Avoiding the Wine Press of God’s Anger
“I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the peoples there was no man with me: yea, I trod them in mine anger, and trampled them in my wrath; and their lifeblood is sprinkled upon my garments.”—Isa. 63:3, AS.
1. What should you be glad to know how to avoid, and why?
IF YOU can avoid having the very life crushed out of you, will you not be glad to know how you can do so? The field called Armageddon, where the “war of the great day of God the Almighty” will be fought, will be like a tremendous wine press for all mankind. Comparatively few of this generation of mankind will escape being crushed to everlasting death there. You may avoid this crushing experience and share in all the joy, singing and shouting that will both accompany and follow the treading or trampling of this global wine press. How may you do so? It is worthwhile knowing.
2. (a) How does God explain the importance of human blood? (b) What is God perfectly just in demanding for the life of a person undeservedly killed?
2 Blood flowing freely and fully within your body’s blood vessels means your life as a human soul. The great “Fountain of life,” Jehovah God, tells us how important our blood supply is, saying: “The soul of every sort of flesh is its blood by the soul in it.” We can therefore see the reasonableness of his command for us not to take the blood of other people into our system, when he says: “Consequently I said to the sons of Israel, ‘You must not eat the blood of any sort of flesh, because the soul of every sort of flesh is its blood. Anyone eating it will be cut off.’” Because blood has life value God justly accepted the blood of a proper victim as an atoning sacrifice or a repurchasing price for the life that mankind had lost as a penalty for wrongdoing or sin. So God said: “The soul of the flesh is in the blood, and I myself have put it upon the altar for you to make atonement for your souls, because it is the blood that makes atonement by the soul in it.” (Lev. 17:11, 14, NW; Ps. 36:9) Even as God was pleased to accept the lifeblood of a proper victim in payment for the life of another that had been forfeited, so God is perfectly just in demanding that the life of a person who had been undeservedly killed should be offset or counterbalanced by taking away the life of the killer.
3. (a) How did God state that to be his rule of action to Noah and his family? (b) Of what does the rainbow not stand as a sign, and so of what survivors do Noah and his family stand as signs?
3 Over four thousand years ago Jehovah declared this as his rule to the eight human survivors of the global flood, Noah and his family, from whom all of us today have descended. When granting them permission to eat animal flesh as food, Jehovah God said: “Only flesh with its soul—its blood—you must not eat. And, besides that, your blood of your souls shall I ask back. From the hand of every living creature shall I ask it back; and from the hand of man, from the hand of one who is his brother, shall I ask back the soul of man. Anyone shedding man’s blood, by man will his own blood be shed, for in God’s image he made man.” (Gen. 9:4-6, NW) The life of an animal victim could not make repayment for the life of the man killed; only the life of the killed man’s brother man, the killer himself, would meet the demands of divine justice. Although at that time Jehovah God had caused the rainbow to appear in the sky as an everlasting sign that he would never again cut off all flesh by the waters of a deluge, his rainbow does not stand as a sign that he may not and will not crush all human flesh by other means like a global wine press. The eight human survivors of the global flood stand as a prophetic sign and guarantee that there will be happy survivors when mankind is crushed in the wine press of God’s anger at Armageddon.—Gen. 9:4-6, 11-16, NW; Matt. 24:37-39.
4. Why will the tramping out of lifeblood be done in justice at Armageddon?
4 Noah made wine after the flood, doubtless using a wine press. In the time of making wine to gladden man’s heart the blood, the juice, of the grapes flowed heavily under the crushing feet of the treaders or trampers in the wine trough. In the “war of the great day of God the Almighty” at Armageddon human blood will flow, human life will be poured out, on an unheard-of scale, and woe to those who are then in the war against God the Almighty! As the tramping out of the lifeblood will be done in justice, in the anger of God the Almighty, it will be because of a great bloodguilt resting upon mankind. All the past unjust shedding of human blood will be counterbalanced by crushing out the lives of the bloodguilty. It will be no injustice to mankind, but the payment of a just due.
5, 6. What experience of Judah and Jerusalem shows that there will be no refuge in any part of Christendom, and how did God through Isaiah describe that experience?
5 At that terrific execution upon the bloodguilty there will be no place of refuge in any part of Christendom, even though she religiously mentions God and claims to be his people. The Israelites of twenty-five centuries ago did the same thing, but it did not act as a charm to shield them when Jehovah expressed his anger at their willful wrongdoing and breaking of their covenant with him and punished Jerusalem and the land of Judah. At Armageddon Christendom faces an experience like that of ancient Judah and Jerusalem, the prophetic type of unfaithful Christendom. Describing beforehand what happened, God said:
6 “Behold, Jehovah maketh the land empty, and maketh it waste, and turneth it upside down, and scattereth abroad its inhabitants. And it shall be, as with the people, so with the priest; . . . The land shall be utterly emptied, and utterly spoiled; for Jehovah hath spoken this word. The land mourneth, it fadeth away; the world languisheth, it fadeth away: the haughty people of the land do languish. And the land is polluted under the inhabitants thereof; for they have violated the laws, changed the statute, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore doth the curse devour the earth, and they that dwell therein are held guilty; therefore the inhabitants of the earth are consumed, and few men are left.”—Isa. 24:1-6, Da.
7. How did Jehovah turn the land of Judah and Jerusalem upside down, and what was the reason for doing so?
7 How did God turn the land of Judah and Jerusalem upside down? It was full of Jewish inhabitants just like a bowl full of certain things. So Jehovah treated the land just like a full bowl, turning it upside down and dumping out its human inhabitants and so emptying the land, scattering abroad its former inhabitants. Jehovah had previously measured out a treatment like that to Samaria, the capital of idolatrous, murderous King Ahab, and so Jehovah said: “Here I am bringing a calamity upon Jerusalem and Judah, of which if any one hears both his ears will tingle. And I shall certainly stretch upon Jerusalem the measuring line applied to Sa·marʹi·a and also the leveling instrument applied to the house of Aʹhab, and I shall simply wipe Jerusalem clean just as one wipes the handleless bowl clean, wiping it clean and turning it upside down. And I shall indeed forsake the remnant of my possession and give them into the hand of their enemies, and they will simply become a spoil and plunder to all their enemies.” The reason for thus turning the land upside down is given, in part, in these words about Manasseh, its king: “There was also innocent blood that Ma·nasʹseh shed in very great quantity until he had filled Jerusalem from end to end, besides his sin with which he caused Judah to sin by doing what was bad in the eyes of Jehovah.” (2 Ki. 21:10-16, NW) About a hundred years later this dire prophecy came true.
8. Why was the land not turned right side up by being turned upside down, and so when was the land put in its right condition?
8 Was the land of Judah and Jerusalem turned right side up by being turned upside down? No! For Jerusalem and its temple were destroyed by the Babylonians, the land of Judah was wrecked and completely depopulated, not even domestic animals being left there, and what former inhabitants were left were either taken captive to Babylon or frightened into flight down to Egypt. The land was upside down, like a handleless bowl emptied of its contents; so the deserted land turned into a wilderness, a jungle, with dreary ruins, infested by doleful wild beasts and birds. That was not the right condition of the land of Judah. God had given it to his chosen people according to his promise and he gave it to them to be inhabited. Therefore after letting it lie desolate and enjoy land sabbaths for seventy years, he overthrew Babylon and brought back a faithful remnant of his people from there that Jerusalem might be rebuilt and her temple restored and the land repopulated. A land was born in that day and was in its right condition, like a bowl right side up, filled with inhabitants who praised and worshiped Jehovah. In this we see a prophetic picture of how Jehovah God will preserve and deliver a faithful remnant of people to survive Armageddon.—Isa. 45:17-22; 66:8, 9; 2 Chron. 36:17-23.
9. To what crushing experience is Jehovah’s treatment of the land of Judah likened, and what does this illustrate respecting Christendom?
9 It was frightful the way the land of Judah had its holy city and temple ruined, the most of its population slaughtered by sword, famine and pestilence, and its survivors scattered into captivity and exile in enemy lands. This experience came from the hand of Jehovah, whose covenant they had broken and whose land they had polluted with innocent blood. It is likened to his treading down the land of Judah in a vast wine press, with a terrible loss of life and spilling of the blood of the guilty. (Jer. 2:21; Isa. 5:1-8) The writer of the prophetic Lamentations mourns over it, saying: “Behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow, which is done unto me, whom Jehovah hath afflicted in the day of his fierce anger. . . . the Lord hath delivered me into hands out of which I am not able to rise up. The Lord hath cast down all my mighty men in the midst of me; he hath called an assembly against me to crush my young men; the Lord hath trodden as a winepress the virgin daughter of Judah. Jehovah is righteous; for I have rebelled against his commandment.” (Lam. 1:12, 14, 15, 18, Da) This illustrates what it will mean when Jehovah gives Christendom the wine-press treatment at Armageddon. Only it will be more appalling, for Christendom extends round the globe. Let no one think of finding refuge then in bloodstained Christendom.
10, 11. (a) Why is there no other place in this old world in which to escape being crushed at Armageddon? (b) Why is taking refuge in the “vine of the earth” something to avoid?
10 There is no other place in this old world where one may seek refuge and escape from being crushed at Armageddon. All the nations, those of heathendom as well as of Christendom, will be stamped down as in a global wine press. The worldly system of things is like a great “vine of the earth” that has spread all over the earth filling it with its bad fruit, and now it is about time for the entire vine to be uprooted and crushed and all its lifeblood stamped out with the greatest violence. All the nations, even those of Christendom who lay claim to Christianity, have warred among themselves soaking the earth with blood; and now, since the birth of God’s kingdom in the heavens in 1914 and since the world-wide announcement of this royal birth by Jehovah’s witnesses, the nations have risen to the height of their wickedness by preparing for war against Jehovah God and his enthroned King, Jesus Christ.
11 In this hydrogen-bomb era the fruitage of this international “vine of the earth” is reaching its full ripeness and the time for this tremendous vine to be harvested is getting near, to pitch all of it, root, branch and fruit, into the wine press of God’s anger. Jehovah God even urges on the ripening of its ungodly fruitage with this challenge now proclaimed by his witnesses: “Proclaim this among the nations: prepare war, arouse the mighty men, let all the men of war draw near, let them come up. Beat your ploughshares into swords, and your pruning-knives into spears; let the weak say, I am strong. Haste ye and come, all ye nations round about, and gather yourselves together. Thither cause thy mighty ones to come down, O Jehovah. Let the nations rouse themselves, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat; for there will I sit to judge all the nations round about. Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe: come, get you down, for the press is full, the vats overflow; for their wickedness is great. Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of Jehovah is at hand in the valley of decision.” (Joel 3:9-14, Da) For anyone now to take refuge in the branches of this “vine of the earth,” either continuing as a branch of it or sitting under it and enjoying its fruitage, means to be stamped out of existence with it in the wine press of God’s anger. That crushing experience is certainly something to be avoided.
12. What is one outstanding reason for God’s crushing out the life of this world, and what especially comes in for its due in this regard?
12 One outstanding reason for God’s crushing the lifeblood out of this worldly system of things is the enormous bloodguiltiness that rests upon it and that must be punished. This is true not only of the political, commercial and social organizations of this world but also of its religions. All the religions of this world now associate with the international alliance, the United Nations, and support it. These religions are all symbolized under one figure, that of the great harlot, Babylon the Great, who rides the seven-headed wild beast to a battle against Jehovah’s “Lord of lords and King of kings.” All the blood unrighteously shed on the earth is due to false religion and hence is laid to the charge of this mysterious Babylon the Great. Calling her bloodguiltiness to notice just before she is executed, John the beholder of the Revelation vision says: “I saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of the holy ones and with the blood of the witnesses of Jesus. . . . Yes, in her was found the blood of prophets and of holy ones and of all those who have been slaughtered on the earth.” (Rev. 17:6; 18:24, NW) In executing judgment at Armageddon the God of justice renders to all worldly religion her dues for her sickening bloodthirstiness and bloodguiltiness.
13. What do the heavenly hosts say as respects this act of judgment, and how will the guilty drink their own blood?
13 Because of this act of judgment the heavenly hosts give Jehovah praise, saying: “Praise Jah, you people! The salvation and the glory and the power belong to our God, because his judgments are true and righteous. For he has executed judgment upon the great harlot who corrupted the earth with her [religious] fornication, and he has avenged the blood of his slaves at her hand.” The long record of worldly religion, reeking with blood, must now be shown up and the coming judgment of those who have shed innocent blood under the instigation of Babylonish religion must be declared, to show that God is righteous: “You . . . are righteous, . . . because they poured out the blood of holy ones and of prophets, and you have given them blood to drink. They deserve it. . . . Yes, Jehovah God, the Almighty, true and righteous are your decisions.” (Rev. 19:1, 2; 16:5-7, NW) The guilty will be made to drink their own lifeblood by their own deserved death at Armageddon.—Isa. 49:26.