Reaping the Harvest

Bible Book: Revelation  14 : 14-20
Subject: Judgment; Tribulation, The Great
Series: Revelation

This is the third message from the fourteenth chapter of Revelation. The message from 14:1-5 was STANDING WITH THE LAMB. The message from verses 6-13 was FALLING WITH THE BEAST. Those who focus their eyes on the Lamb of God will stand with Him. They have been born again, once for all time (Rom. 5:1ff), which means that they have peace with God, access to the throne of heaven, and permanent permission to stand in the presence of the Lord. At the time of the fulfillment of this prophecy these believers will be easily identified because they will have the name of the Lamb and the name of the Father stamped on their foreheads. Today, those who born-again believers bear in their lives the distinctive marks of the Lamb. If one is genuinely saved he can no more keep it a secret than the moon can keep its presence a secret when the sun is shining upon it.

Those who reject Jesus Christ not only have no standing with God. At this time of the fulfillment of this prophecy, they will bear on their foreheads the mark of the beast, of Satan the lying serpent of the Garden, the great deceiver, the vile dragon of Revelation. You can be sure, that however this plays our in end-time, all those reject Jesus Christ will be cast into the lake of fire which burns forever. There will be conscious, eternal torment. I feel very strongly that every person in hell will be forever playing back in their minds their rejection of Christ. Can you imagine all those suicide bombers who blow themselves up for Allah, expecting to go directly to paradise where seventy two virgins await them, but instead wake up in hell with no hope of paradise. Can you imagine what they will be thinking about those who deceived them? Of course, they may be planning a reunion with them!

I might add here that, unless otherwise noted, all Scripture is in the Holman Christian Standard Bible - without apology! I love the KJV and the NKJV. I have studied from the ASB or the NASB since I began my first class at Mississippi College. You would not be interested in the year, but I listened to a friend, Ramsey Ogg and others do the broadcast of the championship game between River Oaks in Monore, LA and Arkansas Lee, won by River Oaks in a close one. The announcers said several times that the game was being played at Hale/Robinson stadium at Mississippi College. I told Becky that I remember Coach Robbie well, though he seemed “ancient when I was a freshman at MC. Alan “Goat” Hale once scored something like 64 points against Ole Miss in one game! MC had been around a long time then and Ole Miss was still a relatively new school. One reason I remember Goat Hale is that I was sitting on a sidewalk with my badly swollen ankle stretched in front of me. Mr. W. O. Shivers, our superintendent, asked the long-time MC sports figure, “Will he be able to play Friday night?” The man who earned his nickname when he ran through a board fence that was a little too close to the end-zone, looked at me and said, “Yeah, he’ll play.” I have Goat Hale to thank for a second sprained ankle and a sprained right wrist. I was not there when Goat played at MC, or when Coach Robbie was All-American in 1919, but I did meet them.

The HCSB is the world’s newest translation and it comes from America’s oldest Bible publisher (A. J. Holman, now Broadman and Holman). This is a word-for-word translation rather than a phrase-for-phrase rendering as we find in the NIV. It is as accurate as the NASB and as readable as the NIV.

In verses 14:14-20, we are going to see a scene that should shock every lost person who reads it. When you hear someone talking about the Grim Reaper, this is the background. Jesus is coming to reap the harvest of the earth.


“Then I looked, and there was a white cloud, and One like the Son of Man was seated on the cloud, with a gold crown on His head and a sharp sickle in His hand.”

A. John Saw the Son of Man Seated on a Cloud.

This is not the first time Jesus Christ is identified with a cloud. There was a bright cloud at the time of the Transfiguration: “While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said: This is My beloved Son. I take delight in Him. Listen to Him!” (Matt 17:5). Daniel saw a vision of the Son of Man coming with the clouds: “I continued watching in the night visions, and I saw One like a son of man coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was escorted before Him (Dan 7:13).

Jesus prophesied His return on a cloud: “Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the peoples of the earth will mourn; and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Matt 24:30).

Again, Jesus said, “But I tell you, in the future you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.”(Matt 26:64).

B. The One Seated on the Cloud Had a Gold Crown on His Head.

In English, we have one word for crown, whereas there are two distinct words for crown in the New Testament Greek. There is the word for diadem, of the regal crown that a king would wear. Then, there is the crown of victory given to the champion of an athletic event or to one who has won a military victory. This is the crown of victory. Lest we think Jesus is a bit premature here because He wears the crown of victory before He harvests the earth, let me remind you that the victory has already been won. It was won at Calvary. The ultimate outcome is not in doubt or Jesus would not have been wearing the crown of victory.

C. He Has a Sharp Sickle in His Hand.

There was the traditional sickle which was used from early human history until modern mechanical harvesters. This sickle had a long handle and a long curved blade, which when sharpened to a razor’s edge could easily cut a wide swathe through grass or grain stems. The farmer would swing the sickle, leaving the dried plants with mature heads on the ground. These would be gathered and taken to a place with a hard surface where the heads would be either trampled or beaten on the floor before winnowing the grain by throwing it into the air for the wind to blow away the chaff.

Then, there was the pruning hook which was often used as an instrument of war. There is an Old Testament background for the use of the sickle as an instrument of war:

“Cut off the sower from Babylon as well as him who wields the sickle at harvest time. Because of the oppressor’s sword, each will turn to his own people, each will flee to his own land” (Jer 50:16).

“Swing the sickle because the harvest is ripe. Come and trample [the grapes]because the winepress is full; the wine vats overflow because the wickedness of the nations is great. Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the Day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision” (Joel 3:13-14).

There is a time coming when Jesus, the Son of Man, will come with a gold crown of victory on His head and a sickle in His hand. He will not be coming as the Suffering Servant, but as Lord of Lord and King of Kings. The sickle in His hand is not there for any ornamental purpose. And believe me, no one is going to spit on Him this time!


“Another angel came out of the sanctuary, crying out in a loud voice to the One who was seated on the cloud, ‘Use your sickle and reap, for the time to reap has come, since the harvest of the earth is ripe.’ So the One seated on the cloud swung His sickle over the earth, and the earth was harvested.”

A. Another Angel Cried for Jesus to Use the Sickle and Reap the Harvest, 14:15.

1. This angel came out of the sanctuary. This angel comes from the sanctuary (the NASB has temple) it heaven. The point we should see here may well be that the angel is not acting on his own. He is coming from the throne of God to carry out a mission.

2. He says the time to reap has come. The angel cries out with a loud and clear voice to the One seated on the cloud to “Use your sickle and reap, for the time to reap has come.” The angel is not ordering the Lamb to swing His sickle and harvest the earth. He knows what Jesus is prepared to do and he was sent from the sanctuary with the message for John’s benefit and for ours.

3. The harvest of the earth is ripe. Jesus did not need the angel to tell him that the time had come to reap this harvest. The word angel means messenger, so the angel has been sent to make an announcement that served the Lord’s purpose. The angel can only announce what he is commanded to announce. There will come a time when God will determine that the earth is ripe for harvest, and when that time comes all the forces of hell and all the powers of this earth cannot prevent it, hinder it, or delay it.

I grew up in the Green River Community seven miles west of Sledge, Mississippi, the Mississippi Cotton Pickin’ Delta Town, made famous when Charlie Pride recorded Harold Dorman’s song by that title. Harold, Charlie, and Johnny Rivers all got a gold record for Mountain of Love, also written by Harold Dorman. I know what it is like to wait for the harvest. We watched the fields every day, my father hoping the cotton would hurry up and open, I hoping it wouldn’t. Hey, I’m honest if I was lazy, a fact I worked very hard to mask, I might add. Rather than sharpening a sickle, we bought cotton sacks, wired a loop in a bottom corner so we could weigh the sacks, and wrote our names on the sacks. A lot of people used crushed Polk berries to print their names on their sacks. One of the managers for the Dockery Plantation, between Cleveland and Ruleville, Mississippi, told me he had seen as many as 500 hands going to the field the same day on that plantation. They were replaced by 8 mechanical cotton pickers. Harvest is a big deal in farm country, whether we are talking about cotton, soy beans, grain, or fruit.

B. The One Seated on the Cloud Swung His Sickle, 14:16.

How fitting that Jesus is the One to appear on a bright cloud wearing the gold crown of victory, with the sickle in His hand. What could be more fitting that for the One who was the agent of creation to be the one to bring all things to a close. John was inspired to tell us the story of the beginning:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being” (John 1:1-3).

John was also inspired to reveal the consummation of the ages. This is a part of that story. He appears with the sickle when the earth is ripe for harvest. He swings the sickle and the harvest is accomplished.


A. One Angel Had a Sharp Sickle, 14:17.

“Then another angel who also had a sharp sickle came out of the sanctuary in heaven.”

Jesus’ explanation of a parable provides some insight into the harvest at the end of the age: “the enemy who sowed them is the Devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels” (Matt 13:39). The angels are participants in the harvest of the earth.

B. Another Angel Called on the First One to Use His Sickle, 14:18.

“Yet another angel, who had authority over fire, came from the altar, and he called with a loud voice to the one who had the sharp sickle, ‘Use your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of grapes from earth’s vineyard, because its grapes have ripened.”

John says, “Yet another angel, who had authority over fire, came from the altar.” This is the altar upon which “were offered the incense-accompanied prayers of all saints, which bring down in answer God's fiery judgment on the Church's foes, the fire being taken from the altar and cast upon the earth” (Jamieson-Fausset-Brown).

C. The Angel With the Sickle Swung His Sickle, 14:19-20.

“So the angel swung his sickle toward earth and gathered the grapes from earth’s vineyard, and he threw them into the great winepress of God’s wrath. Then the press was trampled outside the city, and blood flowed out of the press up to the horses’ bridles for about 180 miles.”

1. The angel swung his sickle toward the earth. This fifth angel has been called “the Angel of vengeance.” He “responds to the call of the sixth angel here as Christ does to the call of the fourth angel in verse 16” [A. T. Robertson].

2. He gathered the grapes from the earth’s vineyard.

3. He threw the grapes “into the great winepress of God’s wrath.” In Old Testament times the winepresses were usually cut or hewed out of rock (Isa. 5:2) and connected by channels or conduits to lower rock-hewn vats where the juice was allowed to collect and ferment. The Holman Bible Dictionary provides some interesting information about winepresses in Bible times:

“The juice was squeezed from the grapes by treading over them with the feet (Job 24:11; Amos 9:13). Recent excavations at tel Aphek have uncovered two unusually large plastered winepresses dating from the Late Bronze Age (1550-1200 B.C.). The presses were connected to large collection pits which still contained the Canaanite jars for the storage of the wine. After the juice had fermented, it was collected into jars or wineskins (Matt. 9:17, and parallels). At ancient Gibeon, archaeologists discovered a major wine-producing installation dating from the about 700 B.C. In addition to the presses and fermentation tanks, 63 rock-cut cellars were found with a storage capacity of 25,000 gallons of wine. In these cellars the wine could be kept at a constant cool temperature of 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Both royal presses and cellars are mentioned in the Bible (1 Chron. 27:27; Zech. 14:10). Other activities besides the making of wine could go on at a press site (Judg. 6:11; 7:25). By the New Testament period, both beam presses and presses with mosaic pavements were in use.

“The harvesting and treading of the grapes was a time of joy and celebration (Isa. 16:10; Jer. 48:33; Deut. 16:13-15); and the image of the abundance of wine is used in the Bible to speak of God’s salvation and blessing (Prov. 3:10; Joel 3:18; Amos 9:13). But God’s judgment is also vividly portrayed as the treading of the winepress (Isa. 63:2-3; Rev. 14:19-20)” [HBD, THE BIBLE NAVIGATOR].

The only gospel many people want to hear today is a gospel of tolerance. We live in a diverse society and we need to respect everyone’s right to choose what religion they prefer. A lot of people are now saying that there are many ways to God and we can each follow his own path - in other words, there are many paths to God and in the end we are all going to get there. This is unbiblical but that has never stopped some people from rejecting the thus saith the Word of God for the thus reasoneth the mind of man.

After a recent poll at least one media outlet reported that more and more young people believe in God. That does not mean that they hold a biblical view of God. They just want to believe in a God who can make them feel better. A television personality who jokes and smiles, and makes declarations about feeling good, has been reported as saying that the worst things you can say to another man is to tell him that he is a sinner. Modern liberals have taken the evil out of sin, the fire our of hell, and the devil out of the mix. Some people are facing a rude awakening! There is no way you can read the New Testament without understanding that God is a God of love - He gave His only begotten Son to die a horrible death on the cross for you and me. He is also a holy God. Did you hear that? God is holy! The love of God provides for salvation, but the holiness of God demands punishment for those who refuse Jesus Christ. The wrath of a holy God is as certain as the salvation of a loving God.

“The one who believes in the Son has eternal life, but the one who refuses to believe in the Son will not see life; instead, the wrath of God remains on him” (John 3:36).

“But because of your hardness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath, when God’s righteous judgment is revealed” (Rom. 2:5).

“For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thes. 5:9).

4. The press was trampled outside the city. The winepress of God’s wrath will be trampled outside the city of Jerusalem. God has promised to protect Jerusalem during the time of His holy wrath. He honors all His promises. We are now looking at the final conflict when the Son of Man returns in all his glory and power, wearing the gold crown of victory, with a sickle in His hand. He swings the sickle and all the evil people are caught up in His swing, just as the heads of grain fall when the sharp sickle of the harvester severs the heads and let them fall to the earth. If we are talking of grain, the heads would then be taken to a place where the grain would be thrashed and winnowed so that all the chaff would be blown away. Having grown up on a cotton and soybean farm in the Mississippi delta, I know a little something about harvesting crops. I have picked cotton by hand and with a mechanical cotton picker. I have cut soybeans with a combine. When we finished a field the crop year was over because the grain had been harvested. When Jesus swings the sickle it’s all over!

When we are talking of grapes, as here, the grapes clusters were cut from the vines and the grapes were placed in a large winepress where they were trampled until the grape juice would run down through troughs into a lower vat where it would be strained and stored.

The great winepress of God’s wrath speaks of the final victory of the One Who returns to conquer, subdue, and judge the world. He will bring all enemies under his foot, as an ancient king might force a defeated foe to prostrate himself before his throne so that the king could rest his foot on his head, thus making him his footstool. This is the ultimate humiliation. All unbelievers will be trampled in the winepress of the wrath of Almighty God. Jerusalem, however, will be protected.

5. The blood flowed out of the press up to the horses’ bridles for about 190 miles. I know a man who predicted that people will give up modern instruments of war and return to horses before the end of time. Now, to be perfectly honest, I cannot picture the major powers of the world giving up their tanks, planes, ships, and other vehicles. I cannot see nations replacing tanks and trucks with horses. Yet, to this friend, the only way this Scripture could be fulfilled would be for the world powers to mutually give up modern machines and mount their soldiers on horseback and charge the enemy. How else, the man reasoned, could there be a final battle in which the blood would run as deep as the horses bits?

There are many problems with a totally literal interpretation. If you begin a point on the Plains of Megiddo and draw a circle that would be 180 to 190 miles in diameter, that line would reach far outside Israel. It would reach out into the Mediterranean Sea to the West, and way across Jordan on the east. The circle would reach far to the north and encircle deep valleys, high mountains, wadis and rivers. Can you imagine how many people would have to be killed in that one small area for the blood to reach some four feet deep across the country?

This is where people begin to become creative: The blood would splatter up to the horse’ bridle. Or, maybe it would run that deep in some narrow ditches. I cannot help but wonder how long it would be before the blood began to coagulate.

You ask, what is the answer? My answer is that I would prefer to focus on the One who has the answer. If God has determined that literal blood will flow either in a ditch or across the plains to a depth of four feet He can accomplish it. However, let us suppose that Jesus had explained modern fighter planes, bombers, stealth planes, rockets, laser guided bombs and shells, and heat-seeking bombs, what do you suppose those first Century Israelites would have thought about that?

However one interprets these words, we are looking at the return of Jesus Christ, Who is wearing the crown of victory. He has already won the victory and been awarded the crown. He is carrying a sharp sickle which He uses to harvest the earth. He places the grapes of His wrath in the winepress and tramples them out. This is a picture of a quick and devastating judgment that defies the imagination. The tsunami that hit in the Indian ocean is hardly a ripple on the sea of God’s wrath. The volcanoes, earthquakes, and tidal waves that ripped the earth apart at the time of the great Flood would certainly hint at what God can do when He makes up His mind to act.


We have had three messages from Revelation 14. The first was, STANDING WITH THE LAMB. The second was FALLING WITH THE BEAST. If you look to Jesus in faith you will stand with Him. You will never have to fear anyone or anything else. Look to Jesus, trust Him, receive His name on your forehead (identify with His name), and He will permit you to stand with Him. When you stand with Jesus no force on earth, above the earth, or under the earth can move you.

If you reject Jesus you receive the mark of ownership from Satan - the mark of the beast. If you stand with the beast you will fall with him, for he will fall. His doom is set and we will see more about that as we move forward in Revelation.

Those who reject the Lamb of God and follow the beast sent by Satan will suffer the fate of the beast.
If you stand with him you are going to fall with him. His fate is sealed, and so is yours if you allow him to deceive you.

The day is coming when all those who reject Jesus Christ are going to have to answer for it. Those who will be living when Jesus returns to bring all enemies under His foot will be caught up in the great slaughter described in this chapter. Those who reject Jesus Christ at any time will spend eternity in hell, along with Satan and all who are deceived by him.

Right now, I would like for you to pause for a moment and think about that time when you will be summoned to appear before the judgment bar of God. Le t me share a poem with you, written by one who had given this some thought.

When I stand at the judgment seat of Christ
And He shows me His plan for me.
The plan of my life as it might have been
Had He had His way, and I see.
How I blocked Him here, and I checked Him there,
And I would not yield my will --
Will there be grief in my Savior's eyes,
Grief, though He loves me still?
He would have me rich, and I stand there poor,
Stripped of all but His grace,
While memory runs like a hunted thing
Down the paths I cannot retrace.
Then my desolate heart will well-nigh break
With the tears that I cannot shed;
I shall cover my face with my empty hands,
I shall bow my uncrowned head...
Lord of the years that are left to me,
I give them to Thy hand;
Take me and break me, mold me to
The pattern Thou hast planned!
- Author unknown