Day 16. The Warrior Lamb, Mighty in Battle (Revelation 17:14)


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Agnus Dei stone roundel (1920), sculptor Eric Gill, Epiphany Chapel, Winchester Cathedral, Winchester, Hampshire, England.

Events are now moving quickly to a climax. In Revelation 16, the Seven Bowls of the Wrath of God are poured out, and the armies of Satan assemble for battle at Armageddon (Revelation 16:16). In Revelation 17, we see "the Whore of Babylon," "drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of the martyrs of Jesus" (Revelation 17:6). John gives us a clue to the Great Prostitute's identity in verse 18.

"And the woman that you saw is the great city
that has dominion over the kings of the earth." (Revelation 17:18)

In other words, the Great Prostitute who is persecuting God's people is the demonically-controlled government that opposes Christ (in John's time, Rome). Ten kings are allied with the Great Prostitute and the Antichrist (the "beast").

Up to this point, there has been intense persecution of Christians, but now it turns into a full-scale war, with the armies of these ten kings arrayed against the forces of Christ, the angelic heavenly host. Finally, these ten kings turn on the Great Prostitute herself (Revelation 17:15-18). Revelation 18 is a lament for the Fall of Babylon, and a judgment on the hedonistic, luxury-loving culture that has consumed the entire world system.

They Will Make War on the Lamb (Revelation 17:14)

But we're focusing on the Lamb, the Christ. In verse 14 we read,

"They will make war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called and chosen and faithful." (Revelation 17:14)

Here again we see the striking paradox of a Lamb, no longer passive as he is led to the slaughter (Isaiah 53:7), but now the Conqueror. His enemies go to war91 against him, but he has the last word -- "the Lamb will conquer them!" (Revelation 17:14). Whether this battle is the one to be fought at Armageddon (Revelation 16:16; probably Har, Hebrew for "mountain" and Megiddoo, an ancient city about 80 miles north of Jerusalem) or at Jerusalem itself (Zechariah 14:2), we're not sure.

Jesus gave a parable encouraging kings to assess their enemy's strength before going to war with them (Luke 14:31-32). This Satan fails to do. The troops marshalled by the Antichrist gather to meet the forces of the Lamb, but they are hopelessly outnumbered!

The Conqueror on the White Horse (Revelation 19:11-16)

  Skip forward to Revelation 19 to get some idea of the armies that the Lamb has at his disposal. Satan perhaps thought that his armies had the advantage, but then the heavens open to reveal the Lamb, the Messiah, at the head of a great invincible army -- identified again in this passage as "King of kings and Lord of lords."

"11  Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse!
The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True,
and in righteousness he judges and makes war.
12  His eyes are like a flame of fire,
and on his head are many diadems,
and he has a name written that no one knows but himself.
13  He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood,
and the name by which he is called is The Word of God.
14  And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure,
were following him on white horses.
5
 From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations,
and he will rule them with a rod of iron.
He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty.
16  On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written,
King of kings and Lord of lords." (Revelation 19:11-16)

Needless to say, the Antichrist's forces are slaughtered, and an angel calls the vultures to feast on their carcasses (Revelation 17:21). The battle ends with the capture of its leaders.

"The beast was captured, and with it the false prophet.... These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur." (Revelation 19:20)

Fight the Good Fight of Faith

Even now, you and I are involved in skirmishes in this war that will come to a climax in the decisive battle when Christ returns. We are instructed:

"Wage the good warfare..." (ESV, 1 Timothy 1:18b), or "Fight the good fight" (NIV, NRSV)92

"Fight the good fight of the faith." (1 Timothy 6:12a).93

"For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war94 according to the flesh." (2 Corinthians 10:3)

"Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm." (Ephesians 6:11-13)95

We may not be participants in the final battles of the End Time with the Lamb at our head, but our battles are no less real, and no less fierce. And Christ is no less present. We fight, but we take courage that our leader, the Lamb, conquers! We win! Jesus tells us,

"In the world you will have tribulation.
But take heart; I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)

The Lamb Will Conquer (Revelation 17:14)

I once pastored a church in which one of our lay leaders was a committed pacifist. So committed was he to pacifism that he had real difficulty when I taught about spiritual warfare. We see Jesus teach his disciples to "turn the other cheek" and to "love our enemies" (Matthew 5:38-48). And we must learn how to do this!

But spiritual warfare is a different arena altogether. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells us, "Do not resist an evil person" (Matthew 5:39). But when it comes to our war with the devil, we are told, "Resist him, standing firm in the faith" (1 Peter 5:9).


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While on earth, Jesus was at war with Satan. He resists him during the time of his temptation in the wilderness. Then throughout his ministry, he systemically sets men and women free from sin, sickness, and death. Indeed, "The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil" (1 John 3:8).

The Lamb is not a pacifist with regard to Satan and his forces and neither should we be! Rather, he is a Conqueror, a Warrior, mighty in battle. And enables us to overcome also.

Prayer

Jesus, lead us on to join you in your battle against the Evil One. Root out his evil influence in our life and habits. And then help us to stand with you against his evil works in our world. Evil is ravaging our world today. Come soon, Lord Jesus! In your mighty name, we pray. Amen.

Day 16 Meditation (Revelation 17:14). What has to change in our thinking in order for us to see the Lamb as a victorious Warrior? In what ways are you called upon to serve the Lamb in skirmishes with evil in your life and community? Are you aggressive like the Conquering Lamb, or do you shy away from conflict with the enemy?
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Endnotes

(References and Abbreviations)

[91] "Make war" is polemeō, "wage war," that is, "make war, fight on or against someone" (BDAG 844, 1a).

[92] This verse uses language from the military. "Fight" is strateuō, "to engage in a conflict, wage battle, fight" (BDAG 947, 2). "Warfare" is strateia, "military engagement, expedition, campaign" (BDAG 947).

[93] This verse uses language that comes from the games. Agōnizomai, "to fight, struggle" (BDAG 17, 2b). Agōn, "a struggle against opposition, struggle, fight" (BDAG 17, 2).

[94] Strateuō.

[95] "Whole armor, full armor" is panoplia, "the complete equipment of a heavy-armed soldier, full armor" (BDAG 754). "Wrestle" is palē, "struggle against" (BDAG 752).

Copyright © 2020, Ralph F. Wilson. <pastor@joyfulheart.com> All rights reserved. A single copy of this article is free. Do not put this on a website. See legal, copyright, and reprint information.