NLT - 16 So the one sitting on the cloud swung his sickle over the earth, and the whole earth was harvested.
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I interpret this to mean that the entire world will be judged... when you harvest a crop, there is some that is good, and some that is bad, but either way the entire crop is dealt with at harvest. Some of the crop goes to market, and some is used to feed the stock. Same with us... some are good in God's eyes i.e. believers, obedient and faithful, and some are bad, unbelievers, disobedient and unfaithful, but either way ALL will be judged/harvested appropriately in the proper season/end (end times as referenced in Revelations). A simple view I know but... just the way it translates to me! Blessings, in HIM, Lynn
First, let me state emphatically that this is just my opinion. Many would disagree with me but this is the way that I understand the book of Revelations. The verse you refer to is the Rapture of the saved. I believe that there will be a mid-tribulation Rapture not a pretribulation Rapture. I base this on many things. In the book of Daniel and elsewhere, we are told of a period of seven years that there would be a great Tribulation. Also Daniel speaks of times, times and half a time (three and one half years) which is also mentioned in Revelation having to do with the seven year Tribulation period. Other verses speak of one thousand two hundred sixty and one thousand two hundred ninety days, also three and one half years. It is clear that the mid-point of Tribulation is important. Secondly, it is clear that Christians are present through the first half of Tribulation and are spoken of frequently during the first half of the book of Revelation. Those who teach of a pretribulation Rapture teach that these are those who get saved after the Rapture. I personally don't believe that once believers are taken out that there could be a mass of conversions with none to witness to them. Also 2 Thessilonians chapter 2 speaks of One who holds back the man of Lawlessness until He is taken out of the way. I believe this One is the Holy Spirit. And I believe that Rev. 13:10 is the time when He will be taken out of the way. "If anyone will be taken into captivity, into captivity he will go. If anyone will be killed with the sword, he will killed with the sword." Which is another way of saying in the vernacular of the time it was written, you can no longer be saved. (Because the Holy Spirit will no longer be present.) Also we are told (Also in 2 Thessilonians I think) that "the gift of tongues is for the believer" (so that they may become believers), but "the gift of prophecy is for believers." In the beginning of the book of Revelation, we are told that it is a book of prophecy. In other words it was written for believers. Why would believers need to know it if we were not going to be there? The way that I understand the seven year period of Tribulation is that for the first three and one half years, Satan will be allowed to persecute the Saints. This will be a last chance for the unsaved to be saved. After this period, God steps in and says I have had enough. He will then take out His people (the verse you mentioned the Harvest of the Earth) and the Holy Spirit and then poor out His wrath on those remaining who chose the Beast (Satan) and took his mark. There are many other verses and references to this period on which I based my conclusions but due to space here I think the above conveys the gist of it.
There is some confusion for Christians between the word "earth" and "world" in the Bible. For example, Rev. 16:14 says "For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty." The earth in this context appears to be a part of the world, but not identical with it. The harvesting or reaping of the earth is done with a sickle, suggesting the use of sharp metal blades. Swords, spears and arrows were the primary weapons during John's lifetime. Notice that the earth is harvested first for grain and next for grapes, an allusion to the bread and wine of holy communion. These two harvests refer to great battles against the 10-horned beast in the future which will be won by the forces of God near the region of the Holy Land. Looking at the Old Testament, we find the battle of Bozrah (Isa 63:1-6) with a suggestive reference to Christ's intervention. For the harvest of grapes there is the battle in the valley of Jehoshaphat where the sickle and winepress are mentioned (Joel 3:9-15). In each case the gentile nations of the earth around Israel are gathered together - under the beast - to destroy Israel, but suffer astounding defeats and incredible casualties.
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