“From Lowly Infant to Conquering Warrior King”
Rev. Matthew C. McCraw
Henderson’s First Baptist Church, Henderson KY
As Bro. Rich said, Bro. Todd is out of town enjoying some time with his extended family. I’m so thankful to be sharing God’s Word with you today.
Well, we have just wrapped-up the holiday season and we have started the new year.
Many of you may expect me to bring you a sermon this morning with fifteen steps you can take to having a better 2015; I’m not going to do that.
Today, I’d like to bring a sermon to you that is sort of a follow-up to the Christmas story.
Just two weeks ago we celebrated the birth of Jesus, and His coming into our world. Today I’d like for us to turn our attention to the second coming of Jesus into our world.
This morning we will be looking at Revelation 19:11-16 (page 832 in the church Bible).
The passage this morning shows the fulfillment of the single greatest promise for those who are in Christ: the return of Jesus to reign on earth.
Just as Jesus’ first coming was not a fairy tale, but was an actual event, so also the second coming of Jesus will be a literal event and will actually be fulfilled at a future date.
Let me make clear that my intention in speaking on this topic this morning is not to discuss times and theories concerning Jesus’ return, or the rapture, or the tribulation, or the millennium, or anything like that.
If you would like a thorough overview of this, let me recommend to you Bro. Todd’s sermon series on the book of Revelation. You can find it on our website at www.fbchenderson.org under Messages and Media, Expository Sermons, Past Series.
As a matter of fact, Bro. Todd preached this very passage nearly nine years ago to the date. The title of his sermon was “Christ Our Conquering King.”
If there is any similarity between our two sermons, it’s because we both preached the same passage, not because I copied him 🙂
Let’s stand together as we read this passage. I’m going to read all of it and then we’ll pray.
Read Revelation 19:11-16
11 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. 12 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. 13 He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. 15 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. 16 And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.
You may be seated.
As we reflect on this passage this morning, I want to point out three characteristics that Jesus possesses at His return.
First, we see that the returning Christ is magnificent.
The Returning Christ is Magnificent (11-12).
First of all, let’s notice that John says that he saw heaven opened.
The idea of heaven opening is a clear indication that this is from God. This is not merely an earthly event. This is a magnificent occurrence.
The first trait we see of Jesus here is that He is riding on a white horse.
Illustration: When I first read this passage, I pictured a scene from one of my favorite movie series: The Lord of the Rings. In the second movie, the Two Towers, Gandolf the wizard appears at the Battle of Helms Deep, against the evil orc army. He is clothed in white and riding a white horse. He is accompanied by a host of soldiers on horses and he rides down victoriously against the forces of evil. It’s really a great movie. I believe J.R.R. Tolkien, the author of the Lord of the Rings, had this passage in mind when he created Gandolf.
However, Jesus’ return is a bit different.
First of all, the white horse is probably a symbol of triumph and victory.
Military and political leaders of the ancient world would parade in white clothing and often on white horses as a sign and celebration of victory.
Jesus comes out on a white horse with an army dressed in white. This is usually a sign of post-victory celebration, not pre-victory battle. More on this later.
Notice the description of Jesus in His magnificence:
He is faithful.
He is true.
As He makes war and judges, He does so righteously.
This is no ordinary captain. This is Jesus, the pure, holy Son of God; and God Himself.
John, next describes some of Jesus’ physical attributes.
John says the eyes of Jesus are like a flame of fire.
This description can refer to both His righteous discernment and His fierce judgment.
Additionally, He has many crowns on His head.
As you think of these many crowns, it’s kind of silly to imagine someone wearing so many crowns on one head.
This idea of many crowns probably refers to dominion over many different realms. Remember, later in this passage, Jesus is called, “King of Kings and Lord of Lords.”
These crowns remind us that Jesus is supreme over all; there is nothing outside of His authority and rule.
This passage also states that Jesus has a name that no one knew except Himself.
Although we do have many different names throughout the Bible, and even in this passage, to describe Jesus, He is ultimately indescribable. His true identity and name is not fully known to humans.
This adds to Jesus’ magnificence. He is no ordinary military leader. He is God in flesh, coming to judge evildoers.
First, we see that the returning Christ is magnificent.
Next, we see that the returning Christ is mighty.
The Returning Christ is Mighty (13-15).
Look again at Revelation 19:13-15
13 He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. 15 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.
Jesus is not only magnificent, He is mighty.
We see that His robe is dipped in blood.
Whose blood is this?
We really have three options: It is the blood of Jesus, the blood of the saints that have already died, or the blood of the enemies of God.
In the context of this passage, it seems that this blood is the blood of the enemies of God.
The blood makes it clear that this time, Jesus did not come meekly. He came to bring war. Jesus is coming to judge.
We also see that He is called, “The Word of God.”
As you will recall, Jesus is also called, “The Word” in John 1 (In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God).
In John 1 the idea was of a living creator and sustainer of all things. In this passage, the term likely also refers to a sense of God’s authority.
Jesus is coming as the Word of God with authority, righteousness, truth, and faithfulness.
Jesus does not come alone; He is followed by an army.
This army is described as the armies in heaven.
These heavenly armies are almost certainly angels, but they may also be accompanied with some of the saints in heaven.
This has to be quite the scene, and an intimating one to be sure.
To add to the imagery, John states that out of the mouth of Jesus comes a sword.
This sword is a symbol of nobility, justice, and strength.
The Word of God, Jesus, has a sword coming out of His mouth. Similarly, the book of Hebrews describes the Word of God, the Bible, as sharper than any two-edged sword in Hebrews 4:12. I don’t believe that this similarity is by accident. Jesus, the Word of God, and the Bible, are both authoritative, powerful, effective, and true.
Jesus will strike the nations with this sword. The one true Word of God will wreak havoc on evildoers.
Next, Jesus is said to wield a rod of iron to rule the nations.
This rod of iron, again, symbolizes power and authority.
Jesus will reign as king with might.
Finally, Jesus is described as the One who treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of God.
These two earlier descriptions of Jesus ruling with a sword and iron rod could perhaps be seen as mere demonstrations of power if they were taken out of context.
However, this part of the passage makes it clear that Jesus is out for blood.
A winepress is what was used to squeeze grapes under tremendous pressure until the juice poured out of a spout. In the same manner, Jesus will spill the blood of His enemies as they are squeezed under the pressure of the wrath of God.
There will be great lose of life at this time. Jesus is not messing around.
Each of these events demonstrate the awful destruction that will take place when Jesus returns as conquering King.
Jesus does not take sin lightly. He will judge harshly and fully.
Consider the similar imagery found in other biblical passages:
Read Revelation 14:17-20
17 Then another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle. 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.” 19 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. 20 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.
Read Isaiah 63:3
“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.
Jesus’ full might is on display. He will be the Conquering Warrior King. His victory is sure.
Notice that the battle has not yet happened, yet, Jesus’ robe is already stained with blood and He is already riding on a white horse. Victory is surely His for the taking.
Jesus, the Word of God, simply speaks and victory is secured. This is an absolute and utter defeat for the forces of evil.
We should be careful not to think that Jesus is unjust in His destruction of sinners. Notice that verse 11 says, “…in righteousness He judges and makes war.”
We often think negatively of leaders who rule with an iron fist or who are tough militarily.
We must be cautious to remember that God the Son is holy and just. His actions here are not only justified, they are necessary.
Jesus does not kill with an evil heart; He kills out of righteous judgment.
The best way to understand this is to see Jesus as both the one who judges the world, and the one who carries out the punishment.
This is not just the justice of God; we must understand that the righteousness of God is at stake here. He must judge sin because He is holy and righteous.
First we see that the returning Christ is magnificent.
Second, we see that the returning Christ is mighty.
Finally, we see that the returning Christ is majestic.
The Returning Christ is Majestic (16).
Read Revelation 19:16
16 And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.
In this passage, we see the majesty of the Lord on full display. He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords!
Everything described so far in this passage is just, right, and fair because Christ is the holy King of all!
God owes allegiance to no one and demands allegiance from all.
It’s at this moment that I want to pause and make note of the contrasts between Jesus’ birth and crucifixion, and His return as described here:
Bro. Todd speaks to this issue in his sermon on this passage. He states: “We have noted before that the way Jesus is coming the second time is very different from the way Jesus came the first time. The first time Jesus came He came in meekness. The second time Jesus comes He’s coming in majesty. The first time Jesus came He came in humility. The second time Jesus comes He’s coming in victory. When Jesus came the first time He carried a cross on His back. When Jesus comes again He’ll wear a crown on His head. The first time Jesus came He was judged by the world. But when He comes again He will come as Judge over the world.”
Consider Jesus at His birth:
At His birth Jesus traveled to Bethlehem vulnerably in the womb of a lowly young Jewish couple. At His return, Jesus will arrive in splendor and brilliance on a white horse.
At his birth, Jesus was powerless; a small baby in a stable. At His return, Jesus will be seated on a white horse in power.
Consider Jesus at His crucifixion.
At His arrest and crucifixion, Jesus was subject to the high priest, the governor, and the king. At His return, He rules as King of kings and Lord of lords.
Jesus willingly allowed Himself to be manhandled, bound, beaten, humiliated, and crucified. At His return, Jesus will be victor, He will display His strength, He will spill the blood of others.
Jesus’ own blood was spilled on the cross; here, He spills the blood of His enemies.
At his arrest, Jesus rebuked Peter for violence and says that He could have called twelve legions of angels. At His return, Jesus indeed arrives with a host of angels.
Jesus was indeed a newborn baby, lying in a manger. He is also the Conquering Warrior King.
Listen to how John finishes this section:
Read Revelation 19:17-21
17 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, 18 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.” 19 And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army. 20 Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone. 21 And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse. And all the birds were filled with their flesh.
As we wrap up this morning, I want us to reflect upon what this means for us.
Some of you may be a little turned off by this sermon. I understand that. Most of us don’t like to think about death and destruction.
However, remember that this is the display of the holiness and righteousness of God Almighty.
You might ask, “Why do we have to hear about judgment? Why can’t we hear about God’s love?”
You see, it’s only in understanding God’s wrath that we can understand God’s love.
We will all face the judgment of God. Think about that for a second.
Each and every one of us will suffer the wrath of God. The question is whether Jesus will absorb the wrath on our behalf, or will He administer the judgment to us.
Read Romans 5:8
8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
God’s love is seen in the fact that although we deserve the horrific judgment described in this passage, He instead offers forgiveness and reconciliation with Him.
What great love! Jesus says, I will take the punishment of God’s wrath! That is love!
God offers His grace instead of His judgment.
Illustration: When my son Jeremiah sins against me or his mother, I would rather extend my grace to him than my judgement. But make no mistake, if he continues to reject my authority over his life it’s one or the other; grace or consequences.
In the same manner, God promises grace to those who turn to Him and judgment to those who reject Him.
G.P.S. (Good Practical Stuff)
As we conclude, here are three practical things for you to think about this week:
1. Fear the return of Christ for yourself.
Don’t be mistaken. God’s wrath is real.
If you have not given your life to Jesus, you have every reason to fear His return.
I’m certainly not trying to intentionally scare anyone. Parents, you may want to explain God’s wrath more to your children later today.
However, God’s judgment is not a fairly tale.
You cannot be good enough to escape God’s wrath. You cannot read your Bible enough, you cannot come to church enough, you cannot pray enough. You must repent and turn to Him for His grace.
2. Fear the return of Christ for others.
Let this passage motivate you to tell others about Jesus.
If we know that Christ’s return is coming (and it is) we must have compassion to spread God’s message of hope and escape from sin to world.
The time is ticking away. He will return. We must be motivated to take the gospel to our family, our neighbors, and every stretch of the globe.
3. Take comfort in the return of Christ.
If you are in Jesus, take comfort in the fact that Jesus will return and make all things right. He will judge evil.
Paul commands us in Romans 12:19, “Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.”
This should bring us comfort. God is in control.
Evil will be dealt with. ISIS will be dealt with. Racism will be dealt with. The death of millions of innocent babies will be dealt with. Sin will be abolished.
Take comfort in Christ’s return.
Look with anticipation to the return of our King. King of kings and Lord of lords.
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