Today we look at the need to acknowledge that God is sovereign over all in life and death, and that He will have the final word. Derek addresses the increase in evil in the world today and how we must keep our hearts and minds set on the purpose of God—that He will one day avenge it all.
I have a friend in Australia, a very experienced senior minister who is retired. He was the pastor of a large church with a number of younger ministers under him. At one time he said to them, “Listen, I want you to throw away all the books you have on counseling. Get rid of them all and counsel from nothing but the Bible.” Then he said a couple came to him who had been coming for months and he said to them, “I’m not going to counsel you anymore.” He said to the husband, “The Bible says love your wife. You’re not obeying the Bible, you don’t love your wife.” Then he said to the wife, “The Bible says submit to your husband and you’re not submitting to your husband. Until you obey the Bible I will not counsel you.” Thank God for that. What hours and hours of time are wasted counseling people who are not willing to change. I’ve got supporters behind me tonight!
All right. Now where am I? Verses 36–38:
“For the Lord will judge His people and have compassion on His servants when He sees that their power is gone and there is no one remaining, bond or free.”
You see, the same principle? God will not intervene until He sees the power of His people has gone.
“Then He will say, ‘Where are their gods, the rock in which they sought refuge, which ate the fat of their sacrifices and drank the wine of their drink offerings! Let them rise and help you and be your refuge!’”
Then He says:
“Now see that I, even I am He, and there is no god besides me. I kill and I make alive, I wound and I heal. Nor is there anyone who can deliver from my hand.”
We have to come to see the total omnipotence and sovereignty of God and our total need of His mercy. There is no other hope for anybody here tonight. There is no other hope for the nation of Britain but in the mercy of God.
Then God goes on to say He will avenge those who’ve persecuted His people. That’s a very large number of people. In Deuteronomy 32:43 He says:
“Rejoice, O nations [or Gentiles], with His people [that’s Israel], for He will avenge the blood of His servants; and render vengeance to His adversaries. He will provide an atonement for His land and His people.”
Brothers and sisters, there’s something in the heart of every one of us that cries out for justice. And often we look at the situation in the world and we say there isn’t any justice. People get away with all sorts of crimes, they mistreat people, they oppress people. I want to tell you there is justice, justice is coming. God will avenge His people. He will avenge all those who’ve been mistreated and unjustly treated. We need to see that. The world is full of wickedness. Would you agree with that tonight? I want to tell you in my opinion it’s going to get much fuller yet. Iniquity is going to increase to a degree that we can hardly dare to imagine. We need to know what’s God’s attitude. We need to know how to respond to the increase of evil, violence, cruelty, immorality, pornography. Every kind of filthy evil thing that has been increasing in this nation for the last fifty years—and I’ve witnessed it—it’s going to go on increasing. It’s not going to get better, it’s going to get worse. You say, “Well, Brother Prince, you’re a pessimist.” No, I’m not, I’m a realist. There’s a difference. I’m not a pessimist because do you know what I believe? Soon and very soon we’ll see the King! I think that’s the only realistic source of hope there is. Man has been trying to straighten himself out for thousands of years and his condition today is worse than it’s ever been. To my way of thinking it is totally unpractical and illogical to expect salvation from the human race. But, we can expect it from God.
Let’s see what God says about the wicked. Don’t tell me that you’ve never been concerned about the triumph of injustice. You have. You’ve often wondered how do people get away with what they do. Is that right? Well, in Psalm 92 God has something to say about that. Verse 7:
“When the wicked spring up like grass and when all the workers of iniquity flourish, it is that they may be destroyed forever.”
That’s the ultimate end of the wicked. But God says I’m going to let the harvest ripen. Do you remember what He said to Abraham in Genesis 15:16? He said:
“I’m going to give you the land of Canaan, but not for another four hundred years, because the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.”
God waits for the harvest of iniquity to come to full ripeness. And in the earth today the harvest of salvation and the harvest of iniquity are ripening side by side. That’s an amazing thought. It’s also an amazing thought that in the parable of the wheat and the tares the same sun and the same rain that ripen the wheat ripen the tares. God is going to deal with them when the harvest comes in. Jesus said the harvest is the end of the age.
I also am impressed by the words of Jesus, I believe they are the words of Jesus, in Revelation 22:10–12.
“He said to me, [maybe that was the angel, maybe it was Jesus.]‘Do not seal the words of the prophecies of this book, for the time is at hand.’”
Now here are some amazing words.
“He who is unjust, let him be unjust still. He who is filthy, let him be filthy still. He who is righteous, let him be righteous still. And he who is holy, let him be holy still.”
And some translations say “he that is filthy, let him be still more filthy. He that is holy, let him be still more holy.” In other words, the two harvests are ripening side by side. Then Jesus says, the next words are:
“Behold, I am coming quickly, and my reward is with me, to give everyone according to his work.”
So we are watching two harvests ripen side by side simultaneously. The harvest of salvation and the harvest of judgment. In Revelation 14 the two harvests are described immediately one after the other. Revelation 14, beginning at verse 14:
“I looked and behold, a white cloud, and on the cloud sat one like the Son of man [Jesus], having on His head a golden crown...”
That’s not a royal crown but it’s the crown worn by a victor. You know there are two words for crown. One is the crown of royalty, a diadem; the other is the crown that was the badge of the victor in the Olympic games. Where we today give somebody a gold medal, they gave them a laurel crown. That’s what’s there. And most places in the New Testament where you read the word crown, that’s it. On the other hand, it says when Jesus comes back riding on His white horse, there will be many diadems, many kingly realms under His kingship. Anyhow, let’s go on.
“I looked and behold, a white cloud, and on the cloud sat one like the Son of man, having on His head a golden crown, and in His hand a sharp sickle. And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to whom sat on the cloud, ‘Thrust in your sickle and reap, for the time has come for you to reap, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.’”
But the Greek says the harvest of the earth is dry. It has to be reaped or else it will be lost. That’s the harvest of salvation. It is being reaped all around the earth today. In countries which thirty years ago had no time for Jesus, people are crying out for the gospel. The Soviet Union is one example. Other parts of East Asia are the same. This is the harvest hour.
Let me tell you what God says about a son who sleeps in harvest. Do you know what He says? “A son who sleeps in harvest causes his father shame.” Dear brothers and sisters, if you’re a child of God and you’re asleep in the harvest hour, you’re causing your Father shame.
Then we come to the next harvest, and this is the correct order in Israel. First of all, the grain, then the final harvest is the grapes. Verse 17:
“Then another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle. Another angel came out from the altar, who had power over fire. He cried with a loud cry to him who had the sharp sickle, saying, ‘Thrust in your sharp sickle and gather the cluster of the vine of the earth, for her grapes are fully ripe.’”
Notice the harvest is not reaped until it’s fully ripe.
“So the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth and gathered the vine of the earth, and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God.”
This is the harvest of wickedness. Do you know what happens in a winepress when the grapes are gathered? They put them in one of those stone sort of basins and the people come and trample them under their feet to trample the juice out. That’s the picture of the wicked being thrown into the winepress of the wrath of God, to be trampled underfoot.