Swing the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, trample the grapes, for the winepress is full and the vats overflow—so great is their wickedness!” Joel 3:13
This verse calls to mind the verse where Jesus said, “The harvest is ripe and the workers are few.” It also calls to mind the Battle Hymn of the Republic (one of my favorite songs, actually), where Julia Ward Howe wrote, “He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored.”
IMO, both thoughts truly interpret the intention of this verse. The verse is talking about the end of time, when all men and women are judged, and the harvest of believers is brought into the storehouse of heaven to live in eternal bliss.
…and when the wickedness of unbelievers is fully exposed for God’s wrath. Not long ago, I mentioned that, the older I get, the more I believe that God executes His holy wrath on us by removing His protections so that sin can run its course. I could be wrong. It could be that the all-powerful Almighty may indeed actively vent His wrath on us for all the wickedness humanity has ever done. He has every right.
Yet He doesn’t even have to pour out unquenchable fire of judgment on us. Simply letting man’s sins run wild over us is more unbearable than we can conceive. Think of every raging wildfire of crime, war, and pestilence, and we don’t even need God to do them to us. The Rwandan genocide; the Holocaust; centuries of Inca and Aztec torture in the name of their gods; murder sprees in every major American city each week; the Rape of Nanking: those weren’t done by God (and they were done in times when we had His protection). Just think about what men could do to other men when law, order, justice, and Godly love are removed.
Indeed, the vats of putrid wine would overflow so great would be our wickedness. Bad news: it’s coming. Before Christ’s return, that’s our future. Thankfully, there is a just and merciful Jesus, who will return and bring an end to it. He will trample evil and vanquish it. He will scour it out and pour hard medicine over all who do battle against Him. He will do all this with the power of His Word, and evil will cower before Him.
The holidays are upon us, and I don’t like to think about things like this while I’m decorating the tree, baking cookies, and enjoying time with friends and family. Yet it is for this eventual end that the Babe of Bethlehem was born. Someday soon, the harvest will be ready, and He will return here to claim it.
For more reading: Judges 6:11, Isaiah 17:5, Jeremiah 25:30, Hosea 6:11, Matthew 9:37, Matthew 13:39, Mark 4:29, Revelation 14:15-19, Joel 3:14
Lord, may I serve only You in this life, and be found in Your number at the end of all things.