Trampled in Wrath
Seven hundred years before Jesus is born, God proclaims the prophetic words that He is pleased to crush, His Son, Jesus Christ, putting Him to grief; if He renders Himself as a guilt offering for sin (Isaiah 53:10).
At His death, Jesus takes upon Himself the sin of God’s people. God places upon Jesus great wrath which the world has never seen. An innocent man accepts the guilt of sin and is unjustly crucified. An innocent man bears the full weight of God’s wrath in the place of people who are rebellious and disobedient sinners.
The picture of the crucifixion turns our stomach. Jesus’ blood is spilled. The reality of God crushing His Son in the Gospels is a gory, bloody slaughter. But, it is a beautiful picture because those who put their faith in Jesus are spared God’s wrath. God takes Jesus’ blood and covers God’s people with forgiveness.
On the day of God’s final judgment, Jesus parades Christians before God the Judge. Jesus, our Advocate, declares, “Look and see the blood. My blood is evidence to spare them from punishment. Their sin is with My blood. They are redeemed. They are blameless. Allow them to enter into Your eternal kingdom. Give them My glory and My inheritance. This is My bride that You give to Me. Thank You, Father, for My bride.”
Christians are neither deserving or good. They are saved by faith, believing in the atonement of Christ’s shed blood. We are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, by His blood. To Jesus, be the glory and praise.
What about those who do not put their faith in the blood sacrifice of Jesus Christ? What happens to them?
Isaiah paints a picture of the final destiny of those who do not put their faith in Jesus for the forgiveness of sins. All who oppose God, which includes the angelic beings, such as Satan and his demons and all people from every nation face God’s wrath.
Isaiah is full of paintings to help us imagine spiritual truth. Isaiah 63:1-6 is a painting in the Isaiah room of God’s gallery. God paints the picture so we may understand His just, righteous, and holy wrath. If we want to have a painting in our mind of God’s wrath, we need not look any further than this passage.
Main Idea: Worship the Glories of Jesus
Let’s read the passage together.
Who is this who comes from Edom,
With garments of glowing colors from Bozrah,
This One who is majestic in His apparel,
Marching in the greatness of His strength?
“It is I who speak in righteousness, mighty to save.”
2 Why is Your apparel red,
And Your garments like the one who treads in the wine press?
3 “I have trodden the wine trough alone,
And from the peoples there was no man with Me.
I also trod them in My anger
And trampled them in My wrath;
And their lifeblood is sprinkled on My garments,
And I stained all My raiment.
4 “For the day of vengeance was in My heart,
And My year of redemption has come.
5 “I looked, and there was no one to help,
And I was astonished and there was no one to uphold;
So My own arm brought salvation to Me,
And My wrath upheld Me.
6 “I trod down the peoples in My anger
And made them drunk in My wrath,
And I poured out their lifeblood on the earth.” (Isaiah 63:1-6)
The main idea of this passage is that we are to worship the glories of Jesus; our Savior and Redeemer. The passage is given to us, so we fully appreciate the greatness of Jesus Christ. He is glorious because He is our Savior. And Jesus is glorious because He crushes His enemies and defeats evil once and for all.
Worship Jesus for He is Strong and Majestic
The passage begins with a voice asking a question. The person asking sees someone walking toward him. The person is coming from Bozrah, the capital city of Edom.
Edom is where the descendants of Essau live. Throughout the history of Israel, the Edomites are wicked enemies of God’s people. They are evil and despise God. Edom represents all who oppose God.
The person coming from Edom appears majestic and strong. He is marching as a warrior coming from a battlefield. His garments are noticeable because they are glowing in color.
Worship Jesus for He is Righteous and Mighty to Save
The person identifies Himself. He says, “It is I who speak in righteousness, mighty to save.” Notice that He doesn’t say that He speaks righteous words, but He speaks in righteousness. Righteousness is His nature. He is right in all He thinks, says, and does.
Notice another thing that He says. He doesn’t say, “It is I, mighty to destroy.” Even though He is coming from a great and mighty battle, He doesn’t speak of how He spills the blood of His enemies. He speaks of salvation. He is mighty to save.
The battle He fights is important and necessary for our salvation. We need Jesus to save us from our enemies. We need Jesus to put an end to evil and wickedness. We may not live in eternal peace and comfort in God’s kingdom as long as God’s enemies exist. Jesus defeats the enemies of God as part of our salvation.
Worship Jesus for He Alone is Worthy
The voice calls out again and asks a second question. Why is Your apparel red, and Your garments like the one who treads in the winepress? The Savior is closer now. The garments of strength and majesty look like He comes from standing in a wine press. The garments are stained with the crimson color.
Jesus is not a general who fights in a safe building away from the battlefield. He is not wearing a tidy, clean uniform. Jesus goes into the middle of the battle. He stands in the winepress alone. His garments are bloody from battle. His garments are red because He treads the grapes of God’s wrath.
Jesus responds, “I have trodden the wine trough alone, and from the peoples, there was no man with Me.” Peter declares to Israel, "… there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)
Jesus declares that He alone can and does fight the battle. Jesus looks about the earth and sees there is no one worthy of the battle. He alone is righteous and holy. Evil and wickedness are not defeated by those who are wicked and evil. Our Savior is perfect. We can look to no other for a victor. Jesus alone is worthy. He is the Captain of our salvation.
Worship Jesus for He is Angry about Sin
The reason His garments are stained with blood is that Jesus tramples His enemies in His wrath.
The prophet Joel says, “Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, tread, for the winepress is full; The vats overflow, for their wickedness is great.” (Joel 3:13)
Since the beginning of time, people are in sin and rebellion against a holy God. They mock His name. They ignore His commands. They are unthankful for the food He puts on their table. They think marriage is a joke. They kill innocent people. They greedily line their pockets at the expense of others. They deceive. There is no end to their evil.
Jesus hates their sin. It makes Him angry to see people spit, curse, and blaspheme the goodness and glory of God. The angels in heaven watch with glee as Jesus defends the glory of God. They rejoice in seeing the zeal of Jesus standing and fighting for His Father. How dare people corrupt and sully the glory of God.
The zeal of Jesus’ anger over sin ought to give us pause. Do we understand the horrific nature of sin? Do we understand that sin makes Jesus angry?
Worship Jesus for He Brings Redemption
Not too long ago, we looked at the first few verses of Isaiah 61 (click to view the sermon). Let’s look again at that text. It reads:
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
Because the Lord has anointed me
To bring good news to the afflicted;
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to captives
And freedom to prisoners;
To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord
And the day of vengeance of our God … (Isaiah 61:1-2)
Jesus tells us He is treading the winepress because the Spirit of the Lord God is upon Him, and God anoints him.
His calling to fulfill the day of vengeance is in His heart,
and the year of redemption is come (Isaiah 63:4).
Our redemption includes God taking vengeance upon His enemies. The Old Testament and the New (as we have seen in our study of 1st and 2nd Thessalonians) refer to God’s day of vengeance as the Day of the Lord. This passage and others describe for us what takes place on that day.
Ever since God gives Jesus His ministry, to free the captives, proclaim God’s year of redemption, and fulfill the day of God’s vengeance, His mission is in His heart. It is the longing of Jesus to bring redemption. It is the heart desire of Jesus to tread the winepress of God’s wrath.
Notice the frequency of the words of this passage that refer to the feet of Jesus.
“I have trodden the wine trough, I trod them in My anger, trampled them in My wrath, and I trod down the peoples in My anger.”
There is great significance to these words. In the Garden of Eden, God tells the serpent, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel” (Genesis 3:15).
Jesus is using His heel to bruise the head of the serpent and the children of disobedience. Ever since that day in the Garden, Jesus has it in His heart, to tread upon the head of Satan. He tramples in the wine trough, Jesus fulfills the words of His Father spoken that fateful day in the Garden of Eden.
Worship Jesus for He is God’s Right Arm
Isaiah 63:5 is almost word for word what is said in Isaiah 59:16. The only difference is that in Isaiah 53:16, the last part of the verse reads, “Then His own arm brought salvation to Him, and His righteousness upheld Him. (Isaiah 59:16).”
Isaiah 63:5 substitutes the word righteousness with the word wrath. What this reveals to us is that the wrath of Jesus is right. It is good. It teaches us that the wrath of Jesus is necessary for salvation. Wickedness and evil must be eradicated for us to enjoy the glories of salvation.
We know firsthand that Jesus is on a mission to save. Jesus speaks on hell often. Just as it is important to see Jesus as Savior, we must see that His mission includes pouring out wrath on sinners.
Listen to the words of the Apostle John. He writes, “… the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8).
Jesus’ tells people that His mission from God is not complete until He makes His “enemies a footstool” for His feet (Psalm 110:1; Luke 20:42-43).
Jesus bringing salvation to us and pouring out wrath on sinners upholds Him. It gives Him strength. His ministry God is to be God’s right arm. The right arm of God saves His people and destroys their enemies. It is what drives Jesus forward. It is His purpose and aim.
Worship Jesus for He is Victorious
Jesus is victorious in His battle. His is a complete victory. When He says that He makes them drunk in His wrath, the words of Psalm 75 come to mind. It reads:
For a cup is in the hand of the LORD, and the wine foams; It is well mixed, and He pours out of this; surely all the wicked of the earth must drain and drink down its dregs. (Psalms 75:8)
Scripture paints a picture of Jesus as a mighty Savior. He accomplishes a thorough feat. He is thorough with dispensing God’s wrath. And, those Jesu saves, He saves to the uttermost (Hebrews 7:25). Those that He saves, He makes completely blameless and above reproach. He rescues people from the kingdom of darkness, makes them alive, raises them to heaven, and seats them at the right hand of God. In Christ, we are more than conquerors.
Those who Jesus condemns are condemned eternally. Their ways are stopped completely. They have no voice or ability to rebel ever again. They are drunk with His wrath. They are forever rendered useless. They are thrown into the Lake of Fire eternally.
A few thoughts about why God places this passage in the Bible for His Saints
The book of Isaiah helps us imagine the glories of God’s saving work because it is written poetically. The poetry gives us word pictures for our mind's eye. It is like going to an art gallery and looking at an exhibit of God’s paintings.
Chapter 40 illustrates for us the painting of God’s great and awesome power. It is a painting showing us how God measures the waters in the palm of His hand. He measures the universe with His span. He weighs the mountains in a balance.
One of the more striking paintings in the Isaiah room of God’s gallery is the painting of salvation. It shows people living in the New Jerusalem. The nations of the world enter the gates of the city, bringing the best they have to offer. There is peace and comfort as we see in the corner blacksmiths turning swords into plowshares. In the fields outside the walls, we see oxen eating straw with lions. There is no desert place, but only areas of lush vegetation. Jesus is the King. The glory of God illuminates every corner, and there are no shadows. God gives us a beautiful painting of salvation. It depicts a scene He wants us to imagine, speak about, and place our hope.
We stand in front of the painting of salvation in awe and with tears of joy in our eyes. It is the most beautiful painting we have ever seen. It is a painting of hope.
Next to the painting of hope is the painting of judgment. The painting of judgment is challenging. It is that of Jesus stomping the grapes of wrath. He treads the grapes alone. Blood is splattering everywhere. His feet are red with blood. His garments are covered. The blood runs out on the ground as people from the nations are crushed under the feet of Christ. His face is full of anger. He forces those He is crushing to drink the cup of wrath to the dregs.
We need to understand that this painting of Jesus is given as an illustration. It is figurative and not literal. Jesus will not crush people with His feet. God gives us illustrations to help us understand spiritual truth. We may not understand God’s wrath. But, we do understand the violence of a wine press with grapes.
God’s wrath is difficult for us to think about. It challenges our sensibilities of what is good. The truth is that God’s wrath poured out upon people is righteous whether or not we appreciate or understand the painting. Beauty is in the eye of the artist, not the one looking at the painting. It is difficult to contemplate eternal weeping and gnashing of teeth. But, contemplate we must.
Shall we turn away from a painting made by God? Shall we say it doesn’t belong in the Isaiah room of God’s gallery? Do we find it repulsive and gory? Do we no longer think the Artist is any good? Do we try to cover the painting with a cloth, so we don’t have to look?
God places all the word paintings in the book of Isaiah. Every brush stroke is inspired by His Holy Spirit. How can we say we don’t want to look at and appreciate the painting of God’s wrath when God says it is a righteous painting? How dare we stand in judgment over these two paintings and say that one is better than the other?
A litmus test of our faith
How deep is our faith? Do we embrace and believe only the passages we like, or do we believe all of Scripture?
How much do we love Jesus? Do we embrace and love Jesus, who will crush people, even those we love? Does our love for Jesus separate us from the world? Does it separate us from our families?
"Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. "For I came to SET A MAN AGAINST HIS FATHER, AND A DAUGHTER AGAINST HER MOTHER, AND A DAUGHTER-IN-LAW AGAINST HER MOTHER-IN-LAW; and A MAN'S ENEMIES WILL BE THE MEMBERS OF HIS HOUSEHOLD. (Mat 10:34-36)
We need to embrace the truth that in the eyes of Jesus, there are two kinds of people. Some put their faith in Him, and there are those who do not. Jesus will crush those who do not put their faith in them. Jesus sees them as our enemies, even if they are of our flesh and blood. They are our enemies because they will try to get us to walk away from our faith.
God is not fooling around, and neither should we
The painting of God’s wrath is somber. Sin is very serious and deserving of being crushed like grapes in a wine press. It is not an attractive picture. In the day of God’s wrath, men will try to hide under rocks to escape the wrath of God. But, there is no escape.
Life is serious. Death is even more serious. God places believers in this world to warn people of the wrath to come. We need to be zealous for the gospel for the sake of saving sinners. Let’s not fool around playing church. God is not fooling around, and neither should we.
Greater appreciation for our salvation
Studying the painting of God’s wrath gives us a greater appreciation for salvation. Were it not for the grace of God; we face the same wrath. The Apostle Paul tells the church in Ephesus that we were once dead in our trespasses and sins. We were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest (Eph 2:1-3). It is only because of God’s grace, unmerited favor, that we escape the wrath to come.
The truth of God’s wrath is uncomfortable. But, it is important to recognize that is given to shape and mold our view of the gospel. God’s wrath informs us of God’s holiness and our depravity. If we don’t embrace the truth of God’s wrath, we will not rightly understand the glory of the gospel.
Jesus is glorified
We cannot save ourselves. We cannot overcome evil. We cannot defeat our enemies. We are not worthy. We are not good. We bring nothing to the picture.
Christ alone. Only Jesus can defeat sin. Jesus is righteous. Jesus is completely victorious.