Salvation is often pictured in Scripture as the harvest season. While the fruit is still growing, much labor is spent to cause the grain in the field and the fruit on the vine to grow, and thus become a bountiful harvest. In the context of the Scriptures, this points to the Gospel being preached to plant the seed of the word of God in the hearts of men, and thereby cause their lives to glorify God, as that word matures in their hearts. In the Parable of the Sower Jesus spoke of how this occurs, and the trouble that comes upon some of the seed (Matthew 13:1-23). In the context of the Apocalypse in chapter 14:14-20, the harvest represents the end of the age, or when Jesus returns. The earth is reaped and the Judgment is set.
According to Revelation 14:14, John saw a white cloud and sitting upon it was one like the Son of Man. This is a Messianic term signifying the King of Israel, and it was a favorite description used by Jesus for himself during his public ministry (Matthew 8:20; 9:6; 10:23; 11:19; 12:8, 32, 40 etc.).
In the Olivet prophecy, Jesus predicted that, at the end of the age (Matthew 24:3), he would come on the clouds of heaven (Matthew 24:30; Luke 21:27). He also told, Annas, the high priest that he would see him (Jesus) seated at the right hand of power, coming in the clouds (Matthew 26:64). Moreover, when the disciples witnessed Jesus ascending into heaven, they saw a cloud receive him out of their sight, which is actually an allusion to Daniel 7:13-14, where the Messiah was brought before God by a cloud to receive dominion or his Kingdom. So, the angel on the cloud in Revelation 14:14 represents Jesus, and this seems certain.
Moreover, notice that he is wearing a golden crown. The Greek word for crown, stephanos (G4735), is represented in the crown of thorns given Jesus (Matthew 27:29; Mark 15:17; John 19:2, 5) and the victors crown mentioned by the writers of the New Testament (1Corinthians 9:25; 2Timothy 4:8; James 1:12; 1Peter 5:4). Therefore, in the context of Revelation 14:14, the Son of Man is seated on a white cloud, coming as one who has already gained the victory (cf. Revelation 3:21; Philippians 2:6-11) and is returning to judge and reward every man according to his works (cf. Luke 19:12, 15), and this seems to be the very first act the Son of Man, the Messiah, does out of that office.
This second angel said: “Thrust in your sickle, and reap: for the time is come for you to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe” (Revelation 14:14). Jesus once told his disciples:
Do ye not say, There are yet four months and then comes harvest? Behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes and look on the fields, for they are white already to harvest. And he that reaps receives wages and gathers fruit unto eternal life, that both he that sows and he that reaps may rejoice together. And herein is that saying true, One sows and another reaps. I have sent you to reap that upon which ye bestowed no labor; others labored, and ye have entered into their labors. (John 4:35-38)
These words were spoken, while taught in Samaria. If the fields were “white already to harvest” at that time, and he was sending in his disciples to harvest souls for the Kingdom of God, then what they reaped must have been the firstfruits to God or those who made up the 144,000 (cf. Revelation 14:1-4), because Jesus is told that the time of the harvest had come (cf. Mark 13:32), and he, i.e. Jesus, was to harvest the earth, the whole earth, or both the wicked and the righteous, for the time of the Judgment had come and that all who were in the graves should arise and receive their reward.
So, the one who was like the Son of Man “thrust in his sickle upon the earth, and the earth was reaped” (Revelation 14:16). According to the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares, the time of the harvest occurred at the end of the age (Matthew 13:39). In the course of time Jesus had planted good seed or “the sons of the Kingdom” in his field (the world), but an enemy had come along and planted weeds, or “the sons of the wicked one” (cf. Matthew 13:38). It was decided that both the righteous and the wicked should mature together, lest removing the unrighteous would harm the good seed (Matthew 13:28-30).
Therefore, the reaping of Revelation 14:16 was done in the context of the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares, for when the time of the harvest had finally arrived, both the wheat (i.e. the sons of the Kingdom) and the weeds (or the sons of the wicked one) would be harvested together (viz. “the earth was reaped” in Revelation 14:16)! Immediately after the harvest, then, they would be separated, and the “sons of the wicked one” would be bundled up and burned (Matthew 13:30, 40-42), while the “sons of the Kingdom” would be placed safely in the Masters barn (verse-30).