Our sermon today is titled: Now Comes the Lamb. Yet, in reaching this future moment He is not envisioned as a Lamb. Gone is the meekness, humility and self-sacrifice. Instead we see Him in power and glory as He is regally poised on His immaculate stallion.
His waiting has ended and His appointed moment has arrived. His destiny is opened before Him. Now His enemies will come to an end. They stare in defiance up at Him from the place called Armageddon. He looks down on them with His stately eyes, flickering with fire.
Who are we looking at?
#1: We are looking at the One who comes from heaven. “And I saw heaven standing open…” (v11). Heaven has opened itself up on earth and charging out is Jesus Christ. Antichrist came to power from below. Jesus Christ is coming in power from above. Unlike the concealment of His first coming, His second coming will be visible around the globe, “Look, He is coming with the clouds and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him, and all the peoples will mourn because of Him.” (Rev. 1:7). “For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be. “At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations will mourn. They will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory.” (Matthew 24:27, 30).
Jesus warned a lot of fake Christs would come, pretending to be Him. One distinguishing feature of this deception would be that Jesus was on the earth. “Many will come in my name claiming, “I am the Christ”, or, “So if anyone tells you “There he is, out in the desert,’ do not go out; or, ‘Here he is, in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it.” (Mth. 24:5, 26).
One way to tell if someone is teaching truth is where they say Jesus is right now. New Agers will say he is on the earth waiting for humanity to evolve in its collective consciousness enough for him to make his public appearance and aid our species into the next age: the New Age. People looking for Jesus on the earth are lied to or liars. The real Christains are watching heaven for the real Christ to appear. Gazing into the sky watching Jesus ascend to heaven the disciples were told by 2 angels, “Why do you stand there looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven , will come back in the same way you have seen Him go.” (Acts 1:11) Philippians 3:20 says, “But our citizenship is in heaven and we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ” When heaven is standing open with a rider on a white horse, the waiting will be over.
#2: We are looking at a Victor. “…and there before me was a white horse…” (v11) In ancient times there were no tanks and humvees. Armies rode horses. Kings rode magnificent horses. Terrifying Job with His power and wisdom God questioned him about the horse, “Do you give the horse his strength or clothe his neck with a flowing mane? Do you make him leap like a locust, striking terror with his proud snorting? He paws fiercely, rejoicing in his strength, and charges into the fray. He laughs at fear, afraid of nothing; he does not shy away from the sword. In frenzied excitement he eats up the ground; he cannot stand still when the trumpet sounds. At the blast of the trumpet he snorts “Aha!” He catches the scent of battle from afar, the shout of commanders and the battle cry.” The horse of that Revelation 19 moment will be equal to the dignity, the fierceness, and the glory of his Rider.
Riding a white horse was an unmistakable statement: The Rider is the Conqueror. The general of ancient Rome who won in battle in service to his empire would sit upon a magnificent white stallion while parading his army through the streets of Rome. In contrast you’ll remember Jesus at His first coming humbly rode into Jerusalem on a donkey to be crucified as the sacrifice for sins. But when He comes back it will be not on a meek, gentle donkey to bring peace, it will be on a heavenly stallion for waging war.
His purpose for war is plainly stated in the same verse, “There before me was a white horse, whose rider is called faithful and true. With justice he judges and makes war.” By His justice He has determined to destroy those who have rebelled against Him and by His justice He will descend to earth and do it Himself.
#3: We are looking at One who is called Faithful and True. “…whose rider is called Faithful and True…” (v11) Jesus is the “faithful witness” (1:5) and in 3:14 He says He is “the faithful and true witness.” It’s isn’t saying Jesus is described as “faithful and true”. It is saying those are His titles. What is the meaning of such titles? Who is Jesus acting as a witness for? Who is He acting as a witness to? The answer is that Jesus is God’s witness to man of who God is. Hebrews 1:3 says, “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being”. Jesus said, “If you have seen me you have seen the Father.” (John 14:9).
As God’s perfect representative to mankind Jesus faithfully and truly communicates God to man. This is done so perfectly that God has no need to correct, add to, or subtract from anything Jesus did or said. All the excellence and perfection of God is perfectly seen in Jesus. This is why there are no other ways to know God other than Jesus. He is the exclusive channel through which God has disclosed Himself to the world and He is the exclusive channel a person must go through to reach God and know Him (John 14:6). This is why He is faithful and true. He is faithful and true to God in His role of revealing GOd. In His first coming the love and grace of God was shown to sinners in Christ. But in the second coming the wrath of God towards evil is going to be perfectly shown in Jesus.
#4: We are seeing Someone who is Crowned. “…and on His head are many crowns…” (v12) The hymn goes: “Crown Him with many crowns, the Lamb upon His throne, Hark how the heavenly anthem drowns all music but its own”. No longer mocked with a crown of thorns, Jesus will return and His sacred head will be adorned with royal crowns. These crowns are diadems: the crowns of a majesty – the crowns of a ruler, of someone who has authority and power and rights to govern. It was a custom in the ancient world for the victorious king to take the losing kings crown and place it on His head. David did it with the crown of the vanquished Ammonite king in 2 Samuel 12. Jesus is wearing these crowns before battle which anticipates His certain victory over His enemies. He is the rightful ruler of their earthly domains and He is coming to take what is His.
But I want to press the crowns further. Back in chapter 5 Jesus was the only One with the right to take the scroll from God’s hand and execute the divine judgments against the earth because He alone has authority over the earth. Jesus said to His disciples before giving them the Great Commission, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me.” (Mth 28:18). I think the vision here of Jesus wearing “many crowns on His head” is all part of that New Testament expression of Jesus’ universal authority. That picture of Him wearing many crowns, as awkward as it may seem to try and visualize, is in John’s vision the glorious symbol of Jesus’ divine jurisdiction over many spheres. As the King of kings and Lord of lords, wherever you find a kingdom in heaven or on earth it may be governed by an angelic or human king respectively, but, ultimately that kingdom is under the sovereign eternal kingship of the Lord Jesus Christ. He rules everywhere over all. Paul was getting at this universal rule of Jesus when he said, “Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.” in heaven, on earth, under the earth. Every knee, every tongue. Many crowns. All of creation is subject to Jesus. There are no borders where Jesus’ rule comes to an end and someone else’s rule and authority begins. And now, finally, in God’s soveriegnly set time, Jesus is returning to exercise His Kingly rule over a world gone wild with Satan.
#5: We are looking at Someone who is bringing Revenge. Verse 13 says, “He has a robed dipped in blood…” Many great teachers and scholars say this is referring to the blood of His enemies, the result of His killing them. But, I think that idea is portrayed a few verses later with the winepress. Here though, I think the bloody robe of Jesus portrays something else. I believe its the blood of martyred saints. If it were enemies it would be all over His whole outfit, but, it says His robe specifically and not anything else. And did you notice it says it is “dipped”? That is the Greek word “Bapto”, from where we get our word baptism. Bapto means to dip, to immerse, to plunge. This robe is bloody before the battle, not after.
Why would Jesus dip His robe in the blood of the saints before going into battle? Because those who held to the word of God and lost their lives for it have as their Avenger the Lord Jesus Christ. The world who killed them will see their blood on the charging Avenger from heaven and know that retribution has come. Paul said in 2 Thessalonians 1:5-7 says, “…”
#6: We are looking at One with an Army. Verse 14 says, “The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean.” This army is not the Church. It is the angelic armies of heaven. It is the army of holy angels that fought Satan and the demons in Revelation 12. It includes the 12 legions of angels that Jesus could have called on to save Him when He was arrested (Mt. 26:53) It includes the vast number of chariots and horses of fire from heaven shown to Elisha’s servant (2 Kings 6:17).
We are not going to fight alongside Jesus at His second Coming. We are going to co-judge, and, we are going to co-rule, but we will not co-fight on the battlefield with Him. I know the army is wearing similar clothing as the Church is said to wear: fine linen, bright and clean (v.8). But angels are said to wear the same thing (15:6). More convincingly, the NT only mentions angels alongside Jesus at His second coming. Jesus said in Matthew 25:31, “When the Son of man comes in His glory and all the angels with Him He will sit on His throne in heavenly glory.” Second Thessalonians 1:7 says, “This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with powerful angels.” His angels are the harvesters of the earth who when they arrive in earth’s atmosphere with Jesus will go and snatch up all the condemned from around the world (Mt. Mt. 13:39, 41, 49; 24:31) and bring them to Jesus for judgment. This army is the angelic host of heaven. The loyal angels who did not rebel with Satan, but, who stood fast with the Lord God Almighty. Now they will
#7: We are looking at Someone who has a Sword. Verse 15 says, “Out of His mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations.” Then the verse quotes Psalm 2:9, “He will rule them with an iron scepter”. Verse 21 speaks of this sword also, “The rest of them were killed with the sword that came out of the mouth of the rider on the horse.”
A sword is a weapon. Jesus is armed with a sword and it will be His weapon at His Coming. Our first encounter with this weapon was back in 1:16, where John described what Jesus looked like in his vision “In his right hand he held 7 stars and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword…” Three times we are told this sword comes out of His mouth.
What is to be understood by this? Well, lets just clear up any notion that this is like some sword swallowing act like in a circus. Instead, the sword coming out of His mouth refers to the spoken word that comes from His mouth. The Bible refers to God’s word a sword many times. Hebrews 4:12 says, “The word of God is living and active, sharper than a two-edged sword…” Ephesians 6:17 says, “Take up the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Isaiah 49:2 says, “He made my mouth like a sharpened sword…” So it is not so much we have to imagine a sword coming out of His mouth, but that we are to be impressed with the divine power of His words to destroy His enemies. Just like He spoke and stilled the raging seas He will speak and still His raging enemies. Just like the soldiers fell backwards to the ground when they arrested Him and He said “I am He”, with one word all Antichrist’s soldiers will be leveled at Armageddon. Just like with one word He expelled demons from their human possessions, He will expel His enemies at His coming with just His voice. He has no need for weapons. His voice is His weapon of mass destruction, “For what mortal man has ever heard the voice of the living God speaking out of fire and survived?” (Dt. 5:26). The power of His voice is unequaled. Read Psalm 29.
#7: We are looking at Someone who has the Scepter. Verse 15 quotes Psalm 2:9 saying, “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” His rule as the righteous judge who will judge righteously – that is what’s in view here. That scepter is said to be iron, meaning His judgment will be unbending from the standard of Righteousness and uncompromising with those who have violated that righteousness. Bribery, intimidation, and won’t work with this Judge.
#8: We are looking at Someone Who is fierce in battle (v15), “He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty.” We sing The Battle Hymn of the Republic:
Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord;
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword;
His truth is marching on
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!…
In Isaiah 63:1-6 we find a related passage explicitly describing the return of the victorious Messiah from battle.
Sprayed with battle blood, leaving the field of contest littered with the corpses of His enemies, the Warrior-Christ returns with victory in hand.