arrive at teaching Revelation chapters 17 and 18, but it is two separate cities (literal Babylon in Iraq and Rome). Babylon proper will be the economic, governmental and political center of the world; Rome will be the religious center of the world. These two cities will be held accountable for leading the world into a system under Antichrist, and the world will be drunk on the violence, sexual immorality and other vices it endorses.
Next, a third angel will be sent forth in judgment. The unmixed wine and the cup of judgment, symbolic of merciless judgment that has been filled to the brim, will be unleashed in the final judgments on the unsaved of the earth and they will suffer eternal torment of Hell.
Finally, we saw how there will be those that will persevere in the name of Christ, that will not renounce His name. Most will die, some will live through a horrible time of persecution; for those that die they will suffer no more.
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. Revelation 14:14-16 (NKJV)
Harvest of the Tares
"Back in the old days...". There's a phrase that we hear often, along with "I remember when...", "When I was a kid..." and "When I was your age...". There is often a sentimental statement that follows one of these well known phrases. However, when we refer to preaching I think it is different story altogether, especially when we consider such preachers of old as Charles Spurgeon, John Wesley, Charles Whitefield, John Knox and Jonathan Edwards. Edwards is best known for his famous sermon "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God", a benchmark for "fire and brimstone preaching". It is said that when Edwards would preach the sermon, women would faint, men would weep and wail for fear of facing an angry God.
Today our culture has so desensitized and calloused our souls that nothing shocks us. Murder, rape, catastrophe, robbery, wanton sexual immorality are all just part of a life that is dictated by Hollywood's movies and television, music, internet and other media. I truly believe that the degradation of society by these means and others are prophetic fulfillment, and that the Lord is coming soon. In short, God's mercy will endure only so long before judgment comes.
I believe that this first prophecy is two fold in nature in it's application. First, Jesus spoke of the harvesting of the tares:
Matthew 13:37-42 ...but the tares are the children of the wicked one; The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
In short, I believe that this passage in Matthew is a parallel passage to Revelation 14:14-16. But I do also believe that this same passage in Revelation also refers to the seven final bowls, or vials, of judgment that we will see sent forth by Jesus on the world in Revelation 16: "loathsome and malignant sores on the worshipers of Antichrist (v. 2), the death of all life in the world's oceans (v. 3), the turning of the world's rivers and springs of water into blood (v. 4), the intensifying of the sun's heat until it scorches people (v. 8), painful darkness over all of Antichrist's kingdom (v. 10), the drying up of the Euphrates River in preparation for a massive invasion by the kings of the east (v. 12), and the most powerful and destructive earthquake in history (v. 18)." (John MacArthur, MacArthur New Testament Commentary – Revelation 12-22)