And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and on the cloud one sat like to the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown…
And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud One sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle, etc. There are three moral seasons implied in this section of the Apocalyptic vision.
I. THE RIPENING SEASON. "And I looked [saw], and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud One sat like unto the [a] Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle" (ver. 14). This language may be taken as an illustration of that supreme Divinity that presides over all the moral seasons of mankind. He is glorious. He is encircled with a "cloud," dazzling and splendid, he is human. He is "like unto the Son of man." Supreme Divinity is full of humanity, and humanity is full of God. He is royal. He has "upon his head a golden crown." He is "the King of kings, and Lord of lords." He is absolute, he has "in his hand a sharp sickle." He has the power to put an end to the whole system whenever he pleases; he kills and he makes alive. Such is the Being that presides over our histories, our lives, and destinies. Our world is not left to chance or fate, blind force or arbitrary despotism. There is an intelligent Being over it, all glorious, yet human, royal and absolute. He presides over the ripening season. Months before the sickle is thrust in the ripening has been going on. There are two classes of principles, good and evil, which are seeds growing in all human souls. Both are implanted. Neither of them is inbred. The seed of evil is not constitutional; the seeds of good are almost exterminated by the seeds of sin. "A man sowed good seed in his field; but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat." The spirit of evil implants the one. "An enemy came and sowed tares." The Son of man implants the other. Both, in all souls, are constantly growing and advancing to ripeness. Although human nature is made for truth and right, it can grow error and wrong. It can develop a false impression or an erroneous sentiment into a upas that shall spread its baneful branches over empires, and poison the heart of ages.
II. THE HARVEST SEASON. "Thrust in [send forth] thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come" (ver. 15). All life culminates in maturity. "First the blade, then the ear, then the full corn in the ear." Growth is but life running into ripeness, the river runs to the ocean. "The harvest of the earth is ripe, the grapes are fully ripe." In connection with this it is suggested that the harvest is under the direction of a supreme intelligence. "And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud" (ver. 15). The angel had no power to snatch the sickle from the Divine hand and employ it. The Divine permission is absolutely necessary; life and death are with him. "There is an appointed time for man upon the earth." No creature or combination of creatures, however mighty, can abbreviate or prolong the appointed period. There are no premature deaths in human history. Angels, it may be, in countless numbers await his behest. They are reads to strike down when he permits. Death is ever on the wing; silently and stealthily he approaches every human being, and strikes the moment he has permission.
III. THE VINTAGE SEASON. "Thrust in [send forth] thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe" (ver. 18). The vintage is a section of the harvest. The vine reaches its maturity and has its harvest, as well as the ears of corn, and the pressing of these grapes is the vintage. Three things are suggested in connection with this vintage.
1. Divine severity. "The great wine press of the wrath of God. And the wine press was trod, ten without the city, and blood came out of the wine press" (vers. 19, 20). Grapes in the press were usually trodden by the feet of men (see Isaiah 63:2, 3; Lamentations 1:15). The idea of severity could scarcely fail to be conveyed to the spectator whose feet trampled on the soft, blooming, beautiful grape, so that the juice like its very blood streamed forth. "The wrath of God." There is no wrath in God but the wrath of love. Divine law is but love speaking in the imperative mood; Divine retribution is but Divine love chastising the child to bring him back to the right and the true.
2. Great abundance. "Blood came out of the wine press, even unto the horse bridles" (ver. 20). That is, the juice flowing like a deep river, rising to the very bridles of the horses. Who shall measure the final issues of the moral seasons of humanity?
3. Extensive range. "A thousand and six hundred furlongs" (ver. 20) - a hundred and fifty miles. A definite number of miles for an indefinite space. The final issue of souls will be as wide as immensity. - D.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle.