by Don Koenig
The previous chapter was informational about events that happen on earth when Satan is cast out of heaven. This chapter gives us information about the great harvest of souls on earth that happens as a result of the great tribulation that Satan brings on the earth.
1 And I saw, and behold, the Lamb standing on the mount Zion, and with him a hundred and forty and four thousand, having his name, and the name of his Father, written on their foreheads.
Some say that this 144,000 are different people than the 144,000 in chapter seven but that view is not founded on any scripture and is not logical. This is the same 144,000 that were sealed on the earth. They have the name of the Father and the Son written on their foreheads because they descended from Israel and are disciples of Jesus. The Lamb stands on Mount Zion with the 144,000 brothers who walk in His footsteps. Jesus is in the Holy City called Mt Zion (Psa 48:2). There is a Mt Zion on earth as well but the next passage makes it clear that they are in the Holy City. These brethren may have been killed or God may have supernaturally removed them from the earth. Scripture gives no answer as to the fate of their mortal bodies.
2 And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and the voice which I heard was as the voice of harpers harping with their harps:
3 and they sing as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four living creatures and the elders: and no man could learn the song save the hundred and forty and four thousand, even they that had been purchased out of the earth.
4 These are they that were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they that follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were purchased from among men, to be the firstfruits unto God and unto the Lamb.
5 And in their mouth was found no lie: they are without blemish.
John hears the voice of Jesus as the sound of “many waters”. The voice of great thunder is probably the Father’s voice pronouncing judgment on the earth. The thunder could contain the seven thunders that we were told about in chapter ten, but what the thunders contain is sealed until the appointed time. John also hears heavenly background music for the song that the 144,000 sing before all the host of heaven. Only the 144,000 purchased Jewish brethren who have been redeemed by the blood of Christ can learn this new song. These men have followed in the footsteps of Jesus for 3 ½ years of ministry on earth. They have proclaimed the gospel of the kingdom as a witness to the whole world. These are called first fruits unto God and the Lamb, so before these men arrive in the Holy City the rewards could not have been given to the Church and the marriage could not have taken place in heaven.
These men have never married and God sees them as being spiritually pure. These 144,000 are the best of the crop and they are hand picked before the general harvest occurs. These brethren go with Jesus wherever He goes, so they are the same ones standing with Jesus when He gathers the nations before Him at the sheep and goat judgment described in Matthew chapter 25. How the survivors of the tribulation treated these 144,000 Jewish brethren will determine whether they will go into the kingdom on earth or be gathered to be crushed in the great winepress of God.
6 And I saw another angel flying in mid heaven, having eternal good tidings to proclaim unto them that dwell on the earth, and unto every nation and tribe and tongue and people;
Before the angels carry out the judgment of Father God, God will send an angel to fly in the atmosphere and give the everlasting good news to all that dwell on the earth. No one on the earth will have any excuse for not hearing the message of salvation in Jesus Christ.
7 and he saith with a great voice, Fear God, and give him glory; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made the heaven and the earth and sea and fountains of waters.
This angel flying in the atmosphere has a great voice and he will be heard! The message of the angel will be that the hour of God’s judgment has come. In other words, it is time to pick sides: Either fear God and worship the God that actually made the heaven and the earth, or fear and worship the Beast on earth who claims to be God.
8 And another, a second angel, followed, saying, Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, that hath made all the nations to drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.
After the message of salvation is given by an angel flying in the atmosphere, a second angel will come to tell the world that Babylon (the Beast counterfeit Kingdom of God) has been judged by God and is now about to experience God’s wrath. Much more will be told about the fall of Babylon in chapter18. This is only the announcement of her coming judgment. Babylon is not actually destroyed at this pronouncement; this will become more obvious when we read the rest of the chapter.
9 And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a great voice, If any man worshippeth the beast and his image, and receiveth a mark on his forehead, or upon his hand,
Following the second angel will be a third. This angel will tell the world how their choice will be made. There will be no accidents or anyone claiming that they were naive. He says, anyone who worships the Beast, his image or takes his mark have made their choice against the God of heaven.
10 he also shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is prepared unmixed in the cup of his anger; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb:
11 and the smoke of their torment goeth up for ever and ever; and they have no rest day and night, they that worship the beast and his image, and whoso receiveth the mark of his name.
Those that fear the Beast more than the God of heaven have a bleak future. The smoke of their torment goes up forever. Their destiny is the Lake of Fire! This is where all people will go who side with the Beast by taking his 666 mark of loyalty and becoming part of his kingdom. Those who by fear or loyalty seek to save their lives in the flesh by making the Beast their God will lose their soul.
12 Here is the patience of the saints, they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.
13 And I heard the voice from heaven saying, Write, Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from henceforth: yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; for their works follow with them.
Many will take to heart the message of the 144,000 and the messages given by angels and they will place their trust in Jesus. Those that endure to the end will be saved and those who lose their lives for Jesus sake will save their souls for eternity. Their works follow with them because their reward is based on what they did during this period. If they die they will rest from their labors until the appointed time for Jesus to come.
14 And I saw, and behold, a white cloud; and on the cloud I saw one sitting like unto a son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand sharp sickle.
15 And another angel came out from the temple, crying with a great voice to him that sat on the cloud, Send forth thy sickle, and reap: for the hour to reap is come; for the harvest of the earth is ripe.
16 And he that sat on the cloud cast his sickle upon the earth; and the earth was reaped.
This passage is about a reaping on the earth of grain and a gathering of the grapes to be crushed in the winepress. This passage talks about the reaping done by the Son of Man (Jesus). The reaping is what Jesus was talking about when He said to leave the wheat and tares to grow until the end of the age. The tares are those who grow among the wheat and from all appearances look like wheat. Tares are weeds that take nourishment from the soil and stunt the growth of the true wheat. They are the sons of Satan masquerading as sons of light.
Mat 13:30 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
This passage in Matthew says the tares would first be gathered in bundles to be burned. Some might think the passage in Matthew says the tares are reaped before the wheat. That seems impossible; tares are counterfeit wheat that grow in the same field - they must be reaped together. What the passage is implying is that during the great tribulation the tares are first removed and gathered in bundles to be burned and then the wheat is threshed to remove impurities before it is gathered into the barn.
The reaping and threshing is the time of the great tribulation. Matthew indicates that the time of the burning of the tares put in bundles (locations) on the earth comes first. This happens when the Beast burns the harlot woman (all organized religion) at the beginning of the great tribulation of 3 ½ years (see chapter 17). The threshing that occurs immediately after that during the great tribulation removes all but the wheat kernel before the kernel is put into God’s barn (the book of life). The threshing of the wheat occurs when the Beast persecutes all on earth that hold the testimony of Jesus and keep his commandments.
This wheat harvest is over just prior to the last judgment during the great tribulation. The grapes actually will be crushed after the seventh vial judgment at the sheep and goat judgment of the nations. This occurs just before the post-harvest marriage feast for the Son of the field owner (God - the owner of the earth).
The harvest is so great that John said that the number of saved that come out of it is greater than any man could number. Those living in this period will be threshed and many will die in the flesh rather than take the mark of the Beast. Billions of souls will be saved in the great tribulation when the wheat stalks that bind people to this earth are removed in the threshing of the great tribulation.
A bit of the wheat on earth will still be in the field after the harvest. These are the gleanings that by mosaic law are required to be left in the fields after the general harvest. These are left to repopulate the earth during the millennium but scripture says that men will become rarer than gold after the great tribulation.
17 Another angel came out from the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle.
18 And another angel came out from the altar, he that hath power over fire; and he called with a great voice to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Send forth thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe.
19 And the angel cast his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vintage of the earth, and cast it into the winepress, the great winepress, of the wrath of God.
20 And the winepress was trodden without the city, and there came out blood from the winepress, even unto the bridles of the horses, as far as a thousand and six hundred furlongs.
This is a completely different harvest of an entirely different crop than was the reaping of the tares and wheat. This reaping is not about wheat or even tares, it is the harvesting of fermenting sour grapes. This judgment comes after the wheat is harvested and threshed during the great tribulation. Those in this gathering make no secret that they are enemies of the God of heaven. The tares were gathered in bundles (different locations on earth) and burned but these are gathered the whole length of Israel (1600 furlongs – 185 miles) to be crushed.
What actually occurs here is that Satan and his angels will gather all the enemies of the God of heaven the entire length of Israel in the valley of Jehoshaphat. Jesus alone will crush them and their blood will mingle with water that makes up their bodies and run like streams in the desert. The blood may be mingled with spring water, rain or the still melting hailstones of the seventh vial judgment because this passage declares their blood will flow through this valley to the horses' bridles. We will read more about these events in chapter 19.
Isa 63:1 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.
2 Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the winefat?
3 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.
4 For the day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come.
5 And I looked, and there was none to help; and I wondered that there was none to uphold: therefore mine own arm brought salvation unto me; and my fury, it upheld me.
6 And I will tread down the people in mine anger, and make them drunk in my fury, and I will bring down their strength to the earth.
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