The Conquering King Returns
May 08, 2016 | Randy Smith
The Conquering King ReturnsRevelation 19:11-21
Sunday, May 8, 2016
Pastor Randy Smith
You really need to have read through chapters 1-18 in Revelation to appreciate what we'll be covering this morning in chapter 19. You also have to have had experienced a degree of suffering for Jesus in your lifetime to appreciate what we'll be covering this morning in chapter 19. But most of all, you have to love Jesus above all things and desire His glory more than anything else to appreciate what we'll be covering this morning in chapter 19.
Jesus never promised His servants a bed of roses in this lifetime. As humans we know something about the trials and as Christians we know the world's resistance to the things of Christ. We see it profoundly in what's happening to our brothers and sisters overseas and have witnessed it vicariously as we studied the earlier chapters of Revelation. In a very real sense, our Savior is with us. Yet in a very obvious sense, we are separated from Him and living in a world that is not our home that celebrates anti-God rhetoric and behavior.
That's why our great hope is in the promise of our Savior from John 14:3. "If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also." Or as the angels announced in Acts 1:11. "They also said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven." Or as Paul said in Titus 2:13 that we should be "looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus."
Better than anywhere else in Scripture, our chapter this morning describes the return of Jesus Christ or as it is commonly called, "The Second Coming." We left off a few weeks ago looking at the "Marriage Supper of the Lamb" in the beginning of chapter 19. Yet when Jesus returns, He's not coming as a bridegroom (as we might expect) or even a meek and humble servant (as He did the first time), but rather as a conquering warrior.
As the Lord permits, this morning we'll finish up chapter 19 and analyze our King's return by looking at His appellations, His accessories and His actions.
1. The King's Appellations
First, the king's appellations. According to the dictionary, an appellation is "the name or title by which something or somebody is known." So since all my sermon points started with an "a," basically I just needed a synonym for "name" beginning with the letter "a"!
In Revelation 19 we see our Savior referred to by four different names. A focus on His names is significant because in antiquity, unlike today, a name represented who you were. Hence a name was synonymous with one's reputation.
The name no one knows (v12)
The first name I want to look at is found in verse 12. The name is unmentioned and simply referred to as "a name … which no one knows except Himself."
We have a little game we play in our house. We try to come up with a name (or title) that God has revealed for Himself by going person to person through the alphabet - "Alpha and Omega, Bread of Life, Comforter, Door, Everlasting Father…." Those are just some of the names God's has revealed for Himself and there are over a hundred of them. Yet here it says there is another name and it has not been revealed to us.
I believe the best explanation is that since a name represents some aspect of Christ, this name refers to the nature of Christ that is still a mystery to us. In other words, God has chosen to reveal Himself to us. Yet much of who He is is either far beyond our finite understanding or simply for His wise reasons kept to Himself.
Therefore I believe this is a good place for us to start with our study today. As we learn about the return of Christ, we must not envision it only through the lens of what we can understand or what we have experienced or what we think might be right. This climatic event in world history is so far beyond our imagination regarding the immensity and intensity of what one day will take place.
"Faithful and True" (v11)
We do know, Jesus is called (verse 11), the second name mentioned, "Faithful and True." This is the same title used by Jesus when He spoke to the lukewarm church in Laodicea (Rev. 3:14). You'll remember they were the worst of the seven churches and in faithfulness and truth Jesus threatened to judge those who called themselves His people.
How much more then is Christ is faithful and true to judge those who refuse to call themselves His people. Our Savior is not wishy-washy, nor does He second guess Himself. He speaks truth and will be faithful to do exactly as He promised. And what is that in the context of Revelation? Vindicate His name, deliver His followers and judge those who oppose Him. That Christ is faithful and true is our greatest hope and also the world's greatest fear. He will do what He said He will do.
"The Word of God" (v13)
In verse 13 it says our Lord's name is "the Word of God."
It's interesting that the phrase "word of God" is found four other times in Revelation. And each of those times refers not to Jesus' name, but rather the testimony of His followers and the suffering they experienced. 1:2, John testified to the word of God and it says he was exiled at Patmos, 1:9 because of the word of God. In 6:9 the souls underneath the altar were slain because of the word of God. And 20:4 speaks of those "beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God."
According to John 1:1, Jesus is the Word and the mere fact that He is called the Word of God reveals the fact here that He will be judging the world according to the Word of God. Hold fast to God's Word and you will be persecuted, yet you will be saved by the Word. However, reject God's Word and you will be welcomed by the world, yet condemned by the Word.
Jesus is not making these rules up as He goes. The Word (the Bible) has clearly revealed His expectations and those who accept it or refuse it will experience either the revealed blessings or consequences. It's all already spelled out. To love His Word is to love Jesus (the Word). To reject His Word is to reject Jesus (the Word). Because Jesus is the Word and Jesus will judge by that word.
"King of kings and Lord of lords" (v16)
The final name is revealed in verse 16. There it says He is the "King of kings and Lord of lords" And it's written on His clothing for all to see. This one is grand and rather self-explanatory. There are many kings, both alive and dead. Jesus is King over all of them. There are many lords, both alive and dead. Jesus is Lord over all of them.
There have been many superpowers and leading men of those superpowers who thought they were above all. Many expected total allegiance. Some even claimed to be god and demanded worship.
Over the ancient superpower Babylon was a man named Nebuchadnezzar. He sought to exalt himself above God (Dan. 4:30). We know how things turned out for him. And after being humbled he responded, "Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise, exalt and honor the King of heaven, for all His works are true and His ways just, and He is able to humble those who walk in pride" (Dan. 4:37).
In Scripture, the King of kings is God and God alone. But here, Jesus chooses to use that title for Himself. What does that tell us? And what does that tell us about the fate of those who love this world and align themselves with what Revelation called present-day Babylon?
One, it tells us that Jesus is God, and two, we are the epitome of fools if we love, obey, serve or admire anything or anyone above Jesus Christ. As we'll see shortly, King Jesus will punish all who commit spiritual treason against Him. Based on His expectations outlined in the Word, whose side are you on? Parents, is this the greatest desire for your children?
2. The King's Accessories
Let's move from the King's names to the King's accessories. What I mean by accessories is what's He wearing and who's with Him?
His horse (v11)
First with Him is His horse. In verse 11 we read that when John saw the heaven opened, Christ appeared riding a white horse.
In Revelation, white always represents divine holiness and purity. We know Jesus is unstained by any sin and we know His followers, often called saints ("holy ones") in Revelation are washed clean in His blood and are without blemish before the throne of God. That is why Jesus is not coming to judge His people, but rather rescue them because He already took upon Himself, the judgment they deserved themselves. And that's also why a reoccurring theme in Revelation is God's people remaining pure to Jesus regardless of the threats that the world imposes upon them for their unwillingness to compromise. "But you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their garments; and they will walk with Me in white, for they are worthy" (Rev. 3:4).
Jesus returning on the white horse shows the King coming back to rescue His distressed bride and as a victorious warrior posed to defeat His enemies.
His eyes (v12)
His eyes are described as a "flame of fire." We already read about this description of Jesus in 1:14. What we are getting at here is our Lord's ability to see and thus know all things. This is how God was described in Daniel 10:6. Here we see it used of Jesus. He is the righteous judge of the world because nothing escapes His attention.
His head (v12)
On His head we see in verse 12 that He has "many diadems."
Remember how I told you earlier that Satan always seeks to copy God? There is the unholy trinity: Satan, the antichrist and the false prophet. In 12:3 we read Satan has seven diadems on his head. In 13:1 we read the antichrist has ten diadems on his head. Yet here it says Jesus has "many diadems." His kingship is not limited to a period of time. His reign and sovereignty is eternal.
His robe (v13)
His robe in verse 13 is said to have been "dipped in blood."
The clear symbolism that first comes to our mind is the blood sacrifice of Jesus. The fifth verse in the beginning of Revelation leaves the role of Christ's blood unmistakable. "To Him who loves us and released us from our sins by His blood" (Rev. 1:5). In chapter 5, "You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation" (Rev. 5:9).
Judgment is upon the whole world, but Jesus came as the Lamb of God to be the blood sacrifice in allowing Himself to be the blood atonement for our sins. And those who receive Him, Revelation 7:14 says we have been "washed…white in the blood of the Lamb."
Listen to Hebrews 9:28, "So Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him." The first appearing to bear sins, the sacrificial Lamb of God. Yet the second time, the Lion of Judah, to reward or judge all humanity based upon what they did with the love offering of God in Christ. Those who received Him are clothed in His righteousness. Those who rejected Him will face the result of their own unrighteousness.
All true, yet I believe that is not the primary point of verse 13 and our Savior's robe dipped in blood. Listen to this prophecy from Isaiah 63. "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.' Why is Your apparel red, and Your garments like the one who treads in the wine press? 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. For the day of vengeance was in My heart, and My year of redemption has come." (Isa. 63:1-4).
The symbolic blood on His robe then is not His own blood, but the blood of others. It is evidence of warfare and victory over His enemies.
His armies (v14)
When Christ returns the picture we now see in chapter 19 in one of bloodshed. Those with Him also clothed in white in verse 14 are described as His "armies."
3. The King's Actions
His righteous judgment and war (v11)
Verse 11 says He's coming to judge and wage war in perfect righteousness. That's who God is and that's what He expects of His creation.
He's said to violate one point of His commandments makes us lawbreakers. It goes without saying that we do not stand a chance. He will not lower the bar. Yet He has shown mercy and love in sending us Christ the first time. Jesus fully dealt with the sin problem for us on the cross. Yet for those who refuse His offering, they will be left on their own to face His righteous judgment.
He is faithful to fulfill what He promised. Isaiah 11:4, "But with righteousness He will judge the poor, and decide with fairness for the afflicted of the earth; and He will strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips He will slay the wicked." He is coming to wage war.
His Word (v15)
Also when He returns His word is compared in verse 15 to a "sharp sword" that comes from His mouth (cf. Rev. 1:16; 2:12). We are not talking about a literal sword that comes from His mouth, but rather a death-dealing pronouncement which goes forth like a sharp blade from Christ's lips.
His ruling (v15)
Verse 15 continues that with His word, He [will] strike down the nations and He will rule them with a rod of iron" (see Psalm 2).
His wrath (v15)
Verse 15, "He [will tread] the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty." Can we come up with a more frightening picture if how God's enemies will fare on that great day?
As grapes were thrown into a stone vat and then stomped until the juice came out the little holes in the bottom, God chose this visual as to how He will respond to those who reject Him. The Bible is not painting a grandfatherly type figure, the God portrayed in Hollywood and sadly most churches in America. Those who have rejected Christ (look at the verse for yourself) will face (verse 15) "the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty." One commentator said, "The building up of sin throughout history reaches its peak in the last generation of history and makes the wicked ripe for retributive harvest" (Beale, Revelation, p. 963).
His victory (v17-21)
And here is how this mighty battle is described. Beginning in verse 17, "Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and he cried out with a loud voice, saying to all the birds which fly in midheaven, 'Come, assemble for the great supper of God [clearly a contrast is presented here to those who enjoy the blessedness of the Marriage Supper of the Lamb and the birds that will feast at the Great Supper of God when He slays His enemies], so that you may eat the flesh of kings and the flesh of commanders and the flesh of mighty men and the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them and the flesh of all men, both free men and slaves, and small and great [no one is excluded].' And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies assembled to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army. [Interestingly nothing is said of the battle, only the result of the battle is now revealed.] And the beast was seized, and with him the false prophet who performed the signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image; these two were thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone. And the rest were killed with the sword which came from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse, and all the birds were filled with their flesh" (Rev. 19:17-21).
When Pastor Craig and I were flying to Armenia to teach nearly a hundred pastors last summer, we boarded a Russian airline. The plane was probably three times as long as this auditorium, but the seat space was not proportionate to the size of the plane. I noticed a couple open seats in an aisle by the emergency door and told Craig I was going to move to one of them. "You can't so that," was his response. I said, "Watch me." Within a couple minutes he came up and joined me.
Yet just when we thought we were clear, a young male Russian flight attendance came up to us and said, "Can I see your boarding passes?" I tried to negotiate, but shortly after I began my remarks seeking to justify our need to be in those seats he said with a straight face and deep Russian accent, "If you do not move, I will go get the captain."
I learned I wasn't working with an American. Within the Russian culture, rules are established and those rules are expected to be followed.
My take away from today is the fact that all of us have sinned against God. We deserve His judgment. But God is love and He has given us Christ for complete forgiveness. The Bible clearly explains this and clearly tells us the outcome. Love Jesus seen in your desire and ability to obey Him and you will be saved. Yet reject Jesus and you will be condemned. There are no negotiations with God. He is faithful and true to do as He promised. That gives great fear to those without Christ and great hope to those with Christ when we consider His Second Coming.