Part 148 - Revelation 19:11-21
The Messiah appears
One of the key words in Revelation is ‘open’. A door was opened (4: 1); the first seal (6: 1); the seventh seal (8:m 1); God’s temple (11: 19); the tabernacle (15: 5); and finally heaven (19: 11). And this is much the most important opening because it reveals the Messiah. So far throughout the book heaven and earth have been somewhat mixed up in the images presented. No more - apart from the short picture of the great white throne (20: 11 - 15) the action from now on is going to be on earth, a renewed, cleansed, revitalised earth to be sure, but definitely this earth on which we live.
The Messiah will come. Jesus will return.
After nearly 2000 years that is a little difficult to really grasp and hold on to. It is all too easy to glibly assert that we believe he will be back, but to really believe it in our heart of hearts is rather more difficult. His name has a very human ring to it - ‘King of kings and Lord of lords’ suggest earth, not heaven. It isn’t made any easier by the description we get here. Here are the first 7 verses of the picture John paints:
All the following verses seem a bit blood thirsty. There are some quite good reasons for that though. The picture is drawn by linking together Biblical references - many of which are rather bloody. The overall picture is drawn from Isaiah 63: 1 -4 of a warrior striding into view with his garments all spattered with blood, though a closer look shows that that was a martyr’s blood. The sword in the Messiah’s mouth is the rod of Isaiah 11: 4. The iron sceptre is from Psalm 2: 9. This is all imagery. It does show very clearly there is a judgement to come; that words are very important; that the judgement will be one based on Truth; that we, dressed in our white garments of purity are but onlookers; that there is such a thing as the wrath of God which is not to be forgotten.
John’s picture is very much in line with what Jesus said “blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God” (Luke 6: 20). The whole picture is about the way that the leaders of society are vulnerable when it comes to the day of judgment. They are closely associated with the dragon and the two beasts.
It is all too easy to think of the return of Jesus as a time for celebration with much joy and street parties etc.. Perhaps so, but perhaps not. It is not clear whether that moment will be entirely designed and carried out by the direct hand of God or whether we, humans, will have a hand in it with our nuclear weaponry. If the latter we have clearly moved much closer to the possibility in recent years!
Live as though Christ died and rose yesterday, is walking with us today, and will return tomorrow.
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