Jesus speaks and countless people die. This is in stark contrast to the Jesus we might perceive in the gospels. In the gospels Jesus speaks and brings healing and tenderness. However, Jesus is God and God is just and loving. The sword in Jesus’ mouth is a sign of judgement and justice and Jesus slays the rebellious peoples of earth in the name of justice. In America, in some states, the death penalty for crime is still carried out. As innocent people are found on death row the death penalty is losing its place. I grew up in Britain which had cast aside the death penalty years ago. One result of this is that issuing or decreeing death as a punishment is seen as increasingly draconian. There is nothing remedial in this decree. However, there is a difference between punishment and remedial discipline. Punishment is the act of justice that crresponds with the severity of the crime. The Bible teaches in the book of Genesis that the value of a human life is precious. The precious payment then for a human life is death. Of course, this becomes complicated in a corrupted and inexact system, but the value of human life is clear: a life is worth a life. Our modern system tries to redeem the offender and teaches that the life of the deceased is worth the efforts at reforming the offender or a life lived behind bars (which is often shortened for one reason or another). It is strange to me that cultures that glory over vigilante justice movies where criminals are killed by superheroes or by distraught parents does not carry those values over into the justice system.
God’s holiness and goodness demand justice. When Jesus comes at the head of an army he brings justice. It will be carnage. I can not rejoice in such a truth now. It seems that when I am in God’s presence I will rejoice because it is right and good. Such is our distance from God.
1After this I heard what sounded like the roar of a great multitude in heaven shouting:
Salvation and glory and power belong to our God,
2 for true and just are his judgments.
He has condemned the great prostitute
who corrupted the earth by her adulteries.
He has avenged on her the blood of his servants.”
3And again they shouted:
The smoke from her goes up for ever and ever.”
4The twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God, who was seated on the throne. And they cried:
5Then a voice came from the throne, saying:
“Praise our God,
all you his servants,
you who fear him,
both great and small!”
6Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting:
For our Lord God Almighty reigns.
7 Let us rejoice and be glad
and give him glory!
For the wedding of the Lamb has come,
and his bride has made herself ready.
8 Fine linen, bright and clean,
was given her to wear.”
(Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God’s holy people.)
9Then the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” And he added, “These are the true words of God.”
10At this I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “Don’t do that! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers and sisters who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For it is the Spirit of prophecy who bears testimony to Jesus.”
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. 16On 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, 18so 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.
- What two entities have been defeated by the end of this chapter?
- Why would early Christians clearly see the justice in God’s enemies being torn to pieces?
- Why would many today find Jesus’ triumph in no way glorious or compelling?
- How could you develop a more accurate view of sin in your life?
- How would a more accurate view of sin lead to a stronger view of grace?