“I will say to the reapers, “First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn… The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man, and the field is the world; and as for the good seed, these are the sons of the kingdom; and the tares are the sons of the evil one; and the enemy who sowed them is the devil, and the harvest is the end of the age; and the reapers are angels. So just as the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness”
There is a similar passage in the Old Testament’s Joel Chapter 3:
Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe.
Come, tread, for the wine press is full;
The vats overflow, for their wickedness is great.
We find more information on the ‘End Time Harvest’ in Matthew 24 and similar parallel Mark and Luke passages:
But 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 the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.
The problem is that in the Matthew 13 passage, while its clear that the wicked are removed first, later in the same book in Chapter 24, Matthew doesn’t even mention “the wicked” other than that “all the tribes of the earth will mourn”; he actually describes everyone on earth, presumably including the wicked, witnessing the gathering of the ‘elect’.
So which is it? Are the wicked removed first, or are the ‘elect’ (Greek ek-lektos, “the chosen out”)? What about the ‘sons of the kingdom’ described in Matthew 13 who are to remain after the wicked are removed?
Further information is given in Matthew 25–there we find we are to be like ‘virgins’, representative of the Church, preparing to meet the ‘bridegroom’, or Christ. When Christ comes at midnight when it’s hard to stay awake, we are to be ready to go with him. Those who aren’t prepared are shut out of the wedding feast (Mt 25:10).
And finally, Chapter 25 ends with the “Sheep and Goats” parable where the sheep inherit the kingdom and goats “go away into eternal punishment”–now this sounds more like the “Wheat and Tares” of Chapter 13. Unfortunately we have to reconcile the gathering of the elect/virgins prepared for the bride–where do these come in?
Pre-Tribulation rapture adherents will say that the elect are gathered at the beginning or part way through a tribulation period (usually 7 years), but the problem with that view is that we are told this occurs “immediately after the tribulation”.How the Feasts of the Lord Might Offer a Solution
Those familiar with the seven ‘Feasts of the Lord’ described in Leviticus 23 know that the first four ‘Spring Feasts’ were fulfilled by Jesus to the very day, in consecutive order, all in His last few days on earth. The fifth Feast, presumably the next to be fulfilled, is Yom Teruah or the Feast of Trumpets. It occurs in the Fall on Tishrei 1, the 1st day of the 7th month of the Hebrew year, usually in September or October of our calendar. Several passages in the New Testament associate the blowing of ‘a great trumpet’ or ‘the last trumpet’ with the return of the Lord.
The sixth and seventh Feasts are Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement, and Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles. In Revelation, when the New Jerusalem descends, a loud voice is heard to say “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men”.
One way to reconcile this dilemma of the relative timing of:
- when the tares are removed
- when the elect are gathered
- when the sons receive the kingdom
- when the virgins are brought into the wedding feast
- when the goats are sent away
is as follows:
Tishrei 1 or 2, the Feast of Trumpets: The Lord returns to repel the attack on Jerusalem; its the ‘Day of the Lord‘–the elect are gathered to Him. This is synonymous with the virgins entering the wedding feast. One wedding described in the bible lasted 7 days, that of Jacob & Leah (Gen 29:27-28); a Jewish wedding celebration is traditionally 7 days long. Isaiah 26:20-21 describes a time that God’s people will “enter into your rooms and close your doors behind you…until indignation runs its course. For behold, the Lord is about to come out from His place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity.” We also find in Rev 15 that “Bowls of Wrath” are poured out on the earth after the Lord’s return at the 7th Trumpet; perhaps this occurs the week (Tishrei 3-9) between the Feast of Trumpets and the Day of Atonement; it could be that while wrath is poured out the bride is sheltered and ‘the wedding’ takes place.
Tishrei 10, the Day of Atonement: The Lord judges the earth–the goats/tares are removed and the sheep/the sons of the kingdom are rewarded with entry into the Millennial Kingdom (Rev 20:4-6). The ‘sons of the kingdom’ are those that:
- Treated God’s people, the Jews, with kindness per the “Sheep and Goats” parable.
- Believed in Christ when they mourned at His return and were shut out of the wedding chamber, including “all Israel” per Romans 11.
These people will go into the Millennium as natural humans and will repopulate the earth that Christ will reign over from Jerusalem with a “rod of iron” (Psalm 2).
Tishrei 15, the Feast of Tabernacles: New Jerusalem descends from Heaven to earth–the elect return in glorified bodies to rule and reign with Christ in His earthly kingdom (Rev 5:10).