|As Seen In The Revelation|
|“Ask of Me, and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel.” Psalm 2:8-9 NKJV“The Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son ... and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man.” John 5:22,27 The above passages sum up the picture The Revelation gives us of our Lord Jesus Christ. Without this depiction of Him, God’s Word would be faulty and incomplete, and the Lord, the mighty Victor, would appear to have been the tragic loser at Calvary. The Gospels show us that He is a prophet, communicating God’s mind to mankind. Hebrews points out that He is not only a priest, but our Great High Priest, and this after the order of Melchizedek. At present He is living to make intercession for us. The Revelation reveals Him to us as the coming King; but before He is this He must be the discerning Judge, cleansing the earth of all its accumulated evil so that He can set up His long-promised kingdom, the Millennium.|
So we see a new revelation of the Lord. John, together with Peter and James, had gotten a momentary glimpse of this when they were “eyewitnesses of His majesty … on the holy mountain” where the Lord was transfigured (2 Pet. 1:16-18). This book will not give us merely a fleeting glimpse of His majesty. No, He will be before us as Judge and as the One whom God calls “My King” (Ps. 2:6). As we go on in chapter 1, where John described what he had seen, we face One awesome in judicial majesty from head to foot. At the sight of Him, John, who had leaned on His breast the night of His betrayal, fell at His feet as dead.
But while the Lord Jesus is seen in dazzling majesty, He is still “this same Jesus.” He bent down, and John felt the tender touch of His right hand and heard that well-known “Do not be afraid.” So in this book, while the world must face Him as Judge, for those who are His there is a constant reminder of His love and tenderness. The “Lion of the tribe of Judah” is seen by His own in heaven as “a Lamb as though it had been slain” (5:5-6). The One, who in Revelation 19 comes back to this earth, with the armies of heaven, as the Rider on the White Horse to judge and make war, has earlier in the chapter received His bride, the Lamb’s wife, at “the marriage of the Lamb” (19:7). He calls Himself “I, Jesus” at the end of the book where He says twice, “Behold, I am coming quickly!” and then says, “Surely I am coming quickly” (22:7,12,20).
In accord with the principle – brought out in Ezekiel 9:6 and 1 Peter 4:17 – that judgment begins at the house of God, the Lord Jesus introduced Himself at the end of Revelation 1 as the One walking among the seven golden lampstands. These lampstands represent seven churches in the Roman province of Asia in present-day Turkey. But what He sees and comments on in letters to each of these assemblies is not merely for them at the end of the first century. There are lessons for us today in these letters in chapters 2 and 3 as well. And since the Revelation is a prophetic book, these letters have a prophetic bearing, giving us a mini-outline of the course of events in the history of the Church from its early days recorded in Acts to the Rapture, which could come at any time.
Drawing on the awesome head-to-foot description given in Revelation 1, Christ solemnly introduces Himself to the responsible element in each of these churches, in a manner appropriate to what He sees fit. While judging the state of each church, both positively and negatively, encouraging and commending where He can, and making promises to those who overcome the prevailing situations, He calls for repentance. True repentance comprises both a change of heart and a change of ways. In contrast to what follows beginning with chapter 4, He is not executing judgment in chapters 2 and 3 but rather warning of impending judgment if the things which displease Him do not change. He loves His Church dearly and has given Himself for her. The Church, as presented in the Bible, consists of every true believer, and according to the Lord’s own words in John 5:24, no believer will ever enter into judgment. Yet the Lord gives earnest warnings, for He does not want to have to set aside even the weakest testimony to His name.
Beginning in chapter 4, we find ourselves observers seeing future events from a heavenly standpoint. In 4 and 5 we, pictured by the 24 elders, surround the heavenly throne and worship. When the Lord is brought into the picture – as the Lion of the tribe of Judah, as the Root of David and as the Lamb – this worship is directed very personally to Him. In particular, He is worshiped as the only One worthy to open the seven-sealed scroll and loose its seals.
In chapter 6, as He opens the seals one after another, each seal unleashes a fresh judgment upon the earth. Nothing is said about Him other than that He opens the seals, executing each judgment, until we come to the remarkable expression in 6:16, “the wrath of the Lamb!” What a contrast to His conduct when repeatedly tried and then crucified; in the words of Isaiah, “He was oppressed and afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth” (Isa. 53:7). Now the wrath of this same Lamb is such that all mankind hides in fear in the caves and rocks of the mountains and cries for the mountains and rocks to fall on them to hide them from this dreadful terror.
While the Lamb is not viewed so directly in the subsequent series of trumpet judgments beginning in chapter 8, and bowl judgments beginning in 15, it is clearly evident that throughout The Revelation all judgment is committed to Him and emanates from Him. What a contrast to His coming to earth in the Gospels, when we read, “God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved” (Jn. 3:17).
Here in The Revelation we see further great contrasts between the Lamb in relation to believers and unbelievers. In chapter 7, the great multitude of those from all nations, tribes, peoples and tongues, who come out of the Great Tribulation, are seen standing before the Lamb. They are said to have “washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb,” and “the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters” (7:14,17). The saints overcome the accuser of the brethren by the blood of the Lamb in 12:11, while the second beast in 13:11 has two horns like a Lamb but speaks like the dragon.
Again in Revelation 14:1-5, the Lamb is seen standing on Mount Zion, and with Him 144,000 “who follow the Lamb wherever He goes.” There is no hiding in fear among these! Chapter 15:3 refers to the song of the Lamb, a song of victory, as the next verses make plain. The Lamb will overcome the forces of evil, as it says in 17:14, “for He is Lord of lords and King of kings; and those who are with Him are called, chosen, and faithful.” And those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb – saints of God of other dispensations who are not part of the Bride, the Lamb’s wife – are spoken of as blessed.
The Bride, the Lamb’s wife, the Church in millennial glory, is also referred to as “the great city, the holy Jerusalem,” in chapter 21. Its twelve foundations bear the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb; the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple; the Lamb is its light; the throne of God and of the Lamb are in it; and only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life can enter it. Again and again His centrality is obvious.
The Revelation also uses a number of other pictures of our Lord Jesus. The angel-priest in chapter 8, with the golden censer offering incense and giving efficacy to the prayers of all saints at the golden altar, is none other than He. This is further shown by the fact that He then takes fire from the altar and casts it upon the earth in judgment. The Male Child in chapter 12 – object of the great fiery red dragon’s enmity, but destined to rule all nations with a rod of iron, and caught up to God and His throne – is a clear picture of Christ.
In Revelation 14:14-16 we read of One like the Son of Man sitting on a white cloud, wearing a golden crown, and holding a sharp sickle. Daniel 7:13-14, and the Lord’s answer when adjured by the high priest at His trial, leave no doubt who this One ready to execute judgment is. We see Him coming back to earth in impressive majesty and defeating the armies of the world that united “to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army” (19:19-21).
The dread great white throne judgment comes before us at the end of chapter 20. The One who sits on this throne is not described except to say that from His face the earth and the heaven fled away. Here we have the final judgment of the unsaved, the wicked dead. Who can question the identity of the One sitting on this throne after all that we have seen? But in the next chapter we hear Him saying, “Behold, I make all things new,” and again, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.” He goes on to enunciate the blessed portion of the believer, but also the dread portion of the unbeliever in “the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death” (21:5-8).
In the last chapter of The Revelation, the Lord Jesus, as we have seen, thrice speaks of His soon return. How He, the righteous Judge, will delight to reward every one according to his work! He repeats who He is: I, Jesus, Alpha and Omega, Beginning and End, First and Last, Root and Offspring of David, Bright and Morning Star (22:13,16). He warns, He pleads. To His final “Surely I am coming quickly” we gladly respond, “Amen, Even so, come, Lord Jesus!” (22:20). And amazingly, the book of judgment ends with, “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.”
By Eugene P. Vedder, Jr.
With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA. Website: www.gtpress.org