By Elizabeth Prata
Jesus often spoke in agricultural parables and allusions, knowing that the farmers, wine producers, wheat gatherers etc would understand. Not much has changed since the ancient days in terms of how wine is made, olives are gathered, wheat is sifted. Today’s layperson, even a city dweller, can understand the simple comparisons He made with gathering wheat as living symbol of gathering His people. But understanding the process of such production does enhance our understanding of the parables and allusions even more. So let’s dig in.
There is one comparison He made which is simple but it is the most dreadful. It is the winepress of His wrath.
In old days the Israelites’ wine production was a major industry. Ancient wine presses have been discovered all over the Middle East, and in and around modern day Israel. The grapes would be gathered, and placed in a rectangular pit entered from a cleaned mosaic floor. The floor of the press would be stone, also washed. The trite picture of people stomping on grapes is not so trite: the gentleness of the underside of the foot would crush the grapes enough to release the juice but not crush the bitter seeds, releasing tannins into the wine. The juice would be allowed to run down a slough, through a filter made of leaves and thorn ranches. Seeds and twigs removed, the second pressing would then involve a press of stone, like the one below. Notice the trough running around the rim of the stone, to catch the juice.
Recently a Giant 1,400-year-old wine press discovered in southern Israel. Its size and unusual shape indicated to archaeologists that it was used for a major export operation. The press, unearthed during an excavation by the Israel Antiquities Authority, is one of the largest ever discovered in Israel.
The LORD has said that He is long-suffering but His patience will come to an end. The world will not end, but most of life as we know it will end. Most will die. He will finally rectify the issue of sin and deliver His children living at that period from it. Deliverance will come! But it will be at a terrible price. Read these verses which describe an event that will literally come:
“The angel swung his sickle on the earth, gathered its grapes and threw them into the great winepress of God’s wrath. They were trampled in the winepress outside the city, and blood flowed out of the press, rising as high as the horses’ bridles for a distance of 1,600 stadia. (Revelation 14:19-20).”
1600 stadia is 180 miles. MILES of flowing blood. Will your blood be among the flow?
Isaiah asks the LORD where He has been that His garments should be bloodied. God answers:
“I have trodden the winepress alone; from the nations no one was with me. I trampled them in my anger and trod them down in my wrath; their blood spattered my garments, and I stained all my clothing. (Isaiah 63:3)
And again in Revelation 19:15-
“From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty.”Revelation 19:15
He does this because the armies of the world are aligned to mow down the Jews, because they are assembled to fight Him, because they are rebellious and sinful and deserve Divine Justice. He does this to deliver the believers who dwell in such a dark time. He does this to avenge the martyrs who died in a satanic drunken orgy of massacre and became drunk with their blood. “And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus” (Revelation 17:6a). He does this because of the saints beheaded for the witness and testimony of the LORD and had not taken the mark. (Revelation 20:4)
The Day of the Lord is a time period, not just a day. During the entire time of The Day of the LORD He is at the same time sending out increasingly severe judgments upon the unbelieving while showing His fierce wrath and power so that those who rebel will come to Him. Many do come to Him, but still more will not.
The blessed hope is that if you believe NOW, during the age of Grace, you will not have to endure the terrible woes of the Tribulation nor see nor be within the winepress of His wrath if it comes when you are alive. You will be raptured, meet Him in the air, and be led to heaven itself, where a place is being prepared for all believers.
He made a way for his called elect children to dwell with Him forever. If you know and understand you are a sinner then you know and understand those sins will always disqualify you from heaven’s citizenship with the Holy God and LORD of Justice unless you plea for forgiveness and repent. Our sins warrant holy justice, and God, who has patiently been withholding His judgment for sin, will unleash it upon all who dwell on the earth, and it will be a terrible time. We don’t know when it will happen, but it has always been imminent. At the least, we are 2000 years closer to that day than we were before, and getting closer every day!
Worse, God’s punishment for sin will not be constrained to just the time of the Tribulation, known also as the time of Jacob’s Trouble. It will be poured full blast upon all unrepentant sinners for all eternity in hell. Sin against the infinite God will result in infinite punishment.
It sounds trite, but really, repent, for the end is nigh.
Above, John Martin, The Last Judgment (1853), description below from here
English romantic painter John Martin is perhaps best known for moving depictions of otherworldly landscapes. But much of his work focused on biblical themes, including the Last Judgment. His own take of the Last Judgment is part of a triptych which includes the Plains of Heaven and The Great Day of His Wrath. God is depicted sitting on a throne in Heaven surrounded by the four angels and by the twenty elders. Below them stands a creek dividing two groups: on the left we find the saved awaiting to ascend to Heaven while the damned appear on the right side as they tumble down toward a bottomless pit.SOURCE