The Judgment Could Save Your Life
Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and seated on the cloud one like a son of man, with a golden crown on his head, and a sharp sickle in his hand. And another angel came out of the temple, calling with a loud voice to him who sat on the cloud, “Put in your sickle, and reap, for the hour to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is fully ripe.” So he who sat on the cloud swung his sickle across the earth, and the earth was reaped.
Then another angel came out of the temple in heaven, and he too had a sharp sickle. And another angel came out from the altar, the angel who has authority over the fire, and he called with a loud voice to the one who had the sharp sickle, “Put in your sickle and gather the clusters from the vine of the earth, for its grapes are ripe.” So the angel swung his sickle across the earth and gathered the grape harvest of the earth and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. And the winepress was trodden outside the city, and blood flowed from the winepress, as high as a horse’s bridle, for 1,600 stadia. (ESV)
Big Idea: By revealing to us the terrors of Judgment in contrast to the beauties of heaven, this passage drives us to the love of God who provided his Son as a sacrifice to save us from hell.
- Threat (vv. 17-20)
It seems most consistent with the rest of Scripture to see this as two harvests. It contrasts the harvest of God’s redeemed people with the harvest of unbelievers for Judgment. In this scene, judgment occurs “outside the city.” The enemies of God will be destroyed outside Jerusalem (Joel 3:2, 12; Zech 14:4-5) and absolutely rejected by Him. This is why Jesus went outside the city to redeem us (He. 13:12). Those who have been become righteous through Christ will come into the city while unbelievers will remain outside (Re. 21:9-27). Therefore, hearing the warning and turning to Christ is how Judgment can save your life!
Consider/Discuss: Can you think of a scenario where you or someone you know shared a difficult or challenging truth for the good of another person, as God does in this passage? What does God's warning reveal about His character?
- Comfort (vv. 14-16)
We now know that the beginning of the passage describes that time when Christ will gather his people to himself when he returns. To the believer, this is the ultimate comfort. The Judgment Day means rescue for us, not punishment. The Judgment Day means vindication of all that is righteous, not shame. Realizing that now can save your life. Through this passage, Jesus wants to lead you off the way that leads to death and onto the path that leads to life. If he has frightened you with these threats of Judgment, it is only because he loves you so much that he does not want you to experience it. He would rather you be in heaven. If you receive Christ's life, death, and resurrection in your place, committing your life to him in response to his giving of his life for you, then you will delight in the anticipation of his return, rather than dread it.
Consider/Discuss: Beyond your personal assurance of salvation, what other assurance(s) does God’s judgment of sin give us? Can you think of any specific circumstances, people, or scenarios where the promise of God's judgment of sin tangibly changes/shapes your view of this circumstances, person, or scenario?