What a difference a couple of thousand years make, huh? When Jesus came the first time, he came as a little baby, was laid in a feeding trough, and lived a lower-middle class lifestyle. As an adult, you could walk right past him on the street and not notice a thing about him. The end of his life was spent in ultimate humiliation, torture, betrayal, abandonment, and rejection. But this time. . . .whoa.
Mostly I want you to bask in what this passage is describing, but here are a few notes:
· I find it really interesting that perfect people and angels up in Heaven are glad and praising God that sinners are being judged. Down here on earth, while there’s still time for repentance, that’s what we—like our Lord—earnestly want to see. We hope for, we pray for, and we work for people to come to faith in Christ, no matter what they’ve done. But up in Heaven, where there’s no danger of self-righteousness or misplaced anger, when the time for judgment has come, then it’s time for rejoicing. As believers, even here on earth we're supposed to hate sin and love righteousness. Sin dishonors and mocks our beloved Father. We want to see an end to it, and this is it.
· I absolutely love the “Hallelujah Chorus” in Handel’s Messiah, don’t you? It’s probably one of the most famous piece of classical music ever. Of course, it—like all of Messiah—is totally Scripture set to music. That’s why verse six might have been familiar to you: The “Hallelujah Chorus” is made up solely of that verse and 11:15. The wonderful song we sing, the rush we feel as we stand up when the choir sings “King of kings and Lord of lords,” is talking about when he comes to judge the world and destroy his enemies.
· I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: All of God’s enemies will be destroyed, but his preferred method is to destroy his enemies by turning them into his beloved children and heirs. But make no mistake: His enemies will all be destroyed in the end, one way or another. His rule will, in the end, brook no rebels.
· I always visualized this scene as the Lord Jesus on his white horse coming down, all of the angels and redeemed humanity following him in order to fight alongside him. Take a closer look at today’s reading: Do you see anywhere in this chapter where we fight? I have to give credit to MacArthur: He’s the one who pointed out to me that the Lord Jesus Christ does all the “fighting” in this chapter. Of course, I put “fighting” in quotes because this really isn’t a fight. It’s a literal slaughter. If it ever comes down to force against force, there’s really no contest here. He breathes on them and kills them where they stand. One moment after this "fight" starts, there won't enough of the Lord's enemies left of them for their own mothers to identify.
· I believe in representative democracy as the best form of government. It’s the best out of all the imperfect options we can have here in a fallen world with only fallen people to run things. But when he returns, Jesus is not coming back to set up the “Democracy of God.” No, John alludes to a quotation that goes all the way back to Psalm 2: “You will rule them with an iron scepter.” Right now you have a choice about obeying him or not. On that day, the rebellion stops.
· I know that the last few verses are a little gross to modern sensibilities. I get that. They make me just a tad uncomfortable myself. But I have to remind myself that A) The Lord has done so much to keep them from this fate. As someone once said, “Yes, you can go to Hell, but you’ll have to step over the broken and bleeding body of Jesus in order to do it.” B) We have to get this into our head: This is merely a description of people and fallen angels getting exactly what they deserve. And apart from the grace of God, I'd be right there next to them.
I have to end this with a plea: If you happen to be reading this and don’t know Christ as your Savior, today’s the day to change that. Yesterday’s gone, and you have no promise that you’ll get a chance tomorrow. Please don’t put this off. Please please please read this.
If you belong to Christ and are reading this, this should arouse longing within you. Maybe not a longing to see sinners judged and destroyed, and since we have a sinful nature, that’s probably not very healthy anyway (this side of Glory). But you should have a longing to see your Lord finally officially claim what belongs to him, finally get the honor and glory he deserves, and finally see everything that’s wrong be made right. That’s worth waiting for, but it gets awfully hard to wait sometimes.
Come, Lord Jesus, come. Please come quickly. And help me to get ready.