In our study of Revelation chapter fourteen, John gives us an overview of the coming harvest of the earth. This harvest is when those that have rejected God's grace and mercy receive their just punishment. This chapter gives us the big picture and the next six chapters will fill in more of the details.
Then I looked, and there before me was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father's name written on their foreheads.
In chapter 13, we were introduced to the unholy trinity and saw that they were given power for a period of time. Here, we see an end to that period of time as Jesus shows up on Mount Zion. With Him are the 144,000 Jewish witnesses that we were introduced to in chapter 7.
And I heard a sound from heaven like the roar of rushing waters and like a loud peal of thunder. The sound I heard was like that of harpists playing their harps.
The great celebration is starting as the redeemed know that Jesus is about to deal with the devil and the beasts. It was loud but it was also beautiful as they worship God.
And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders. No one could learn the song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth.
The witnesses sang a song that God had given only to them as they were unique in the mission that He had given them. There are those that have misinterpreted this verse and twist it to say that there will only be 144,000 people saved but that is not what it is saying at all.
These are those who did not defile themselves with women, for they kept themselves pure. They follow the Lamb everywhere he goes. They were purchased from among men and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb. No lie was found in their mouths; they are blameless.
During this time of Great Tribulation, the sexual immorality will be so great but these witnesses remained pure. The firstfruits were the choicest part of the harvest as they were picked at just the right time. These men were totally sold out to Jesus and were found blameless because their actions matched their faith in Jesus Christ.
Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth - to every nation, tribe, language and people.
Now, we are introduced to the first angel of this chapter and this angel is to share the gospel with all of the earth. There have been many people who have said that Jesus would not come back today because not all peoples have heard the gospel. But, at the appointed time, all people will here as this angel will fly over all the earth and proclaim the gospel. It could happen today!
He said in a loud voice, 'Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and the springs of water.'
The message that the angel shares with those that are left on the earth is a simple call to worship the Creator. That is why we were created and it is a call to get back to the way it was before sin entered the world.
A second angel followed and said, 'Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great, which made all the nations drink the maddening wine of her adulteries.'
We are introduced to the second angel that is flying over the earth. This angel is announcing the end of the world system of idolatry that was set up by the beasts and Satan.
A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice: 'If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives his mark on the forehead or on the hand, he, too, will drink of the wine of God's fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath.'
The third angel tells of the punishment for those that worship the beast. All of God's fury is going to be poured out on them as well. This is a final warning to the people as they have heard the gospel.
'He will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or for anyone who receives the mark of his name.'
The third angel goes into detail about the coming punishment for those that worship the beast. Many don't accept the fact that there is a hell and it is not a place where you want to be. Many even think that it is a place where the party and sins that you lived in on the earth just continue but, here, we see the reality which is unending torment.
This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God's commandments and remain faithful to Jesus.
This verse is talking about the Christians that are left on the earth at this time which are the 144,000 Jewish witnesses. They will need to stand strong through this awful period.
Then I heard a voice from heaven say, 'Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.' 'Yes,' says the Spirit, 'they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them.'
Happy is the man who dies and knows Christ? Yes, and they get to rest from the struggles with sin and Satan. Their works will be judged on the last day when they will receive their rewards. (see Revelation 20)
I looked, and there before me was a white cloud, and seated on the cloud was one 'like a son of man' with a crown of gold on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand.
The whole earth has been warned and now it is time for the judgment. John saw Jesus returning on a cloud just as the prophet Daniel had seen (in Daniel 7:13). Jesus is carrying a sickle which is a sharp tool that was used to cut down standing grain for the harvest.
Then another angel came out of the temple and called in a loud voice to him who was sitting on the cloud, 'Take your sickle and reap, because the time to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.'
Another angel came from the temple in heaven to tell Jesus it is time for the harvest. That is what Jesus was talking about when He said that He did not know the day and the hour (see Matthew 24:36). Even today, there are many people trying to say that they know the day but, when those predictions fail, we see the truth in the Word of God.
So he who was seated on the cloud swung his sickle over the earth, and the earth was harvested.
The first step in the harvest is to separate the fruit from the rest of the plant such as the roots or the vine. Jesus begins this harvest with one swing of His sickle over the entire earth.
Another angel came out of the temple in heaven, and he too had a sharp sickle. Still another angel, who had charge of the fire, came from the altar and called in a loud voice to him who had the sharp sickle, 'Take your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of grapes from the earth's vine, because its grapes are ripe.'
Now, we see the final two angels of the harvest show up and the first is to separate the grapes from the vine. We have to remember that this is the harvest of the wicked and they are not gathered for eternal life but for punishment as we will see.
The angel swung his sickle on the earth, gathered its grapes and threw them into the great winepress of God's wrath. They were trampled in the winepress outside the city, and blood flowed out of the press, rising as high as the horses' bridles for a distance of 1,600 stadia.
The people are gathered at a place called Armageddon to receive the wrath of God. The magnitude is staggering as we see that blood flowed at a depth of about six feet for a distance of about 180 miles. That distance is the distance from Dan to Beersheba.