Life-Study of Revelationby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
This message includes two main subjects found in Revelation 14: the harvest (vv. 14-16) and the great winepress (vv. 17-20). The harvest will be the reaping of God’s people, and the winepress will be the reaping of the evil-doers. There are three peoples on the earth today—the Jews, the believers, and the unbelievers. The Jews and the believers are God’s people, but the unbelievers mainly are evildoers. The sealing of the Jewish remnant was covered in the vision in 7:1-8. Thus, in chapter fourteen there is no mention of the Jews, but only of the believers and the unbelievers. The firstfruit, those who ripen earlier, will be taken to Mount Zion in the heavens before the great tribulation. However, the majority of God’s crop, that is, the majority of the believers, will still be on earth after the rapture of the firstfruit and will eventually become the harvest.
Verses 15 and 16 say, “And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to Him who sat on the cloud, Send forth Your sickle and reap, for the hour to reap has come, because the harvest of the earth is ripe. And He who sat on the cloud thrust His sickle over the earth, and the earth was reaped.” The harvest of the earth is God’s people on earth, the believers in Christ (1 Cor. 3:9). At His first coming to the earth, the Lord sowed Himself into His believers (Matt. 13:3-8, 24). All the believers since that time who have received Him as the seed of life have become the crop of God on earth. Those who ripen first will be reaped as the firstfruit to God before the great tribulation, as indicated in verses 1 through 5. The majority will ripen with the help of the sufferings in the great tribulation and will be reaped near the end of the tribulation. Hence, the reaping mentioned in verse 16 will be the rapture of the majority of the believers who will be left on the earth to pass through most of the great tribulation, because this reaping will transpire after Antichrist forces people to worship him and his image (v. 9).
The reaping of the crop depends upon its ripeness. Those who ripen earlier will be the firstfruit, and the majority who ripen later will be the harvest. In Matthew 13:39 the Lord Jesus indicated that the crop will be harvested at the completion of this age (Gk.). We have not yet reached the completion of the age; this age is still continuing. At the completion of the age, the field of God will be reaped. Before the time of this reaping, the firstfruit will be ripened and raptured.
According to the type in the Old Testament, the firstfruit was reaped and brought into the temple of God for God’s enjoyment (Exo. 23:19). But when the harvest, the majority of the crop, was reaped, it was taken into the barn, between the field and the farmhouse. By this we see that the firstfruit will be taken to God’s house—to Mount Zion in the heavens—and that the harvest will be taken to the air. Not long after the firstfruit is taken to the Lord Jesus in the third heaven, He will leave the heavens and descend to the air, where He will remain for a period of time. According to the prophecy in 1 Thessalonians 4, the harvest will be raptured to the air. Most Christians merely understand the rapture in a general way according to 1 Thessalonians 4. They do not see anything regarding the rapture of the man-child and of the firstfruit.
Revelation 14 covers two kinds of raptures, the rapture of the firstfruit and the rapture of the harvest. The picture in typology portrays this very vividly. In ancient times the early wheat, the firstfruit, was reaped first, and the harvest was reaped later. As everybody knows, a picture is better than a thousand words. In this picture there is no ambiguity and no ground for argument. We simply must take the pure word according to the picture of the firstfruit and the harvest. We are awaiting the rapture of the firstfruit. Those who do not share in this will probably be included in the harvest.
According to chapter fourteen, the rapture of the harvest will take place after Antichrist’s persecution of religion. After the rapture of the firstfruit, the beast, Antichrist, will compel people to worship him and his image. He will also persecute the believers. This will be the great tribulation. The rapture of the firstfruit will be prior to the great tribulation, whereas the rapture of the harvest will be toward the end of the great tribulation. Hence, all the saints included in the rapture of the harvest must pass through the greater part of the great tribulation.
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