THE HARVEST AND THE VINTAGE OF THE EARTH ARE READY

THE HARVEST AND THE VINTAGE OF THE EARTH ARE READY

By Fr. Felix (African Times Guest Writer)

The final scene of this group of seven scenes of

the conflict between the followers of the Lamb

and the powers of evil concerns the reaping,

two very similar but subtly different endings to

the story. Both are founded on the double

saying in Joel 3.13, ‘Put in the sickle, for the

harvest is ripe; go, tread, for the wine-press is

full.’ The first member is interpreted as the

harvest of the followers of the Lamb, the

second as that of the unfaithful.

The wheat-harvest is, in the Bible, always a

positive moment and a positive image; it is an

eschatological (last) moment, as in the gospel

parables (e.g. Mark 4.29). The reader has been

quietly prepared for it, because in the previous

reading the redeemed were the first-fruits for

God and for the Lamb (14.4); first-fruits must

always be followed by the full harvest. So in the

first harvest, the wheat harvest, the Son of man

presides, seated upon a cloud with a gold

crown.

This is a clear allusion to the Son of man in

Daniel 7.13, who, similarly seated on a cloud,

the symbol of divinity, at the eschatological

moment comes to the One of Great Age and

receives all power on earth. The second harvest,

the grape harvest, is very different. The reader

has already been prepared for the different

significance by the double mention in 14.10 of

the ‘wine of God’s fury’; unlike the wheat

harvest, the grape harvest is a symbol of the

retribution for evil. On this occasion, then, the

angel who gives the order emerges from the fire

(a destructive image) of the altar, and the

grapes harvested are to be thrown into the

winepress of God’s wrath, where their blood is

to be trampled into an enormous tide of blood.

This image will immediately re-appear in the

seven bowls of God’s wrath in the following

chapter.

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