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Contrasts of Symbols in Revelation - Two Harvests

Updated on January 25, 2015
Ms Dee profile image

Deidre has a Masters in applied linguistics and translation for her 20 years overseas, then she worked as a certified provider of the MBTI®.

A look at some of the symbolism used in Revelation helps to better understand its message. For example, we see four horses and riders (6:1-8). The first is a white horse with a rider wearing a crown and carrying a bow. This picture symbolizes authority (a crown) and being armed or empowered to conquer (a bow).

Revelation’s symbolic pictures or figures are also often contrasted one against another, as well. These comparisons and contrasts are used extensively throughout the book and are literary devices typical of that period of history.

Contrastive thematic comparisons in Revelation

There are many themes running throughout the book of Revelation. The three main themes, Christ, the church and the tribulation, each are compared to an opposing or contrasting theme. These are Satan the Devil, the Beasts and the millennial Kingdom. These main themes and their parallel contrasting themes are summarize in the following table.

Contrastive themes in Revelation

Main Themes
Parallel Contrasting Themes
Christ (Rev 1)
Satan (Rev 12)
The church (Rev 2-3)
The beasts (Rev 13)
The tribulation (4-19)
The millennial Kingdom (Rev 20)

One seated on the cloud with a sharp sickle - two harvests


Comparisons of contrasting symbolic pictures in Revelation

These main themes and their parallel contrasting themes are represented and described in Revelation with parallel symbolic pictures, or figures. For example:

  • Two thrones: Both God and Satan are said to have thrones.
  • Two groups of worshipers: Both God's worshipers and the beasts' worshipers are marked or branded on their foreheads.
  • Two declarations: The declaration of an angel that "It is done!" occurs twice, both when the tribulation judgment is completed and when the millennial reign is completed and everything is made new.

Here in the following table are these examples along with a few more. They are pairs of contrasting figures using the same symbolic picture.

Contrasting Symbolic Pairs in Revelation

Pair of …
Figure 1
Figure 2
Satan’s (2:13, 13:2)
God’s (40 occurences)
riders on white horses
with bow & crown (6:2)
with sword & scepter (19:11, 15)
brands on foreheads
mark of the beast (13:16)
God’s name (22:4)
of beast & his image (14:9)
of maker of heaven & earth (14:7)
grapes (14:18)
grain (14:15)
Babylon the Great (14:8)
new Jerusalem (3:12)
great prostitute (17:1)
wife of the Lamb (19:7)
water place name
lake of fire (19:20)
sea of glass (15:2)
rest of the dead (20:5, 12)
beheaded martyrs (20:4)
book or books
books were opened (20:12)
book of life (20:12)
first heaven (21:1)
new heaven (21:1)
first earth (21:1)
new earth (21:1)
“It is done!”
judgment (16:17)
renewing everything (21:6)
“I will show you…”
judgment of Babylon (17:1)
bride of the Lamb (21:9)

Grain ripe for harvest


Grapes ripe for harvest


Two "harvests" in Revelation

Looking at these contrasting pairs of symbolic pictures caused me to realize there are two harvests described in Revelation. The two harvests are both cut with the sickle and they are harvested at the same point in Revelation, but here is where the similarities end.

These are two very different harvests.


We know that one is a harvest of ripened grain, because of the Greek word θερισον, used for 'reap' in Rev 14:15. The word is the one used to refer to cutting ripe grain (to bunch it up into sheaves).


The other harvest is clusters of grapes. The grapes are to be cut and gathered, too, but Rev 14:18-19 does not refer to this a reaping, like in verse 15.

Therefore, these are two different harvests; one of grain and one of grapes. In addition to the difference of one being a 'grain harvest' and the other being a 'grape harvest,' there are a few more differences that put these two parallel harvests in contrast.

Reaping grain (Rev 14:15)


Gathering the grapes (Rev 14:19)


Two 'harvesters' in Revelation

The same harvester does not harvest both of the harvests in Revelation 14.

One seated on a cloud

The harvester who reaps the grain with a sickle is "One seated on a cloud" (Rev 14:16). This is an allusion to Daniel 7:13, "One like a son of man coming with the clouds of heaven." The reference to "son of man" is clearly a reference to the Messiah (Christ.) I believe this has in view Christ's promise when he said, "I will come back and receive you to Myself" in John 14:3.

An angel

The harvester of the grain does not harvest the grapes. The ripe grapes clusters are 'gathered with a sickle' by an angel (Rev 14:18-19).

Two harvests taken to different places

Where each of the two harvests end up are quite different, as well. To understand where the harvested grain is taken, we first consider where the grapes end up.

What does the winepress symbolize?


The prophet Joel

A full overflowing winepress is likened to the great wickedness of the nations also by Joel (3:13) and is when God enters into judgment with them (Joel 3:2).

Into the winepress

The harvested grapes are thrown into a winepress outside the city of Jerusalem (Rev 14:19-20). This is referred to as the "winepress of God's wrath." It is the same "winepress of the fierce anger of God" spoken of later, in Revelation 19: 11, 15, that is trampled by the rider on the white horse, who is called Faithful and True (Christ).

We know from these verses in chapter 19 that the trampling of the grapes in the winepress symbolizes the destruction and killing of the kings and their armies. They are destroyed when they gather for war against Christ, the rider on the white horse, and His army (Rev 19:19).

These gathered kings and their armies are also the same, I believe, as those assembled for the battle of Armageddon (in Rev 16:14, 16). This is where, in Revelation, the bowls of judgment are poured out to bring down and destroy "the cities of the nations" (Rev 16:19). They—also referred to as Babylon the Great—are given "the cup filled with the wine of His fierce anger."

What does the sea of glass symbolize?


Onto the sea of glass

Where the reaped grain harvest is taken is not described in Revelation 14 (as was the grape harvest). In Revelation 15 what is seen, however, are both the seven last plagues, about to be poured out by the angels, and those who will escape this judgment (in 15:2). They are the ones who best the beasts by not worshiping them. They have escaped to God's presence to serve Him—symbolized by the picture of them standing on a sea of glass before His throne, singing with harps.

I believe the grain harvest is taken by the Messiah, the Son of Man, into God's presence; escaping the seven bowls of God's full wrath that is reserved for the wicked. The grain harvest is a symbolic picture of the rescued righteous saints—quite a contrast to the destroyed wicked nations symbolically picture by the trampled grape harvest.

Do you think there are two different harvests in Revelation 14?

See results

The grain and the grapes' final end

This final outpouring of God's vengeance on the wicked nations happens in a short span of time, "a single hour" (Rev 18:10, 17, 19). It could well be that, when the last plagues are poured out to the destroy wicked nations, those who escape to the sea of glass then accompany Christ as part of His army (Rev 19:19) in that final battle, Armageddon.

Revelation Revealed
Revelation Revealed

Verse by verse explains the symbols Revelation.


© 2012 Deidre Shelden


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    • Ms Dee profile image

      Deidre Shelden 5 years ago from Texas, USA

      Sueswan, thanks and hope this little look and the harvests in Revelation brings further understanding.

    • Ms Dee profile image

      Deidre Shelden 5 years ago from Texas, USA

      lifegate, there is so much more that could be said about the harvests in Revelation, so glad you appreciate this brief look at them.

    • Ms Dee profile image

      Deidre Shelden 5 years ago from Texas, USA

      Civil War Bob, thank you for your Mat. 13 reference as I do think that harvest refers to the same harvests as in Revelation. Thanks for your prayer of the Ps. 119:18 blessing!

    • Ms Dee profile image

      Deidre Shelden 5 years ago from Texas, USA

      Civil War Bob, our Battle Hymn of the Republic does refer to the 'grapes of wrath' as if the Lord has been doing it ever since his first coming. As I have looked more at the O.T. prophesies, though, I have seen there is a chronology to the prophesied events yet to be fulfilled and a timing in the last days of the present age, rather that the entire time span since Christ's first coming--the time of the Gentiles.

    • profile image

      Sueswan 5 years ago

      Hi Ms Dee

      I admire the dedication and passion you have put into this hub.

      God Bless

    • Ms Dee profile image

      Deidre Shelden 5 years ago from Texas, USA

      teaches, it does indeed take a lot of praying, reading, thinking and listening to God's wisdom. Revelation actually summarizes, in a sense, some of the O.T. prophesies that are yet unfulfilled. So, I agree, it takes looking at the whole of Scripture, too.

    • lifegate profile image

      William Kovacic 5 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      Ms Dee,

      Thanks for all the information. Very well researched and put together nicely with charts, pics, and polls. Good Job!

    • Civil War Bob profile image

      Civil War Bob 5 years ago from Glenside, Pennsylvania

      Well done hub, MsDee...voted up, useful, and interesting. I just did some studying of my own as a result. I think you're right on with your view of the saints ingathering and the grapes of wrath results for others to which Julia Ward Howe referred. Oh, some cross referencing I did was to Matthew 13 of the wheat/tares and John 3:19, thinking that this dual harvest is not just limited to the end of times, but ever since Jesus arrived...just a thought. Enjoy your day and may Ps. 119:18 be yours!!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Thanks for the detailed description and study of Revelation. This book is hard to understand without a good knowledge of God, Christ and the Word. Coupled with prayer and guided by the Holy Spirit, it can be read with understanding. I am going to have to read this over again, slowly to absorb the wonderful content. Voted up.

    • Ms Dee profile image

      Deidre Shelden 5 years ago from Texas, USA

      Michele, sure, print it out! Revelation is very hard for all of us. Glad this may help you study it a bit more.

    • Ms Dee profile image

      Deidre Shelden 5 years ago from Texas, USA

      Faith Reaper, it is nice to know you see it takes a lot of study.

    • Ms Dee profile image

      Deidre Shelden 5 years ago from Texas, USA

      annaw, it helps spur me into deep study by currently teaching Revelation in Sunday School. Helps me try to explain better what I see.

    • Michele Travis profile image

      Michele Travis 5 years ago from U.S.A. Ohio

      thank you, this is a wonderful hub! May I print it out? I need to take some time to study it. You are helping me learn about this in a different way. For that I appreciate it very much, because the book of Revelation is still hard to understand. God Bless you.

    • Ms Dee profile image

      Deidre Shelden 5 years ago from Texas, USA

      Faith Reaper, yes, it is so interesting to me how the images in Revelation are organized and used to tell us something.

    • Ms Dee profile image

      Deidre Shelden 5 years ago from Texas, USA

      Hi glmclendon, it does take a lot of study, but studying the Scriptures is something I love to do. Yes, I've been praying a lot for several years now asking God to help me understand what he wants me to know from Revelation.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 5 years ago from southern USA

      Ms. Dee, this is an amazingly well-written and researched piece here. Revelation is difficult to grasp for a lot of us. Thank you for the extensive research and thought you have put into this piece, and the images just add to the interest. Well done! I thought I had just left a comment, but I may not have been signed in at the time, so I apologize if two comments show up. Keep writing! In His Love, Faith Reaper

    • annaw profile image

      annaw 5 years ago from North Texas

      I love this hub it is well written, considers both side of the issue/argument and elicits thought - for me anyway. I immediately began mentally searching my data comprehension These questions compel me to bookmark this hub and to go to "the book," to read.

      Thank you for putting so much work,research and thought into it - to share with us.Voted up,useful and interesting.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 5 years ago from southern USA

      Ms. Dee - what a great piece of well-researched work here. Revelation is a difficult book for a lot of us to grasp. I love the insight into the two harvests! Every image just adds much interest to this piece. Well done! In His Love, Faith Reaper

    • glmclendon profile image

      glmclendon 5 years ago

      Good read. This is for those that really study and will take the extra step in the learning of God's word.

      There is much cross checking one must do to get understanding of the book of Rev.

      I think, you better do a lot of praying before and after you get into the book of Rev.

      Stay Well