THE BATTLE THAT IS NOT
“As the deer pants for water, so my heart thirsts for you” (Psa. 42:12). Thank you Lord for your refreshing Word.
Read REVELATION 19:11-21
The Heavenly Warrior Defeats the Beast
11 I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. 12 His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. 13 He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. 14 The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. 15 Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.”[a] He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:
king of kings and lord of lords.
17 And I saw an angel standing in the sun, who cried in a loud voice to all the birds flying in midair, “Come, gather together for the great supper of God, 18 so that you may eat the flesh of kings, generals, and the mighty, of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, great and small.”
19 Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to wage war against the rider on the horse and his army. 20 But the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who had performed the signs on its behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped its image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. 21 The rest were killed with the sword coming out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh.
- Revelation 19:15 Psalm 2:9
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘… thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.’1 Praise God that he has already conquered in Jesus.
This is the beginning of a significant new section (the chapter divisions are misleading), marked by the unique phrase ‘I saw heaven standing open’ (v 1). Earlier, John went through an open door;2 now heaven itself is opened and is finally united with the earth. This is what we long for when we pray ‘Your kingdom come … on earth as in heaven’. Revelation is a sequence of visions, rather than a vision of a sequence of events, so there is no need to read an end- times chronology here. Rather, we have seven unnumbered visions, each beginning ‘I saw’.3 These visions don’t point to different stages of Jesus’ return, but to different aspects of what it means.
In the first vision, Jesus is contrasted sharply with the first horseman in chapter 6. Rather than conquering for gain, by might, Jesus comes as ‘King of Kings and Lord of Lords’ (see v 16) by right, the one who is entitled to rule since he shares the throne of God. His weapon is not an actual sword, but the sword from his mouth, which is the word of God’s truth. He comes to rule with justice and righteousness.
In the second vision we have the bizarre image of birds gorging on flesh (vs 18,21), which makes no sense (not least because the kings who are consumed reappear in the new Jerusalem4) until we realize that this language comes from Ezekiel 39:17, where it is a picture of God liberating his people from all oppression. In the third vision, there is a battle – which isn’t a battle! There is no description of struggle, because the victory was already won on the cross.5 Now, not only is evil defeated, but its origins (the beast and the false prophet) are destroyed.
Think of an area of your life where you are aware of struggle and conflict. How might you see that differently knowing that Jesus has already won the victory?
Mighty God, I am reminded that in the battle with sin and Satan, I fight from victory not for victory. Thank you, Lord Jesus, for winning the battle at the cross.
1 1 Cor 15:57 2 Rev 4:1,2 3 Rev 19:11,17,19; 20:1,4,11; 21:1 4 Rev 21:24 5 Rev 12:10
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