Tag: POST TRIBULATION

RAPTURE 31: PREPARING TO STICK AROUND

I’ve been publishing excerpts from my book on the rapture* I’ve covered such subjects as the wrath of God, the testimony of John in Revelation, and what Paul did and didn’t say about the subject. Here is the final out-take…

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PREPARING TO STICK AROUND

The obvious consequence of the thesis of my book, if it’s correct, is that at some time in the future Christians still alive will have the privilege and the blessing to represent their Lord, to a world literally sliding into the abyss. They will witness some of the most incredible events of history. They will plainly see God-and the devil- at work. They will see first-hand the fulfillment of the words of God, and become so assured of its truthfulness that their courage and sense of hope in eternity will grow in leaps and bounds. They will have the honor and blessing of representing the Savior who has represented them in the world and in front of the Father. Their faith and deeds in those times will give them an all the greater resurrection, and if they remain alive until the coming of Jesus, they will never taste death but will be changed to immortality in an instant.

On the other hand, of course, they will likely be faced with challenges that we in the modern West have never had to consider facing, while many throughout history and in the modern world have. Their faith will be tested severely, as will their will to endure. They will be confronted with almost overpowering deception. They will be forced to take the word of God at face value and to trust like they’ve never trusted before.

Will the events of Revelation overtake the entire world? Its testimony is that they will. However, there’s some evidence that some of the world will for a time resist the trend of governance as dictated by Antichrist. It’s likely that there will be nowhere to hide for long for anyone who may think to do so, except perhaps in some very remote part of the earth not under the gaze of satellite and drone technology, or prying eyes loyal to the kingdom of the beast. In this case, the one hiding would be failing to be the witness to a dying world that he or she has been called to be at such a time.

For those who are new to the subject and who perhaps aren’t sure where they stand with God, and to those who don’t know what’s required of them in order to escape the wrath of God, there’s no doubt that the most important thing to know and to react to is the gospel of Jesus Christ. It might be of value to even those of us who call ourselves Christians to refresh our minds on the gospel. So here it is for all of us.

WHAT IS THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST?

The Greek word translated “gospel” in the New Testament means “good news”, and in the context of the Bible the gospel is the “good news” about Jesus Christ. But what exactly was and is that good news, and what does it mean for us? In answer to the second question first, read what Jesus said:

“I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life (John 5:24).

The Bible speaks of a love-gift from God. That gift is forgiveness of all our sin, and eternal life. The gift-if we accept it for ourselves-takes us from being subjects of God’s wrath into eternal life, even though for now we are in mortal bodies. Here is Paul’s first-century definition of the gospel of Jesus Christ, which he had given his life to, despite all opposition and threats, having once been a persecutor of Christians:

Now brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time….Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also…(1 Corinthians 15: 1 – 8).

The gospel is here spelled out for you. Accept it, believe it, pray it, confess it, and live it.

WHAT WOULD I DO?

I’ve been thinking about what I would do were I to see or hear of a man ascending the temple mount in Jerusalem and claiming to be God or his representative. What could I do? I have to eat. I have to support my family. I can’t just run off somewhere and hide-I wouldn’t know where to go anyway. The response to the knowledge that I was in the end times proper would have to be a predominantly spiritual one.

My first and most important reaction would be prayer: deep, serious, sincere and constant prayer for myself and my loved ones, and for all those living through the same trial. Secondly, praise: praise because God is God, and because I would be seeing my Lord very soon.

Then I would immerse myself in the Word of God. I don’t just mean the prophesies, I mean all of the Word, since it’s all there for our spiritual well-being and growth. It’s there to show us what Truth is and what is true. It’s there for our encouragement and for our strengthening against opposition. The most intense warning of Jesus Christ to his disciples during the Olivet Discourse was of end-times deception, and as Paul also warned of an intense deception which will affect the entire unbelieving world, it will be imperative for believers alive at that time to know the truth of God’s word, so that they can recognize deception and not be fooled by it, as the rest of the world will be. In fact, it’s clear to the Bible believer even now that the majority of people in our world are blinded to the truth, and that manipulators and liars and schemers already hold sway over the masses.

Godliness is the exact opposite of what our present-day godless world is working to normalize. While we’re saved from our sins by faith, we need to remember that:

…without holiness no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14).

Holiness is what our holy God is looking for in us, along with humility towards Him, and sin is what he’s going to judge the world for. Having an attitude of godliness is vital in our outlook on life, both now and in that future time when we see the signs of coming judgment. We are to be set apart, and certainly to not join in with what the world is already accepting as a normal way of life. We will then increasingly stand out from the crowd, which is what our God expects of us (2 Corinthians 6:17). We’re to make a point of not following the godless flow of the unbelieving world.

PERSECUTION.

If the time comes for us that we have to face serious persecution, we need to remind ourselves that countless believers through history have already had to deal with the same thing. Even in our present world, there are entire nations which not only suppress Christian witness and worship, but physically persecute believers. It’s nothing new. And of course, we need to remember the sacrifice of Jesus himself, who died at the hands of men who thought they were doing a good thing. He said:

Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also” (John 15:20).

However, he also said:

“I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more” (Luke 12:4).

Persecution is not the wrath of God against his own people, it’s the wrath of man and of the devil, neither of which can do any lasting harm to us. Our God is going to give us eternal life, and any persecutors, if they don’t repent, are going to be judged. We really are in a win-win relationship with our God, thanks to his Son Jesus Christ.

Jesus never promised us a trouble-free life, but he did tell us to patiently endure if the need arises. He told the church in Smyrna, about to suffer persecution:

Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown”(Revelation 2:10).

I would say that in that time of tribulation, and for who knows how long before it (and probably even now in many circles) it will be wise to not fully trust anyone, except the Lord himself. There will be a large measure of betrayal and broken trust when the world is in the mood to follow Antichrist and his very own brand of political correctness, which, I personally suspect, is already at work. Do not fully trust your denomination or spiritual leaders: your first priority when it comes to truth is the Bible. Read it for yourself, while praying for God’s guidance-don’t just let someone else interpret it for you.

Finally, remember that for the believer in Jesus Christ the future is unfailingly bright and eternal. We cannot lose-we can only win, and enjoy perpetual bliss of fellowship with our Creator and his Son, and with each other. There is no lasting loss to come-only gain.

*ALL LEFT BEHIND: THE CASE AGAINST A PRE-TRIBULATION RAPTURE, by Nicholas Fisher. Available in paperback or electronic form.

RAPTURE 30: ONE TAKEN, THE OTHER LEFT

It’s a common view, as it once was mine, that when Jesus said, speaking of the future time of distress that, “one will be taken, the other will be left” (Matthew 24:40-41) he was speaking of a surprise rapture at some time before the tribulation. The one taken would be the raptured believer: the one left behind would be the one….left behind.

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This idea first leads me to ask what this says about “the saints who obey God’s commandments and remain faithful to Jesus” during the tribulation (Revelation 14:12)? As some of those “left behind” in a pre-tribulation rapture are going to be believers in Jesus Christ, and as I discussed previously, will be saved by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ just as we are now Revelation 12:11) why is it that we pre-tribulation believers are blessed with escape from the perceived outpouring of the wrath of God on the earth, while those future saints will have to live through it? Are they to be subjects of God’s judgment, as it is claimed we all would be if there were no early rapture? The claim that God would not pour out his wrath upon his Church rings a little hollow if we realize that by this standard all those saints saved by grace through faith and by the blood of the lamb during the tribulation will suffer the wrath of God on the earth! Are they appointed to wrath? Are they “left behind” because they just didn’t make the grade, so God is going to punish them for it?

A far more logical explanation is that we will all be treated equally; that all believers will be called upon to be witnesses to Christ during the tribulation, and that, as I wrote in early excerpts of my book, the wrath of God which we believers will all escape is eternal judgment, not temporal earthly suffering. Refer again to the millions of believers who have suffered persecution around the world through the centuries, and continue to do so: did they incur the wrath of God? No, it was the wrath of man and the devil.  

Verses about one being taken and the other left, while possibly speaking partially of the rapture- are far more likely to be warnings of the judgment of the godless. In his Olivet Discourse Jesus gave the example of a wicked servant who, on the realization that his master is staying away for a long time, begins to beat his servants and to get drunk. In response to the servant’s actions, Jesus said:

The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites… “ (Matthew 24:48-51).

The wicked servant, who did not expect his master to return, was the one being judged. He was not aware of the day or the hour of his master’s return, and was taken by surprise. He was not raptured: he was judged.

Before saying that one would be taken and the other left, Jesus had just given the example of Noah and the Flood to show that it was necessary for his followers to be ready for his coming (verses 38-42). The two subjects are related. Jesus, speaking of those destroyed in the Flood, said:

…and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man” (verse 39).

The wicked were “taken away” by the waters in the judgment of the Flood, said Jesus. It was Noah and his family who were left behind. The wicked servant was punished when his master suddenly returned. Therefore, the phrase “one will be taken, the other left” is not speaking of a pre-tribulation rapture. Instead it’s speaking of the time of wrath and judgment, which will occur at the end of the tribulation.

RAPTURE 29: LOT, ENOCH AND DANIEL

Is Lot’s escape from Sodom really evidence for a pre-tribulation rapture? Was Enoch taken to heaven so that he could escape the Flood? Does Daniel’s absence from the furnace scene support the same idea?

Subjects covered lately in this series have been a little on the fringe of the whole matter of the timing of the rapture, but considering that  some ardent preachers of a pre-tribulation rapture  borrow every corner of Scripture to try to prove their point, it’s necessary to counter some of those weak arguments, and bring some reality to light.

I want to reiterate that I am not a-millennial in my beliefs, and I know that the rapture is a real Scriptural event. However, having been misled on the subject for twenty-eight years, I wish now to help others see what the future really holds, and not allow them to stick their heads in the sand of faulty interpretation. This post is excerpt number 29 from my book*. There’s a lot of meat in earlier posts. Just search “rapture” or try search terms such as “rapture wrath”, or “rapture bride”.

LOT’S ESCAPE FROM SODOM

Jesus’ reference to Lot’s escape from the destruction of Sodom in Luke chapter 17 is used to support a pre-tribulation rapture. However, Lot left Sodom on his own two feet, not on angels’ wings, knowing it was going to be judged that very day, because he had been told so. The ungodly were living out their usual daily lives when destruction from the Lord took them by surprise (verses 28-29). This is the point Jesus is making: not that believers were taken away without knowing that they would be or when they would be, but that the wicked were taken by surprise and were not expecting judgment. The wicked were appointed to wrath instead of salvation (1 Thessalonians 1:10).

Noah entered the ark on the same day the Flood came (Genesis 7:11-13) and not days or years before. Lot escaped from Sodom on the same day judgment came. They did not leave the earth. Do we really want to take these events as templates for the rapture? If so, at best we would have to take the “mid-Tribulation” position, because Jesus and Paul said that the “time of trouble”-equivalent to the Flood and the destruction of Sodom-will begin when Antichrist enters the temple, and not before (Matthew 24:17 and 21). This will be only three and a half years before Christ’s visible return, not seven or eight or ten years before it. Even in the words of pre-tribulation “experts” the first half of the “seven years” will be a time of apparent peace and prosperity for the world: not the day of judgment, wrath and trouble. Antichrist’s power lasts only for forty-two months (Revelation 13:5). If Noah’s escape and Lot’s escape prefigure the rapture itself then the rapture would have to be on the very day Antichrist is revealed on the temple mount-at the earliest.

Noah’s deliverance does not work as a model for a rapture years before the time of trouble: neither does Lot’s. It’s intended to demonstrate that the unbelieving world will not be ready for the Day of the Lord while true believers will. Paul put it this way:

…for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying ‘Peace and safety,’ destruction will come on them suddenly…But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief…” (1 Thessalonians 5:1-4).

ENOCH

Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away” (Genesis 5:24).

Enoch’s disappearance could certainly be considered a type of rapture. It’s very reminiscent of Paul’s description of our being changed from mortal to immortal, in his letters to the Thessalonians and the Corinthians. However, some pre-tribulation teachers go beyond what this brief account actually says, by claiming that Enoch’s “rapture” is symbolic of a pre-tribulation rapture of the Church. They assert that Enoch was taken to heaven to escape the Flood, and in the same way, the Church will be taken to heaven to escape the tribulation. Is there a statement in the Bible plainly connecting these two events-Enoch’s “rapture” and the rapture of the Church?

This concept gives the impression that Enoch was raptured a day or so, or a year or so, before the Flood, so that he wouldn’t have to suffer it. After all, the Church, it is said, will be raptured days or perhaps a few years before the “seven-year” tribulation begins. In fact, when you do the math, you find that Enoch was taken by God to heaven nine hundred and sixty-nine years before the Flood (Genesis 5:21-29 and 7:6). We’re told in Genesis that Enoch “walked with God”. This is why the Lord took him. We’re not told in scripture that Enoch was taken to spare him from the Flood almost a thousand years later, but because he walked with God. Being so close to God, would he not have escaped the Flood, along with “righteous” Noah, were he around for that long? There was no need for him to be raptured from the Flood!.

DANIEL

One prominent denomination teaches that Daniel had his own “rapture” which is intended to model the pre-tribulation rapture. Into the fiery furnace went Shadrach, Meshach and Abednigo, in Daniel chapter 3, for not worshiping Nebuchadnezzar’s idol. But where was Daniel? He was not there at all. The fearless three had to endure the trials and tribulations of Nebuchadnezzar’s furnace, while Daniel was nowhere to be seen. His absence is not only a “mystery”, but is considered a type of the pre-tribulation rapture.

Of course, there’s no statement to that effect anywhere in scripture, not even in Paul’s discussion of the rapture in the New Testament, when he shares his “mystery”. It’s an idea which is not provable, but which tickles the fancy of those who look for support for a pre-tribulation rapture in every corner of the Bible and beyond. There’s no consideration of the possibility that Daniel was, for example, away on business for the king. It was a very big kingdom. And why were the other three not raptured also, considering they were men of great faith, whose faith would put most of us to shame?

Not only is there no statement in scripture that Daniel’s absence models a pre-tribulation escape from the events of Revelation, but when we read on in the book of Daniel we find that he’s back in the flesh, on earth, and undergoing his own “fiery trial”. Chapter six sees Daniel falsely accused and set up by the king’s counselors. He’s then thrown into the lion’s den, where he is miraculously protected, but nonetheless very present on the earth for the ordeal.

*ALL LEFT BEHIND:THE CASE AGAINST A PRE-TRIBULATION RAPTURE, by Nick Fisher, on Amazon in paperback and e-book.

RAPTURE 28: NOAH and the FLOOD

The experiences of several Old Testament characters are frequently used and confused as evidence for an early rapture of the Church, as they once were by me. Today I will consider Noah, and next time Lot, Enoch and Daniel..

NOAH AND THE FLOOD

In his “Olivet Discourse” Jesus, after describing the destruction of the temple and the times of distress before his return, gives the example of Noah’s escape from the Flood as a way of telling his people that they need to be ready for his coming (Matthew 24:36-39). This reference is seen by some believers, as it once was by me, as a sure evidence of pre-tribulation rapture: Noah escaped the Flood, so we’ll escape the tribulation. Others, including at least one prominent modern-day denomination, teach that Noah’s experience in the ark represents Jews being preserved through the tribulation on earth, whereas Lot’s escape from Sodom is a type of the rapture of the Church before tribulation.

If Noah’s escape from the Flood in the ark speaks of Jews living through the tribulation, we might ask why the Church is not in this allegory, since the only other characters in the account-even before the Flood began-are those who drown outside the ark. Only eight souls survived the Flood, and they were all in the ark. And while it’s a fact that Noah and his family were safe inside the ark, Jesus made it clear that those living in and around last-days Jerusalem, not to mention the world, will undergo terrible trials. That’s why the tribulation is known as the time of “Jacob’s Trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7).

Jesus said that upon the revealing of Antichrist in Jerusalem people there are to flee the city, because “…there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now-and never to be equaled again” (Matthew 24:21). Zechariah said that in that time Jerusalem will be invaded and half the city will be taken into captivity (Zechariah 14:2).

The other popular theory, that the escape of Noah is a type of pre-tribulation rapture, is equally dubious. Righteous Noah and his family escaped the Flood while everyone else, who had no idea what was going to happen, drowned. Therefore, the Noahic-rapture theory says, Jesus was obviously alluding to the rapture, modeled by the ark, in which all of Christ’s people-the Church-will be whisked away to safety before the seven-year tribulation begins. This is another indicator, they say, of the doctrine of “imminence”.

However, Noah did know the flood was coming. Of course-he was building an ark, he must have known. But it wasn’t just a vague idea that a deluge was coming, he knew exactly when it was coming seven days before it came, because God told him:

Go into the ark, you and your whole family… Seven days from now I will send rain over the earth for forty days and forty nights…” (Genesis 7:1 and 4).

The seven days of warning God gave Noah could be seen by some as symbolic of the “seven years” of tribulation, but the Flood began at the end of those seven days, not at the beginning, and most pre-tribulation believers don’t see the distress and judgments of the tribulation as arriving at the end of the “seven years” of tribulation. Neither will these judgments last for forty years as the rains lasted for forty days in the case of the Flood. Then, after the Flood Noah and his family came back to earth with a bump on the mountains of Ararat, lived out their lives as mortals and died, which doesn’t speak well of a change to immortality for the Church in the Flood/rapture scenario.

Since Noah was clearly warned seven days before the beginning of the Flood, Jesus did not intend to use the example of Noah’s escape from the Flood to be an example of a surprise rapture. It was the unbelieving world which was not ready for the Flood. That was the point Jesus was making in the Olivet Discourse:

“…and they knew nothing about what would happen until the Flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man” (verse 39).

The flood did not begin until the seventh day after God’s specific timed warning to Noah. While Noah was told by God seven days before the flood to go into the ark, those seven days were spent loading it up with animals-which was probably the intention of God’s command. Noah and his family did not actually enter the ark to stay until the seventh day-the very day the floodwaters began to arrive:

…and the floodgates of the heavens were opened… “On that very day Noah and his sons…together with his wife and the wives of his three sons, entered the ark” (Genesis 7:11-13).

So using the seven days of God’s initial command to enter the ark, during which the animal “kinds” of the world were boarding, doesn’t work as a model or a type for a surprise pre-tribulation rapture. The wrath of God in the form of the world-wide flood began at the end of the period of seven days, not at its beginning, so using the seven-day period as a type would only serve to further confirm the wrath of God falling at the end of the seven-year period and not all the way through it.

The entrance of Noah into the ark was at the end of the seven day period, not at its beginning. No-one “left behind” and outside the ark for that seven day period or after it resembles a “saint” of the tribulation period: everyone outside the ark perished. Noah was not taken into heaven to escape the Flood, he remained on the earth and died at his allotted time.

The point of Jesus’s example of Noah and the Flood was to let his people know that they must be ready spiritually, because the unbelieving, wicked world will not be. In the days before the Flood, said Jesus, people were eating, drinking, marrying…in other words, living out their lives normally, with no expectation of or interest in what was to come:

…up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man” (Matthew 24:36-39).

The people who “knew nothing” were the unsaved-not the people of God. Jesus’ emphasis was readiness for the coming of the Son of Man, not readiness for a sudden surprise escape, because Noah knew exactly when his escape would be. It was to be a spiritual readiness of obedience in contrast to living in blind wickedness like the rest of the world. What was coming for hearers of the Olivet Discourse to be ready for was judgment, not rapture. Significantly, the coming of the Son of Man which Jesus had just described in Matthew’s gospel, to which he was relating the story of Noah, was his entrance into the sky from heaven in power and glory, not a secret coming (verse 30-31).

Those who tell us that Noah represents the remnant of Jews living through the tribulation also miss the fact that Noah knew the Flood was coming, seven days before it came. They tell us that the majority of the Olivet Discourse is intended for the Jews who they say will live through all those events. If this is the case, why did Jesus tell the very same people, living in that time, “You do not know the day or the hour”? Noah knew exactly when the Flood was coming:

Go into the ark, you and your whole family…Seven days from now I will send rain over the earth for forty days and forty nights…” (Genesis 7:1 and 4).

Noah was actually the father of all of us-Jew and Gentile. He didn’t live under the Law, he wasn’t circumcised, and he didn’t dwell in Israel after the Flood. There’s no scripture telling us plainly that Noah represents Jews living through the tribulation or escaping the tri-bulation: these are impositions to prove a theory. When Jesus did speak of Noah in relation to tribulation events, it was clearly to stress the importance of spiritual readiness rather than being lost in judgment with the unsaved: not to illustrate the plight of Jews at that future time.

RAPTURE 27: MORE CLUES FROM THE PARABLES

Among the parables of Jesus are some which relate to his future return from heaven. Though they aren’t detailed prophesies of end times events by any means, they do contain some important principles and interesting relevance which we may be able to use as guidance on the timing of the rapture, particularly when we compare them with other more specific prophecies…

THE PARABLE OF THE WEEDS

Jesus told a parable of a farmer growing a field of wheat. The parable is found in Matthew’s gospel, chapter 13. While the farmer was asleep said Jesus, his enemy threw some tare seeds -destructive weeds-into his wheat field. The tares began to grow among the wheat, but when one of the man’s servants asked if they should pull up the weeds, the farmer answered that they should not, because they may also pull up the wheat by mistake. Having spent some time working on wheat fields myself, I know that some weeds can be almost indistinguishable from the wheat, until they’re fully formed.

The farmer told his servants to let both plants grow together until the harvest. At that time, when the wheat is harvested, the tares should also be pulled up and burned (Matthew 13:24-30).

Jesus, interpreting the parable plainly for his disciples, said that the man who sowed good seed represents the Son of Man: Jesus Christ. The field represents the world, and the good seed stands for the rightful children of the kingdom. The tares speak of the children of the devil, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil himself (13:36-39). Such images are fairly easy for the Bible-reading Christian to understand, but it’s the following verses which become more relevant to us in this study. Jesus explains:

The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels” (verse 39).

This statement has some similarities with Jesus’ words in the Olivet Discourse, in which he tells us that when he returns in power and glory for all the world to see:

…he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other” (Matthew 24:31).

Jesus’ return is “the end of the age”. He will send out his angels to gather his elect, just as the angels in the parable gather the harvest.

Continuing with the parable, Jesus then goes on to tell his disciples that as the weeds are pulled up and burned, so the angels will remove all wrongdoers-everything that causes sin and all who do evil-and throw them into “the fiery furnace”. The final result is that the righteous will inherit the kingdom:

Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father” (13:43).

Notice that according to the farmer’s instructions-the farmer who represents “the Son of Man”, at harvest-time both the wheat and the weeds are dealt with. The wheat is not gathered before the tares, but the farmer tells his servants, the angels, to “first” collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned, and then-secondly-to gather the wheat into his barn (verse 31). Notice also that the sequence: tares first, wheat second, is repeated in Jesus’ own interpretation of the parable (verses 41-43).

Is there a link between the harvest in this parable, and that of the harvest of the earth in Revelation? In chapter 14 of Revelation we read of the “harvest of the earth”, in which “one like a son of man with a crown of gold on his head”, seated on a cloud, is told it’s time to harvest the earth:

Take your sickle and reap, because the time to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is ripe” (Revelation 14:15b).

This end-time harvest is reaped some time after a warning not to accept the mark of the beast, and after a call for the saints “who remain faithful to Jesus” to patiently endure (14:12). It’s also after the fall of Mystery Babylon (14:8). Mystery Babylon is destroyed by the beast and his kingdom, by the design of God (Revelation 17:16-17) giving us yet another example of how God uses one enemy of his to destroy or punish another. The Harlot’s destruction occurs during the last three and a half years of the commonly expected seven-year period, as noted before, and therefore after Antichrist has been revealed to the world.

As the harvest of the earth occurs after the fall of Mystery Babylon, it must be at or very near the return of Jesus, because the fall of “the great prostitute”, noted again in chapter 19, is celebrated immediately before the “bride” is said to have made herself ready and Christ rides out of heaven in power and glory (Revelation 19:1-3).

The harvest of the earth in Revelation chapter 14 is closely followed by or contemporaneous with the gathering of grapes and their destruction in “the winepress of God’s wrath”. So in this case, grapes are representing the unsaved wicked of the world. More specifically in the case of the grapes, Revelation seems to speak particularly of the destruction of the forces of the beast at Armageddon. This passage in Revelation is an echo of one found in Joel’s prophesy of the day of the Lord:

Let the nations be roused, let them advance into the Valley of Jehoshophat, for there I will sit to judge all the nations on every side. 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!” (Joel 3:12-13).

The two products of harvest-the wheat and the grapes of wickedness-are being reaped simultaneously in Joel’s prophecy. They’re both being gathered at the time of the nations’ advance into the valley-not years apart or on different occasions. They’re seen together in the passage. The only possible difference in the timing of these two is that when the sickle is swung the grapes of wrath are already gathered, because the command is to trample them, not to gather them.

The fact of the harvest being an end-time event, in which the righteous and the wicked are judged at more or less the same time at the end of the age, is clear. The harvest of the earth-of the righteous-is again after and not before the mark of the beast. Also notice the fall of Mystery Babylon. This is an end of tribulation harvest.