THE FIRSTFRUITS, THE HARVEST, AND THE VINTAGE
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. 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 winepress of the wrath (passion) of God” (Rev. 14:14-19).
speak the truth in saying that it takes little discussion to convince us that the Harvester in
the scene above, or at least He who supervises the reaping of the earth, is
none other than Jesus Christ our Lord.
We are acquainted with the expression, “the Son of man,” or, “one like unto
the Son of man,” or, “one like unto a son
of man,” as the Greek text
reads here. The expression is used again
and again throughout the Gospels and it is always used of our Lord. It was the name with which Jesus loved to
call Himself. It denotes the
all-overshadowing glory of Him who was made flesh, made a man, made like unto
His brethren, and who now has been highly exalted to the right hand of the
Majesty on high.
appears from a close examination of our text
that it is God Himself who ordains the harvest, that our Lord Jesus acts as the
supervisor, and that the work of
reaping proper is left to the angels, or the messengers, His servants. That is also the impression we receive from
other parts of scripture. In Matthew
13:39 Jesus explains, at the close of the parable of the tares among the wheat,
“the reapers are the angels.” And in Matthew 24:31 we read, “And He
shall send His angels with a great
sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather
together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the
other.” So in the scene that the beloved
John beholds in holy vision the angels, or messengers, are likewise acting as servants
of the one like a son of man. Two of
these messengers come out of the temple, out of the most holy place within the
body of Christ which is the temple
the third messenger in the scene comes from the golden altar, sent forth by the
very prayers and worship of the holy priesthood of God. Two of these act as messengers proclaiming
that the time is ripe and that it is the exact hour for the harvest of the
earth to be gathered
in. One of them carries the command
directly from God; and he announces to the one like a son of man that it is
time to reap and that the hour is come for harvesting.
details are of great significance! In
the first place, we are given to understand that this is an important
hour. The harvest is ready, fully ripe,
and it must be gathered! It is a very significant hour indeed! All of God’s work in the whole body of
Christ, in the entire church
must be finished, consummated. The
second messenger brings a similar message to the messenger who must gather the vintage, the
clusters of the vine of the earth. He
comes out from the altar and has power over fire. This reveals a mighty energy of God at work to reap the vine of the earth and cast it
into the winepress of the passion of God!
It is impossible to bring the vastness of God’s working into the realm
of our human understanding. It is
infinitely necessary that all who read these lines yield to the spirit of wisdom and revelation
from God that the sacred secrets contained in these sublime vistas may unfold
deep within our heart and spirit.
ONE SITTING UPON A CLOUD
I looked, and behold a white cloud, and
upon the cloud one sat like unto a son of man…” (Rev. 14:14).
the clouds form and float in the physical heavens, in its spiritual meaning the
location of this scene is in the invisible heavens of the Spirit of the
Lord. Jesus, when on earth, spoke of
Himself as “the Son of man.” And since
this one “like a son of man” rides upon a singular cloud and wears a singular
golden crown on His head, this one pictures our Lord Jesus Christ who is
Himself “the Lord of the Harvest” (Lk.
10:2). The book of Revelation is the revelation of Jesus Christ. It is a wonderful thing that throughout
this book our Lord Jesus appears again and again under many different figures
and symbols. Each time He has a habit of
disappearing, but always returns. Even
in the days of His flesh, He appeared and went away and came again on various
occasions. Just a little while after the
star had shone and the angels had sung, by divine direction, He fled to Egypt. But ere long, came another message, “Arise
and take the young child and His mother and go into the land of Israel. For they are dead which sought the young
child’s life.” Again, “when Jesus heard
that John was cast into prison, He departed into Galilee,”
another retreat. But read on: “And
leaving Nazareth He came and dwelt in Capernaum.” When John the Baptist was silenced, Jesus
left His obscure village and came to the front.
In removing John, the adversary snuffed out a candle, and behold, the
He went down into a tomb, and that seemed to be the end. But He entered that tomb, not as a captive,
but as a conqueror; and after lying there three days like a warrior taking his
rest on the field of his triumph, He appeared in the power of resurrection as
Lord of heaven and earth. He ascended up
to heaven in a cloud and again disappears, and seems to have gone away
forever. But in chapter two of the Revelation
John sees Him in the midst of the candlesticks having eyes as a flame of fire, with feet
like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and His voice as the
sound of many waters. He disappears and
appears again as the Lamb in the throne.
The Lamb disappears and He reappears as one sitting upon a white horse
and He goes forth conquering and to conquer.
He appears again as our great high priest ministering on behalf of His
elect at the golden altar in the temple
of the heavens; and so He disappears
and appears again and again as He marches
on in triumph accomplishing His great purpose in the earth, in His people, and
throughout the eternal heavens!
now, in our present vision, we stand in spirit with John and behold Him riding
upon a cloud! And notice — it is not the
dark storm-cloud of judgment, as many suppose, but the white cloud of glory. From
the dawn of history the way in which God has displayed His glory has been in
the form of a cloud. The glory cloud of God’s presence has taken
different shapes and different sizes on various occasions. When it was time for the children of Israel to begin their exodus out of Egypt,
the glory of God took the form of a pillar of fire enshrouded within a
cloud. “And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them in the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them
light, to go by day and night: He took not away the pillar of cloud by day, nor
the pillar of fire by night, from before the people” (Ex. 13:21-22).
did the glory of God signify every time it appeared? The glory cloud of God signified the unique
and manifest presence of God! It always
told the people of Israel,
when it appeared, that Yahweh was uniquely present and manifest in this place,
at this time, for a special purpose.
When the glory of God as a cloud led the children of Israel out of Egypt, it signified to the people
that God was with them in a very real and sovereign way. “And
the Lord went before them in a
pillar of a cloud.” God was in the cloud! The almighty God Himself dwelt in that cloud
by day and in the fiery pillar by night.
That strange pillar of cloud and fire was the visible manifestation of
His presence and glory! While Israel
walked in the light of His fiery presence, no calamity could harm them, no
enemy could attack them, no evil could befall them,
nor plague come nigh their dwelling. God
was with them in sovereign power in all their marches!
“And the Lord said unto Moses,
Speak unto Aaron thy brother, that he come not
at all times into the holy place within the veil before the mercy seat, which
is upon the ark; that he die not: for I will appear in the cloud upon the
mercy seat” (Lev. 16:2).
the cloud came down out of heaven and rested on the top of mount Sinai,
it signified that God in a unique sense had come out of the realm of invisible
spirit to meet with the children of Israel in His manifestation on the
earth plane. When they saw the cloud
move into the most holy place in the tabernacle and later in the temple, it
signified again that God in a special sense was taking up residence within that
worship structure within the nation of Israel. The light that shone in the Holiest of all
behind the temple
of blue and purple and scarlet and fine twined linen, laced with threads of
gold and figures of cherubim, was not the beams of the seven-fold candlestick
of the holy place, nor even the radiance of the sun in the outer court. It was the glory light of God’s own divine majesty! Through time the Israelites called that glory cloud
of God the Shekinah. The word Shekinah means “to dwell.” And since the glory cloud always signified
that God was present at the place where the cloud appeared, to dwell in a
special sense, they called it the Shekinah or dwelling glory of God!
truth that I would now draw to your attention is the fact that it was this same
Shekinah, this very same glory cloud, which the eleven disciples beheld in
spell-bound astonishment on the crest of the mount of Olives that blessed day
when the Lord Jesus ascended into mid-air and suddenly a bright cloud, like a chariot of God, bore Him speedily away,
concealing Him from mortal gaze. That
cloud intrigues me! “And a cloud received Him
out of their sight.” “Received Him
out of” is one word in the Greek meaning “to take under.” It signifies to take up by placing one’s self
underneath, in the style of a hiker carrying a backpack, or as a waiter holds a
tray. It is one of Luke’s medical
terms. Weymouth in his translation puts it thus: the
cloud “closing beneath Him, hid Him from sight.” Do you get the picture? Jesus was riding
upon the cloud and that is why it hid him from their view. He was on top of, or upon the cloud, just as
in John’s vision on Patmos! And don’t tell me that was the sort of cloud
which spills the rain and from which the lightning flashes.
Oh, no! That cloud is the cloud
of the glory of God, the Shekinah, described in Ezekiel 1:4 as “a great
cloud…and brightness.” It was this cloud
which Ezekiel saw while he was with the exiles in Babylon
by the Chebar
Canal. The glory cloud is described as the “chariot”
of Yahweh, composed of myriads of celestial beings, the spirits of just men
made perfect, the armies which are in heaven, the heavenly hosts of the
spiritual world. “Behold,” declares the
prophet, “the Lord rideth up the cloud, and shall come into Egypt: and the idols of Egypt shall be moved at His presence, and the
heart of Egypt shall melt in the
midst of it (the cloud)” (Isa. 19:1).
The Resident within the shimmering cloud of glory is just the Lord
Himself, the source of the dazzling light, for it is HE who causes the
celestial host to shine forth, thus forming the cloud and manifesting His glory
we can see by this that the cloud which hovered over Israel in the wilderness; the cloud
which rested upon the glorious tabernacle of old; the cloud which dwelt between
the gleaming cherubim in the most holy place; the cloud which filled Solomon’s
temple until the ministers could not minister by reason of the blazing glory;
the cloud which came upon and enveloped the virgin girl Mary as the power of
the highest “overshadowed” her when she came to be with child; the cloud which
enveloped the Son of God and revealed the glory of His sonship
on the mount of Transfiguration, and out from which the Father spoke just as He
did in the tabernacle of old; that
cloud, precious friend of mine, is the
very same cloud that received the Lord Jesus into its midst and out of the
sight of mortal eyes! The cloud that
received the firstborn Son of God out of the sight of those startled disciples
certainly was no ordinary rain cloud which happened to be blown across a
torturous sky. It was the blazing Shekinah cloud which had always revealed the
divine majesty of God from time immemorial!
It was the cloud of myriads of holy ones from the other side, out of the
heavens of God’s Spirit, even the great “cloud of witnesses” by which we too
are compassed about. And this is the
cloud John beheld in spirit that day on Patmos,
and the Lord of glory was riding the
cloud just as He did in ancient times and from eternity. Contrary to what some believe, I do not see
that we, the living saints on earth, are either that cloud or the one like a
son of man riding upon the cloud. We
clearly have an altogether different role in this enthralling drama, and we
will come to that later on.
lest we should miss the deep mystery this unveils, I would emphasize again that
the one cloud points unerringly to the singular glory of the Head of the body
of sons, even our Lord Jesus Christ. Here
I wish to
point out a most significant point of scripture which has entirely been
overlooked by most Bible students and nearly all preachers and teachers. All the way through the scriptures, from the
crossing of the Red Sea by the children of Israel, to the ascension of Jesus
from the mount of Olives, God consistently manifested
Himself in ONE GLORY CLOUD. There was
always just ONE SINGLE CLOUD! The Lord
Jesus ascended in one single cloud of God’s glory — the very same cloud in which He
had manifested His presence to His people on earth throughout the long ages of
time! Now this cloud was composed of
many “droplets” of water, as it were; that is, many celestial beings, but
together they composed only one cloud.
They all represented only one manifestation of God!
is when we come to the prophecies concerning the Son of man coming
in His kingdom that we see a distinct difference! For suddenly in addition to one cloud we are
introduced to a plurality of clouds! Let
Christ departed this earth in one
cloud. He comes again in many clouds!
It was the blessed seer of Patmos
who announced: “Behold, He cometh with clouds: and every eye shall see Him” (Rev.
1:7). Daniel in vision beheld Him thus: “I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one
like a Son of man came with the clouds
of heaven…and there was given unto Him dominion” (Dan. 7:13-14). Jesus Himself prophesied, “And they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with
power and great glory” (Mat. 24:30).
And again, “Hereafter ye shall see
the Son of man sitting at the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven” (Mat. 26:64). Finally, the apostle Paul relates this dramatic experience: “Then we which are alive and remain shall be
caught up together with them in the
clouds…and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (I Thes.
4:17). In the CLOUDS! More than one cloud. Many clouds.
A great company
are there many clouds attending Christ’s coming in the fullness of His kingdom,
and what are these clouds? Let us not
forget for one moment that we are dealing with the cloud of God’s glory, presence, and power — the Shekinah — the
cloud of His “dwelling.” When the
firstborn Son of God was in the world John said of Him, “We beheld His glory” (Jn.
1:14). Peter reveals to us what is
really meant by their beholding the glory of the Son. “For we
have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the
power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His
majesty. For He received from God the
Father honor and glory, when there
came such a voice to Him from the
excellent glory (out of the glory cloud), saying, This is my beloved Son,
in whom I am well pleased. And this
voice which came from heaven we heard, when
we were with Him in the holy mount” (II Pet. 1:16-18). Ah, it is clear — the glory cloud that
enveloped Jesus and His disciples upon the holy mount was
the glory of HIS manifest sonship! “This
is my beloved SON.”
very significant that at the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry He said, “Neither pray I for these alone, but for
them also which shall believe on me through their word; that they all may be
one; as Thou, Father, art in me, and I in Thee, that they also shall be one in
us…and the glory which Thou gavest me (manifest sonship) I
have given them…I in them, and Thou in me, that they may be made perfect in
one…that they may be with me where I am
(in His relationship of sonship to the Father); that
they may behold my glory which Thou
hast given me” (Jn. 17:20-24). And
this is the crux of the whole matter!
From the dawn of creation’s light until Jesus stepped upon this planet,
God manifested to His creation in a singular
way His own glory. He, the eternal
God, exhibited His presence in the form of one glory cloud! But as Jesus approached the cross, and the
glorious events to unfold thereafter, He disclosed the grand truth that God
purposed from eternity to SHARE HIS GLORY WITH A VAST COMPANY OF SONS…the
glorious body which is the fullness of Him that filleth
all in all!
“For I reckon that the sufferings of this
present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
For the earnest expectation of the creation waiteth
for the manifestation of the sons of
8:18-19). “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even
as by the Spirit of the Lord” (II Cor. 3:18). “When
Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory” (Col.
3:4). “That ye would walk worthy of God, who
hath called you unto His kingdom and glory” (I Thes.
2:12). “For it became Him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all
things, in bringing many sons unto
glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings” (Heb. 2:10).
“I…also am a witness of the sufferings of Christ,
and also a partaker of the glory that
shall be revealed” (I Pet. 5:1).
“But the God of all grace, who
hath called us unto His eternal glory by
Christ Jesus…make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you” (I
Pet. 5:10). Oh, the wonder of it!
then, are those clouds with which, and in which, the Christ comes? Why, bless your heart, WE ARE! He comes with and in many clouds! There is only one other group or plurality of
objects of which it is stated that Christ come “with” or “in” them, and that is
— the SAINTS! The Holy Spirit of
inspiration is very careful to tell us that He comes “with” clouds. And He also tells us that He comes “with” His
saints! “To the end He may establish your hearts…at the coming of our Lord
Jesus Christ W-I-T-H ALL HIS SAINTS” (I Thes.
3:13). Jude says, “And Enoch also…prophesied…saying, Behold, the Lord cometh W-I-T-H TEN
THOUSANDS OF SAINTS” (Jude 14). The
Amplified Bible is helpful when it reads, “Behold,
the Lord comes W-I-T-H MYRIADS OF HOLY ONES.” But the interlinear reading from the
Emphatic Diaglott gives the clearest of all
renderings from the Greek text,
“Lo, comes Lord I-N HOLY MYRIADS OF
HIMSELF!” “Myriads of HIMSELF!” All of them begotten out of His life, all of
them partakers of His divine nature, conformed to His image, filled with His
mind, matured in
His life. Myriads of Himself, of
His own kind, born of His seed, a many brethren company of sons of God. The apostle Paul once expressed the
truth in this way, “When He shall come to
be glorified IN HIS SAINTS, and to
be admired IN ALL THEM that believe in that day” (II Thes. 1:10). John the
beloved sees this same scene in wonder-filled vision and speaking in
prophetical language writes, “Behold, He cometh WITH
CLOUDS; and every eye shall see Him.”
Oh, the mystery of it!
only I could make men see that our Lord Jesus Christ is the cloud, that is, the glory of the Father, and each son of God is
putting on the cloud which He
is. In the Old Testament days God was
revealed in the cloud of His people out of the invisible realm of spirit. But now God is raising up His glory upon a
people right here on earth! There are, in fact, many
callings and various orders of the Lord’s people in both the heavenly and the
earthly realms. God has sons, Christ has
a glorious bride, and there is a vast household of servants of the Lord on many
planes and in different orders. Each and
all of these constitute dimensions of the revelation of the Lord! It is a vast kingdom, and just as there is
one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, another glory of the stars,
and the stars themselves differ in glory, so are there many clouds of
glory. There are small clouds, large
clouds, bright clouds, covering clouds, rain clouds, and many more. And when He comes, on whatever plane He comes
in the revelation of Himself, He comes with these clouds!
things I write and these truths I set before you that your spiritual eyes might
be lifted far above the dimness of tradition to behold the realities in the
heavens of the Spirit of our God. And
may our Father help all who read these lines to understand that though the Lord
Jesus has shared His glory with us, His younger brethren, yet He retains a
glory of His own just as we each possess a sphere of glory that pertains to us.
Oh, child of God, have you not considered that the glory of God is infinite, it
is something you can give away, you can share, you can impart, and yet it is
not diminished? It is like the loaves
and the fishes that Jesus multiplied, five thousand can be fed and there is
more at the end than there was in the beginning! Oh, yes!
Jesus has given us His glory, He has multiplied His cloud upon us, and
yet He is more glorious than before! And
there are those times, as with Saul of Tarsus on the Damascus road, when the Lord Jesus appears in
His own singular glory and reveals Himself in the majesty of His Headship. He has, on occasion, appeared to me, and
spoken to me, out of His own identity and personality, apart from that of my
precious brethren. It was just the Lord
Jesus Himself! I have known many
brethren who have been so visited by, spoken to and ministered to by the Lord
Jesus Christ. Is that not what John saw
that day so long ago when He beheld one like a son of man upon a white
cloud? Not many clouds, this time, but
one cloud — His very own person, purpose, and glory!
THE CROWNED ONE
I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto a son
of man, having on his head a golden
crown” (Rev. 14:14).
most common term rendered “crown” in the New Testament is the Greek word stephanos.
Our popular name “Stephen” is derived from this word, and this crown was
usually a laurel wreath woven of fragrant branches, or the like. It was granted to winners in the Pan-Hellenic
games and also as a token of public honor for distinguished service —
especially of military leaders who had been victorious over their enemies on
the battlefield. It was also given at
marriage feasts, especially in royal
families, to celebrate the joy of the bridegroom in having “won” the maiden as
his bride. This crown always denotes A
VICTOR’S CROWN — the crown of an OVERCOMER!
How appropriate that we should read of the chief overcomer, the Lord
Jesus, that He has upon His head a golden
A GOLDEN STEPHANOS! A GOLDEN VICTOR’S CROWN! Gold speaks of the divine nature, and how true
that both He and we are only able to fully overcome by the life and power of
the divine nature! Truly He overcame
all things, including the last enemy which is death, and has been highly
exalted to the throne of His Father and now offers a place with Him there to
all His overcoming brethren!
is a strange but wonderful statement found in Revelation 4:11. It is the cry of the four living creatures
and the twenty-four elders, a heart-cry from the very throne room of God and
the Lamb. “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive
glory and honor and power…” The Lord is here declared to be worthy to
RECEIVE POWER — as well as glory and
honor. The question follows — How can
the Lord, the Creator of all things, who inherently possesses all
power, who is the almighty, the absolute sovereign
of the universe, the omnipotent One — how, I ask, is it
possible for such an One to RECEIVE POWER? What power could He be given that He
does not already possess? The
truth is, of course, that although our Lord is the supreme authority and power
of the universe He has ceded to His creatures and to His servants and to His
sons particular areas of authority and dominion. “Let us
make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion…” (Gen.
1:26). “What is man, that Thou art mindful of him? and
the son of man, that Thou visiteth him? Thou has crowned him with glory and
honor. Thou madest
him to have dominion over the works of
Thy hands…” (Ps. 8:4-6).
we see that God has given man during these past six millenniums the right to
rule his own life and destiny as well as the whole earth and indeed all
the works of His hands! Collectively, this rule
of man constitutes the “kingdoms of men” or “the kingdoms of this world” (Rev. 11:15). During the past two thousand years the world
has been influenced, controlled, and ruled first by Rome,
and later by the ten kingdoms that have emerged from the Roman
Empire as one after another has achieved almost universal
military, economic, and political supremacy in the earth.
expression of the Psalmist wherein he says concerning God’s ordination of man, “Thou crownest him with glory and honor,” denotes clearly that God gave man kingly
rule in the natural creation. It
is a wonderful day for a believer when he becomes conscious of the fact that
God’s purpose from the beginning has been that man should exercise that ruling
authority as a vicegerent — one
exercising the powers of another by delegation — in union with HIM! And this
is what man departed from in the fall. Man
set about to “do his own thing” apart from God.
He rejected God’s authority over him.
This luciferian spirit has ever been: “I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars
of God: I will ascend above the
heights of the clouds: I will be
like the most High!” (Isa. 14:13-14).
I WILL…I WILL…I WILL! So man
rules his own life and destiny apart from the mind, purpose, and will of God,
yea, in opposition to God! And the
inevitable result of this “independence”
is chaos, sin, sorrow, and death. For
how certain it is that “there is a way
which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof
are the ways of death” (Prov.14:12).
And God has allowed this to be for an appointed time.
brings us back to our question: If the Lord HAS ALL POWER, how is it
that He RECEIVES POWER? The answer is not far to be found,
for we have all prayed it hundreds or perhaps even thousands of times! “Our
Father which art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy
kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth,
as it is in heaven.” What does
it mean for God’s kingdom to come, and what does it mean for God’s will to be
done in earth, even in this earth which I am? I am
the king of my life; I am seated
upon the throne; I make the
decisions; I do according to my own
pleasure, purpose, and will. But when
Jesus THE LORD comes I must abdicate my throne and let Him
ascend the throne of my heart! The
testimony of all who have received the call to sonship
is just this: “Till I met THE LORD I was the commander of my life and my
destiny. Since He has entered into my temple HE COMMANDS!” “Thy will be done in earth” is something for
now — not tomorrow nor the ages to come.
You see, when I abdicate the throne and resign from the dominion I have independently exercised
in my life, then that realm of dominion which I had reserved unto myself is
given to the Lord. The power which I
once held in my own hands, by His concession, is yielded up to Him and He now
exercises the power and the authority that I formerly held. Thus, HE
RECEIVES POWER! He receives the right to rule over my
life and through my life. He never took that right by
force — but He receives the right when I yield it up unto Him.
there is a mystery deeper even than this.
For when God’s sons and God’s royal priesthood (the four living
creatures and the twenty-four elders) declare, “Thou art worthy to receive
power,” the record states that they “fall down before Him that sat on the
throne, and worship Him…and cast their crowns before the throne, saying,
art worthy, O Lord, to receive power!” Even in this new and glorious realm
of the kingdom of
where we reign with Christ over all things, we realize that all of our “crowns”
are truly His work and not our own! We were created, as they go on to say, for His pleasure and for Him. To HIM belongs the
glory! To HIM belongs the honor! To HIM belongs the power! To HIM belongs the crowns! The worthy One is the Lamb who was
slain! It is HE who has earned the
crowns, for HE and He alone is our salvation, our life, our righteousness, our wisdom, our power, our all!
He Himself is our FULL AND TRUE REWARD! The Lord Himself is OUR CROWN!
think that it is a scene sublime that John beholds in chapter nineteen of the
Revelation. “I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon
him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness
he doth judge and make war. And His eyes
were as a flame
of fire, and on his head were MANY CROWNS…and he hath on
his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS” (Rev.
19:11-16). Yes, my beloved, this is our
Lord, even Jesus the Christ, and He comes wearing MANY CROWNS! Here the Victor who is King of kings and Lord
of lords makes His glorious appearance crowned by all those making up His
heavenly army. Now, in this present
time, it is the overcomers, those who are called and chosen to reign with Him,
who cast their crowns down before Him and yield up all their own will, way, and
authority unto Him! Many, even now, are
crowning HIM Lord and King. He has my
crown, He has yours, and He is receiving more and more glory, honor, power, and
crowns as many sons are brought to glory!
yet, wonder of wonders, in our text
we see the one like unto a son of man having
on His head a golden crown. One crown, not many! What can it mean? It signifies His own glory, the glory that He
gives us, but the glory that is uniquely HIS, as the Firstborn among many
brethren who in all things has preeminence. I know no words, be they many or few, that could be more meaningful than these, for HE IS THE
KING ETERNAL, THE ONLY WISE GOD, AND OUR SAVIOUR! He is crowned in His own right long before we
cast our crowns before Him!
THE ANGEL OUT OF THE TEMPLE
another angel came out of the temple, crying
with a loud voice unto him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle and
reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe” (Rev. 14:15).
in chapter fourteen we met three angels, each bearing a message to the
inhabitants of the earth-realm. Another angel now appears, the first of
a second series of three, and styled “another,” not by comparison with Him who
sits upon the white cloud, but by comparison with the three angels
previously spoken of in the sixth, eighth, and ninth verses of the chapter. He is called an “angel” with reference to his
mission, not with reference to his
nature. He is not a shining personage
with wings flying through the atmosphere.
The symbol stands for the issuing forth of the word of God. Each messenger represents the coming forth of
a powerful proclamation of the Spirit!
This angel, or messenger, is said to come out from the temple — that is, out of the naos, out of the innermost shrine of the temple, the most holy
place; out from the deepest depths of the divine spirit, and out from the
manifest presence of the Lord in the temple
body — and this truth is important, for it shows that this is a message, a
word, a revelation, a proclamation coming forth right out of the heart of God
in His called and chosen elect. This
word is as a prayer, as a prophecy, as a mighty declaration by the Spirit unto
the Lord Jesus Himself, just as one might speak by the Spirit on behalf of a
sick man and command, “Lord Jesus, heal
him!” Only this command to the Lord
is thus: “Send forth Thy sickle and reap…
for the harvest of the earth is ripe!” Is
not this the very fulfillment of the instructions the Lord Himself has given us
— “The harvest truly is
great, but the laborers are few: PRAY ye
therefore the Lord of the harvest, that HE would send forth laborers into His
harvest” (Lk. 10:2).
wise man said
that there is a time for everything. The
day, the hour, the moment has now arrived; and, as usual in the Revelation, the
message of the Spirit is communicated by a messenger. The intimation that the hour is come is
grounded upon the fact that the harvest about to be gathered in is fully ripe. Some versions
render it “overripe,” but the translation, though literal, may suggest a wrong
idea. God’s time for working is always
right, not wrong; and not late, but right on time. The word points to the issue of urgency — the hour has fully come and
there can be no delay! The word in the Greek actually means dry, hard; the soft juices of the
ripening state have been absorbed and the time of its fullness has come. Thus summoned by the Spirit to the work, the
Lord Jesus enters upon the reaping without delay.
“He that sat on the cloud cast His
sickle into the earth; and the earth was reaped.”
SEND THY SICKLE
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” (Rev. 14:15).
“Send Thy sickle and reap,” are the
words of the messenger. This is the
literal rendering of the Greek, and the word used is intended by the Spirit to
lead our thoughts to the words of the Lord Jesus, “Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that He would send forth laborers into His harvest.” Again, “The
Son of man shall send His messengers, and
they shall gather out of His kingdom all things
that offend…then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father” (Mat. 13:41-43). So also the matter is stated in a parable
peculiar to Mark. “So is the kingdom
of God, as if a man
should cast seed into the ground; and should sleep, and rise night and day, and
the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not
how. For the earth bringeth
forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn
in the ear. But when the fruit is
brought forth, immediately He sendeth the sickle, because the harvest is
come” (Mk. 4:26-29).
failed to understand the word “send” in reference to the sickle because we also
failed to understand that the sickle is a symbol standing for a people. As diamonds are dug from the depths of the
earth, so the truth is dug from the depths of the mind of the Lord. Therefore let us UNDERSTAND! The “One sitting upon the cloud” is our Lord
Jesus Christ. “He” also is the
reaper. The “angels” with their
proclamations signify the utterance of the revelation of the Lord by the Spirit
out from the temple
body. The One like a son of man uses a “sickle”
to harvest the “grain” of the earth. He
is not the sickle, but He uses the
sickle. Therefore the elect of God are
not the One sitting on the cloud, for the mystic “sickle” signifies the actual
instrument of reaping, that is, the laborers, the messengers, the called and
chosen elect of God, the new corporate man, the manchild,
the 144,000, the manifest sons of God ordained and sent forth to gather the harvest. The symbols change a little from scene to
scene, but that is always how it is with the symbols in parables, as you will
clearly see upon a study of the parables of our Lord in the four Gospels.
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” (Rev. 14:15-16).
will understand a great mystery when we understand that every age ends with a
harvest. Harvest is the time of maturity
and fullness when each seed, having sprouted, releasing its life, and having
passed through all the various stages of growth and development, finally reproduces
itself many fold — a vast harvest!
Harvest is a time of reaping rather than sowing — a time of gathering fruit. The harvest of the kingdom of Judah
serves as a type of the harvest of this, our age. Our Lord’s words to His disciples as He sent
them forth, during His ministry to that church-nation, should be carefully
remembered, as giving proof that their special work then was reaping,
and not sowing. He said to
them, “Lift up your eyes and look on the
fields; for they are white already to harvest: and he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal” (Jn. 4:35-36). As the chief reaper in that harvest (as He
also is in this one), the Lord said to the under-reapers, His sickle, “I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed
no labor; other men (the patriarchs, prophets, priests, and kings) labored, and
ye entered into their labors” — to reap the fruits of those centuries of effort.
the Israelite harvest, the Lord, rather than to make goats into sheep, sought
the blinded and scattered sheep of Israel, calling for all who already were His sheep, that they might
hear His voice and follow Him. These
sheep were the final product of all
God’s dealings in that age. They
constituted the FULLNESS that the revelation and life of that age could
produce. They became the embodiment and personification of all the truth God had planted in men’s hearts
from the days of Moses until Christ.
They were indeed the grain, the fruit, the
at the end of the age!
and larger sowing took place at the dawn of our present age. On a certain day some Greeks approached the
disciples of Jesus with the request, “Sirs, we would see Jesus.” This request was promptly carried to Jesus by
Andrew and Philip, to which our Lord gave this strange and very remarkable
reply, “Except a grain of wheat fall into
the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die,
it bringeth forth much fruit” (Jn. 12:24).
In this cryptic statement Jesus likened Himself to a seed, the “grain of
wheat” that was sown in the earth to fall into the ground and die. Jesus, the
Son of the living God, would be sown as a seed and be raised again. Jesus was the first of a new kind of God-man,
and not only was He raised out of the tomb of physical death, but in centuries
yet to come THIS SEED would produce a vast harvest of God-men in His exact
image and likeness.
No seed is raised from the earth as just a singular seed, there is always an
increase, the natural law of progression being “first the blade, then the ear, then the full corn in the ear.” Only
one seed was planted in the earth, and the Christ who came out of that Jewish
tomb was not the harvest — merely the blade breaking the
ground. The multitude that will appear
in the time of harvest, first the firstfruits, then
the full harvest, will be the seed of the seed, the increase, everyone
bearing the image and likeness of that CHRIST SEED which was planted in death. It is HIS LIFE that sprouted even higher on
the day of Pentecost and has been developing in the body of Christ throughout
the past twenty centuries. The “much
fruit” will be a vast company in the time of harvest in whom the fullness of
His life has been perfectly formed.
John, his soul aflame with inspiration wrote, “Beloved, now are we the children of God, and it doth not yet appear
what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (I Jn.
3:2). When He shall appear, when He
shall be revealed, unveiled, we SHALL BE LIKE HIM! Wonderfully LIKE HIM! EXACTLY like Him! In His image!
In His likeness, in the omniscience of His wisdom, in the purity of His truth, in the
omnipotence of His power, in the immutability of His love, in the faithfulness
of His purpose, full of His grace, His kindness, and His unending mercy! Since Jesus, the Son of God, is the seed which
was sown, and the life that has grown, nothing short of this can be the harvest! The corporate body of Christ shall be
Him for He shall be perfectly formed in them all! That is the mystery. That is the harvest.
on this response of Jesus to the Greeks, George Hawtin wrote, “I am certain
that the Lord’s reply was an enigma to those men to whom He spoke. The Greeks looking for Jesus could hardly be
expected to comprehend a mystery so deep and eternal. They made their earnest request, “Sirs, we
would see Jesus,” and He responded with His mysterious dissertation. We are not told whether Jesus ever consented
to have those Greeks interview Him, but in answer to their request He gave them
the oblique reply about the grain of wheat falling into the earth to die, then
to be raised again and bring forth a vast harvest. His message to them was simply this: If they
saw Jesus at that time they would see only one seed, one grain in the image of
God — the man Christ Jesus. But there would
be more, much more to CHRIST than appeared to them that day! A whole universal field of ripened grain was
to follow in His likeness, born of that original seed, imbued with the very
same life, raised in the same resurrection, who would be “the sons of God” and “the
Christ” even as He is a son of God and the Christ of God.”
testified, “I am the true vine, and my
Father is the husbandman. Every branch
in me that beareth not fruit He taketh away: and
every branch that beareth fruit, He purgeth (pruneth) it, that it may
bring forth more fruit” (Jn.
15:1-2). The church, the vineyard of God! Surely this truth alone is sufficient to
settle it in our hearts that the church’s day must end in a harvest of many
sons brought to glory! If we are
the planting of the Lord, then NOTHING SHALL PREVENT THE GREAT HUSBANDMAN FROM
BRINGING HIS CROP TO MATURITY!
have considered the matter as we ought, we will surely see that this is not the
hour to be looking for doom and gloom and for the devil to take over the world,
or for Jesus to come and “evacuate” His saints away to heaven. The devil has run rough shod over the earth
for six thousand long years, since that fateful day way back there in Eden. The night has been long and dark. But, thank God! a
new day is now dawning in the earth. The
night is almost over. The devil’s day is
not dawning — the day of the Lord is upon us!
The day of the great antichrist is not knocking at the door — it is
almost over! How truly the creation
groans, and travails in pain together until now, waiting for the manifestation
of the sons of God! Oh, the foul lives,
the defiled consciences, the troubled minds, the broken hearts, the sick
bodies, the crying oppressions, the multiplied miseries of our race! What a world of sin and woe is contained in
this one word — war! What famines and pestilences, storms and
earthquakes, floods and fires, revolutions and massacres inflict pain, sorrow, and death
upon millions of the inhabitants of the world!
The deepest and truest compassion for the sufferings of humanity must
prompt the cry, “How long, O Lord?” And far away in the depths of my spirit
today I hear the glad cry of the messenger from out of the temple, “Thrust in Thy sickle and reap; for the time
is come for Thee to reap; for the
harvest of the earth is ripe!” And
apart altogether from the joy and glory that is to be brought at the revelation
of Jesus Christ, the saints must long for His unveiling THAT CREATION ITSELF
MAY BE DELIVERED FROM THE BONDAGE OF CORRUPTION, INTO THE GLORIOUS LIBERTY OF
THE SONS OF GOD!
we thus stand, as it were on Pisgah’s heights, and view the grand prospect just
before us, our hearts rejoice in the Lord’s great plan, with unspeakable joy;
and while we realize that much of God’s church is still in the wilderness of
humiliation and testing, and that the hour of her actual triumph still lies
before us, yet, seeing the indications of its rapid approach, and by faith
already discerning the dawn of the New Day, we lift up our hearts and rejoice,
knowing that the great husbandman is faithfully and assiduously watching over
His vineyard and that He fully expects and daily works toward a vast and
glorious harvest! Don’t think for one
moment, my precious brother, my dear sister, that the
harvest pertains exclusively to the manifest sons of God. Oh, no!
They are but the FIRSTFRUITS!
They are not, in fact, the harvest itself — the harvest is that which follows the gleaning of the firstfruits! We must
not confuse the two. We will speak more
about this in a moment, but suffice it to say, the harvest concerns the church of Jesus Christ. Our wonderful and glorious
Head has a marvelous plan for His church, and He will sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
and He shall present it to Himself a
glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; for it shall yet be holy and without blemish
before Him. Oh, what fullness of
blessing and cause for joy and thanksgiving this truth contains!
harvest time! “Pray ye therefore the Lord of the
harvest, that He may send forth
laborers into His harvest.” Speak to the Man on the cloud that He send forth His sickle into the earth,
and reap: for the time is come to reap; for the harvest of the earth is
ripe. That is what I am praying for in
these days. I am praying for the sons of
God. I am praying for the church, the
body of Christ. I am praying for all who know Him and
love His appearing. I am praying for you, my beloved. I am praying for a mighty harvest in these
FROM FIRSTFRUITS TO HARVEST
is the harvest? The vast majority of
Bible commentators say that it is God’s wrath and judgment upon the
nations. Generally they refer to the
“blood flowing even unto the horses’ bridles” as the portrayal of horrid war and
great massacre. I have no hesitation whatever in telling you
that the harvest is not a work of judgment!
That is proved by its being the same in kind as the firstfruits
which have preceded it! Such as the firstfruits are, such is the harvest. Let me explain.
in the first part of chapter fourteen of the Revelation is that of the Lamb
upon mount Zion and
the one hundred and forty-four thousand with Him. As John beholds the scene, he
is told that the 144,000 upon mount
are those who follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth,
who have the Father’s name written on their foreheads, and they are redeemed from among men, being the
FIRSTFRUITS unto God and to the Lamb.
The term “firstfruits” is drawn from the
well-known offering of “firstfruits” under the Old
Testament law of Israel,
in which the first portion of any harvest was gathered
prior to the full harvest and dedicated to God, in token that the whole
belonged to Him, and was recognized as His.
These firstfruits were chosen because they
were the very first of the grain in the field to ripen. Hence it always implies that something of the
same kind will follow it. If there was a
field of wheat, the firstfruits, the very first of
the ripened grain, would be offered up to God, following which the entire field
of wheat would eventually come to the same condition of maturity, though not
offered up to God in the same special way for His unique purpose. Thus, the 144,000 are the firstfruits of
God’s redemption, the very first of all the Lord’s people to enter into full
and complete redemption in spirit, soul, and body, and into the full likeness,
image, and stature of Jesus Christ as sons of the Father! Many have supposed that the manifest sons of
God are to be eternally unique, different from all the rest of God’s
people. But such cannot be! The firstfruits are
not firstfruits because they are different, nor because they are better;
they are firstfruits simply because they are
are firstfruits — meaning that following this the full
harvest will be brought before God, gathered
into His barn (kingdom), for the harvest must come as well as the firstfruits. It
is significant to note here that just before the ministry of the three angels
we are shown a wonderful picture of the firstfruits
with the Lamb upon mount
Zion. So what follows the messages of the three
angels? Ah, immediately we see the
dramatic picture of the gathering
in of the full harvest! “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 has 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
(realm) was reaped” (Rev. 14:15-16).
The reaping of the “earth-realm” can mean nothing else but that the
Lord’s people who have dwelt for ages in the carnal church systems of men have
at last shaken off the shackles of religious Babylon, have been dealt with mightily by
God, and been purged, cleansed, purified, refined, tested, tried, and
transformed into the image of Christ!
What a harvest that will be! In
our text only
of this great moving of God is revealed; in chapter sixteen, however,
under the outpouring of the “seven last plagues,” we are shown in great detail
the precise processes of God by which this wonderful work is
accomplished! It is indeed wonderful!
the firstfruits and the harvest we have the three
angels’ messages. The Holy Spirit bears
witness within my spirit to the truth that the great purpose of the three
angels’ messages is to PREPARE THE HARVEST FOR REAPING! This is the positive side of God’s dealing
with His people. It is a three-fold word
sent to the Lord’s church unto all the ends of the earth, breaking up the fallow ground, and preparing
the hearts of all to experience the fullness of redemption already revealed
within the firstfruits! On the other hand, the “seven last plagues”
signify the working of God’s left hand, His hand of correction and purging,
with consuming fire, by which all the roots, stones, and weeds of the false
teachings of man and the ways of the flesh and the world are rooted out of
men’s lives so that there can be indeed a bountiful harvest!
this great hour God is calling, separating, dealing with, and consecrating His firstfruits. And
soon there will follow the harvest! What
can we do in this significant time? All
who have received the call to sonship are yielding
themselves under the mighty hand of God.
How we yearn for the full manifestation of the firstfruits! How we long for the eventual harvest! And yet we cannot make any of this happen! But
we can rest patiently with the great Husbandman of the vineyard, in full
assurance of the mighty working of His life within. As the apostle James has exhorted us, “Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the
coming (Gr: manifest presence) of the Lord.
Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the
precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he
receive the early and latter rain. Be ye also patient; stablish your
hearts: for the coming (manifest presence) of the Lord draweth
nigh” (James 5:7-8).
be continued… J. PRESTON EBY