Thursday, January 30, 2014
the grapes of wrath
Good afternoon sisters and brothers,
When we read or sing about the grapes of wrath, that refers to this passage. We read before about how anyone who refused the empire's mark would be persecuted and would suffer economic consequences. Now we see that those who go along with the empire's evil will face God's wrath. Sometimes we feel like we can just stay in the middle or fly under the radar, and often compromise and moderation is appropriate. When we're faced with a real question of right and wrong, there is no neutral position. Being neutral in a situation of evil and injustice lends silent support to the oppressor. Martin Luther King said good people staying silent caused more harm than racist people speaking out. We are called to speak and act for our faith and for justice.
8Then another angel, a second, followed, saying, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! She has made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.” 9Then another angel, a third, followed them, crying with a loud voice, “Those who worship the beast and its image, and receive a mark on their foreheads or on their hands, 10they will also drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured unmixed into the cup of his anger, and they will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. 11And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and its image and for anyone who receives the mark of its name.” 12Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and hold fast to the faith of Jesus.
13And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who from now on die in the Lord.” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them.” 14Then I looked, and there was a white cloud, and seated on the cloud was one like the Son of Man, with a golden crown on his head, and a sharp sickle in his hand! 15Another angel came out of the temple, calling with a loud voice to the one who sat on the cloud, “Use your sickle and reap, for the hour to reap has come, because the harvest of the earth is fully ripe.” 16So the one who sat on the cloud swung his sickle over the earth, and the earth was reaped.
17Then another angel came out of the temple in heaven, and he too had a sharp sickle. 18Then another angel came out from the altar, the angel who has authority over fire, and he called with a loud voice to him who had the sharp sickle, “Use your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth, for its grapes are ripe.” 19So the angel swung his sickle over the earth and gathered the vintage of the earth, and he threw it into the great wine press of the wrath of God. 20And the wine press was trodden outside the city, and blood flowed from the wine press, as high as a horse’s bridle, for a distance of about two hundred miles.