This teaching includes a free sermon outline to download for personal use, message preparation or Bible study discussion.
Harvest is a major theme of scripture that runs right through from the first book to the last. I think it’s first introduced in the time of Noah with God’s promise to Noah that as long as the earth remains, seed time and harvest will remain.
But I want to turn, first of all, to the book of Deuteronomy which is the book in which we have Moses’ instructions to Israel just before they entered the land of Canaan. And he gave them very thorough instructions as to how they were to conduct themselves and how they would be able to enjoy the benefits and blessings of the inheritance into which God was taking them. We’re going to read from Deuteronomy 11:13–14. You have to remember that Israel had come out of Egypt, which is essentially a flat country and where there is relatively little rain. The main source of water is not rain but the River Nile. In Egypt they have a device called a shaddof which they dip a bucket into the water of the Nile, pull it up and pour it into little channels which direct the water to the area where it’s needed for the crops. So, in a certain sense, the water was under their control. Moses said to Israel, when you get into the land God is giving you it’s not like that, it’s a land of hills and valleys and it receives rain from heaven. And he said it’s not under your control, you won’t be able to just get the water any time. But, if you’re obedient and faithful to God, He’ll give you the rain that you need. And here is the promise. But, joined with the rain almost invariably in the Bible is the promise of the harvest. And we have to understand that the harvest depended on the rain. That’s true, of course, ultimately in every nation but it’s much more true in the land of Israel because there are really only two main seasons. The hot dry season and the cold wetter season. There’s very little spring and virtually no autumn that you can notice.
During the hot dry season from about April to usually the end of September, no rain falls at all, just none. Then they have what’s called the former rain which comes at the beginning of the winter season. And in the economy of the agriculture its purpose is to soften the soil which by then is baked hard, so that the farmer can begin the processes which will lead to harvest. And it’s usually a major outpouring which covers the whole nation.
Then throughout the winter rain falls sporadically here and there but there’s no major overall outpouring until what’s called the latter or the last rain which usually falls about the time of the Passover which is the first month in the Biblical year, corresponding to our Easter, i.e., about March or April. And the agricultural purpose of the latter rain is to cause the seed to germinate.
If either the former or the latter rain fails, the harvest is probably going to fail. So, the rain is always intimately linked with the harvest. And in this promise that Moses gives to Israel here, he specifically joins the two. He also specifies three main types of harvest. They’re not by any means all but it is the grain, the new wine and the oil. You’ll find through the Bible—at least through the Old Testament—these are the three basic harvests. The grain harvest, the grape harvest and the olive harvest. And they’re mentioned here. I’ll read the passage. Deuteronomy 11, beginning at verse 13:
“And it shall be that if you diligently obey my commandments [this is the Lord speaking] which I command you today, to love the Lord your God and serve Him with all your heart, with all your soul; then I will give you the rain for your land in its season.”
Notice it’s a gift from God. The Bible emphasizes that rain is under the sovereign control of the Lord.
“Then I will give you the rain for your land in its season; the early rain [or the former rain] and the latter rain...”
And then notice the purpose in God’s economy:
“...that you may gather in your grain, your new wine and your oil.”
There are the three forms of harvest. And this actually runs through the Bible as we’ll see it recurs in Revelation.
Also through the Bible—and this is an unfolding revelation—the rain is a picture of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. And again, I believe in the history of the church the outpouring of the Holy Spirit corresponds to the former and the latter rain. And the former rain fell on the Day of Pentecost and on the early church. And it was a universal outpouring on the church as it then was. And it set in motion the processes that were designed to lead to the harvest.
Then throughout what you call the winter season there have been sporadic outpourings of the Holy Spirit almost every century in the church somewhere. But, no major outpouring that visited the whole church. Then, as I believe and this is my own understanding, at the beginning of the present century—actually on the first day of the century, the first of January 1900—in a certain sense the outpouring of the latter rain began. And why I say the first of January is because on that day in a Bible school in Topeka, Kansas in the United States, a young woman student went to the teachers of the Bible school and said to them, “I want you to lay hands on me that I may receive the Holy Spirit according to the New Testament pattern.” Well, they didn’t believe that that would result with speaking in tongues but they did what she asked and she spoke with tongues. And that, in a sense, broke through with the truth of the baptism in the Holy Spirit.
Then in 1904 in Azuza Street, Los Angeles, there came the celebrated visitation there.
There had been some previous indications of the outpouring of the Spirit, primarily, as a matter of fact, in Armenia, interestingly enough, at the end of the last century. But anyhow, you can say basically the latter rain began to fall the beginning of the present century. And it has been a visitation that ultimately has come to effect the entire church. In the course of the 90 years that have elapsed, basically there is no country and there is no section of the church which has not had some kind of supernatural visitation of the Holy Spirit. I believe this is the latter rain. I don’t believe it’s the fulfillment of the latter rain, I believe that much more is yet to come. But we need to bear in mind always in the spiritual, as in the natural—listen carefully—the rain is given for the purpose of the harvest. And if you don’t grasp that you’re going to miss the purpose of God for your life.
See, I’ve been in the Pentecostal movement basically 50 years. I can tell you whether you call them Pentecostals, Charismatics or whatever you want to call them—or just fanatics! You know, if they belong to your church they’re Charismatics, if they belong to another church they’re fanatics. But anyhow, whatever you call them, there are two kinds. There are those that have understood the reason for the outpouring and there are those that haven’t. And the ones that haven’t just form little spiritual bless me clubs and get together and talk deep spiritual truth and have very profound Bible studies and meet on Sunday morning, shake hands with one another as they come out and say, “God bless you brother, see you next Sunday.” And they’re just little spiritual cliques that really make no significant impact on the people around them.
And then there are the others who realize what the rain is given for, the harvest. And they’re usually not highly qualified or specially educated or intelligent but they’ve just had enough sense to realize that the rain is given for the sake of the harvest to gather in souls into the kingdom of God. And they’ve gone out and turned nations upside down. It’s not a difference in their capacity, it’s a difference in their understanding of God’s purpose.
So I want to say with all the emphasis at my command, remember the rain is given for the sake of the harvest. It’s not given to make you super-spiritual or specially blessed; it’s given to make you an effective worker in God’s harvest.
Let’s go on to the prophet Jeremiah, chapter 5, verses 23–24. Jeremiah is rebuking the people of his day in Israel because they were not aware of what God was doing, they were wrapped up in themselves, in their own carnal concerns. And, they were blind and deaf to what God was saying and doing. This is what Jeremiah says:
“This people [that’s Israel in the time of Jeremiah] has a defiant and rebellious heart. They have revolted and departed from God.”
Now, what’s the evidence? The next verse.
“They do not say in their heart, ‘Let us now fear the Lord our God who gives rain, both the former and the latter in its season. He reserves for us the appointed weeks of the harvest.’”
Notice the rain is given for the sake of what? The harvest, that’s right. What was the mistake that Israel made? They didn’t realize that they were totally dependent on God for the rain and that the rain was given for the sake of the harvest. They missed God’s purpose. And it says there God reserves the appointed weeks of the harvest.
That became a startling revelation to me some years ago. Actually, I had walked into a restaurant a little earlier, selected a table that I wanted to sit at. But when I went over to sit at the table there was a little sign on the table that showed me I couldn’t sit there. Guess what it was. Reserved. And when I read this passage I thought that’s it, God has put a little sign over just a few short weeks in which the harvest has to be gathered in. He’s reserved it. He said to Satan, “You can’t have those weeks. I’ve set them apart for the harvest.” Not months but weeks. Those of you who are farmers or who work on the land and have crops—not so much livestock—you will realize and agree with we what’s the critical season of the year, what’s the busiest season of the year? What’s the season where everybody has to be out? The harvest, that’s right.
And in Proverbs 10:5:
“He who gathers in summer is a wise son, but he who sleeps in harvest is a son who causes shame.”
Because, at the season when everybody’s needed to be alert and active, there he is sleeping. And he causes his father shame. His father’s ashamed of him.
Do you think there are sons in the church that are causing their Father shame? Because, in the harvest hour they’re sleeping? Sleeping on a church pew, sitting there listening to the sermons, singing the hymns and totally unaware of the harvest that has to be reaped. Could it be that one or two or you are in that category? Remember what I said about the selfishness? Here’s another aspect of it. Just wrapped up in your own spiritual good, excited about your spiritual gifts, able to talk spiritual language, but asleep when the harvest needs to be reaped.
And then we go on to Joel 2 and we see in this prophecy of Joel the spiritual counterpart of the natural harvest. We can’t deal with the whole theme of Joel but Joel really has three major sections corresponding to the three chapters. Section one, desolation; section two, restoration; section three, judgment. And here in chapter 2 we come to the restoration and the agent of restoration is the rain which is a picture of the Holy Spirit. Joel says in chapter 2, verse 23:
“Be glad then, you children of Zion, and rejoice in the Lord your God, for He has given you the former rain faithfully [it fell on the early church] and He will cause the rain to come down for you, the former rain and the latter rain in the first month [Passover month, March or April].”
And notice the purpose of the rain.
“The threshing floors shall be full of wheat, and the vats shall overflow with new wine and oil.”
What are the three main crops? The wheat, the wine and the oil. What brings them forth? The latter rain.
What is the spiritual counterpart of the latter rain? We go on to Joel 2:28:
“And it shall come to pass afterward...”
And those of you that were here yesterday, we dealt with what it was after. And you remember, it was after God’s people had got together and fasted, prayed and called upon Him.
“And it shall come to pass afterward that God says, ‘I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh.’”
It’s interesting Peter quoted that verse on the Day of Pentecost and said this is that which is spoken by the prophet Joel. But he didn’t say afterward, he said in the latter days. But in that passage in Acts 2, if you study it carefully, Peter quotes God as saying, “I will pour out of my Spirit,” some of my Spirit. But here it says, “I will pour out my Spirit.” I’ll empty the bucket, I’ll pour it all out. And He says on all flesh. As a good Pentecostal, when I first encountered the Charismatic movement in the 1960’s, I was shocked. I said to myself, Anglicans, Presbyterians, Baptists. They don’t have any right to the Holy Spirit. That’s for us Pentecostals. But God gently reminded me that Anglicans and Baptists and Presbyterians and Plymouth Brethren all have flesh. And He said I’m going to pour it out on all flesh. And He proceeded to do it, He didn’t consult me, He didn’t ask my opinion; He just did it.
But I want to point out to you there’s a lot of flesh that hasn’t yet had the outpouring. Ruth was talking to you earlier about the Moslem world. Nearly one billion Moslems on earth, not quite one billion. And basically, there’s just been a few drops, that’s all. You know, statistics in the world today are interesting. Chinese are just over one billion people. In other words, one in every five persons on earth is Chinese. Did you know that? You can’t talk about reaching the nations if you’re not reaching the Chinese. And a slightly smaller proportion on earth today is Moslems. What are we doing about them? Don’t they have flesh? They’re going to be visited because God said it. I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh. And then He talks about the supernatural manifestations leading up to the climax of the last days. Blood and fire and vapor of smoke in the great and terrible day of the Lord.
And then we move on into the New Testament and I’m going to read a passage that I read in the previous session. Matthew 13:39, just one very simple statement.
“The harvest is the end of the age.”
Brothers and sisters, it’s important to remember this age is not going to last forever. What’s your response? You say praise the Lord? I do. I wouldn’t want the present age to last forever, it’s a mess. And, it’s getting worse. The good news is it isn’t going to last forever, it’s coming to a climax. And it’s going to climax with a harvest, the harvest is the end of the age.
I used to read a British poet called T.S. Elliott in the days when I was intellectual and not spiritual. I don’t know what I am today. He had a poem called “The Wasteland.” I don’t suppose any of you ever spent time reading it. But, one of his statements was the worlds move to their ends like old women gathering fuel in a vacant lot. He’s wrong. The world is not going to end in an anticlimax. It’s going to come to a climax. God is not the God of the anticlimax. And the harvest is going to be the climax, the harvest is the end of the age. The word end is the not the normal word for end, it’s the consummation of the age. It’s the bringing together of all the threads of the age in one grand climax.
Then one other passage from the New Testament which lines up with all of this. James 5:7–8:
“Therefore, be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord.”
Until what? The coming of the Lord, that’s right. What is the goal? What is it we’re looking forward to? The coming of the Lord, that’s right. And we have to be patient until then.
“See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth [that’s the harvest], waiting for it patiently until he receives the early and latter rain.”
Notice the harvest cannot be gathered in. No matter how much the farmer may long for the harvest it will not come in until he’s received the former and the latter rain. This is true with the natural, it’s also true in the spiritual. And James goes on to apply it:
“You also be patient, establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.”
What’s the climax? The coming of the Lord. But it only can come when the harvest has been gathered in. And the harvest cannot be gathered in until the latter rain has fallen.
And so you have three events that come in succession. I don’t think the Bible indicates the exact period of time. First of all, the latter rain. Secondly, the ingathering of the harvest. Thirdly, the coming of the Lord. Now, no one knows the day or the hour of the Lord’s coming. Furthermore, I tell you, I don’t even know the year. But I believe it’s very close. Probably closer than most of us really have adjusted our thinking to. I’m not saying He’ll come in this millennium. I don’t know when He’ll come but I think He’ll come sooner than most of us expect.
But, He’s going to come in divine order. Things have got to be the way God says they will be. The latter rain, the harvest, the final ingathering of souls and the coming of the Lord.
And because of the population explosion which by the next millennium will reach six billion, they tell us—that’s a staggering figure, we cannot really comprehend what six billion people are like. If there is a sovereign move of the Holy Spirit poured out upon the church and poured out upon the people that don’t even know what Christianity is, and if the church recognizes the purpose of the rain and is equipped and obedient and goes out in the power of the Spirit equipped with the supernatural gifts of the Spirit, it is perfectly possible that in one decade more souls will be saved than have been saved in all the previous history of the church. Personally, I think that’s an understatement. I think there’s going to be a vast ingathering of souls into the kingdom of God. And I think it’s very close at hand.
Now I want to talk for a moment about vision. The book of Proverbs says where there is no vision people cast off restraint. They become undisciplined. The thing that enables us to be disciplined is vision. I don’t know whether you’ve realized that. For instance, you take athletes who compete in the Olympics—and of course, we have the Commonwealth Games right at hand. But, to get to that stage in the athletic world you have to practice the most intense discipline, governing your whole life—what you eat, the exercise you take, the books you read, your mental preparation, the hours you sleep, the training. It’s intense. What makes those men and women willing to go through that discipline? Vision. A man sees himself jumping higher than anybody else has ever jumped or jumping further or running faster or throwing a javelin. And with that vision before his eyes he’ll subject himself to a discipline that most Christians wouldn’t even think about. But Paul compares the Christian life to the life of an athlete and he says every athlete is self-controlled in everything he does. And Christians have got to be equally self controlled if they’re going to win the gold medal. That’s my paraphrased version of 1 Corinthians 9, at the end. I don’t want to turn there. Where there is no vision, people cast off restraint.
I apply this and I just ask you all to sit on your hands right now, don’t give yourself away. But, how many of you—remember, you’re sitting on your hands—how many of you have tried to diet at least once and lose weight? How many of you have succeeded? How many of you have tried twice?
Well anyhow, let’s not go into it. You know the essence of successful dieting? Vision. You see yourself the way you think you ought to look. And when that—what is it I ate today? Pablova. When that pablova is in front of you, you see your waistline. No pablova for me! They’re laughing at me because I ate two portions! But, on the other hand, by the grace of God I’ve succeeded. I’m indulging myself a little at the moment.
But, it takes vision. And it’s the same, you see. If we’re to be successful in reaping the harvest we have to have a vision of the harvest. And really, my purpose tonight is to impart to you a vision that you’ll go out of here saying, “Well, if it demands sacrifice, if it demands sleepless nights, if it demands giving up my job, if it demands going to some barren God-forsaken part of the earth, I’ve seen the vision. The vision is in front of my eyes.” See what Jesus said to His disciples. They had the problem, they couldn’t see the vision. In John 4, after He had just been dealing with the woman of Samaria, verse 35, He said to His disciples:
“Do you not say there are still four months and then comes the harvest? Behold, I say to you lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest.”
See the difference in the vision of Jesus and the disciples? They could only see in the natural. They said the harvest isn’t due for four months. Jesus said that’s not the way I see it. He said I look at the fields and I see them white already. And He reaped a very wonderful sheaf there at the well. There were those twelve Bible school students, they went into the village, got the food, came out, didn’t touch a soul. Jesus revealed Himself to the woman, she left her water pot, went into the village, told the whole village and the whole village came out to meet Jesus. One woman versus twelve Bible school students. Why? She had the vision. So, it’s a question of vision.
Now in Matthew 9, Jesus makes a very, I would say, tragic statement. We’ll begin at verse 36 because again it’s a question of vision. Jesus saw people differently from His disciples. It says:
“When Jesus saw the multitudes He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered like sheep having no shepherd.”
They had rabbis, they had synagogues; but they didn’t have shepherds.
“Then He said to His disciples, ‘The harvest truly is plentiful but the laborers are few.’”
If that was true at that time I would say it is a hundred times truer today. The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are pitifully few. They estimate there’s about one missionary for every one million Moslems. And yet, the harvest is plentiful.
Ruth and I have been in Indonesia, which is essentially a Moslem nation. But, in the last 20 or 30 years it’s estimated 30% of the population have become Christians. And the demand for the truth of God’s word is such that it cannot be satisfied. We’ve been talking about video. There is a brother there who has a ministry that is placing video Bible teaching cassettes in every village in Indonesia. They don’t have electricity but they use a car battery or something else to operate them.
One of the things that amazed us in Malaysia, which is another mainly Moslem nation, you can drive through villages that don’t have running water, they don’t have any kind of major store, and they’ve all got TV aerials. That’s true.
There was a major article in Time magazine a few months ago saying there’s a video revolution and it’s upsetting political systems. I think one of the reasons for the recent turmoil in the East Bloc was that people had been exposed to television or video that showed what it was like in the West. And the political system couldn’t hold them down. I’m not interested in political issues but I am interested in reaping the harvest.
We had a meeting, the last meeting we had, of our branch directors in Singapore last May. And one of its purposes was to discuss video as a means of reaching the world. And while we were meeting there the pastor of our local congregation in Fort Lauderdale, a young man by my standards—you understand, that doesn’t mean young by the way you think, but not old—he sent me a fax and said, “I was having my devotions this morning and I was going to pray for something and I just couldn’t pray for anything but you and your ministry.” And he said, “While I was praying, God gave me a vision and I saw a sickle reaping the harvest and it started in the area of New Zealand and went up through Southeast Asia into China. And the blade of the sickle was a video cassette.” Do you have the vision? Are you aware of what can be done or are you just content with business as usual?
You might say, “Well, Brother Prince, I don’t have many gifts. I’m not a preacher, I’m not an evangelist.” You’re in great danger, do you know that? You take the parable of the talents, there were three kinds of people. The man who received five talents worked with them and made five more, he doubled. The man who received two talents worked with them and doubled. Their increase was 100%. But the person who received one talent didn’t think it was worth bothering with so he just hid it in the earth. And, when the master came back to check and he said, “Here’s your talent, I was afraid of you. I hid it in the earth,” remember what the master said? “You wicked and lazy servant!” Do you realize that laziness is wickedness?
And then he said, “If you couldn’t do anything with it yourself you ought to have taken it to the bankers and deposited it and gotten interest on it. Then you would have been able to give me my interest.” And you know what he said? “Cast the unprofitable servant into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” You see, it’s the one talent person that’s in the greatest danger because the attitude is I don’t have much, what can God expect of me? Well, let me suggest to you if you don’t have enough to run your own operation, put it in the bank, invest in another ministry that is doing the job. See? Everybody can do something. You say, “Brother Prince, what should I invest in?” Well, there is a ministry called Derek Prince Ministries. We’re not a large ministry but we are, by the grace of God, totally committed to the reaping of the harvest. But suppose that isn’t what you feel led to. Let me just mention just a few—and I’m not paid by anybody. There’s Youth With A Mission, a group of people mainly sold out to the vision of the harvest. There’s Operation Mobilization, another group with a worldwide outreach, the same vision. There’s Brother Andrew’s Open Doors that aims to reach the unreached. There’s Maranatha Ministries that aims to reach the students of the world worldwide. And that’s just a list of what, four or five. I’m not suggesting you should get involved in any but you should not sit in church and do nothing because when the Lord comes, you’re going to have to answer for that one talent. And it would be tragic if He were to say to some of you, “Cast him out into outer darkness.”
In Matthew 25 there are three pictures of people who were totally rejected from God. The foolish virgins, the unfaithful servant who didn’t make use of his talent and the goat nations who didn’t show mercy to Jesus’ brothers. And all of them were finally rejected from God’s presence without an option. You ask me what was there in common, what did they all do that caused them to be rejected? I can answer you in one word. Guess what the word is? Nothing. That’s all you have to do to be rejected is nothing.
I didn’t intend to speak like this but I sense if I know the Holy Spirit, and I’m not laying claim to inerrancy, but if I sense the Holy Spirit, He’s very much in earnest here tonight. He wants tog et through and I think particularly to churchgoers. But, that’s not where it’s at. I believe we should not forsake the assembling of ourselves together, I thank God for every church which takes care of God’s people and looks after the sheep. But when you’ve gone to church on Sunday and sang the hymns and followed the prayers, you haven’t discharged your duty. I believe personally, and I say this not out of emotion but of intellectual conviction, I believe every Christian is responsible to be involved some way in reaping the harvest. I don’t believe there should be a single Christian that isn’t in some way involved in this glorious task of reaping the harvest.
Jesus said the harvest is plentiful, the laborers are few. What did He say next? Pray the Lord of the harvest to thrust forth laborers into the harvest. I like the word thrust. That is a very powerful word in Greek, it’s the same word that’s used when Jesus drove demons out of people. Pray the Holy Spirit to drive people into the harvest. Jesus knew what He was talking about. You don’t saunter onto the harvest field. It’s not something you do casually. It takes a push from the Holy Spirit. It means giving things up. You know two idols of the modern church? Security and comfort. They’re idols that are worshiped every Sunday morning.
I want to go on with the picture of harvest. I want to point out to you something that I haven’t yet touched on. There’s going to be more than one harvest. There’s going to be a harvest of mercy and there’s going to be a harvest of judgment. And they’re going to follow one another very quickly. They’re both depicted in the 14th chapter of Revelation. I realize there are things about Revelation that we don’t understand, I don’t understand. But I never let what I don’t understand keep me from acting on what I do understand. I don’t hang around wondering what’s the answer to a question that I don’t know the answer to and failing to do what I know I ought to do. Remember what I said about the secret things and the things that are revealed? There are some secret things. I think there are some secrets about the exact interpretation of Revelation that none of us know. But, there are a lot of things that are revealed. I believe this truth of the two harvests is a clear revelation. Let’s look at them. It begins in Revelation 14:14. And first of all, we have the harvest of grain. You remember the order, the three harvests: the grain, the grapes and the olives. That order follows all through right here into the book of Revelation. And here we see, first of all, a picture of the harvest of grain which is the harvest of mercy, the ingathering of souls into the kingdom of God. John the revelator says:
“I looked and, behold, a white cloud. And on the cloud sat one like the Son of man, having on His head a golden crown, and in His hand a sharp sickle.”
I believe that must be Jesus. No one else could be described that way. It’s Jesus as the Lord of the harvest. You remember He said pray the Lord of the harvest?
“And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to Him to sat on the cloud, ‘Thrust in your sickle and reap, for the time has come for you to reap, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.’”
And the Greek says the harvest of the earth is dry, it’s overripe. It’s in danger of being lost. And it says:
“He who sat on the cloud thrust in His sickle on the earth, and the earth was reaped.”
I picture—and this may not be exactly the way it will be—but I picture the Lord swinging the sickle right over the whole globe and I picture something very rapid so that the whole harvest, who knows, could be reaped in five years, maybe less, maybe more. It’s not going to be a long time. One of the things that’s conspicuous in the world today is everything is accelerating, have you noticed that? Things that used to take a hundred years take ten years. Things that used to take ten years take one year. That’s true of the work of Satan but it’s also true of the Lord. He’s in a hurry. There’s a sense of urgency.
So, the harvest of grain, the harvest of mercy, is reaped. What follows?
“Then another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle; and another angel came out from the altar who had power over fire, and he cried with a loud voice to him who had the sharp sickle, saying, ‘Thrust in your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth, for her grapes are fully ripe.’”
I don’t believe the one who does the reaping here is the Lord, it’s some other angelic being. And now it’s not the harvest of grain, it’s the harvest of grapes. And you know, in Israel—it’s no longer this way, but traditionally the way they dealt with the grape harvest is they had two cisterns, as it were, two cavities in a rock. One higher than the other and there was a little channel cut out from the higher to the lower. They would put all the harvested grapes in the upper chamber and then they would jump on it up and down with their feet with loud shouts of joy. There are several pictures in the Bible of people joyfully trampling the grape harvest. And there’s a picture of Jesus in Isaiah 63 coming from Bozrah. And Bozrah is a Hebrew word for the grape harvest. His garment is stained with blood and the prophet says, “Where have you come from?” And He says, “I’ve come from treading the winepress of the judgment of God.” His garment was splattered with blood as the garments of those who trample the grapes would be splattered with the juice of the grapes. This is the picture.
“So, the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth and gathered the vine of the earth and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God.”
Gethsemane, you know the word? Get is the winepress, the place where either the olives or the grapes were pressed out. And the winepress was trampled. You see why it was trampled, they were pressing the grapes. Outside the city, and blood came out of the winepress up to the horses’ bridles for 1,600 furlongs which is 184 miles.
A lot of people think that the interpretation of Revelation is allegorical. I don’t find much allegorical application of prophecy in the Bible, there’s none of it in the New Testament. All the prophecies of Jesus in the New Testament from the Old Testament were literally fulfilled. You can’t fine one that was allegorical. And, you can find at least thirty that were not. There is no pattern in the Bible for the allegorization of prophecy, something that was invented after the Bible closed. But I’ll just ask you a question. Do you think this blood was allegorical blood? Is there such a thing as allegorical blood? Is your mind prepared to accept the fact that God is going to judge the wicked? You see, the influence of humanism, which is very prevalent in the church, has almost put us in the place where you think that God would have to apologize for judging anybody. God’s problem is not judging the wicked. God’s problem is finding a way to spare the wicked. And only God could solve that problem through the cross. But be under no misapprehension whatever, God is still the judge and He is going to judge all the wicked of the earth.
It’s important, you know, because it affects the way you relate to people. I don’t think I could preach the way I preach—however good or bad it may be—if I didn’t believe in the judgment of God. What would really be the purpose of the gospel message if there was no judgment? What did John the Baptist say? He said to the people, “Who has warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” It says of Jesus He’s the one who saved us from the wrath of God.
God’s problem is not judging the wicked. God’s problem is forgiving the sinner. We absolutely upended the issue.
I want to turn to one closing passage. Let me say this, too. I think it will affect the way you speak to people if you believe in the judgment of God. I don’t have time to go into this from the scripture but I just want to turn mentally to Revelation 6, the famous four horsemen of the book of Revelation. The white horse going out conquering and to conquer; the red horse bringing death and violence and bloodshed; the black horse bringing scarcity, rationing, famine; and finally, the pale horse bringing widespread death. Now, I believe those represent phases in which God is bringing the age to a close. I note that all four horses came by an order from heaven. The red horse, the black horse, the pale horse. In other words, God’s judgment are by His order.
But I’m interested in the white horse. It says of the white horse it went forth conquering and to conquer. Now, there are a lot of different theories but I’ll tell you what it means to me. The white horse is Jesus on the gospel, going forth, and He’s pictured in Psalm 45 in humility and righteousness, riding forth with His sword on His thigh. And this to me pictures the gospel going out with tremendous urgency because of the judgments that are to follow. The red horse, the black horse, the pale horse. I believe all four horses are riding out today. I believe the red horse is at work, the black horse is certainly at work in Africa—famine, malnutrition—the pale horse bringing death.
But my conviction is this, this is what motivates me. I think Ruth and I can see this in our mind’s eye day and night. The white horse has got to stay ahead of the other horses. We’ve got to get to people before the other horses get there. We’ve got to give them the offer of mercy before the judgment of God descends. And this is urgent. It won’t wait. It’s not a matter of your convenience, it’s not a matter of when it suits you. It’s a matter of reaping the harvest while it can be reaped, of bringing the message of mercy to millions and billions of people, many of whom will respond if they hear in time. If you haven’t traveled in some third world nations you probably don’t understand that there’s a longing in the heart of humanity put there by the Holy Spirit to hear the truth about Jesus.
We were in Pakistan, which is a 98% Moslem nation, and we preached publicly in three or four cities. In the course of nine days about 9,000 people indicated their desire to receive Jesus. And of them, at least half were Moslems. I’m not saying they were all saved but what I do say is they wanted to hear the gospel.
Brothers and sisters, this is the harvest hour. And remember, a son who sleeps in the harvest causes his father shame. May that not be said of any of us. Amen? God bless you.
A free copy of this transcript is available to download and share for personal use.