What an action packed few verses we have here. This small section of God’s Revelation to John is filled with so much to take in!
First of all we have these ten horns who are really ten kings. They give their power and authority to this beast who we are told just before our reading, has seven heads. They then wage war on the lamb and those who are with him. Now those of you who listened to Ben’s sermon from a few weeks ago will know that the lamb is Jesus, but there are still so many other questions that come to mind here. Who are the kings? Who is the beast? Why are they waging war on the lamb? So many questions come to mind that I think we could spend hours exploring just these three verses.
As fun as that would be, I don’t want to keep you from your Sunday Lunch, so I’ll try to keep it a little shorter and focused.
So what we are seeing here in this brief snap shot of Revelation?
What first looks like a page from the Lord of the Rings, is actually a much more familiar scenario. I know what you’re thinking, “Matt, if seeing seven headed beasts is a familiar scenario to you then maybe you should see somebody about that.” – hear me out…
We have in our reading two sets of people. Firstly, we have the ten kings (v12)
The ten horns you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but who for one hour will receive authority as kings along with the beast.
So these people will be given authority and what will they choose to do with it? They have two options really – they could yield their power and authority to the lamb, or they could chose this big flashy thing that seems way more appealing than a lamb and is far more likely to give them everything they desire. So, of course, they “will give their power and authority to the beast. (v13) Given the choice between Jesus and something else, they choose something else. Is it starting to sound familiar yet?
The second group of people come right at the end of our reading in verse 14. They are the people who are with the lamb – and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers.
Called,chosen and faithful followers. These are the people who had the same choice to make, they could choose the big strong shiny something else or the can choose this lamb. These are the people who choose to follow the lamb.
The reason this is so familiar is because this is the decision people have been making throughout the whole of the Bible and the whole of history…We see it from the very beginning when Adam and Eve choose whether to trust God or the serpent. We see it when Judas has to choose between 30 silver coins or his friend Jesus. We see it in our own lives when we decide whether to follow this 2000 year old guy who tells us to do strange things like give our money to the poor and love our enemy.
In these verses we see both sides of the decision that every human has to make.
The Lamb Wins
So the kings choose the beast, they yield all of their authority and power to him and they wage war on the lamb, on Jesus. And the craziest thing happens. (v14) They will wage war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will triumph over them… So these kings who seem so authoritative and this beast who appears so intimidating are to be defeated by this lamb, by this man Jesus.
We are seeing here a vision of the future but at the same time we have already seen this happen. We have already seen the act that leads the lamb to triumph over the beast and those who side with him. The act of Christ’s self sacrifice on the cross. Let’s not forget that this is why he is called the lamb, because of he became a sacrificial lamb to defeat death and save his people. This is the good news of the Gospel, it is the incredible act that saved us from the results of our sin.
Lord of lords and King of kings
I wonder though, what would happen if you or I were to sacrifice ourselves to save somebody else’s life? Yes, we’d be seen as a hero, maybe we’d get a statue, and the other person would be safe for a time. But there is nothing to stop somebody coming along and killing the person after we are gone. In fact, it is a biological inevitability, that if we were to do this, the person would still die eventually – sorry to put a downer on your Sunday morning – but it is true.
With Jesus it is different and here is why – (v14) the Lamb will triumph over them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings.
In the old testament we hear the term King of kings used by rulers to make out that they are the top dog, they are above all of the other rulers. The title Lord of lords is reserved for God himself. By using this title, John is telling us that this man Jesus who died for us, is also God almighty himself, the Lord of lords. God the Son humbled himself to become human, and to become the sacrificial lamb. But then as we are told in Ephesians 1:20 the Father “raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms”
Remember what Jesus said when he gave the great commission in Matthew 28:18 – And Jesus came and said “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. This means that when Jesus saved you, when Jesus defeated sin for you, that was the final say. There is no power in heaven or on earth that can take that away. He has the ultimate authority.
Any authority and power that is given to men and women and to those things that they choose over Christ is temporary, “the kings will have authority for an hour” but Christ’s authority will be for eternity. His word is final and nobody in heaven or on earth can ever over rule him.
We can take great comfort in this, and we can find great hope in this! If we decide to hear Christ calling us and respond in faith then, unlike the kings of Revelation 17, the one who we yield our power and authority to is not only our lord and king but the Lord of lords and the King of kings.
The one who loved us enough to die for us, is also the ultimate authority.
The question to ask ourselves then is, who is our king, our lord? Who or what would we follow, would we trust to the very end? If the answer really is Jesus then we’ve already triumphed, for he is the Lord of lords and the King of kings.