[* Picture background from n:vision; ISSUE 30/HARVEST 2012.]


The apostle Paul had no doubt about his place in the main body, for his testimony is clear, “I know Whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day” (2 Tim. 1: 12).  When, however, he was writing to the Philippians (chapter 3) he told them that there was one thing he was seeking above all else, “the prize of the upward calling of God in Christ Jesus,” that he might by any means attain to the out-resurrection from the dead.  He was sure of having a place in the general harvest, but not sure, as yet, of being one of the firstfruits as an overcomer.



If Peter, James, John, and Andrew needed the warnings given them by our Lord to “Take heed” to “watch and pray” (Mark 13: 3, 5, 9, 23, 33), and “be ye also ready” (Matt. 24: 44), it is clear that something more was wanted of us than faith in Christ for salvation if we would be ripe enough for the firstfruits.  The teaching that everyone who believes is ready for the Coming of the Lord is a deadly narcotic.  No wonder the Church is asleep!



If, on the other hand, we see that, being saved, there is yet a prize to be won which is worth the counting of all else as refuse, then we find in it a powerful stimulant to a holy and victorious life in union with our coming Lord.


-       A CHAMPION.



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The removal of the Man-child cannot be the event foretold in 1 Thess. 4: 15-17, for those there in view will be taken up only as far as to the air around this earth when the Lord descends thereto from heaven, but this removal takes the Man-child to the throne of God, which is where Christ now is, in the upper heavens, which fulfils the promise that such as prevail to escape shall “stand before the Son of man”.



As we have seen, the Lord does not descend from heaven till the close of the Great Tribulation, not before Satan is cast down.  Moreover, this one child can be only a part of the whole family, not the completed church in view in 1 Thess. 4.* and 1 Cor. 15.  The “woman” out of whom he is born remains on earth, and after His ascent the “rest of her seed” are persecuted by the Beast; but his removal is before the Beast is even on the scene or Satan is cast out of heaven.  Thus those who will form this company escape all things that will occur in the End-times, as Christ promised; and the identification with the overcomers declares that they had lived that watchful, prayerful, victorious life, upon which, as the Lord said, that escape will depend.


* In 1 Thess. 4: 15, 17 the [Greek] word … [translated], “that are left”, deserves notice.  It is not found elsewhere in the New Testament, but its force may be seen in the LXX of Amos 5: 15.  It means, to be left after others are gone.  In this place it seems redundant save on our view that the rapture there in question is at the close of the Tribulation and that some saints will not have been left on earth until that event, but will have been removed alive earlier; for to have marked the contrast with those that had died it would have been enough to have said, “we that are alive”, without twice repeating this unusual word.



Consequent upon this removal of the watchful, Satan is cast out of heaven, and presently brings up the Beast, who persecutes the rest of the woman’s family (12: 17, 18; 13: 7-10).  So that one section of the family escapes the End-times by being rapt to heaven, and the rest, the more numerous portion, as the term indicates, go into the Great Tribulation.  These latter are such as “keep the commandments of God and hold the testimony of Jesus” (verse 17).  In 14: 12, such are termed “the saints”, which in New Testament times was the term regularly used by Christians of one another; and among their number John had already included himself (1: 2, 9).  It covers therefore the Church of God, of which he was a leader.



The second picture of this pre-Tribulation rapture is given in Rev. 14.  In this chapter there are six scenes:-



(1) “Firstfruits” with the Lamb on the Mount Zion (1-6).


(2) The hour of judgment commences (6, 7).


(3) “Babylon” is announced as having fallen (8).


(4) The Beast period is present and persecution is in progress (9-13).


(5) The Son of Man on a white cloud reaps His “harvest” (14-16).


(6) The “vintage” of the earth is gathered, and is trodden in the winepress on earth (17-20).



The agricultural figure wrought into this chapter by the Holy Spirit is the key to its teaching.  In the early summer the Jew was to gather a sheaf of corn as soon as enough was ripe, and this was to be presented to God in the temple at Jerusalem as “firstfruits” (Lev. 23: 9-14).  After some time (verse 15) the whole of the fields would be ripened by the great summer heat, and the whole harvest would be reaped.  But this, though removed indeed from the fields where it had grown, would not be taken so far as to the temple, but only to the granary on the farm.  Then the season closed with the vintage, and the clusters were not taken away from where they had grown, the winepress being in the vineyard and the grapes being crushed therein.



Thus the “firstfruits” are shown as on Mount Zion with the Lamb; the “harvest” is taken only as far as to the clouds, which accords with 1 Thess. 4; and the vintage is trodden outside the city of Jerusalem, where the armies of Antichrist are camped.



The last scene is the destruction of the Beast by the Lord at His descent to Jerusalem (Rev. 19: 15).  Next prior to that event is the removal of the elect to the clouds: immediately before this is the period of the Tribulation; preceding that is the destruction of the harlot system of Rev. 17. (see verses 16-18): this event follows first upon the striking of the hour of divine judgment: but before any of those things of the End commence the Firstfruits are seen with the Lamb in heaven, as He promised (Luke 21: 36).



The Firstfruits cannot be a picture of the whole of the redeemed as they will finally appear at the end of the drama of those days, for firstfruits cannot be more than a portion of the whole harvest, neither can firstfruits describe the final ingathering.  It was a contradiction to speak thus.  Firstfruits must be gathered first, before the reaping of the remainder.  The number 144,000 need not be taken literally.  In the Apocalypse numbers are sometimes literal, but sometimes figurative.



As has been noted above, these had been purchased out of the earth, which shows that they were not then on earth, and they learn the song of the heavenly choir.  Nor can this Mount Zion be at Jerusalem, but must be that in the heavens, for the Lord will not descend to the earthly Zion till after the Tribulation, not before it, as this scene is placed.



The 144,000 of chapter 7. are a different company.  They are the godly remnant of Israel seen on earth after the Appearing and the gathering of the elect to the clouds, and are sealed (comp. Ezek. 9) so as to be untouched by the wrath of the Lamb now to be poured upon the godless (Zeph. 2: 3; Isa. 26: 20, 21).



The identity of these Firstfruits is revealed by a similar means to that which reveals the identity of the Man-child.  These persons are shown as connected with the Father, the Lamb, and the Mount Zion, which also refers back to the promises to the overcomers, and shows that the Firstfruits will be a portion of the company of the victors, who, it is promised, will be marked as connected with the Father, the Son, and the New Jerusalem (Rev. 3: 12).  These three marks of identification come together in these two passages only.  Now the moral features attributed to these Firstfruits show that they had lived just that pure, faithful, Christian life which necessarily results from watchfulness, prayerfulness, and patient obedience to the words of Christ, as inculcated in the corresponding passages quoted.



As the Man-child and the rest of the woman’s seed were but one family, only removed in two portions, one before the Beast and the other after his persecutions, so firstfruits and harvest were grown from one sowing in one field, only they were reaped in two portions, one before the hour of judgment, and the other after the Beast had persecuted.  We have remarked above that these latter are termed “saints”, and this was the regular title that Christians gave to one another; that it is amplified by the double description “they that keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus”, and that in this description John had before twice included himself; so that the terms mean that company in which John had membership, the Church of God.  Moreover, as the Jewish remnant will not have owned Jesus during the period in view, the terms can apply only to Christians.



Finally, as between the gathering of the sheaf of firstfruits and the ingathering of the harvest, there came the intensest summer heat, so between the removal of the Firstfruits and the reaping of the Harvest, there is placed (verses 9-13) the Great Tribulation, that final persecution which while, like all persecution, it will wither the un-rooted stalk (Matt. 13: 21) ripens the matured grain. It is ripeness, not the calendar or the clock, that determines the time of reaping (Mark 4: 29).  The Heavenly Husbandman reaps no unripe grain: hence “the hour to reap is come” when the harvest is “dried up” (Rev. 14: 15), for the dryness of the kernel in the husk is its fitness for the garner and for use.  Thus the Great Tribulation will be a true mercy to the Lord’s people by fully developing and sanctifying them for their heavenly destiny and glory.



It thus appears that the foretold order of events will be:-



1. The removal of such as prevail to escape the Times of the End.  These will be taken up to God and to His throne on the Mount Zion, not to the air.  Nor does the Lord come for them; they are simply taken, like Enoch or Elijah: taken to stand before Him and His throne.  Nor is a resurrection announced for this moment.  The dead, because dead, will have escaped the End-times, which escape is the announced object of this rapture.



2. The Beast arises and persecutes.



3. The Lord descends to the clouds and gathers together His elect (Matt. 24: 29-31; 1 Cor. 15: 51, 52; 1 Thess. 4: 15-I7; Tit. 2: 13; Rev. 14: 14-16).  At this time there will be the first resurrection.  Each who shall be accounted worthy of the coming age will “arise into his lot at the end of the days”, not sooner, certainly not before the End days have commenced (Dan. 12: 13).  Nor may we assume of the Firstfruits that they will have priority in the Kingdom over equally faithful saints of earlier times.



4. After an interval the Lord descends to the Mount of Olives, destroys the Beast and his armies, and establishes the Kingdom of the heavens on the earth.



It is therefore our wisdom to give earnest, unremitting attention to our Lord’s most solemn exhortation “take heed to yourselves, lest haply your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting and drunkenness (that is, fleshly indulgence), and cares of this life (that is, its burdens through either poverty or riches), and that day come on you suddenly as a snare: for so shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of all the earth.  But watch ye at every season, making supplication, that ye may prevail to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man” (Luke 21: 34-36).



Oh, dare and suffer all things!


Yet but a stretch of road,


Then wondrous words of welcome;


And then- the FACE OF GOD!



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[* The following is taken from Mr. Panton’s Evangelical Magazine - (THE DAWN, vol. 13., No. 9, December 15th. 1936.)  Should anyone have this book, and be willing to let me have it on loan for publication on this website, please reply by the website e- mail address. – Ed.]



The second, of the two volumes we have referred to is by Mr. W. F. Roadhouse, of Toronto, Seeing the Revelation (Thynne & Co., 28 Whitefriars Street, E.C.4.)  Mr. Roadhouse writes with verve and courage; and the book throbs with an earnestness that faces the dangerous facts we all have to meet without fear or favour.  As Dr. J. C. Massee says in an introduction:- “If the Lord has given us a Revelation it is of the utmost importance that its message should reach the world.  This book is a devout and earnest effort to accomplish that result– Ed.]



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The Apocalypse has shown us throughout that only ‘the overcomer’ has the promise of victory and rulership ahead of him (2: 26, 27; 3: 21).  Nor is this taught only in this closing book, but throughout the New Testament.  We are, in our exposition, just where ‘the Kingdom’ is to be set up - are there no Scriptures that in clearest statement, declare that “they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God”?  What “such things”?  See Gal. 5: 19-21, R.V., “Now the works of the flesh are ... fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousies, wraths, factions, divisions, heresies (mgn., parties), envyings, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I forewarn you (mgn., tell you plainly), that they which practise such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God  And this passage is to [regenerate] believers without a question, for it is in a discussion concerning walking in the flesh, or in the Spirit – hence the ‘world’ is out of sight.  And such warnings are also in the Epistles to the Romans (8: 5-8), to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 5: 9-13; 6: 9, 10).  To the Ephesians (5: 5), to the Colossians (3: 5, 6; 4: 11).



Paul ever warns regarding these things, but popular teaching has become so easy-going that anyone can slip into God’s highest and best – because, forsooth, “it’s all of grace  But ‘grace’ leaves no room for sin – if Paul teaches that it does, pray where?  Rather does he write, “Even so might grace reign through righteousness (not through sin, God forbid!) unto eternal life” (Rom. 5: 21 – 6.; 7.).  Nor does grace play lazy – for Paul, after affirming that “by the grace of God” he was what he was, adds, “but I laboured more abundantly than they all” (1 Cor. 15: 10).  This is our absolute stand - grace does not make room for tolerating sin, nor for a lackadaisical kind of Christian life.  None may presume!  And one who practises those debarring things of Galatians 5., cited above, God says “shall not inherit*  Anyone may teach an easier type of life than this if he will - but he himself shall give account for it to the Judge when he comes.  Beware of a teacher of a smooth, easy life - even under the guise of ‘the doctrine of grace’.  (How glibly and with lost reality, some use that phrase!)


* This shows where a Christian who falls into immorality, or other shame, ends up.  How many axe stranded!


And we would also suggest that the Sermon on the Mount - Matthew 5. to 7.- be read afresh, to catch Christ’s high standard.  What about the ‘righteousness’ He will require, the forgiveness, the purity?  Surely there is need for constant display of Divine love, avoiding the lamentable so-called ‘Fundamentalist bitterness’.  Or His word about, “Lay not up treasures upon earth  His standards are absolutely the mould for those of Paul, and his writings affirm that only such “see God”, and “inherit the Kingdom” (Dan. 7: 13, 14, 18).  It is all the same message, whether from the lips of our Lord, or from His Apostles.  God forgive our clumsy reading of it, so much so that we have lowered His required conditions for entrance upon His glorious reign.



Remembering that the Revelation shows two historical points where there is rapture - at the middle of the seven years and at the end - we find that here (in 20: 4) there are two groups.  The first is already set (5: 4, first part); the second is here described in detail.  They are, of course, the ‘firstfruits’ and the ‘harvest’, as shown in chapter 14: 4, 15 where the very expressions are used.  Together these two instalments make the one harvest.  (1) The First-fruits Wave Sheaf rose 1,900 years ago (Christ).  Now the first-fruits Wave loaves, three and one half years before the [Millennial] Kingdom.  (2) To complete those first-fruits, the harvest company is added - namely, the victors over ‘the beast’ and his image and his mark (as we saw in chapter 13.).  These combine to make ‘the First resurrection’ (20: 4).  For the type above, see Leviticus 23: 10, 17, 22.



Why are they already seen enthroned, this first cited company?  Because, as chapter 12. shows, when Satan was cast out of heaven forty-two months before, ‘a loud voice’ was heard saying, “Now is come the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of our Christ  With this went the formula that John ever uses to describe the Overcomers, “And they overcame him (Satan) because of the blood of the Lamb, and because of the word of their testimony, and they loved not their lives unto the death” - a threefold qualification.  And these Overcomers were already, in some degree, taken up into the heavenly place of regency.  Together with their Great Overcomer, the “First-born out of the dead” (1: 5), these first-fruits were already “caught up unto God and His throne” 1,260 days ere the Kingdom came into world visibility.



But as we have before intimated, those not barred by the disqualifications that each of the Apostles and our Lord Jesus Christ clearly point out (as Gal. 5: 19-21, etc.), will have position and rulership in that coming Kingdom - those who “suffer with Him” (2 Tim. 2: 12; Rom. 8: 17); those who are counted worthy (Luke 21: 36); those who are approved (1 Cor. 9: 27, Gr.); those who are faithful stewards (Matt. 25: 21, 30).  All these qualifications are experimental and personal - and the whole subject needs a revised study by God’s faithful servants and teachers.  May He wake us up!  And hence, how wonderful that the inspired Apostle has left just this place here in his record of what he ‘saw’ that fits into the whole Scripture testimony upon this vital subject.  Our ‘catching away’ - granted we are so conditioned – will be to form part of this already enthroned company.  These he shows before he describes the Overcomers from the awful ‘great tribulation’ days.



Thus, to summarize, those who reign during the Millennial days must be (1) Overcomers of some period (Rev. 2: 10, cf. Jas. 1: 12); (2) ‘blessed’ as in Christ’s beatitudes, Matt. 5: 1-12; (3) ‘holy’, or saints of God, 1Thess. 4: 3; 5: 23; and to be such, assuredly must be God-filled and God-possessed followers of “the Lamb whithersoever He goeth”.  Contrary to nearly all our favourite teaching, these only “shall reign with Christ a thousand years”.  “The rest of the dead lived not (in resurrection of course) until the thousand years were finished” (R.V.).  God’s highest honour for redeemed lives, non-overcomers fail to receive.  Each one of them might have so drawn upon God’s offered grace, upon the Spirit’s enduement, that they too might have attained



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Since the world is dead in sin, go ye therefore;


Since the Cross has power to win, go ye therefore;


Since the Devil and his host madly vaunt and ever boast,


Warring to the farthest coast, go ye therefore.


Timeless issues end its strife; go ye therefore.


Men are passing, early, late, passing to eternal fate,


And the season will not wait; go ye therefore.


To the souls for whom he died go ye therefore.


All his words, his toil, his pain, once are given - not again;


Let them not be given in vain; go ye therefore.


Yours the power to do the work; go ye therefore.


Yours the order, do not shrink; go ye therefore.


Christ your comrade goes with you, ever able, ever true;


He will see the journey through; go ye therefore.


Yours will be a high reward; go ye therefore.


Yours the “well done” of the Lord; go ye therefore.


Yours the blessed, sweet renown of the jewels in your crown,


Yours the home in Glory Town; go ye therefore.  GO!