Then Moses stood in the entrance of the camp, and said, “Whoever is on the LORD’S side-come to me.” And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together to him. And he said to them, “Thus says the LORD God of Israel: ‘Let every man put his sword on his side, and go in and out from entrance to entrance throughout the camp, and let every man kill his brother, every man his companion, and every man his neighbor.’ ” So the sons of Levi did according to the word of Moses. And about three thousand men of the people fell that day. (Ex. 32:26-28)Those who followed Moses’ instructions were approved and highly honored of God. Because of their zeal in this matter, the tribe of Levi was selected for the highest honor of ministering to God. We would do well to remember that the God who spoke through Moses and commanded the slaughter of family members is the same unchanging God Who went to the cross in mercy, but is also coming again in judgment! Jesus is not a peacenik, but the Everlasting, Holy, Eternal One (Rev. 1:17-18+). His return in judgment is a major theme of Scripture to which we should pay close attention. Scripture records that Jesus Himself is intimately involved in the great blood-letting of this time of judgment, for mention is made of the blood of His enemies staining His robes. Jacob, in prophesying over his sons prior to his death, included an intriguing statement concerning Judah, the tribe from which Jesus would come forth (see commentary on Revelation 5:5):
Binding his donkey to the vine, and his donkey’s colt to the choice vine, He washed his garments in wine, and his clothes in the blood of grapes. (Gen. 49:11)Although many have taken this prophecy to denote the great abundance of vineyards which Judah was to enjoy, others understand this passage to be consistent with Isaiah 63 which describes the blood-letting associated with the coming of Messiah. The Targum Pseudo-Jonathan states, “How beautiful is the King Messiah who is destined to arise from the house of Judah! He has girded his loins and gone down to battle against his enemies, destroying kings and their power, and there is neither king nor power that can withstand him. He reddens the mountains with the blood of their slain. His garments are saturated with blood, like those of him who presses the grapes.”1 Whether this is what Jacob meant is uncertain, but Isaiah’s passage is undeniable on this point:
Who is this who comes from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah, This One who is glorious in His apparel, traveling in the greatness of His strength? -“I who speak in righteousness, mighty to save.” Why is Your apparel red, and Your garments like one who treads in the winepress? “I have trodden the winepress alone, and from the peoples no one was with Me. For I have trodden them in My anger, and trampled them in My fury; their blood is sprinkled upon My garments, and I have stained all My robes. For the day of vengeance is in My heart, and the year of My redeemed has come. I looked, but there was no one to help, and I wondered that there was no one to uphold; therefore My own arm brought salvation for Me; and My own fury, it sustained Me. I have trodden down the peoples in My anger, made them drunk in My fury, and brought down their strength to the earth.” (Isa. 63:1-6)Notice the mention of Edom and Bozrah as His place of origin. This speaks of His sheep, the Jewish remnant which fled from Jerusalem and are now in their place which was prepared by God. (See Sheep in Bozrah.) God is seen coming from there, having already trodden the winepress. His garments are red, having been stained with their blood. These are His garments of vengeance worn when He repays His adversaries in judgment:
He saw that there was no man, And wondered that there was no intercessor; Therefore His own arm brought salvation for Him; And His own righteousness, it sustained Him. For He put on righteousness as a breastplate, And a helmet of salvation on His head; He put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, And was clad with zeal as a cloak. (Isa. 59:16-17)The winepress motif of Isaiah is also familiar to us, having seen it in the second judgment described in Revelation 14+ (see commentary on Revelation 14:18):
And another angel came out from the altar, who had power over fire, and he cried with a loud cry to him who had the sharp sickle, saying, “Thrust in your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth, for her grapes are fully ripe.” So the angel thrust his sickle into the earth and gathered the vine of the earth, and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. And the winepress was trampled outside the city, and blood came out of the winepress, up to the horses’ bridles, for one thousand six hundred furlongs. (Rev. 14:18-20+)John sees an angel harvest the grapes from the earth and throw them into the winepress of the wrath of God. Then the winepress is trampled. But no mention is made of who it is that tramples the grapes. From the previous passage in Isaiah, we know that it is God Himself who tramples. Yet the question still remains, is it the Father or the Son who tramples? Later in a series of visions, the identity of the One treading is revealed. It is Jesus Himself:
Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. Then I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the birds that fly in the midst of heaven, “Come and gather together for the supper of the great God, that you may eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, both small and great.” (Rev. 19:11-18+)The one on the white horse is called “Faithful and True” and mention is made of His righteous judgment. He is specifically identified as “The Word of God” which we know to be the unique title of Jesus Christ (John 1:1; 1Jn. 1:1; 2:14; Rev. 1:2+; 19:13+). Out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, another identifying characteristic of Jesus (Rev. 1:16+). He is also the One destined to rule with a rod of iron—the Anointed One Whom the Father said would inherit the nations (Ps. 2:8-9, see commentary on Revelation 2:27). He has a name which no one knew except Himself, yet another identifying aspect of the Son of God (Pr. 30:4 cf. Gen. 32:29; Jdg. 13:6, 18; Rev. 3:12+). His robe is “dipped in blood.” Is it His own blood, the atoning blood of the perfect Lamb shed upon the cross (Lev. 14:51)? This seems unlikely, for that would speak of His first coming whereas this is a scene of great judgment and bloodshed more directly tied to the previous passage in Isaiah. It is the blood from the grapes in the winepress for “He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.”2 See commentary on Revelation 19:11.
1 Tom Huckel, The Rabbinic Messiah (Philadelphia, PA: Hananeel House, 1998), Gen. 49:11.
2 A related typological association may be found in the dipping of Joseph’s tunic in blood (Gen. 37:31). This most likely speaks of the death of Messiah at His First Coming rather than the blood of His enemies at His Second Coming.