Jesus Offers Understanding in the Time of Wrath
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."
-Revelation 14:14-15, emphasis added
The impenitent earth dwellers face only doom in their lives. They have told God to leave them alone, and so He will-forever: These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power (2 Thessalonians 1:9, emphasis added).
God responds to man's impenitence. The greatest illustration of this is seen in the actions of Judas. He was next to Jesus Christ for three and one-half years, and yet his heart was unmoved to confess his sin and turn to Christ for salvation. Amazingly, Judas saw no beauty in Christ after all he had witnessed in Him. In the end, caring only for gain, dominated only by self, he was ready to sell the Lord for the price of a slave. Judas is a picture of what we see going on in the world in Revelation 14, and God has to do something about it. As Ray Stedman has pointed out, God has three choices in the face of human rebellion:
- One: He can indulge it and allow it to go on forever. But in that case all the cruelty, injustice, hatred, pain, and death that now prevail on the earth will go on forever, too. God does not want that-and neither does man.
- Two: God can force man to obey and control the human race as if it were a race of robots. But to take away our free will would be to take away our capacity to give our love to God freely. Love cannot be forced.
- Three: This is God's only real choice. He must withdraw Himself from those who refuse His love. He must let them have their way forever. Since God is necessary to our existence, the decision to reject God is a decision to plunge ourselves into the most terrible sense of loneliness and isolation a human being can know.
Ultimately, we choose whether God will judge us by deciding either to accept or refuse His grace, love, and forgiveness. As a result, we are choosing everlasting life or everlasting death.
Apart from Jesus there is no other future than verses 14-20 of Revelation 14-senseless and immeasurable warfare and bloodshed. In verse 20b, the blood came out of the winepress, up to the horses' bridles, for one thousand six hundred furlongs. To have blood for 1,600 furlongs (1 furlong = 607 feet) means 180 miles. From twenty miles beyond Armageddon, that would stretch to twenty miles past Bozrah, an ancient Edomite stronghold, that is twenty miles southeast of the bottom of the Dead Sea.
Make a choice to live in hope: The most fulfilling and enduring hope you can ever have is to invest your life in others! Make a choice to live in hope by being a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work (2 Timothy 2:21).
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