Thursday, February 4, 2010

Revelation 14:12-20

Verse 12 “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.”

Now we are told that here....finally.... at this moment in time..... this is where the patience of the saints will pay off and be rewarded. They have had to endure much (those that are still alive) to get to this point. Note that these saints are described somewhat differently from the saints who first appeared on the sea of glass earlier. That group washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb to make them white and came out of the tribulation. This group is a group of which it is said that they keep the commandments of God along with having faith in Christ. That is not to say that Christians do not keep the commandments, but Gentile Christians tend to stay away from the Old Testament, having their faith and lives revolve pretty much solely around the New Testament. Many feel the Old Testament is irrelevant, as they believe the Law is passe since we are under grace. Today's Christians for the most part do break one of the commandments continually. They do not keep the Sabbath as defined by God. I have discussed that the ten commandments do not precisely specify the seventh day of the week as the Sabbath, it only specifies it as being one day out of seven, and we have no way of really knowing which day of the week is actually the seventh day from the time of creation. That said, it still is true that Sunday is not the Sabbath according to Judaism or Christ. He expected the Sabbath, as kept by the Jews, to still be kept when He returned. I still believe that keeping the spirit of the commandment is more important than which day of the week you are able to observe (some jobs such as doctors, police, etc. require work every day of the week thereby giving days off on various days of the week), but Christians do not even keep the spirit of that commandment. They seem to be as busy on that day as any other. Multiple services, meetings, and rehearsals seem to be the norm for most churches. Nobody actually rests on that day. If you ask a Christian about the Ten Commandments, they will refer to the verse where Christ condenses the entire ten to two - love God, and love your neighbor, thereby skirting the issue. It seems that it is felt that those two do not include the commandment about the Sabbath, but that is not true. The Sabbath fits in with the loving God half of the two. They tend to dismiss that commandment as no longer being valid. Even though the Bible does not teach that Christ's resurrection did away with that commandment, that is how Christianity has rewritten it. That, however, is not how God feels about it. Christ said that if we love Him we would keep all of His commandments.

Getting back to the point, to this group of saints, the commandments of God are important. This would seem to indicate that this group comprises people who are either Messianic Jews or what I like to call Judaic Christians. That is Christians who have embraced both Old and New Testament teachings as was originally intended. (Yes, it was originally intended that had the Jews accepted Christ, the temple sacrifices and Judaism would have continued as the religion. Once more for emphasis, Judaism and sacrifices will be re-instituted during the millennium. Christianity as we practice it today will cease to exist. And again, no, that does not undo Christ‘s sacrifice on the cross.) The vast majority of Gentile Christians will have perished during the tribulation. They are mostly all gone by this time. What will be left are the Philadelphian Christians and Jews.

I realize how it may be perceived as to what all of this is implying. I am not advocating that Christians abandon the teachings of the New Testament and revert to Judaism as a means of salvation. That is absurd and strictly warned against by Paul. The laws do not save us. Plus, many rules have been lifted from our shoulders (such as what we can eat). And we are not actually talking about all of the laws here, we are talking the Ten Commandments. What I am saying is that we need to understand our Judaic roots and even possibly consider embracing certain parts of Judaism, such as celebrating the Scriptural holy days that God gave to His people. After all, the fall festivals are about Christ’s Second Coming. We only celebrate pagan holy days that have been sanitized for Christian consumption. (Sunday, Easter, and Christmas are all derived from pagan holy days.) I do not think God really appreciates that. (Yes, I am guilty of celebrating Christmas. I am also beginning to embrace Old Testament holy days, though. It is a work in progress.) The point is, this group is as concerned about God's commandments, holy days, etc. as they are about salvation by faith.

Verse 13 “And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.”

Again, from a superficial reading, one would think that this is speaking of the time of tribulation, as people die in the Lord during that time, whereas if we are at the end, why would any more be looking forward to dying? Well, if remembered, all Israel will be saved, but much of that occurs when they see Him whom they have pierced. (Zech. 12:10.) As that occurs at the time of the Second Coming and rapture, they will miss the rapture and have to go through God’s wrath. Many may not survive it, but they will be saved and will die in the Lord. Also there are Gentiles who have not taken the mark, and they may turn to the Lord also, yet die during God's wrath since "the rain falls on the just and unjust alike." Given that there are people from every nation going into the millennium, this would seem to be the case.

Verse 14-16 “And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle. 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. And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped.”

Clearly this is a picture of the Second Coming and rapture. Christ (the Son of man) appearing in the clouds with His kingly crown (He has only been crowned after the 1260 days) on His head and a sickle in His hand reaps (harvests the wheat) the believers. Could there be a more clear description of the rapture? This is exactly how the parable describes it, letting the wheat and tares grow together until the harvest, then gathering the wheat followed by throwing the tares into the fire. Here is where the patience of the saints is rewarded. They have endured to the end and are finally getting out of it all. We have been told that he who endures to the end will be saved. This is the end. The last trump has sounded (chapter 11 at the end of the 1260 days, just before these events in chapter 14 unfold) announcing the bowl judgments. We are raptured at the last trump, just before God's wrath, as we are not appointed unto wrath. Here is the first reaping, the rapture. If there is any doubt of that, can it be anything else? There are not two raptures and this is clearly a reaping of God's saints. It is not a reaping of those alive that will go into the millennium. There is no Scripture that I have found that would indicate that a reaping of that sort takes place. The harvest and reaping always refers to God's saints being removed before His wrath, not the unsaved that will go into the millennium being gathered to a place of safety. The next group is being harvested to be thrown into God's wrath. If God's wrath had already been going on through the seals and trumpets, (pre-trib doctrine) it would be a little late to gather up the first group to protect them, and a little late to gather up the second group to throw them into it. Clearly God's wrath is just now going to fall. Now the second reaping is about to occur, but it is not one in which you would want to participate.

Verse 17-20 “And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle. 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. And 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. 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.”

After Christ raptures His people, an angel comes out. This angel has power over fire. Since God's wrath is about to fall it seems appropriate that he is the one who tells a second angel to reap the rest (the tares) of the world. The world is going to be purged by fire. A lot of that has already occurred, but there is more to come. The tares get thrown into the winepress of God‘s wrath. An important fall crop that corresponds to the fall festivals and Christ’s Second Coming is the grape harvest. This imagery is found in the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” when the lyrics say, “He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored.” In particular this says that it is trodden outside of the city, meaning Jerusalem, and that the blood comes out of the winepress as high as a horse’s bridle.

Beginning with the reference to Jerusalem, this trampling may be looking forward at what is about to occur at Armageddon. When it says that the blood will be as high as a horse’s bridle, that does not necessarily mean that the blood will flow like a river that high. That is probably more blood than even Armageddon could supply. It more likely uses the imagery of what happens to grapes when they are pressed in a winepress. The juice shoots up as the grapes are stomped. In this case, the blood is shooting out of bodies all over to the height of a horse. This would make more sense. It would present a picture of fountains of blood spurting all over and be closer to the metaphor of pressing grapes in a winepress. A thousand and six hundred furlongs is distance of about 184 miles. That is the approximate length of Israel. There is going to be a bloodbath in Israel at the end.


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  2. Hi Connie, I recently came across your excellent blogs as I was investigating the various end-time rapture views and from my research so far I am certainly most inclining towards the 'pre-wrath' view that you support. I don't know if you are still monitoring comments on this 5 year old article but if you are I have a question about your interpretation of Rev 14:14-19 that you cover here. At one point above you say: "This is exactly how the parable describes it, letting the wheat and tares grow together until the harvest, then gathering the wheat followed by throwing the tares into the fire." However, when I look at that parable and it's explanation given by Jesus in Matthew 13 that is not really what I see. In Matt 13:30 (KJV) it says: '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.'. So in this verse it clearly says that the tares are gathered first and tied into bundles before or (most likely) at the same time as the wheat. Can you explain this with reference to your statement about the wheat being gathered first? Neil K (UK)

    1. Thank you for the kind words. I'm glad you are finding my blogs useful. Sometimes I was writing these blogs late into the night and even though I try to always double check and edit, I do miss things. I now see that something that I had originally written in that paragraph must have somehow been deleted when I put it online. I'm glad you caught it. Yes, I can explain. What I had put in before, which seems to be missing, is that I pointed out that the parable is speaking of this event, but that the two reapings here are in reversed order from what they were in the parable, and that I believe it is done for a reason. I believe that these reapings take place simultaneously. It is the only explanation for the two being in reversed order, for clearly Christ is speaking of the same event. While the event here is spoken of as grapes, it is still the same harvest. It is actually a clue to the specific time period in which it will occur, for the rapture will occur in the fall at the time of the grape harvest, for the Second Coming will fulfill the fall Feasts.

      If the gatherings were to actually occur in a particular or specific order, I think that Christ would have put that order the same in all cases, but He didn't. He deliberately reversed the order here from what it was in Matthew. The only logical explanation is that they are occurring simultaneously, but that can be difficult to describe. Rather than say "at the same time" in Matthew, Christ just told them what would happen. Then later He tells us again, but reverses the order. Descriptions in writing or in the telling must by necessity describe one thing and then the other, even though it might be that one is viewing or is aware that both are happening at the same time. I believe that is what is happening here. It would not make sense otherwise, for it would seem that Christ must be lying in one case or the other, and we know that isn't possible. Since this is the place where the rapture and God's wrath occurs, and that is also what the parable is about - the harvest at the end before His wrath, the only conclusion that can be reached is that they happen at the same time.

      When Christ gave the parable, the important point He was making was that the wicked would be allowed to grow along with the righteous until the time of harvest, and then they would be dealt with. That group of parables were focused on the kingdom, who would be in it, and wickedness not getting into it. When John was shown what occurs, there is a different focus going on. He is about to describe God's wrath, so the rapture is mentioned first, because that happened at the last trump, and there are details about the wrath to come that must be shared. So the order is reversed, as it makes sense to reverse the order here (from how it was in Matthew) for continuity's sake. This could only be allowed to be related to us this way, though, if both are happening at the same time. If they weren't, then I believe it would be in the same order as Matthew. And logically, the only way the two different versions can be reconciled is for both to occur at the same time. In Rev. 11 at the last trump, the Bema judgment and the wrath are announced as both coming at the same time. God didn't organize anything in Scripture by happenstance or mistake. There was a reason for reversing the order and this is the only one that can logically account for it.

      And just to clarify, technically I am not considered pre-wrath (even though I believe the rapture is after the tribulation and just before God's wrath) as pre-wrath puts the rapture at the sixth seal, due to believing the trumpets are all God's wrath, and I put it at the last trumpet, as I don't think the trumpets are God's wrath. I think only the vials are. I consider my view to be "The Last Trumpet Rapture" for lack of a better term.

    2. Hi Connie, Thank you for your comprehensive reply! After a bit more study I had indeed concluded something like yourself and noted that some translations put the word 'then' in the sentence implying order - e.g NIV '..First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.' whereas others more accurately use the word but or and (e.g. KJV, ESV).
      I especially like what the NLT does here 'Let both grow together until the harvest. Then I will tell the harvesters to sort out the weeds, tie them into bundles, and burn them, and to put the wheat in the barn.'
      In reality for a farmer, I imagine they would cut them both down together and sort them afterwards, the good crop would be put in the barn and the weeds left on the field to be burned. I also note that in Matt 3:12 and Luke 3:17 the same event (I assume) is described in a different order with the wheat being gathered into the barn mentioned first and the chaff being burned mentioned second.
      Thanks also for the clarification on your viewpoint. It seems to me so far that there are 4 or 5 main views which put the rapture in approximately the following places in the book of Revelation:
      pre-trib - Rev 4:1-4
      pre-'wrath' - Rev 7:9-17 (this may also be called 'intra-seal'?),
      mid-trib - Rev 14:16-17 (you called this 'last trumpet' but there also seems to be variant that puts it exactly at the last trumpet in Rev 11:15-17):
      post-trib - Rev 19.
      Please correct me if I have got some of these wrong :-)
      I may have some more questions on this or other parts you have covered in future, I hope you don't mind me asking!
      God's blessings, Neil K

  3. Hi Neil,

    Heavens no, I don't mind questions. I love interaction, but I actually don't get much even though it says that thousands of people read my blogs every month. I don't even mind disagreement, because the forces me to look to see if I have missed something that needs correction. I have had to correct a lot of my understandings over the decades. It is so much better when you have others to bounce things of off.

    As for the various raptures, I think you have it pretty much right. I know that pre-trib and post-trib seem to be where you put them, however I have seen variations in the other two.For pre-wrath, the original teaching as I understood it, put it intra-seal, as you said between seal six and seven, and coming after the great tribulation, with the trumpets followed by the vials in seven. Of late I have run across another group which says that the trumpets and vials are basically one in the same. In other words trumpet one and vial one are poured out together, two and two, etc. It doesn't change where they place the rapture, but it changes what follows. I don't see the chronology that way at all. I see it as seals, then seal seven is the trumpets and trumpet seven is the vials.

    As for mid-trib, the variations I've seen on that have some putting the trumpets after the mid-point and some putting them before the mid-point, with the last half being just the vials. As such those who fall in the last group do put the rapture at the last trump, because they say the last half of Daniel's week is just the vials. So they include the tribulation as part of the vial judgments while the former make it part of the trumpets. I don't think Scripture teaches that either.

    If you have been going through my entire blog chronologically, you already know how I see it happening, so I won't belabor that point. I do think it is within a day or two at the end of the 1260 days, but before the vials are poured out ( somewhere in days 1260-1290). That really would make it on the last day, as per Christ saying umpteen times in John that He would raise everyone on the last day.

    Hope to hear from you again.