We come now to the end of this chapter and in doing so we will deal with both the sixth and seventh voices together. We do this because they are speaking of the same thing. The first voice declare the harvest has come and the other voice initiates the harvest. God first reveals His will and then executes His will. What He has revealed will come to pass. The time of the gathering has come and it will be time of rejoicing for those who have worked in the harvest but a time vengeance upon an unrepentant world. There are many things to wade through in this text.
The sixth voice declares, “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.” The first thing that we note is that the judgment of God will come out of the temple of God. We saw the temple of God in the end of the eleventh chapter where we saw the temple was opened in heaven and the Ark of the Covenant was seen, thus signifying the pending move into the Promised Land (Ps. 132:8 the ark is coming to rest on the earth); the pending move of the Armies of God. Here again the true temple in heaven, of which tabernacle and the earthly temple were patterned after, takes center stage. The temple of God is where the presence of the glory of God, the Holiest of All, is found. It was veiled until Christ took the veil away through His death, making the way to God available to all. It is now opened and ready to move forth. The kingdoms of this world will now become the kingdom of our God and His holiness will invade and prevail of the earth. It is prophesied by Isaiah, “the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea” (Isa. 11:9). One of the favorite prophetic utterances of Ezekiel was “They shall know that I am the Lord.” This will begin in the temple in heaven and end with Christ coming to the earth and “fill[ing] the whole earth…” (Dan. 2:35).
Secondly, the angel declares to the one that sat upon the cloud was to be the initiator of the harvest. The one that sat on the cloud is the Son of Man in verse fourteen. He had the sickle in His hand. This angel was to His herald for the harvest; the trumpeter of His harvest. He is the Lord of harvest and His coming will come with the first swing of the sickle in His hand. We are waiting for Him to act, to come, to harvest the fruits that belong to Him. Last of all the Son will come to the vineyard. All of Scriptures look for the time of His harvest. There is a time to sow and there is a time to reap. “For thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; The daughter of Babylon is like a threshingfloor, it is time to thresh her: yet a little while, and the time of her harvest shall come” (Jer. 51:33). Again, the words of Christ, “The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth” (Matt. 13:38-42). Thus we have the role of the angels as in our text. The angels first announce the harvest which is led by the Son of Man and then in the seventh voice the angels take an active role therein. Again, Joel prophesied when speaking of Armageddon, “Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe: come, get you down; for the press is full, the fats overflow; for their wickedness is great” (Joel 3: 13). The bottom line is that it is the harvest of the Son of Man. “Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this that is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength? I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save. Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the winefat? I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me: for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment” (Isa. 63:1-3). Make no mistake, ye sons of men; God expects a harvest from you. He expects fruit. He expects the fruit of repentance and afterwards the natural fruit of righteousness which follows. He expects good grapes and will judge the vines that produce evil grapes (Isa. 5). He has put such great care into the vineyard. He has put such great care into the planting of the corn. He has a right to expect a harvest. And that harvest will come. We must decide whether or not we will be part of the true vine which is Christ (John 15) or the vine of Sodom which is of the world. Either way, there will be a harvest and the sickle in the hand of our Lord will make the final cut. “For their rock is not as our Rock, even our enemies themselves being judges. For their vine is of the vine of Sodom, and of the fields of Gomorrah: their grapes are grapes of gall, their clusters are bitter: Their wine is the poison of dragons, and the cruel venom of asps. Is not this laid up in store with me, and sealed up among my treasures? To me belongeth vengeance and recompence; their foot shall slide in due time: for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste” (Deut. 32:31-35).
The inevitable conclusion of the voice of the herald is the actuality of the Lord of harvest: “And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped.” This is what will follow in the description of John in chapters 15 through 19. That is the hope of the redeemed and the dread of the unrepentant.
Thus we have the seventh and final voice which is the voice of the angels who according to Christ are the reapers. One by one the angels fall in line to do their part in the reaping of the earth. First, in the 18th verse, and another angel joins the cry of the first angel for the Son of Man to reap; then in the 19th verse another angel joins the reaping. “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.” We highlight first that the angel comes out from the altar. Presumably this is the same angel that attended the altar in the chapter 8 who took coals from the altar and incense and the prayer of the saints to cast them down to earth (8:3). This angel represents a portion of the judgment of God for it says that the angel had power over fire. It is said that when Christ comes He will come with flaming fire taking vengeance (II Thess. 1:8). The psalmist said this: “Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup” (Ps. 11:6). This is fitting to be said to come out from the altar. It is there that the fire of God’s justice burns.
That angel declares to the Son of Man again to thrust in His sickle but also goes on, with a loud thundering cry, to gather the grapes (the vine of the earth answer to the vine of Sodom as spoken of above). Thus we are getting ready to celebrate the feast of ingathering which prophetically looks to the second coming. There is a reason also given by this angel for the cry: “her grapes are fully ripe.” This is the equivalent of what God told Abraham about the inhabitants of the Promised Land in his day: “the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full” (Gen. 15:16). God will allow men to go on in their sin until they are fully ripe. He is longsuffering and not willing that any should perish. It was only when the thoughts of man’s heart was only evil continually that the flood came and so it will be in the end.
And so 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.” The ingathering of the harvest is leading the grapes of earth’s vine, which at this point is the tares that shall be burned or the bad grapes that shall be destroyed, to a place called the winepress of the wrath of God. It is there that the grapes will be crushed. It is there that the Son of Man will tread alone (Isa. 63:3). It is there that God shall crush those that reject and fight against Him (Lam. 1:11). Joel already placed this in the valley of Jehoshaphat outside of the city of Jerusalem. It is there that man will be gathered to fight their final battle and Christ will come to set up His kingdom. It is there that man will drink the fullness of the wrath of God that is the result of their own sin (Ps. 75:5). And thus we come to the final declaration: “And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs.” It was outside the gates of Jerusalem that Christ died and it will be there that He will return to claim His kingdom (Heb. 13:12). Here we have a graphic description the results of that battle. Christ will trod there alone and come back with His garments died red with blood (Isa. 63:1-3). Here it gets graphic, it is not wine that comes out of the winepress but blood. The blood of that valley will go as high as the horses bridle. When He comes on His white horse He will be wearing vesture dripped in blood upon His return (Rev. 19:13). Blood will be spread at between 160 to 200 miles surrounding the center of the battle. It will be the bloodiest battle in the history of man. So now we are ready to discuss this harvest, the coming of the Son of Man.