I’ve set the date above to 1517 as this marks the official commencement of the Reformation and the beginning of the fall of ‘Babylon The Great’, which is in essence all part and parcel of the aforementioned beasts. The previous chapter saw the two horned lamb-like creature (note ‘lamb-like but not an actual lamb) but now we see the real Lamb of God. As the 1260 years period expire and the Reformation begins people in their millions begin to see the true Lamb of God.
For the second time we meet the 144,000. The number is figurative just like everything else in the book. 12 x 12 speaks of God’s order and government and ‘thousand’ speaks of families (see OT refs). The people of The Lamb are rising and Babylon is falling. Rising and falling does not always happen in one go. This period of time takes us through the most viral spread of the Gospel throughout the earth and continues to this day!
The beast will yet fall further but from this time forth it has been mortally weakened and can no longer devour the saints in the manner it once did. See how John Bunyan so wonderfully describes the now declawed beast below.
Previously we read of the saints being given into the hand of the beast. For 1260 years the beast reigned supreme over Christendom and the true saints of God were so often at its mercy – or more often, lack thereof. However, in this fourteenth chapter time has moved on. This is the reformation era and well beyond. The papacy has lost a lot of power. Not all power, wealth and influence – it continues with much to this day – but it can no longer simply command the kings of Europe to do its bidding in the slaughter of the innocents. John Bunyan, in his inimitable allegorical style paints the picture so well…
“I espied a little before me a Cave, where two giants, Pope and Pagan, dwelt in old Time; by whose power and tyranny the men, whose bones, blood, ashes, lay there, were cruelly put to death. But by this place, Christian went without much danger, whereat I somewhat wondered: But I have learnt since, that Pagan has been dead many a day; and as for the other, though he be yet alive, he is, by reason of age, and also many shrewd brushes that he met with in his younger days, grown so crazy and stiff in his joints, that he can now do little more than sit in his Cave’s mouth, grinning at Pilgrims as they go by, and biting his nails, because he cannot come at them”
(From The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan)
The time period reflected in chapter 14 is a broad sweep from the time of the Reformation, which includes the era of ‘little book’ and continuing on to the current day. The important specific details of this period will unfold over subsequent chapters in the seven bowls of judgement. Two types of harvest are taking place in this chapter/era. The first one is positive. An angel is preaching the everlasting gospel in heaven – remember, that’s the symbolic ‘heavens’ – I don’t think that those who dwell in the heaven of heavens (or, the third heaven etc. whatever you like to say) are the ones who need to hear the gospel. As previously mentioned, from the time of the Reformation until this day the gospel is being freely declared across many nations, not only the ‘Roman earth’ but across the entire earth. Far from living in the darkest days of history, we in fact, when viewing the bigger picture, live at a time of gospel spread like never before – but of course, the Kingdom is still not fully established yet.
We are not told what type of produce is being harvested in verse 15 but I think it is in effect a harvest of ready wheat. The second harvest, in verse 18, is specifically designated as a harvest of grapes – but it is rotten fruit by inference. The blood flows once again as a result of this particular harvest, and so it has been across ‘Catholic Europe’ that the blood of war has been continually shed in abundance during the past few centuries. We shall encounter some of the specifics of this in the coming bowls of judgement.