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Revelation 19:11-21: The Victorious Lamb Print E-mail
Revelation
Sunday, 17 June 2012

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As a guy, I enjoy a good battle scene.  Normally they take place something like this: First, the two armies, or forces, prepare for the battle by gathering all of their troops and getting their weaponry ready for the coming conflict.  In books and movies, this part of the battle is normally very important because it gives you a sense of who you expect to win, or at least who the writer or director wants you think is going to win.  Likewise, an extended preparation builds anticipation for the actual battle.  Second, the battle takes place.  Often we are lead to believe that one side is going to win only to discover that the other side pulls from behind and wins in the end.  Third, the battle ends and it is clear who has won the day.  The victorious celebrate while the losers, if any are left alive, only hope to fight another day with a different outcome.  Men seem to like such scenes (which works out good since it is Father’s Day).  We like competition.  We understand the glory associated with fighting for what you believe in (even if it costs your life).  We normally enjoy a good battle scene.

In Revelation 19:11-21, John gives us a vision of what could be called the last battle (depending on how you take 20:7-10).  He has already prepared us for such a battle in 16:12-16, where we are told that the Dragon will gather together the kings of earth and assemble them for battle on the great day of God the Almighty.  Thus, we are expecting this conflict.  Yet, what John describes is not your classic battle scene.  The truth that he communicates does not fit the description we just gave for the typical battle scene.  There are some parallels, but the actual battle is different.  So then, what does he describe?  What does he tell us about this future battle?

The Preparation for the Battle (v. 11-19)

As we might expect, John begins with the preparations.  First, we see the preparations of God’s army.  In particular, we see the preparations of the Rider on the white horse.  The Rider is described in verses 11-13.  Look at those with me.  We will look in a moment at the different names that are given to the Rider, but here I want to focus on His description.  He is mounted on a white horse, symbolizing purity and victory and battle.  His eyes are like a flame of fire, symbolizing that nothing is hidden from Him and that judgment is coming.  He has many diadems on His head.  This contrasts the diadems on the dragon and the beast.  The dragon has seven (12:3) and the beast has ten (13:1), but the Lamb has many.  They may have some control, some authority, but He has more.  He has a robe dipped in blood, which could either refer to His blood that was shed for sinners at the cross, or the actual blood of His enemies.  Although it is hard to be certain, it seems to me to be referring to the blood that He shed to be the conquering Lamb.  The victory that is described in this passage was won at the cross, where Jesus bled and died in our place.  He conquered (and we conquer) through His blood.

The Rider assembles His army in verse 14.  Look at that verse with me.  This army is probably made up of both angels and saints who are clothed in fine linen, white and pure.  The host of heaven is ready for the battle, following their leader to victory.

The Rider’s weapon is described in verse 15.  Look at that with me.  We have seen the sharp sword coming from His mouth mentioned before (1:16).  It symbolizes His word of judgment for all of His enemies.  He is no weak Savior.  He is not a god to be trifled with.  He is strong and fierce.  It was important for the seven churches to know this (and us as well).

So then, what is this Rider going to do?  In verse 11b we are told: in righteousness he judges and makes war.  He is coming to defeat His enemies, all the enemies of Heaven.  He will do this in righteousness.  He is no unjust tyrant.  He is the just Judge.  In verse 15b we are told: He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty.  Again, John uses the imagery of the winepress to symbolize the terror of this coming Day of wrath.  Some people believe that Jesus is too loving and too forgiving to punish sinners.  They think that the God of wrath is left behind in the Old Testament.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  It is a lie from the enemy.  God will judge sinners.  Jesus will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God.  You do not want to be numbered among God’s enemies on this Day.

John mentions four names for the Rider.  First, He is Faithful and True.  Jesus will do all that He has said He will do.  He will keep all of His promises.  Second, He has a name that no one knows but himself.  Do not think that we know all that there is to be known about Jesus.  There is more to be revealed and there is more than we could ever know.  He is greater than we could ever comprehend, which is why we will never get bored in eternity.  His greatness and grandeur know no end!  Third, He is The Word of God.  John called Jesus The Word in his Gospel (John 1).  He is the Word who took on flesh and revealed God to us.  And the Word who came is the Word who is coming again.  The Word who made God known is coming to judge God’s enemies and save God’s people once and for all.  The Word of God is coming.  Fourth, He is King of kings and Lord of lords.  Will Caesar be able to stand against Him on this Day?  Will any ruler or any king or any lord?  No, for He is greater than all the kings and lords of history.  They are but men and He is God.  Their reign is limited and temporary.  His is unlimited and eternal.  He alone is the King over all other kings and the Lord over all other lords. 

Before His enemies are gathered in verse 19, we are told of the angel gathering all the birds in verses 17-18.  Look at those verses with me.  Again the angel is not identified, so we cannot say whether this is a new angel or one that has been mentioned before.  But this does not hinder our understanding of what the angel says.  He is inviting the birds to the great supper of God.  This is the second ‘supper’ mentioned in Revelation 19.  The first was the marriage supper of the Lamb (v. 9).  The angel invites the birds to a second supper.  They are invited to come and feast on the flesh of God’s enemies who will be killed in the battle.  In other words, even before the battle, victory is certain.  One of my commentators writes: “The message is gruesome and powerful, guaranteeing before the battle has been joined that the end result is certain.” 1  God’s enemies are going to lose.  The birds will feast on their flesh when the battle is over.

Yet, still, the enemy prepares themselves.  Look at verse 19.  We have seen the description of the Rider and His army and now we see the description of their opposition.  The beast has deceived the kings of earth to fight with him.  They are there to make war against the Rider and against the army that has gathered with him.  Other than that, we are not told much.  John devotes just a few words to the description of the enemy.  Even in this you get the sense that the battle might not be what was expected.  The enemy has been described in other places and we have noted the fierce description that they receive.  Yet, here, just a verse.  They seemed strong and terrible in other places (and indeed they are), but here we see that they are no match for the Rider. 

The Battle (v. 20-21)

So then, the preparations have been made.  Both sides are present.  The only thing left is the battle itself, which is what we read of in verses 20-21.  Look at those with me.  Wow, that did not seem like much.  The beast and the false prophet are captured and thrown into the lake of fire.  Then those who followed them are defeated by the sword.  And just as the angel had foretold, the birds come and feast on the flesh of God’s enemies.

So then, what can we say about this battle?  I believe it is what we call a ‘blowout.’  When one team totally crushes another team in sports, people say things like: ‘It was over before it even started,’ ‘It was over before the tip, kick-off, first pitch.’  I think that is the scene here.  It could be that John is simply summarizing what will take place as he does in other places.  But even if he is doing that, it seems that he is still communicating the utter futility of trying to battle against God.  The beast, for all of his strength and authority and fierceness, never even has a chance.  How do you fight against the Creator of the Universe?  What strategy can you devise to catch the One who knows everything off guard?  What strength can you muster to hurt the One who is all-powerful?  What hope can you have for defeating God?  The obvious answer is absolutely none.  There is no strategy, no strength, and no hope for the enemies of God.  They will be decisively defeated on that Day.  The battle is already decided and they don’t stand a chance.

What I find interesting about this ‘battle scene’ is that John spends more time describing Christ than he does the battle.  Although the battle is significant, it only pales in comparison to the glory of Christ.  He is what this passage (and all of the Bible) is about.  He is the focus.  He is the center of attention.  He gets all the glory.  On that Day, when He appears in all His splendor, the battle will be a foregone conclusion, an afterthought, just another way for Him to reveal His power and glory over all.

Once again we are confronted with this question: ‘If this is how things are going to end, then how should that impact the way we live now?’  Let me close with a couple of thoughts.  If you are here and you have not repented and believed in Jesus Christ as your Savior, then I plead with you to do so today.  The Bible teaches that God has created you to live for His glory, but you have turned from that and gone your own way.  You have sinned against God and chosen your own path.  The terrible reality is that we have seen this morning where that path will lead, namely death and destruction.  All of your rebellion will get you only punishment on that Day.  But the glorious good news is that God has sent His Son Jesus to come and die for sinners just like you and me.  He lived a perfect life, died on the cross, and was raised again on the third day.  And as John makes clear, He is coming back to gather His people and defeat all His enemies.  Turn from your sins and trust in Christ today.  He is worthy of all your devotion! 

If you are here and are a follower of Christ, then let me just encourage you to rest secure in the victorious Lamb.  He is ‘Faithful and True’, ‘The Word of God’, ‘The King of kings and Lord of lords.’  His plans will not be thwarted and His victory will never be challenged.  Rest secure in His future victory and risk it all for His present glory.  Fight for the One who will never be defeated!  Amen.  

1 Grant R. Osborne, Revelation BECNT (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2002), p. 687.

~ William Marshall ~

Last Updated ( Sunday, 24 June 2012 )

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