Separation: It can be a bad thing. It can also be a good thing. When we are separated from someone we love for a while it makes us appreciate them and grow fonder, and it breeds anticipation for a reunion with them. But if it’s permanent, it hurts so deeply to our very core.
Separation: It can be a bad thing. It can also be a good thing. For instance, going to a zoo is fun and safe, for you might be in the presence of a lion, tiger or a bear, but at the same time you are separated from these ferocious animals. You can tap on the glass without fear, or make a face at them/thumb your nose with no repercussions, because of separation. And for believers, when we are separated from this life, it is a good thing. We will be separated from this sin-cursed world and absent from the body, but present with the Lord. It’s part of the glory of heaven. And given the chance, we would never return to Earth.
But in the end of the world, separation will be bad for so many. The scripture teaches us that in the world to come lost people will be separated from the presence of the Lord, which is part of the horror of hell. Not just the fire, and darkness, but separation from any hope.
2 Thessalonians 1:8-9 "In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction FROM THE PRESENCE OF THE LORD, and FROM THE GLORY OF HIS POWER;"
This has been the case for all who have died lost throughout history, and will be true for all who die lost in the future.
But for any lost people today who enter the Great Tribulation, it will be preceded by something equally awful, in a much different way. Before they are separated from God, they will be punished in His presence. The cages are opened…it’s like Jurassic Park, and there’s no way off the island…nowhere to run!
Revelation 14:10-11 "The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone IN THE PRESENCE OF THE HOLY ANGELS, and IN THE PRESENCE OF THE LAMB: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name."
These are among the most graphic of verses in the Bible about life after death. The Lamb who came as a sheep to the slaughter is coming back as the Lion of the tribe of Judah.
…let’s have a preview of the final judgment:
A river of blood 4 feet deep, 200 miles long!
All people are headed for judgment…all of us…a day of reckoning / accountability / wrongs righted / we’ll all stand before God and give an answer.
The word judgment:
Makes me think of Adam and Eve and their day of reckoning…we don’t sin and get away w/ it.
Judgment was pronounced that day upon the serpent, the soil, Satan, nature, and upon the woman and the man.
8 simple words unknown to Adam and Eve until the fall:
Death, nakedness, curse, sorrow, thorns, sweat, sword, travail…in Gen. 2-3 these words became a real part of their lives.
Judgment makes me think of the days of Noah as the world turned it’s back on God / widespread violence / disregard for marriage / pagan idolatry and immorality rampant…but the world learned you don’t thumb your nose at God…there is a price to pay, a day of reckoning. It was too late once judgment began to fall from the sky.
Judgment makes me think of Sodom and Gomorrah…people who said there are no absolutes, we can choose our own way, an alternate path. (lifestyle)
Like Noah’s day, they must have started screaming as their certain death started falling from the sky, “we believe now!” It was too late once judgment began to fall from the sky.
Judgment makes me think of the children of Israel getting away from God, and the earth suddenly opening up and swallowing many of them up, or them being led into captivity, or defeated by a tiny army…or brought to captivity in order to pay off their Sabbath debt to God!
Judgment makes me think of a mighty judgment America is begging for!
Judgment makes me think of future events like the Great White Throne (ch. 20), where all who are not saved will stand before God and give an account…final sentence will be pronounced, and the final judgment will be eternal! It will be too late once judgment begins to fall.
Or the judgment seat of Christ for believers, which takes place during the tribulation (we’re not up there twiddling our thumbs!). There we will have a personal interview w/ Jesus Christ and will give an account for our faithfulness to Him, our service, our stewardship…PTL we won’t be judged for our sins, which have already been paid for…but we will receive rewards according to how we’ve lived for Him. It also says that in some way we will suffer loss.
If we as believers think we can live a careless Christian life and not pay for it in eternity we are sadly, badly mistaken, as our eternal rewards as well as our positions in the millennium will be determined at this time.
In our text…this is Armageddon, only for those left on earth at the end of the tribulation…this judgment will determine those people’s entrance into the millennium. That is the primary interpretation of these verses…but there’s some things we can apply to us!
II Tim. 3:16, “All scripture is profitable...”
In these verses, this judgment is pictured as a harvest…actually 2 harvests: wheat / grapes…
3 aspects about this final harvest / final judgment...
v. 14 This refers to Jesus Christ, the reaper of the harvest…because of the white cloud, a symbol of deity, the glory of God.
(Israel followed the glory cloud / Moses received the Law on Mt. Sinai in the cloud / the tabernacle was filled w/ glory of God which was the glory cloud / Mt. of Transfiguration in Matt. 17, the glory cloud illuminated the mountain / His ascension back to heaven after the resurrection took place on this cloud!)
Also His title gives Him away…Son of man.
And because of the crown He’s wearing (Rev. 1:13 / 19:12)
“Crown Him Lord of All”—the next time He comes it’s not for a cross, but for a crown!
At this point in history, no longer will the question be, what will you do w/ Jesus, but rather, what will Jesus do w/ you?!
End of v. 14…we see a sickle! The Savior is a Sovereign, the Redeemer is a Ruler, the Justifier is now Judge!
v. 15-16 A picture of harvesting wheat
Check out Mt. 13:24-30…what’s it talking about…we don’t have to guess…look at v. 36-43
In layman’s terms: A farmer sowed wheat / an enemy came and sowed tares (noxious, poisonous, looks just like wheat) among the wheat / a hired hand realized someone had sabotaged them, asked farmer if he should remove the tares / oh no, you’ll likely root up the wheat w/ the tares, let them grow up together to maturity, then we’ll harvest the whole field, then separate them, put wheat into the barn and burn the tares together in bundles!
The wheat represent the children of God, the tares the children of the devil which have been planted into the church…they look like the real thing, may serve, and may serve well! / may be in the choir, teach s.s., be an usher, a deacon, or the pastor! But they haven’t truly been saved!
We can’t assume to know the difference, but Jesus said He will separate the 2 in the end!
v. 17-20 Farmers and gardeners know 3 laws of the harvest:
You always reap what you sow / later than you sow / more than you sow
All 3 laws are in effect in this passage.
You always reap what you sow:
If you plant corn, you get corn, you don’t plant apple seeds and get tomatoes! (Gal. 6—whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.)
v. 18 “Vine of the earth”…what has the world been sowing spiritually? Rebellion, ever since Babel…and here in the 21st c. it’s more true than ever!…and this world which has sowed sin and rebellion for so many years is going to reap corruption!
You always reap later than you sow:
v. 18b “for her grapes are fully ripe”
We look at the world and say, “Why doesn’t God do something about this?”…it’s not time yet! God is waiting for the grapes to become fully ripe…every farmer knows about waiting for the right time!
How can God allow Hollywood to do what they’re doing? / the government / justice dept. / abortion / pornography / prison system / crime
Don’t let the slowness of God’s wrath deter you from knowing that it’s coming!
You always reap more than you sow
How many wheelbarrows of seed will you sow this year? How many truckloads will it take to hold what you will reap? What if you don’t sow even one seed of the gospel?
This passage tells us about the blood of millions of soldiers running 4 feet deep for 200 miles! A 200 million man army from the eastern coalition (Orient)…not to mention the European Union, Gog and Magog, Tubal, Meshek, armies of the north (Russia), other nations, and maybe the US, if we’re still here!
All that blood and carnage! Why? Because for far too long man has been shedding innocent blood, and you always reap more than you sow!
(what you sow / later…)
These are laws of the harvest! Just as the juice flies from the grapes the blood will spurt in all directions!
It’s from these verses we get the song, “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!” (trampling on the village where the great giraffes are stored!)
The Ruler of the Harvest: Jesus Christ w/ the sharp sickle
The Reaping of the Harvest: the world will reap what they’ve sown, later than they’ve sown, more than they’ve sown…
First ramification: If you’re not ready, you need to get ready…you don’t have to face Jesus as your judge, if you’ll accept Him as your Savior…but the only chance to do that for you is now, in this life, in these days of the church age, before the rapture occurs, and before death finds you.
Second ramification: We can have a beautiful building, a great spirit, powerful services, and warm fellowship…but if we’re not motivated to act and warn people of the wrath to come, it’s all for nothing.
God isn’t working in your life the way He is just to benefit you…He’s got others in mind, else He’d take you on home to heaven…but you are a means to an end!
This is the final, urgent hour…the grapes are almost fully ripened! We’re not trying to save the world from destruction…we know the ship’s going down! We’re trying to get as many as we can to climb into the lifeboats!
A great separation is coming. To where will you be separated?
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