The main image of the sickle or scythe that people have is the caricature of death coming to reap (take away) life. Death is called the Grim Reaper. It is a popular image today among gamers. The sickle is an implement with a crescent-shaped blade attached to a short handle, used for cutting grain or tall grass.
In the book of Revelation, it is not Death personified, but an angel of God who wields the sickle. It is in his hand. The hand, in the Old Testament, is that part of the body “that carries out a person’s will” (Richards 324). John shares that perspective. Here, the angel is carrying out the will of God. Frank Cox noted that this angel is in the central part of seven in this part of chapter from verses 6-20 (Cox 90). It is a key section, then. This is an important moment and key action in the book.
This angel with the sharp sickle in his hand acts on cue from another angel who comes out from the temple — the habitation of God. Yet another angel comes out from the altar, representing the prayers of the saints, Revelation 6.9; 8.3-5. God is acting because the saints have prayed!
In Revelation, the hand plays an important role. See this incomplete list elsewhere.
The angel with the sharp sickle in his hand acts. “So the one seated on the cloud swung his sickle over the earth, and the earth was reaped” 14.16. Apparently, all it took was a single swipe and the deed was done, judgment was performed.
Contrast this story of God’s judgment with Demetrius’s accurate summary of Paul’s preaching that “gods made by [human] hands are not gods at all” Acts 19.26.
The angel with the sharp sickle in his hand reminds us of several lessons:
- God judges and does so in his time.
- God’s judgment is swift and sure.
- God judges and gives his people victory.
- God’s judgment is moved by the prayers of the saints.
The judgment mentioned in Revelation 14 was on the Roman Empire. God will do more judging still. Let us watch for the hand of God and pray that he moves on behalf of his people.
WORKS CITED. COX, Frank L 1956. Revelation in 26 Lessons.Gospel Advocate. RICHARDS, Lawrence O. 1985 Expository Dictionary of Bible Words. Zondervan.
The editor has written elsewhere about actions of hand and heart.