Isaiah 63 – Vengeance and Redemption & The Winepress

That’s a good analogy of how things are going to be in the end.  I’m sure glad I’m on Your side.  As we were talking yesterday about how bad the education is in America, I was wondering…

 1 Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this that is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength? I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save.

“Edom” – Edom here symbolizes a world that hates God’s people.

“Dyed garments” – cf. Christ’s robe “dipped in blood” (Rev 19:13) as He wages war at His second coming.

Temple and rare cache of sacred vessels from Biblical times discovered at Tel Motza
Israeli archaeologists have uncovered a rare temple and religious figurines which date back nearly 3,000 years to the time of the Kingdom of Judah.

They say the finds provide rare testimony of a ritual cult in the Jerusalem region at the beginning of the period of the royal House of David.

Such idol worship was a major theme in the chapters of the Old Testament relating to the era, and is given in the holy book as a cause for the downfall of the Jewish kingdom.

‘The ritual building at Tel Motza is an unusual and striking find, in light of the fact that there are hardly any remains of ritual buildings of the period in Judaea,’ the dig directors said in a statement.

‘The uniqueness of the structure is even more remarkable because of the vicinity of the site’s proximity to the capital city of Jerusalem, which acted as the Kingdom’s main sacred center at the time.’

2 Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the wine fat?

3 I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me: for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment.

“Trodden the winepress” – a figure of judgment also in Lam 1:15; Joel 3:13; Rev 14:17-20; 19:15.

4 For the day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come.

“Day of vengeance…year of my redeemed” – the day of judging the enemy meant at the same time redemption for those born-again.

5 And I looked, and there was none to help; and I wondered that there was none to uphold: therefore mine own arm brought salvation unto me; and my fury, it upheld me.

6 And I will tread down the people in mine anger, and make them drunk in my fury, and I will bring down their strength to the earth.

“Made them drunk” – they drank the “cup of His fury.”

“I will bring down…to the earth” – Lit. “I will pour out their juice (blood) on the ground.”

7  I will mention the loving kindnesses of the LORD, and the praises of the LORD, according to all that the LORD hath bestowed on us, and the great goodness toward the house of Israel, which he hath bestowed on them according to his mercies, and according to the multitude of his loving kindnesses.

63:7-64:12 – a prayer of Isaiah, asking the Lord to bring about the redemption He has promised – as one of the “watchmen” the Lord has posted on the walls of Jerusalem.  It is similar to a national lament.

“Loving kindnesses” –  a demonstration of God’s unfailing love as He stood true to His covenant with Israel.

8 For he said, Surely they are my people, children that will not lie: so he was their Savior.

9 In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old.

10  But they rebelled, and vexed his holy Spirit: therefore he was turned to be their enemy, and he fought against them.

11 Then he remembered the days of old, Moses, and his people, saying, Where is he that brought them up out of the sea with the shepherd of his flock? where is he that put his holy Spirit within him?

Replica of the actual complete Isaiah scroll found at Qumran in the Dead Sea caves.
The actual scroll is in a sealed vault beneath the museum.
The past can be confusing, but if one understands the relevance of the Scrolls to the Christian faith, it is quite illuminating. One example of this illumination is the Great Isaiah Scroll. In many ways, the scroll affects the Christian faith and our understanding of the Bible.
The Great Isaiah Scroll contains more than 25% of all the biblical text among the Dead Sea Scrolls. It is almost completely preserved. Virtually every part of all 66 chapters of Isaiah are found in the Great Isaiah Scroll.

12 That led them by the right hand of Moses with his glorious arm, dividing the water before them, to make himself an everlasting name?

13 That led them through the deep, as an horse in the wilderness that they should not stumble?

14 As a beast goeth down into the valley, the Spirit of the LORD caused him to rest: so didst thou lead thy people, to make thyself a glorious name.

15  Look down from heaven, and behold from the habitation of thy holiness and of thy glory: where is thy zeal and thy strength, the sounding of thy bowels and of thy mercies toward me? are they restrained?

16 Doubtless thou art our father, though Abraham be ignorant of us, and Israel acknowledge us not: thou, O LORD, art our father, our redeemer; thy name is from everlasting.

“Father” – even if their human fathers abandon them, God won’t.

17  O LORD, why hast thou made us to err from thy ways, and hardened our heart from thy fear? Return for thy servants’ sake, the tribes of thine inheritance.

“Made us err” – when Israel went astray God let them wander and then caused them to experience the consequences of their choice.  God has been doing this all over the world for centuries, but He is soon about to do it to the United States.

“Hardened our heart” – the people’s hearts were hard and the Lord confirmed that condition.

“Servants” – true believers.

18 The people of thy holiness have possessed it but a little while: our adversaries have trodden down thy sanctuary.

19 We are thine: thou never barest rule over them; they were not called by thy name.

The Winepress

Wine Press
Wine production was a popular industry in the Holy Land. Many winepresses are found in most of the Biblical places and ancient sites.

Wine was first produced in 6,000 BC in the area of Mesopotamia. During the Biblical times (Iron/Persian Age) the wine making industry was wide spread in the Holy Land and was one of the largest exports.
 
Biblical 
The Bible has dozens of references to wine, wine making and winepresses. The first reference is of Noah, the World’s first winemaker  (Gen 9 21-22: “And Noah …  planted a vineyard: And he drank of the wine, and was drunken…”).

Initially the winepresses were small and installed in the fields near the vineyards, normally cut into the local stone. Later, some of the villages evolved around the winepresses, and even became cities bearing the name of the winepress. Clusters of winepresses, with3 or more systems, were later installed at central industrial areas, or were installed close to the ports along the sea.

Roman/Byzantine
The number of winepresses increased considerably during the Roman/Byzantine period, and its production and export was one of the leading incomes.  Hundreds of winepresses are found in the fields, villages  and the cities of the Holy Land.
 
One of the reasons for the large demand was due to the Roman Legionnaires stationed in Israel. As per our wine expert, Uncle Ofer, each Roman soldier consumed a liter per day, or 6,000 liters per day for one Legion stationed in the Galilee.

The wine has medical advantages – killing bacteria and making the drinking water safer.  The wine was often diluted with equal portion of water, and used as their drinking water, keeping the soldiers healthy (and happy).  This may have been one of the Roman soldiers advantages in the battlefield. 

To supply this demand the wine was produced in a short period of a month or so, producing a low alcohol (4%) sour wine.
 
Most of the vineyards and winepresses were located in the hills of the lower and upper Galilee, the Golan, the Sharon and the hills of Judea.

Arab periods 
The wine production ceased completely during the Arab conquest starting in the 8th C. Islamic faith prohibits the consumption of alcohol. Only during the Crusades the wine production was resumed for a brief time (12th – 13th C).

Modern times
In the recent 10 years, wine making is booming again in Israel. The number of wine makers increased from a handful to over 175 (25 commercial wineries and 150 boutique wineries) and rising. Once again the Holy Land is returning to a world class wine status.

The winepress was a key component of ancient wine production.  In its most basic form it consisted of three sections: an upper and a lower vat and a channel connecting the two.

After the grapes had lain in the sun for a few days to increase their sugar content, they were placed in the upper vat and trodden with bare feel.  The juice moved down the channel to the smaller, but deeper, lower vat. 

The husks that remember remained after having been trodden were pressed by a wooden plank, one end of which was secured to a side of the vat while the other was weighed with stones to facilitate the pressing process.

Some of the more elaborate winepresses that have been discovered have had three or four vats.  The extra vats improved the settling process and reduced the amount of sediment in the wine.

The juice would ferment in the lowest vat, a process requiring four to seven day.  After this period wine would be poured into jars of wineskins.  Often there would be a spout in the lowest vat that would channel the wine into these containers.

The jars or wineskins would hold the wine as the fermentation process was completed, a period of two to four months.

Isaiah used the imagery of trading the winepress to express divine judgment against the nations (Isa 63:1-6).  The act of treading represents God’s vengeance against His enemies, whether through war or other disasters.

Archaeologists have discovered a 1,400-year-old wine press in southern Israel which was very advanced for its time.

The juice produced from the grapes represents the blood of the defeated, while the intoxication produced by overindulgence of the wine represents the effect of God’s wrath on those he judges (v. 6).

At the same time, however, God’s vengeance against his enemies is coupled with his redemption of his own people (v. 4).

What are they teaching now?  They certainly aren’t teaching about You.  I wonder what kind of wicked things they are teaching?