************ Sermon on Revelation 19:11-16 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on September 6, 2009
"Jesus is Gonna Win"
I want to start with a story I know I told you before – a story I mentioned when we were looking at the book of Daniel.
Topic: BibleDid you hear that? "Jesus is gonna win."
Subtopic: Understanding Revelation
Title: Jesus is gonna win
There was no gym on the seminary campus, so the seminarians played basketball in a nearby public school. The janitor, an old black man with white hair, would wait patiently until the seminarians had finished playing. Invariably he sat there reading his Bible. One day one of the students went up to him and inquired, "What are you reading?"
The man did not simply reply, "The Bible." Instead he answered, "The Book of Revelation."
With a bit of surprise the student asked, "The Book of Revelation? Do you understand it?"
"Oh yes," the man answered. "I understand it."
"You understand the Book of Revelation?! What does it mean?"
Very quietly that old janitor answered, "It means that Jesus is gonna win."
From Revelation 19:11 on, this is the message of the Revelation of Jesus Christ – that "Jesus is gonna win."
Let me remind you of what we have seen so far. In Revelation 12 we saw a pregnant woman – representing the people of God – about to give birth to the Messiah. We also saw the great red dragon – representing Satan – crouched in front of the woman waiting to devour the promised child. Instead, because of the death and resurrection of Christ, he is hurled out of heaven. He then attacks the church – the body of Christ – because that is his only way of attacking God and Christ and the Gospel.
In Revelation 13 we saw that the dragon uses two beasts to attack the church: the beast out of the sea who keeps dying and rising and persecutes the church; and, the beast out of the earth who performs signs and miracles and deceives the church.
Do you remember the question that was asked about the dragon and the beast by those who worshiped them? "Who is like the beast? Who can make war against him?" (Rev 13:4). The unstated answer: "No one. No one is like the beast. No one can stand against the beast. The beast has no equal." So, this is a boast. This is admiration and worship and honor. This is supposed to make God's people despair and give up on Jesus and forsake the Gospel.
Now look at the very first sentence of our Bible reading: "I saw heaven standing open ..." Prior to this, what has John seen standing open? In Revelation 4, John saw "a door standing open in heaven" (Rev 4:1). In Revelation 11, John saw God's temple standing open (Rev 11:19). Now, he sees heaven itself standing open. Do you realize what is happening? More and more is being opened. More and more is being revealed. Think of it this way: at first, John peered in through the open door; then, he entered in and was looking around the temple; now, all of heaven itself is revealed to him.
With heaven opened to him, what does John see? John sees God's answer to the boast, admiration, and worship of the dragon and the beast. "Who is like the beast?" God's answer in Revelation 19: Jesus! "Who can make war against him?" God's answer in Revelation 19: Jesus! In fact, John sees that Jesus is so far above the beast, that the beast does not stand a chance. In spite of the boasts about the dragon and beast, "Jesus is gonna win." In spite of the doubts and questions raised in the minds of God's people, "Jesus is gonna win." So, God's people – as they face persecution and deception – need not despair, they need not give up on Jesus, they need not forsake the Gospel. In fact, they should be filled with hope and confidence and optimism. They can cling to the Gospel and the Gospel promises.
"Jesus is gonna win." Why is there no doubt about this? Why is John so confident that "Jesus is gonna win"? We see four things in our Scripture reading that convinces us of this: Jesus' appearance, Jesus' names, Jesus' works, and Jesus' army.
I Jesus' Appearance
A "Jesus is gonna win." The first thing that convinces John of this and comforts us is Jesus' appearance.
Jesus rides a "white horse" (Rev 19:11). "What is the big deal?" I thought when I first read this. We always had big, huge, white Belgian horses on the farm as I was growing up; white horses bigger than the black Friesians some of our members have. Often, I rode those horses to and from the fields. And, my uncle used to dress up as St. Nick and appear at the door riding a white horse.
We need to look at the white horse from the perspective of Roman culture. It was the practice of triumphant military commanders – like Julius Caesar – to enter Rome riding on a white horse. In the Roman Empire, white horses were a symbol of victory, of triumphant military achievement.
With heaven standing open, what does John see? John sees Jesus riding on a white horse. What was the message this gave to the followers of the dragon and the beast? That Jesus – not the beast, not the dragon – was triumphant. That they were backing the wrong rider. Remember the picture of Babylon, the harlot, in Revelation 17? She was pictured as a woman riding the dragon. This woman used riches and money and materialism to seduce and allure people to follow the dragon. She was so successful that kings and peoples followed her. But now they all find out they backed the wrong rider – it is Jesus Who is on the white horse of victory.
The human writer of the Revelation also wrote the Gospel of John. Do you remember what Jesus was riding in the Gospel? He was riding a young donkey, a symbol of peace, as He entered Jerusalem to die. But now, now He is riding the white horse of victory.
B Notice what else we are told about Jesus' appearance: "His eyes are like blazing fire" (Rev 19:12). Remember the description of the glorified Christ in Revelation 1? John describes someone "like a son of man" – someone of glory and majesty and strength and power. John told us, "his eyes were like blazing fire" (Rev 1:14). Remember, too, the opening words of the letter to the church in Thyatira?
(Rev 2:18) These are the words of the Son of God, whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze.Three times this expression is used in the Revelation. His eyes are laser-like. They penetrate beneath the surface. They miss nothing and see everything. In other words, He knows everything, including the thoughts and intentions of every heart. Doesn't this sound like God? Isn't it God Who is omniscient, all-knowing and all-seeing? Meaning what in the context of Revelation 19? Meaning that the dragon and the beast and the harlot don't stand a chance because opposed to them is Almighty God Himself.
C The next detail of His appearance: "on his head are many crowns" (Rev 19:12). Are we to picture Jesus balancing dozens of crowns on His head while riding a horse? Of course not! This is apocalyptic literature, remember, in which meanings are communicated by way of symbols. So, what is going on here? What are we being told? Again, we need an understanding of that time and place and culture. According to the apocryphal book of 1 Maccabees, the Greek King, Ptolemy, wore two crowns on his head. Why? To signify his sovereignty over two kingdoms – the kingdom of Egypt and the kingdom of Asia. The rider of the white horse wears many crowns. Why? To signify His sovereignty over all kingdoms, all powers, all authorities, and all realms. To signify He is King over heaven and earth and everything in them.
D The final detail of His appearance: "He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood" (Rev 19:13). Is this the blood of the cross we are talking about? We are way past that point because the Lamb has now become a Lion, the Prince of Peace has now become a Mighty Warrior. So whose blood or what blood is in mind? Look at verse 15: "He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God" (Rev 19:15). What happens to those who stomp on grapes? Their feet, their ankles, their robes become splattered with juice. What happens to those who stomp on their enemies in the same way as wine makers stomp on their grapes? They become splattered with blood. That is what is in mind here.
II Jesus' Names
A "Jesus is gonna win." The second thing that convinces John of this and comforts us is Jesus' names.
Here is the first name: "Faithful and True" (Rev 19:11). This is actually a title. This title was used for Jesus in His letter to the church in Laodicea: He is "the faithful and true witness" (Rev 3:14). The words "faithful" and "true" basically mean the same thing – that Jesus is reliable, altogether trustworthy, and dependable. As I was thinking about this, it occurred to me I was thinking of this from man's point-of-view – that we can rely and trust and depend upon Jesus. But I was taking the wrong point-of-view; I have to look at this from God's point-of-view. As a witness, Jesus is faithful and true to God. And, as a judge, Jesus is faithful and true to God. He is faithful and true in carrying out God's judgments against the dragon, the beasts, and the unbelieving.
B The second name: "Word of God" (Rev 19:13). Sound familiar? It should, for this is how John starts off His Gospel:
(Jn 1:1-2,14) In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (2) He was with God in the beginning ... (14) The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.Why did the Word come? To make God known (Jn 1:18).
Why is the Word coming a second time? To make God known to a people who refuse to repent and believe. The first time, Jesus made God known as Savior. The second time, Jesus will make God known as Judge.
C The third name: "KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS" (Rev 19:16). This name is written on His robe and on His thigh – that is, on His robe where it covers His thigh. Don't forget, He is riding a white horse. So, right at eye level, horizontally across, so no one can miss it.
This title needs no explanation. This title reinforces the message of the many crowns – that He is sovereign.
D The fourth name will leave you frustrated; it left me frustrated: "He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself" (Rev 19:12). Many people try to guess at the name and tell us what it is. But the text is clear: "no one knows but he himself." So, it is no use guessing. And, it is extreme foolishness to declare to others what it is. It is like the time of the second coming whose day and hour is known only to God. Whatever the name, it is so holy, so majestic, so awesome, that us mortals are not worthy to hear it or to know it.
III Jesus' Works
A "Jesus is gonna win." The third thing that convinces John of this and comforts us is Jesus' works.
The first work is listed in verse 11: "With justice he judges and makes war" (Rev 19:11). In Revelation 16, the Lord God Almighty is praised two times for doing this very thing (Rev 16:5,7).
B The second work is found in verse 15: "Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations" (Rev 19:15). We saw a similar image of the glorified Christ in Revelation 1 (Rev 1:16). Notice, His weapon is not a knife; nor is it a small dagger; rather, His weapon is a sharp, broad, double-edged sword. Now, where do you normally find a sword? In the hand! Where is this sword? Coming out of His mouth. Meaning what? Meaning that the instrument used to destroy His enemies is the spoken Word. In mind here is the same Word that called all of creation into being. In mind here is the Word that said "Let there be light," and there was light (Gen 1:3). This is a Word of power. This is a Word that is instantly fulfilled.
C The third work is also found in verse 15: "He will rule them with an iron scepter" (Rev 19:15). This is a quote from Psalm 2, a Messianic psalm that compares the nations to pieces of pottery that are shattered to pieces.
D And, the fourth work is also found in verse 15: "He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty" (Rev 19:15). Do you remember how graphically this image was described at the end of Revelation 14?
(Rev 14:18-20) Still another angel, who had charge of the fire, came from the altar and called in a loud voice to him who had the sharp sickle, "Take your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of grapes from the earth's vine, because its grapes are ripe." (19) The angel swung his sickle on the earth, gathered its grapes and threw them into the great winepress of God's wrath. (20) They were trampled in the winepress outside the city, and blood flowed out of the press, rising as high as the horses' bridles for a distance of 1,600 stadia.Do wine grapes have any say at harvest time? Not only have they nothing to say, they are also powerless to react. They can only lay there and wait to be crushed. That is the way it is with the enemies of the cross.
IV Jesus' Army
A "Jesus is gonna win." The fourth thing that convinces John of this and comforts us is Jesus' army.
Listen to the words of verse 14: "The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean" (Rev 19:14).
Who is this army? Or, who is in this army? It is not angels. Because look at the description – "dressed in fine linen, white and clean" (Rev 19:14). Verses 7 and 8 make clear to us that it is the bride of Christ, the church, the people of God, who wears "fine linen, bright and clean" (Rev 19:8).
B What does this army do? Does it fight? Let me draw your attention to two obvious points. First, "he judges and makes war" (Rev 19:11); "out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations" (Rev 19:15); "He will rule them with an iron scepter" (Rev 19:15); "He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty" (Rev 19:15). He. He. He. He. He does it all. What do we do? Nothing. What does His army contribute? Nothing.
Second, I want you to notice we aren't wearing armor. And, His army possesses no weapons. There are no swords in our hands.
So why are we there? We are there to watch. And, then, to worship and praise and glorify and honor.
When the last battle is fought, Jesus will not appear by Himself but He will triumph by Himself.
"Jesus is gonna win." Jesus' appearance, Jesus' names, Jesus' works, and Jesus' army all tell us there is absolutely no doubt about this and offers us much comfort in this life and on this earth.
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