Revelation 046 – Ripe for Judgment

Revelation 046 – Ripe for Judgment
Revelation 14:14-20 • Dr. Andy Woods • July 21, 2019 • Revelation


Dr. Andy Woods

Ripe for Judgment    7-21-19

Revelation 14:14-20    Lesson 46

Let’s take our Bibles and turn in them to the Book of Revelation chapter 14. We are taking a look this morning at verses 14-20 as we continue our verse by verse study through the Book of Revelation.  The title of our message this morning is Ripe for Judgment.  As you know, as has been announced, this is kind of a big week for us at Sugar Land Bible Church.  These props up here are all for VBS, which is going to be a big deal this week at Sugar Land Bible Church. So, if you’re not directly involved in it, could you please lift us up in prayer as we’re trusting the Lord for many, many salvations this week.

We are in a section of the Book of Revelation where the trumpet judgments have been sounded.  Various judgments have come to the earth and in that seventh trumpet we have an announcement that something legal is happening; there’s a legal transfer.  The kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ.  [Revelation 11:15, “Then the seventh angel sounded; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.’”]

That’s what’s happening in the Book of Revelation; the long-awaited kingdom of God is about to be asserted on planet earth.  There are about five times in the Book of Revelation where the chronology stops and John, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, is given information about something happening in the chronology.  This happens about five times in the Book of Revelation and in the last several weeks we have been in the largest or longest chronological pause in the Book of Revelation, chapters 12-14. And I’m hoping and praying that that chronological pause will end this afternoon as we complete chapter 14 and then the next time I’m with you we’ll be ready to get back on the chronological path as we get into chapter 15 and 16 and begin to look at the various bowl judgments.

But you see, Satan really doesn’t like the announcement of a coming kingdom.  He likes running the world the way he wants to rule it, as he’s done ever since the fall in Eden.  So he’s trying to stop, in his darkened mind, the kingdom from coming.  That’s why chapter 12 is a description of his attack on the instrument that God is using during this time period, the nation of Israel.  And chapter 13 is the description of the two personages that Satan will use during this time period, the two beasts, the beast and the false prophet.  And when you look at chapter 13, particularly towards the end, it looks so dark spiritually.  It looks like Satan is winning and that’s why chapter 14 is included, I believe, to show us that Satan is not winning, God has everything under control and God gives us here in chapter 14 six scenes of hope.

If you take away hope from the human mind the human species becomes very despondent, very desperate.  And we always have to live in light of hope, and hope is given there in chapters 14, six different scenes of it: the 144,000 will be protected, scene 1.  Scene 2, the gospel is still going to be proclaimed.  Scene 3, Babylon, which we’re going to get a lot more information on later on in the book, is destined to fall, the height of the antichrist’s empire.  And then those that are involved in the beast’s system aren’t getting away with anything, they are consigning their doom by participating in the beast’s system.  And even tribulation martyrs that are killed during this time period are considered blessed.

And we come this morning to this final scene of hope which in essence is a judgment harvest at Armageddon.  The unbelievers are not getting away with anything; God is going to reap a great harvest at Armageddon.  Now “harvest” is farming imagery, agrarian imagery, and sometimes the harvest is used to describe evangelistic activities and fruitfulness in evangelism, bringing in the harvest, a harvest of souls, (similar to a harvest of crops).  But what we’re reading about here is a different kind of harvest.  This is a harvest of judgment that is destined to hit planet earth and we’re given information about this in verses 14-20.

[Revelation 14:14-20, “Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and sitting on the cloud was one like a son of man, having a golden crown on His head and a sharp sickle in His hand. [15] And another angel came out of the temple, crying out with a loud voice to Him who sat on the cloud, “Put in your sickle and reap, for the hour to reap has come, because the harvest of the earth is ripe.” [16] Then He who sat on the cloud swung His sickle over the earth, and the earth was reaped.  [17] And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, and he also had a sharp sickle. [18] hen another angel, the one who has power over fire, came out from the altar; and he called with a loud voice to him who had the sharp sickle, saying, “Put in your sharp sickle and gather the clusters from the vine of the earth, because her grapes are ripe.” [19] So the angel swung his sickle to the earth and gathered the clusters from the vine of the earth, and threw them into the great wine press of the wrath of God. [20] And the wine press was trodden outside the city, and blood came out from the wine press, up to the horses’ bridles, for a distance of two hundred miles.”]

So how do we look at this harvest of judgment that’s coming?  As we’re reminded the unbelievers are not going to get away with anything.  Number one, we have the judge, verses 14-18.  Number two, the second part of verse 18, we have the judged, why is God bringing this judgment, the second part of verse 18.  And then finally you get to verses 19 and 20 and you have a description of the judgment itself that’s so severe that most people say it can’t be literal, you can’t take it literally, it couldn’t be that severe.  And so we have a description of that judgment in verses 19-20.

But notice first of all the judge.  Who’s bringing this judgement.  And here is where Jesus appears as a reaper holding a sickle.  Now you might want to jot down Mark 4:29 because there a sickle is used of a harvest.  Mark 4:29 says, “But when the crop permits, he immediately puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”   This is not a harvest, as we mentioned, of farming; it’s not a harvest of agriculture, it’s not even a harvest of salvations.  This is a harvest of judgment!  And Jesus appears from heaven as a reaper, holding this sickle and He is accompanied by three angels.

And when we look at these verses we get a great description of Christ, not as the suffering servant, not as the child who had nowhere to lay his head, but as the judge of the heavens and the earth and the ultimate judge of this world.  You see, we’re very comfortable with Jesus as the Lamb; we’re very comfortable with Jesus as the Savior.  What about Jesus as the lion?  What about Jesus as the judge, because that is part of who Jesus Christ is as well.

So notice, if you will, our first hint, verse 14, the “son of man.”  He comes and He’s followed by an angel, verses 15-16; a second angel, verse 17.  A third angel, the first part of verse 18.  But notice, if you will, Revelation 14:14, “Then I” that’s John in the vision, “looked, and behold, a white cloud, and sitting on the cloud was one like a son of man, having a golden crown on His head and a sharp sickle in His hand.”  Notice how the judge is described.  Number one, he is described as coming on a cloud.  When you study the clouds in the Bible what you learn is the clouds, many times, represent the glory of God.  When we’re caught up to be with Him in the clouds at the rapture… I used to look up at the sky and say well, the rapture couldn’t take place today, I don’t see any clouds in the sky.  But it’s talking about being caught into the glory of God at the point of the rapture.  This is the glorious Jesus Christ returning to the earth to execute judgment.

It describes Him also as “the son of man.”  Now we have studied Daniel and Revelation together; Daniel, as we have studied, is the basement; the Book of Revelation is the ceiling.  You can’t understand the Book of Revelation without the Book of Daniel and you can’t understand the Book of Daniel without the Book of Revelation.  The two go together.  And you remember the son of man imagery.  That was in Daniel 7, when Jesus returns as the judge at the end of the times of the Gentiles and brings forth judgment upon the earth and establishes His kingdom.  Daniel 7:13, Daniel says, “I kept looking in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man” just like in our passage here, “was coming, and He came up to the Ancient of Days and was presented before Him.”

“Son of Man” is a big deal!  It’s a big title.  And it’s interesting that in the religious trials of Jesus Christ in His first coming Jesus went through six trials; three religious, three political, three at the hands of the Jews, three at the hands of the Romans.  He, in Mark 14:61-64 took the title “Son of Man” and applied it to Himself.  [Mark 14:61-64, “But He kept silent and did not answer. Again, the high priest was questioning Him, and saying to Him, “Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?”  [62] And Jesus said, “I am; and you shall see THE SON OF MAN SITTING AT THE RIGHT HAND OF POWER, and COMING WITH THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN.”  [63] Tearing his clothes, the high priest said, “What further need do we have of witnesses?  [64] “You have heard the blasphemy; how does it seem to you?” And they all condemned Him to be deserving of death.”]

Mark 14:61 says, “But He” that’s Jesus, “kept silent and did not answer.  Again, the high priest was questioning Him, and saying to Him, ‘Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?”’  [62] And Jesus said,” you’ll recognize this quote because we just read it from the Book of Daniel, “I am; and you shall see THE SON OF MAN SITTING AT THE RIGHT HAND OF POWER, and COMING WITH THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN.”  He just took Daniel 7 and applied it to Himself in His religious trial before the unbelieving Jews.

Mark 14:63 says this, “Tearing his clothes, the high priest said, ‘What further need do we have of witnesses?’”  [64] You have heard the blasphemy; how does it seem to you?” And they all condemned Him to be deserving of death.”  You see, this expression “son of man” to your average American it’s kind of a nebulous concept, most people don’t know what it means.  But the Jews, national Israel, unbelieving Israel in the first century knew exactly what that expression meant.  And they knew that the moment Jesus took that expression and applied it to Himself He was claiming to be God incarnate, the Judge that would come at the end of the times of the Gentiles.

And what a judgment this is going to be. Why wouldn’t Jesus be the judge?  After all, we read in John 5:26-27, ““For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself; [27] and He gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man.”  Maybe it’s sort of a trite overused saying but it’s still biblically true, you’ve got to meet Jesus one way or the other; you’re either going to meet Him as your savior in this life or your judge in the next life.  You can’t divorce one part of Jesus from the other.  And He claims this title here, “Son of Man.”

You’ll also notice in verse 14 what it says, “having a golden crown on his head.”  [Revelation 14:14, “Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and sitting on the cloud was one like a son of man, having a golden crown on His head and a sharp sickle in His hand.”]  When Jesus comes back, Revelation 19:12 says on His head are going to be “many diadems.”   [Revelation 19:12, “His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself.”]  Some translate that as crowns.

But here it mentions a golden crown on His head.  Is it not ironic that when the cool Roman soldiers wanted to mock Christ, in Matthew 27:27-31, at one of the most physically weak times in His entire existence, Matthew 27:29 says, “And after twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand; and they knelt down before Him and mocked Him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!”   You think you’re a king, we’ll make a crown befitting of  you for a king, this mockery, this crown of thorns, no doubt also designed to torture Him as it was pressed into His skin.  And isn’t it interesting that this crown that Jesus is wearing when He comes back the second time is not this crown of thorns but it’s a golden crown.  He’s coming back as King of King, Lord of Lords, the judge of the universe.  No mockery this time, no slander, no abuse, He’s coming back in righteous judgment.  That’s what’s being described here in verse 14.

As I mentioned earlier, verse 14 says “in His hand” is this “sharp sickle.”  The sickle, as we said before, is Mark 4:29, sort of a tool that you used in harvesting to bring in the harvest.  [Mark 4:29, “But when the crop permits, he immediately puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”]   And you’ll notice that Jesus here has this sickle, not a harvest for evangelism, not a harvest for farming but a harvest of damnation and judgment that’s coming.  It’s interesting, it mentions a “sharp sickle,” an effective sickle, an efficient sickle.  In other words, the judgment that’s coming is going to be very swift; Jesus is going to be very efficient in what He does.

It’s interesting that back in verse 8 we spoke of Babylon, didn’t we?  Babylon has fallen, it’s a prophecy about the coming destruction of Babylon, Revelation 17:18.  [Revelation 17:8, “The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is about to come up out of the abyss and go to destruction. And those who dwell on the earth, whose name has not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, will wonder when they see the beast, that he was and is not and will come.”  Revelation 17:18, “The woman whom you saw is the great city, which reigns over the kings of the earth.” ]

It’s very interesting to me that harvest imagery is associated frequently with Babylon.  In the Old Testament, Jeremiah 51:33 says, “For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: ‘The daughter of Babylon is like a threshing floor, at the time it is stamped firm; Yet in a little while the time of harvest will come for her.”  Notice the connection between harvest of judgment and Babylon, Jeremiah 51:33, the same connection that’s being made here in Revelation 14.

I guarantee you this much, all of these Christ hating, Christ rejecting people, this is the furthest passage from their minds this morning. In fact, I would say in most evangelical churches this is the furthest passage that anybody perhaps is even talking about.  And yet it’s a very real part of Scripture.  It’s something that God Himself is going to do.

This continues on as we move into verse 15 where now Jesus is accompanied by an angel and notice if you will verse 15.  “And another angel came out of the temple, crying out with a loud voice to Him who sat on the cloud,” that would be Jesus on the cloud, the Son of Man, “Put in your sickle and reap, for the hour to reap has come, because the harvest of the earth is ripe.”  This first angel comes forth and it’s interesting that this angel comes forth from a heavenly temple.  You know, you have that going on a lot in the Book of Revelation; what’s happening on the earth is patterned in the heavens above.  An earthly tabernacle, a heavenly tabernacle; an earthly temple, a heavenly temple.  In fact, when Moses built the tabernacle in the wilderness he was instructed to build it according to the heavenly design.  Hebrews 8:5 says, “Who serve as a copy and a shadow of heavenly things, just as Moses was warned by God when he was about to erect the tabernacle; for, “SEE,” He says, “THAT YOU MAKE all things ACCORDING TO THE PATTERN WHICH WAS SHOWN YOU ON THE MOUNTAIN.”

The things on the earth, holy things it looks to me are actually patterned after heavenly things.  And so we’ve read about an earthly temple and now we’re reading about a heavenly temple and this first angel along with Christ comes forth from that earthly temple.  And he exhorts Jesus to swing His sickle and he says something that to me is probably one of the scariest or most frightening things you can read in the Bible.  It says there at the end of verse 15, “because the harvest of the earth is ripe.”  The earth is ready to be judged.  The day of grace is over.  Humanity has received their opportunity for repentance, repentance for the most part is not forthcoming and the earth is good for nothing other than to be ripe for the judgment that’s coming upon it.  That’s why I entitled this message “Ripe for Judgment.”

We continue on in verse 16 and Jesus actually swings this sickle over the earth.  It says, “Then He who sat on the cloud” that would be Christ, the Son of Man, “swung His sickle over the earth, and the earth was reaped.”  The judgment proleptically has happened.  In other words, it’s so certain that it’s coming that God can announce it as if it’s already transpired.  And I like what Robert Thomas says in his very good commentary on the book of Revelation.  “Dr. Robert Thomas observes that, “The brevity of the statement dramatizes the suddenness of the judgment.”    [Dr. Robert Thomas

Revelation 8 to 22: An Exegetical Commentary (Chicago: Moody Press, 1995), 221.]

Just a brief statement but it characterizes how fast this judgment comes.  And that’s why this sickle that the Lord is swinging is sharp; it’s effective, it’s efficient, it will accomplish its goal within a very short period of time.

And then we move now to a second angel; look at verse 17, angel number two.  Jesus is coming forth with three angels.  “And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, and he also had a” not just a sickle, but “a sharp sickle.”  So now we have not just one sickle but two, not just one sharp sickle but two sharp sickles and it shows you how severe this judgment is going to be once it hits.  I mean, it’s as if the judgment of Christ was not enough an angel is commissioned also to participate in this judgment.  You’ll notice also verse 17, that this angel comes from the temple because there’s a heavenly temple corresponding with an earthly temple as we’ve talked about.

And then you move on to verse 18 and it talks here about a third angel.  Look at the first part of verse 18, it says, “Then another angel, the one who has power over fire, came out from the altar; and he called with a loud voice to him who had the sharp sickle, saying, “Put in your sharp sickle and gather the clusters from the vine of the earth, because her grapes are ripe.”  We have now angel number three.  This angel is interesting, he has power over nature itself, power over fire, and he tells the second angel… now a lot of people think he’s telling Jesus to do something, I don’t think that’s true.  Jesus has already swung His sickle.  I think angel number two is going to swing his sickle in verse 19, so I think this last angel, number three, is telling angel number 2 to swing his sharp sickle as well as this harvest of judgment is brought in.

It’s interesting to me that this angel, this third angel, comes from the altar, the heavenly altar.  Do you remember who was under the altar earlier in the Book of Revelation?  You might recall Revelation 6:9-10, I believe this is the fifth seal judgment, the martyrs.  Revelation 6:9-10 says, “When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained;  [10] and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”  They were crying to the Lord, Lord, look at the injustice that’s happened to us, when are You going to vindicate us?

And it’s interesting that their prayer request is never denied, it’s just delayed for a season, because God does hear those prayer requests.  Amen!  And a lot of time when there’s a delay and an answer we confuse that with a denial.  I know that because many of you are praying for things to happen in your own life, you’re praying for salvation of a loved one, you’re praying for this or you’re praying for that, you believe you’re in God’s will, you keep praying for it, nothing seems to happen.  And it’s easy to become depressed, to become despondent, to think I’m wasting my time, God is not listening.  That’s how those souls most likely under the altar felt.  And then suddenly in the providence of God the altar that they’re praying under, from that very altar an angel is dispatched to answer this prayer request.

We, I think, to a very large extent, because of impatience, have discounted the power of prayer.  God listens to these prayers.  In fact, the Book of Revelation, chapter 5 and verse 8 says that the prayers of His people are like golden bowls of incense which are the prayers of the saints.  [Revelation 5:8, “When He had taken the book, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each one holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.”]  How does God look at your prayers? How does He look at my prayers? Irritation?  Things to put on hold until a later time?  Actually, He puts a great deal of value into those prayers.  In fact, as far as the mind of God is concerned they are like golden bowls of incense being brought before His very throne.  That’s how, as you’re praying for things in  your life that’s how God sees it.  And we don’t really capture the essence of it because we don’t see, many times, an immediate result.

But I know this much at the end of the day; James 5:16, “The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.”  There are some things in your life that God is only going to do through your petitioning to Him.  He’s not going to do it any other way.  So, a private prayer life before God is not a waste of time as far as God is concerned.  In fact, it’s one of the most valuable things you could ever give yourself to.  Just because there’s a delay doesn’t necessarily mean there’s a denial.  Don’t confuse delay and denial as these martyrs no doubt probably confused the two.

In fact, there’s a whole parable that Jesus gave on this, didn’t He, in Luke 18:1-8.  “Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to faint” as some translations say.  I can’t think of a more appropriate verse for our lives, don’t faint, don’t lose heart, pray!  And He began to tell this story [2] saying, “In a certain city there was a judge who did not fear God and did not respect man.”  Sounds like a heck of a guy doesn’t it!   [3] “There was a widow in that city, and she kept coming to him, saying, ‘Give me legal protection from my opponent.’ [4] For a while he was unwilling; but afterward he said to himself, ‘Even though I do not fear God nor respect man,” at least he’s honest about himself, [5] “yet because this widow bothers me, I will]give her legal protection, otherwise by continually coming she will]wear me out’”  with her petition.  [6] And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge said; [7] now, will not God bring about justice for His elect” His chosen, “who cry to Him day and night,]and will He delay long over them?”  And I like how this concludes, [8] “I tell you that He will bring about justice for them quickly.”  And look at this last little expression here, “However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?”

In other words, when it’s the time in history for God to honor and to make good on the prayer requests will the person that began to pray initially, will they still be in prayer?  Will they still be in faith, or will they have given over to fatigue and faint and unbelief?  When the Son of Man comes will He find faith on the earth.  And if this judge, who didn’t respect God or man, honored consistent petitions how much more will God, whose character is perfect, honor the consistent petitions in the lives of His children?  Jesus, in Matthew 7 spoke of if your son asks for a fish you’re not going to give him a rock are you?”  [Matthew 7:11] “If you, then, being evil know how to bless your children how much more does your heavenly Father know how to bless His children.”  How much more does He know how to honor the petitions of His children?  [Matthew 7:7] “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you shall find, knock and the door shall be opened to you.”  You know what that actually says in the Greek, Matthew 7:7-11, if you translate that?  It says: “Ask and keep on asking.”  “Seek and keep on seeking.”  Knock and keep on knocking.”

Are you one of these Christians that ask and you’re done?  You sought once or twice and you’re done? Are you one of these that is not giving themselves to prayer but is losing heart? We’re reminded here we shouldn’t be that way.  The very martyrs under the altar itself, crying out to the judgment of God on their enemies and what their enemies have done to them in terms of bringing forth martyrdom, they didn’t receive an immediate answer to their prayer requests either.

But oh my goodness, you get here towards the end of the chronology of the Book of Revelation and suddenly God is answering that prayer request.  But will He find faith on the earth when that prayer request is answered and God moves into swift judgment.  So this third angel has power over fire, he is coming forth from the altar itself and he tells the second angel to also swing his sharp sickle over the earth because the great harvest of judgment has come.

And we move away from the judge, Jesus, as the reaper accompanied by three angels to the judge.  We’ve already seen a description of this, haven’t we?  Where it talks about, I think it’s at the end of verse 15, “The harvest of the earth is ripe.”  [Revelation 14:15, “And another angel came out of the temple, crying out with a loud voice to Him who sat on the cloud, ‘Put in your sickle and reap, for the hour to reap has come, because the harvest of the earth is ripe.’”]

The earth is ready for this type of judgment.  And we get more of a description of this towards the end of verse 18.  He says, “Put in your sharp sickle and gather the clusters from the vine of the earth, because her grapes are ripe.”  What is this unsaved, unregenerate, Christ-rejecting world analogized to here?  Like “…the clusters from the vine of the earth… like overripe grapes.”   [Revelation 14:18, “Then another angel, the one who has power over fire, came out from the altar; and he called with a loud voice to him who had the sharp sickle, saying, ‘Put in your sharp sickle and gather the clusters from the vine of the earth, because her grapes are ripe.’”]

Think about this for a minute.  What can you actually do with an overripe grape?  Basically, nothing other than to crush it and prepare it as strong drink or wine.  It’s not good for anything else because it’s gone that far and it’s gone that long in the process and now it’s ripe for these grapes analogized to the earth dwellers, for nothing else to happen other than to be crushed and for their blood to spill.    And the spilling of that blood is described, as we’ll see in a moment, in verses 19 and 20.  The earth is ready for judgment.

You know, I certainly don’t claim any special insight on anything other than what God’s Word says.  But I have to be completely honest with you, I look at the state of the world today and I simply wonder how close we are to this time period, all of these anti-God things that are happening in the world and in culture… the heartbreaking thing for me is not so much to watch the world pass ungodly legislation.  The state of New York, for example, guarantee­ing abortion up until the point of birth???? That’s not even abortion anymore, that’s infanticide.  And then when the legislation is passed they light up the Empire State Building in technicolor, rainbow, as if they’ve accomplished something great, and they’re so gleeful, and celebratory about the whole thing?  You know, you look at a situation like that and you wonder how far is the world from this ripe condition that’s being spoken of in Revelation 14?

Look at the war on kids, children.  You know, when I graduated from high school the things that I went through don’t even pale in comparison to the things the children are under today in the public school system.  I mean, the whole repackaging of gender, to gender surrender?  Other and total confusion everywhere you look?  And you wonder how far away is the world from judgment.  You know, Jesus is very clear, He said you cause one of these children to stumble it would be better for you if a millstone, in the Greco-Roman world a massive stone was put around your neck and you’re thrown into the sea.  It would be better for you if that happened to you than to persecute, accuse, abuse one of these little ones or these children.

You look at all of these things happening today, you look at all of this pedophile mania politicians traveling to an island to satisfy their sexual needs with young children, you look at the sex slave trafficking.  You even look at things like nationwide movements.  I thought this was just a local thing; this is nationwide now, where we’re going to have story time in public libraries with kids and a transsexual is going to be leading the story to accommodate kids to that kind of lifestyle, how they’re just blatantly targeting children?  I have to say I wonder many times how close we are to the earth being so ripe that it’s good for nothing, it’s like overripe grapes, that are good for nothing other than to be crushed.

I’m reminded of Genesis 15:16 where God said to Abram, “Then in the fourth generation they will return here, for the iniquity of the Amorite is not yet complete.”  You’re going to go into captivity, Abraham, you and your lineage for four hundred years and that land of Canaan that you’re going to conquer, there’s a group of people in there called the Amorites and I’m just going to let them have their way.  You want to see what kind of debauchery those people were involved in?  Read Leviticus 18 and Leviticus 20; it’s stunning what they were doing.  And God says four hundred years they get because their evil is not complete yet.  But the day came where the wickedness of the Amorites had been made complete and God authorized General Joshua in the Book of Joshua to go into the land of Canaan and slaughter the Canaanites.

People want to indict the character of God, how could God do that?   Look at the grace He gave us.  First of all look at what the Amorites were doing, Leviticus 18, Leviticus 20.  And look at the 400 years of grace God gave them.  That’s a long time, 400 years.  Our country has only been around 243 years.  Think of giving a people 400 years to repent and they don’t do it.  They’re good for nothing other than to be ripe with judgment.  Our youth group just got back from the ark exhibit, saw a live caricature of what Noah’s ark probably looked like.  I’m reminded of Genesis 6:3 where God in that time period said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever for he is mortal; his days shall be 120 years.”  You get a120 years to do your thing and eventually you go so far in evil that you even exhaust the patience of God.  And so you’re good for nothing other than to have a great deluge brought upon the earth.

This is the type of storing up of wrath in the present age that the Apostle Paul spoke of in Romans 2:5, “But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God.”   It’s like the imagery, it’s sort of like water behind a damn because that damn and holding back water and the water gets so voluminous that the dam eventually breaks. That’s what happens in Judges.  The evil goes so far where God, if He doesn’t do something, denies who He is.  His holiness, so He brings in a Joshua or He brings in a global deluge or He brings in, as we’re studying here, the events of the Book of Revelation.  It’s a stunning thing to think about.

You know, one of the sermons that launched, if I have my history right, the first great awakening in America was a sermon by Jonathan Edwards.  I don’t think that sermon could even be preached in most churches today.  I don’t think they would put it on Christian media, but you can find it online.  It’s called Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.  In fact, the effect historically of that sermon was so powerful in terms of the repentance that it brought to early America.  It scared Jonathan Edwards so badly that he put that at the bottom of his file drawer and never preached that again.  And I’m wondering if that’s the kind of thing we need today.  That kind of preaching, that kind of teaching because the earth is not getting any better and the earth is becoming ripe for the harvest of judgment that’s right around the corner.

And then finally, verses 19-20 we move away from the judge to the judgment itself.  Now the way language functions is sometimes things are revealed figuratively; sometimes they’re revealed literally.  Figurative language, if you want a fancy name for that is called connotative language; literal language if you want a fancy name for that is called denotative language.  That’s how language works, sometimes you’re speaking literally, sometimes you’re using a figure of speech.  The Bible was written in language, so it uses both.  And as you look at the judgment itself you see it described figuratively, connotatively, verse 19, and then plainly or denotatively, verse20.

And notice how this judgment is described as we move away from the judge and the judge to the judgment.  Look at verses 19, “So the angel swung his sickle to the earth and gathered clusters from the vine of the earth, and threw them into the great winepress of the wrath of God.”  What is this judgment harvest analogized to figuratively?  Basically, it’s like clusters from a vine that aren’t really good for anything.  And then the dominant image is these overripe grapes.  We said earlier these grapes become so ripe that they’re not good for anything except to be crushed and to be used in wine.  Sinners to be crushed like overripe grapes in a wine press.  That’s the divine description of what’s coming.  And when you look very carefully at verse 19, towards the very end of the verse it describes it as “the wrath of God.”  This is stomping or trampling these grapes in a wine press in Israel.  While there I actually saw this happening.  They have overripe grapes in a winepress and you tread it down and you walk around in bare feet in this winepress and it creates obviously liquid or moisture which can be used for wine.

Isn’t it interesting how there’s always an emphasis on the feet of Jesus Christ in the Book of Revelation?  You know, as we studied Revelation 1 and we looked at all the descriptions of Christ, His feet are described, “burnished bronze” I think is what it said, because that’s what His feet are doing as He tramples down the inhabitants of the earth.  [Revelation 1:15, “His feet were like burnished bronze, when it has been made to glow in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of many waters.”]

And the wrath of God finally comes.  Now I don’t know about you folks but I’m not planning on being here for this.  You say well here he goes again with his rapture stuff.  Every week he tells us the rapture is coming.  Well, here’s the deal folks, one of these weeks I’m going to be right.  [Laughter] And there’s a lot of people out there that will tune me out when I start talking about the rapture… I don’t want to hear about the rapture, and I just say to them, don’t worry about it we’ll explain it to you on the way up.  But it’s very clear when you look at 1 Thessalonians, we don’t have time to look at all the verses, 1:10, 5:9, Romans 5:9, Romans 8:1, Revelation 3:10, it’s very clear that we are exempted from divine wrath.

[1 Thessalonians 5:9, “For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Romans 5:9, “Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.”  Romans 8:1, “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”  Revelation 3:10, “Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.”]

1 Thessalonians 1:10 says, “and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come.”  Are you glad about that?  I mean, is  your trajectory that  you’re trying to get the world to be better and better and that’s where your hope is? [blank space on tape] and the stock market is going to bloom and they’ve never had it so good and everything is going to turn around.  Is that what you’re looking to as a hope?  That’s not what I’m looking for.  I don’t expect the world to get any better; I expect it to deteriorate, exactly what God says, morally, ethically.  I’m looking for His Son from heaven to rescue me from the wrath to come.

[1 Thessalonians 5:9, “For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Romans 5:9, “Much more having been justified by His blood shall we be saved from the wrath of God through Him.”  Romans 8:1, “For there is now no condemnation for those that are in Christ Jesus.”  So when it says here in verse 19, the very end of the verse, “the wine press of the wrath of God” there’s no possible way for the church to be there during this time period.

[19] So the angel swung his sickle to the earth and gathered the clusters from the vine of the earth, and threw them into the great wine press of the wrath of God. [20] And the wine press was trodden outside the city, and blood came out from the wine press, up to the horses’ bridles, for a distance of two hundred miles.”]

That’s not  your future if you’re “in Christ.”  What is your future?  Three R’s, at the point of the Rapture you’ll be resurrected.  You’ll be put in a glorified body.  Did you wake up this morning with aches and pains?  That day is almost over.  Number two, you’ll be in the reunion because you’ll see the saints in the presence of the Lord coming down and there’s a giant reunion in the sky.  You say where are you getting all this from.  It’s all in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.

[1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. [14] For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. [15]  For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. [16] For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. [17] Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.  [18] Therefore comfort one another with these words.”]

Reunion, resurrection, number three, reward.  There’s a judgment for you as a Christian, not to determine heaven or hell but to determine degrees of reward, potentiality for reward, crowns at the Bema Seat Judgment of Christ immediately following the rapture.  That’s your future.  Not so the world; the world is about to be stamped out just like somebody destroying over ripe grapes in a wine press.  And think of the liquid that flows from those over ripe grapes being crushed in that wine press.  And that’s why the figurative language is followed by the literal language of verse 20.

Notice what verse 20 says, “And the winepress was trodden outside the city,” [Revelation 14:20] now I would think “the city” here would be Jerusalem, “and blood” so aha, these grapes are analogized to the blood of those judged, “blood came out from the wine press, up to the horse’s bridles, for a distance of two hundred miles.”   The blood is going to flow as high as the horse’s bridles for two hundred miles.   Now this hasn’t happened yet in the sequence of the Book of Revelation, it’s a proleptic statement of the judgment that’s coming at the end of the 70th week of Daniel.

And I think Jesus is referring here to… John is referring here to Revelation 16:16 which says, “And they gathered them together to the place which in Hebrew is called Har-Magedon.”  Revelation 19:17-19, “Then I saw an angel standing in the sun and he cried out with a loud voice, saying to all the birds which fly in midheaven, Go and assemble for the great supper of God,  [18] so that you may eat the flesh of kings and the flesh of commanders and the flesh of mighty men and the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them and the flesh of all men, both free men and slaves, and small and great.  [19]   And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies assembled to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army.”

I mean, you want to talk about blood and death there’s going to be so many corpses that the vultures are going to have a heyday feasting on the carnage.  And boy, you wouldn’t believe how allegorical the interpreters get here.  I mean, as I was going through commentaries on this this week just trying to see how people handled this passage, I mean, what does this mean?  Blood is going to flow as high as the horses’ bridles for two hundred miles, you wouldn’t believe the number of people tripping over themselves trying to explain to their readers that that text really doesn’t mean what it says.  It’s allegorical, it’s a hyperbole.  Let me tell you something folks, exactly what it says is going to happen… EXACTLY!    Because we’re no longer dealing with figurative language here. He’s giving an actual number.

Charles Ryrie, one of the few people in this business of Bible interpretation that I trust writes this in his study Bible.  He says, “Apparently a reference to Armageddon when the blood from the slaughter will flow one hundred and eighty miles,” now just to accommodate our international audience that’s two hundred and ninety kilometers, “to the depth of about 4.5 feet” which would be 1.3 meters, and people say well there’s not enough blood in human beings for that to happen.  Well, have you factored in the blood of the horses, Trojan horses, Revelation 19.  Ryrie says “the blood of horses added to that a large army of human soldiers could easily cause such an enormous river of blood.”

I think the reason people don’t want to take it for what it says is they just don’t think some­thing like that can happen.  I mean, the judgment couldn’t be that bad, there’s no way God could do some­thing like this.  Have you read the Book of Genesis lately?  He’s already done it; after 120 years of grace He brought a global deluge for the earth, according to Henry Morris and his commentary, could have been filled with as many people as we have on the earth today.  All of the drowned except eight.  Is there grace?  Of course, there is.  Is there love?  Of course, there is, to a point.  But you get to a point in your resistance against God where God just lets you have your own way, for judgment is something that can’t be held back anymore.  That’s what Jonathan Edwards was saying in his sermon, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.

And you know, here’s the great thing about it folks, you don’t have to be a part of it.  You DO NOT have to be a part of this judgment.  In fact, the message of the gospel is an exemption from this judgment.  You know, Noah is out there building this contraption for 120 years, think, of the ridicule he went through, when those people, Genesis 2:5, didn’t even know what rain was because the best I can tell moisture came up from the ground and moisturized or watered everything.  He’s no doubt a preacher, he’s called a preacher in 1 Peter; he’s preaching of the coming judgment for a hundred and twenty years and you think of the ridicule that man went through.

And this is ridiculous but as long as that ark was in existence it was a testimony of two things: judgment was coming but there was a way of escape.  Those are the two messages that the ark sent that pre-diluvium world.  The oldest living man in the Bible is Methuselah.  Do you know what Methuselah means?  In Hebrew “when he dies it shall come.”  God attached coming judgment to the length of the man in the Bible that’s lived the longest.  He even lived longer than Adam.  Adam lived 930 years; Methuselah lived 969 years.  That shows you the grace and the forbearance of God.

But one of these days Methuselah died and the judgment came.  And so the ark is what I would say like the cross in the sense that number one, both are made of wood.  Number two, the cross communicates the same two things: judgment is inevitable, God cannot look the other way at a Christ-rejecting world!  That’s why He punished His Son in our place.  But number two, there is an escape.  What’s the escape?  The escape is the gospel.  It’s the cross, it’s the fact that Jesus stepped out of eternity into time to bear the penalty for our sins that we couldn’t pay back.  And now He offers humanity the cross or the gospel as a gift!

You say well what have I got to do to receive it.  Well what do you have to do to receive a gift?  Let me give money to the church.  That’s not going to get you anywhere.  Let me try to live a good life.  That’s not going to get you anywhere.  Let me join the church.  That’s not going to get you anywhere.  Let me develop myself to working harder.  That’s not going to get you anywhere either.  In fact all of that is God looks at it as “filthy rags.”  Our righteous acts before Him are as filthy rags.

It’s a gift, and according to Romans 4:5 there’s only one way you can receive a gift from God and that’s by faith.  [Romans 4:5, “But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness,”’] Faith plus what?  Faith plus NOTHING!  You say well what does faith mean?  Basically, what it means is dependence, reliance, confidence.  So, you hear the gospel, you know that judgment is coming, and you place your confidence in what Jesus did for you on the cross 2,000 years ago to rectify this whole problem.  And once you do that you’re part of the body of Christ and should these things happen in our lifetime you’re taken to heaven and you’re completely out of the way before the wrath of God come.  In fact, the wrath of God is not even something that’s in your future at all.

And so our exhortation to you here at Sugar Land Bible Church is to hear the pleading of the Holy Spirit as He convicts hearts and trust in what Jesus has done for you on the cross 2,000 years ago.  It’s not a matter of walking an aisle, joining a church, raising a hand, it’s a matter of privacy between you and the Lord, where the Spirit convicts you of your need to do this and you respond the only way you can, by way of faith, trusting in Christ and Christ alone for the safekeeping of your soul.  If it’s something you need more explanation on I’m available after the service to talk.

So, we have the judge, the judged and the judgment and guess what?  We’re finished with that long non-chronological parenthetical section and so the next time I’m with you we’ll be moving into the bowl judgments.  So, in preparation for next week I would encourage you to read this week Revelation chapters 15 and 16.  Shall we pray.  Father, we’re grateful for Your Word, we’re grateful for Your truth, we’re grateful for the [can’t understand word] family and the wonderful dedication and we just pray that you’ll be with us this week as we walk in grace and in the light of Your Word.  We’ll be careful to give you all the praise and the glory.  We ask these things in Jesus’ name, and God’s people said… Amen.