Friday, December 31, 2010

The Wheat, the Tares, and the End of the World: Part 3 . . . and the Grapes??

In the last few posts, we have been talking about the Harvest at the End of this World. Most Christians don't know that there is a very clear illustration of this in chapter 14 of the book of Revelation.

Before we look at it, I want to remind you that the order of events on the last day is:

  1. The unsaved nations are gathered in preparation for Armageddon
  2. The saved are caught up to meet the Lord in the clouds
  3. The unsaved nations are destroyed at Armageddon

I also want to make sure that you are familiar with a couple of biblical terms. The battle of Armageddon is fought in the Valley of Megiddo. Because it takes place in a valley, and because it is a real blood-bath, it is often referred to figuratively as 'treading out grapes in a wine press.'

With that in mind, please read Revelation 14:14-16.

"And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the
cloud one sat like unto the Son of man [that's Jesus!], 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."

This is the gathering of the saints to meet the Lord in the air. Revelation 1:7 tells us that the visibl
e Second Coming will be with clouds.

Now watch, something else happens (v. 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."

Here we see that the saints are called 'the harvest of the earth' and the unsaved are called 'the vine of the earth.' The saints are gathered to the clouds, and the unsaved are gathered to Armageddon, the winepress of God, where they are destroyed.

This is a very clear picture of the wheat and tares/grapes being allowed to grow together unto the end of the world. (By the way, grapes are very different from wheat and represent the obviously unsaved people of the world. Tares look just like wheat and, as such, represent those who profess to be saved but in actuality are not.)

Before we close this post, I'd like to look at one Old Testament passage that is an exact parallel to this one.

Joel 3:9-11

Here is the first gathering. The unsaved nations are gathered against the nation of Israel, more specifically the city of Jerusalem. They hope to destroy it. However, God has other plans, and they are being gathered for their own destruction!

"Proclaim ye this among the Gentiles; Prepare war, wake up the mighty men, let all the men of war draw near; let them come up: Beat your plowshares into swords and your pruninghooks into spears: let the weak say, I am strong. Assemble yourselves, and come, all ye heathen, and gather yourselves together round about:"

"...thither cause thy mighty ones to come down, O LORD."

The mighty ones of God who come down are the believers who return with him -- that's us!!

The valley of Jehoshasphat is the valley of Megiddo (more or less) where the battle of Armageddon will be fought. This is the winepress of God.

"Let the heathen be wakened, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat: for there will I sit to judge all the heathen round about. Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe: come, get you down; for the press is full, the fats overflow; for their wickedness is great."

"Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision."

And here is another reference to the valley of Megiddo.

"The sun and the moon shall be darkened, and the stars shall withdraw their shining."

Matthew 24 tells us that "Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light,..." so here we have a time stamp that tells us when these things will happen. The battle of Armageddon, like the Rapture, will happen immediately AFTER the Tribulation.

"The LORD also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake:”

This is the "shout" of 1 Thess. 4:16 which is actually a 'war cry.' It is a ROAR! Notice that the heavens "shake" at this point. Revelation mentions this in several places, always associated with the post-tribulation return of Christ.

“but the LORD will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel."

And, behold, the Blessed Hope is right where it should be!! It is always connected with this great, singular event known as the Day of the Lord, the Second Coming of Christ, etc.

After all this, we enter into the Millennial reign of Christ on earth, a time of peace and plenty.

"So shall ye know that I am the LORD your God dwelling in Zion, my holy mountain: then shall Jerusalem be holy, and there shall no strangers pass through her any more. And it shall come to pass in that day, that the mountains shall drop down new wine, and the hills shall flow with milk, and all the rivers of Judah shall flow with waters, and a fountain shall come forth out of the house of the LORD, and shall water the valley of Shittim."

Again, this is all very simple to understand once you know the key: The Rapture occurs AT the Revelation!

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