The Grapes of Wrath

Revelation 14:14-20

Remember promised blessing: “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.” (Rev. 1:3) So how does reading / hearing portions of Revelation like this text bless us? Even in culture desensitized to violence, content is disturbing to careful reader. Especially when we remember what is described is real, not fantasy, will involve people close to us.

From here on, focus narrows down to center on Second Coming and what follows. Don’t forget – primary conflict is spiritual… with physical evidence and consequences. This portion of book makes increrasingly plain just how intense spiritual warfare truly is… when we are engaged in fighting it. Several important concepts bear repeating:

physical death is not the end, not even the worst that could happen – Revelation sheds much light on next life

are not in battle alone – Commander present – know that from Revelation

appearances are deceiving, Revelation helps us discern true reality: Satan is not winning

our sense of timing not same as God’s, his is perfect; Revelation another reminder God not sleeping

we have duty to warn unsaved using God’s word/truth; their duty to respond… as God enables – is essential unsaved see our humility and compassion

the Cross one illustration, Revelation further commentary on how seriously God takes sin – when God punishes sinners, not because he doesn’t like them… he hates their sin and rebellion with perfect hatred

As we come to end of vision that began ch. 12, once again a description of end of this age, return of Christ. A melding of imagery from both Old and New Testaments, perhaps inspired by Joel 3:13

Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, go down; For the winepress is full, The vats overflow; For their wickedness is great.”

See the One coming on the clouds beginning the harvest; when the harvest will occur; two complementing views of what is harvested; result of the harvest.

A. the One harvesting v.14

clouds – see Rev. 1:4-7; Matt. 24:30; Dan. 7:13-14

not a new player in this cosmic drama – is one introduced at beginning of his revelation: (readRev 1:4-7) “he is coming with clouds” v.7

who is he? the one who was “pierced” – used only one other time, John 19:37, where quoted from Zech. 12:10 as proof Jesus’ crucifixion fulfilled prophecy

the One who loved us, who freed us from our sins by his shed blood, that One is coming back for us – know what he’ll do when he gets here

Jesus himself promised it – answered disciples’ question “what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”

Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.”

perhaps the Dragon/beast/false prophet collectively rubbing their hands – one more opportunity to prevail against their Enemy

not to worry – he is coming with power, all power, and will absolutely finally eternally prevail over all his enemies and ours without exception

“I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him.And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.”

has all the authority, all the power, all necessary resources to accomplish God’s purpose… and he will do so

B. the time of harvest v.15, 18

two parts to this segment of vision, parallel but not exactly – first view of harvest: both wheat and tares; second view: only grapes

at times in the church, almost an obsession to nail down precisely as possible time of Jesus’ return – remember fellow who spent $100m publicizing predicted Rapture 05/21/2011, end of world 10/21/2011

one of many who have made news with such predictions; some started whole movements – Jehovah’s Witnesses, e.g.

Jesus made clear: “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.” (Matt. 24:36)

has not revealed the time, has revealed the conditions that will be present when time is right for his return

two kinds of harvest but one set of conditions

harvest of the earth – both wheat and tares – is ripe; grapes are fully ripe… iow, two things have coincided: church is full, so also is meaure of evil in world

God’s perfect timing – all for whom Christ died have come to faith, all the rest have used up God’s patience, converging at point in time when Father has determined Son will return

precedent: Gen. 15:15-16As for yourself, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried in a good old age.And they shall come back here in the fourth generation, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.”

when Canaanites had filled up the measure of their sins, reached level of evil God had preset as enough, God brought judgment

what we see here is similar… but on global scale – worldwide evil has reached point where God says “no more”… forever

C. what is harvested v.16, 19

wheat… and tares/weeds

picture field where both crop and weeds growing side-by-side, close enough together that cannot be separated while in ground

No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. Then I will tell the harvesters to sort out the weeds, tie them into bundles, and burn them, and to put the wheat in the barn.” Matt. 13:29-30

harvest time arrives, “harvest of the earth is fully ripe” – reaper with sickle cuts down everything in sight, no distinguishing between crops and weeds

sorting between wheat and weeds done after reaping – reality, given who reaper is… King Jesus, won’t be long drawn-out process – will come suddenly, be finished quickly

so what’s the deal, what really being described by imagery of harvest? see Jesus’ explanation – readMatt. 13:36-43

not like popular view of the end – Christians rescued out of world before it gets really tough; according to Jesus’ description the end is the end… for righteous and wicked

Lord Jesus returns to this world when harvest is ripe, perfectly ready to gather, separates his people from all rest at same time

grapes

picture of harvest of grapes differs from previous – here only wicked are in view, not both wicked and righteous

like differing visions of Revelation (seals, trumpets, bowls) harvest of grapes focused on same event, different perspective and purpose

in description of wheat harvest, emphasis placed more strongly on the good stuff, the grain, need for good harvest – no such positive aspect of grape harvest

not a good thing that grapes are ripe for harvest – means the enemies of God have filled their cup of evil to the brim, no room for any more wickedness

God alone knows the measure of that cup, he alone knows when it will reach its capacity – when it does, he will not linger

D. the result of harvest v.20

have Jesus’ own description of outcome of wheat harvest: “gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn. …as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age.” (Matt. 13:30, 40)

righteous have nothing to fear – they will be preserved throughout harvest, kept safe from all harm, being prepared for ultimate destiny: to “shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.”

entirely different outcome for grape harvest – those determined to crush Christ and his church will instead be crushed by him

“This great colossus whose one foot is in the ocean and other foot is on the land (Rev. 10:2) treads out the winepress of God’s judgment on his enemies by himself and the blood flows out in all directions – over the land or over the whole world.” Geoff Thomas

will be no escaping the wrath of God, his intense fury against his enemies – perfect Judge carries out perfect justice

consider how Father treated Son when he was bearing our sin – can he do any less to those who bear their own sin

taking this text seriously should change how we view our own sinfulness, how we view what Savior did for us

We have part along with God in bringing about harvest. God must be one working in hearts of sinful men to make them receptive to Gospel message. Remember: “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.” Word of God that we must declare to all who will listen:

Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water.”

fear God, give glory to God, worship your Creator – must not only declare that, must also live by it so our witness is credible

Are you a child of God? Called out of darkness into light by the Father? Redeemed from your sin by Son’s completed work on Calvary? Indwelt and guided by the Spirit? Then… Do Not Be Afraid! Rest in the Father’s loving care of his children. Labor for him like he is coming back today.

If that is not true of you, not a child of God, run to God / fear God / give glory to God / worship your Creator. Then you can say…

It Is Well with My Soul

 

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