Part 13 of "Unsealed By the Lamb: Revelation Through the Lamb and His Love"
Just as the testimony of Jesus (the gospel) and God's commands (agape love) are the heart and center of Revelation, in the same way it is His testimony and obedience to His command of love which brings in the harvest of the earth:
The testimony: "'But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to Myself.' He said this to show the kind of death He was going to die." (Jn.12:32-33)
The command: "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another... [Father,] may they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that You sent Me and have loved them even as You have loved Me." (Jn.13:34-35, 17:23)
WHAT DRAWS ALL PEOPLE
When Christ called His disciples to go out and make disciples of all nations, He sent them out as laborers into the harvest:
"Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (Mt.28:19-20)
The goal of their labor was to carry the testimony of Jesus to the nations, and call all people to obey His commands:
"And this is His command: to believe in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as He commanded us." (1 Jn.3:23)
The "harvest" in God's eyes are those who, since the days He sent out His disciples, come to believe in His Son and obey His command of agape love. The way that He brings in the harvest is through the sharing of His testimony and obedience to His command:
When His people share how He was lifted up on the Cross in love for all mankind, He draws people to Himself (Jn.12:32). And when His command is obeyed to love one another as He loved us, all people recognize His disciples and see that God has loved the world even as He has loved His own Son (Jn.13:35, 17:23).
THE HARVEST IS NOW!
Jesus told the disciples in their day,
"Do you not say, ‘Four months more and then the harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. Even now the reaper draws his wages, even now he harvests the crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together." (Jn.4:35-36)
In Revelation, the same truth is shown in this way:
"I looked, and there before me was a white cloud, and seated on the cloud was one 'like a son of man' with a crown of gold on His head and a sharp sickle in His hand. Then another angel [messenger] came out of the temple and called in a loud voice to Him who was sitting on the cloud, 'Take Your sickle and reap, because the time to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.' So He who was seated on the cloud swung His sickle over the earth, and the earth was harvested." (Rev.14:14-16)
Today we see Christ seated on the throne, and we believe His word that "even now He harvests the crop for eternal life," and we who are His temple agree with heaven, saying, "Take Your sickle and reap, Lord, for the harvest is ripe!" Since the time He told His disciples that "the fields are ripe for harvest," He has been swinging His sickle and harvesting the crop for eternal life. Those who come into Him have been harvested: they have passed from death to eternal life and will not come into judgment (Jn.5:24, 1 Jn.5:13).
BY FAITH, NOT BY SIGHT
The harvest is now, and will be completed at the very end of the age. Since He walked the streets of Judea, Christ has been building His house: an indestructible spiritual temple of living stones, held together in His love by a unity in the Holy Spirit, who is unseen. But by faith we see a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, thousands upon thousands of angels and the spirits of the righteous made perfect (Heb.12:1,22-23).
On earth, before Christ returns, we may see some of His harvesting at times; but whether we see it or not, we walk by faith and not by sight (2 Cor.5:7). We know that He is sowing and reaping, and that nothing we do in Him is in vain (1 Cor.15:58). The brightness and fullness of His harvest will not be seen until after He has removed evil from the earth:
"The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will weed out of His kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father." (Mt.13:41-43)
THE GREAT 'MOVEMENT' IN THE LAST DAYS
The heart of God's harvesting is the testimony of His love and grace in His Son, and His command to love one another (and even enemies) with the same love. But in the last days among God's people a great movement away from these, a rebellion, proclaims other righteousnesses and overturns His law of agape love. Many follow and bring the truth into disrepute (2 Pet.2:2), and the love [agape] of most grows cold:
"Many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but those who stand firm to the end will be saved." (Mt.24:11-13)
God's harvesting may or may not be visible at times, and may or may not be accompanied by miraculous signs—because His primary and most powerful ways of drawing all people are His Son's testimony (Jn.12:32) and the agape love seen in His people (Jn.13:35). But the movement away from His righteousness and His law of love looks for and points to miraculous signs to support its authority:
"False Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect—if that were possible." (Mt.24:24)
"The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness." (2 Thes.2:9-12)
"Then I saw another beast... he performed great and miraculous signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to earth in full view of men. Because of the signs he was given power to do on behalf of the first beast, he deceived the inhabitants of the earth." (Rev.13:11-14)
NOT BY MIGHT OR POWER
For those who seek power in the end times instead of His heart, God gives it to them: a "great delusion" which confirms the course their hearts have chosen, just as He sent a lying spirit to speak through Ahab's four hundred prophets (1 Kg.22:1-28). They see "the Holy Spirit" in terms of producing displays of power and confirming authority. The heart (the spirit) of Christ is less desirable and not as exciting. Their hearts scoff at the message of the Cross as something which is 'elementary'; the real goal for them is acquiring power, authority, prosperity, and other ungodly desires.
"In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires. These are the men who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit. But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit: keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life." (Jude 18-21)
"Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength." (1 Cor.1:22-25)
The greatest power and wisdom of God revealed to us is in the 'weakness' of Christ crucified. It was by dying on the Cross that Jesus triumphed over and made a public spectacle of every power and authority (Col.2:15). In the same way, His people defeat the dragon not through great displays of power, but through His blood, the word of their testimony, and not shrinking from losing their lives (Rev.12:11).
It is by the foolish "weakness" of the Cross (the testimony of Jesus) and the foolishness of obeying His command of agape love (even loving, forgiving and blessing enemies) that God brings in His harvest. By seeking these, all people will know His His love for them. But seeking power and might put us on the wrong side of His harvesting.
SEEKING "THE HARVEST" ...AND MISSING IT
The heart of God's harvesters is His intense love for all people and His desire to be with them forever. But the rebellion seeks a great "end times harvest" movement not for the sake of the people, but as a means to other ends— power, authority, and fulfilling prophetic mystery.
In the midst of wars, disasters and tribulation, the rebellion attempts to fulfill its interpretations of prophecy by maneuvering into position with "sides" and nations that they believe God supports, believing that this will bring about the harvest and Christ's return. But by looking to sides and nations, the rebellion chooses the kingdoms of the earth instead of the kingdom of God—and misses the harvest!
God hasn't call us to an earthly inheritance, but to a heavenly inheritance—our neighbors and enemies! The things of the earth pass away, but the hearts of the nations are treasures so valuable to Him that He died so He could be with them forever! The nations are His inheritance (Ps.2:8), and the nations are our inheritance, too, because we share His inheritance (Rm.8:17, Gal.4:7).
Our neighbors and enemies are our inheritance!
Our neighbors and enemies are the harvest!
God draws the nations to Himself through His Son's testimony of agape love, and through the obedience of His people to His command of agape love; but the rebellion, in seeking to trigger "the harvest", sets aside Christ's law of agape love (becoming "lawless") and actually works against His harvesting.
RECOGNIZING THE HARVEST
The harvest is now, but it is not as many of God's people have imagined. The harvest is in forsaking the righteousness of our "sides" for His alone, and in loving all people as He loved us (especially including our enemies).
The harvest is not large numbers coming in because of performing great signs and wonders—that's the hope of the great delusion! The harvest now is as it has always been since He first said, "the fields are ripe for harvest." It is brought in by sharing the word of His love in the Cross, and by obeying His command of love.
There is no shortcut to speeding up His harvest, and we are called to be faithful to the field He has called us to, whether we see large numbers or small, and whether our part is sowing, reaping, or watering.
"This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come." (Mk.4:26-29)
"Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near." (Jas.5:7-8)
There is no need to wait for a special "anointing", a special "power" or "time of favor":
"I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor,
now is the day of salvation." (2 Cor.6:2)
Christ is waiting for us today in the poor, in the needy, in the outcast and in our enemies! They are His priceless treasures that are worthy of our love today, regardless of the timing of His coming! Can we see Him there in the hungry and the thirsty, in the stranger and the sick, in the naked and the prisoner? (Mt.25:31-46)
"The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.
Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore,
to send out workers into his harvest field." (Lk 10:2)
Lord, please wake up Your people! Send us out to love the nations, our neighbors, the 'least of these' and our enemies, too! For so long we've thought of "the harvest" as something very different from what You do, and our vision of it has set us up for the great delusion instead! Forgive us for seeking "the harvest" for any reason other than for their sake! Forgive us for not seeing them as Your priceless treasures, and for wanting to convert them just to make You come quicker! Forgive us for not wanting to be with them like You do! Burn in our hearts with love for our neighbors, for the poor, and for our enemies! In Jesus' name, amen.