During the recent Memorial Day weekend I had the profound honor of spending time with some American heroes at the Veteran’s Center. These heroes of a previous generation had served in WW II, Korea, and Vietnam. We sang together the Battle Hymn of the Republic. Recall the words of the first verse:
“Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord,
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword –
His truth is marching on.”
We talked about those words and discussed the scriptural basis for them.
“Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war…He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood…Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.”
This scripture passage describes the return of Christ to earth after the approaching great tribulation period to deal with those who have denied His deity and taken lightly His vicarious death on the Cross. Christ Himself will execute the wrath of a just and Holy God to vindicate His word. The above description is hardly one of meekness. A winepress was a trough where grapes were placed and men trod on them to separate the juice, or wine, from the grapes. Metaphorically it represents squeezing the blood out of men. Then the entire world will know that the Lamb of God is also the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
Another vivid description of the ‘grapes of wrath’ is found earlier in the Revelation.
“Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and on the cloud sat One like the Son of Man, having on His head a golden crown, and in His hand a sharp sickle. And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to Him who sat on the cloud. ‘Thrust in Your sickle and reap, for the time has come for You to reap, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.’ So He who sat on the cloud thrust in His sickle on the earth, and the earth was reaped.”
“Then another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle.”
“And another angel came…and he cried…to him who had the sharp sickle, saying, ‘Thrust in your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth, for her grapes are fully ripe.’”
“So the angel thrust his sickle into the earth and gathered the vine of the earth, and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. And the winepress was trampled…and blood came out of the winepress, up to the horses’ bridles, for one thousand six hundred furlongs.” Revelation 14:14-19
This passage reveals that a mighty angel will assist Christ in harvesting the grapes to fill the winepress, but the execution of the wrath of God, i.e. the trampling of the vine of the earth is done by Christ Himself.
The wrath of God is a predominant theme in the Revelation and refers to divine judgment to be inflicted upon the wicked. God’s wrath is required due to His justness.
Seven hundred years before Christ was born the prophet Isaiah spoke of His future role of treading the winepress.
“Why is Your apparel red, and Your garments like one who treads in the winepress? ‘I have trodden the winepress alone…For I have trodden them in My anger, and trampled them in My fury; their blood is sprinkled upon My garments, and I have stained all My robes. For the day of vengeance is in My heart…’” Isaiah 63:2-4a
The prophet Joel also told of the future winepress.
“Let the nations be wakened, and come up to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; for there I will sit to judge all the surrounding nations. Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come…for the winepress is full, the vats overflow – for their wickedness is great.” Joel 3:13-14
For those who believe the Bible this pre-written history is unfolding before our eyes. The judgment of the nations will coincide with Israel’s redemption. How long will God stand for the nations kicking the ‘Apple of His eye’ around like a tin can?
So as we sang together the great words of the Battle Hymn of the Republic, we considered ‘where the grapes of wrath are stored’ and what that meant for our children and grandchildren. As indicated, the Bible explains those lyrics in great detail.
But alas, once again, our foreign policy towards Israel and the Middle East reminds us of what Jesus said to the scribes and Pharisees:
“Blind Guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!” Matthew 23:24