After Steve died, I went out to dinner with Kathy Troccoli, with whom I’d traveled for five years with our book, Falling in Love with Jesus. Kathy has been single all of her life. I told her that I was eager for heaven to be with Steve again. And Kathy, in her characteristic and bold way, said, “Wait a minute. Are you telling me you are going to go happily ever after into eternity with the love of your life and I will be alone forever???!!!”
I reminded her of what she herself told singles when she spoke and sang: “Even if God never gives you a Prince Charming or turns your husband into a Prince Charming, you have a Prince Charming, and He’s coming on a white horse!” The audience laughed — but oh, it is true!
That is, I know, a simplistic, earthly, and feminine way to view Revelation 19, but still, it points to the truth. A true prince defends his bride, and that is what Jesus is coming to do. He will wage war and win against the dragon, the beast, the false prophet, and all the forces of darkness that have deceived, hurt, and killed His own from the beginning.
Jesus says that the enemy come to kill, steal, and destroy — that he has been a murderer from the beginning. Jesus tells us we will have trouble. Yet he also said, “But be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world.” (Not will — but have!) Our own dear Mary certainly had a battle with cancer and fought bravely, but this week she flew away on the wings of an eagle out of the serpent’s reach. Dear friendships have developed on this blog, and one of the sweetest was between our own Lizzy and Mary. They met in person a few years ago, and Lizzy feels the loss acutely, for truly, Mary was the sister she longed for. Please pray for Mary’s family, who already had lost a daughter to cancer, and for Lizzy. Here is Mary with Lizzy and Lizzy’s youngest.
We are at war in this life, and at times it feels like the battle is being lost. J. R. R. Tolkien paints of the Last Battle in his Twin Towers. You can see a movie version of it on You-tube. (I find the actual battle scene too hard to watch — but I have a scene you’ll love when Gandalf calls for Shadowfax, his white horse, in order to ride to victory.) The hobbits feel like the battle is being lost, for the wall has been breached, and hope is dissapating– and then a rider appears on a white horse! In Twin Towers he is Gandalf, but in reality He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords: Jesus Christ!
Remember what Tolkien told C. S. Lewis that led to the conversion of Lewis? Lewis had said he loved the myths and fairy stories, but they were “lies, though breathed through silver.”
Tolkien said, “No they are true. Every story that moves the heart does so because it taps into the true story, the story that is from the dawn of time and moves us, however shakily, toward the true harbor.” Tolkien was more subtle than Lewis with his symbols, but oh, it isn’t hard to see whom He is pointing toward.
Here is a scene I think you’ll love from The Lord of the Rings
Revelation 19 is the scene of a battle. Growing up in the public school system, a song we sang that always intrigued me with its images was The Battle Hymn of the Republic. Though Johnny Cash says both sides sang it in the Civil War, believing right was on their side, Julie Ward Howe was an abolitionist who felt God raged against slavery and used images from Revelation 14 and 19 to compose her song concerning God’s defeat of evil. Even as a little girl, I believe it was another seed God planted to put me in awe of God. Evil is strong in our world, but this is not the end of the story.
Here is Johnny Cash singing it, and then there is an optional article about the background of the song. In the 1980’s, the Methodist church planned to removed this hymn and Onward Christian Soldiers from their hymnals, feeling they were too militaristic. But 11,000 protesting letters from Methodists who knew that our war was not against flesh and blood, but against spiritual forces of darkness, saved the hymns.
Here is an optional article on the history of the song:
Here is the sermon you will listen to this week from Kevin De Young: The Conquest of the King.
There are two programs from a Reformed Perspective on you-tube called American Gospel. Though long, I found them both worthwhile. The first was made in 2019, and addressed the prosperity gospel. The one that has just been released addresses ” “Progressive Christianity.” Many who began with the church, have left it for progressive Christianity. People like Rob Bell and Jen Hatmaker who truly are descriptions of 1 John 2:18-19. “They went out from us, but they did not really belong with us.” One of the elements of Progressive Christianity is that it denies the atonement, hell, and the judgment of God, claiming a God of love would never send anyone to hell. It is helpful to see their lies so we can better refute them. The Bible says we have a God that is both just and loving, and the “Hallelujahs” of Revelation 19 are about His judgment. Here are links to each. You may need to rent them. There is a free shortened version of the first one on U-Tube as well. These are not required for this study — but when you have a chance, you would be blessed to watch and tell others about them.
Next week is our last week, and if you have been doing this study and want to share your take-a-way, we are going to do it on zoom at 3:00 Central Time. That is this coming Sunday, February 7th. I’ll embed the link in the study. Pray it works! I’ll endeavor to keep to an hour.
Also, this coming Wed and Thursday you can hear me on Family Talk with Dobson talking about The Jesus Who Surprises. Please pray! (It’s recorded — I’m actually having eye surgery on Wed and would love prayer for that too.) I’ll be e-mailing a letter with a link to Family Talk on Wed.
Also, heads up for Lent, beginning in two weeks! You may want to purchase the book: Gentle and Lowly by Dane Ortlund, though it is not necessary. I will be quoting some from it, and I know some of you may want to have it. We are going to look at our relationship with Christ with the help of Michael Reeves’ messages who will deeply refresh us through the minds of Reformers and Puritans like Luther, Calvin, Jonathan Edwards… Ortlund also looks at the Puritans. Honestly, after researching this, I truly believe it will be the most refreshing Lent ever. If that sounds like an oxymoron, it’s because so many in the past have made Lent burdensome when it should, instead, help us to understand the depth of God’s love for us and run to Jesus who will make our burden light!
Day 1. Getting Started
- What stands out to you from the above and why?
Day 2: Hallelujah!
In the sermon, Keven De Young quotes Miroslav Volf of Romania, who says that North Americans want a God of only love, not justice. But his countrymen, who have seen their fathers and sons beheaded, and their wives and daughters raped and murdered, want justice. If they did not believe in a God of justice, they would be taking justice into their own hands, as many North Americans and groups are doing.
2. Skim Revelation 18. Whom has fallen and whom does she represent? (Remember the Bible is a Tale of Two Cities — the city of man and the city of God.)
3. Hallelujahs of Revelation 19 (Only place the word Hallelujah appears!)
# 1) What do you learn about the character of God in verses 1-2?
#2) What do you learn about the character of God in verse 3?
#3) What are his servants, great and small, commanded to do in verse 5?
#4) What great event will follow the battle according to verse 7?
4. D. A. Carson says the imagery of Rev. 19:6-9 is taken from Isaiah 61:10. Find it.
5. Challenge question: The wedding garment in Scripture represents both the free gift of salvation (See Matthew 22:11-13 and Rev. 19:8a) and also the righteous acts of his saints (Rev. 19:8b) Considering the definitions of justification and sanctification, can you explain this?
6. Describe how John responds to the angel and how the angel responds in Revelation 19:9-10. What do you learn from this?
Day 3: The Rider on The White Horse
7. Read aloud Revelation 19:11-16 and describe this rider, and then, what particularly stands out and why.
8. Based on what you know from Scripture, give references for what the following might represent – or use your Bible app concordance! These are challenging – -and even scholars disagree — but still, it is worth meditating for one thing is certain: We have a God who will fight for us and win.
A. The name that no one knows but Himself
I may get my scholars mixed up, but I believe it was Tim Keller who said a name represents ownership, and no one owns Jesus. D. A. Carson says it did not mean his name was secret, but rather the actions of his judgment.
B. A robe dipped in blood
Matthew Henry said it could be the blood of the cross or the blood of the enemies — Kevin de Young is convinced it it the latter.
C. A sharp sword out of his mouth (this one should be easy)
9. Spend some time in worship here.
10. According to Revelation 19:17-21 through Rev 20:3. Who is captured and what happens to them?
Day 4: The King and His Conquest
11. Listen to Kevin de Young’s sermon above and share your notes and comments.
Day 5: Contemplating and Worshipping The King of Kings and Lord of Lords
12. Go through these questions on the basis of what you have learned.
A. How can I praise Him on the basis of this text?
B. How can I confess my sins on the basis of this text?
C. If this is really true what wrong behavior, what harmful emotions, and what false attitudes happen when I forget this?
D. What should I be aspiring to — reaching for?
E. Why are You telling me this today?
13. What is your take-a-way this week and why?