The Revelation of Jesus Christ - Part 1

Tom Pennington • Selected Scriptures

  • 2007-06-24 PM
  • Systematic Theology
  • Sermons

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We call the last book of our Bible, Revelation. And that's where I'd like for us to turn tonight: the book of Revelation. More exactly, it's called "The Revelation." And the New American Standard, you noticed, at the beginning of this book adds "of John." "The Revelation of John." But really that's not accurate. If you'll notice in Revelation 1:1, it is, in fact, "The Revelation of Jesus Christ." The book of "The Revelation" is not so much a revelation of end-time events as it is a revelation of a person, the Lord Jesus Christ. The Greek word for "revelation" has been transliterated into English. It's the word "apocalypse". The Greek word is "apokalupsis". We use the English word "apocalypse" to refer to some approaching cataclysm or some great disaster. You've heard it used that way: it's apocalyptic, or it's the apocalypse, as if there's some great disaster. But that's not what the Greek word means.

The Greek word "apokalupsis" means "to reveal, to uncover, to unveil, to fully disclose." You see, when you look at The Revelation of Jesus Christ (as this final book of the Bible is called), it's not so much an unveiling of prophecy, it's not an unveiling of anti-Christ. Nor is it an unveiling even of God's judgment, but in reality it is an unveiling of the person of Jesus Christ. At its heart, when it's used of this end-time event, it's all about Him.

You see it in a number of texts. In 1 Corinthians 1:7, we're told to wait eagerly the revelation, the unveiling, of our Lord Jesus Christ. First Peter 1:7, your faith is going to be tested, but it will then be found to result to the praise and glory and honor of our God at the unveiling, the revelation, the full disclosure, of Jesus Christ. First Peter 1:13, "Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace (That's an interesting ex-expression, isn't it?) fix your hope ... on the grace [that will] be brought to you [when there's a full disclosure, an unveiling] of Jesus Christ." In First Peter 4:13 "To the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory, you may rejoice with exultation." And then, of course, in Revelation 1:1: "The Revelation [the unveiling, the disclosure] of Jesus Christ, which God gave [to] Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must soon take place; and He ... communicated it ... to His [Apostle] John."

So, tonight we come to the climax of this great book. The book of Revelation is at its heart and soul an unveiling, a disclosure of Jesus Christ. We also call that Revelation of Jesus Christ the Second Coming, an event called the Second Coming. Now, as we begin our study of the Second Coming tonight, or The Revelation of Jesus Christ, let me make sure you understand the distinctions between what we have called the Rapture (and we studied a number of weeks ago) and the Second Coming. Let me give you some specific characteristics of the Rapture. If you look at the passages where the Rapture's described (And we studied these together.), you'll find that in those passages there is no hint of judgment. There is also no warning signs that precede that event in the context where those passages are. You'll find that there is a Rapture, a snatching away, of living believers and a resurrection of dead believers. It occurs before the Tribulation (as we discovered in our study). At the Rapture, Christ comes in the air for His saints for the purpose of taking the saints to heaven.

When you look instead at The Revelation, or the Second Coming, you find that there is a heavy emphasis on judgment, as we'll see even tonight when we turn to Revelation 19. You also discover that dramatic signs precede The Revelation of Christ, or the Second Coming. There is no mention in these contexts of the Rapture of living believers. Nor is there any mention in these contexts of the resurrection of dead believers. It occurs after the Tribulation. Christ, in this case, instead of coming in the air, returns to the earth; and instead of coming for His saints, He comes with His saints. And the purpose is to defeat His enemies and to establish His kingdom.

Now, look at those two comparisons side by side, and you can see that it's very difficult, if not impossible, to reconcile all of those issues into one event. Correlating the various passages leads the Bible student to the conclusion that they are two distinct, albeit related, events. And we want to look at the second of these tonight. If you weren't here when we looked at the Rapture, I encourage you to listen (go online and listen or get the CD) so you can compare it with what we'll discuss tonight. But this is a separate event that comes at the end of that seven-year tribulation period that we have discussed together.

Now, as a foundation to our study, the book of Revelation gives us an outline of end-time events. You have in chapters 4 through 18 the events of the Tribulation. In chapters 4 and 5 we're caught up into heaven, where there in chapter 5 we see the Lamb breaking the seals, and later it's described what happens as each of those seals is broken. He takes the book in chapter 5, and then He breaks the seals in subsequent chapters. All the way through to chapter 18, you have the destruction of what is called the great harlot, Babylon. Chapters 19 - 22 are (what one writer has called), the last things. This is the very end of the end.

Breaking down those chapters, those last-things chapters, in chapter 19 we have the Second Coming; in chapter 20:1-10, the Millennium and the events surrounding it; 20:11-15, you have the last judgment, or the Great White Throne Judgment as it's sometimes called; and 21:1-22:5, you have the description of the new heavens and the new earth. We're going to study all of those things together in coming weeks. But we're going to find ourselves, often, in these last chapters of Revelation; because here, as you can see, the last things are unfolded.

Now I want us to use, then, Revelation 19 as the focus of our study of the Second Coming. We could outline chapter 19 like this: verses 1-10 is a prelude to the Second Coming; verses 11-16 is the revelation of the King; and verses 17-21, the victory of the King. We're, Lord willing, look at the first two of those tonight; and we'll look at the final one (that is, the victory of the King), if the Lord wills, next Sunday. So, let's begin then, let's look first at the prelude to the Second Coming in the first ten verses of Revelation 19.

Notice the chapter begins "After these things." That is obviously intended to be a very clear time reference. That means the events of chapter 19 occur following the destruction of Babylon in chapter 17 and 18; that occurs at the end of the Tribulation period. At the end of that terrible, seven-year period, Babylon is destroyed, and these events then transpire.

In these ten verses, all heaven, saints and angels, join in a mighty voice of praise. This has been called heaven's hallelujah chorus. It's because the word "hallelujah", the Hebrew word "hallelujah" occurs four times in the New Testament, and all four times it occurs here in these ten verses. The word "hallelujah"We use it sometimes in music; make sure you understand what it means. It comes from two Hebrew words. It's a compound word. One word is "hallel", the Hebrew word for "praise". The other word is "Yah), which is a shortened form of God's personal name, Yahweh. This often occurs at the beginning of Psalms, where it is usually translated "praise Yahweh" or "praise the Lord." You see that in a number of Psalms, including Psalm 106, Psalm 111, 112, 113, 117, 135, and so forth. You could see that many of the Psalms express, begin with, the expression of "hallelujah". That is a Hebrew word that means "praise Yahweh," and together those two words form an imperative, a command. There is a command in this passage to offer praise to Yahweh. The question is, why?

What constitutes the reason for heaven breaking out in this hallelujah chorus? Well, this chorus contains several reasons to praise God. Several realities are about to occur, and those are laid out in these verses. In verse 1, salvation, ultimate and final salvation for God's people, is about to become a reality. The ultimate salvation that has been promised to us all from the beginning, from the fall of man, from the redemption of Adam and Eve through the coming of the Son of God, through the Prophets of the Old Testament and the Apostles of the New, will come to an ultimate, final fruition. It's about to happen, and so heaven breaks out in a hallelujah chorus.

There's a second reason though. In verses 2-5, notice it says,

"'Hallelujah! ... BECAUSE HIS JUDGMENTS ARE TRUE AND RIGHTEOUS; for He has judged the great harlot who was corrupting the earth with her immorality, and HE HAS AVENGED THE BLOOD OF HIS BOND-SERVANTS ON HER.' And a second time they said, 'Hallelujah! HER SMOKE RISES UP FOR EVER AND EVER.' And [then] the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures (probably the cherubim) [fall] … down and [worship] … God who sits on the throne saying, 'Amen. Hallelujah!' And a voice came from the throne, saying, 'Give praise to our God, all you His bond-servants, you who fear Him, the small and the great.'"

Here you have God being praised in a hallelujah chorus for justice on His enemies. Now, let's just be honest. That seems strange to us, doesn't it? We haven't (we haven't) sung a song recently that praises God for raining down justice on His enemies. We don't often think of praising God for this reason, for bringing judgment on the wicked. In fact, many Christians don't even want to hear about God's wrath and judgment, but that will be part of the music of praise in heaven. But it's really not so much praise that mankind is experiencing that judgment as it is a praise of the moral excellence of God that demands holiness of His creatures. It's an expression of who He is and His justice to deal with violations of it.

There's a third reason for praise in this passage found in verse 6. It's for the sovereignty of God over His universe. "Then I heard something like the voice of a great multitude and like the sound of many waters and like the sound of [great] peals of thunder, saying, 'Hallelujah! [Praise Yahweh!] For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns.'"

This is really amazing, because here is the fulfillment of the prayer that saints have prayed since our Lord was upon the earth. Every time we lift upon our mouths those words "Your kingdom come," this is what we're praying for. For thousands of years we've prayed that as believers, and it's about to be answered. "Your kingdom come." Notice how John tries to describe the sound of praise in heaven. He uses a lot of likes. He's trying to give us some picture of what this sound is really like. It's like "the voice of a great multitude." Imagine a huge choir. It's like the voice of crashing waves of the sea. It's like thunder. We understand that here in North Texas. Together, those images form a picture of what this great heavenly hallelujah chorus is like.

And what are they saying? "The Almighty, reigns." Although Christ has not yet returned to establish His reign, it's as if He stands on the threshold. This is what scholars call the "prophetic present." It's so certain, that we can speak of it as if it's already occurring, because our Lord is about to make it a reality.

There's a fourth reason for heaven's praise in this great song. It's communion of the Lord with His bride, the communion of the Lord with His bride. Really found in verses 7-10 but concentrated in verses 7 and 8, it's the coming marriage of the Lamb. The final reason for praise is that there's going to be a marriage. There's going to be a wedding. There's going to be a feast. The Bridegroom is identified in verse seven: it's the Lamb. It's the marriage of the Lamb. "And His bride [or His wife] has made herself ready." The bride is described in verse 8: "It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints." So, the bride is made up of the saints. So, you have the Lamb as the Bridegroom, the saints as the bride.

Now some would say, dispensationalists would hold, that this is the church only; that is, those believers from Pentecost (that is, from Acts 2) until the Rapture. But we can't be absolutely certain of that, and here's why. At some point the concept of bride is expanded to include not only the church but also the redeemed of all ages. You can see that in Revelation 21. John MacArthur, in his commentary on Revelation, puts it this way:

The entire heavenly chorus is encouraged to rejoice and be glad and give glory to Him, because all the preparation is complete and the marriage of the Lamb has come. Betrothed in eternity past, presented in the Father's house since the Rapture, the church is now ready for the wedding ceremony to begin. It will coincide with the start of the millennial kingdom and stretch throughout that thousand-year period, finally consummated in the new heavens and the new earth. [Listen to what he writes.] In the new heavens and the new earth, the bride concept is expanded to include not only the church but also the redeemed of all ages as the New Jerusalem becomes the bridal city.

So, we don't know exactly when the bride begins to include all the redeemed of all the ages. This may be a reference to the church only, or it may be a reference to all the redeemed. But regardless, there is a wedding coming.

Now you have to understand a little bit about the times. In the first century a Jewish marriage consisted of three parts or three stages. There was first of all the betrothal or the negotiation period. Usually this happened when the children were young. They (the parents) decided who would marry whom, and the decision was made, and a deal was struck.

Then the second stage was the procession and the wedding. The groom would go to the bride's home when he came of age. He would go to the bride's home and take the bride back to his parent's home where an addition would have been added for the new couple onto the family home, and there the marriage would have been consummated.

The third aspect of the Jewish marriage was the wedding feast, which was quite a party. It could last up to seven days. (You know, I must say, with three daughters, I'm grateful they don't last seven days anymore.)

The same imagery is used of Christ and the church. When we look at those aspects of the Jewish wedding (a Jewish marriage), and compare them to Christ and the church, the betrothal for the church occurred either in eternity past when (by sovereign choice) the church was betrothed to Christ, or possibly at the cross where the dowry was paid. The procession and the wedding is the Rapture, when Christ comes for His bride and takes her back to the Father's house, the house He's been preparing for two thousand years. And the wedding feast likely occurs during the Millennium. When you look at a number of passages, there's great feasting imagery associated with the kingdom in a number of passages.

In fact, turn to Luke 12. Let me show you one of those passages, just to show you the sort of feasting motif that's associated with the kingdom, the millennial period. Luke 12:35,

"Be dressed in readiness, and keep your lamps lit. Be like men who are waiting for their master when he returns from the wedding feast, so that they may immediately open the door to him when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those slaves whom the master will find on the alert when He comes; ... he will gird himself to serve, and have them recline at the table, and will come up and wait on them."

It's a picture of the fact that this'll be a most unusual wedding feast, because the Bridegroom, the Lamb, will do the serving. There are a number of other passages I've noted here for you where that kingdom includes feasting, so it's very likely we're talking about the millennial period when the wedding feast occurs.

Now, all of that's prelude to the great event. That brings us to the central event of this passage: the revelation of the King. It's found in verses 11-back in Revelation 19:11-16.

David MacLeod, in his excellent book on the last things (He calls it The Seven Last Things, based on this passage.) he says, "It is often forgotten that the Second Coming of Christ is not just the aberrant fascination of end-time junkies and apocalyptic doomsayers, it is the historic faith of the Christian church." He's exactly right. This is central to the Christian faith: that Jesus not only came once, but that He will come again. The testimony of the early church speaks in a united voice affirming the reality of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

The Epistle of Barnabas, written in the first century somewhere between seventy and a hundred A.D., says, "When His Son comes, He will destroy the wicked one, He will judge the godless, and He will change the sun and moon and the starts, and then He will truly rest." Justin Martyr, (writing) lived in the 100 to a 165 A.D., wrote this,

"Here to, how He was to ascend into heaven according to prophecy, and how He should come again out of heaven with glory." [Irenaeus, 130 to 200 A.D.] said,

When this anti-Christ shall have devastated all things in this world, he will reign for three years and six months [the second half of the Tribulation period] and sit in the temple in Jerusalem; [He was a pre- millennialist.] and then the Lord will come from heaven in the clouds, in the glory of the Father, sending this man and those who follow him into the lake of fire.

Every major creed of the Christian church refers to the reality of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. I could give you an entire list. I read every one of them this week, or that is, this section of every one of them, and they all affirm this great reality of the Second Coming.

Our Lord Himself made it very clear in His ministry. In Matthew 24:30, He says, "And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and ... all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the SON OF MAN COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF THE SKY with power and great glory." Matthew 25:31, "But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne." And through His angel He spoke these words in Acts 1. You remember the story of the ascension of Christ?

… After [Jesus] … had said these things, [Acts 1:9] He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them. They also said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven."

Scripture couldn't be clearer. Our Lord couldn't've been clearer. The early church couldn't've been clearer. Our Lord is coming in great glory to the earth. It will happen.

Now I want us to look at how this dramatic event will unfold in Revelation 19. There are a number of reasons that the Scripture identifies for Christ's Second Coming, but the focus of this passage in Revelation 19 is the defeat of evil, of all of those who have rebelled against God and against His rule. This is the one moment of drama to which the entire book of Revelation has been directing, because this is the revelation of Jesus Christ. This is the unveiling. This is the full disclosure of all that He is. Look in verse 11 of Revelation 19. "And I saw heaven opened …" [Before a door was opened in heaven; this time heaven itself opens.] "and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it…." Out of the heavens that have opened comes a rider on a white horse. 25.37

Now to us that doesn't mean much. It sounds outdated and antiquated. But to someone living in the Roman Empire, like John, the image would've been absolutely clear—and immediately. It's a warrior. It is a warrior on horseback. When a Roman general had been victorious on the battlefield, he returned to Rome in a dramatic spectacle, in a victory parade. He would ride a white war-horse up the Via Sacra to Capitoline Hill, rather, to the Temple of Jupiter. That's the picture behind Jesus' ride here. And what a stark contrast, isn't it, to His first coming? He came in the humility of a manger. He entered the city of Jerusalem at the Triumphal Entry on the back of a donkey. But Jesus is coming again. And the next time He comes, it will not be in humility and gentleness, it will be as a warrior, a man of war, who comes to utterly destroy His enemies.

Listen to John's magnificent description of the glorified Christ coming to conquer. Verse 11, he describes Him as "Faithful and True;" that is, He's trustworthy. He will keep His word and He will return. He is faithful and true. All of us have read the story of General Douglas MacArthur during the Great World War who promised the people of the Pacific that he would return. Well Jesus promised, and He absolutely will return, and what guarantees it is that He is faithful and true. You can depend on it, He'll keep His word. He goes on to describe Him this way. He says in verse 11 that "in righteousness He judges and wages war." Righteousness—the bottom line is, righteousness means everybody gets what they deserve.

MacLeod relates the story of a teacher at a West African Bible college by the name of Gregory Fisher. One of his students (as they were studying prophecy together), one of his students asked about the "shout." You know, we've heard about "the shout" that occurs? "What is He going to shout?" the student asked. And Fisher thought about it for a moment. And with a little smile on his face, turning to seriousness, he said,

He's going to shout enough. Enough. Enough starvation, enough suffering, enough terror, enough death, enough indignity, enough hopelessness, enough sickness and disease. [MacLeod goes on to add] Enough violence, enough infidelity, enough corruption, enough dishonesty, enough perversion, enough infidelity in marriage, enough disobedience to parents, enough abuse of children, enough cheating, enough blasphemy, enough irreverence toward God. It is enough.

Christ will make war with His enemies, and He will do it in righteousness. Everyone will get exactly what they deserve.

Notice verse 12, the description goes on, "His eyes are a flame of fire." There's a powerful picture in those words. It means nothing is hidden from His sight. He can stare right through all pretense and all hypocrisy. He sees things as they really are. It's the piercing of a laser, as it were, looking into every human heart, seeing the reality of who we are. His eyes are as a flame of fire. He sees every secret sin and every public crime, and He understands them all perfectly. "On His head [John says] are many diadems." Many jewels, indicating that He's won many battles, that He's conquered many kingdoms. He goes on in verse 12 to say, "And He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself."

Now there're many guesses about what this name might be. But folks, read it again. "No one knows." Now, it's very possible that it's not so much a name itself. This may be referring to the fact that we can never fully comprehend all that's true about Jesus Christ. A name in the biblical terminology spoke of one's character. Often a person was named in keeping with their character, who they were. So, this may be simply a description of the reality that we can never plumb the depths of the character of Jesus Christ. As one writer put it, "The human mind cannot grasp the depth of Christ's being." As John MacArthur in his commentary puts it, "There are unfathomable mysteries in the Godhead that even glorified saints will be unable to grasp." He has a name, a character, which we can never fully plumb.

Verse 13 says, "He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood." It's an interesting description. This can't be from the Battle of Armageddon which is going to come shortly. That battle has not yet been fought. He emerges from heaven with a "robe dipped in blood." Some have suggested that perhaps this is the blood of the cross where He shed His blood for the forgiveness of sins. I don't think that's the picture at all here though. The image is directly borrowed from Isaiah 63, from the Old Testament. And if you go back to Isaiah 63, you see that it is a picture of the Messiah's robes stained by the blood of His enemies. It points back to the many enemies that Christ has already defeated. He comes to this great, final war, not as one writer says, "a raw recruit" but as a veteran in battle. It was Jesus Christ, you remember, who defeated all of Israel's enemies in the Old Testament.

You remember Joshua wandered from camp one day, and he comes upon someone dressed in military garb, and he asks, who are you for? And He describes Himself as the Captain of the Lord's armies. It is a preincarnate appearance of Jesus Christ. And Jesus said listen, Joshua, you're not the one winning this battle, I am. So, Jesus comes in a robe dipped in blood, because it reminds us that He has beaten many enemies. He's a veteran. And of course, He won His greatest battle at the cross.

In fact, look at Colossians 2. Listen to how Paul describes Jesus' military conquest at the cross. Colossians 2 (speaking of what Jesus accomplished in His death). He nailed our certificate of debt to the cross, verse 15, "When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him." Jesus put the enemies of God, Satan and all of his hierarchy, to flight at the cross. He comes in a "robe dipped in blood."

"His name is called The Word of God." Only John uses this title for Christ. He does it in his gospel; he does it again in the first epistle. It means that Jesus is the final and full revelation of God. That's who He is. "His name is called The Word of God": He is God's last word to man. Isn't that what the writer of Hebrews said? Hebrews 1:1, says,

God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, and through whom ... He made the world. And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and [He is the one who] upholds all things by the word of His power. When He made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.

Look at chapter 2 of Hebrews, verse 1,

For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard…. Verse 2, For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty, how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? [As] … it was ... first spoken [to us] through the Lord…. [Christ was God's final word. He is the Word of God, the final revelation of all that God is and wants to tell us.]

Verse 14 describes the army that comes with Christ. Notice verse 14. "And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following [this w.rrior] on white horses." You say, are they really white horses? What does the verse say? "On white horses." Now, is it possible that's figurative language? Well, yeah, it's possible that's figurative language, but it certainly doesn't appear so in the context. And so, for our purposes, the best way for us to take it is just as it reads. It's not so unthinkable.

Now, who are these people? Well, Scripture describes two primary groups that will accompany Christ when He comes in glory. The first has to do with angels. You see it in Matthew 24:31; again in Matthew 25:31; in the parallel passage in Mark 8; and in 2 Thessalonians 1:7, that says, He will come with His angels in "flaming fire," taking vengeance on those who have set themselves against Him, "who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus" Christ. But also, believers accompany Christ when He returns: Colossians 3:4; 1 Thessalonians 3:13.

So, who is it then makes up this army? Well look at the description in verse 14 and compare that with the description of the saints back in verse 8. It's almost identical. So, it seems to me that here we're probably talking about believers as this army that will accompany Christ. Now some of you, that makes you wince. The thought of being involved in an army, fighting with Satan and his crowd, may scare you. Don't worry. We won't do any fighting. We don't wear any armor, as you can see in this portrait. We don't carry any weapons. We're just there to watch. We are still dressed for the celebration. We are on our way to the wedding feast. Christ does all the fighting.

Look at verses 15 and 16. These verses reference four Old Testament passages that predicted the Messiah, and look at how it describes Him. It says, "From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations." This comes from two passages, Isaiah 11:4 and Isaiah 49:2. Christ will defeat His enemies with a word. He spoke the universe into being, and with a word He will utterly destroy His enemies.

You get just a little picture of the power of the word of Christ in the garden. You remember the scene? The soldiers come to arrest Christ. And when they come looking for Christ in Gethsemane, He asks who it is they're seeking. And they answered, Jesus of Nazareth. And John records that Jesus said, "I am He." That's all He said, "I am He." And what happened? The Gospel writer tells us that the guard, in total, falls to the ground when Jesus says, "I am He." That gives you just a touch of the power of His word. Imagine what it will be like when Christ comes, not as the meek Savior but as a mighty warrior. How powerful will His word be then? "From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations." His weapon will be His mere command, and it will be so. John goes on to say in verse 15, "He will rule them with a rod of iron."

Now this passage is used in several different ways. It comes from Psalm 2:9, is where it alludes to. Keil & Delitzsch, those great Old Testament commentators, commenting on Psalm 2:9, explain there that God,

Has appointed the dominion of the world to His Son. This authority is most terrible for the rebellious ones. For these His scepter of dominion becomes a rod of iron which will shatter them into a thousand pieces like a brittle image of a clay pot.

That's the picture. This has to do with Christ defeating His enemies in this passage. He will smash them with a rod of iron like they were clay pots.

There's another image given here, "He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty." This alludes to Isaiah 63:3. The commentator, Kittel, remarks that, "Here John describes Christ as the vintner (and His) or the winemaker, and His enemies are the grapes that in His anger He crushes beneath His feet in the wine press." You know, it's interesting, isn't it, that this is God's solution for evil? Evil is like a cancer that cannot be tolerated, but must, instead, (ultimately by the Son of God) be destroyed. He will tread "the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty." It's a powerful picture, a powerful image.

Clarence McCartney, in his famous sermon on the Second Coming (included in a collection of sermons on the Second Coming by Warren Wiersbe), tells the story of an incident from the life of Julian the Apostate in the 300s A.D.

Julian the Apostate was on a march to Persia. And on the march to Persia as they went along the way, they found every opportunity to persecute Christians. And his soldiers found an old man, an old believer, and they were in the process of torturing him. And when they finally tired of their sport, one of them asked the old man, now near death, this question: "So, old man, where now is your carpenter, God?" Through his own blood, the man looked up at them and said, "He's making a coffin for your emperor."

Sounds hard, sounds harsh, it sounds brutal, but that is exactly right. When Christ returns, He will destroy all of those who have refused to bow to Him, like a winemaker crushes the grapes.

There's one last description of the returning King found in verse 16. It says, "And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, 'KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.'" There is universal agreement as to what this refers to. Our Lord Jesus Christ has absolute, universal sovereignty. There is absolutely not a stray molecule in His universe out from under His control, and all the kings of the earth will willingly or unwillingly bow the knee in recognition of the fact that He is the KING OF KINGS, and He is the LORD OF LORDS. What an incredible picture of Christ and His Second Coming.

Next week we'll look at the remaining verses of chapter 19, and we'll see how He comes victorious in that great battle called Armageddon. We'll talk a little more about the details surrounding the Second Coming, but I want you to see the picture of Christ, because that's what the Second Coming is.

It is intended to give us a picture of Christ. It is an unveiling. It is a full disclosure of Jesus Christ. Maybe you don't think of Christ like this. Jesus Christ will not be domesticated. He is not (as C. S. Lewis says in The Chronicles of Narnia,) "He is not safe, but He is good." At the same time, that goodness demands that He deal with His enemies, and He will.

Don't miss this. If you're sitting here tonight, and you're not in Christ, you may think that He's nothing to be reckoned with. You live your life every day and nothing seems to happen; you never hear from Christ; you never see Him; you do what you want to do, and everything is fine. Let me tell you, the day is coming when you will see Him, and you will bow before Him. You will either bow before Him as His willful subject (that is, as His subject willingly bows before Him), or you will bow before Him as your judge. He will come as a warrior, and if you have refused, in this life, to bow your knee to Him, then you will face Him in the picture we have seen tonight.

So, how do you respond to this revelation of Jesus Christ? Take your Bibles, and turn back to Psalm 2. Psalm 2 is really about the response of the world to Jesus Christ and to the word of His reign, to the fact that He's going to reign. Verse 1 says,

Why are the nations in an uproar and the peoples devising a vain thing? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers take council together against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying, "Let us tear their fetters apart and cast away their cords from us!"

We are being fast-forwarded to the end of the world. We are being taken by the Psalmist to the reality that there is coming a day when the rulers of this world will take a stand against Christ and against our God. And they will say, "let us tear their fetters apart, let us cast their cords away from us." How does God respond?

"He who sits in the heavens laughs, the Lord scoffs at them. He will speak to them in His anger and terrify them in His fury, saying, 'But as for Me, I have installed My King upon Zion, My holy mountain.'" [I've decided who's going to reign, and it's going to be My Son.] Verse 7, "I will surely tell of the decree of the Lord: [This is now Christ speaking.] He said to Me, 'You are My Son, today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will... give [You] the nations as Your inheritance, and the very ends of the earth as Your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron, You shall shatter them like earthenware' [like clay pots]. Now therefore, O [king], show discernment; take warning, O judges of the earth."

How do you respond to this revelation of Christ as the coming King? Well, there are three responses given to us in the rest of this Psalm.

First of all, worship the Son with fear. Notice what he says, verse 11, "Worship the LORD with reverence and rejoice with trembling." Worship the Son with fear. This isn't abject, terrorizing fear. Jesus, you remember, says to John (when he falls down after that revelation of Him in Revelation 1), don't be afraid. It's not abject, terrorizing fear, but it is a wholehearted reverence of who He is, taking Him seriously, worshiping Him.

Secondly, submit to the Son with fear. Look at verse 12. "Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way." "Do homage." What does that mean? Literally, the Hebrew expression is, "kiss the Son." It was (in the ancient world), a picture of subjection. It was a picture of submission. It still has that picture in a few contexts in today's culture. It gives me shudders to see the kings of the earth bowing down or at least taking the hand of the Pope and kissing his ring. That is picture here. "Do homage [kiss the Son], that He not become angry, and you perish in the way." You better submit yourself to the Son. You better recognize Him as your Sovereign. You better submit your will to His, for His wrath may be soon be kindled.

And the final piece of advice that the Psalmist gives the kings of the end time is, take refuge in the Son with joy. "How blessed [O, to be envied] are all who take refuge in Him!" It's a great picture, isn't it? Take refuge in Him. We don't understand that term so much because of where we live. Rarely are we threatened, do we feel threatened, do our lives feel in any danger. But in the ancient world you lived in perpetual fear of that because you had no idea what was coming, what neighboring peoples might be coming to maraud and to plunder and to take.

You lived in fear of that constant reality, and so, you built the cities, or you built your homes close by a place of refuge. Perhaps if you lived on a plane, there was a fortress. And you built your home nearby so that if the marauders were coming, you could run to that fortress and find it a place of refuge. Or if you lived near the hills, you'd build your home there near the hills; so that at the first sign of danger you could go up the hills, because there was no way for them to get you. It was your refuge.

Where do you look for your place of safety? Where do you look for your place of refuge, when literally, all hell breaks loose on earth and the wrath of the Lamb comes? There's only one place to find refuge in that day. It's in the Lamb. "How blessed [O to be envied] are all [those] who take refuge in Him!" Let me ask you tonight. Do you worship the Son with fear? Have you submitted your heart to the Son, and have you taken permanent refuge in Him, refuge from His own wrath? He's coming. Even so, come quickly.

Let's pray together.

Father, our minds can't really begin to grasp the picture that we have seen painted tonight. It would frighten us, Father, to see Your Son, the Lamb of God, portrayed as He's portrayed in this passage if we hadn't already found refuge in Him. We thank You that we are safe in Him.

Father, I pray that You would stir our hearts. Stir us in love and praise and adoration, and stir us with a sense of urgency to tell others to kiss the Son before He becomes angry and they perish in the way, to take refuge in Him.

Father, we thank You that Your day is coming. Help us to live in eager anticipation when Your great name and Your Son will be ultimately and finally vindicated as KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.

We long for that day and we pray, even so, come quickly Lord Jesus. Amen.

Systematic Theology