søndag 13. august 2017

Revelation 19 The White Knight

Revelation 19:1-21

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Imagine a world where people just did what was good.

Imagine a world where news broadcasts weren’t filled with bad and cruel events, but just love and kindness and kindness!

Imagine a world where evil has been conquered and goodness and justice rule.

For that day is coming. That day is coming!

And we know that fundamentally, deep down. We know we were created for such a world because of our response to misery and suffering in the world. We know it's wrong. Like what happened to Alexia. Everything in us cries “No! This should not be! This is not how the world should be”. This is not how we should be.

And we are right. Because God says the same. He says this world is not the way it should be. And He will put it right by putting an end to all evil - and we will rejoice! Behold our God, Jesus Christ, the White Knight, and rejoice, for he will put an end to all evil. Amen!

1. Judgment Day is a day of rejoicing because evil is overcome (1-10)

2. Praise Jesus, for he has overcome evil (11-21)

1. Judgment Day is a day of rejoicing because evil is overcome (1-10)

19:1 After this, I heard what sounded like a vast crowd in heaven shouting, “Praise the Lord! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God. 2 His judgments are true and just. He has punished the great prostitute who corrupted the earth with her immorality. He has avenged the murder of his servants.” 3 And again their voices rang out: “Praise the Lord! The smoke from that city ascends forever and ever!” 4 Then the twenty-four elders and the four living beings fell down and worshiped God, who was sitting on the throne. They cried out, “Amen! Praise the Lord!”

Evil will fall. The Great Prostitute has fallen. Babylon, the city in rebellion against God, the symbol of evil, has fallen.

Two weeks ago we looked at Chapters 17 and 18. There we met the woman “Babylon”. Now Babylon was the empire that destroyed Israel and wiped out Jerusalem and God’s Temple in 587 BC. Because God's people turned their back on God, God removed his hand of protection over them. And King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon marched in, laid waste to Jerusalem and led all Israel in captivity back to Babylon. God's people were outside God's place under God's judgment, in Babylon.

And if we look further back, we see that Babylon is linked with the tower of Babel. In Genesis 11 we meet the city of Babel on the plain of Shinar. “Come,” they said, “let’s build a great city for ourselves with a tower that reaches into heaven, and make our name great.”

Babylon and Babel represent us, mankind. For we are rebels against God. We want to reach heaven on our own. We want to make a name for ourselves. We live to honour and glorify ourselves instead of what we were made for: honouring and glorifying God.

We are now in chapter 19 of Revelation, and we have been shown over and over again, from many different angles, that sin leads to suffering and to God's judgment. We’re now nearing the end and the message is the same. Judgment will fall on all those who sin against God. We stand with the devil, with his beasts, and we are treated like the devil if we are not in Christ.

Sin - our rebellion against God – selfishness - is what leads to all suffering, misery and pain in the world and in our lives. Sin is the reason that we are now under God’s judgement. Sin is the cause of famine and war and death and tragedy. Sin! Our selfishness! We live for ourselves. We seek power and money and sex and everything to honour ourselves. And we totally dismiss God.

Unfortunately sin is incredibly easy to prove. We see sin, to a greater or lesser extent, in the world, on news broadcasts, and in our own lives. We hurt each other. We do what we know we should not do. We know what's right - but we don’t want to do it.

You know, if people weren’t sinful we wouldn’t need lock on our doors, or police, the army, the courts, insurance, and all the rest of the things that we take for granted but proclaim that we are sinners who are full of sin.

The symptoms of sin is seen in the way we treat each other, but the root cause is that we have turned our backs to God. The root cause is that we who were created to be the bride of the Lamb - we who were made to be faithful to Jesus – we abandoned him and prostituted ourselves to other gods. Especially the god "myself".

It's a strong image. A couple of weeks ago I was at a wedding and imagine if the bride just never showed up! And then the message comes: she ran away with someone else! Or even worse – she’s in Storgata offering sex for money!
That’s us when we pursue anything else other than God.

That’s why Babylon is described as a prostitute, a whore. A prostitute who in v2 corrupted (ruined) the earth with her immorality. Just look around. We live in world devastated by our prostitution. Our sin.

Babylon has ruined the world, and Babylon hates God and hates those who belong to God. In the last 2000 years, more than 60 million Christians have given their lives for their faith. 60 million martyrs! No wonder they rejoice when judgement comes!

1 “Praise the Lord! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God. 2 His judgments are true and just. He has punished the great prostitute who corrupted the earth with her immorality. He has avenged the murder of his servants.” 3 And again their voices rang out: “Praise the Lord! The smoke from that city ascends forever and ever!”

Amen. Hallelujah. Justice is done. Judgment Day is a day of rejoicing for the martyrs’ sacrifice – the murder of his servants - will be remembered and will be paid for. Babylon falls and will burn forever. Amen.

Nothing evil will escape his judgement. Every evil thing that has happened to you will be dealt with.
We will praise God forever for his justice as righteousness rules. For what is evil shall fall and shall never rise again. Sin will be judged and paid for and will never happen again.

Sin is paid for either in Babylon that burns forever. Or! Or! There is another option. We do not have to be in Babylon. “Come out of her my people” the Lord says. We can repent, and fall at the feet of Jesus, the Lamb, and be his bride, given an outfit of spotless linen. That’s why he came to die. Jesus will seek us out in the street selling ourselves and he says “You don’t have to do this anymore. You are forgiven, the price is paid. Come home.” Isn’t that amazing?

6 Then I heard again what sounded like the shout of a vast crowd or the roar of mighty ocean waves or the crash of loud thunder: “Praise the Lord! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns. 7 Let us be glad and rejoice, and let us give honor to him. For the time has come for the wedding feast of the Lamb, and his bride has prepared herself. 8 She has been given the finest of pure white linen to wear.” For the fine linen represents the good deeds of God’s holy people. 9 And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb.” And he added, “These are true words that come from God.”

John is so overwhelmed with the joy of this message that evil has been defeated and that we can be the bride of Christ that he falls down to worship the angel. v10 Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said, “No, don’t worship me. I am a servant of God, just like you and your brothers and sisters who testify about their faith in Jesus. Worship only God. For the essence of prophecy is to give a clear witness for Jesus.”

The angel was adamant! We worship God and no other! Only Jesus. Anything else is prostitution. Anything else is Babylon.

Because Jesus is the great victor! He is the White Knight, the rider on the white horse. The Warrior God. All things are in his hand, and all things are made for him. That’s why prophecy is about him. Prophecy is Jesus-focussed and not about us. For the essence of prophecy is to give a clear witness for Jesus. The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.

Let me spend just a little time on this, because there are many today who claim they are prophets. Many who come with a “word from the Lord” or a “prophecy”. But Revelation reminds us that if it doesn’t lead us to Jesus – the Biblical Jesus – not a made up version - if we are not lead Back to the Bible, to God’s Word, then it is not prophecy. It is from Babylon. It is from the beast. It is false.
Fortune-telling is not prophecy. Prophecy – a word from God - is about Jesus. This should not surprise us. He is the centre of the Bible, all the prophets and law points to him, all the promises of God are fulfilled in Him. He is the centre of the universe, all things are made to glorify him, and so he too is the heart of prophecy.

These are the true words of God. You stand either with the Lamb or with Babylon. Bride or whore. You have either been given clothes of righteousness or you will be stripped naked and thrown into the fire. It's that simple. We have been warned.

So what should we do? What will you do?

Judgment Day is a day of rejoicing because evil is overcome. Make sure you are not on the wrong side when that day comes. May it be a day of joy and not a day of terror for you. Because Jesus is coming soon. And Jesus is the one who has overcome evil.

2. Praise Jesus because he has overcome evil

We have seen the devil like a great dragon. We have seen that he called forth two beasts, and they were big and powerful. And we saw the temptress Babylon – alluring, powerful, seductive, tempting. Oh evil is seductive. Sin lures us. So powerful!

But then we read that "Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great." How did that happen? And we did not know - until now.

Brothers! Open your eyes and see your God!

11 Then I saw heaven opened, and a white horse was standing there. Its rider was named Faithful and True, for he judges fairly and wages a righteous war. 12 His eyes were like flames of fire, and on his head were many crowns. A name was written on him that no one understood except himself. 13 He wore a robe dipped in blood, and his title was the Word of God.

You know, we are so familiar with the cross. We are used to Jesus, the “Man of Sorrows”, he who suffered and died - who went through death for us. We sing about his death, we celebrate every week during communion that his blood was poured out and his body was broken so that we could be forgiven. Our prostitution, our rebellion against God has been forgotten, redeemed by the cross!

But he is not on the cross anymore. He literally went through hell for us, yes, but he went through. The power of death could not hold him because death is the wages of sin. We die because we are sinners. But Jesus never sinned. He was innocent. How could death then have any power over him?

That’s why on Sunday morning, the third day, the grave was filled with light, the tomb burst open, and Jesus rose from the dead. The King. Majestic. Mighty. The victor over death. He conquered death and proved that he really is the one he says he is. The Almighty.

And he will return. Not as the suffering servant, but as a mighty warrior. The White Knight at the head of Heaven’s armies. The King of all kings, the Almighty One.

When he returns he will make war on all that is unjust and all that is evil and bad and wrong in this world, for his name is Faithful and True. His eyes are like flaming fire - they see everything. Nothing escapes his gaze. You know, there is nothing you and I do that Jesus does not see.
Let’s remember that the next time we are tempted! Jesus sees. The rider at the head of Heaven's Army sees everything you do. Sees everything I do. And he is faithful and true. Do you think we will escape his judgment?

What would we say if in that moment of sin he stood before us, "What are you doing?". My brothers, we must repent. Kill the sin in us, run away from temptation or situations where we know we will be tempted. Let's fight sin and fear God more than anything else!

13 He wore a robe dipped in blood, and his title was the Word of God.

A robe dipped in blood. It’s quite the picture! Is it a picture of the warrior coming victorious from the battlefield with the enemy's blood on him? Maybe? Because v15 says He will release the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty, like juice flowing from a winepress. It recalls the dreadful picture from chapter 14 where all who oppose God are thrown into the winepress of God's wrath and trampled such that blood will flow 2 meters high for 300km. That would be lake of ​​blood so massive it would stretch from here to Bergen, Stavanger, Kristiansand, and across the Hardangervidda, and to the border with Sweden. It's a horrible and frightening picture and it's supposed to be! Heb 10:31 It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God!

So Jesus’ robe is dipped in blood from the slaughter of his enemies. But there may be another reason why his robe is dipped in blood. The blood might be his. His blood shed for those who belong to him. We who have put our trust in Jesus as our King. We who have asked him for forgiveness and who now live for him. We who are children of God. And instead of our blood flowing from the winepress of God's wrath, his blood flowed for us.

Behold your God! Mt 26:26–28 As they were eating, Jesus took some bread and blessed it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “Take this and eat it, for this is my body.” 27 And he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. He gave it to them and said, “Each of you drink from it, 28 for this is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and his people. It is poured out as a sacrifice to forgive the sins of many.

Aren’t you just filled with wonder and awe and thanksgiving for what Jesus has done for you? My Lord and my God! Sometimes we need to just stand in adoration of him. In praise. Thank you! Thank you Jesus Christ for what you did for me.
This is why we will rejoice and sing forever in the new creation! Forever praising this our God! Amen!

13 He wore a robe dipped in blood, and his title was the Word of God. 14 The armies of heaven, dressed in the finest of pure white linen, followed him on white horses. 15 From his mouth came a sharp sword to strike down the nations. He will rule them with an iron rod.

He is called the word of God and out of his mouth comes a sharp sword. His words are full of power. Through his word he rules the world and leads his church. Prophecy has power because it is his word. And prophecy is about ... Jesus.
Jesus is called the Word of God because in him God is revealed. We do not have to wonder who God is because he revealed himself in Christ. Jesus is God's Word about God.

And we only find Jesus here in the Bible. It is not a coincidence that both the Bible and Jesus are called the word of God. This is the only way to know the true and living God. His truth is not found anywhere else. Not in dreams or visions, not in words of so-called prophets or holy people. That’s just paganism (even if it’s dressed up in Christian language). He is not found in other religions or in singing or meditation or rituals. He is found in his word, the Bible. Because the Bible is the sword of the Spirit, and that sword comes from the mouth of Jesus.

The Spirit is Jesus' breath. The Spirit carries the Word to us and makes this book - which is just a book, a mixture of paper and cardboard, or electronic pixels on a screen, nothing sacred or special in itself - the Holy Spirit makes this book alive. And when we read it, we hear the White Knight. We hear the words of Jesus.

By his word rules the nations with an iron rod. We are judged by how we respond to his word, the gospel. It is his word that will judge us - if we have not received him, we will be judged, pressed down, and thrown into the wine press.

V15 continues He will release the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty, like juice flowing from a winepress. 16 On his robe at his thigh was written this title: King of all kings and Lord of all lords.

It is Jesus who is put in place as God’s King, the Son of God on the throne. So what should we do with the White Knight, with Jesus Christ, Son of God, King of God? Give honour to him. Seek refuge in him. Apply for mercy while there is still time! For then the blood on his robe is his own, given to us, instead of ours. Then we have nothing to fear when he returns, because he comes to rescue us and not hunt us down. And we have nothing to fear now for who can compare with him? Who can stand against him? We do not fear state powers, rulers, family, neighbours, our boss, those at work who laugh at you, those who scoff and make fun of you, those who reject you, whether they be loved ones or strangers. Do not be afraid. Serve the Lord. Because their time will soon be up.

17 Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, shouting to the vultures flying high in the sky: “Come! Gather together for the great banquet God has prepared. 18 Come and eat the flesh of kings, generals, and strong warriors; of horses and their riders; and of all humanity, both free and slave, small and great.” 19 Then I saw the beast and the kings of the world and their armies gathered together to fight against the one sitting on the horse and his army. 20 And the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who did mighty miracles on behalf of the beast—miracles that deceived all who had accepted the mark of the beast and who worshiped his statue. Both the beast and his false prophet were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. 21 Their entire army was killed by the sharp sword that came from the mouth of the one riding the white horse. And the vultures all gorged themselves on the dead bodies.

Jesus will put an end to all evil. The devil's time is up. He is enraged because he has already lost. The verdict has fallen and he is done.

Praise for Jesus for he has overcome evil and will soon bring it to an end.

How then should we live as Christians?

And if you're not Christian, what should you do now so that you do not become one of those who are crushed by Christ, The White Knight?

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