Saturday, 17 April 2021
So the angel thrust his sickle into the earth and gathered the vine of the earth, and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. Revelation 14:19
In the previous verse, the order was given to harvest the fully ripe grapes. With that spoken forth, John records, “So the angel thrust his sickle into the earth.” The idea is that of the Lord’s judgment being directed to the spot on the earth where these calamitous events will take place. There, the fury of the Lord at the wickedness of man will find its release. As John next says, “and gathered the vine of the earth.”
The meaning is that of the fruit of the vine, meaning the fully ripe grapes. The earth is set for judgment, the wickedness has reached its full measure, and the vine will be harvested. In this action, John next notes, “and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God.”
The Greek reads more forcibly, “the winepress, the great winepress, of the wrath of God.” A winepress is where wine is stomped out or crushed in some other manner. The judgment of the nations has come, and those who have rejected Jesus and come against His people will be slain. The imagery seen here will be fully explained later in Revelation. At this time, we are being given a panoramic overview.
A wine press is a place where all the grapes were gathered for processing. There, they are stomped on or crushed in some other way in order to make them burst. In the previous verse, Joel 3 was cited, showing that this will be located in the Valley of Jehoshaphat, meaning “God judges.”
In the end times, God is going to gather the nations of the world to one location and bring them into judgment. It will be in the place of God’s judgment, and it will be because they have divided the land – God’s land – which He has given it to the people of Israel.
In ancient times, once grapes were gathered into a single location, usually a large vat, there was a great celebration as the people came and stomped on them to release the juice from the ready-to-burst skins. As the grapes of this harvest symbolically represent people filled with wickedness, the imagery becomes obvious. There will be the utter destruction of countless numbers of people in this great battle of the future. Isaiah 63 ascribes the event, showing that it is the Lord’s Messiah, Christ Jesus, who will accomplish this –
“Who is this who comes from Edom,
With dyed garments from Bozrah,
This One who is glorious in His apparel,
Traveling in the greatness of His strength?—
‘I who speak in righteousness, mighty to save.’
2 Why is Your apparel red,
And Your garments like one who treads in the winepress?
3 ‘I have trodden the winepress alone,
And from the peoples no one was with Me.
For I have trodden them in My anger,
And trampled them in My fury;
Their blood is sprinkled upon My garments,
And I have stained all My robes.
4 For the day of vengeance is in My heart,
And the year of My redeemed has come.
5 I looked, but there was no one to help,
And I wondered
That there was no one to uphold;
Therefore My own arm brought salvation for Me;
And My own fury, it sustained Me.
6 I have trodden down the peoples in My anger,
Made them drunk in My fury,
And brought down their strength to the earth.’” Isaiah 63:1-6
Life application: The world at large generally looks at Jesus as a cosmic pushover. The focus is heavily on His forgiving nature. Their thought is that because He died for sin, sin can then be overlooked, and even reveled in. But this attitude dismisses His righteousness. The fact that He died for sin demonstrates that sin is appalling to Him.
God has offered peace to all people through the death of His Son. It is an offer for forgiveness of the sins we have committed. Either our sins are judged in Him at the cross of Calvary, or they will be judged in us individually. The choice is ours, let us take heed and accept His great forgiveness now.
God has provided the way of peace and reconciliation with Him, but someday, that same One will come again. When He does, it will not be to atone for sin, but to judge it. He is the One that God has appointed for all such matters related to sin. He is JESUS.
Lord Jesus, I stand in awe of the love You have for the people of the world. What we rightly deserve is to be destroyed through judgment and wrath because of our sins. But You have offered us reconciliation with God through Your own shed blood. What a great, tender, and loving Lord! I accept Your offer – Yes, I accept the cross of Calvary for my sin-debt. Amen.