The destruction of the harlot is not at the end of history but at the beginning of our Savior’s reign from heaven. Now we are shown the Lord Jesus Christ in his glory and reign as Mediatorial king. His reign or millennial kingdom is from his ascension to heaven until his bodily return to earth to judge the nations. Chapter 20:1-10 reveals the progress of his kingdom during his reign at the Father’s right hand. “1,000 years” is not intended as an exact length of time but symbolic of a lengthy period of time. During this period, the nations will be discipled, so that all of Christ’s sheep are gathered, with not one lost, the Jewish people saved and brought back into the olive tree of faith, and his church built throughout the world. When history nears its end, there will be a final gathering of the tares, when Satan is unleashed for a time to gather his followers for an abortive rebellion against the Lord Jesus. He will return and destroy his enemies, sit upon the great white throne of judgment, and bring in the new heaven and earth. In these lines, we learn our King’s name, his insignia, the emblems of his glory and warfare, and his conquering works.
Pay careful attention to all the flowers of glory strewn across our pilgrim’s path. It is too easy for us to pass over these things and return back to our individual trials and worldly cares. But hear this: we are changed from glory to glory by the Spirit of the Lord “as we look not at the things that are seen, but the unseen” (2 Cor. 4:18). All our joy as redeemed men and women is in the glory of Jesus Christ, our Savior exalted, extolled, and very high. Our affections must be upon him. We must hunger to learn more about him, to understand more what he is doing, so that we may be more at peace in his reign, trusting of his guidance in our lives, joyful in our corporate worship, and faithful in daily duties. The misery and emptiness we often feel is the result of too little of the glory of Jesus Christ in our thoughts and affections, too much of self and the world. We have his glory set forth plainly to us in these lines. Let us set our affections upon him, who is in heaven at the Father’s right hand, ruling over all. Let us admire, adore, and love the Lord of glory, for he has now entered his glory and kingdom, as Luke said. All the agitation we see in this land in our times is nothing but the buzzing of fleas who hate Jesus Christ and will not have him reign over them. They cannot touch him. Let us desire him, come to him, willingly take his yoke upon us, and live under his authority each day. We do not want to be like those whom he once asked, “Why do you call me Lord, but do not the things that I say” (Luke 6:46)? Seeing his glory a little more clearly, let us hear the call of God’s word to recommit to doing what our Savior says – in our families and marriages, toward our parents, in our work and worship. Let us commit all that we are to following Jesus Christ. He is the King.
His Exalted Name
A Name Only He Knows
Have you ever been embarrassed by your middle name, or been unwilling to share your full name with someone? Our Lord’s name is so glorious that only he knows his full name. A name is who a person is. Jesus’ names are who he is, his person and work. He reveals some of his names to us, for he wants for us to know him and be joyful in his glory, but we cannot comprehend their full splendor and significance. He makes this promise to us – that as we keep his word, he will reveal more of himself to us (John 14:17). Let us therefore pay close attention to what he reveals about himself. He is called “faithful and true.” He is the One who trusted his Father. He lived faithfully, and he is faithful to us. He will never leave or forsake us. He is with us in every fire we pass through, and he carries us and every burden he wisely places upon us. He is always true – he will never mislead, give us false expectations, or promise us easy victories. He will tell us the truth about our sins and our need to repent and the crosses we must carry. He is the foundation upon which we safely build our lives and hopes – not the world and its lies but Jesus Christ and his word (Matt. 7:24; 1 Cor. 3:11).
The Word of God
His name is the Word of God. By him, the Father spoke heaven and earth into existence (John 1:1-3). He is God’s word to us of love, of grace, mercy, and peace. As God’s word, no one comes to the Father but through him, through hearing his voice and being raised from the dead by his word. We are his disciples because we have heard his quickening voice calling us out of sin’s grave and making us alive, new creatures (John 5:25; 8:43). We remain his disciples by abiding in his word (John 8:32). We live and bear fruit as his word abides in us (John 15:1-8; Col. 3:16), which is another way of saying that he is the living Vine. As the Word, he did not reveal the Father by mystical illumination but by opening our understanding so that we can understand, believe, and obey the Scriptures (Luke 24:45). The Scriptures are “living and power” because he is (Heb. 4:12); because they are his words. We relate to Jesus Christ, follow Jesus Christ, and know him truly by his word, for he is the Word of God – not by music, feeling, intuition, or art. He is not the conclusion of a logical proposition or the byproduct of philosophical speculation. He is the Word of God. “This is my Beloved Son; HEAR HIM” (Matt. 17:5).
King of Kings and Lord of Lords
The other name in this passage is written on his thigh: King of kings, Lord of lords. What is emphasized by this title is his mediatorial glory. He is the only Mediator between God and man, the only one who makes peace between the holy God and sinful man (1 Tim. 2:5). He is able to do this because he is fully God and fully man, two natures in one Person. As the Mediator, he humbled himself to become obedient to the cross. He now possesses this “name above every name” (Phil. 2:9-11). The Father has highly exalted Him who so humbled himself for our salvation. This name of King and Lord refers to his work of bringing salvation to the nations – a work more glorious than making the world. To recreate it from ruin and death is an unparalleled work of humiliation, love, wisdom, strength, and honor. This is the kingdom promised to him by his Father – not a kingdom he needed but a kingdom for us, of God’s restored rule in us, of power to forsake sin and love righteousness, like the Lord Jesus does. We must remember this about his Kingship and kingdom – it is not like human kingdoms – focused upon external splendor and control, crushing dissent, and doing whatever necessary to retain power. His kingdom subdues men where human kings cannot – in their hearts and minds, to make them willing to bow the knee to God. This, in fact, is the way we know whether or not the Lord Jesus rules over us. Have we surrendered to him? Are we doing what he says with a heart that loves him?
His Glorious Insignia
The Captain of Our Salvation
Our King has many glorious emblems of his majesty and dominion. He rides on a white horse, which is symbolic of purity and victory. Behind him – for he always goes first into danger and leads us as our faithful Shepherd – rides his heavenly armies. These are likely the saints but not excluding angels, all clothed in white robes. Note the symbol again of righteousness (19:8): righteous in Christ by his obedience imputed to us, righteous in life by Christ’s strength and sanctifying Spirit. This is not a battle between right and left but between sin and righteousness, the word of man and the word of God. The Lord Jesus sees the whole battlefield and every combatant’s heart, for his eyes are like flaming torches – all-knowing, penetrating. He has many crowns upon his head – not one or two – but every crown. He has absolute dominion. It is hard for us to take this in and believe it – that Jesus Christ is the presently reigning King, over his foes also (Ps. 110:2), so that all that is happening is part of his plan and work to subdue the nations, judge his enemies, build his church, and bless his disciples. The Captain of our salvation goes before his lambs (John 10:1-4). He knows our sorrows and weaknesses. We cannot fail to overcome, for he has triumphed.
Blood-Stained Robe (Isa. 63:1-6)
Isaiah spoke of the blood-stained robes of the Suffering-Servant – fresh from triumph over his enemies. It is startling to think of our exalted Savior splattered with the blood of his enemies. His slain are many – not primarily in human wars and clash of swords, though he uses these to protect his church and defeat his enemies. He never calls out human armies to march in defense of his gospel with planes and tanks. His kingdom utilized different weaponry. Men will either be redeemed by faith in his blood, or he will require the blood of the unbeliever in hell forever. In history, he never gives a final separation or judgment, so we should not expect heaven on earth or even clarity at given times in history, for the tares grow together with the wheat. Yet, we see his bloody robes. When denominations that forsake Christ’s word die out, their blood is on his robes. He removes their lampstand and leaves them bloodied. When nations that once professed to know him turn from him, his judgments splatter their blood upon him. He is active. He is ruling. He is no passive King.
A Sharp-Sword Going Out his Mouth (Isa. 49:2)
To clarify the nature of his warfare and what we can expect in the war, the King has a two-edged sword coming out of his mouth. This sword has its origins in Isaiah’s prophecy and is an extension of our Savior’s name, the Word of God. He wars by speaking. His word is “living and powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword” (Heb. 4:12). His mouth is aligned against the serpent’s hissing, his word against the word of man. And this is the bloodiest war of all. When Adam and Eve listened to Satan’s words, they killed themselves and their race – a definitive, slowly progressing, all-invasive death that has brought misery, bleeding, and death to billions of souls. And yet, our Savior’s word also heals – it is two-edged – an aroma of life to those who believe (2 Cor. 2:16). We must be very careful how we hear. His word will not profit us unless we hear it in faith (Heb. 4:2). The preaching that men ridicule is our Savior’s power unto salvation (Rom. 1:16). Let us fall on his sword in faith, or it will fall on us in wrath. Let us unsheathe his sword and speak the truth, plainly and confidently. His word never returns to him without accomplishing his purposes (Isa. 55:11).
His Conquering Works
Judges and Makes War in Righteousness
Commentators of all schools have noticed the present tense verbs of “judges” and “makes war.” No single conflict is intended but a reign marked by progressive and consistent judging and making war. His word is continually going through the earth through the witness of his faithful church (1 Tim. 3:16) and confessing people (Acts 8:4). By these weak means of witness and confession of his word, he is judging men, exposing their motives, making war against their sinfulness, and quickening many to new life. By his word, he “strikes the nations with the rod of his mouth,” another reference from Isaiah (11:4). His sword is not crusades and so-called holy wars undertaken in the hubris and greed of men. His word and warfare are for the minds, hearts, and lives of men. He also “rules the nations with a rod of iron” so that the rebellious suffer for their unbelief. We are suffering under his rod today. The rod of Jesus Christ is striking heavy blows upon us as a nation. We have rebelled against his light. And the sword of his mouth is driving his enemies insane with hatred. We must be very careful, therefore, not to mix up our own ideas and agendas with the word of our Savior. Let his word do its work, its judging of the thoughts and intents of the heart, its ruling unto blessing or curse.
Casts into Hell and Makes a Feast for the Birds
Jesus Christ judges and makes war in history. He judged the great harlot. In the three centuries following, he made war against the Roman Empire. He gave its flesh to the birds of the air. The beast and its armies were gathered against his little church, but he prevailed. “One little word felled Rome:” the word of Jesus Christ in his gospel, preached and lived to the death by the Lamb’s followers. Rome marched against the All-Conquering Christ, and Rome lost. The false prophet is the various institutions in the Roman Empire, civil and religious, that supported the reign of the beast. All who worshipped the beast and had his mark suffered the fate of the beast – except those who refused the mark, the followers of the Lamb. All others were slain by the sword and were a dinner for birds. He cast the beast into hell with all his followers, and today Rome is a broken-down city with little prestige other than the faintest echo of past greatness, ruined by the wrath of the Lamb. The revival of pagan Rome and apostate Judaism in Roman Catholicism suffered the same fate. All rebels have fallen, and today’s will suffer the same fate. There is only one foundation: Jesus Christ. There is only one King: the All-Conquering Christ. Men and nations must make peace with him, bow to him, embrace his great salvation, or he will ruin them. This earth is His, and he will rule the nations with a rod of iron.
The Ways We March in Christ’s Triumphant Train (2 Cor. 2:14)
To Follow Jesus You Must Know Who He Is
The Holy Spirit directs believers to “grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 3:18). This is knowledge of his person and his work. It is knowledge that is accessible to all of us in God’s word and by the teaching of the Holy Spirit. We gain knowledge of our Lord as we read his Scriptures carefully and prayerfully. Ask the right questions when you read, pray, and meditate upon his word. Who is he? How does he relate to us as his disciples? How did he live? What do I need to believe about my Lord and how must I follow him? The more you know of Christ – “Come, learn of me!” – the more you will be encouraged to depend upon him and worship him. You will know him as your strong Savior. His armies do not fight in their strength, but in his. How do we fight in his strength? By walking with him, casting our cares upon him, walking as he walked, obeying his word, trusting his guidance, and learning the sufficiency of his grace. We follow Jesus and fight in his strength when we take our eyes off our own deficiencies and failings, our crosses and our discouragements, our personal dreams and feelings, and instead make it our goal to please him in all things. We please him when we have his word and keep it (John 15:9-11). This is the way he remained in his Father’s fellowship, and it is the way we remain in our Lord’s fellowship – and in his strength.
Expect Conflict between Light and Darkness
The next centuries after the destruction of the harlot were marked by continued conflict between the church and the beast, believers and the Roman Empire. Believers must expect conflict with the darkness. We are not to make peace with the darkness, but to have no fellowship with it (Eph. 5:8). We are at war, in the Lamb’s war, and we must be faithful soldiers of the cross. Too many try to take the way easier – more friendship with the world, less weight of the cross. But our Lord is faithful and true. He has told us that it is “through many tribulations that we enter his kingdom” (Acts 14:22). He has provided us with all the armor we need (Eph. 6:10-18), but how slow we are to put on the armor, to use it, and to keep it on. We must. Our Lord has said that he will build his church (Matt. 16:18), and he builds it through the believing use of the means of grace he has provided for us.
We will feel the flesh fight back (Gal. 5:18). Christ’s enemies oppose him loudly. Do not back down when the darkness screams at the light. Reverence the King! The more you see the Lord in his glory, the less fearful and more pitiful you will see that man is – even if those screaming at you are in your own family. Do not assume that if the world does not like God’s word, then something must be wrong with his truth. No, it is the age-old reality – sin’s darkness hates Christ’s light (John 3:19-20). Do not resist the preacher or your parents because you feel guilty when he steps on your toes – the Lord Jesus stepped hard on his toes first! Instead, know that Jesus Christ is correcting your faults because he loves you. The temptation is strong to choose family over Christ, friends over Christ, fun over Christ. You cannot have Jesus Christ, however, and hold on to your idols and worldly loves. Come and lay all down at his feet. Commit to your King. He will help you by his Spirit and dwell with you in his strength. He is the All-Conquering Christ, and you will have no greater joy than to have him conquer you! Ask him to do so, to rule you by his word and Spirit to your present peace and wisdom, and to your everlasting happiness with him.