The symbolism of the Harvest is highly dependent on the weather found in the season. A cold spring and summer may leave hard soil and feeble growth, representative of sickness and cold, distant emotionalism. On the other hand, a hot, wet season may bring forth a sturdy and robust harvest indicating good health, a considerable sex drive, or perhaps, the birth of a child. Accordingly, we need to examine the symbolic contents of the harvest, as well as, the representative climate of the harvesting season itself.
There is little point in lingering over the metaphorical uses of this word in the Bible; they are as readily comprehensible as ever they were -reaping what one sows (Proverbs 22: 8), or the harvest as an image of all work (Matthew 9: 37) and so on.
It is far more interesting to abstract the symbolic content of the image. ‘The harvest is the end of the world’, St Matthew writes (13: 39) and goes on to explain that this is the context of the Last Judgement. Thus God proclaims that he is about to take his seat as judge: ‘Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe’ (Joel 3: 13). The prophet goes on to use the parallel image of the vintage.
Nevertheless, a number of New Testament passages enable the rational explanation to be excluded. It is not a matter of the individual’s actions, as he or she grows and reaches maturity, being simply harvested and assessed by a passive judge as with a pair of scales. The Parable of the Wheat and the Tares (Matthew 23: 24-30, 36-43) imparts a hint of mystery to the harvest as Last Judgement, God in his patience reserving its final verdict to himself. However, the ultimate criterion applying that to the harvest will be the essential quality of the fruit borne by the individual. It is a question of whether that person has sown and borne fruit for his fleshly appetites or whether for goodness and for the spirit, that is, for the will of God and his kingdom (Galatians 6: 7-10). It is for this reason that the outcome of the harvest does not always follow logic. Those that have sown in tears shall reap in joy (Psalm 126: 5).