We, Christians, live in a time when we appear being suspended between two worlds (John 17:1). Never before was the world so capable of self-annihilation. The fear that heaven and earth can collide and prepare the way for “Christ’s Return” could come at any time. Both, heaven and earth must pass away before Christ can reign on earth and before the “New World” can take shape. According to Peter, the universe will dissolve by heat (II Peter 3:10). Meanwhile, Jesus is preparing a place for those who die for Him in His Father’s Home; namely, heaven (John 14:2-3). During this time, those who have died in the Lord rest in paradise, the place of the dead (Revelation 14:13). Man is in the world and he must assist the Holy Spirit to help him become a new being in Christ so that man can inherit the “New World” with Christ as the ruler (Romans 8:17). The Lord Jesus and the saints, who are with Christ, are praying for their fellowmen who will also face persecutions and tribulations, and they will not just be simply religious. The burning of incense was a companion to prayer, and it had atoning and protective powers of the victims against plagues that the executing angels would discharge over the world (Exodus 30). The terror and desolation, which will strike the earth, will affect all men. It will be similar to God’s discipline of Egypt when Pharaoh terrorized, forced Israel into slavery, and then refused to let the people go so they could serve their Lord God in the world (Exodus 7-12). The world, from the start, has terrorized, persecuted, and killed Christ Himself and his people. Christ promised that his people will not lose a hair (Luke 21:18), their suffering will be shortened (Mark 13:2), and the angels will remove the elect from the conflict (Matthew 24:31). The sealing and saving of the remnant of Israel and the multitude of Gentiles, in Revelation Chapter 7, was and is Christ’s confirmation. Evil will engage in its own demise.
When the Lamb (Christ) opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. Then I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them. And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer; and he was given much incense to mingle with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar before the throne; and the smoke of the incense rose with the prayers of the saints from the hand of the angel before God. Then the angel took the censer and filled it with fire from the altar and threw it on the earth; and there were peals of thunder, loud noises, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake (Revelation 8:1-5).
BEFORE WE CONTINUE IN REVELATION, LET US READ WHAT THE SON OF MAN PREDICTED
Salvation and the seed of the Gospel is a gift of God! The seeding, planting, tending, and weeding is man’s responsibility; however, the harvesting and separating from the weeds is an angelic task. Rejecting and disgracing God’s Son and the Holy Spirit is unforgivable (Matthew 12:30-32; Luke 11:20). Think about these two parables: it is about God, the Owner, and Israel, the dishonest steward, with strict guidelines and the Law of Moses. Revelation fourteen predicts how Christ will harvest the world.
“Hear another parable, ‘There was a householder who planted a vineyard, and set a hedge around it, and dug a wine press in it, and built a tower, and let it out to tenants, and went into another country. When the season of fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the tenants, to get his fruit; and the tenants took his servants and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. Again he sent other servants, more than the first; and they did the same to them. Afterward he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir; come, let us kill him and have his inheritance.’ And they took him and cast him out of the wineyard, and killed him. When therefore the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?” They said to him, “He will put those wretches to a miserable death,and let out the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the fruits in their seasons.”
Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the scriptures: ‘The very stone which the builders rejected has become the head of the corner; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes’? Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation producing the fruits of it.”
When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they perceived that he was speaking about them. But when they tried to arrest him, they feared the multitudes, because they held him to be a prophet (Matthew 21:33-46).
Another parable Jesus put before them (disciples), saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. And the servants of the householder came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then has it weeds?’ He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ But he said, ‘No; lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. Let both grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn’” (Matthew 13:24-30).
Then Jesus left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples came to him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.” He answered, “He who sows the good seed is the Son of man; the field is the world, and the good seed means the sons of the kingdom; the weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the close of the age, and the reapers are angels. Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the close of the age. The Son of man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evil-doers, and throw them into the furnace of fire; there men will weep and gnash their teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear (Matthew 13:36-43).
Then I (John) looked, and lo, a white cloud, and seated on the cloud one like a Son of man, with a golden crown on his head, and a sharp sickle in his hand. And another angel came out of the temple, calling him with a loud voice to him who sat upon the cloud, “Put in your sickle, and reap, for the hour to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is fully ripe” So he who sat upon the cloud swung his sickle on the earth, and the earth was reaped.
And another angel came out of the temple in heaven, and he too had a sharp sickle. Then another angel came out from the altar, the angel who has power over fire, and he called with a loud voice to him who had the sharp sickle, “Put in your sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth, for its grapes are ripe. So the angel swung his sickle on the earth and gathered the vintage of the earth, and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God; and the wine press was trodden outside the city, and blood flowed from the wine press, as high as a horse’s bridle, for one thousand six hundred stadia (miles),(Revelation 14:14-20).
THE FINAL HARVEST TIME MUST NOT BE ATTACHED TO THE PAST, THE PRESENT, OR THE FUTURE.
It was incorrect to presume that the fall of Jerusalem would bring Christ back to restore Israel; or at least transform the believers into angels and spirits, who could go to heaven and live with Christ. Harvesting, judging, and condemning are constantly in progress as designed by the Creator to regenerate and procreate, which is necessary to sustain life on earth. The Holy Spirit urged Paul to put the process in a nutshell:
“Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption; but he who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life” (Galatians 6:7-8).
Now, the fall of Jerusalem and the end of Judea in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21 did not bring Jesus back; and neither were the followers of Jesus removed from this world, nor did the “Last Harvest” begin. However, the destruction and persecution of Jerusalem did give the Christians a taste of what all those yet to be born will face and endure for their faith in Christ Jesus, just as their Lord and Savior Himself endured. They will be betrayed, persecuted, tried, be imprisoned and be killed. That is why Jesus warned all his followers not to believe in rumors because there will be, no doubt, to all the world believers and unbelievers who will recognize the “Crucified One.” Jesus’ Revelation to the “Seven Churches” are aimed at all the Churches and also at the world. To neglect and reject Christ’s discloser will result in serious and tragic consequences.
John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from Him who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the first-born of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, every one who pierced him; and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so Amen (Revelation 1:4-7).
When He (Jesus) opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, and the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken by a gale; the sky vanished like a scroll that is rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. Then the kings of the earth and the great men and the generals and the rich and the strong, and every one, slave and free, hid in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand before it?” (Revelation 6:12-17).
We shall have one more chapter in this series.