Swords and Rods

“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. 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. He wore a robe dipped in blood, and his title was the Word of God. The armies of heaven, dressed in the finest of pure white linen, followed him on white horses. From his mouth came a sharp sword to strike down the nations. He will rule them with an iron rod. He will release the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty, like juice flowing from a winepress. On his robe at his thigh was written this title: King of all kings and Lord of all Lords.”
Revelation‬ ‭19:11-16‬ ‭NLT

We must spend another day considering this wonderful Rider on the white horse. The description of Him through the angel in John’s vision, though highly symbolic, also relates to Old Testament prophecies made many centuries before Jesus’s first coming, let alone His second, as we saw from Isaiah 63 yesterday. And we know from the Revelation story, that the Rider on the white horse, Jesus, achieves a victory over His foes. 

Perhaps one question we might be asking, or have asked before, is why will Jesus “release the fierce wrath of God”. Why Jesus, the Rider on the white horse? Why not God Himself? And what is mankind, past, present and future, being judged for anyway? To answer these questions, we have to start at the beginning, all the way back to Adam and Eve in the Garden. When sin entered this world through them it alienated our loving Heavenly Father from a relationship with His earthly children. However, God had a plan. He wasn’t going to give up on His creation that easily. He destroyed mankind once (except for Noah and his family) and vowed He would never do it again. Instead, through His love and grace, He sent His only Son, Jesus, to redeem mankind from sin, giving them the opportunity for repentance and be restored into a relationship with God Himself. But there was still a problem – most people then, and still today, rejected this costly and profound offer, preferring to stay in their sinful and wicked state. The grip of the devil on Planet Earth was, and is, considerable. Although many people have accepted God’s offer of salvation and will rejoice with Him one day, as they enter eternal life, most haven’t. Jesus made the choice very clear, as recorded in John 5:24, “I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life.” Sadly, most of God’s creation, human beings, have sinfully rejected His love and grace, in the process setting themselves up for judgement one day. They can’t escape it through the grave either. Read John 5:28-29 (as below).

But the problem remains – what about the sin and wickedness that prevails on Planet Earth. Jesus spoke about this in a conversation, recorded in John 5, with the religious leaders of His day. He introduced to them the concept that one day there will have to be judgement. The evil present on earth has to be dealt with. Otherwise, what was the point of all the pain and grief experienced by God and His people over the ages? In John 5, Jesus explained that He will be the Judge, one day. A role delegated to Him, and Him alone, by His Father. Jesus said, “The Father has life in himself, and he has granted that same life-giving power to his Son. And he has given him authority to judge everyone because he is the Son of Man. Don’t be so surprised! Indeed, the time is coming when all the dead in their graves will hear the voice of God’s Son, and they will rise again. Those who have done good will rise to experience eternal life, and those who have continued in evil will rise to experience judgment. I can do nothing on my own. I judge as God tells me. Therefore, my judgment is just, because I carry out the will of the one who sent me, not my own will.” (‭‭John‬ ‭5:26-30‬ ‭NLT).

So what is the “sharp sword” coming from Jesus’ mouth. In Hebrews 4:12 we read, “For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.” The words that come from Jesus’ mouth will be sufficient to destroy the evil nations and all the weaponry that they possess. There is something powerful about words. But in God’s economy, words are so powerful that they brought the whole universe into being. In Hebrews 11:3, we read, “By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God’s command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen.” If God’s word achieved that, then we can understand the power of the sharp sword emanating from Jesus’ mouth in John’s vision. Note that we too have access to this sword. Right now in our daily lives. We read in Ephesians 6:17, “Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” 

We also read in Revelation 19, that Jesus will rule with a rod of iron. What is that all about? Back in the prophetic Psalm 2, we read in verse 9, “You will break [rule] them with an iron rod and smash them like clay pots“. Apparently, the word “rod” means a shepherd’s staff, as we read in Psalm 23, so the impression we get is that those who belong to Jesus will be comforted by His rod, but those who have rejected Jesus might find the application of the rod, an iron rod, somewhat uncomfortable, as it brings into line rebellious people, smashing them “like clay pots”. Whether they like it or not, all people will one day have to submit to God. He made that clear in Isaiah 45:23, “I have sworn by my own name; I have spoken the truth, and I will never go back on my word: Every knee will bend to me, and every tongue will declare allegiance to me“. 

For us pilgrims, we have nothing to fear. We are on the winning side. The End Times are going to be frightening and brutal, but the world has been well warned.

Dear Father God, in response to these End Times verses all we can do is worship You. We thank You for Your presence in our lives. We know we would be in a difficult place without You. Thank You. Amen.

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