Sun, Sep 10, 2000

The Harvest Judgment: Revelation 14:14-20

Ministry of Pastor Joe Guglielmo teachings through the Bible, verse by verse for a better understanding of Gods Word.
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THE HARVEST JUDGMENT

REVELATION 14:14-20

In our study in Revelation chapter 14 last week, we broke the chapter down into 5

different sections. They went as follows:

VERSES 1-5: Deals with the 144,000 Jewish Believers that were sealed in Revelation chapter 7.

VERSES 6-7: Deals with an angel proclaiming the everlasting Gospel, giving everyone a chance to hear and obey.

VERSE 8: Deals with the destruction of both the commercial and the religious Babylon.

VERSES 9-11: Deals with the eternal doom for all those who worship the beast, for all those who receive his mark.

VERSES 12-13: Deals with the blessings given to those who die in the Lord during the tribulation period.

And so, as we conclude this chapter, in verses 14-20, we will see the final judgment upon the earth and its inhabitants before the kingdom is established. And John will illustrate this judgment for us by the picture of the harvest and winepress judgment. We are coming to the close of the tribulation period before John will pick up again with the bowl judgments.

The word "Armageddon" has been accepted to symbolize the final battle of the nations. It is the beginning of the end as this day approaches for the earth dwellers. And many today are aware of the coming judgment but they refuse to look to the answer to their problems. Thus, they are trying to find their answer in all kinds of foolish things which will not save them but will only led them into destruction!

Listen to the words which Jesus spoke regarding this final conflict. In John chapter 5, beginning in verse 22, we read "For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son, that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him...For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth-- those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation. I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment isrighteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me." John 5:22-23, 26-30.

Those who are in Christ need not fear this coming judgment of God because they are seen as perfect before God. The righteousness of Christ has been imputed to us and all our faults are covered in Christ! For those who have rejected Christ, judgment is coming. They can not stand before a Holy and Righteous God in their own filthy righteousness, they are not perfect, they are sinners!

You see, the battle of Armageddon is the climax of the tribulation period for the unsaved. It is a battle they can’t win, even in death! Christ will judge them in His righteousness, and their final destiny, after the millennial reign of Christ, will be the lake of fire. A place of eternal torment and separation from God.

And so this morning, as we conclude chapter 14 of the book of Revelation, we will see the harvest judgment of God upon a Christ rejecting world. And as we go through these verses, understand, most people do not like to teach about a God who judges, but only one that loves. But we must look at both aspects of God, for His love is rich and deep. But, also, His judgment RIGHTEOUS and COMPLETE!

Let me give you an example of what I mean about people watering down the truths of God so not to offend people. The pastor from Community Church of Joy in Glendale, Arizona has concluded that "People today aren’t interested in traditional doctrines like justification, sanctification and redemption." I want to know where he is leading them to, a God of love who does not judge sin and thus, we don’t need to be saved? That is what it sounds like. And Yet Jesus, our example did just the opposite. Listen to what we are told in Mark 1:14-15. It says"Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of thekingdom of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand.Repent, and believe in the gospel." If Jesus was telling people to repent of their sins, to turn to the good news of Jesus, then so must we. We must tell people not only of God’s rich, deep love, but since He is a Holy and Righteous God, He must deal with sin!

And so with that in mind, lets dig into these last few verses in Revelation chapter 14, and see what the Lord has for us this morning.

REVELATION 14

VERSES 14-16

What we see here is a picture of the sixth trumpet and the sixth bowl judgments. The gathering together of the nations of the world for judgment. And the one sitting on the cloud, I believe, is Jesus Christ. Clouds, in Scripture, seem to represent the presence of God. In Exodus 16:10 we read, "Now it came to pass, as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the children of Israel, that they looked toward the wilderness, and behold, the glory of the LORD appeared in the cloud."

It is interesting to me that He is wearing upon His head a victors crown, STEPHANOS, which tells me that He has been victorious in redeeming not only man, but this earth back to Himself. Thus, it is Jesus who steps forth to issue judgment. The sharp sickle speaks of judgment, the harvest judgment.

In verse 15 the word "ripe" speaks of being over ripe to the point of being rotten or withered. As I look at the world this October 2000, I wonder how much ripper it could get before judgment does come. The sexual immorality, murder, greed, cold hearts, drug abuse, and the list goes on. And yet, God’s longsuffering is great. You doubt that, then listen to this. This is from the Associated Press, September 1, 2000: "The American Civil Liberties Union will represent a group that advocates sex between men and boys in a lawsuit brought by the family of a slain 10-year-old boy. The family of Jeffery Curley of Cambridge said the North American Man/Boy Love Association and its Web site which is now offline incited the murder of the boy Oct. 1, 1997. One of two men convicted in the killing, Charles Jaynes, 25, of Brockton, reportedly viewed the group’s Web site shortly before the killing, and also had in his possession some of NAMBLA’S publications. Also convicted in the killing was Salvatore Sicari, 24, of Cambridge. The ACLU said the case, filed in federal court in mid-May, involves issues of freedom of speech and association. ‘For us, it is a fundamental First Amendment case,’ John Roberts, executive director of the Massachusetts branch of the ACLU, told The Boston Globe for Thursday’s editions. ‘It has to do with communications on a Web site, and material that does not promote any kind of criminal behavior whatsoever.’ ACLU officials said NAMBLA members deny encouraging coercion, rape or violence..."

To me that is an amazing statement when you consider that having sex with anyone under age is against the law, let alone men with boys! And yet they are fighting for that right, and the freedom to put on the Web whatever they want, be it illegal or not! And understand that it won’t end here, this world will grow more and more wicked until the point where God steps in to thrust in His sickle and reap. We read in Mark 4:26-29, "...‘The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground, and should sleep by night and rise by day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he himself does not know how. For the earth yields crops byitself: first the blade, then the head, after that the full grain in the head. But when thegrain ripens, immediately he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come."

Yes God is very patient and longsuffering towards us, but one day His longsuffering will come to an end and His judgment will be poured out as the Prophet Isaiah tells us. We read in Isaiah 34:8, "For it is the day of the LORD'S vengeance, the year of recompense for the cause of Zion."

Again today we see the posters that read "God is love!" and anything that pictures God in a non-judgmental light is politically correct. All that emanates from God is love. We can thus do whatever we want for God is not vengeful. That is the mentality that many people have today. But the reality of this idea of God only being love is wrong. Yes, His love and grace abound more than we could ever imagine. But God is holy and righteous and must therefore deal with sin and rebellion. Let me give you an example of what I mean from Matthew chapter 23, and we are going to skip most of Jesus’ rebuke of the religious leaders but lets pick up in verse 27,"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs whichindeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men's bones and alluncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because youbuild the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, and say, ‘If wehad lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in theblood of the prophets.’ Therefore you are witnesses against yourselves that you are sons ofthose who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers' guilt.Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell?" Matthew 23:27-33. That is righteous indignation against those who refused the truth even though it was right before them, they suppressed the truth to believe their own lies.

In John 15:5 Jesus used the example of a vine and its branches, He said, "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Meyou can do nothing."

You see, if we attach ourselves to the true vine, Jesus Christ, we will be fruitful. He is the source of life and the sustainer of life. HE IS THE TRUE VINE! But there is also a false vine. This vine may look very genuine but it is not. Those that make themselves out to be religious or spiritual, but are not real. They are attached to the false branch, the Judas branch, to Satan!

Jesus said "If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned." John 15:6. Not only will Jesus be involved in this judgment, but His holy angels will be with Him, that is the "they" that Jesus is referring to.

Jesus does illustrate this point in the parable of the wheat and tares, in Matthew chapter 13, where we read beginning in verse 24, "...‘The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowedgood seed in his field; but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among thewheat and went his way. But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then thetares also appeared. So the servants of the owner came and said to him, "Sir, did you notsow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?" He said to them, "An enemyhas done this." The servants said to him, "Do you want us then to go and gather them up?But he said, "No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, ‘First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn." Matthew 13:24-30.

The tares or darnel looked identical to the wheat. The only way you can tell the difference was at the harvest time when the wheat produced its fruit and the darnel was fruitless. It is in a sense a counterfeit wheat. Now Jesus gives us the explanation of the parable so we can see exactly what He meant, we don’t have to guess.

Starting in verse 37 of Matthew chapter 13 we read "...‘He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one. The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels. Therefore as the tares are gathered andburned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age. The Son of Man will send out Hisangels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those whopractice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing andgnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of theirFather. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!" Matthew 13:37-43.

VERSES 17-20

In this illustration we see the picture of a vine, full of grapes, which are fully ripe and ready to be harvested. In verse 15 the fruit were "ripe" and that spoke of being over ripe or rotten. But here it speaks of being fully ripe, ready to be harvested. Thus, as these grapes are trampled upon, their juices will be overflowing.

Also, this point is made very clear in Isaiah chapter 63 which deals with the vengeance of God. And you will see as we look at these verses that God’s wrath is server and it is complete!

Beginning in verse 1 of Isaiah chapter 63 we read, "Who is this who comes from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah, this One who is glorious in His apparel, traveling in thegreatness of His strength?‘I who speak in righteousness, mighty to save.’ Why is Yourapparel red, and Your garments like one who treads in the winepress? ‘I have trodden thewinepress alone, and from the peoples no one was with Me. For I have trodden them in Myanger, and trampled them in My fury; their blood is sprinkled upon My garments, and Ihave stained all My robes. For the day of vengeance is in My heart, and the year of Myredeemed has come. I looked, but there was no one to help, and I wondered that there wasno one to uphold; therefore My own arm brought salvation for Me; and My own fury, itsustained Me. I have trodden down the peoples in My anger, made them drunk in My fury, and brought down their strength to the earth." Isaiah 63:1-6.

Here we see the wrath of God linked to a winepress. In those days men would go into the winepress barefooted to tread out the grapes. The winepress was usually a shallow pit with a hole on the side leading to a container. As they would stomp on these grapes with their feet the juice would flow through the hole into the container. Many times the red juice would splatter out of the ripe grapes and would splash upon their garments and stain them.

Edom and Bozrah were geographical locations southeast of Jerusalem, and I believe the Lord will come from this area into the valley of Megiddo for this great battle. But we must also remember that Edom symbolically represented the flesh, and thus in these verses we see the judgment of man.

This is a far different picture than most people have of God. His wrath upon a Christ rejecting world is intense. And remember that Jesus spoke more about Hell than any one else. He wanted people to know of what will happen to those who reject the way to God through Him.

So, at the end of this age, the end of the tribulation period, all those who have committed themselves to the Devil, to the Antichrist, those who have rebelled against Christ, will be removed out of the kingdom age prior to its beginning and cast from the presence of God, ultimately ending up in the lake of fire for eternity where they will be tormented day and night.

Now some may try and argue that they will not worship Satan now or at any other time in their life. The problem with that kind of thinking is that it is totally wrong. You see, Jesus said, "He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad."Matthew 12:30. You see, if you are not for Christ then you have sided with the Devil, for there are only two sides to choose from. You can not remain neutral in this matter for your active rebellion against Christ leaves you with only one master, like it or not, and that is SATAN! And thus, you will be judged for your rebellion.

The last great battle, where the nations of the world will gather together and fight against Christ and His army, is located in the valley of Megiddo. It is here that we see the fierceness of His judgment as blood flows for some 184 miles flowing some 4 to 5 feet high or splashing up 4 to 5 feet high. You see, blood spilled like grapes being trampled upon in a winepress. From Bozrah, in Edom, northward this blood will flow to Megiddo at the foot of Mount Carmel - this is the battle of ARMAGEDDON!

It is hard to imagine this kind of carnage and for blood to be flowing or splashing some 4 to 5 feet high for some 184 miles, but listen to what one historian has to say regarding another devastating slaughter against the Jewish people. Josephus, in recounting the massive destruction and bloodshed that occurred when Titus and the Roman army swept across Jerusalem. He said that the Roman soldiers "Obstructed the very lanes with dead soldiers; and made the whole city run down with blood, to such a degree indeed that the fires of many of the houses was quenched with these men’s blood." (Wars:6, 8). This next battle will be even more intense, more destructive!

Now the prophet Joel recaps this part of human history in great detail for us. He tells us in Joel chapter 3, beginning in verse 1, "For behold, in those days and at that time, when I bring back the captives of Judah and Jerusalem, I will also gather all nations, and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; and I will enter into judgment with them there onaccount of My people, My heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations;they have also divided up My land. They have cast lots for My people, have given a boy aspayment for a harlot, and sold a girl for wine, that they may drink...Proclaim this amongthe nations: ‘Prepare for war! Wake up the mighty men, let all the men of war draw near,let them come up. Beat your plowshares into swords and your pruning hooks into spears;let the weak say, "I am strong."’ Assemble and come, all you nations, and gather togetherall around. Cause Your mighty ones to go down there, O LORD. Let the nations bewakened, and come up to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; for there I will sit to judge all thesurrounding nations. Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, go down; for thewinepress is full, the vats overflow-- for their wickedness is great.’ Multitudes, multitudesin the valley of decision! For the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision. The sunand moon will grow dark, and the stars will diminish their brightness." Joel 3:1-3, 9-15.

It is when wickedness has reached the saturation point and begins to overflow that the harvest will begin. And interesting enough, it begins with war, a war against God. But it is the Lord who will judge those people in the Valley of Jehoshaphat or the Valley of Megiddo.

And what precedes this event? Joel tells us that "The sun and moon will grow dark, and the stars will diminish their brightness." Joel 3:15. It is similar to the events we read of in the sixth seal found in Revelation 6:12. Thus, I believe that the sixth seal occurs towards the end of the tribulation period, just prior to the Lord’s return.

We see here great destruction upon the earth and yet we must not forget about God’s lovingkindness. If you remember in Isaiah chapter 63, we saw the blood of those wicked men and women splattered upon the garments of Christ as He judges them. But even in that destruction we see in verse 7, Isaiah say "I will mention the lovingkindnesses of the LORDand the praises of the LORD, according to all that the LORD has bestowed on us, and thegreat goodness toward the house of Israel, which He has bestowed on them according to His mercies, according to the multitude of His lovingkindnesses."

Don’t get the wrong idea of God as you see His judgment come forth. Remember last week we saw an angel flying in the midst of heaven and speaking forth the everlasting Gospel, telling people to repent and get right with God before judgment comes upon them. Every person will hear these words and it will be their choice to either accept it or reject it, but God does not want to pour out His wrath upon anyone. It is as Ezekiel 18:23 says, "‘Do I have any pleasure at all that the wicked should die?’ says the Lord GOD, ‘and not that he should turn from his ways and live?" May we not forget that truth.

You see, God has given man every opportunity to enter into fellowship with Him. He gave His Son so that we may live. It is only in the rejection of this free gift of God that we will be judged. God’s lovingkindness towards us is great, but His longsuffering will not last forever!

I would like to close this morning with these thoughts from Jon Courson, out of his commentary on the book of Revelation. And listen carefully to what he has to say:

"And now I begin to understand, to see I have two options: I will either drown in the horrific bloodbath of Armageddon, or I will bathe in the gracious Blood of the Lamb. Truly, the greatest bloodshed in all of history took place not in a world war, but when Jesus died on the Cross in order to wash us in His blood."

Who are you going to serve? For me and my house, like Joshua said, we will serve the Lord! How about you?

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