As his ministry reached its climax, our Lord confronted the religious leaders in Jerusalem. In Matthew 23 he calls them “hypocrites”, “blind guides” and “children of hell”. He says they concentrate on outward appearances “but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence” (23:25). His words stirred their hatred of him, which was already evident after the adulation he received as he entered Jerusalem on the donkey. They were now determined to destroy him. Seven times in this chapter Jesus says “Woe to you” (verses 13,15,16,23,25,27,29). The hidden sevens in the Bible are interesting, as we have noted in Revelation. It seems especially significant when he says, “Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers. You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape … all these things shall come on this generation” (verses 32,33,36).
The same Greek word is used in chapter 13:47-50 when Jesus told the parable of the net being “thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind. When it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into containers but threw away the bad. So it will be at the close of the age …” – the age in which we live.
Jesus is using a way of speaking that God used through the prophet Joel; speaking then of gathering in a grape harvest, to indicate the overflow of His anger on the nations “… the harvest is ripe. Go in, tread for the winepress is full. The vats overflow, for their evil is great … for the day of the LORD is near … and the heavens and the earth quake … so you shall know that I am the LORD your God” (Joel 3:13,14,16,17).
The main application of Joel’s prophecy is to our world today. How close is our world to being “full”? Its godlessness is starting to overflow! A fearful repetition of God’s punishment on the Jewish world that rejected Jesus is nearly upon us – but this time it is a godless world that has turned away from any belief in God and His word! Remember the final message of Jesus, “Woe, woe, woe to those who dwell on the earth … they (the angels) were told not to harm (true believers) … only those people who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads” (Revelation 8:13; 9:4). How can those who do not read the Bible and fear God have the seal of God on them? Let us make sure we have that seal.