Tuesday, February 19, 2013

THE GREAT WINEPRESS OF GOD’S WRATH (Post #18)


In this post we continue in Revelation 14.  Again, I want to encourage you to begin at the beginning for the best understanding.  God is revealing things to us through John in a specific order for a reason.  As always, please use God’s word to determine the validity of my comments.

In the previous posts we have come to the point that the beast and his false prophet possess worldwide power and authority.  God’s two powerful witnesses in Jerusalem and the 144,000 Jewish evangelists are now in heaven with the previously raptured body of believers.  God has sent out angels to declare the everlasting gospel throughout the earth, to announce the destruction of Babylon, to warn people on earth that taking the mark of the beast will result in eternal condemnation and to encourage people of faith to persevere in these hard times because the reward will be far greater than the suffering they may endure for a time.

John now hears a declaration from heaven that those believers who die during the last half of the tribulation will be blessed; they will be at rest and free from the struggle and suffering that will characterize the life of every believer on the planet during this time—except the Jewish remnant that is being supernaturally nurtured and protected in the wilderness.  This reminds me of a precious verse in Isaiah.

Isaiah 57:1–2 “The righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart: and merciful men are taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come. He shall enter into peace….”

At this point, John seems to be getting an explanation of what is going to happen as the angels pour out the last plagues on planet earth.  The judgment will be so great that it will seem like the men of earth are being pressed in a great winepress.  He sees one like unto the Son of man, Jesus, sitting on the cloud and wearing the crown of a victor; He has won the right to judge.  He is holding in His hand a sharp sickle.

Another angel comes out of the heavenly temple and tells Jesus that the time has come for Him to put His sickle to use and reap the harvest of the earth.  It is obvious to me that the angel is serving as a messenger from God the Father.  Jesus readily complies since he is the Father’s chosen instrument of judgment.

John 5:22 “For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son….”
John 5:26-27 “For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself; And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man.”

I think it is significant that there is a time that has been predetermined as right for this judgment.  It seems that sin has reached its fullness worldwide.  I think that God’s statement regarding the withholding of judgment from the Amorites establishes the precedent for revealing God’s timing for exacting judgment.

Genesis 15:13–16 “And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance. And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age. But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.”

Next John watches as the angels begin to complete the process authorized by the thrust of the sickle from Jesus.  One angel emerges from the temple carrying a sharp sickle and another angel invested with power over fire comes forth from the altar.  The angel from the altar commands the angel with the sickle to reap the earth and cast the harvest into the great winepress of God.  This is obviously a picture of judgment that I think summarizes the wrath of God being poured out on the wicked and culminating in the last seven judgments.  I think this section parallels the teaching of Jesus recorded in Matthew 13.

Matthew 13:36–43 & 49-50 “Then Jesus sent the multitude away, and went into the house: and his disciples came unto him, saying, Declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field. He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear….So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

The passage in Matthew also seems to provide a clue as to why the angel in charge of fire is give direction to the angel with the sickle—he is likely in charge of the fires of hell.

The winepress is identified as being located without the city (of Jerusalem, I believe).  I think this verse is making reference to the last great battle at Armaggedon in the Valley of Megiddo and appears to include the Valley of Jehoshaphat, the Valley of Decision, if the verses in Joel apply here.
Joel 3:12-14 Let the heathen be wakened, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat: for there will I sit to judge all the heathen round about.  Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe: come, get you down; for the press is full, the vats overflow; for their wickedness is great.  Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision.

Another section of verses that seems to be related to this verse is found in Isaiah:
Is. 63:1-4 Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this that is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength? I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save.  Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the winefat?  I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me: for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment.  For the day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come.

The statement regarding the amount of blood indicates the intensity of the battle that will take place.  I have a hard time not accepting that the amount of bloodshed stated is not an actual figure since the figure is specific. 

Joseph Seiss gives a possible explanation:  “The probabilities are…that a line of encamped forces shall extend from Bozrah, on the southeast, to Megiddo, on the northwest.  And, singularly enough, this would measure exactly 1600 stadia (furlongs), the distance named in the text as that over which the blood from this great winepress of Jehovah’s anger flows.” 

This meshes with the verses from Isaiah that picture Jesus headed to Jerusalem from Bozrah in garments drenched in blood.  Bozrah is a reference to Petra, a place that many believe scripture indicates will be that special place in the wilderness in which God will protect the Jewish remnant.

(to be continued…)

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