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  • Writer's picturekeithburwell

THE MISUNDERSTOOD END TIME HARVEST- DOES IT REALLY EXIST?

Updated: Feb 11, 2021




Countless ministries have as their focus, their raison d’etre, the “End Time Harvest”. This becomes their mantra and the expectation of the church. The overarching understanding of the majority of the church today is that there is coming a MASSIVE influx of people into the church and souls will be saved in droves. However, at the same time, they are hearing how wicked the world is becoming, how evil is increasing, love and compassion are decreasing, selfish and hedonistic behavior is flourishing, while the indoctrination of degradation in society continues all the way down to kindergarten.


So how can these be reconciled? How can we, on one hand, be witness to the largest revival the world has ever seen, yet be the darkest, most evil time in history?


Have you ever heard of the Mandela Effect? I believe this is a bit like it. The Mandela Effect is defined as the specific and shared memory of something which never happened or existed. For example, many people believe (and have memory of) Nelson Mandela dying in prison in the 1980’s. This is not true, however. He left prison and became president of South Africa, dying in 2013.


Example of the Mandela Effect- How do you remember the name of the Bear family above? Would you believe it is spelled with an "a" at the end and not an "e"? Millions of people remember it distinctly being the BerenstEin, not BerenstAin Bears, but the image on the left is correct.

 

The average Christian would most likely agree with the statement that there will be a massive end time harvest and that the church must evangelize every country in the world before Jesus returns. The truth is this is, at best, a misinterpretation, and, at worst, false. Consider it a Mandela Effect of biblical proportions.


Let’s start at the 30,000 foot level- the things that most believers know about the End Times just from hearing them in church.

· Wickedness will abound

· Lawlessness will increase, therefore the love of many will grow cold

· There must be a falling away from the faith before His return

· The world will be filled with mockers, scoffers, evildoers

· As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be… (meaning few believers)

· As it was in the days of Lot, so shall it be… (meaning few believers)

Getting the picture so far? Can we see how people can be not just confused, but can possibly engage in efforts that either are unproductive or unnecessary?


If this isn't enough, how about the fact that the end time leader that comes upon the earth is given power over the saints, according to Revelation 13? Will there be a lot of witnessing happening then?


Most people would not say this because they would assume others would think poorly of them. “How dare they call themselves a Christian if they don’t believe there is going to be an end time harvest! Shameful!”


Let’s go to Jesus’ words. [Luk 18:8 ESV] 8 I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?"


If Jesus Himself questioned the lack of faith that will be on earth when He returns, then we need to reconcile these ideas and ensure we are defining appropriately. We need to examine what IS going to happen and then we can clear things up a bit.


[Jas 5:7 ESV] 7 Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains.

[Mat 13:47-50 ESV] 47 "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind. 48 When it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into containers but threw away the bad. 49 So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous 50 and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.


[Mat 13:24-30 ESV] 24 He put another parable before them, saying, "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, 25 but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. 26 So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. 27 And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, 'Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?' 28 He said to them, 'An enemy has done this.' So the servants said to him, 'Then do you want us to go and gather them?' 29 But he said, 'No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, "Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn."'"


[Mat 9:35-38 ESV] 35 And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 38 therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest."


Each of these examples speaks to the harvest as being real, however, it is clearly a collection of the complete group as opposed to some future set of unwashed masses yet to be gleaned. In other words, you and I are part of the harvest, as well as part of the laborers.


These scriptures depict a finished work or a collection. In other words, a farmer doesn’t plant a seed and then reach down and harvest it. Farmers harvest FINISHED crops, not brand new crops. Starting to see the fallacy here? The one example above where Jesus speaks of the laborers being few, when it is read in context, he laments that the people don’t have a shepherd, which is why He says pray that laborers are sent. These are pastors- the intention clearly being ones that can direct, protect, and equip people -not just evangelism. In fact, Jesus tells His disciples to go and cast out demons, cleanse lepers, cure every disease, and proclaim the kingdom of Heaven. Further, as we will see below, WE (the church) are not the ones who reap this harvest. Allegorizing can get us away from the truth. We must always interpret scripture...in light of the totality of scripture.


Now would come the argument, “well, Jesus said the gospel will be proclaimed throughout the earth and then the end shall come. Therefore, we have to do it- it is us.” This is true that Jesus did say it.


[Mat 24:14 ESV] 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.


He was in the middle of explaining to His disciples the signs of the end of the age and His return.

He also said the following-

[Mat 10:23 ESV] 23 When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.


Well now we have a real problem. Jesus just said that the Gospel would be proclaimed throughout the whole earth before the end. But He also just said that they would not even get to every town in Israel before He returns. Again- we are faced with a dichotomy. How are we to rectify these two ideas?

If we look to the 14th chapter of Revelation, we can begin to see how to make these ideas compatible.

[Rev 14:6-7 ESV] 6 Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people. 7 And he said with a loud voice, "Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come, and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water."

This may come as a shock to many, but God isn’t relying on you or me or even the Church, collectively, to ensure the Gospel is preached to all the earth. A literal angel is sent to every tribe, language, country, and iceberg to preach the Good News of Jesus Christ. God takes no chances on the fallibility of man and uses a literal supernatural messenger (meaning of angelos) to ensure that every last person on the entire earth hears the gospel in their own language.


After the three angels of Revelation 14 impart their messages to the citizens of earth, what follows is the REAL end-time harvest.

[Rev 14:6-7, 14-20 ESV] 6 Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people. 7 And he said with a loud voice, "Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come, and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water." ... 14 Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and seated on the cloud one like a son of man, with a golden crown on his head, and a sharp sickle in his hand. 15 And another angel came out of the temple, calling with a loud voice to him who sat on the cloud, "Put in your sickle, and reap, for the hour to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is fully ripe." 16 So he who sat on the cloud swung his sickle across the earth, and the earth was reaped. 17 Then another angel came out of the temple in heaven, and he too had a sharp sickle. 18 And another angel came out from the altar, the angel who has authority over the fire, and he called with a loud voice to the one who had the sharp sickle, "Put in your sickle and gather the clusters from the vine of the earth, for its grapes are ripe." 19 So the angel swung his sickle across the earth and gathered the grape harvest of the earth and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. 20 And the winepress was trodden outside the city, and blood flowed from the winepress, as high as a horse's bridle, for 1,600 stadia.


Being a grape in this example is not a good thing. Which means we need to reevaluate how we look at “end-time harvests”. In fact, in Matt 13:24-30, if you remember, the weeds were to be grown with the wheat and then pulled up FIRST! The grapes were harvested and then CRUSHED!


Let's simply look at the word harvest again. Too many want to interpret this as unsaved people who need the gospel shared so they can come into the church. This view perpetuates the idea that the church is responsible for evangelizing the entire world before we see the end come.


We were given what is termed The Great Commission and we are still under these instructions- “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel.” BUT- we are making a distinct difference between responsibility of the church and the responsibility of the Holy Spirit through the work of angelic messengers. In fact, Matthew 24 goes on to discuss the harvest even further.


[Mat 24:29-31 ESV] 29 "Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.


Note who is gathering the elect from here to heaven. It is the angels who are “harvesting” the entire elect- or Church (universal). One point I will raise but not spend any time on is the sequence of this. Do you see this “harvest” occurs AFTER the tribulation where the sun is darkened and the moon doesn’t shine? In context, it would seem as though this harvest is taking place in conjunction with His return. Am I arguing pre-,mid-, or post trib here? No. Not in this essay. All I am saying is we need to read what the Word SAYS. Not what we HOPE it says.



For those who may say "we need to look at the ministry of Paul and see if he said anything different." In this respect, Paul actually reinforces this idea.

[1Co 3:5-6 ESV] 5 What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. 6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.


Paul continues the example from Jesus and indicates that he is planted seed. Apollos helped the seed to grow, but neither harvest the crop. The harvest which Paul and others began to plant, which we are still planting and growing today, is the ENTIRE church, from Jesus' ascension until His return.

Some of you are now saying, "Keith, why does it matter? It seems like a small difference." I would disagree with that notion and let me try to disabuse you of it as well. Jesus implored His disciples to understand the time and season they lived in. In countless parables He made it clear that His church needs to be ready for His return. How can His church be ready when they are waiting for a mass onboarding of new Believers that doesn't come? What if Noah would have had the misguided notion that many people were going to get on the ark and believe at the last moment? He would have created the boat with the wrong specifications, trying to accommodate too many people. What if Lot would have looked back like his wife did, assuming that there were more people escaping Sodom? He would have sacrificed his entire family.


We are still to be the salt and light to the world and we should always be ready to explain why we have our hope in Jesus Christ. We should always expect people to come into the kingdom, just as Jesus wants no one to perish. However, our responsibility in these times of what are clearly the end of the age is to be aware of it and be ready.


As for the end time harvest upon which books and series and movies and ministries have been made, we need to step back and evaluate. At the very least, we need to be careful about the language we use to describe the collection event(s) during the last days. The current vernacular does not support biblical truth. But we need to dive deeper and understand that the harvest we “think” we know is actually a separating. It is the final separating of the wheat (the entire church) and the chaff. It is not done by humans but will be performed supernaturally by specified angels.


Should we continue to spread the gospel of Jesus throughout the whole earth? Yes of course!! But we also need to remember that we ARE the Harvest, not the harvesters. Words and messaging matter. They matter to the people paying tithes and offerings, and they matter to the people doing the work God has called them to do. We owe it to each other to be clear and factual. We owe it to God to be honest about our intentions. Even though He already knows them.

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