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.
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 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.”
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 the Woman’s 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)
Truly, it seems His wrath is nearly complete, it seems as though the moment of His Day is upon us. It seems the winepress is filling with sin and will be put to its prophetic use very shortly. 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. 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 loves you and made a way 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 for heaven’s citizenship with the Holy God and LORD of Justice unless you plea for forgiveness and repent.
It sounds trite, but really, repent, for the end is nigh.