Revelation 14:14-20 – The Two Harvests


Revelation 14:14-20


John uses two familiar images of harvest to describe the two-fold nature of the final judgment.


Because the authors of the Bible lived their lives in an agrarian society, images from agricultural life are quite common throughout the Bible. The harvest, coming as it did at the end of a long cycle of work, came to stand as an image of both evangelism (e.g., John 4:35) and the last judgment, when God would gather in all people. The harvest figures prominently in the parables of the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke), for example the Parable of the Weeds among the Wheat (Matthew 13:24-30) and the Parable of the Growing Seed (Mark 4:26-29). In the Synoptic Gospels, the separation of the good and the wicked is further represented by threshing, that is the process of separating grain from chaff. Thus John the Baptist describes Jesus as coming with a winnowing fork in his hand (Matthew 3:12; Luke 3:17). Revelation adds a new twist to this familiar imagery by describing the harvest of two separate crops.In Revelation, John begins with the familiar imagery of the grain harvest. The grain is harvested personally by the Son of Man (14:14-16) and represents the gathering of the saints. Instead of describing the godless as chaff (cf. Psalm 1:4), John turns to the grape harvest for his imagery of judgment (14:17-20). Here, he picks up imagery from Isaiah 63, in which the prophet describes God as someone with “garments like theirs who tread the wine press” (Isaiah 63:2). In Isaiah and in John, the treading of the grapes comes to stand for God’s wrath against the unrighteous.