This sermon is part of the sermon series "The Warrior". See series.
There is a distinctive facial expression that is common to all countries and cultures. There is something that can happen to any human being at any place at any time. It doesn't matter what language you speak, what color your skin is, or what country you live in. The response is always the same. The expression is known as "the surprise brow." We all use this facial expression. When we are surprised, our eyebrows immediately rise, and our eyes widen so that our vision is enlarged. The surprise brow is the body's way of forcing us to see more. Often, we will do a double-take to make sure we saw what we thought we saw.
Not only do our eyebrows rise; our jaws drop. That is what happened to my face the first time I laid eyes on my wife, Teresa!
When we are taken by surprise, everything comes to a halt, every activity is interrupted, and our attention becomes completely focused, involuntarily, on whatever it was that surprised us.
When you begin reading the Bible, the first two chapters almost lull you to sleep, in a good way. A utopia, called the Garden of Eden, was created, and the first man and first woman were put in a pristine, pure, perfect environment. Other than those two, no one has ever known or seen a world without sickness, suffering, and sorrow.
Then, in chapter 3, the first surprise hits you squarely in the face. The surprise comes in the form of a serpent. He successfully tempts the first couple to go against the will of God, to disobey their Creator. Instantly, this world is plunged into a war. From that moment until now, the human race has been faced with an enemy it cannot defeat, involved in a war that it cannot win. Humanity is fighting a battle it is destined to lose.
But how does God answer? What is God's solution? How does he respond? He responds with another surprise: God is going to send the Warrior once again. The middle name of this warrior could be Surprise.
The initial announcement of the Warrior was a surprise: "And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers. He will crush your head, and you will strike his heel" (Genesis 3:15, NIV). Beginning at that moment, for thousands of years, the nation of Israel waited in anxious anticipation for the Warrior.
There was a surprise when the Warrior was born. He was born to a peasant girl, in a little country town, in a stable full of animals.
There was a surprise when the Warrior died because great warriors aren't supposed to die. They are supposed to kill and defeat. When this warrior died a criminal's death on a cross, dreams were shattered and hopes were dashed.
Just when everyone thought the Warrior was dead and the war was lost, another surprise came: the Warrior rose! He is the only warrior who died on the battlefield and yet returned to life to fight again.
As a result, his followers took great comfort. Surely the Warrior would now finish the task, conquer the world, and fully inaugurate his kingdom. But that didn't happen. There was yet another surprise: the Warrior ascended into heaven, and this world has been in the same state for the last 2,000 years. We are still watching and waiting for the Warrior to return.
I just gave you, in essence, a thumbnail sketch, a Reader's Digest version, of the Bible. From Genesis 3 onward, the story of the Bible proceeds like this: Satan, sin, sorrow, suffering, the Savior.
Yes, the Warrior came. Yes, the Warrior died. Yes, the Warrior rose. But the story has not yet ended. The battle still rages. Satan is still alive. Sin is still real. Sorrow still stings, and suffering still abounds.
Neither government nor money can solve our problems. They can't fight these battles or win this war. Genesis 3:15 tells us that a final showdown has yet to take place. That is why the Warrior will one day return. Satan started this war, and the Warrior is going to end it. Peace is going to replace war. Justice is going to replace inequity. Righteousness will replace wickedness. This world will be restored to a perfect place where God and his people will dwell, as it was intended from the beginning. But before that takes place, the Warrior has to return to defeat sin and death once and for all. The forces of heaven and hell will meet in the greatest battle in human history. Revelation 19 tells us about it.
This event will be the moment we all have been waiting for. The Warrior will finally come to finish what was started in the Garden of Eden. If you are a Christ-follower who has surrendered your life to this warrior, this message will bring you great joy, peace, and comfort.
The Warrior returns to fight the last battle
"I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war" (Revelation 19:11, NIV). The phrase "I saw heaven standing open" may sound simple to you, but when that happens, alarms will be going off all throughout the earth and in hell because this is the moment Genesis 3:15 foretold. All of history has been heading toward this moment. It is time for the Warrior to return. He is the Warrior we have been waiting for.
Here is what John saw: "A white horse whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war" (Revelation 19:11). John was not dreaming. This is not a figment of his imagination. This is something he saw with his own eyes. Every detail is important. Jesus is riding a white horse because that is the horse that was ridden by victorious Roman generals. White is the picture of both purity and supremacy. In many of the old western movies, the hero rides a white horse. That is not coincidental.
The rider in Revelation 19 is given several names. The first two are Faithful and True. First, this rider is faithful to his promise. So far, we have clearly identified Jesus Christ as the Warrior. 2 Corinthians 1:20 says, "For no matter how many promises God has made, they are 'Yes' in Christ. And so through him the 'Amen' is spoken by us to the glory of God." Jesus Christ is the yes answer to every promise God has ever made.
The first prophetic promise God made in the Bible is Genesis 3:15. God made a promise that a warrior would come, fight, win, and defeat the one who caused all of these problems. God is faithful to his promise.
His name is also True. Jesus is true to his own person. He is faithful in what he says he will do, and everything he says, therefore, must be true. When God promised that he would bruise the head of the serpent and finish him off once and for all, he told the truth.
That is why he is returning. "With justice he judges and makes war" (Revelation 19:11). The Warrior came the first time as the meek Lamb of God. But in his return, he will come as the mighty Lion of Judah. He came the first time to bring peace on the earth. The Warrior comes a second time to make war on the earth, to ensure peace will reign forever. He will fight the war with justice. Once and for all, good will triumph over evil. Justice will triumph over inequity. God will triumph over Satan. The Warrior is not coming to take sides; he is coming to take over.
The Warrior faces the last enemy
We are given a detailed description of the great war to come. It will be the greatest war ever fought, between the greatest armies ever assembled. But once again, there is a surprise: the war is over before it even starts.
And I saw an angel standing in the sun, who cried in a loud voice to all the birds flying in midair, "Come, gather together for the great supper of God, so that you may eat the flesh of kings, generals, and mighty men, of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, small and great" (Revelation 19:17-18).
The angel is so sure of the victory that he calls all the vultures together and says: Get out your knives and forks. Set your tables and get your plates ready. You are about to have the greatest feast of corpses ever!
"Then I saw the Beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to make war against the rider on the horse and his army" (Revelation 19:19). Satan's two chief deputies on the earth are known as The Beast and The False Prophet. Just as Satan deceived Adam and Eve, so they have deceived this world into following them. They have amassed every army on the planet to fight against the Warrior. It is the greatest, largest, most powerful army that will ever be assembled in human history. Everything that Satan can muster up against God is here for this one climatic showdown.
The Beast is here. The False Prophet is here. The kings of the earth are here, and the greatest army—numbering over 200 million men—is here. They are all ready to fight one last battle against the Warrior. They make up the last enemy.
We are going to have a front row seat at what is going to be the greatest battle ever fought. It will make D-Day look like a church picnic. In this war, there will be no surrender. No quarter will be given. No prisoners will be taken. No holds will be barred.
The Warrior forges the last victory
I hate to let those of you down who enjoy a good fight, but there really isn't one in this story. This battle will end like no other.
The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. "He will rule them with an iron scepter." He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty (Revelation 19:14-15).
Notice carefully that the Warrior rides a white horse, and soldiers in the Warrior's army ride on white horses. The Warrior is dressed in white. The Warrior's army is dressed in white, but his army stays white and clean. But in verse 13 we read: "He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood." There is not one stain of blood on the robes of the other soldiers—only on the Warrior's. Why?
First, when the Warrior speaks, the battle is over. Listen to verse 15: "Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. He will rule them with an iron scepter. He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty" (Revelation 19:15).
This is the only battle in history in which the general does all the fighting. Normally, the general gives the orders, and the solders do the fighting. But not in this case. Why? The Warrior doesn't need anyone to fight his battles. This warrior doesn't even need a weapon.
It is going to be comical. The whole world will gather with all of their guns, planes, tanks, jets, missiles, bombs, and lasers—everything they have in their arsenal—but the Warrior's only weapon will be his Word. The God that spoke this world into existence will speak it into oblivion. The prophet Isaiah predicted this would happen: "But with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked" (Isaiah 11:4).
Think about it, a war won with the Word. It shouldn't surprise you. Jesus spoke a word to a fig tree, and it withered away. Jesus spoke a word to the waves and the wind, and they laid down at his feet like whipped puppies. Jesus spoke a word to an entire legion of demons, and they fled like rats on a sinking ship.
In case you still don't know who he is, verse 16 tells us: "On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: King of Kings and Lord of Lords." He is the hero of the Bible. His name is Jesus. Exodus 15:3 says, "The Lord is a warrior; the Lord is his name."
The Warrior has one last thing to do before he can put up his sword, lay down his shield, and take his rightful place as the King of the universe. The finishing touch has to be put to the last enemy, but it comes in stages. We find stage one in the last part of this chapter:
Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to make war against the rider on the horse and his army. But the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who had performed the miraculous signs on his behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped his image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. The rest of them were killed with the sword that came out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh (Revelation 19:19-21).
The Bible says that blood will be bridle deep in a battlefield that will stretch over 200 miles long. Ezekiel 39:12 says it will take seven months to bury the corpses.
Then a thousand years later we read the end of the story: "And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night forever and ever" (Revelation 20:10).
Normally the general watches while the army fights the battle, but this time the army watches while the general fights the battle. This warrior-general finally hangs up his sword, puts down his shield, puts on the crown of a King and retires as the only warrior who never lost a fight.
So the story of the Warrior comes to a magnificent end, but it is not without one final lesson for those of us who are a part of his army. For those of us who have surrendered to his authority, for those of us who willingly fight our battles under his banner, it is summed up best in an incident that took place in the life of President Ronald Reagan.
It was early January, 1977, before he became President of the United States, and he was spending an afternoon with Richard Allen, who went on to become his first National Security Advisor. They were talking about foreign relations and defense strategy. Reagan asked Allen, "Would you like to hear my theory concerning the Cold War and the Soviet Union?" Allen said, "I certainly would." Ronald Reagan said, "Some people think I am simplistic, but there is a difference between being simplistic and being simple. My theory about the Cold War is this: 'We win and they lose.' What do you think about that?"
God spoke a message in the garden thousands of years ago. That's when the Warrior was revealed. That message was clarified 2,000 years ago when the Warrior rose. That message will be confirmed one day when the Warrior returns. Because of Jesus Christ, the Warrior, we can win the war against sin. We don't have to fear the enemy called Death. One day we will live in a world where there is no Satan, no suffering, and no sorrow. We will live with a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
James Merritt is the Senior Pastor of Cross Pointe Church. His media teaching ministry, Touchinglives, is broadcast around the country and throughout the world. Dr. Merritt is also the author of numerous books, including How to Impact and Influence Others.