"And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs [200 miles]" (Revelation 14:1920).
The most terrifying ordeal for any human being, outside of hell itselfwhat is it? The winepress.
I want to tell you about the winepress because it will demonstrate the harmony of the Bible by answering several puzzling questions and because it will teach us some important principles about God and our lives. Here are some of the questions we hope to answer in this chapter:
If after the tribulation "the one shall be taken, and the other left" (Luke 17:35), where is the one taken to?
If blood comes out of the winepress as high as the horse bridles for as long as 200 miles (Revelation 14:20), where does all that blood come from?
If blood flows out of the winepress beginning at Jerusalem for 200 miles, to where does the 200 miles extend?
With that much blood flowing out of the winepress, where does it empty out?
I would like to show you how the Bible answers all these questions with one harmonious story. These questions are only a sample. As we go along you will see that several other questions also find their solution as the Bible talks about the winepress.
In the last chapter we examined Luke 17 which says that at the end of the tribulation this will happen:
Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. And they answered and said unto him, Where, Lord? (Luke 17:3637a).
The disciples questioned, "Where?" The last chapter left this question hanging in the air and we hope now to answer the question, "Where are they taken?"
Of course, God could take them and supernaturally kill them. He could just zap them and that would be the end of them. But God has a habit of using natural means to destroy wicked people. To destroy the old world He used a flood. To destroy Sodom and Gomorrah He used fire and brimstone. I believe the end-time destruction is no exception. He will use natural means. So we ask the question, "Where are the wicked taken?"
Let's look at Jesus' answer to the disciples' question:
And they answered and said unto him, Where, Lord? And he said unto them, Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together (Luke 17:37).
Does Jesus' answer tell you anything? He did not come right out and tell the disciples the whole story right away. But He did give a hint. He said that their bodies will be taken to the same place to where the eagles will gather. Where does this clue lead you? It leads me to Revelation 19:15b18:
... He treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.... And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God; that ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great.
Where is this place? It is in the vicinity of Jerusalem because this is where the armies descend according to Zechariah 12:2,9. Yes, the armies are there with their kings and captains, and the birds will feast on their flesh, but more than that, the birds will feast on the flesh of all men. This is the place they are taken to. This is the winepress. (Also see Isaiah 34:15 and context.)
We arrived at this answer by comparing two passages. But is there a single passage which tells the whole story at once? Yes, there is. Revelation 14:1920 says:
And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. And the winepress was trodden without the city [Jerusalem], and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs.
This single passage combines the taking, the casting, and the location. At Christ's return, all unbelievers from all over the globe are instantly taken and cast into the winepress just outside Jerusalem.
At this point some might wonder, "Isn't Revelation 14:1920 figurative?" Two generations ago Bullinger wrote:
Whereas today, "Figurative language" is ignorantly spoken of as though it made less of the meaning, and deprived the words of their power and force. A passage of God's Word is quoted; and it is met with the cry, "Oh, that is figurative"implying that it's meaning is weakened, or that it has quite a different meaning, or that it has no meaning at all. But the very opposite is the case. For an unusual form (figura) is never used except to add force to the truth conveyed, emphasis to the statement of it, and depth to the meaning of it.1
Yes, it is figurative. But any figure of speech has a literal meaning behind it. The figure of the sickle stands for reaping men. The figure of the vine stands for unbelieving men. The figure of the winepress stands for Christ treading on men. And the location is not figurative; that is plainly given. Read it again:
And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth ["the one shall be taken, and the other left"], and cast it ["Where, Lord?"] into the great winepress of the wrath of God. And the winepress was trodden without the city.
This conveniently answers the question, "Where does all that blood come from?"
And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs [almost two hundred miles].
Even if you were to pack the Armageddon armies together like sardines, you still could not drain enough blood from them to reach the horse bridles for a distance of 200 miles. Their bodies alone would hardly fill that distance. It would take more than the armies. It would take every unbelieving body in the whole world to be cast into one place, like grapes piled into a winepress, in order to have a source for that much blood.
In this way we are free to interpret Scripture literally. There remains no need to say this blood is figurative or an exaggeration. It is real.
If the winepress begins outside Jerusalem, which direction does it extend? North to Armageddon? No, the distance from Jerusalem to Armageddon falls far short of 200 miles. Apparently, Armageddon is a place for the assembling of armies, not for the battle itself. After the armies assemble, they converge on Jerusalem according to Zechariah 12:2,9.
Does the winepress extend to the west? No, the Mediterranean Sea is in the way.
How about east? Zechariah 14:4 says:
And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.
When the mountain splits in two what do we have? We have a newly-formed valley running eastward outside Jerusalem. Does this mean that blood runs out of the winepress for 200 miles going straight east? We are coming to that in a moment. But first a question about the valley itself.
What is the purpose of this valley formed by the splitting of the mount of Olives? Some feel that it will provide a shelter for the saints as they flee into it. Let us consider the possibility, though, that those fleeing into this valley are unbelievers. Instead of a shelter, the valley may be a trap. The next verse says:
And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the Lord my God shall come, and all the saints with thee (Zechariah 14:5).
Picture unbelievers fleeing with terror into the valley, with God and the saints in hot pursuit. What do they do after they are trapped in the valley? Revelation 6:1217 gives the awful picture:
And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; and the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind.
Matthew 24:29 places these signs after the tribulation.
And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.
This may be the point of Christ's return.
And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains;
And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath the Lamb: for the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?
This has to be after Christ's return, because before Christ's return people are peacefully working or sleeping (Luke 17:3436).
For the reasons given above at the side, I believe this passage describes people cowering in the valley of the winepress.
The valley of the mountains (formed by the east-west splitting of the Mount of Olives as Christ sets foot on it) would form a suitable winepress where the Son of man could vent His fury upon those who blasphemed His name. There is another valley, however, which we should consider:
I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there....
Let the heathen be wakened, and come up to the valley of Jehosphaphat: for there will I sit to judge all the heathen round about. Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe: come [tread], for the press is full, the [vats] overflow; for their wickedness is great. Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision (Joel 3:2a,1214).
"Jehoshaphat" in Hebrew means "Jehovah judges." The valley of Jehoshaphat is where the Lord judges. That is why it is also called the valley of decision (the Lord's decision to punish the wicked).
Where is this valley of Jehoshaphat? No one knows for sure, but it seems to be close to Jerusalem. Church tradition says it is the valley of Kidron east of Jerusalem. Maybe it is the valley which will be formed by the splitting of the Mount of Olives, and maybe not. At any rate, these two valleys, the valley of the mountains and the valley of Jehoshaphat, should be considered as likely sites for the winepress. (Perhaps both constitute the winepress as men flee from one valley to the other or as the blood runs from one to the other. The ancient presses for grapes had two troughs, one for the trampling, and one for the juice to run into. The armies gather ahead of time to the valley of Jehoshaphat. If it forms part of the winepress, then the angels gather the rest of the wicked also into it. Apparently the bloody winepress will be cleansed later by the river from the sanctuary in Jerusalem. See Zechariah 14:8 and Ezekiel 47:15.) (Gray-haired perspective: Joel 3:18, yet another passage about this river fountain coming from the house of the Lord, says that it will water the valley of Shittim. That is east of Jerusalem across the Jordan, directly in the path of the winepress.)
We have seen that Christ first touches earth on the Mount of Olives and begins trampling outside Jerusalem on the east. How far does He go? According to Isaiah the Lord thrusts into Bozrah, the capital of Edom. This is across the Jordan river to the east. Read the graphic description in Isaiah 34:38:
Their slain also shall be cast out, and their stink shall come up out of their carcases, and the mountains shall be melted with their blood. And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll: and all their host shall fall down, as the leaf falleth off from the vine, and as a falling fig from the fig tree [compare these events to Revelation 6:1314 which we quoted earlier]. For my sword shall be bathed in heaven: behold, it shall come down upon Idumea, and upon the people of my curse, to judgment. The sword of the Lord is filled with blood [compare this sword to the one at Christ's return in Revelation 19:15,21]; it is made fat with fatness, and with the blood of lambs and goats, with the fat of the kidneys of rams: for the Lord hath a sacrifice in Bozrah, and a great slaughter in the land of Idumea. And the unicorns shall come down with them, and the bullocks with the bulls; and their land shall be soaked with blood, and their dust made fat with fatness. For it is the day of the Lord's vengeance, and the year of recompences for the controversy of Zion.
Once you know about the winepress, you see that the Bible is full of it. The classic Old Testament passage on the winepress is Isaiah 63:16:
Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this that is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength? I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save. Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the winefat? I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me: for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment. For the day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come. And I looked, and there was none to help; and I wondered that there was none to uphold: therefore mine own arm brought salvation unto me; and my fury, it upheld me. And I will tread down the people in mine anger, and make them drunk in my fury, and I will bring down their strength to the earth.
This passage pictures the Lord returning in victory from Bozrah in Edom. It also vividly pictures His personal vengeance and active fury, a side of God that we need to know about.
If you are checking your map closely you are noticing that Bozrah is not directly to the east of Jerusalem. To get to Bozrah you have to cross the Jordan river and then curve southward. Also you will notice that Bozrah is not 200 miles from Jerusalem. It is less. Remember, Revelation 14:20 says, "Blood came out of the winepress ... by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs [200 miles]."
Even if Bozrah is less than 200 miles from Jerusalem, the geography has given us a clue to pursue. If you were to continue drawing the line southward from Bozrah, where would you end up? The Red Sea! How far is that from Jerusalem? Two hundred miles! This provides a most satisfying answer to the question, "Where does all the blood drain out?" The Red Sea has a continuous current, the top waters flowing in and the undercurrent flowing out. A most logical place.
But is there any Scripture to support it? Jeremiah 49:722 tells the story of Edom's destruction. The destruction begins when the Lord "shall come up like a lion from the swelling of Jordan" (verse 19). After He crosses Jordan He curves southward to Bozrah (verse 22). Finally, "the noise thereof was heard in the Red Sea" (verse 21)!
The winepress theory is not finished answering questions. Here is another one. Why was the Red Sea named the Red Sea? No one seems to know. They can only speculate as to the reasons. But I believe that God, who knows the outcome of all things, looked ahead to the ultimate purpose the sea would fulfill, and He caused it to be named the Red Sea because the blood of His vengeance would turn it red.
(Gray-haired perspective: I retract my comments about the Red Sea. A faithful brother pointed out to me that "Red" should be translated "Reed" in Jerermiah 49:21 as well as in the numerous other places in the Old Testament that mention the Red Sea. Your Bible may have a footnote saying that the correct translation is "Sea of Reeds." This is a different Hebrew word than the word "Red" that is used in Genesis 25:25 describing Esau. Rather it is the same word translated "weeds" in Jonah 2:5. So even though it is called the "Red Sea" today, this does not line up with Jeremiah 49:21, and my original color argument cannot be supported from that passage.)
Can a color be a prophecy? Not only is the Red Sea prophetic, but also the name "Edom," the country of the winepress, is prophetic. "Edom" means "red." If you go back to the story of Jacob and Esau you will see prophecy in embryo:
And when her days to be delivered were fulfilled, behold, there were twins in her womb. And the first came out red, all over like an hairy garment; and they called his name Esau. And after that came his brother out, and his hand took hold on Esau's heel; and his name was called Jacob ... and the boys grew ... And Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage; for I am faint: therefore was his name called Edom (excerpts from Genesis 25:2430).
Esau's name was changed to Edom and Jacob's name was changed to Israel. The two brothers became two nations, and ever since the beginning Edom has been an enemy of Israel. But as "Edom" means "red," it pictures the land being soaked with blood in the latter days.
The winepress theory has answered many questions that would otherwise remain unanswered, and it has demonstrated the harmony of the Bible. The strength of this theory is that it allows many Scriptures to be interpreted in their plain and normal sense. It is a weak position that has to resort to figurative or imaginative interpretations.
We will solve more puzzles later, but right now let's back up and ask, How does this all happen? How will the wicked be taken and cast into the winepress? How will Christ tread the winepress?
This is not an area for dogmatism; all I can do is share with you what the Scripture says on these subjects. First, let's take the question, "How are the wicked taken and cast into the winepress?" On one occasion before, two men were standing together. One was taken and the other was left. How was he taken? The two men were Elijah and Elisha. Elijah was taken by a whirlwind (2 Kings 2:11).
Of course, Elijah was not an unbeliever and we are talking about unbelievers being taken. But the example of Elijah proves the possibility. It shows that a literal whirlwind could take somebody away. It happened once; it could happen again. Read what the following Scriptures have to say about this:
Therefore prophesy thou against them all these words, and say unto them, The Lord shall roar from on high, and utter his voice from his holy habitation; he shall mightily roar upon his habitation; he shall give a shout, as they that tread the grapes, against all the inhabitants of the earth. A noise shall come even to the ends of the earth; for the Lord hath a controversy with the nations, he will plead with all flesh; he will give them that are wicked to the sword, saith the Lord. Thus saith the Lord of hosts, Behold, evil shall go forth from nation to nation, and a great whirlwind shall be raised up from the coasts of the earth. And the slain of the Lord shall be at that day from one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth ["earth" can be translated "land"]: they shall not be lamented, neither gathered, nor buried; they shall be dung upon the ground (Jeremiah 25:3033).
Behold, the whirlwind of the Lord goeth forth with fury, a continuing whirlwind: it shall fall with pain upon the head of the wicked. The fierce anger of the Lord shall not return, until he have done it, and until he have performed the intents of his heart: in the latter days ye shall consider it (Jeremiah 30:2324; see also Jeremiah 23:1920; Isaiah 40:2224; Psalm 58:910; Proverbs 1:2728).
As you read these Scriptures you can decide for yourself what will happen. Personally, I suspect that a whirlwind of some sort will take the wicked away to the winepress.
When Christ treads the winepress will He literally stomp on men's bodies as a treader of grapes tramples the grapes? I wouldn't rule this out, because we already read about His personal vengeance in Isaiah 63:16, and we read there how the blood will be splattered all over His garment so that it looks like it was dyed red.
I do not know exactly how Christ will trample, but the Bible does give us a preview of methods of destruction He will use. He will use a sword, probably not a sword of metal because this sword comes out of His mouth instead of being held in His hand:
And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God (Revelation 19:15).
For my sword shall be bathed in heaven: behold, it shall come down upon Idumea [Edom], and upon the people of my curse, to judgment. The sword of the Lord is filled with blood, it is made fat with fatness, and with the blood of lambs and goats, with the fat of the kidneys of rams: for the Lord hath a sacrifice in Bozrah, and a great slaughter in the land of Idumea (Isaiah 34:56).
Since the sword comes out of His mouth it probably represents the dynamic power of His spoken Word (compare Ephesians 6:17) to harness the forces of nature. He will say, "Fire," and there will be fire:
Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence: a fire shall devour before him, and it shall be very tempestuous round about him (Psalm 50:3).
A fire goeth before him, and burneth up his enemies round about. His lightnings enlightened the word: the earth saw, and trembled. The hills melted like wax at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the Lord of the whole earth (Psalm 97:35).
For, behold, the Lord will come with fire, and with his chariots like a whirlwind, to render his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire. For by fire and by his sword will the Lord plead with all flesh: and the slain of the Lord shall be many (Isaiah 66:1517).
As the Lord tramples he will shout, "Hail," and suddenly 125-pound stones will rain from the sky:
And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, every stone about the weight of a talent: and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof was exceeding great (Revelation 16:21).
At this point some sharp Bible student may ask, "How did hail get into the winepress? I thought the hail happened during the tribulation, not after."
It is true that the hail is part of the seven vials which the angels pour out in the book of Revelation. But the hail is in the seventh vial (Revelation 16:1721), and part of the seventh vial is after the tribulation, after the return of Christ.
Why do I say this? All right, let me give you a riddle. Revelation 15:1 says, "And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvellous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God." Now, if all seven vials were completed during the tribulation, and if the seven vials "fill up" the wrath of God, then how can there be any more wrath in the winepress which follows? You see, if the wrath of God is "filled up" in the seven vials, then part of the seventh vial has to include the winepress. This is how hail gets into the winepress.
Placing the return of Christ during the seventh vial, instead of after it, harmonizes with the rest of Revelation. We have already seen that Christ returns during the sixth seal (Revelation 6:1217; compare Matthew 24:29). Likewise, Christ returns during the seventh trumpet, because during the seventh trumpet "it is done" (Revelation 16:17). Whether it is seals, trumpets, or vials, it is the last one in each series during which Christ returns.
Once you know about the winepress many Scriptures open up with new light. For example, look what it does to an ordinary passage like Proverbs 2:2122:
For the upright shall dwell in the land, and the perfect shall remain in it. But the wicked shall be cut off from the earth, and the transgressors shall be rooted out of it.
Another example is Psalm 110:
The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.... He shall fill the places with dead bodies.
As Christ treads the winepress His enemies literally become His footstool (compare 1 Corinthians 15:2426). I believe this Psalm is fulfilled at the winepress because Christ remains in heaven only "until," not "after," His enemies become His footstool.
The winepress theory is a possible answer to another question that Gundry has pointed out. He says pre-tribs face a dilemma because we apparently leave no "goats" for the sheep-goats judgment. We believe all the wicked shall be taken away after the tribulation (Luke 17:3436). If this is true, then where do the "goats" come from in the following account:
When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: and before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left (Matthew 25:3133).
How can any wicked remain to face this judgment if they have all been taken away previously? A possible answer is simply this: the taking and casting into the winepress is the result of the judgment. Judgment first, winepress second. This solves the problem logically, but is there Scripture to back it up?
Fortunately Scripture does not leave us in the dark. Joel 3:2, 1214 does us the favor of linking the judgment and the winepress together:
I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for my people and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted my land.... Let the heathen be weakened, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat: for there will I sit to judge all the heathen round about. Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe: come, [tread]; for the press is full, the [vats] overflow; for their wickedness is great. Multitudes, multitudes, in the valley of decision: for the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision.
According to Joel the nations are gathered into the valley of Jehoshaphat for two reasons, to be judged and to be trampled. Notice that Joel describes the Lord as sitting while He judges: "I will sit to judge all the heathen [nations] round about."
The nations are gathered here not only to be judged, but also to be trampled. Verse 13 says, "Come, tread, for the press is full."
The total picture is this: first the Lord passes sentence (verse 12), then He executes the sentence (verse 13). Judgment and winepress, Joel ties the two together.
This places the time of the sheep-goats judgment at the Battle of Armageddon as it is called, not sometime after it as a separate event. First, the armies gather at Armageddon; then they descend upon Jerusalem where the winepress is located, then the angels gather the rest of the wicked ("all men" in Revelation 19:18) and cast them into the winepress.
Is Joel 3 the only Scripture which ties the two together? No, Psalm 110:6 says, "He shall judge among the heathen [judgment], he shall fill the places with the dead bodies [winepress]."
Also, Revelation 14:14 says the Son of man "sat" on a white cloud just before treading the winepress. He sits on the cloud, which is serves as His throne of glory, to judge between the sheep and the goats, and immediately He swoops down from the cloud to trample the goats which He has judged.
passing sentence (Joel 3:12)
executing sentence (Joel 3:13)
I give this as a possible answer because Gundry's own view of the sheep-goats judgment has a possibility of being correct. He places this judgment, not at the end of the tribulation, but at the end of the millennium, 1000 years later. To support his view he gives many Scriptures and sound arguments which I will not repeat here.2
So there are arguments on both sides. Joel seems to place the judgment before the millennium, while other arguments place the judgment after the millennium. Either time may be true, or both times may be in view. It is well known that much of Old Testament prophecy contains both the near and far view. It is possible here also.
At any rate it does not hurt my pre-trib position to place the sheep-goats judgment at the end of the millennium as Gundry does. I do not depend on this judgment whatsoever to prevent the wicked from entering the millennium. A host of other Scriptures, much more clear, preclude the wicked from entering the millennium. I gave a long list of these Scriptures in chapter three.
When you read about the winepress, how does it make you feel? Isn't it a terrible and frightening thing to think about? The winepress helps us to realize how much God hates sin. Sin is an awful thing. We don't even know how awful it is, but the winepress helps us to see it. How can we even think of dabbling in sin when we know that sin is the reason for the winepress?
The winepress teaches us another lesson. It teaches us that we can afford to be patient. When we think of all the wrongs that we suffer in this world, we don't have to worry about them because God will take care of them. We don't have to take vengeance because God will take vengeance in due time. We can afford to have all the patience in the world.
I have no excuse to have a tinge of bitterness in my heart. If a non-Christian wrongs me, God will take care of that at the winepress. If a Christian wrongs me, God has already judged that at the cross. Take the long look. Those injustices you suffer that you think are so big, they are just small things, such little things. Return good for evil now, while you have opportunity. If your enemy does not come to the cross he will get all he deserves at the winepress.
Motivations for witnessing are many, and to me the winepress is one of them. I don't desire for anyone to be cast into the winepress, and I know that God cares infinitely more than I do. He went as far as He could to keep men from that fate without forcing their wills. He sent His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross in our place. He has waited patiently these many years, putting off His vengeance as long as He can. During the tribulation He will give men a foretaste and a forewarning of the winepress and the lake of fire, trying to save as many of them as possible.
Yes, He cares more than I ever will. I just want to fit into God's purpose and God's plan. If He is delaying His coming so that more people might be saved, then our goal also should be the salvation of people. His purpose should be our purpose. Let's harmonize with His will.
When you take the Lord's Supper and drink of the cup, what are you drinking? It is the fruit of the vine which represents the blood of Jesus. How was this drink made? It was made by crushing grapes so that the juice would run outin other words, a winepress. Jesus suffered a winepress, so to speak, and His blood ran out. Suffering the winepress Himself, He has earned the right to tread the winepress. "Thou art worthy ... for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood...." (Revelation 5:9).
Whenever I take the Lord's Supper now, I am reminded that He suffered the winepress so that I don't have to suffer the winepress. I deserve to be there, but He took my place.
Are you not sure that you are saved? You don't have to hope or wonder if you might make it through the pearly gates someday. You can be certain of salvation more than you can be certain of anything else in this world. Turn away from your sins and turn to Jesus as your only hope. Give up your stubbornness and yield your life completely to Him. Trust, believe, have full confidence, that Jesus spilled His blood so that He won't have to spill yours. Surrender your life to the One who died in your place.
1. E. W. Bullinger, Figures of Speech Used in the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, reprinted 1968), p. vi.
2. Gundry, The Church and the Tribulation, pp. 163171.