In part 3 and 4, we took a look at the seven feasts God established for Himself in Leviticus 23, and how that in them we not only see the rapture, but also a pre-tribulation rapture. This was one of three Biblical pictures we will be briefly looking at that point to a pre-tribulation rapture. In this blog, part 5 of the rapture series, we’re going to take a brief look at the second of three Biblical pictures I want to give you that point to a pre-tribulation rapture, and that is found in the harvest cycles.
Every year, there were three feasts that God instructed all the men to attend, and each of these feasts were identified with three different harvests. The three feasts that required the attendance of all the men were Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles. The Passover feast emphasized the barley harvest, Pentecost emphasized the wheat harvest, and Tabernacles emphasized the harvest of fruit, namely grapes. How each of these harvests were conducted represents not only the three phases of the harvest, but also in them the three resurrections.
The first harvest, the barley harvest, involved a process of winnowing where the entire stalk was thrown up into the wind. When the barley was tossed up into the wind, the wind would separate the shell from the barley. This harvest represents the rapture of the Church before the tribulation period begins, where those who are in Christ are caught up in the air to meet the Lord. We can also see this when Elijah was caught up into a whirlwind and when Jesus was taken up in a cloud in the presence of His followers.
The second harvest, the wheat harvest, involved a more aggressive form of harvesting. In order to break and separate the shell from the wheat it requires a threshing process. This process was done in the time of Christ with a Roman threshing roller called a tribulim, the word we get tribulation from. It means to press or squeeze, creating pressure that causes separation. This harvest represents those who come out of the tribulation period. Christians who were not ready and prepared when the rapture took place will be a part of this group, those who will have to give their lives for Jesus.
The third harvest, the grape harvest, is a harvest involving a crushing. Grapes do not have a shell but instead have flesh and skin that needs to be crushed in order to get the juice. The tribulation period is the “grapes of wrath” and the “winepress of God”. This represents the harvest, the resurrection, at the end of the tribulation period, Revelation 14:17-20.
Barley is soft and represents the church and the overcomer, Revelation 2-4. Wheat is hard and must be separated from the shell through the pressures created in the tribulation period, Revelation 14:1. Grapes are crushed representing the winepress of God, Revelation 14:19.
Biblically, the way that a field was harvested provides another picture of how God will harvest His people in these last days. This process involved three phases in order to harvest the whole field. The first phase was about the first fruits, the overcomers (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). In this phase the priests would go through the field and select portions of the field that was ripe and ready for harvest, and then they would harvest the portions they selected with either a sickle, or simply pull it out of the ground, to take back to the temple. This represents the rapture, the resurrection of the dead in Christ out of the ground, and the catching up of the living who are in Christ who are ripe and ready for harvest.
The second phase of the harvest was when the main field was harvested, leaving the four corners of the field to provide gleanings for the poor and the widows. This represents the second harvest that takes place in the middle of the tribulation period, where people have washed their robes by giving their lives for Jesus (Revelation 14:15). This phase includes the 144,000 Jews from the 12 tribes of Israel, as well as possibly those Christians who missed the rapture because their garments were spotted with sin and they were not ready when He came for them.
The third and final phase of the harvest is when the four corners of the field are harvested (Matthew 24:31). At this point the entire field has been harvested. This final phase of the harvest represents those who are gathered together from the four corners of the earth at the end of the tribulation period. These are called the remnant, those who lived and gave their lives for Christ in the last part of the tribulation period.
Understanding the different phases associated with the harvesting of a field helps us understand both the manner and the order in which God will harvest His people from the earth. Some people get confused when they read in the book of Revelation the saints and elect having to go through the tribulation period, thinking that these terms refer to the church. This is not necessarily the case as both terms, the elect and the saints, have been used throughout the Bible referring to different individuals or groups. The term “elect” has been used to identify Christ, of the angels, Israel, Jacob, a woman, and also the church. The term “saints” in the New Testament means “a holy thing”, and it represents anyone who has been washed in the blood of Christ. While both terms can obviously refer to the Church, one is hard pressed to arbitrarily conclude that the references in the book of Revelation is speaking exclusively of the Church. There are some problems when we try to say that it is referring strictly to the Church. When we see indications that in Heaven there are those who would have been resurrected and raptured up there, all the while seeing saints and the elect on earth going through the tribulation period, this can lead to confusion when attempting to say they are all the Church. The last time we read of the church in Revelation is chapters 2-3, after which in Revelation 4 we read about John being called up to Heaven and what he sees when he gets there. Like others, I believe this represents the rapture of the Church. From that time on there is no mention of the Church, except for it being identified as the Bride of Christ at the end of Revelation. The saints and elect mentioned after chapter four more than likely refers to those who are living and giving their lives for Christ after having realized they had been left behind.
During the tribulation period those who were raptured up observe the transition of Jesus from High Priest to King, appear at the Judgment Seat of Christ, receive rewards, and are present at the wedding between Christ that His Bride, the Church. Once the wedding is complete, Jesus and His Bride return to earth to establish Christ’s reign on earth for 1,000 years. In the next part of this series on the subject of the rapture, I’m going to cover what I believe is one of the strongest pictures of a pre-tribulation rapture. In the meantime, the most important question to ask yourself is whether or not you are ready for Him if He were to return before your next breath? If you are not ready to meet Him, then this is the time to get ready. Time is short, and this is not the time to be taking this casually and risk getting left behind. Now is the time to get it right with Him, and to keep things right with Him.
John Johansson (Pastor John)