The King Returns

Nostalgia is in. Each week there seems to be another remake from the 80s and 90s. Top Gun, Ghostbusters, Star Trek, and Karate Kid are only a few of the ever-growing genre ‘90s Nostalgia’ that is beginning to dominate the screen. When I saw Roseanne come back, I knew we had officially run out of new ideas. Although it appears Hollywood is trying to capitalize on the children of the 80s, retelling and remaking stories is part of who we are as human beings. Classic stories are retold for every generation.

One of my favorite stories is that of Robin Hood. Robin Hood and his band of merry men steal from the rich and give to the poor. The people are oppressed under the false reign of Prince John and the vile Sheriff of Nottingham while King Richard is off fighting during the Crusades. The Adventures of Robin Hood was penned and illustrated by Howard Pyle in 1883. Since the book was published, there have been scores of adaptations to his book: The Adventures of Robin Hood starring Errol Flynn in 1938, the Disney adaption of Robin Hood as a fox in 1973, the Prince of Thieves staring Kevin Costner in 1991, and of course Mel Brooks’ Robin Hood: Men in Tights in 1993. Why has this tale been told so many times? Why has Robin Hood continued in American lore?

Robin Hood continues to be retold because the story reveals something true about every generation. There is oppression of a wicked earthly ruler whose evil plans are carried out by his wicked subjects. In Robin Hood, Prince John is the wicked, greedy ruler who enlists the Sheriff of Nottingham to oppress and dominate the people of England. It is only Robin Hood and the band of merry men that fight against this evil oppression as they wait for the return of the King. All will be straightened out, as the cartoon version states, when King Richard returns to rule. Everyone is waiting for the King. Now if you have seen any of the versions, who do you identify yourself with: Robin Hood, Little John, Friar Tuck or Maid Marian? Hardly, any of us would want to identify with Prince John or the Sheriff of Nottingham, but most people would probably be marked with the enemy then with those waiting the return of the King.

The Apostle John writes Revelation not in sharing a fictional tale, but the future of the world. God’s people will be oppressed by a wicked ruler and his sinister accomplice until the return of the King. And as the King returns he will straightened everything out. He will judge the world and all those who stand with evil and he will vindicate and rescue his people to enjoy his reign forever and ever. The question is, “What will happen to us on the King’s Return?” Will we be vindicated or judged? Will we experience peace or the King’s wrath? Let no one be mistaken, the King is coming, what will be your lot when he does?

The King Returns in Glory

            Revelation 17-18 tell of God judging the Beast/Babylon for leading people to deny God and live for themselves. Revelation 19 begins with a celebration of God’s people and an invitation to the King’s banquet, the marriage supper of the Lamb, but there is also another banquet coming. The King returns in glorious fashion,

11 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. 12 His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. 13 He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. 14 And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. 15 From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.[1]

On his first triumphal procession, the Lord Jesus mounted a humble donkey, but here he rides upon a powerful, white horse. The white horse is a symbol that the King is returning to make war.

            There are several titles given to Jesus on his return. Jesus is first called the Faithful and the True. Jesus has been shown throughout this book of being faithful to God. His called the faithful witness in Revelation 1:5 and is the example for the church in Revelation 3:14. A key theme of Revelation is how God is always faithful in his judgments. Revelation is a book of God’s judgment against sin and sinners. And we know that every one of his judgments are accurate and deserving. He makes no mistakes. This is especially important here as he begins the final judgment.

            King Jesus has eyes like a flame of fire. His vision is perfect. He sees and knows all. His eyes are the reason his judgment is true. Lady Justice that stands on the Supreme Court holds her balance scales with a blindfold around her eyes. The true judge does not have a blindfold, because he has seen everything perfectly. Pause and think on that a moment. Jesus sees everything. He sees your pleading for the salvation of your grandchildren. He sees the countless loads of laundry. He sees every dollar given and every kind word uttered. And yet he sees every lustful thought, every greedy action, every unkind word, all griping and all behind closes doors. At the end of history, when the King returns he will straightened it all out perfectly with his judgment. For he is the true King.

He will be wearing many diadems on his head for he has every right to wear them. The diadems worn by the Dragon in Revelation 12:3 and by the Beast in Revelation 13:1. These are the only three places diadems are used in the New Testament clearly showing that there are false kings and one true King. Prince John loved to wear King Richard crown, but was an imposter. The Dragon and the Beast are mere imposters and will face justice for their imitation.

Jesus will also have a name written that no one knows but himself. There has been much speculation on this name. Some believe it to be the new name of Yahweh or Jesus is Lord, the name that will be exclaimed upon his return in Philippians 2:11. Or it could be a name only revealed to the saints who live with him in glory. There are three titles of the Jesus in this passage that we know: Faithful and True, the Word of God, and the King of kings and the Lord of lords.

In beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. Jesus Christ is the incarnate Word of God. The Word of God which is cherished by believers will be the undoing of the wicked. God will judge by his Word. It is amazing how something so precious to believers could also be so terrifying to non-Christians. Friend, if you are here and are not a Christian, we want you to know how precious the Word of God is to us. The Word of God is our anchor and are hope. We put all our hope and trust in what the Word of God says about salvation and judgment. Jesus is the Word of God. John 1:14, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” Jesus, the Eternal Word, became flesh to save us. He clothed himself in humanity to rescued humanity. The Word of God spoke the three words that give you and I hope today, “It is finished.” He said those words, breathed his last and died. And three days later God fulfilled those words by raising him from the dead. “It is finished,” means our salvation is accomplished. We have hope because the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. For Christians, the Word of God is our most precious possession. It can be for you as well. Hear the Word of God, turn to Jesus Christ and live. Repent of your sins and put your faith in Christ.

The King Returns in Judgment

 All of Revelation 19 speaks of God’s glory in judgment. The Word of God is the tool that brings God’s judgment. The Lord fights with this Word. Revelation 19:13, “He is clothes in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God.” Isaiah 63:1-7 gives us the background for the robe dipped in blood. Some say it is the blood of the martyrs, a common theme in Revelation, but it is more accurately, the blood of the enemies of God. Isaiah 63:1-7,

Who is this who comes from Edom,

in crimsoned garments from Bozrah,

he who is splendid in his apparel,

marching in the greatness of his strength?

“It is I, speaking in righteousness,

mighty to save.”

2 Why is your apparel red,

and your garments like his who treads in the winepress?

3 “I have trodden the winepress alone,

and from the peoples no one was with me;

I trod them in my anger

and trampled them in my wrath;

their lifeblood spattered on my garments,

and stained all my apparel.

4 For the day of vengeance was in my heart,

and my year of redemption had come.

5 I looked, but there was no one to help;

I was appalled, but there was no one to uphold;

so my own arm brought me salvation,

and my wrath upheld me.

6 I trampled down the peoples in my anger;

I made them drunk in my wrath,

and I poured out their lifeblood on the earth.” [2]

The King returns to make war on his enemies. His enemies are all those who deny Jesus as Lord. As much as this text paints a glorious return for the saints, it does the opposite for those who reject Jesus. Revelation 19:14-16,

14 And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. 15 From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.

Jesus fulfills Psalm 2 and the dreams of Daniel. He will strike down the nations and rule with power. God is justice as God is love. He will pour his love on his saints and his wrath on his enemies.

            Jesus is rarely pictured this way in our society. We are trained to view Jesus as meek and mild. We see him in his love on the cross and his compassion in forgiveness. And is Jesus all those things? A 100% yes. But that does not tell the entire story. Jesus is also the glorious, supreme Sovereign, the King of all kings and the Lord of all lords. There is no one higher than him. He has been given the name above every name and the one day every knee will bow. Westerners are not drawn to this picture of Jesus because we do not like have any authority over us. We must submit to his Word.  Submission and authority will always be under attack, but if lose God’s authority over us, we lose identity and drift into idolatry.

            Last year a prominent pastor in the South said to his congregation, “So I need you to listen really carefully and the reason is this — perhaps you were taught, as I was taught, ‘Jesus love me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.’ That is where our trouble began.” He questioned the validity of a Bible-based Christianity. He later said, “If the Bible is the foundation of your faith, here’s the problem: it is all or nothing. Christianity becomes a fragile, house of cards religion.[3]” A pastor of thousands who raised in a Southern Baptist Church, is telling his church that the Bible cannot be trusted and does not have authority over our lives. The problem is that the Word of God, the King of kings and the Lord of lords begs to differ. There is one Sovereign, one Lord, one Word that speaks over us.

            If we desire to view Jesus only as our Savior, but struggle to view him as our ever-present Lord, we are in trouble. We will start to coddle sin and drift from Christ. We must hold a biblically balance view of Christ. Jesus is our sacrificial lamb who died for our sins on the cross. Jesus is also the risen Lord who will return in glorious judgment. We cannot on one Jesus without the other. He is the same. Our world wants to view Jesus as the King Richard returning to straightened everything out as if we are the oppressed people when the reality is that the world is the Sheriff of Nottingham and Prince John who will face the wrath of the King.

            The world wants a weak Christ, but it shall one get one. I remember having a debate in my junior year US history class on who made more of a difference Chief Justice John Marshall or Andrew Jackson. Marshall made judgments showing that Native Americans had sovereignty over their own lands. Jackson said of Marshall’s decision, “JOHN MARSHALL HAS MADE HIS DECISION; NOW LET HIM ENFORCE IT.”[4]Andrew Jackson simply ignored the judgment of the Supreme Court. It is not enough to make judgment, but you must have the power to enforce it.

The King Returns in Power

            The Lord Jesus did not come merely with judgment but with the power to bring it to pass. Revelation 19:17-21,

17 Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and with a loud voice he called to all the birds that fly directly overhead, “Come, gather for the great supper of God, 18 to eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all men, both free and slave, both small and great.” 19 And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war against him who was sitting on the horse and against his army. 20 And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had done the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur. 21 And the rest were slain by the sword that came from the mouth of him who was sitting on the horse, and all the birds were gorged with their flesh.

One of the greatest acts of disrespect in the ancient world was not burying the dead. In Revelation 11, the beast left the dead bodies of the saints throughout the great city, calling on the nations to rejoice over the death of the saints, before God raised them from the dead. God returns on the nations what they inflicted on the saints. It is a gruesome picture of judgment and a sharp contrast of the marriage Supper of the Lamb.

            At the return of the King, you will either be invited to the great marriage supper of the Lamb or you will become the great supper of God. No one who stands against the Lord will survive. And this battle scene would not make it in Hollywood. Most war movies find their climax in the last great battle scene. Everything in the movie is pointing to the final battle between the hero and the villain. And although that is what looks like is about to happen in Revelation 19, it is over before it begins. The beast and the kings of earth gather their armies to make war against the Messiah and his people. The Beast and the False prophet were captured and thrown alive into the lake of fire. The bible pictures hell as eternal, conscious torment. John points this out as showing that they were thrown in alive.

And the rest, who stood against the Lord, were slain by his word. What appeared to be a great battle was over in an instant with the breath of the Lord. 2 Thessalonians 2:8, “And then the lawless will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming.” How encouraging should this be for the saints? Should this not shift our perspective on evil in our day? We are trained to magnify evil and its power. And there is much evil in our day, but it will not stand against God. Nothing can stand against God. God is our Mighty Fortress,

And though this world, with devils filled,
Should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed
His truth to triumph through us:
The Prince of Darkness grim,
We tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure,
For lo! his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.

One little word shall fell him. Beloved, God’s word is strong. He does not merely come with judgments, but with the power to enforce them. He destroys evil with his Word.

As he will do at the end of time, so he will do here. Beloved, there is power in the Word of God. The Word of God is not bound. The Word of God can free you from sin. The Word of God can free you from slavery, from depression, from anxiety, from lust, from greed, from pain, from anger, from jealous, from anything. The Word of God speaks truth against all lies. We want to be a people of the Book because the power in the Word of God. How will God grow our church? He will grow us as he has always grown his people: through his word.

If there is that much power in the Word, why do we not share it? The word has the power to change any heart. It had the power to change your heart. It had the power to change the legalist murdering Paul’s heart. It had the power to change the self-righteous greedy Matthew heart. It had the power to change, but oh beloved, it has the power to change. Never doubt the power of the Word of God. The Word of God became flesh and dwelt among us. The Word of God brought salvation. The Word of God was silenced in his trial until he spoke those powerful three words. It is finished. There is power in the word of God.

Will you allow the Word of God to have power in your life today? Will you submit to the Word of God? Will you allow the Word of God to shape your view of Jesus as Savior and the ever-present Lord? Do not fear, evil does not stand a chance against the Word of God. Let us Trust God’s Word to live God’s Way for God’s Glory.

 

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Re 19:11–16). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[2] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Is 63:1–6). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[3] https://albertmohler.com/2016/09/26/bible-tells-biblical-authority-denied/ accessed 4.8.2018

[4] https://sustainatlanta.com/2015/04/02/remembering-the-time-andrew-jackson-decided-to-ignore-the-supreme-court-in-the-name-of-georgias-right-to-cherokee-land/ accessed 4.8.2018