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The Arrival of the King of Kings

Many people gather at Christmas or Easter to hear a performance of the oratorio Messiah by George Frideric Handel. A highlight of the piece is the “Hallelujah” chorus, which acclaims Jesus as “King of Kings and Lord of Lords.” Anyone who has heard the work cannot read today’s verses without hearing Handel’s resounding music.

Now that the invitation has been issued, the bridegroom appears. But He does not come to take the hand of His bride but rather to make war on the beast. He will overthrow him with “the breath of his mouth” and destroy him “by the splendor of his coming” (2 Thess. 2:8). Jesus does not come alone: “The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean” (v. 14). Their clothing identifies them as the redeemed. Did you notice that when Jesus finally comes, His bride is already with Him?

Once Jesus appears, an angel issues an invitation to a different kind of wedding feast. This one is addressed to the birds, pictured like carrion circling above the battlefield expecting to feast on the corpses below: “Come, gather together for the great supper of God, so that you may eat the flesh of kings, generals, and the mighty, of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, great and small” (vv. 17–18).

Like the invitation to the wedding of the Lamb, this invitation is issued before the final blow falls. Indeed everything we have read in the past few chapters has been prelude to this announcement of Christ’s victory, the celebration over Babylon’s fall, and the invitation to the Lamb’s wedding. In other words, the victory dance is done before the battle has even been fought.

Apply the Word

The enemies of God gather against Christ to no avail. The beast and the false prophet are thrown into the fiery lake of burning sulfur and their followers are killed. Notice that no details of the battle are given. That is because there were none. Jesus defeats them with glory of His presence and His word. What an honor to be part of His redeemed people!

BY Dr. John Koessler, Chair and Professor of Pastoral Studies

Dr. John Koessler serves as chair and professor in the division of applied theology and church ministry at the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, Illinois. He is married to Jane and has two sons, Drew and Jarred. John is the author of The Radical Pursuit of Rest (InterVarsity), The Surprising Grace of Disappointment (Moody) and True Discipleship (Moody). John has written several other books and articles and serves as a contributing editor for Today in the Word.

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