In today’s passage, Jesus speaks in a parable of what will happen at judgment time, referring to it as the final harvest. In the end time, the seed of God’s word will be spread to the world before the judgment, the reaping takes place. The Bible tells us that the sower is Jesus the Son of Man & the time of the harvest refers to the time of tribulation, which is the 7-year tribulation but especially the last 3 ½ years.
It is when the grains of the harvest are gathered. To separate the grains from the tares, the farmer thrashes the stalks, usually on windy days. On the threshing floor, both the grains & the tares will receive blows, but their end result is different. The tares are blown away by the wind while the heavier grains remain. The grains are gathered for salvation while the tares are gathered for destruction. This is the separation that takes place at the final harvest.
During the time of the harvest, the authority of the saints will be shattered. This is to filter out the tares & gather up the grains, only those who remain & keep faith till the end will gain victory. It begins within each of us first, then our family & church. The good & evil that have been mixed up in us because of the tree of the knowledge of good & evil has to be separated. God allows difficulties, sufferings & hardships to refine us through fire. But without God’s grace, none of us will be able to overcome & persevere. Thanksgiving is the direct channel to tap into God’s grace & strength.
Time of the final harvest, what will happen?
1) Gathering of the first fruits
The first fruits are harvested first before the rest of the harvest. Biblically, the firstborns are those who will provide for the later borns. It is the first fruits that will harvest the later fruits. And who are the firstborns? They are the 144,000 (Revelation 14:4). They are the ones who have not been defiled & who follow the Lamb wherever He goes; they have been purchased from among men as first fruits to God & to the Lamb.
The 144,000 is not a literal number, but a symbolic, spiritual number that is representative of the first chosen ones from each of the 12 tribes – 12,000 people from each tribe x 12 tribes = 144,000. They are the firstborns, the first fruits from the 12 tribes who have received the Word of the End Time, and who have met the Lord. The 144,000 have been chosen before the foundation of the earth by God Himself (Ephesians 1:3-4). They have the seal of the Lamb & the Father on their foreheads, referring to their faith & belief (Revelation 20:6). Truly, may we all be part of the 144,000! This is what the feast of the harvest foreshadows.
2) Gathering of the later fruits
The first fruits & later fruits are not about ranks or who is better. It is about the order in which they happen. Revelation 7 & 14 talks about the 144,000, the proclamation of the word, and the appearance of the great multitude and the harvest of the later fruits. That is how the later fruits are gathered. The 144,000 after they have been nurtured & trained, goes forth to proclaim the gospel, the Word of God. It is like Apostle John’s meeting with another strong angel who opened up the little book, commanded him to eat it, and then to prophesy. When Apostle John prophesied the word that was sweet in the mouth but bitter in the stomach, he becomes the 2 witnesses in Revelation 11. The 2 witnesses represent the church of the end time. Those who hear & receive the Word are the great multitude who will be saved (Matthew 24:31; Mark 13:27). This is the Word that will separate those who hear & believe & those who do not.
Work of the final harvest
1) Final work of separation
It is the separation of good from evil & between sheep and goat. This separation work needs to take place within us first. Like a cancerous growth that needs to be cut out by the surgeon, God needs to do the same thing in our lives so that all wickedness will be taken out. In redemptive work, sheep & goats co-exist until the end time when they are separated (Matthew 13:24ff).
2) The wicked will be taken out from among the righteous
Jesus in Matthew 13:47-50 talks about the fish caught in the dragnet. This is like the harvest being gathered, and when the wicked is picked out from among the righteous. Good & evil are separated. Through this process, we, our family & the church are purified and sanctified. In the process of redemptive history, the good & wicked co-exist but they are separated at the end. The tribulations & the hardships that we go through sometimes unjustly is so that God can separate the good & evil from within us, so that God can teach us how to choose the good over the evil. The righteous will be trained & they will become purer & more mature in faith. (1 Peter 2:19-21)
When God does the work of judgment, it works both ways. The great & terrible day of the Lord is the same threshing floor that will save & purify the chosen ones but at the same time, judge & destroy the wicked. Through this process, the chosen ones of God learn sacrifice & dedication becoming more mature & perfected. Only when the word is applied & activated in our lives is when we can overcome & gain victory. May we be the ones who remain till the very end!