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Back To The Future – Sermon #37
WHEN THE JUDGE CALLS HIS COURT TO ORDER
Intro: I just want to remind you that the Book of Revelation is not written in chronological order. The first three chapters tell of our Lord’s letters to seven actual churches that existed in John’s day. Those chapters also paint a clear portrait of the church all the way from Pentecost to the Rapture. Chapters 4-11 tell us about the chronology of the Tribulation Period. They take us all the way from the beginning to the end of that terrible seven year period of time. In chapters 12-14, we are taken back to the beginning. These chapters give us the same time period from a different perspective. We are no longer talking about the chronology of the book, now we are confronted with the characters of the book. Through a series of seven visions, John takes us once again through the days of the Tribulation.
In our study of this book, we have arrived at the seventh of these visions. These verses close out the pause in the action we have been in since chapter 12 verse 1. When this chapter ends, we are going to be thrown back into the heat and the horrors of the final days of the Tribulation. Before we deal with those things, John gives us a vision of our Lord when He comes again in power and glory.
When Jesus came the first time, He came as a Savior. He came to give His life on the cross so that sin might be paid for and sinners might be set free. When He comes the second time, He is coming as a Judge. He is coming to destroy sin, Satan and all those who stand in defiance to God. When Jesus returns, He will come in power, glory and judgment and none will be able to withstand Him! There will be no cross for Jesus the next time He comes. There will be a crown! There will be no tree for Him to hang upon; but there will be a throne for Him to sit upon.
Let’s move through these verses and catch the vision John shares of the Lord Jesus Christ and the coming days of His terrible judgment. I want to preach on the subject: When The Judge Calls His Court To Order. As I do, I want to show you the parts of John’s vision.
I. v. 14 THE LORD AND HIS RETURNING
(Ill. The first image we are given is of the Lord Himself, sitting upon a cloud, wearing a crown with a sickle in His hand. Let’s examine this image in more detail.)
A. His Person There is no doubt about Whom John is writing. He is writing about The Son of Man. As you may remember, this was one of the titles given to the Lord Jesus when He came to this earth the first time. Jesus used this title to refer to Himself some 84 times in the Gospels. It was the way He most often referred to Himself. This title identifies Jesus with mankind. It is His human title. It speaks to His sufferings, His service and His sacrifice. When John sees the Son of Man in the clouds, he is seeing the One Who came to this earth and gave His life as a ransom for sin. John is seeing Jesus Christ.
Of course, we are promised that Jesus Christ will come in this fashion, Rev. 1:7; Luke 21:27. John is giving us a preview of that glorious day when Jesus Christ will return in glory and power!
B. His Position When John sees Jesus, he sees Him wearing a golden crown. The word crown translates the word for a victor’s crown. It refers to the laurel wreaths that were given out to victors in the ancient Olympic Games. The fact that this crown is golden identifies the wearer as a King.
When John sees Jesus Christ this time, he does not see a carpenter. He does not see a humble Jewish rabbi. He does not see Jesus of Nazareth. He does not see the son of Mary. When John sees Jesus here, He sees the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. He sees the One Who invaded Satan’s territory and carries off a great victory, he sees the One Who walked valiantly into the jaws of death, shedding His blood on the cross to defeat sin and Satan and liberate sinners. He sees the One Who walked victoriously out of that tomb on the third day. John sees the King Who has dome to take possession of His domain.
When Jesus comes back, there will be no debate. The United Nations will not convene to see whether He can reign or not. When He comes, He will be wearing the golden crown of the victor. This just means that all the battles have already been fought and He is the winner! Jesus will not rule by the leave of men. He will rule by His right at Creator, Lord, Savior and King!
C. His Power When John sees the King, He has a sharp sickle in his hand. A sickle is an instrument used to harvest wheat. When Jesus returns, He is coming to both gather His people into His barn as a farmer gathers his wheat; and He is coming to cut down the wicked like a farmer cuts down his wheat. We will see this truth unfold in the next few verses.
For now, it needs to be said that Jesus can either be your Savior or He can be your Judge. If you will receive Him in these days of grace, He will save you and take you to Heaven. If you reject Him, He will stand in judgment of your life one day. He will either be your Savior, or He will be your Judge. The choice is yours!
I. The Lord And His Returning
II. v. 15-19 THE LORD AND HIS REAPING
(Ill. These next four verses unfold our Lord’s plan to bring judgment to this earth. When He came the first time, He came as the Sower. He moved through this world sowing the seeds of the Gospel of grace. When He returns, He will come as the Reaper. He will separate the saint from the sinner. He will take the saints home to Heaven and the sinner will be cast into hell.
There are two harvest described in these verses. Harvest time in the Bible is often used as a picture of souls coming to God for salvation, John 4:34-35. In these verses, the harvest is used as a picture of judgment. Let’s see what these verses have to say about the harvests the Lord is going to reap someday.)
A. v. 15-16 The Reaping Of The Grain These two verses describe the Lord Jesus is shown thrusting in His sickle to reap the earth. The world is pictured as a field of wheat that is ready to be harvested. The Lord takes His sickle and He reaps the field.
What we are seeing in these verses share the fulfillment of a parable Jesus told in the Gospels. In Matthew 13:24-30, Jesus told the parable of “The Wheat and the Tares. It is a story of a farmer who sowed a wheat field expecting to reap a bountiful harvest. But, his enemy came and sowed tares among his wheat. The servants wanted to pull up the tares, but the farmer knew that doing so would destroy the wheat. His council was for both to grow together until the time of the harvest, then the tares could be gathered and burned and the wheat could be gathered and placed in the farmers barn.
In the same chapter, Matthew 13:36-43, Jesus told His disciples what this parable meant. The good seed represented genuine believers while the tares represented false believers. The good seed represents the saved and the tares represent the lost.
The problem with the wheat and the tares is that the two cannot be told apart while they are growing. The tares, which is a plant called the Bearded Darnel, look just like wheat as it matures. The difference between the two plants becomes clear when they near harvest time. The head, or top, of the tare turns black and stands up straight. It is filled with tiny black seeds that can cause nausea, or even death. It is a natural emetic and when tares are harvested with the wheat, every kernel must be inspected. The wheat, on the other hand, has a head filled with heavy kernels of wheat. These kernels cause the head of the wheat plant to bend toward the earth. (Ill. The obvious contrast between the saved and the lost.)
One day Jesus will gather His wheat, the genuine believers, unto Himself. The wicked will be cut down and “cast into a furnace of fire. The judgment of the Lord is coming and the Lord knoweth them that are his, 2 Tim. 2:19.
(Note: The word “ripe is an interesting word. It means to be dry or withered. It speaks of a crop that is overripe. What a picture of the grace and longsuffering of God! The harvest of sin has been ripe since the first sin was committed in Eden. Yet, God in His grace, love and mercy as withheld judgment, giving lost men and women ample time to repent. One day His patience will be exhausted and His judgment will come on sinners. You need to search your heart and give diligence to make your calling and election sure, 2 Peter 1:10.)
B. v. 17-19 The Reaping Of The Grapes Now the scene changes and we move from the field to the vineyard. The lost are compared to a field of grapes that is ripe to the bursting. They are ready to be harvested.
When grapes are harvested, they are placed in a “winepress and. In those days, grapes were processed by placing them in a winepress. A winepress usually consisted of two vats connected by a channel. The grapes were placed in the upper chamber and people would climb into the winepress and use their feet to crush the grapes, extracting their juice. The juice would run out of the upper vat through the channel and into the lower vat where it would be collected for winemaking.
Again, we are given a picture of a world slated for judgment! This world has rejected Jesus the True Vine, John 15:1-8. They have attached themselves to the vine of this world, and they have drunk deeply of the wine of sin and have rejection of the God of glory. This world has rejected God and His Son Jesus, but one day, He will come and they will face Him in judgment. He will crush this world system, and all those who hold to it, under His feet like a man crushes a grape. This is the very image Isaiah paints of the coming King in Isa. 63:1-6. Jesus is coming in wrath and judgment and there will be no escape! The enemies of God will be thrown into “the winepress of the wrath of God and they will be judged!
I. The Lord And His Returning
II. The Lord And His Reaping
III. v. 20 THE LORD AND HIS RECKONING
(Ill. Verse 20 concludes John’s vision. It gives us some insight into the where this great judgment will take place. There is coming a day of reckoning and this verse gives some much needed insight into that horrible event.)
A. The Place Of His Reckoning This verse tells us that the winepress was trodden without the city. This does not tell us where this event will take place. However, what we are seeing in these verses are a vision of a coming battle called Armageddon. According to Rev. 16:16, a terrible battle will take place here. I believe it is this battle that is being pictured in our text.
Armageddon means “the hill or city of Megiddo. Megiddo is located in the Plain of Esdraelon. This location is the site of some famous biblical battles. It was here that Barak and Deborah defeated the Canaanites, Jud. 4-5. It was here that Gideon defeated the Midianites, Jud. 6-8. This same valley is the place that both King Saul and his son Jonathan were killed in battle, 1 Sam. 31. King Josiah also met his death in the valley of Megiddo, 2 Chron. 35.
It is in the same valley where the armies of the earth will come together to destroy the King of Kings. It is here in this place that Napoleon described as “a natural battlefield that the final battle of the earth will be fought.
B. The Pain Of His Reckoning We are told that he winepress will be trodden. This word means to crush with the feet. This is a very vivid description of what Jesus will do to those who have despised and rejected Him. Like a man crushing grapes in a winepress, He will crush the enemies of God under His feet. This is the promise of the Word of God, 1 Cor. 15:24-28; Heb. 10:12-13.
A person can either be crushed under His feet, or be held in His arms. The sinner can either be the focus of God’s wrath or of God’s grace. If I were you, I would be certain that I was saved so that I might miss out on this terrible time of judgment.
C. The Permanence Of His Reckoning What we are witnessing here is total destruction of the enemies of the Lord. This is not a probation period. This is not a judgment that will be lifted after a while. This is total annihilation as far the physical man is concerned.
The image here is one of violence and death. We are told that the blood will run as high as the horses’ bridles. This is between four and five feet deep. It will flow in a river some 1,600 furlongs long. This is about 200 miles. Can you imagine such carnage? Our minds cannot conceive of this amount of blood. It was said by Josephus that so much blood flowed through the streets of Jerusalem when Titus sacked the city that many of the fires that had been set to destroy Jerusalem were actually put out by the blood that poured from the bodies of the slain Jews.
The armies of the world will gather in a final attempt to defy God. Jesus will return and by His word He will destroy the enemies of God and tread them down in the winepress of His wrath! Hundreds of millions of soldiers will die in this catastrophic battle, Rev. 19:11-21. The blood of the fallen will fill the valley of Megiddo from Dan in the north to Beersheba in the south. Men have rejected the precious, saving, life-changing blood of Jesus, now they will wallow in their own blood!
Conc: We read of these events as we cannot comprehend such total devastation. Yet, the Bible says it is coming! In fact, some of the Old Testament prophets wrote about these very events, Zech. 14:1-4; Joel 3:11-14. This battle will take place and God will be victorious.
I don’t know whether any person in this room will be on the earth when this battle takes place. I hope not! But, I do know this, some in this room may be where Joel spoke of in Joel 3:14. You may be in the “valley of decision. You need to decide whether you will claim the blood of Jesus and the salvation it supplies; or whether you will face Him someday to shed the blood of destruction. His blood saves; your blood condemns you to judgment and Hell!
Thousands of years ago in Egypt, God saved His people by the blood of a lamb. They killed that lamb, placed its blood on the doorposts of their houses and went in. when they did, they were saved, safe and secure. They were under the blood. When the death angel passed through that night, they were spared because they were under the blood.
What about you? Are you under the blood today? Has the blood of Jesus been applied to the doorposts and lentils of your heart? Have you trusted Jesus as your Savior? I hope so, for if you haven’t, you will face Him as your Judge one day.
If you are in the valley of decision, come to Jesus right now! One day Jesus will call His court to order; you need to be sure that you are saved before that day comes!