Troublesome Topic: Is “Harvesting” the Same as the “Rapture”?

Revelation 14:14


I looked and behold, a white cloud, and

upon the cloud there was one sitting who had the appearance of the SON OF MAN; a crown

of gold

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was on his head;

and he had a sharp sickle

in His hand.


I looked and was amazed to see a demonstration of purity and superhuman power, and the one in control over that power had the appearance of GOD’S ANSWER TO MAN’S PROBLEMS;

proof of the victories he had won fairly and honorably made him highly esteemed; he also had the resources to punish or reward and the ability to do so effectively.

Revelation 14:15


Then another angel came

out of the temple

shouting in a loud voice

to the one

sitting on the cloud, “Put forth your sickle and reap,

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for the hour to reap has come,

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because the harvest of the earth has ripened.


Then another messenger came from the place where God’s presence connects with man’s need,

using a voice that everyone could hear and announcing to the one

in control of the power, “Begin the process of putting consequences into action, for the hour of consequences has come, because the actions of those to be judged have reached the full extent of their expression.”

Revelation 14:16


Then the one sitting on the cloud

put forth his sickle

upon the earth

and the earth was harvested.

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Then the one who exercises superhuman power took the resources needed to punish or reward and applied them to all mankind, and each person received the consequences of his actions.

Revelation 14:17


Another angel

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came out of

the temple in heaven,

and he also had a sharp sickle,


Another messenger came from the place close to God where God’s presence connects with man’s need,

and he also had the resources necessary to punish or reward,

Revelation 14:18


Yet another angel approached, this one came from

the altar, with authority over

the fire, and he called out with a loud voice to the one with the sharp sickle saying, “Dispatch

your sharp sickle

and gather

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the clusters from the vine that covers

the earth,

because its grapes

have ripened.”


Yet another messenger approached, this one came from the tool for staying connected to God; he came with authority over that which punishes and purifies, and he called out with a loud voice to the one with the resources to punish or reward saying, “Dispatch your resources to punish or reward,

put an end to all activity and begin the process of revealing the deeds and accomplishments of

all people because their deeds and accomplishments are now

fully evident.”

Revelation 14:19


So the angel thrust his sickle

into the earth and


the vine of the earth, and

cast it into the

great winepress of the wrath of GOD.


So the angel dispatched his resources for punishment or reward on all people, putting an end to all activity and beginning the process of revealing the deeds and accomplishments of all mankind and putting them into the pressure cooker of the wrath of THE CREATOR AND OWNER OF ALL THINGS.

The two acts of harvesting depicted in Revelation 14 do not sound like what is usually described as the rapture. The most natural interpretation of Rev 14:14-20 is that it is the application of consequences for actions (punishments or rewards), not a rapture which takes us to heaven and gets us out of danger.

Another huge difference between the teachings of Jesus and modern teaching on eschatology is exemplified by the words of  Rev 1:7, “Every eye will see Him; even those who pierced Him will see Him and when they see Him coming in this way, all the tribes of the earth will wail because of Him.” This agrees with Matt 24:30. Everyone will see him, they will know what it means, and they will mourn. The modern-day teaching of a secret rapture is anti-biblical.

God does not tell us how or when, only that He will punish and reward according to how each person has lived.

Could it be that one harvest will be for the righteous and one harvest will be for the wicked?

That seems unlikely. Verses 15 and 16, about the harvest performed by Jesus, both state that this harvesting was of “the earth,” without differentiating between the righteous and the wicked. Revelation is always very clear about that distinction; if this were only harvesting of the saints it would have made that clear.

Some people think this refers to the harvest of the saints because it is the harvest of grain, and Jesus’ parable of the wheat and the tares depicts believers as ripened grain. This is not outside of the realm of possibility, but it is based on supposition and has a few problems. The second harvest of Rev 14 (vv17-20) is a harvest of grapes, which some equate to the punishing of the wicked. One problem with separating the two is that this imagery seems to come from Joel 3:9-16, but there (especially v 13) both the harvest of grain and the harvest of the grapes (and their subsequent trampling) are pictures of God’s vengeance on the nations, i.e. all the wicked of the earth (Joel 3:9,11,12). This passage in Rev 14:14-20 utilizes both the harvest of grain and the harvest of grapes and therefore resembles Joel 3 more than it does the parable of the wheat and the tares.

However, the bigger problem is that Revelation never describes 7 years of unique tribulation. The modern rapture theory is built on the idea of a 7 year unique tribulation, without which the entire system collapses.

If the rapture is so pivotal, why do we not see it in Revelation clearly and repeatedly? If it is not pivotal, why do we argue about it so much?

The harvest of souls is not a major theme of Revelation. This harvesting of souls is described in Revelation in only six verses compared to the entire book of Revelation which is 404 verses. Christ’s return in the clouds is referred to in 1:7 but not many details are given. In other words, even if this is a reference to the rapture as some claim, it does not seem to be one of the key emphases of the book of Revelation because only 7 out of 404 verses are dedicated to it. Many of our discussions today regarding prophecy revolve around an issue that is basically a non-issue in Revelation, even if we accept the experts’ interpretation of this passage. That alone should show us that such discussions are off-track.

Is a mid-trib rapture the answer?

No. It is impossible to support a mid tribulation rapture if that tribulation does not exist.

Are we at some point going to be caught up with Jesus in the air? Yes, that is made clear by Paul. However, the purpose will not be to get us out of hardship, but to return immediately to earth and be a part of what Jesus will do.

How can I be sure of this?

The symbolism is not used correctly. In those days if a king or important person came to your house you would go out to meet him and then accompany him back into your house (George Eldon Ladd, The Blessed Hope, p. 91.). It was considered rude to wait at your door for him to come to you. That custom is still practiced in many parts of the world today. Every Jew of John’s day would tell you that when the New Testament speaks of us meeting Jesus in the air we are meeting Him as He comes to earth, He is not meeting us as we are going to heaven. The popular notion of Him meeting us in the clouds and then taking us to heaven makes us greater than Jesus, and Jesus lessor than us! (I get shivers and my skin crawls just by typing those words!) It is impossible that the imagery of meeting Jesus in the air means what modern westerners say it means!

Also, the fact that we need to be willing to suffer for Him is made perfectly clear over and over again.

Therefore, the simplest and most natural understanding of Revelation leads us to understand that we should not focus on being “raptured,” but rather on being faithful.

The next lesson in A New Perspective on Popular Topics in Revelation is: The 144,000 Who Are Sealed

This is the last lesson in the topic The Most Important Excerpts from this Study on Revelation. Thank you for reading.



The most common meaning for gold is the idea of “purity.” In the context of victories won purity is demonstrated by having won without cheating, without relying on someone else’s strength while calling it your own. He won it “fair and square,” thus He deserves all the honor and praise.

2: “Put forth your sickle and reap”

Even though this sounds like a command, it is actually an announcement about timing. The angel does not command Jesus to bring in the harvest, rather he comes from the place where God’s finger is constantly on the pulse of the human spiritual condition, bringing a message from God the Father, that the time for harvest has come. Of course Jesus already knows that too, but it is announced so that everyone will know that the actions of Jesus are justified by the need for judgment.


“Reaping” had always carried the idea of consequences, e.g. “you reap what you sow.”


Who does the reaping? It is the “Son of Man,” whom I call “the answer to man’s problems,” that is carrying out this action. Remember also that the phrase “Son of Man” was intended as a summary that wrapped up everything Jesus is. It started out as a somewhat empty container that God filled with the meaning He wanted, free from the preconceived notions of spiritually ignorant people. This package includes bringing to bear the consequences of one’s actions and choices. He is worthy of this honor, for He gave His very life to offer salvation to all. We can count on Him to be merciful and kind to those who

strive to follow Him, yet firm and harsh with those who refuse to accept His sacrifice. See the Special comment at the end of this section for more on the “gathering/harvesting” of the souls of men.


The Greek word for “another” means, “another of the same kind.” But the first one mentioned is Jesus, and this second one is an angel. We can interpret this in one of two ways. Either it is Jesus in all the instances of this section serving as the “messenger,” the one who reveals God’s will and carries out God’s will, (even calling to himself to begin the harvest), or it is Jesus and some angels all functioning under God the Father’s authority to carry out His will. It is most likely the latter, but the insertion of the word “another” does raise some interesting questions. At any rate, it sounds like two occasions of harvesting, not just one. This presents a real problem for the “rapture” as it is usually taught.


To “gather” is not the same as to “judge,” but it is the end of all efforts to influence the final outcome, and the beginning of the process of judgement. And what is judgment? It is a revealing of the truth of one’s actions, followed by the consequences those actions merit.