14 Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and seated on the cloud one like a son of man, with a golden crown on his head, and a sharp sickle in his hand.
15 And another angel came out of the temple, calling with a loud voice to him who sat on the cloud, “Put in your sickle, and reap, for the hour to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is fully ripe.”
16 So he who sat on the cloud swung his sickle across the earth, and the earth was reaped.
17 Then another angel came out of the temple in heaven, and he too had a sharp sickle.
18 And another angel came out from the altar, the angel who has authority over the fire, and he called with a loud voice to the one who had the sharp sickle,
“Put in your sickle and gather the clusters from the vine of the earth, for its grapes are ripe.”
19 So the angel swung his sickle across the earth and gathered the grape harvest of the earth and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. 20 And the winepress was trodden outside the city, and blood flowed from the winepress, as high as a horse’s bridle, for 1,600 stadia.
This passage finishes on a pretty serious note, doesn’t it; blood flowed from the winepress, as high as a horse’s bridle, for 1,600 stadia. Blood flowing for around 184 miles is pretty serious business and paints us a picture of absolute carnage, more of that to come in chapters 16 and 19.
Jesus talks about this particular section of text back in Matthew 13.24-30, then explains it in vv.36-43, you can read about it here.
Today, then, there is a separation, believers and unbelievers, those who have put faith and trust in Jesus, and, if we want to really challenge ourselves (and the Word of God does challenge us…think two edged sword, sharp and precise, cutting down to even those thoughts we would never share), we see the separation of believers and church-goers.
The narrative of the Bible calls for us to be the church, not to simply attend church. The Christian life is one of progression, of progressive sanctification, of becoming just a little more like Jesus every day, of living out His teachings and doing our earthly best to emulate His life. The Christian life is not lived for 90 minutes once a week plus a smattering of Bible-related interactions during the week; Bible verses on Instagram, reading a devotional, listening to the message again, even attending a midweek Bible study group.
The Christian life is lived in community; with God’s people, for God’ people, as God’s people.
We are called to BE the church, not just go to church.
Literally the word church means ‘called out ones’. It is a community of those who have been called out of darkness into His glorious light, out of sin and into righteousness, out of death and into life.
We ARE the church, we don’t just go on Friday (or whenever your church assembles).
So, all this to say, we want to be part of Jesus’ harvest, don’t we, he who sat on the cloud swung his sickle across the earth, and the earth was reaped, we don’t want to be part of the latter harvest mentioned here, so the angel swung his sickle across the earth and gathered the grape harvest of the earth and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God.
The best thing about this is that Jesus wants us to be part of His harvest, He wants us to turn to Him, to surrender our will to His, He wants us.
Do we want Him?
Do we want to assemble as God’s people, as God’s church, do we want to be the church, or just go to church?