The Great Harvest

Today’s Reading: Revelation 14 – 15

As John’s Revelation continued, I wonder if he remembered back to a day when he sat by the lake with Jesus. A large crowd gathered around Jesus – so large that Jesus got into a boat and began to teach the people as they stood on the shore. He spoke in parables, first of a farmer planting and then of a harvest that comes at the end of the world.

The first parable is one of my favorites. The farmer is planting seed in his field and some falls on the footpath where birds come and eat it. Other seed falls on soil so shallow that the seed are unable to grow deep roots and they die. Other seed falls among thorns that grow up and choke the tender plants. Still other seed falls on fertile soil and produces a great harvest.

“Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.” – Matthew 13:9

The seed on the footpath represents those who hear but don’t understand. The seed on shallow soil represents those who hear the message, receiving it with joy, but never grow deep roots. They fall away as soon as problems or persecution comes. The seed among thorns represents those who hear God’s word but the message is crowded out by the worries of life and the lure of wealth, so no fruit is produced. The seed on good soil represents those who truly hear and understand God’s word and produce a harvest of righteousness. Then Jesus told this parable:

“The Kingdom of Heaven is like a farmer who planted good seed in his field. But that night as the workers slept, his enemy came and planted weeds among the wheat, then slipped away. When the crop began to grow and produce grain, the weeds also grew.

“The farmer’s workers went to him and said, ‘Sir, the field where you planted that good seed is full of weeds! Where did they come from?’

‘An enemy has done this!’ the farmer exclaimed.

‘Should we pull out the weeds?’ they asked.

‘No,’ he replied, ‘you’ll uproot the wheat if you do. Let both grow together until the harvest. Then I will tell the harvesters to sort out the weeds, tie them into bundles, and burn them, and to put the wheat in the barn.’” – Matthew 13:24-30

Perhaps John was the disciple who spoke up later, after the crowds had left, and asked Jesus to explain the parable.

“The Son of Man is the farmer who plants the good seed. The field is the world, and the good seed represents the people of the Kingdom. The weeds are the people who belong to the evil one. The enemy who planted the weeds among the wheat is the devil. The harvest is the end of the world, and the harvesters are the angels.

“Just as the weeds are sorted out and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the world. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will remove from his Kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. And the angels will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in their Father’s Kingdom. Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand!” – Matthew 13:37-43

I wonder if the memory of this day came back to John as he stood before the throne and watched the Son of Man seated on a white cloud – a crown on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand. An angel came from the Temple and shouted:

“Swing the sickle, for the time of harvest has come; the crop on earth is ripe.” So the one sitting on the cloud swung his sickle over the earth, and the whole earth was harvested.

After that, another angel came from the Temple in heaven, and he also had a sharp sickle. Then another angel, who had power to destroy with fire, came from the altar. He shouted to the angel with the sharp sickle, “Swing your sickle now to gather the clusters of grapes from the vines of the earth, for they are ripe for judgment.” So the angel swung his sickle over the earth and loaded the grapes into the great winepress outside the city, and the blood flowed from the winepress in a stream about 180 miles long and as high as a horse’s bridle. – Revelation 14:15-20

Then all the people who had been victorious over the beast held harps and sang the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb:

“Great and marvelous are your works, O Lord God, the Almighty.
Just and true are your ways, O King of the nations.
Who will not fear you, Lord, and glorify your name?
For you alone are holy.
All nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous deeds have been revealed.”
– Revelation 15:3-4

“Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches.” – Rev. 3:22