Thursday, June 17, 2021

Revelation and Jesus, the True Ruler


In our last article, we took the time to establish how Jesus is the true king. In this week’s article, we will build upon this truth and explore how Jesus is the true ruler. To help us refresh our memories on this key concept, let us make a short stop in Revelation 19:11-16. “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.’ He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: King of Kings and Lord of Lords” (NIV). What an amazing image of Jesus. This portrayal of our Lord and Savior on His magnificent steed is placed right in the middle of the process where the destroyers of the earth are being undone one by one. But who are these destroyers of the earth and where is this piece of text within the greater span of Revelation?

When observing the structure of Revelation as a whole, it tends to reflect a pattern where a sandwiching format is often used. Among other smaller formatting patterns, Revelation scholar Craig Koester notes that the book of Revelation consists of 6 vision cycles that are book-ended by an introduction and conclusion on either side. Each of the 6 individual vision cycles within the book begin and end with the presence of God and/or John commenting on what he is seeing in the heavens. Yet this isn’t the only type of pattern you’ll find in this cryptic book of the Bible. There is another sandwich-like pattern that you’ll find in the book, namely the introduction of and the undoing of the destroyers of the earth (this takes place throughout the course of vision cycles 4,5 and 6).

Throughout the text, Revelation depicts three primary destroyers of the earth: first we have Satan (we see in chapter 12 that he is thrown from heaven to earth); second, the beast and false prophet (scholars typically combine these two together and these two are introduced in chapter 13); and third, Babylon the whore (introduced in chapter 17). In the order that these three destroyers are introduced, Koester also notes that they are disposed of in reverse order. First, Babylon the whore is undone by the beast in the same chapter that she is introduced, chapter 17. From here, the beast and false prophet are conquered next in chapter 19. Finally, Satan is thrown from earth into the abyss and lake of fire in chapter 20. So here in the excerpt of text from Revelation 19 where we are currently focusing, this places us right in the middle of the destroyers of the earth being addressed (The beast and false prophet are actually disposed of in the few verses right afterward in verses 17-21). In this moment of the Bible, we are witnessing one of the most powerful, awe inspiring, and quite frankly terrifying descriptions of the perfect power that Jesus Christ administers against the forces of evil. These destroyers of the earth are the most powerful forces that hell could possibly be sent to fight, yet they are absolutely decimated by our magnificent Lord.

But this stunning portrayal of our perfect and powerful Lord isn’t new to Revelation. If anything, Revelation perfectly encapsulates what has been shown throughout Scripture up until this point. Isaiah 11:3-4 says, “He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked” (NIV). In addition, Psalm 9:8-12 says, “He rules the world in righteousness and judges the peoples with equity. The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you. Sing the praises of the Lord, enthroned in Zion; proclaim among the nations what he has done. For he who avenges blood remembers; he does not ignore the cries of the afflicted” (NIV). 

Indeed, what we see here in Revelation 19 is a perfect representation of who the Messiah is described and depicted within the Old Testament. Jesus is the true fulfillment of the Scriptures, and we see Him to be the one true ruler who is able to execute such judgment in a truly objective and flawless manner (a feat that no person except the Son of God can do). Jesus is the only ruler with perfect judgment who we can place our faith and trust in).

Thursday, June 3, 2021

Robin Hood and Jesus, the True King


Disney’s 1973 film Robin Hood is a classic tale of adventure, romance, and dispensation of righteous judgment. The film depicts a state of England where the de facto king at the time (named Prince John) is unfairly taxing the people of Nottingham to such a high degree that their very livelihoods are severely affected. Later in the movie, we see Prince John raise the taxes so high that he imprisons the people of the town who are unable to pay their abhorrently high dues. Everyone understood that Prince John was ruling unfairly, and that it was only a matter of time before his brother, the real king (King Richard), would return and resume his rightful place on the throne. Yet even though the people only needed to wait Prince John out, life under his rule was still exceedingly difficult for the townspeople of Nottingham.

In the midst of this state of affairs, we see the dashing Robin Hood, branded as an enemy of the state because he was robbing from the rich and giving back to the poor. While there is a subplot of Robin Hood pursuing his childhood sweetheart Maid Marian throughout the course of the movie, the greater path of the story follows the unfair imprisonment of the townspeople of Nottingham (due to the high taxes) and Robin Hood’s efforts to free the townspeople from the grasp of Prince John. At the end of the movie, not only does King Richard return and ensure that his people remain free, but we are also informed that Prince John and his minions are placed under arrest and Robin Hood is pardoned.

If viewed through the lens of Christianity, one can’t help but notice some similarities between Prince John and the behavior of Satan. First, we see that Prince John is a temporary king who everyone recognizes to not be the ruler with true power (He may be in power right now, but everyone knows that it won’t be for long, once the real king returns). If we compare this to Satan, we know that the devil may have some power now over this earth, but it won’t be forever and his ability to rule will end the moment that the true king returns (2 Corinthians 4:4; Revelation chapters 19-20).

Second, Prince John employs his sheriff and snake advisor and other guards to do his bidding, while he runs away when disarmed and, like a big baby, sucks his thumb out of raging jealousy at the mention of the true king’s name. We see this in the spiritual realm too, where the devil has an army of demons and appointed generals to do the evil biddings of the army of darkness, while he too cowers and runs away at the very mention of the name of Jesus Christ (James 4 :7-8).

Third, the taxation policies of Prince John are impacting the townspeople so much that they are unable to live their lives in a way that the true king would want them to be able to live. Once again, this is quite like Satan’s treatment of us on how the shame, the guilt, and the torment that we are now experiencing at the hands of the devil is not God’s desire for how we are to live our lives (James 1:17-18). In other words, this Prince John is a fake, pseudo-king who tries to bring judgment upon the people of Nottingham when in reality he holds no true power and is destined to not only fail but will also be shackled and condemned himself.

What if we looked upon the devil like we view Prince John from the 1973 Disney film Robin Hood, bemused at his raging jealousy while knowing in the back of our minds that his reign will be ending soon? What if we saw today’s spiritual warfare from the lens of eternity, where we know the fake king is imprisoned and the throne of the true king will inevitably be restored? It is here on this concept where we will pause and reflect. Throughout the span of the next few articles, join us as we will meditate upon the perfect judgment of Jesus Christ and how no other person in the earthly or spiritual realm (not even Satan himself) can come close to the power of Jesus Christ.