Thursday, December 18, 2014

THE WINEPRESS OF WRATH (Revelation Chapter 14)

Revelation 14:17-20, “Then another angel came out of the temple in heaven, and he too had a sharp sickle.  And another angel came out from the altar, the angel who has authority over the fire, and he called with a loud voice to the one who had the sharp sickle, “Put in your sickle and gather the clusters from the vine of the earth, for its grapes are ripe.” So the angel swung his sickle across the earth and gathered the grape harvest of the earth and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God.  And the winepress was trodden outside the city, and blood flowed from the winepress, as high as a horse's bridle, for 1,600 stadia.”

Christmas—the celebration of the birth of Christ—is but a week away.  But the message of Christmas extends beyond the cradle in the nativity scene.  The cradled child was purposed to die on a cross and then rise again.  He is now ascended to the right hand of God and is coming again.   John MacArthur has commented on this: “And we are looking at a text of Scripture that deals with the final harvest of the earth, the final reaping when the Lord Jesus Christ reaps the earth in judgment. The first time Jesus came to earth, He came as a servant. The next time He will come as the sovereign King. The first time Jesus came, He came as one obeying. The next time He will come as one commanding. The first time Jesus came, He came alone to live with a Jewish couple in a small obscure town. The next time He will come with all His holy angels to take over the whole earth. The first time Jesus came He came in humility. The next time He will come in glorious majesty and splendor. The first time Jesus came, He came to seek and to save the lost. And the next time He will come to judge and sentence the lost. Or, to put the contrast in the terms of our text, the first time Jesus came He came as the sower. Next time He will come as the reaper. He came in grace, He comes in wrath.”

Some struggle to accept these varying aspects of the person and work of Jesus Christ.  They refuse the clear testimony of God’s Word regarding a future judgment, but that’s what this text declares.  There is much debate regarding the nature and timing of that which transpires in this passage.  An angel will swing his sharp sickle to harvest grapes that are then thrown into “the great winepress of the wrath of God” (Revelation 14:20).  Blood will flow and cover a vast region (Cf. Revelation 14:17-20). Revelation chapter 19 uses similar language in describing what happens when Christ, the rider on a white horse, comes to exercise judgment at the end of the tribulation period (Cf. Revelation 19:11-21).  In “righteousness he judges and makes war” (Revelation 19:11).  “He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood” and is accompanied by “the armies of heaven” (Revelation 19:14).  Who is the one who “will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty” (Revelation 19:15)?  It is none other than Jesus Christ that One who came the first time as a babe in a manger.  The One who first came in humility to die is coming again in glory to reign. 

To where can one “flee from the wrath to come” (Matthew 3:7)?  To the One who bore God’s wrath against sin upon the cross (Cf. Romans 3:24-25; 1 Peter 3:18).  Charles Spurgeon has commented on the urgency of the need to trust now in Jesus, “And the winepress was trodden outside the city.” This represents the awful suffering of lost souls, the eternal punishment that will then begin. And, as the red juice spurts from the trodden grapes, so did John, in his terrible vision, see the blood of men come flowing forth, “even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs.” That metaphor and measurement are meant to show how terrible is the wrath of God against the ungodly…There can be no possible exaggeration of the wrath of God! I beseech you, my dear Hearers—though I know not, and never wish to know much about this dreadful subject—remember that what we do know about the doom of the lost is enough to make one’s hair stand on end and one’s heart almost to cease to beat! So I beseech you, do not risk that doom for yourselves! Escape for your lives! Look not behind you, but flee to the one Refuge which God has provided.  Whoever will entrust His soul to Jesus Christ shall be eternally saved! Look to Him who wore the crown of thorns and repose your soul’s entire confidence in Him!...But if you reject Him, do not think it wrong that you should be cast with the grapes into the winepress of the wrath of God and be trodden with the rest of “the clusters of the vine of the earth.” I beg you to take Christ as your Savior this very hour lest this night you should die unsaved! Lay hold of Jesus lest you never hear another Gospel invitation or warning.  If I have seemed to speak terribly, God knows that I have done it out of love to your souls and, believe me, that I do not speak as strongly as the Truth of God might well permit me to do, for there is something far more terrible about the doom of the lost than language can ever express or thought conceive!  God save all of you from ever suffering that doom, for Jesus Christ’s sake! Amen.”

No comments: