“Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war.” – Rev 19:11 (ESV)
Here comes the groom.
Our Lord and Savior, the long-awaited Redeemer and Son of God will return at last to sweep across our broken world. Here for the first time John sees Jesus wearing many diadems – the crowns the beast and the dragon had worn – as he rightfully takes lordship over the many nations. He leads the army of heaven and strikes down the nations with the sword of his mouth judging and making war in righteousness.
It saddens me to think of the countless number of leaders, groups, and nations who have taken it upon themselves to be God’s army in the world. Our past is full of them. Alexander the Great was considered by some to be a divine ruler and the Greeks worshiped Caesar as a son of God who would march across the world in conquest. Even today, in Africa, there are terrorist groups calling themselves ‘God’s army’. In our world today, with as much confusion as there is politically, economically, and spiritually across the world… how can we understand a Savior who judges and makes war in righteousness?
First, let us remember what has happened up to this point. The world has already received judgment through a series of plagues, each one focusing more and more specifically on the problem of sin. Some religions teach that the world will simply be destroyed in the end, in the battle between good and evil. Our bible teaches differently though. God created this world and in Christ, He died to redeem it, not to destroy it. Rather than imagining the world as a failed experiment, about to be ended, we should see it more as a precious jewel that has become dirty and dull – one that should have reflected God’s nature of love in a multitude of ways, but cannot presently do so in its present, filthy state. God does not intend to throw the whole thing away… he intends to wash away the filth.
Our trouble is that often the filth of sin sticks to us, and even more often, we, to sin. We hang on to our wretchedness with our lives because we see it as part of ourselves… we cannot imagine life without sin. We cannot imagine life as we were made to live it. Christ has offered his blood to wash it away and let us live that life as conquerors of the sinful nature, but we have to choose it. If we choose our sin over God, we may find ourselves washed away with it.
Christ is not marching over a land flowing with milk and honey, but rather a wasteland, devastated by famine, earthquakes, pestilence, and death and He claims it as His rightful inheritance as the Son of God – not to get something out of it, but because He is the only one who can truly redeem it. Jesus is the only one who can heal the brokenness in the land and truly bring the Kingdom of Heaven to earth, which is why He leads the great army Himself. Only He, is the Faithful Shepherd of God’s flock and the True King of Kings. It is a small thing to take weapons and soldiers into the world and rule by fear and force. Our Lord attacks sin at its source, capturing the devil, the beast, and the false prophet(s), and any who put themselves in opposition to Him, but does not create casualties of bystanders. The powerful words of His mouth that created the world do not miss their targets. Our God is strong. He is able. He is coming back.