Earth Harvest Sickle
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57. Earth Harvest Sickle
Revelation 14.15-20

"Then another angel came out of the temple and called in a loud voice to him who was sitting on the cloud, 'Take your sickle and reap, because the time to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.' So he who was seated on the cloud swung his sickle over the earth, and the earth was harvested. Another angel came out of the temple in heaven, and he too had a sharp sickle. Still another angel, who had charge of the fire, came from the altar and called in a loud voice to him who had the sharp sickle, 'Take your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of grapes from the earth's vine because its grapes are ripe.' The angel swung his sickle upon the earth, gathered its grapes, and threw them into the great winepress of God's wrath. They were trampled in the harvest winepress outside the city, and blood flowed out of the press, rising as high as the horses' bridles for a distance of sixteen hundred stadia." (Revelation 14.15-16)✞

Ancient Sickle

SickleThis Revelation passage depicts judgment on the Earth in terms of a harvest sickle, a serrated or toothed metal or stone implement for cutting grass, hay, or grain. Interestingly, the serrated edge is not a modern adaption for harvesting sickles. Such sickles with serrated edges date to 3,000 BC in Iraq. In Joel 3.13, when the prophet wishes to say that judgment is near, he says, "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!" "As soon as the grain is ripe," says Jesus in Mark 4.29, "he puts the sickle to it because the harvest has come." In the parable of wheat and tares in Matthew 13.24-43, Jesus uses the harvest sickle as a picture of judgment. Here, the vision tells of an angel taking the sickle, swinging it over the earth, and harvesting it.

Ancient Wine Press

Ancient Wine PressThis passage on harvesting links into the winepress as another image of judgment. A typical ancient winepress is a trough hollowed out in a rock or built of brick. The grapes are placed into the upper trough and then trampled with the feet, and the juice flows down the connecting channel into the lower gutter. A wine press is a very graphic picture of judgment.

Harvest Wine Press

Wheat Harvest FieldGod's judgment is like the tramping of the grapes in the harvest winepress. A sharp sickle harvests the grapes. Often in the Old Testament, God's judgment is likened to the trampling of grapes. In Lamentations 1.15, we are told, "The Lord has rejected all the warriors in my midst; he has summoned an army against me to crush my young men. In his winepress, the Lord has trampled Virgin Daughter Judah." Here, "he has summoned an army against me to crush my young men," means also "he has set a time for me when he will crush my young men." Isaiah 63.3 follows the same theme, "I have trodden the winepress alone; from the nations, no one was with me. I trampled them in my anger and trod them down in my wrath; their blood spattered my garments, and I stained all my clothing."

Judgment in Jerusalem

Grapes on Vine"The harvest winepress" or the "winepress" operates outside the city, that is, outside Jerusalem. In the Old Testament and the books between the Testaments, Jews believe that Gentiles will be brought to Jerusalem and judged there. Joel 3.2,12 has a picture of all the nations gathered into the Valley of Jehoshaphat for judgment between Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives. Joel writes, "I will gather all nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. There I will put them on trial for what they did to my inheritance, my people Israel because they scattered my people among the nations and divided up my land." Note that "Jehoshaphat" means "the Lord judges." Zechariah 14.1 has a similar account of a last attack of the Gentiles on Jerusalem and of their judgment, "A day of the Lord is coming, Jerusalem, when your possessions will be plundered and divided up within your very walls."

Sixteen Hundred Stadia

Horse's BridleThe tide of justice flows like a sea of blood from the Revelation winepress for a distance of sixteen hundred stadia or about 180 miles or "300 kilometers!" "Sixteen hundred stadia" is a very long way! This gory harvest of blood is reaped by one like a Son of Man and also an angel. We regard the "one like the son of man" as the risen and victorious Lord, operating the harvest winepress, while the angel with the sharp sickle reaps the harvest of those destined for judgment. Revelation says that the blood rose "as high as the horses' bridles," that is five or six feet from the ground and spread for a distance of sixteen hundred stadia. This distance is almost exactly the length of Palestine from north to south, which is about one hundred and eighty miles. The tide of judgment would flow over and include the whole land of Israel. In that case, the terrible word picture symbolically describes the completeness of the judgment.✞

"Earth Harvest Sickle"
by Ron Meacock © 2019

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