Much of what has been written and preached about Jesus the past decade has often amounted to nothing more than a watered-down milquetoast version of the real Jesus.
This has been largely done to appease contemporary society's "anti-masculine" culture and to attract more followers and fill up more church buildings on Sundays. However, as we do a quick scan through the pages of the New Testament (that's right, I said the New Testament), we see that Jesus came to reign on the earth and in the heavens as the warrior King.
What the Scriptures Teach
First of all, we remember how Jesus affirmed to Pilate that the reason He came to the earth was to show that He is the true King and to demonstrate this truth (see John 18:37,38). We can also think about how Jesus is depicted in the last book of the Bible, which is dedicated to revealing who He is (See Rev.1:1).
The Revelation of Jesus Christ
In the book of Revelation, He is not only called the Alpha and the Omega (Rev.1:8) but is also referred to as "the Lion of the tribe of Judah" in 5:5.
The lion is called by many "the king of the jungle," who is strong, fierce and who fears no one and never backs away from a fight.
Proverbs says, "the terror of a king is as the roaring of a lion; whoever provokes him to anger sins against his own soul" and "the king's wrath is as the roaring of a lion, but his favor is as dew on the grass" (see Prov. 20:2;19:12). Hence it is no accident that Jesus is described as similar to this amazing and ferocious animal.
Related to our cosmic struggle against the forces of darkness, the apostle Paul admonishes the church to "be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God" (Eph. 6:10b-11a). He is therefore depicting Jesus as our No. 1 warrior, arrayed in battle attire (See Eph. 6:10-17.)
Near the end of the book of Revelation, Jesus is described as the warrior King who rides on His white horse, leading the armies of heaven (the saints and angelic beings) to slay (or subjugate) the nations with the sword of His mouth (See Rev. 6:2, 19:11-19)—which is referring to His divine decrees as well as His Word being proclaimed (Eph. 6:17, Heb. 4:12) to the nations of the earth throughout human history since His ascension into heaven.
One of the most quoted psalms in the New Testament is Psalm 2 (See Acts 4:25-26), which refers to Jesus as the King of the nations, whom He rules (or breaks) with a rod of iron and shatters like earthenware. The kings of the earth are warned to worship Him with reverence and rejoice before Him with trembling and to do homage to Him lest He become angry and they perish due to His wrath being released against them (see Ps. 2:6-12 as well as Rev. 2:26-27).
Then there is, perhaps the most quoted Old Testament passage in the New Testament, Psalm 110, which speaks about Jesus sitting in the heavens until His enemies are made a footstool for His feet (see Matt. 22:44, Mark 12:36, Luke 20:42, Acts 2:34-36). Not much of a milquetoast, lovey-dovey, hippie Jesus here in the New Testament thus far!
Jesus also appeared as the King/Priest of Salem-Melchizedek who approved of and blessed Abraham and offered him bread and wine (a type of the New Testament practice of Communion) after He defeated the kings of the nations and forcibly rescued his nephew Lot (see Gen. 14:17-20, Heb. 5:5-10, 7:1-11). However, He is not only a fierce king against the nations of the earth (which we have seen throughout human history the past 2,000 years related to Him rewarding and exalting certain nations and casting them down when they neglect His moral laws and abuse their people; see Deut. 28) but we also see stern language utilized in the New Testament when it comes to His people falling away from His precepts and commands.
First of all, to those who don't think there are any laws in the New Testament and only grace, Jesus said to believers "If you love me, keep My commandments" (John 14:15). Thus, as King, He gives His people commands—not options. Also, the apostle John explains much more regarding what commandments He is referring to in his first epistle (see 1 John 3-4). Furthermore, the apostle Paul warns the church in Galatia and says to them "Be not deceived. God is not mocked. For whatever a man sows, that will he also reap" (Gal. 6:7). Then there is his letter to the Ephesian church, where he uses even stronger language when he warns the church that the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience because of immorality, impurity, covetousness, idolatry and greed, among other things (See Eph. 5:3-8).
Moreover, Jesus warns the Ephesian church only one generation later that He will remove their lampstand (the church—see Rev.1:20) if they do not repent and applauds them for "hating" the deeds of the Nicolaitans whose deeds He also hates (see Rev. 2:4-6.)
Jesus also tells the church of Pergamum that if they do not repent, He will "come to [them] quickly" and "war against them" (Rev. 2:16b; in this case Jesus is at war against a church) with the sword of His mouth. When God comes, Scripture most often depicts Him coming in judgement (see also Amos 5:18 and Rev. 21:20, in which Jesus says He is coming quickly in the context of a warning to those who attempt to add or take away from the words of the book of Revelation (see 22:18,19.)
He also threatens to put a false prophetess (in the church) on a bed of sickness as well as kill all her children with pestilence as a warning to the rest of the churches (see Rev. 2:22-23). Jesus again uses language most Christians only think refers to the "rapture," when He threatens the church in the city of Sardis to wake up, or else "I will come upon you as a thief" (Rev. 3:3b). Finally, Jesus tells the church of Laodicea that He is about to "vomit them out of His mouth" (Rev. 3:16, NKJV) if they do not repent, which is reminiscent of the strong language God uses when He warns Israel not to participate in the abominable practices of the nations (see Lev. 18:25).
Ultimately, the book of Revelation is replete with language that speaks about the sovereignty of God, in conjunction with the accumulated prayers of the saints both in heaven and in earth (See Rev.5:8, 6:9-1, 8:3-5) who releases judgments on the earth (which includes natural disasters and plagues) in conjunction with the sevenfold release of seals, trumpets and bowls (see Rev. 5-18) against unrepentant sinners and nations.
The above passages should forever eradicate the unbiblical depiction of Jesus as some flower child, coming to bring peace (by accommodation) to the earth without exerting His sovereign, kingly rule—which sometimes also includes expressing His divine wrath against disobedient sinners and nations.
This should also dispel the unbiblical teaching of hyper-grace advocates who only teach their perspective on the goodness of God and teach a Gnostic dualism that pits the God of the Old Testament against the New Testament God (Jesus); as if the Old Testament version of God is mean and the New Testament version of God (Jesus) is good and would never enact judgment on the earth.
Of course, the Advent of Christ revealed the fullness of grace and love of God in a way the Old Testament only depicted in types and shadows (see John 1:17,18). However, as we can see from reading the Gospels, Jesus loved sinners without compromising His holiness. For example, He protected the woman caught in adultery, but He also told her "go and sin no more" (John 8:11b); He ministered to the woman at the well and offered her the water of life, but He also revealed the fact that she was living a life of sin, with numerous men in her life (see John 4:16-19); He told the man unable to walk for 38 years, "Sin no more lest something worse happens to you" (John 5:15b) after He healed him.
"Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be moved, let us be gracious, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire" (Heb. 12:28-29).
Dr. Joseph Mattera is an internationally known author, interpreter of culture and activist/theologian whose mission is to influence leaders who influence nations. He is renowned for addressing current events through the lense of Scripture by applying biblical truths and offering cogent defenses to today's postmodern culture. He leads several organizations, including The United Coalition of Apostolic Leaders (uscal.us). He also has a blog on Charisma News called "The Pulse." To order one of his books or to subscribe to his weekly newsletter go to josephmattera.org.
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