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"Jesus Christ Lord and Judge of All" Revelation 14:14-20

The Revelation of Jesus Christ (vv. 14-17)

Coming on the Clouds (Dan. 7:13-14)

Again John sees the Lord Jesus Christ sitting on the clouds. The name “Son of man” is his name of mediatorial glory and dominion. He is THE MAN, the God-Man, the Son of God who took upon himself our nature, suffered and died for us, and is now exalted to the Father’s right hand. Clouds symbolize his brightness and exalted sovereignty as the victorious mediator. Having humbled himself unto death, he is now clothed with universal dominion and authority (Phil. 2:6-9). This is the theme of Revelation: “Look, he is coming on the clouds” (1:7). This symbol is the New Testament realization of Daniel’s vision in 7:13:14: “I was watching in the night visions, and behold, one like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him. Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom is the one which shall not be destroyed.” This is not a reference to our Lord’s visible, bodily return at the end of history, of which it is said that “the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout” (1 Thess. 4:16). This coming on the clouds is first his ascension to heaven after his death and resurrection, at which he received his promised kingdom. Second, it is a symbol of his dominion and power, that he is now “crowned with glory and honor” (Heb. 2:9) and has entered his kingdom (Luke 24:26).

Coming to Judge Israel (v. 15; Mark 14:62)

His coming on the clouds is also a vivid symbol of his coming in judgment upon first century Israel. On trial before Caiaphas and placed under oath to tell his accusers if he was “the Christ, the Son of the Blessed,” our Lord said: “I am: and you shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power and coming in the clouds of heaven” (Mark 14:62). This is Old Testament language for the glorious God who rules over all coming in judgment (Ps. 18:11-12; 104:3; Jer. 4:13; Joel 2:2; Nah. 1:3; Zeph. 1:15). Our Lord said to the Jewish high priest and his evil cabal that they would see him, the one whom they were condemning and blaspheming, ascended to heaven and coming on the clouds in judgment. There was nothing poetic about this declaration. Earlier that week, our Lord said that that generation then listening to him would watch as their temple is destroyed and the wrath of God falls upon them for their millennia of rebellion and rejection of him as their promised Messiah (Matt. 21:43; 23:31-39; 24:36).

The early church lived in the midst of these events, in the days of vengeance upon Israel. Believers faced tremendous pressure from persecuting Judaism and imperial Rome, the harlot and the beast of Revelation. Caught in the middle of this devilish vise, they had one release – to see and embrace by faith the risen, exalted Jesus Christ, sitting in glory at the Father’s right hand, and then to live in his fellowship and strength. They had no earthly protectors, but they needed none. They needed to “live by the faith of the Son of God” (Gal. 2:20), to know who was truly exercising dominion over all things. This is the same reality we are called to believe and to live: that Christ, not man, is king, that he is sitting on the clouds of heaven, crowned now with glory and honor, and that he is working to subdue all things beneath his feet so that every knee bows to him and every tongue confesses that he is Lord.

Coming to Harvest the Land (vv. 15-17)

John sees a sickle in Christ’s hand, a reaping instrument. As Jesus told in the parable of the vineyard, the Father sent his Son to collect the harvest (Matt. 21:37). And what did the vinedressers do to the heir of the vineyard? They cast him out and killed him. But the vinedressers, the Jewish leaders and people of the first century, did not reckon with the resurrection, ascension, and exaltation of the Lord of glory. From the Father’s right hand, he will harvest the land of Israel – a harvest of judgment. It is time – the seventh trumpet is about to blow. Another angel comes from heaven and tells him to “thrust in his sickle” (v. 16). The earth is reaped. Another angel descends and repeats the message – gather the grapes; they are fully ripe. These turn out to be grapes of wrath, for this is a harvest of judgment. The message is repeated for our Lord’s coming to judge unbelieving Israel was the end of the old covenant order. It was a monumental change from a largely Jewish church, entwined with the Jewish nation, to our Lord’s international kingdom, set free from the hard tutelage of the old covenant order.

The Judging Work of Jesus Christ (vv. 18-20)

He Treads the Winepress of God’s Wrath (Isa. 63:1-6)

The winepress imagery is taken from Joel 3:13 and Isaiah 63:1-6. It is dreadful imagery of God’s wrath against his former people who rejected his Son. The lowly Servant of the Lord whom they despised and crucified is now coming on the clouds to judge them and fill Jerusalem with blood. He alone treads out the grapes – his garments are splattered with blood. This is a different side of our Savior’s work, a side that should make us bow the knee more sincerely to our Lord. Can we appreciate his meekness and love if we ignore his justice and wrath against sinners? He is the Son of God, and as heir of the covenant of grace, he executes his Father’s plans and his Father’s wrath against the impenitent. Can we rejoice and sing at his longsuffering with us and mercy if we do not at the same time sense how greatly we have provoked him by our sins? God’s enemies will seem invincible until we see his glory as our exalted Mediator who reigns over all men and nations.

Jerusalem Drowning in Blood

God’s former holy nation turned into Sodom, Egypt, and Babylon. The consequences were horrific – “Jerusalem trodden down of the Gentiles” (Luke 21:24). Blood ran in the streets during the Roman siege and destruction of Jerusalem. It is telling that the “space of one thousand six hundred furlongs” is approximately equal to the length of Palestine – perhaps coincidental. The theme, setting, imminence, and specific language of Revelation make the application certain. The Lord Jesus treads out the winepress of the God’s fury against the nation that rejected him. There is yet hope for the future salvation of Israel (Rom. 11:26), but the wrath fell upon it in the first century. They rejected and crucified the Lord of glory. The higher point is that our Lord is personally, presently, and historically reigning in heaven at the Father’s right hand, as the Mediator of the covenant, in his messianic kingdom, to bring the blessings of salvation to the nations. He will crush those who reject him like a potter’s vessel (Ps. 2:9). We may want a tamer Savior, a more tolerant kingdom, but it does not exist. On the other side, the magnitude of Christ’s exaltation and seriousness of his kingly dominion makes the gospel mission of the church all the more critical. If we are not sharing the word of the King, urging sinners to repent, and holding fast to the true gospel, we are contributing to the calamity of our times.

Jesus Christ Lord and Judge of All

Who Is This? Lord and Christ, Exalted and Very High

Could not the Holy Spirit have given the early church something more to fight against their enemies? Could not some secret plans have been given, a secret weapon, or a secret way of life? No, the glory of Jesus Christ was revealed to them. He was enough – his sacrifice embraced, his resurrection believed, his sovereignty trusted. This is what the Lord of glory gave them to overcome the harlot and the beast – his glory. Yes, they had spiritual weaponry – but it would be used only as they believed in the power of their captain. He gave them his word, but would the believers have believed, trembled, and obeyed if they had not seen the glory of Jesus Christ by faith? Would they have confessed “Jesus is Lord,” which was to raise a battle cry against Caesar and to sign one’s own death warrant? They would not. They needed to see by faith Christ in his glory, exalted and exercising universal dominion.

Stand Confidently – He Reigns and Judges

This sounds so “spiritual,” a.k.a., “irrelevant,” to our American way of thinking. We need to do something. God has already done it. We are to build upon what he has done. To take one example – the hell’s winds of progressive, socialist, sodomite Marxism are blowing over our land. They are poisoning many churches, especially those committed to the American God of relevance and experience over the authority of Scripture. Imagine if every one that names Christ as Lord simply refuses to comply – no apologizing for crimes we did not commit, no admission that men are gods and can change their genders like they do their shirts, and no making friends with militant sodomy – all the while loving our enemies and doing our utmost to speak the truth in love. But, no, we love Jesus Christ and his word more than we fear man’s reprisals and hatred – much, much more. In fact, there is no comparison. We do not bow to the gods of our age; we bow to the exalted Savior alone. This is not because we are mean and arrogant; it is because we love the Lamb of God who has taken away our sins and give us salvation.

But you see how difficult even this stand is. Many well-meaning Christians are afraid of coming across as unloving – mortally afraid. They are a little embarrassed by the “thus says the Lord” model for Christian theology, Christian preaching, and Christian living. If a child comes under the influence of the gods of our age, many are unwilling to say “no” – as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. And thus, for the love of a child, or the fear of losing the love of a child, parents and pastors give in to the spirit of our age or edge a little farther away from apostolic Christianity. This was the same temptation in the first century – it is a lot to ask, to resist the beast, to take a shot or two from him. It is much to risk for a Savior whom we cannot see, when the dangers we do see are real and present. This is the reason we must live seeing the glory of Jesus Christ at the right hand of the Father. We must live in his communion, in his fellowship, growing in his grace and in the knowledge of his love for us. He reigns now, at the Father’s right hand, personally overall, so that all the breakdown we see in the city of man is his wrath against his enemies, including giving them over to a reprobate mind so that they practice sodomy and lesbianism. Since he has ordained this to judge his enemies and test his church, he will strengthen us to stand. Standing confidently is not something we muster up in our fearful hearts. It is not being angry and vilifying those who are dead in sins. It is strength and steadfastness in fellowship with the exalted Jesus Christ (Gal. 2:20).

Live Expectantly – He Is Coming Again to Reap

How does a soul know that it really bowed the knee to this glorious Savior, who rules over all? That he is not in the grips of religious formalism or enthusiasm? Are we true vines in union with Jesus Christ that bear fruit or false vines that have some outward connection to him but are destined to be burned up like chaff? You must begin where the Lord began – you must be born again (John 3:3-8). A new heart hates its sins and believes in Jesus Christ as the Son of God sent from heaven to save us from our sins. Faith is always the first diadem in the believer’s crown. “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Christ of God, the Savior of the world, the Son of the living God” (Matt. 16:18).

The second diadem is the commitment to please and follow him. All kinds of false gospels have arisen to deceive God’s elect, if that were possible – health, wealth, and prosperity; the progressive gospel that embraces evolution, feminism, and sodomy. The true church will overcome these assaults in Christ’s strength and wisdom. Does our Lord believe that God created the world in six days, about 6,000 years ago? Yes, he does, for he embraced the entire Old Testament. Does he believe that God created man, male and female? Does he believe that marriage is between one man and one woman? Does he believe there is only one God and one way of salvation? Does he believe in an everlasting hell for those who reject God’s gospel? Does he believe the Bible is reliable, trustworthy, authoritative, sufficient and infallible? Yes, he does. We overcome by remaining rooted and grounded in Christ, however high the cost for that faithfulness. We believe what our Lord says; we follow our Lord wherever he leads.

There are many more diadems, and I will mention one more. It matters greatly that this King loves you. The highest, most exalted person in the universe is the Son of God enthroned as our Mediator. He says to us this morning: “continue in my love” (John 15:9). When the world attacks and persecutes, we have a great and powerful friend in Jesus Christ. Actually, we have THE SON OF MAN, THE SON OF GOD, who loves us and rules over all to promote his glory and our good.

The early believers needed to know the powerful love that secured their every step, validated their words and testimony, and upheld their feet from falling. They needed to know that the Lord of glory was also the Lord of love and that they could cast all their cares upon him. When alone, they were not alone, for their King was with them by his Spirit. The Lord Jesus interceded for them with compassion joined with power. The glory of Christ’s person makes a relationship with him transforming. He is able to put away our sins and overcome our temptations. He is able to encourage, help, guide, support, provide, and strengthen us against Satan’s worst onslaughts. Come to him as Lord today. You will never have such a friend, helper, and lover as King Jesus.

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