The thing about posting passages from the Bible on xanga is that often they’re skimmed instead of read. I think that’s because we all have the tendency, to some extent, to value what we’re learning and what we’re impacted by much more than what someone else is learning or what they’re impacted by (I think this way often, I’m ashamed to say). Nevertheless, here are a few passages that have staggered me in the past few months. They have to do with perhaps the most neglected and denied and abhorred attribute of God in our cultural generation: His fierce and furious wrath towards the wicked. If that seems like an overstatement… :
1 Who is this who comes from Edom,
With garments of glowing colors from Bozrah,
This One who is majestic in His apparel,
Marching in the greatness of His strength?
“It is I who speak in righteousness, mighty to save.”
2 Why is Your apparel red,
And Your garments like the one who treads in the wine press?
3 “I have trodden the wine trough alone,
And from the peoples there was no man with Me.
I also trod them in My anger
And trampled them in My wrath;
And their lifeblood is sprinkled on My garments,
And I stained all My raiment.
4 For the day of vengeance was in My heart,
And My year of redemption has come.
5 I looked, and there was no one to help,
And I was astonished and there was no one to uphold;
So My own arm brought salvation to Me,
And My wrath upheld Me.
6 I trod down the peoples in My anger
And made them drunk in My wrath,
And I poured out their lifeblood on the earth.” — Isaiah 63:1-6
11 And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. 12 His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knews except Himself. 13 He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. 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. 16 And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.” — Revelation 19:11-16
In a different context:
“… the wine press was trodden outside the city, and blood came out from the wine press, up to the horses’ bridles, for a distince of two hundred miles.” — Revelation 14:20
God loves the world, and He sent His own Son to die for us. That cannot be denied (and who in his right mind would want to deny it?). But we must always let God speak for Himself: He also has an unbridled fury directed towards the wicked. And in this, He is perfectly just (not “just” in the sense that what He’s doing is ok and “I guess we’ll let Him do it,” but “just” in the sense that He’s doing exactly what He should be doing — exactly what’s *right*).
A wine press was generally located at the bottom of a hill since it would be easier to carry the grapes to it. Usually hewn out of stone, it had a drainage hole through which the juice from the trodden grapes would flow into a receptacle of some kind. Stomping on the grapes was often done in small groups, and was a time of joy and laughter (I imagine that it was somewhat akin to stepping on bubble wrap and popping it with your friends in the living room). The grapes would be crushed, and the liquid would flow through the drainage hole and fill a container. Then the juice would be used for making wine, etc. And the wine press is one of the many scriptural analogies that God uses for His wrath: “the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty.”
It is a terrifying picture. It is uncivilized. Gruesome. Barbaric. It is not grapes being trodden. It is *people* — the unsaved wicked. The wrath is fierce. The wicked are helpless. And God is righteous.
I imagine driving down a highway at 70 miles an hour through barren wilderness and not seeing anything but a 6-foot-high lake of blood on either side of me for 3 full hours — 200 miles. And that’s just one verse of Scripture (Rev. 14:20). Does anyone think that God is not a vengeful God? Does anyone think that God simply sweeps the sin of mankind under the rug of His love? Does anyone dare to conclude that He need not be feared? Do not domesticate God.
Perhaps much of the reason why God’s gracious love shines so dimly today in our hearts and has been so dulled in our country is that the eerie, death-black backdrop of His righteous and unbridled wrath towards sinners has faded into some sort of whiteish-gray hue that communicates that “God’s too nice to do that.” When that fading process takes place, God’s lovingkindness and mercy become merely accenting colors instead of brilliantly contrasting beams that blind us into sight. Sight of how glorious His grace really is. Where there is no pitiful condition, mercy cannot exist.
To the degree that I see my state before God to be horrific and my punishment by Him to be terrifying, to that same degree will my salvation be staggering and my reconciliation to Him be marvelous to my heart.
There are thousands of implications for seeing and believing in a righteously wrathful God. If you are reading this and you are not a believer in Jesus Christ and a faithful follower of Him, I beg you to rethink your present condition and your future judgment. The guilty do not go unpunished.
If you are saved, there should be a wide diversity of things you think about when you think about Jesus Christ’s substitutionary death on the cross in your place. But try this new picture: Out of His great love for you who were a wicked and rebellious person, God’s only Son Jesus Christ walks to the wine press of the fierce wrath of His Father, lays Himself down in it, and is trampled under the heavy foot of His Father’s raging wrath — in your place. The pure blood of His life pours out through the drainage hole as an offering to God, and you are reconciled to God and made His child and His friend.
This is His justice. This is His wrath. This is His love.
I must think about this more.