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In Revelation 14:15-16, at seemingly the end of the age, we have this scene:

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. (NIV)

But then immediately in 17-19 we read about another harvest:

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 on the earth, gathered its grapes and threw them into the great winepress of God’s wrath. (NIV)

If the whole earth is harvested in verses 15-16, then why is there a second harvest in 17-19? Are these the same harvest pictured twice? If so, to what end? Or are they do different harvests of two different things?

6 Answers 6

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It seems as though each sickle is intended to reap a different thing.

John Gill astutely observes that the first sickle (Rev. 14:16) was thrust “upon the earth” (ἐπὶ τὴν γῆν), while the second sickle (Rev. 14:19) was thrust “into the earth” (εἰς τὴν γῆν). This distinction, he says, is because the wheat is on the earth, but does not belong to it. On the other hand, the vine is of the earth, rooted in it, and natural to it.1

One may think the “vine” would be a reference to Christians (i.e., the saved; the elect), according to John 15:1–5. But, one must understand that an object can be used in different contexts to refer to diametrically-opposed things.2

In his lexicon, regarding the word ἄμπελος in Rev. 14:18–19, Joseph Henry Thayer notes that it “signifies the enemies of Christ, who, ripe for destruction, are likened to clusters of grapes, to be cut off, thrown into the wine-press, and trodden there”.3


Footnotes
1 Gill, Vol. 3, p. 816, Rev. 14:19
2 e.g., leaven: Luke 12:1 cf. Matt. 13:33
3 Thayer, p. 32, ἄμπελος
References
Gill, John. An Exposition of the New Testament. Vol. 3. PhiladelphiaL Woodward, 1811.

Wilke, Christian Gottlob. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Being Grimm Wilke’s Clavis Novi Testamenti. Trans. Thayer, Joseph Henry. Ed. Grimm, Carl Ludwig Wilibald. Rev. ed. New York: American Book, 1889.
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  • great and concise answer!
    – Nikos
    Jan 25, 2013 at 0:21
  • Can you see similarities with this 2nd one and Gehenna?
    – Nikos
    Jan 25, 2013 at 0:36
  • @Nikos: Not really. I think it's referring to the wrath of God that He will inflict upon the unrighteous on the earth in the last days. Of course, after that, the dead unrighteous will be in Geihinnam for eternity unless somehow they repent, but I don't know if that would happen. In any case, hope that answers your question.
    – user862
    Jan 25, 2013 at 5:45
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Re Rev 14:15 & 16 There is no mention of judgement in this reaping.At the time ordained the Lord will come for his church. No man knows the day nor the hour of the Lord's coming.(Matthew 24:36). However we do know that we are living in the very end of this dispensation in the time of the termination of God's timeclock for the setting up of Christ's kingdom.He is just waiting for the "green light", for the Father to give the signal.The alert Christian will heed the Lord's warning: "Watch therefore for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come ." Matthew 24:42 The second reaping re Rev 14: 17 - 20 is the pouring out of God's wrath upon the wicked of the earth who are referred to as the vine of the earth.See Deuteronomy 32:32 "For their vine is of the vine of Sodom ---" In John 15:1 We read the words of Jesus : "I am the true vine and my Father is the husbandman ".Jesus is the heavenly vine and he invites those who have accepted him to become fruit bearing branches V2. To do that we must be clean through the listening of and reading his Word V3 and abide in Jesus V4.That is to be fully surrended to his will, and walking in the truth of the Word of God. Jesus said : " I am the vine , ye are the branches" V5 Therefore the vine of the earth would be opposite to the vine Jesus.It would have partaken of the fruits that are of the world and the evil systems of the world and therefore would have rejected Jesus and his way. Re Rev 14.:19 & 20 symbolises the terrible slaughter that will be the portion of the inhabitants of the earth who reject the great salvation that is of Jesus.

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    – sara
    Oct 6, 2019 at 7:11
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I would say that the Crying angel in 14:19 is witnessing to the condition of the world, at a specific time. As in KJV the angel claims the earth is "ripe" or dried, devoid of warmth. What has the angel seen in the world, that makes it not only cry out, but loudly. Like a warning of what is to come. Something that started out with a few, that grows into a World wide issue. A beginning of the end as in Matthew 13:39-42.

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    Apr 1 at 2:35
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These two images, the wheat harvest and the vine harvest, are separately dramatising the two injunctions of Joel ch3 v13; "Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Go in, tread, for the wine press is full." v20 covers the next final part of the Joel verse,"the vats overflow, for their wickedness is great". They are not separate events. They are two images of the same event, viz. the arrival of judgment.

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The first harvest involves grain. John 3:35; Jesus is the bread of life. A single grain of wheat is small and insignificant, but when gathered together, it forms a loaf of bread. This first harvest represents the gathering of God’s people. It includes evangelism and the gathering of the saints. These are the ones who confess Christ and are saved.

The second harvest pertains to grapes, symbolizing judgment. This harvest targets the unrighteous, those who worship the beast. It’s a harvest of wrath. The winepress represents God’s judgment on His enemies. It signifies the consequences of rebellion and sin (Isaiah 63:3; Joel 3:13; Lamentations 1:15).

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Revelation 14:15, 16

15 And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to Him who sat on the cloud, “Thrust in Your sickle and reap, for the time has come for You to reap, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.” 16 So He who sat on the cloud thrust in His sickle on the earth, and the earth was reaped.

(I) Verses 15-16, The first thing to acknowledge in this verse is who is doing the reaping. Verse 14 describes Him as one like the Son of Man, having on His head a golden crown

In Revelation 1:7, 13 John describes Christ as coming with clouds [Cross Reference Matthew 26:64] and describes the Alpha and Omega as one like the Son of Man.

In verses 15-16 Jesus Christ is the Reaper with the Sickle.

Zechariah 1:1-3

1 Behold, the day of the Lord is coming, and your spoil will be divided in your midst. 2 For I will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem; ... 3 Then the Lord will go forth and fight against those nations, as He fights in the day of battle. ...

Revelation 19:17-21

17 Then I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the birds that fly in the midst of heaven, “Come and gather together for the supper of the great God, 18 that you may eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, both small and great.” 19 And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army. 20 Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone. 21 And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse. And all the birds were filled with their flesh.

Matthew 16:27

For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.

Isaiah 34:8

For it is the day of the LORD’s vengeance, The year of recompense for the cause of Zion.

Psalm 110:6

He shall judge among the nations, He shall fill the places with dead bodies, He shall execute the heads of many countries.

Inspection of verses 15-16 and cross references

Time "Time to Reap The Earth"; Day When the Lord Will Repay Each According to Their Works; Year of Recompense; Day of the Lord's Vengeance -> A.K.A Judgment Day / Marriage Supper

Where The Earth, Jerusalem

What is Happening War Against All Nations Who Come Against Jerusalem; Judgment Against Nations; Execution of Kings;

Against Whom All Nations; Kings; Captains; Mighty Men; Horses; Those Who Sit on Horses; Flesh of All People: Free, Slave, Small; Great; The Beast and the False Prophet

Revelation 14:6-7

Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth—to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people—saying with a loud voice, “Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water.”

If we accept this reaping as judgment then the verses could read as follows:

Revelation 14:15

And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to Him who sat on the cloud, “Thrust in Your sickle and reap, for the time has come for You to judge, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.” 16 So He who sat on the cloud thrust in His sickle on the earth, and the earth was judged.

Continuing Revelation 14:17-20

17 Then another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle. 18 And another angel came out from the altar, who had power over fire, and he cried with a loud cry to him who had the sharp sickle, saying, “Thrust in your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth, for her grapes are fully ripe.” 19 So the angel thrust his sickle into the earth and gathered the vine of the earth, and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. 20 And the winepress was trampled outside the city, and blood came out of the winepress, up to the horses’ bridles, for one thousand six hundred furlongs.

Zechariah 14:13

It shall come to pass in that day that a great panic from the Lord will be among them. Everyone will seize the hand of his neighbor, and raise his hand against his neighbor’s hand

Matthew 13:39-42

39 The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels. 40 Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age. 41 The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, 42 and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

(II) Verses 17-19, just as we compare the previous verses what we must acknowledge here is that it is an angel who has authority of the sickle. However, the wording is different: whereas we see Christ reaping this angel is gathering.

We see gathering in several places:

  • Zechariah 1:2 - Christ Gathers Armies to Jerusalem
  • Revelation 19:17 Angels Gathering Birds for the Supper
  • Revelation 19:19 Armies Gathered Against Christ
  • Revelation 14:18 Angels Gathering Clusters of the Vine
  • Revelation 14:19 Angels Gathering the Vine of the Earth
  • Matthew 13:41 Angels Gathering All That Offend and Commit Lawlessness

Added to these passages we see an Angel who has power over fire. We see fire mentioned in the following verses:

  • Matthew 13:42
  • Revelation 19:20

Inspection of verses 17-19 and cross references

Time End of the Age; At Christ's Return; "Armageddon" aka Judgment Day / Marriage Supper

Where The Earth, Outside Jerusalem

What is Happening The Gathering of the Cluster of the Vine of the Earth; Angels Gathering out of His Kingdom All Things that Offend

Against Whom Those Who Offend; Those Who Practice Lawlessness; The Tares; Those Sown By the Devil

Conclusion

(III) Verses 15-19 is the same harvest. However, these verses depict the different perspectives and roles of each.

  • Verses 15-16, Christ is Executing Judgment
  • Verse 17-19, The Angels Are Gathering Clusters to Cast into the Winepress of God

What we see is a judge/executioner relationship. Justice means a fair trial in court before the judge; however, the judge is not the same as the hangman. These verses are a snapshot of a single court case, but the camera pans from one character (the judge) to another set of characters in another room (the executioners).

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