The Mystery of the Two Harvesting Angels in Revelation 14
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If you look at Commentaries on the book of Revelation, or books commenting on Revelation, you'll see that they almost all avoid any sort of discussion of the first of the two harvesting angels in Revelation 14. It's a mystery to most Commentary authors. Many readily comment on the second harvesting angel, because its meaning is easy and apparent; but they generally avoid any discussion of the first harvesting angel.
A friend recently asked me about this topic, that had come up in a forum of rapture and prophecy-related authors, academics and teachers. He was dissatisfied with all the views that forum participants had presented, and asked me about it separately by e-mail. I too had never written much about the two harvesting angels in my books or articles; so initially, I didn't know the answer to the first harvesting angel. I prayed about it and also studied the subject, and believe the following article fully explains both of the two harvesting angels in Revelations 14. First, below is the relevant text using a direct translation of the Peshitta Aramaic NT ( from Pastor David Bauscher's new Peshitta Aramaic-English Interlinear NT). I am using the Peshitta Aramaic NT text throughout this article because it sometimes presents a slightly different text than English Bibles based on the Greek NT manuscripts:
Some casually read the above portion of Revelation and think that the first harvesting angel in v14-16 might be Yeshua (Jesus) our Messiah. The reason for that false conclusion is the phrase Son of Man in many English translations from the Greek manuscripts (KJV, Amplified, Living Bible, etc.), and also because of the gold crown on his head. The capitalization is not warranted and the Peshitta Aramaic NT says merely, the likeness of a man. Translators have intentionally misled people by inserting the unwarranted capitalization. Other translations like the NASB and Revised Standard use, like a son of man. However, v15 dispels that notion of the person being Yeshua (Jesus), since it says that another angel came out of the temple, referring back to the person in v14 as an angel. Therefore, the first harvesting person in v14 is an angel and not Yeshua (Jesus) our Messiah.
Second Harvesting Angel:
The winepress of the wrath of God (or nearly identical terminology) is used a number of times in the NT, besides Revelation 14:19-20. Looking at these possible usages helps to clearly identify exactly what is meant in Revelation 14:19-20.
As is apparent, Revelation 14:8; 17:2 and 18:3 are all about end-times Babylon; and the wine of her passion is not the subject of the winepress of the wrath of God in Revelation 14:19-20. The three above texts applicable to us are Revelation 14:9-10; 16:19 and 19:15. As 19:15 shows, it is the Messiah Himself who treads the winepress of the wrath of God. Two additional verses clarify what the wine of the wrath of God entails:
It should not be so surprising to many readers that Yeshua (Jesus) and the army of the angels of heaven will be on the earth when the 7 Bowl Judgments are poured out, which is what treading the winepress of the wrath of God means in Revelation 19:15. After all, Revelation 11:15-19 shows the Messiah coming to reign on the earth at the 7th Trumpet Judgment: You have taken Your great power and have begun to reign. I know that many commentators on the book of Revelation have erroneously taught that the Messiah comes after all the Trumpet Judgments and Bowl Judgments; but they were wrong. After all, we also have another scripture to show the point, Revelation 14:10 which states: he will also drink of the wine of the wrath/passion of MarYah (YHVH), which is mixed without dilution in the cup of His rage... in the presence of the holy Angels and in the presence of the Lamb. The following from Isaiah also repeats that message of Revelation 19:15, about the Messiah treading the winepress of the wrath of God on the earth.
Some might have argued from the previous NT scriptures that they weren't fully convinced that Yeshua was on the earth when the 7 Bowl Judgments were poured out (where He treads the winepress of the wrath of God). However, anyone can see in Isaiah 63:1-4 that this person who comes from Edom and Bozrah with stained garments is on the earth. He is coming from Edom, leading back those who had hid in the wilderness for the 1260 days, to Jerusalem. It is clear that Yeshua our Messiah is on the earth when the 7 Bowl Judgments are poured out.
I colored the above verse to show you the first harvesting angel from Revelation 14 in dark blue, and the second harvesting angel in magenta. An explanation on why we know the dark blue sentence is a different harvesting than the magenta will follow shortly. First though, the last phrase in Joel 3:13 states that the wickedness of the surrounding nations is great. The previous verse establishes the context as the surrounding nations, that v13 refers to as: for their wickedness is great. It corroborates the previous conclusion from the book of Revelation that the second harvesting angel represents a negative harvest, and adds to it by lumping the first harvesting angel into that same category of accomplishing a negative harvest.
First Harvesting Angel:
Why or how specifically does the first portion of Joel 3:13 indicate a different harvesting than the last part? The specific Hebrew words used do that. It says, “ki(for) bashal(it was ripe) qatzir(mowing/harvesting), for the harvest is ripe.” The verb “bashal” indicates a ripe dry harvest rather than ripe grapes, and “qatzir” definitely indicates a dry mowing type harvest, like that for wheat, oats, barley or hay. The second part of Joel 3:13 shifts to treading the winepress, indicating a grape harvest.
If we go back to Revelation 14:15-16 concerning the first harvesting angel, the verb for reap in the Peshitta Aramaic NT is khatsod (v15), to reap is lamakhtsad (v15), and it was reaped is itkhatsdath (v16). These Peshitta Aramaic NT verb usages are the Hebrew equivalent of qatzir used in Joel 3:13, for mowing/reaping dried types of harvest like wheat, oats, barley or hay. Therefore, the same language sense is used to describe the first harvesting angel in both Joel 3:13 and Revelation 14a harvest of dried ripe material like wheat, oats, barley or hay. This is an important clue, because the type of material harvested will eventually lead to the full explanation, as well as knowing our earlier conclusion, that it too is a negative harvest.
Note: For any who would like to look up the Aramaic verb usages in Revelation 14:15-16, refer to A Compendious Syriac Dictionary by J. Payne Smith, page 154, right hand column, 2nd and 3rd entries from the top. The sense is to reap, mow or cut down crops in a field (dry ripe crops).
Since we've seen evidence that the first harvesting angel is reaping a negative harvest, are there further scriptures showing negative harvests? The following are a few end-time harvests (4) that are negative harvests:
The above prophecies of the end-time are about negative harvests, the consequences of sin and rebellion against God. Who then are those whom the Messiah rescues at His coming to reign on the earth? Primarily two groups, the natural branches that Paul mentions in Romans 11:17-31, and the grafted-in branches. The metaphor used in Romans 11 is an olive tree whose root is the Messiah; and the olive tree is called the commonwealth of spiritual Israel. The natural branches are Israel and Judah, but not all of them, those who are faithful and observant. The grafted-in branches are believers, who are born again in Yeshua our Messiah. Together the natural branches and grafted-in branches comprise the fruit bearing branches of the Word of God by faith.
Is there a clearer scriptural indication of the first harvesting angel, whose harvest is a dried ripe type harvest, and whose harvest is a negative harvest? Yes, Yeshua (Jesus) explained it specifically in the following verses:
So now we know the answer to the mystery of the first harvesting angel of Revelation 14, that it is a reaping of the tares and not a positive harvest of wheat, oats, barley or hay. Tares are weeds that grow in among the crops; and in this case it is a metaphor for those who have rejected God. We have further evidence of this conclusion below, in the direct teaching by Yeshua:
Note: In both the case of Sodom and Lot, or Noah and the ark, it is the wicked and rebellious towards God who are the ones removed from the earth. I mention this because some academics have twisted Luke 17:28-37 and Matthew 24:37-41 to mean the opposite in their teaching, that it is not the wicked and rebellious who are removed, but the righteous. Those are erroneous teachings; and it should be apparent to anyone reading the above text, that the wicked and rebellious are the ones led away captive from the earth as they were at Sodom. Meanwhile, Lot and his family were protected through iton the earth. The same is true for Noah and the flood; where the flood took away the rebellious, while Noah and his family were protected through iton the earth. Besides, the previous examples covered earlier all show a corroboration that the angels harvest the dried ripe tares at the end of the age (removing the tares and leaving the wheat in the parable). To be charitable toward academics who might have taught the opposite, all that I have read use Greek NT sources which is often translated taken away, while I have used the Peshitta Aramaic NT where the verb is led away captive. The Aramaic is clearly indicating a negative harvest; whereas the Greek verb 'paralambanō' appears to have a lot of wiggle room in meaning.
We should approach Luke 17:30 above with some caution, concerning the meaning of the phrase, on the day when the Son of Man is revealed. Literally, it states that the reaping of the first harvesting angel occurs on the very day that Yeshua our Messiah comes to reign on the earththe reaping of the dried ripe tares. The emphasis of the parable is that on that very day that Lot went out from Sodom, then Sodom and its people were destroyed. I take the view that Luke 17:28-37 strongly indicates a 24-hour day. However, I can understand why some might want to expand it to an eschatological day, which might encompass the period from the literal day Yeshua arrives on the earth through the Judgment Seat of the Messiah.
The difference between the view of a literal 24-hour day and the view of an eschatological day (a short period of time) is the difference between the 1290 days of Daniel 12:11 and the 1335 days of Daniel 12:12. In others words, the eschatological day period would encompass 45 days. My own preference is for the literal 24-hour day view for Luke 17:30; and my reason is the strongly worded analogy to the destruction of Sodom that very day Lot went out. If you lean toward the eschatological day view, that's OK, since the difference between the two views is not that much to worry over.
After making that conciliatory concession, let us further consider the timing context within Revelation 14 itself. The two harvesting angels appear sequentially, with the first harvesting angel reaping the dried tares harvest before the appearance of the second harvesting angel. The second harvesting angel then reaps the grape harvest which is the wine of the wrath of God encompassing the longer period comprised of the 7 Bowl Judgments. Therefore, the timing context within Revelation 14 supports the literal view shown in Luke 17, where the first harvesting angel reaps the harvest of tares on the exact 24-hour day that Yeshua (Jesus) our Messiah comes to reign on the earth.
First, in regards to the First Harvesting Angel who harvests the tares, one has to consider whether the antichrist and false prophet are tares or stumbling blocks. If so, then Revelation 19 shows the Second Coming of the Messiah and the removal of the antichrist and false prophet from the earth in Revelation 19:19-20.
The second evidence for an eschatological day is Yeshua's use of the example of Noah and the ark in Matthew 24:37-42 and Luke 17:26-37. In Luke 17, Yeshua also used the example of Sodom and Lot, where Lot escaped on the very day Sodom was destroyed. That's evidence for a literal 24-hour day of harvest. However, with Noah and the flood, we can assume that not all people were killed immediately on the day that it started to rain. Some might have quickly moved to high ground to escape the initial flooding. We can guess that some might have escaped death on high ground for a week or two or maybe even four weeks.
It could be that Yeshua mentioned both Lot and Sodom, and Noah and the flood as two examples in Luke 17:26-37, because it covers both Harvesting Angels in Revelation 14. Noah and the flood would cover the period of the Second Harvesting Angel which covers a period of time inclusive of the 7 Bowl Judgments. Meanwhile, the example of Lot and Sodom could cover the First Harvesting Angel. If true, then my earlier assertion of the preponderance of evidence pointing to the First Harvesting Angel being a literal 24-hour day would hold. With regards to the Beast (antichrist) and False Prophet in Revelation 19:19-20, then those two would have to be excluded from the tares harvesting of the First Harvesting Angel for the literal 24-hour day to hold.
In the end, the reader will have to weigh the evidence and explanations and decide whether the First Harvesting Angel reaps in a literal 24-hour day, or an eschatological day covering part or all of the 45 days (difference between the 1290 days and 1335 days of Daniel 12:11-12).
Please feel free to send comments or feedback to Roy.
If you are interested in obtaining the Peshitta Aramaic-English Interlinear NT by Pastor David Bauscher (new in 2007), his website is: http://aramaicnt.com
The Interlinear is available as a very low cost download eBook in full color, or a few different selections on printed Interlinears. His Interlinear is a word-for-word Interlinear. He also has a smooth English NT from the Peshitta Aramaic NT to English. For study purposes I strongly recommend the Interlinear. Pastor Bauscher also has a number of highly interesting articles on his website related to Peshitta Aramaic primacy and other topics.