14. 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.
15. 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.
16. And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped.
17. And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle.
18. 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.
19. 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.
20. And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress.
The Son of man, our triumphant Saviour and King, Jesus Christ, appears in the midst of His church, that great cloud of witnesses (Heb. 12:1), for therein He abides, filling all in all. Behold the sharp sickle in His hand. Judgment through His Word is exercised in His true church, for where Jesus is, there is judgment.
A cry comes out of the temple–His church–from an angel. The Greek word angelos translated as angel here simply means messenger (celestial or human). We see the same term introduced in Rev. 1:16 and 20, represented as the stars in Jesus’ hand, which are the angels or ministers. This ministry shares the burden of Jesus, crying to Him with a loud voice, “Thrust in thy sickle,” for “the time is come for thee to reap, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.”
What harvest time is this referring to? While the time of the early church was certainly a harvest time with the morning of the gospel day brilliantly manifesting clear truth and its ministry discerning between the righteous and the wicked, this Scripture in Rev. 14:15 refers to another harvest.
However, apostasy followed, darkening the spiritual skies for long centuries. Truth became obscured by a false church. A time of mingling prevailed with tares among the wheat. There was not enough discernment to do such a separating work through this long night. Hence, the servants were commanded in Matt. 13:29 not to gather up the tares yet, lest the wheat be damaged.
But in Matt. 13:30, Jesus Himself prophesied, “Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.” “The harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels.” Matt. 13:39. Just as Jesus prophesied, the end of the world, meaning the end of the gospel day or the evening light of the gospel day, brought restoration of the clear gospel message.
The harvest of Rev. 14:14-16 speaks of the reformation of the church of God of 1880. Truly the time was ripe, after long years of religious mixture of light and darkness amid much Protestant sect-making. It was time for an outpouring of the divine judgments of God. The cutting Word brought the people back to pure, Bible truth and called honest souls back to the one fold. Wheat and chaff were separated, and the wheat was gathered into His barn–His visible church.
Jesus did indeed thrust in His sickle and the earth was reaped with this move of God–a divine visitation, a divine work.
Sadly, with the passing of time, some ministers withheld the sickle, softening the message and sparing the flesh. Preaching lost its sharpness and spiritual fervor cooled down. The deathly half hour of silence ensued (Rev. 8:1). The whole earth was affected by the pall of religious deadness. What little wheat could be found, was choked by chaff and tares.
Then–oh glory!–it was 1980 and things began to stir again! It wasn’t long before “another angel came out of the temple” (Rev. 14:17)! And look, the same sickle is in the hand of this ministry! The last harvest before the return of Jesus Christ is now at hand!
The prior harvest in this evening time shows Jesus holding the sickle and the ministry crying to Him to thrust it in. In this final end-time harvest, we see the sickle in the ministry’s hand and Jesus (the angel who came out from the altar, for Jesus is the altar; it also representing His burden and authority) crying unto them to thrust it in. Oh, how this thunderous cry depicts Christ’s burden and authority! And how His burden is the one and selfsame burden of His ministry! How could it be otherwise? How can one separate Christ from His true ministry? Surely, this shows the oneness of Christ and His church, His church fulfilling His holy will. This same sickle, we might add, was handled by the apostles Peter and Paul.
At the loud urging of Jesus, this end-time ministry is presently thrusting in the sickle to gather the vine of the earth. The negative aspect is here portrayed. Real, Holy Ghost preaching separates those who are attached to the True Vine from those who are not.
This is a time of preliminary judgment, a very serious time. We are all on the verge of the Great White Throne Judgment Day. It is great mercy that God should visit the earth and raise up a ministry that will fearlessly cry aloud and spare not for the saving of souls. Oh, can you hear the loud cry of Jesus urging His preachers to get the Word to the people?!
In this age of religious drunkenness, it will take a strong message from heaven to wake up people to their true conditions. The great winepress (Word of God) is being trodden in love for souls, just as Isa. 63:1-4 depicts the ministry of Jesus, as He treads the winepress with fury, the day of vengeance against all sin and unrighteousness being in His heart.
The Word is to be preached so plainly that it puts the pressure on the people and squeezes out what is inside them. Better to know now than at the Last Great Day! Now there is time to amend our ways. Then there is not.
Honest souls rejoice in strong preaching and are preparing themselves as a bride for the coming of the bridegroom. Those who will not abide the truth (and there are many) have their guilt, as blood, pressed out of the winepress. According to our choice, the Word of God will either condemn or save us.